Saturday, July 8, 2017

UA Next Combine Series DC Top Wings and Bigs

Julius Ellerbe, Darrius Tilghman, Nanna Njoku, Mohammed Aminu & Victory Nagoya
The UA Next Combine Series had its final stop in Washington DC and the talent level was high as was expected.  Let’s take a look at the front court players that impressed us during the one day event.  Our analysis will cover the top wings and bigs that attended.  Julius Ellerbe (6’5 WF Temple Hills, MD) was the top wing and overall number one player at the conclusion of the event.  Julius is a do it all wing that has the potential to stay in that elite top 25 status in the class of 2021.  He can play the point forward or play more his natural position on the wing.  He rebounds very well for his position and then he is able to lead the break.  Ellerbe can get buckets if needed either by attacking the basket or knocking down his jumper with range out to the 3 point line.  He plays the right way and loves to make plays for others as we saw him drive and kick to the three point shooter. 

Darrius Tilghman (6’3 WF Baltimore, MD) is a high energy wing that is always in attack mode.  Darrius is an athlete that attacks the rim with reckless abandon.  He can knock down the mid-range jumper and has the ability to be a lock down defender.  One of the better scorers in the event, we can see Tilghman as a household name for years to come.  Nnanna Njoku (6’9 PF Newark, DE) was the top big in the event.  He is a big body that understands how to get position on the low block and go to work.  A lost art, Nnanna has back to the basket post moves that he can finish at a high percentage with either hand.  Rebounding at a high rate and having good passing ability out of double teams Njoku is a big man that is very effective and plays to his strengths.  One thing that really impressed us is that he runs the floor hard and was the beneficiary of a lot of rebound put backs. 

Mohmmed Aminu (6’5 WF Temple Hills, MD) is a scoring machine with a high motor.  He is a mismatch problem at 6’5 with guard skills he can beat you off the dribble and get to the basket anytime he wants and he is also an under rated passer.  Aminu rebounds at a high level both offensively where he gets a lot of put backs or defensively where he can push and lead the break either going coast to coast or dropping off an assist to a teammate.  Defensively he has good hands to play the passing lanes and comes up with steals and we also saw him knock down a 3 ball.

Jai Smith (6’9 PF Middletown, NY) is a long active big man that plays both sides of the ball.  He plays extremely hard and runs the floor which is not a given in today’s game.  Jai seems to always be around the ball grabbing all the rebounds and defensively he is a shot blocking machine.  He is developing his handle where he can situationally handle the rock and he finishes strong through contact trying to dunk everything.  Smith is also knocking down the mid to short range jumper and he converts at a good percentage from the FT line. 

Jakai Robinson (6’4 WF Fort Washington, MD) is a big strong wing with a college ready body.  He is very patient and takes what the defense gives him.  This lefty attacks off the dribble and makes the right reads either shooting or setting up his teammates.  Robinson can play the point forward as he has a good feel for the game and a high basketball IQ.  As a bonus he has a nice stroke from the FT line as we believe he could live at the line with his skill set and ability to get to the rim.  Defensively he can guard 1 through 4 which shows his versatility. 

Victory Naboya (6’8 PF Upper Marlboro, MD) might have had the most upside and is a long way from his ceiling.  Victory is just scratching the surface offensively but he is ultra-athletic playing above the rim.  We saw him make a sweeping baby hook attacking the basket off the dribble so he shows the potential as an emerging offensive player but right now he is a game changer on defense blocking shots and cleaning the glass with offensive and defensive rebounds. 

Adam Walden (6’9 C Columbia, MD) could end up being the top prospect in the building when these players are all seniors in 2021.  He looks like he has a few more inches in him so 7 foot is not out of the question.  Walden has a good frame with a soft touch as he can knock down the elbow jump shot or the short corner jumper.  He converts from the FT line and he rebounds at a high level.
Shane Dezonie (6’4 WF Tobyhanna, PA) is a strong wing that is well thought of on the national stage.  He runs with the top travel team in the country and he has played against the best.  Offensively Shane is at his best attacking the rim in the half court or in transition.  He takes what the defense gives him and he had his 3ball working in the game we watched as he knocked down a few catch and shoot 3 pointers.  If his jumper is clicking he is pretty much unstoppable.

Isaiah Cornish (6’5 WF Baltimore, MD) is a silky smooth wing that has a deadly jump shot.  Cornish game is one of those that projects long term for his position.  On the wing he was one of the better long range shooters at the event, he also finished well in transition and made the right basketball plays not trying to force something that was there.  As his body develops and he gets stronger it looks like sky is the limit for this youngster. 

Javonte Brown (6’9 C Toronto, CN) is all arms and legs right now which means he is still growing.  Brown is very raw but poses a problem defensively protecting the rim blocking shots.  Although developing offensively we saw him finish with both hands around the basket and knock down his FT’s with a soft touch.  As Javonte gets stronger and keeps working on his offensive package he will be a name to remember north of the border. Tristian Jeffries (6’4 WF Belle Mead, NJ) is a study built wing that can do a little bit of everything.  He runs with Dezonie on the same club team so they are tough to stop as your two wing scorers.  Jeffries has a smooth stroke from behind the 3 point line and can get to the rack off the dribble when he catches on the wing.  Also a good rebounder for his position and can guard multiple positions on the floor.

Zaakir Williamson (6’6 WF Philadelphia, PA) is a big body combo forward that feels comfortable catching the ball in space and either shooting the three or taking his man off the dribble.  Right now a mismatch problem either taking a smaller defender down to the post or a bigger defender out in space Williamson puts you in the mindset of a Boris Diaw or maybe even Draymond Green.

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