Saturday, February 27, 2016

NEO Youth Elite Camp Final Day Report

Foster, Henry, Barba, Hughley, Huffman
The final day of the NEO Youth Elite Camp featured a series of all-star games which gave us the opportunity to evaluate some players we had not seen on day one, as well as provided us the chance to get a closer look at some kids we only caught glimpse of on Saturday.  We saw Darion Henry (6’5”/PF/2020) on Saturday, and his high level play was still evident in the 8th Top 20 All-Star game on Sunday.  In fact, Henry played his way into MVP honors with a 16 point effort.  Not to be outdone, Andy Barba (6’2”/SG/2020) went off as well to the tune of 16 points and Co-MVP honors. The more we watch Barba, the more we like him.  Some of the things he did in the all-star game were special.  In addition, the fact Barba will be reclassifying to 2021 next year will vault him to the top of our 2021 state rankings.  To my colleagues, Barba’s move to the class of 2021 should land him on national lists.  Finally, D-I college coaches should be track this kid.

We caught a little of him on Saturday, but Montorie Foster’s (5’10”/SG/2020) performance in the all-star game on Sunday was unmistakable, as he exploded for a game-high 23 points.  Foster simply could not be guarded, as he either slashed his way to the basket with athletic plays or unleashed a barrage of perimeter jump shots which he converted at a high rate.  What’s most impressive about his MVP-garnering effort was the fact he was playing in intense pain, as he had hit the floor hard in an earlier play.  We always knew he could play, but Foster’s performance on Sunday was redefining! We got a second look at big John Hughley (6’6”/C/2020) on Sunday and we are even more convinced of his upside potential. Hughley is still learning the game, but he already knows how to use his big frame to power the rock into the basket.  We saw him face up, step way a little bit and knock down a shot or two, but unlike a lot of big men these days; he was ok with banging in the paint and getting physical. Grant Huffman (6’0”/SG/2020) had a solid all-star game and was rewarded with the 5th Co-MVP award.  Some of the other all-star players included: Tevin Jackson (5’7”/PG/Maple Heights), Jessie Laster (6’1”/WF/Cleveland), Jalen Dial (5’10”/PG/South Euclid), Nick Camacho (6’0”/SG/Columbus), Jordan Jackson (6’0”/PG/Lorain), Hunter Drenth (6’3”/PF/Akron), Kyler Lacy (6’4”/C/Norwalk), Quentin Richardson (5’6”/PG/Maple Heights), JK Williams (5’9”/PG/Cleveland), Josh Wanton (5’7”/PG/Twinsburg), Nehemiah Benson (6’2”/WF/Streetsboro) and Aaron Whitehead (5’4”/PG/Loraine).

Johnson, Peoples, Chicone, Abuhamden & Arnold
In the 7th grade all-star game, Meechie Johnson (4’7”/PG/Garfield Heights) unleashed an offense barrage that did not end until the dynamic playmaker had tallied a game-high 24 points. As he so often does, the entertaining Johnson made it look easy, as he scored in every way imaginable. Johnson’s elite skill set, IQ and confidence make him a serious problem! Needless to say, Johnson added another MVP trophy to his ever-expanding collection. Johnson was not the only guy to put up big numbers in the 7th grade all-star game, as Noah Peoples (6’0”/WF/PF/Akron) logged in an impressive 16 point day. Peoples is still too strong and aggressive for most kids his age. 

Talk about hidden gems; we would like to welcome Luke Chicone (5’1”/PG/Mentor) to the statewide stage.  Judging by the number of AAU coaches gathered around Chicone after the game, the kid can play.  Chicone may not necessarily look the part, but he’s hardnosed and a throwback type of player.  A solid skill set and an elite motor allows Chicone to compete with the best, and his 12 points and Co-MVP node proves he’s legitimate. Omar Abuhamden (5’6”/PG/North Royalton) capped off an impressive weekend with a 9 point performance and Co-MVP honors. Abuhamden’s consistent play over the weekend has confirmed for us his place among the top 10 in the state. Ramelle Arnold Jr. (5’8”/PG/Warrensville) continued his steady play, and his 9 point effort got him Co-MVP.  We've seen him three time now and it's clear Arnold has D-I potential. Rounding out some of the other scoring, Jaden Hameed and Trent Jakacki added 9 points, and William Jeffress finished with 8 points.  Other all-stars included: Darryl Peterson, Enavell Lighty, Tae Perie, MarSaun Robinson, Makail Cottingham, Jimmy Salomone, Joe Labas, EJ Farmer and Jarius Jones.

Johnson, Tatuam, James, Rumple & Young
Sonny Johnson Jr. (5’2”/PG/Garfield Heights) had another breakout performance in the 6th grade all-star game, scoring 14 points on his way to Co-MVP accolades. As has been the case just about every time we’ve seen him play, Johnson is most always the best player on the court. His countless hours in the gym doing skill work is evident in his game, as he easily gets by his defender for a layup or dump off.  Moreover, Johnson’s court vision and passing skills are as good as any we’ve seen in the county.  Although his game can seem a bit flashy at times, what he’s doing on the court translates at the next level. Finally, Johnson is not a trash talker, but he will absolutely destroy you if your defensive game is not on point. We don’t often get excited about young players, but Tavian Tatuam (5’10”/C/Garfield Heights) got us excited! Tatum’s size, athleticism and tenaciousness in the post are special.  Tatuam’s performance over the weekend has vaulted him near the top of our 2022 list.  Can’t wait to see him on March 12th at our elite showcase! Oh yea, Tatuam’s 14 points and 6 rebounds were enough for Co-MVP props.

He was not on our radar before arriving in Cleveland, but by the time we headed home on Sunday we felt we had discovered another hidden gem.  Elmore James (5’7”/PF/South Euclid) has a chance to be really good. He’s big, strong, athletic and plays hard.  James runs the floor well and finishes at a high rate around the basket.  James has good genics as well; as he’s a relative of Ohio State commit Derek Funderburk. We think James’ upside is huge. We looked for him on Saturday, but did not see what we expected; however, on Sunday, Danny Young Jr. (5’4”/PG/Shaker Heights) came alive in the 6th grade all-star game and solidified his place among the state’s elite. No one attacks the cup like Young, who gets to the rim without over dribbling or tricks.  Also, most often than not, young finishes his drives.  Young’s 8 points were good enough for Co-MVP honors.  We were also really impressed with William Rumple (5’4”/SG/Auburn).  Just like Luke Chicone, if you’re not paying attention, he will hit you with double digits.  As an example, Rumple finished with 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists on his way to Co-MVP honors.  Other 6th grade all-stars included: Rasheed Carter, Akin Popoola, Jeshurun Pleasant, Larry Harper, Johnny Graham, Jaylan Clark, Tommy Dejesus, Ty Locklear, Trey Miller, Jalen Brown, Sean Conway, Roderick Coffee, Zaden Abuhamdeh, Lydell Byrd and Deon Horn.

Easter, Mobley, Hayes, Molton and Moore
As was the case on Saturday, a pair of 4th graders was the center of attention, as both Jerry Easter Jr. and John Mobley Jr. put on a show in the 5th grade all-star game.  Easter followed up a solid Saturday showing with a MVP performance on Sunday, as evidenced by his 19 point, 4 assist and 4 rebound stat line.  Mobley was right there with him with 16 points and 4 assists of his own.  Mobley’s ability to shoot from deep was on full display as he sank multiple deep treys late in the game. LA Hayes (5’2”/PG/Brookpark) came alive on Sunday just in time to grab Co-MVP honors.  Hayes got busy to the tune of 12 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.  Hayes is relentless to the cup and very athletic. Desh Molton (4’9”/PG/South Euclid) continued to impress us and finished strong with 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists, which was good enough for a Co-MVP node.  A few other players that caught our eye included Dorjan Flowers (4’10”/SG/Cleveland Heights) who demonstrated the ability to shoot from deep, and Dailyn Swain (4’8”/SG/Columbus) who is proficient at attacking the cup.  Other all-star game participants included: Jayvion Moore, Markell Johnson-Nichols, Jyles Branden, Javen Vaughn, Kellen Smith, Caleb Walker, Najih Wright, Cody Head, Victor Smith, Que Miller, Andre Wheeler, Rob McFarren Jr., Sedric Cook and Adam Williams.

We have to send a shot out to Landon Brown and Stewart “Nic” Smith who dropped 21 and 18 points, respectively in the Top 40 All-Star game. Also, little Marcus Johnson, a 2nd grader, exploded for 20 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds in the 3rd grade all-star game. In the same game, Mike Jones matched Johnson with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, while Jason Henlon finished with 18 points and 7 assists.  Curtis Long added 17 points and Luke Newton finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds. We are looking forward to seeing many of the above players at our March 12th Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase.  Congratulations to Sonny Johnson and his staff for putting on a great event!

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