Wednesday, May 31, 2017

UA Next Combine Series West-Final Report

Earlier, we posted our picks for the top 5 players at the UA Next Combine in LA on Monday.  Below are players ranked from 6th-10th based on our evaluations. Devin Askew (6'3/PG/2021/Anaheim, CA) started the combine on fire as he went basically uncontested in one-one drills early (see video).  In fact, Askew's size for position, tight handle and his ability to beat his defender of the bounce were impressive. He's also one heck of a playmaker, he defends well and is always a threat to knock down an open shot. He checks in at #6, but it could me argued that he made a case for top 5 consideration.  We thought Derrick Nettles looked great in drills (6'5/WF/2021/Perris, CA), but we liked him even better in the games.  Nettles has a good combination of size and skills.  He can bang on the inside and step out side and hit the trey as well. In fact, we saw him drain catch and shoot threes consistently.  He also rebounds well and pushes the rock in transition with purpose. As his reward for a good day, Nettles is our pick for #7.

Although we really liked the collection of wings at the event, the point guard play was also at a high level.  One of the better PGs we saw was Hercy Miller (6'0/PG//2021/Chalmette, LA). Miller is super quick, aggressive to the cup and always in attack mode. Although he's more than able to get to the basket and finish, Miller is a floor general who can find teammates for easy buckets with his excellent court vision and passing skills. We also really liked Kobe Stroughter (5'11/PG/2021/Las Vegas, NV), who is a pass-first PG with good change of speed and direction. Stroughter has great ball skills, which helps him get into the paint often and get off a nifty little floater. We also liked Stroughter's on ball defense and the fact he played the passing lanes and caused multiple turnovers.

Devin Askew, Derrick Nettles, Hercy Miller, Kobe Stroughter & Isael Silva
In our initial story early on Monday we mentioned Isael Silva (6'0/PG/2021/Sacramento, CA) and his ability to finish highly contested layups.  Well, in the games, Silva showed the ability to score at a high level while also making plays for teammates. He's smart, patient and excels at the pick and roll game. He's also crafty, changes speed and direction well, and makes great decisions with the rock.  If that wasn't enough, Silva also defends well and lives in the passing lanes where he converts turnovers into layups. Zaon Collins (5'11/PG/2021/Las Vegas, NV) was another excellent floor general. Collins does everything you want in a PG; he distributes ball, makes the extra pass, rebounds well for his position, works well in transition and defends.  The more we watched him the more we realized how productive he was. He just seems to always make the right play.

He impressed us during the one-on-one drills and again during the games. Anthony Swift (6'5/combo forward/2021/Las Vegas, NV) has a ton of upside potential. Long, athletic with good footwork and the ability to finish at the rim best describes Swift's game. He also defends well with his length and can drain the mid-range jumper if left undefended. He may have been the youngest player at the event, but Christian Moore (6'5/WF/2022/Los Angeles, CA) was still one of the better kids. Possessing great length for his age, Moore shoots it well, has nice form to his jump shot and is super athletic. Moore projects well with continued growth and development! We did not see much of him, but what we did see of Solomon Jones (6'6/C/2021/Long Beach, CA) we liked! With great size and length as an 8th grader, Jones' upside was as good as any player at the combine. 

As we stated earlier, there was ample talent in LA.  Some of the other standouts we saw included: De'Kquante Hayes (6'2/CG/2021/Las Vegas, NV), Ben Krystkowiak (6'1/WF/2021/Sandy, UT), Truman Gettings (6'7/C/2021/Calabasas, CA), Will McClendon (6'3/WF/2021/Las Vegas, NV), Brandon Perez (6'1/PG/2021/Valencia, CA), Elijah Willis (5'7/PG/2021/ Bakersfield, CA), Cole Anderson (6'1/PG/2021/Fresno, CA) and Dimitrios Stragalinos (6'3/WF/2021/Fairfield, CA). The next stop for the UA Next Combine Series is Dallas, where we're sure to find another group of very talented players.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

UA Next Combine-West Top 5 Players

Malik Thomas, Tyler Powell, Chris Page, Michael Mitchell & Glenn Taylor
Yesterday we posted an early list of players who stood out in the skills and drills portion of the UA Next Combine Series at Bishop Montgomery HS in LA.  As you would expect, when the games tipped off later in the afternoon not only did some of the players we had featured earlier justify their early ink, additional guys emerged with standout performances.  When we mentioned Malik Thomas (6’3/ CG/2021/Alta Loma, CA) we suspected that the powerful and skilled Thomas had a chance to have a big day, but what didn’t know was that he would go on to establish himself as the top kid at the event.  There’s no need to repeat what we said about Thomas earlier, just know, the kid can go!

We also mentioned Tyler Powell (6’4/WF/2021/Los Angeles, CA) yesterday in terms of his size, strength and athleticism, but the more we watched Powel both power his way to the cup and knock down treys and mid-range jumpers during the games, the more it was clear he deserved the #2 spot on the day. We could not have been more impressed with Powell!  We didn’t see him in the skills and drills, so we missed the immense talent of Chris Page (6’4/WF/2021/Gardena, CA).  Page is a long and range wing who can easily slide over and run the off guard or even run the point in a pinch.  He’s extremely athletic, has good body control and finishes often and in traffic.  Page is also physical, tough and makes difficult plays look easy. From what we saw, not only is Page a good-looking D-I prospect going forward, he did enough to hold down our #3 spot.

We caught him earlier in the day and noticed that Michael Mitchell (6’1/PG/2021/Los Gatos, CA) had game.  However, his play later in the afternoon confirmed his top 5 talent. Possessing an elite skill set, Mitchell is quick, handles the rock well and does a nice job of crating enough space to get his shot off.  He already has nice size for an 8th grade PG and easily projects as a D-I athlete.  Loved his game!  Rounding out our top 5 is Glenn Taylor (6’4/CG/2021/Las Vegas, CA), a long and athletic combo guard who is able to play both spots equally well. What we liked most about Taylor was his elite motor, energy level on both ends of the court and his willingness to give up his body to dive on the floor to secure 50-50 ball!s He also rebounds and slides his feet well while defending smaller guards.  Taylor is another nice looking prospect.  Stay tuned as we feature the rest of our top 10 players at the combine.

Monday, May 29, 2017

UA Next Combine Series LA-Early Look

Devin Askew, Malik Thomas, Michael Mitchell, Anthony Swift & Glen Taylor
We’ve only gotten through a few skills and drills, combine testing and player/parent workshops, but it’s already clear that the talent level in the west coast session of the UA Next Combine Series in LA is already an upgrade from last week in Atlanta.  It’s also clear from what we’ve seen so far in a few drills that there are a few players who we can’t wait to see once the games tip off this afternoon.

In terms of early standouts, Devin Askew (6’3/PG/2021/Anaheim, CA) is making things look easy!  In a one-on-one drill, Askew, who is already nationally known, got to the cup with ease, scored almost every possession, and finished with both his left and right hands.  He’s already got great size for an 8th grade PG, coupled with a great skill set and high basketball IQ, Askew easily projects as a D-I prospect. Malik Thomas (6’3/CG/2021/Alta Loma, CA) showed some early signs that he’s here to grab some attention.  With his size and athletic frame it’ easy to see why he's capable of playing up in the U-15 division on the UAA Association. Thomas is strong, physical and can either get his shot off the bounce or euro-step his way to the cup.

Michael Mitchell (6’1/PG/2021/Los Gatos, CA) is another good-looking prospect early. Blessed with a nice skill set, quick first step, the ability to create space and then hit his jumper, Mitchell should excel this afternoon when the games tip off. Tyler Powell (6’4/WF/2021/Los Angeles, CA) is a grown man out here.  Big, strong and athletic, Powell is also quick on his feet.  Just when you think he simply uses his size and strength to bully his way to the basket, he flashes a 1-dribble pull-up and a nice looking mid-range game.  He should be a monster this afternoon.

Derrick Nettles, Anthony Swift, Ben Krystowiak, Will McClendon & Isael Silva
Glenn Taylor was a late arrival, but he’s already putting in work. Taylor has good length; he’s athletic and he has complete control of his body.  He also showed he can pull up and hit the mid-range jumper. Anthony Swift (6’5/PF/2021/Las Vegas, NV) caught our eye early. He has good size; he’s athletically gifted and he finishes well with contact. He also has good footwork and appears to defend well. Other guys we’ve seen this morning included: Ben Krystkowiak (6’1/WF/2021/Sandy, Utah), Isael Silva (6’0/PG/2021/Sacramento, CA), Reid Little (6’2/CG/2021/San Francisco, CA), Derrick Nettles (6’5/WF/2021/Perris, CA), Christian Moore (6’5/WF/2021/Los Angeles, CA) and Will McClendon (6’3/WF/2021/Las Vegas, NV).

As we stated earlier, we’re less than halfway through the 1-day event, so there are still a lot of players we haven’t seen and evaluated. When the games jump off this afternoon more players will emerge and we will get a closer look at the guys we notice early.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Buckeyes Make National List

Seth Wilson, Mechie Johnson, Skyler Schmidt & Chris Livingston
We recently stumbled on national player rankings for the classes for 2022 and 2021, and discovered that 4 Ohio players were featured. The Runna Report lists Seth Wilson (#20), Meechie Johnson (#33) and Skyler Schmidt (#35) among their top 40 players in the class of 2021.  In addition, Chris Livingston (#14) is the lone Buckeye to crack the report’s top 32.  Of course we’ve seen each of these players perform since the 4th grade, so it comes as no surprise that they are receiving national recognition. It should also be noted that each of the 4 players recently participated in the UA Next Combine in Chicago, IL and more than held their own!  In fact, Johnson was widely considered the best performer there, while Livingston, one of only two 7th graders, made a big time impact!

We are, however, surprised at a couple of omissions, as we believe that another handful of Ohio players could have made this list.  Moreover, each of the 4 listed players have been perianal all-stars and Top 5 Award winners at our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases.  In fact, each of them was a participant in our prestigious Ohio North vs South All-Star Game last September.  Congrats the each player and their parents for this great recognition.  On another note, we also noted several other Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase alumni represented on the list. Zion Harmon (#1), Jalen Blackmon (#12), Ryan Conway (#19),  Furst (#23), Pierre Brooks II (#36) and Carter Whit (#38) all made the 2021 list.

Shockers Log in Impressive Season

2024 Ohio Schockers
The Jackson (Massillon, OH) based Ohio Shockers (2024) just completed their 2017 AAU Campaign with an impressive 27-0 overall record. Their record includes titles in all 6 of the tournaments they entered, including: The Ballers Bash (VAC), The Battle (VAC), Rising Stars Classic (, Massillon Challenge (Ohio, Akron Cage Classic (VAC), and Prime Time Challenge (VAC).  Along the way the Shockers defeated teams such as SMAC-Akron-Evans, Mahoning Valley Elite, Ohio Panthers, MKU, and the Dawgs to name a few.  However, they saved their best last in defeating TNBA East-Loppolo (2 championships & 4 finals this season) 49-32 in the Prime Time Challenge championship game.

Over the past 2 seasons, the Shockers have gone 62-6, with 3 of those losses coming at the hands of teams form out of state in the Dru Joyce Shooting Stars Classic.  The team, coached by Jim Kish, Dan Weekly, and Chad Bailey, includes players from Jackson, Lake, Louisville, and Green.  The key to the Shockers’ success is their unselfish brand of play, and the fact that each player is able to mesh well into a team concept.  We would like to congratulate to Shockers on their impressive 2-year run.  With that said, we would like to see them upgrade their 2018 schedule so the get an opportunity to play teams listed in out top 20 Power Rankings!  Hopefully we get a chance to see them in the Buckeye Prep Invitational next year!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Branham Video Demonstrates Talent

There's a new highlight video out on Malaki Branham (6'3/WF/2021/Columbus) showing his wide range of talent.  We've been following Branham for a number of years now and it's clear he continues to grow and develop.  A perennial all-star and Top 5 Award winner at our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases, Branham easily projects as a D-I prospect.  Long, athletic with an improving skill set best describes Branham's gifts.  He's also getting to and finishing at the rim on a consistent basis.  As one of the key pieces to our #1 ranked Tru Game, Braham is becoming a force both offensively and defensively.  We expect Branham will contribute to a varsity program early in his freshman season.  Check out the video below.

Highlight Video

Dawg Days Grab Primetime Crown

Dawg Days Basketball
Coach Morgan Wenger’s 2022 Dawg Days Basketball squad finished 6-0 on their way to the title of a Primetime sponsored tournament last weekend. To claim it all, Dawg Days had to take down VAC-Knox (62-38); Ohio Hoopers (57-53); Team Cure-Molk (85-45); VAC Sullivan (70-55); Blue Jays (67-51); and Ohio Hoopers (second time) (55-53).  Standouts for the weekend included: Jalen Wenger, Javar Simpson, and Chris Smith.  Wenger’s team head to Ft. Wayne for the Memorial Run & Slam next weekend before returning to Columbus for the Buckeye Prep Summer Showdown.

Despite missing star forward, Willie Stewart, Another Level 2022 dominated the All-American Cage Classic.  Another Level went 7-0, with wins over Hard Work Basketball (65-44); Ohio KOTC (52-22); Dawg Days Basketball (66-26); Next Level (55-20); BFO (65-50); the tournament favorite, TNBA Shooting Stars (55-38); and Dawg Days Basketball in the championship (65-49).

According to the coach, Another Level “has had some disappointing losses this season.  Coming into the year expectations were very high with this talented group.  It took awhile, but they are finally catching their stride.  Losing to a team in the Elite Eight Gold Bracket at the Dur Joyce Shooting Stars Classic that they previously beat by 30 points illuminates their ups and downs.  However, they seem to be putting it together as the year progresses.”

Below is a look at Another Level’s roster and an evaluation of each player according to the team’s coach. This team has a lot of under the radar talent that has been under exposed so far. Star forward Willie Stewart (Euclid) has already received recognition at Buckeye Prep Invitational. His motor, mixed with his athleticism, could make him one of the best raw talents in the state. Also, forward Duron Montgomery (Euclid) has played like a man among boys all season, but especially against Ed Hebens' Shooting Stars, leading them to a 17-point victory, while completely dominating their bigs. Jalen Brown (Shaker) and John Henderson (Nordonia) is one of the top backcourts in the state. Jalen Brown has received top 20 in NEO national showcase two straight years and is an athletic play making point guard with a very high ceiling.

John Henderson has to be one of the top two-way guards in the state. Scoring 24 points in the championship game against Dawg Days, while also locking down their star player. This kid has unlimited potential. To round out this talented group, sharp shooting guard Sam Mulberry (Solon) is a knockdown shooter who has very high basketball IQ. The depth of this team is hard to match. Claishon Ivory (Euclid) is the most athletic player on the floor. Anthony McCarthy (Twinsburg) is a lockdown defender with a high motor. Lashon Singleton (Shaker) is a glass eater. Maurice Tartt (Warrensville) is a 6'2'' high-motor big. Jordan Cannon is an unstoppable slasher going left. We will catch Another Level at the Buckeye Prep Summer Showdown June 16th-18th.

The 2021 All-Ohio Wolves finished 3-3 on their way to a Silver Division runner-up finish at the All-Ohio Super Showcase on Sunday.  All-Ohio defeated Hardwork Basketball (67-28); lost to Dayton Wolves Blue; lost to MBA National (53-64); beat Dayton Nets (66-38), defeated Chicago’s Old Gold (53-37); and lost to ISG in the championship game (42-46). Deuce Shaw and Aaron Davis II were selected to the All-Tournament Team.  For the season, All-Ohio Wolves are 41-10 overall.

All-Ohio Wolves 2023 have had a good run the last 3 tournaments including a 2nd place, 1st place and a 4-1 record and 2nd place finish at the All-Ohio Super Showcase over their past 3 events.  Their run at the Super Showcase included wins over The Miller Factory, The Family (MI), Uplay Canada and All-Ohio White.  We will see All-Ohio Wolves 2023 at the Buckeye Prep Summer Showdown.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ginn Elite Claims Championship

2021 Ginn Elite
This past weekend at the Shoot The Rock Classic National Qualifier in Erie, PA, Coach Bryon Ottrix’s 2021 Ginn Elite squad finished undefeated on their way to the title. Bryon Ottrix Jr, led the team in scoring all weekend, averaging 18 points per game, including a tournament-high 23 points. Also playing well for Ginn Elite were Randy Harris, Jaylen Anderson, and Jalen Knott.  Knott logged in a big performance in the championship game, scoring 19 points with four treys.

Congrats to Darryl Peterson's 4th grade All-Ohio Phenom team for making a Final Four run at the George Hill tourney in Indianapolis last weekend.  Peterson's team was upended in the semi-finals by the 2nd ranked (nationally) and eventual tourney champions, Carolina Stars by 8 points.  Phenom was powered by Darryn Peterson, who averaged 24 points per game.  Look for Peterson to move up in the national player rankings based on his outstanding play so far this season.  You can catch All-Oho Phenom in action at the Buckeye Prep Summer Showdown June 16-18th.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Takeovers Takes Nike Super Sixteen Crown

Teamtakeover-2022 All-Ohih Nike Super 16 Champions
The All Ohio Nike Super Sixteen held this past weekend in Columbus, gave us a first look at Team Takeover (TTO) class of 2022. Sponsored by Victor Oladipo of the Oklahoma City Thunder and guided by the steady hand of Ray Brewer (Head Coach), Keith Thomas and Jerald Roy (assistants), this young team made quite the impression during  their weekend in Ohio. Coach Brewer has assembled a talented team of young men that are driven to uphold and defend TTO as a program and the DMV as a whole. 

When individual scoring is at the fore front of youth basketball, these young men played as one unit involving each other in all aspects of the game.  As a result of this approach, these young men won each game by an average of 20 + points, including a big win in the  championship game where the final score was 58-34. TTO believes in defense first and that is exactly what was shown over the weekend.

Team Takeover’s 2022 roster includes: Christian Watson  (#1), Devin Dinkins  (#2), Christian Winborne  (#3), Dylan Williamson  (#4), Judah  Mintz (#5), Jabari Smith (#6), Derrick Keys (#7), John Loughlin  (#10), Christian May (#8), Stephaun Walker  (#11), and Wiz Rodger (Not picture).

UA Next Combine South Standout Performers 6-20

 Jalen Breazeale, Miles Versa, Garrison Powell, Oliver O'Brian & Jalen Hood
Yesterday we featured our picks as the top 5 players that attended the UA Next Combine Series in Atlanta, GA on Saturday.  Today, we would like to list players 6-15, including several players who made our Honorable Mention squad.  It’s always difficult in events like these to see everybody enough to accurately evaluate each player.  We do our best to see everybody, but we understand we often fall short.  Players need to understand that the window of opportunity to shine often closes quickly, so a slow start early, rest in the middle, or being too fatigued to give their maximum effort for an entire event could all conspire to produce under recognition and exposure.  Of course, some players are simply off their game for some reason.  With that said, let’s take a look at whom and what we saw on Saturday.

We over heard a coach describe Jalen Breazeale (5’8/PG/2021/Mauldin, SC) as the top PG at the camp.  Although we can’t confirm that, based on the standout performance logged in by Khalil Brantley, we can confirm that Breazeale was quite impressive!  He’s supper quick with excellent ball handling skills, and he excels at breaking down his defender and getting into the lane for a layup or dish. Breazeale is also athletic, and his ability to find open teammates and then deliver accurate and timely passes makes him an excellent playmaker.  He’s also explosive, and his knack for finishing wrap around passes in a crowd is exciting to watch. Breazele is a high energy player who seems to make a lot of things happen on the court.  Moreover, he defends at a high level.  Take a look at the highlight video below and we’re sure you will agree that Breazeale has game!

Miles Versa (5’10/PG/2021/Athens, TN) logged in a fine performance as well. Versa has a nice looking mid-range jumper, and he’s also aggressive at attacking the cup. He has an explosive first step and he does a good job of finishing plays.  He also sees the floor well and is a very capable and willing passer.  Versa also has good body control, and he plays with solid motor. We also saw some good stuff out of Garrison Powell (6’2/CG/2021/Roswell, GA). Powell, has good length, is athletic and finishes well through contact.  Powell is a bigger guard, and he finishes at the free throw line.

He may not scare anybody getting off the bus, but few players were more productive on Saturday than Oliver O’Brien (6’1/CG/2021/Davidson, NC). From what we saw, the highly skilled O’Brien just makes plays.  We did’nt keep his scoring numbers, but every time we looked up he was scoring the ball and making highlight plays.  The son of a high school basketball coach, it’s clear O’Brien has been in the gym doing skill work.  

Tony Watters II, Trayvien Curry, Jalen Clark, Robert McCray & Jaden Thomas
Any discussion about the top PGs at the event has to include Tony Waters II (5’9/PG/2021/Charlotte, NC).  Watters put in work on Saturday! He got to the cup on a consistent basis, hit mid-range jumpers off the bounce, set teammates up for easy buckets, scored in transition and was generally difficult to guard. Watters is also quick, explosive and relentlessly attacks the cup where he finishes at a high rate.  Teamed up with Breazeale, the duo gave teams problems all day.  We expect some good things out of Watters in the future. 

Just outside our top 10 were Trayvien Curry (6’4/PF/2021/Cleveland, TN) and Jalen Hood-Schifino 6'0/PG/2022/Charlotte, NC). Curry has good length, a solid frame and was at his beat protecting the rim against would be scorers.  He’s not just a good defender, Curry was seen finishing plays with his left hand. Curry appears to still have plenty of room to grow, so it would not surprise us at all to see him playing college basketball in a few years. Boyd also did enough to catch our eye on Saturday.  He’s well built, strong and he has a nice touch on his jumper. He’s also smooth, poised and plays with nice pace.  Although he did some nice things, everything tells us he had more in him that he did not let go.  Boyd could be another good one with continued growth and development.

Ashton Williams, Marcus Stewart, Anthony Hopson, Collin Albert, Ja'Sean Morris
We were also impressed with Jalen Clark (5’7/PG/2021/Indianapolis, IN), who caught our eye early. Clark is a great floor general, who plays the pick and roll well, is patient, keeps his head up in search of cutting teammates, and he does a good job of making plays.  He pushes the ball well in transition, but still understands how to play with good pace.  Robert McCray (5’11/PG/2021/Columbia, SC) was another solid PG who showed us flashes of talent. McCray was at his best driving to the basket.  He’s also fast, athletic and aggressive. Rounding out our top 15 is Jaden Thomas (6’0/CG/2021/Indianapolis, IN), who is another one to watch going forward.  Thomas has good size for his position, has a great motor, long arms, and he does a good job pushing the ball in transition.

Our Honorable Mention list includes: Justin Dobbins (6’5/PF/2021/Indianapolis, IN), Ja’Monti Wright (5’10/PG/2021/Louisville, KY), Anthony Hopson (5’10/PG/2021/Indianapolis, IN), Marcus Stewart (6’2/CG/2021/Columbus, OH), Colin Albert (5’10/PG/2021/Beachwood, OH), and Quante Berry (5’10/CG/2021/Cleveland, TN). 

Although the event did not have a lot of the big named kids due to a couple of big competing events, we were still please with the overall talent level. The UA Next Combine Series heads to the west coast (LA) nest week for the Memorial Day weekend.  From what we understand, the talent level should be significant!

Monday, May 22, 2017

UA Next Combine Rolls into the ATL

Khalil Brantley, Camden Blount, Joshua Beadle, Korey Richardson & Shayne Monsanto
The second leg of the UA Next Combine Series tipped off at Milton High School in Atlanta. GA on Saturday and played host to a number of talented ball players.  Although he was one of the smallest players at the event, Khalil Brantley (5’10/PG/2021/Jamaica, NY) made a compelling case as the event’s top guy.  Brantley is well known nationally, so it comes as no surprise to us that he excelled on Saturday.  Brantley dominated on both ends of the floor, and he not only scored the ball, his playmaking skills were on full display as he found open teammates consistently.  Brantley is a smart PG who is highly skilled and plays with an elite motor. He’s also crafty and he has the rock on a string.  At his current rate of development, Brantley projects no worse than a mid-major prospect.  In fact, word has it he has already secured an offer form Iona as an 8th grader!

Right behind Brantley in performance was Camden Blount (6’4/combo forward/2021/Smyrna, GA), a strong and athletic combo forward who plays with a lot of energy.  Blount is solidly built, rebounds in bunches, runs the floor with purpose, handles the ball well and finishes at a high rate around the basket. Blount also has a nice little mid-range shot to boot.  Another good prospect with continued growth and development.

We saw some really god things out of Joshua Beadle (6’1/PG/2021/Columbia, SC). Beadle already has good size for his position at an age, and he’s smooth, athletic and possess an impressive skill set.  We saw a three-level scorer who also doesn’t mind sitting down defensively. He excels at 1 dribble pull-ups or knocking down catch and shoot treys.  If left unguarded after he crosses half court, he is more than capable of stepping into a trey with little hesitation.  We also loved his motor and explosive first step! Kory Richardson (6’2/CG/2021/Columbia, SC) balled out Saturday as well.  Richardson showed the ability to create space with a nifty step back jumper. He also has a nice mid-range game including a, effective floater.  He’s got nice size already, rebounds well, and is super smooth.

Rounding out our top 5 is Shayne Monsanto (6’0/WF/2021/Columbia, SC), who is strong, and understands how to use his football-type frame to dominate in the paint.  Monsanto is also full of energy and is more than willing to do the dirty work.  He rebounds well for his size, is a solid defender and feasted on put backs all day. He also finishes plays through contact, is active in transition and has a great motor. We're not sure if Monsanto will stay the course with basketball or end up playing on the grid iron, but for now, he's nice! Although we have featured only our top 5 players, we will feature the rest of our top 10 tomorrow.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Baldwin has Next Level Potential

Patrick Baldwin, Will Jeffress, Dionte Hughes, Caleb Furst & Chris Hodges
Earlier we profiled the top guards that attended the UA Next Combine in Chicago, but it was clear there were a number of quality bigs and wings in the house as well. In terms of long-term prospects, Patrick Baldwin (6’6/WF/2021/Evanston, IL) legitimately could have been the top prospect in the gym.  Baldwin is long, agile, and has a good touch around the rim. He can also handle rock, pass, and he fills the lane on the break at a high level.  With a father who coaches at Northwestern University, it’s easy to understand why Baldwin has since an impressive skill level, IQ and upside potential. 

While we’re talking about long-term prospects, William Jeffress (6’5/WF/2021/Erie, PA) has a high ceiling as well. We’ve caught Jeffress in action on a number of occasions and have always been impressed with his athleticism, explosiveness and the ability to finish at the rim at a high level. Jeffress is long, defends well and can guard multiple positions.  Look for Jeffress on a college campus in a few years! Dionte Hughes (6’6/WF/2021/Indianapolis, IN) is another one to watch.  An athletic combo forward, Hughes finishes well around the rim with dunks, grabs more than his share of rebounds and can push the rock from baseline to baseline off the rebound.

Caleb Furst (6’8/C/2021/Ft. Wayne, IN) has long been considered one of the top bigs in the country, and his play in Chicago did not hurt his reputation.  Furst is a lefty with a soft touch on his jump shot.  He also rebounds well, has some nice back to the basket moves, and he make his free throws.  Furst is also a solid long-term prospect with high major potential. Chris Hodges (6’8/C/2021/Schaumberg, IL) attracted some attention in Chi Town. Hodges was biggest big at the combine. He moves well, shows toughness, finishes around the rim and defends the paint.

We should have already mentioned Max Christie (6’2/PG/2021/Arlington Heights, IL) among the top PGs at the event, but we will say it here; the kid can ball! Christie already has good size for his position, can score from all three levels and looks like another long-term prospect.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that Christie’s mother played college ball at Northwestern!  We have to give a shout out to Noah Peeoples (6’2/WF/2021/Akron, OH), who traveled to Chicago and re-established himself as a national talent.  Peoples continues to demonstrate his ability to handle and score the ball away from the cup.  He’s an undersized power forward who is developing wing skills.

Pierre Brooks II (6’4/WF/2021/Detroit, MI) also logged in a solid event and did nothing to harm his growing reputation. We also saw some flashes from Makail Cottingham (6’0/PG/2021/Parma, OH), A.J. Braun (6’6/PF/2021/Springboro, OH), Glenn Bynum Jr. (6’3/CG/2021/Mint Hill, NC), Skyler Schmidt (6’6/PF/2021/Goshen, OH), Jaden Winfield (6’1/CG/St. Louis, MO) and Gregory Johnson (5’11/PG/2021/Cincinnati, OH).  Now that Chicago is in the books, we are now looking forward heading to Atlanta for the South Regional Combine.  Stay tuned!

Midwest Combine Player Pictures

Johnson Excels at Under Armour Combine

Meechie Johnson, Bryce Hopkins, Keon Henderson, Paul McMillan IV & Chris Livingston
Out of the 40 elite 8th graders who attended the UA Next Combine in Chicago last Saturday, Meechie Johnson (5’11/PG/2021/Garfield Heights, OH) may have out performed them all.  Although the event featured several nationally ranked players, including some of the top floor generals in the country, Johnson’s skill set, vision, ball skills, play making and ability to score was on full display.  Johnson is fully confident in his abilities, and his style of play is fun to watch.  He not only has the ball on a string, his ability to find open teammates and deliver pinpoint passes is at an elite level.  If that's not enough, Johnson appears to have stretched out a bit, and if he gets anywhere close to his father's height, he's going to be a problem. He has sat atop the Ohio-based rankings for years, but his national profile has continued to rise.  At this point in his career, Johnson clearly projects as a D-I prospect.  (See video)

Speaking of elite PG’s, we have to recognize Jalen Blackmon (6’1/CG/2021/Ft. Wayne, IN), who logged in another solid performance on the day. Blackmon is scoring combo guard, who possess very nice handle, has all the moves to get his shot off, is deadly from the 3-point line, and benefits from good blood lines.  We also really liked Bryce Hopkins (6’2/CG/2021/Montgomery, IL), who is a big strong point guard and a natural playmaker.  Hopkins also has a nice handle, he attacks basket or hits pull up off dribble, plays with great poise, and may have been the best long-term guard in attendance!

We also saw some good things out of Keon Henderson (5’11/PG/2021/Detroit, MI).  We’ve seen Henderson on numerous occasions, and he continues to make his case as one of the top point guards in the nation. Henderson is a quick point guard, who understands the role of distributor, but can knock down the jumper or get to the basket. He was only 1 of 2 seventh graders invited to the event, but Paul McMillan IV (6’0/CG/2022/Cincinnati, OH) more than held his own against the big boys. McMillan is one of the top 7th grade point guards in the country, and he continues to move up the national rankings as more people see his talent. McMillan has a very high IQ, can either knock down the jump shot or attack the rim. We also saw him excel at the drive and kick game, while also making correct reads going full speed.

Speaking of elite 7th graders at the event, Chris Livingston (6’3/CG/2022/Akron, OH) not only played very well, he was clearly better than a number of 8th graders at the event.  On Saturday, Livingston, a top 10-ranked player in the class of 2022, played above the rim, and proved he could score the rock, lock down defenders and can guard multiple positions.  With continued handwork and development, Livingston has a chance to play high major basketball in a few years.  Jaden Hameed (5’10/CG/2021/Northfield, OH) found a way to standout among a lot of talent.  Hameed has burst of speed, is quick, and is a guard that likes to attack the cup. Hammed is strongly built, and is a tough defender on an opposing guards.  Stay tuned as we profile some of the bigger players who attend the event.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

UA Next Combine Series-Midwest Underway

Jalen Blackmon, Caleb Furst, William Jeffress, Pierre Brooks& Meechie Johnson
We’re only halfway through the day of the UA Next Combine Series Midwest and it’s already clear there are some serious ballers in the house! The second year event tipped off at the Quest Multisport facility in Chicago, IL.  On the same court as the NBA Combine earlier this week, 40 elite 8th graders from around the region assembled for the first of 5 regional combines. Under Armour’s new partnership with the NBA and Jr. NBA is clearly evident and the upgrade in resources is quite impressive! Another nice touch was the presence of Oklahoma City Thunder’s Jernami Grant and former NBA great Antonio Davis, who offered their insight and experience to the campers.

So far this morning, players and parents have been treated to informative workshops designed to impart knowledge and valuable information about what kids and parents can expect going forward.  In addition, players are being put through a series of skill and drills as well as the same combine testing as the future NBA guys experienced this past week.  The 9 stations include shuttle drills, vertical jumps, 40-yard dash, wingspan and height measurements and several others.   After lunch, players will begin practicing before the 3 rounds of games begin in the afternoon.

The opening event has attracted some of the some of the top 8th graders in the region including: Jalen Blackmon (6’1/PG/Ft. Wayne, IN), Caleb Furst (6’8/C/Ft. Wayne, IN), William Jeffress (6’5/WF/Erie, PA), Meechie Johnson (5’11/PG/Garfield Heights, OH), Pierre Brooks II (6’4/WF/Detroit, MI), Keon Henderson (5’11/PG/Detroit, MI), Skyler Schmidt (6’6/PF/Goshon, OH), Patrick Baldwin (6’6/WF/Evanston, IL), Glenn Bynum Jr. (6’3/CG/Mint Hill, NC), Chris Hodges (6’8/C/Schamburg, IL) and Jaden Winfield (6’1/CG/St. Louis, MO). In addition to the 8th graders, 2 nationally ranked 7th graders made the cut.  Chris Livingston (6’3/CG/Akron, OH) and Paul McMillan IV (6’0/PG/Cincinnati, OH) will have the opportunity to pit their talent against some of the best the class of 2021 has to offer.  With all the talent in the gym, we can’t wait for the games to jump off later this afternoon!  Stay tuned for our post event report.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Huffman Receives First D-I Offer

Grant Huffman-Freshman St Edwards
We’ve watched him play for several years now, so it comes as no surprise to us that Grant Huffman (6’3/SG/St. Edwards/2020) received his first D-I scholarship offer from Miami of Ohio after his freshman year at St Edwards.  Huffman has always impressed us with his skill set and basketball IQ. As most of our avid readers know, Buckeye Prep has had Huffman ranked in our top 10 for several years. As a starter for Malcolm Walter’s King James Shooting Stars team for several years, Huffman carved out a national reputation for himself that put him on college coaches’ radars early.  In addition, Huffman was a perianal all-star and Top 5 Award recipient at our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases, and it was clear early on that he possessed D-I potential.  We would like to congratulate Grant and his family for what will be the first of man offers in the next couple of years!

While we’re talking about early scholarship offers, we have to give a shout out the Khalil Brantley (5’10/PG/NC/2021), who as only an 8th grader, has already received a D-I scholarship offer from Iona.  Like Huffman, Brantley has performed at the highest level nationally for several years, and we’ve enjoyed seeing his progress and development right before our eyes.  We will get our next look at Brantley at the UA Next Combine in Atlanta next week. These early scholarship offers should serve as motivation for young players to continue to hone their craft, with the belief that college coaches are following their development even at an early age!