|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.