Sunday, July 23, 2017

Nike Summer Championship-Saturday Action

Rammer Pryor, Juleeon Carter, Vernon Smith, Davon Smith-Johnson & Barret Labus
We had the opportunity to take in some Saturday action at the Nike Summer Championship in Columbus.  The relatively new event represents a joint venture between Jerry Watson and Steve Vega, and pulled together several talented teams in multiple grade divisions. We were most interested in watching Ed Heben’s 2022 TNBA Shooting Stars team that picked up a couple quality players for this tournament.  The most notable addition was Jalen Wenger of Dawg Days Basketball. We only caught one of their games, but it was clear that Wenger will add a significant scoring punch to this team.  What was also clear is that Raymar Pryor is a stud, and he was easily the best player in the gym.  We’ve seen him play for a couple of years now, but this year he has had a breakout season. He’s extremely athletic and is at his best attacking and finishing at rim level.  He even punched one in the game we watched.  Ohio’s class of 2022 is a good one, but it’s time for Pryor to take his place among the top tier of players.  In our opinion, Pryor deserves more national recognition!  With continued growth and development, Pryor has D-I potential and should be tracked by college programs around the state.

We also continue to be impressed with Michal Bova who is the consummate floor general.  He’s highly skilled, smart and always seems to make the right play.  He was in foul trouble in the game we watched so he did not put up big numbers, be he knows how to set up teammates for easy buckets and rarely turns the ball over.  We expect Bova to play college ball at some level.  We also liked what we saw with Joey Battista. He’s a workhorse in the paint and his soft touch allows him to score around the bucket. You can expect to see Pryor, Wenger, Bova and Battista in the Ohio North vs South All-Star Game in September.

Kevin Mack, Martavien Johnson, Paris Locke, Raynell Hester & Jimmykael Manning
We also had the opportunity to watch a couple of players we had not previously seen. Davon Smith-Johnson (6’2/PF/2022/Cleveland) is a player to watch going forward. He has good size, is athletic and has great upside potential.  He runs with Court Leaders who we have ranked in the top 10 of our Power Rankings.  His teammate, Raynell Hester (5’7/PG/2022/Cleveland) is a solid PG with a solid skill set. We also really liked Juleeon Carter (5’11/PF/2022/Toledo).  Carter is a bruiser with a strong frame, power and nimble feet.  He’s strong to the cup and has perfected a spin move that gives him good looks at the cup.  From what we saw on Saturday, Carter deserves a spot on our top player list.  We also saw some good things out of Keivon Mack (6’2/WF/2022/Toledo).  We were most impressed with Mack’s athleticism and motor.  Both Carter and Mack run with Toledo Ice, a team good enough for a spot in our Power Rankings.

We also got another look at MKU Athletics in a game against Michigan Rising Basketball. Vernon Smith (6’4/C/2021/Akron) was impressive as he rebounded at a high level.  He’s better defensively right now, but with continued skill work he could become a scorer as well. Martavien Johnson (5’8/PG/2021/Akron) caught our eye with his high energy both offensively and defensively. The speedy guard is aggressive to the cup and does not mind defending 94 feet. Demarcus Rogers (5’8/PG/2021/Akron) was solid as were Darrian Lewis (5’7/PG/2021/Akron) and Jumacius Portis (5’11/WF/2021/Akron).  Michigan’s Paris Locke (5’11/PG/2021/Ypsilanti, MI) was the man for Michigan Rising Basketball and did most of his damage with the 3-ball.

Arness Lawson, Jahmeel Wakeel, Samuel Johnson, Dominique Aekins & Collin Washington
We were treated to a barnburner between All-Ohio Red and TADD (2024).  This game was not decided until the closing seconds of the game as both teams took turns hitting big shots near the end. TADD would go on to get the 49-48 win in a thriller.  Tadd’s top guy and leading scorer was Samuel Johnson (5’8/C/2024/Worthington), while the standouts for All-Oho were Isaiah Marshall (PG/2024/Pickerington) and Dominique Aekins (PG/2024/Sunbury). 

Other Standouts we saw included: Barret Labus (5’11/CG/2021/Wadsworth), Omar Abuhamdeh (5’8/PG/2021/North Royalton), Terrance Callaway (5’11/WF/2022/Tuscaloosa, AL), Jimmykael Manning (6’2/C/2022/Tuscaloosa, AL), Arness Lawson (PG/2025/Columbus), Jahmeel Wakeel (SG/2025/Columbus), Devin Colbert Jr. (PG/Indy) and Collin Washington (PG/Indy).

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