While Nike has set the bar for grassroots basketball, Adidas is raising their own with this year’s Adidas Gauntlet. The three stripe circuit has already made stops in Dallas and Indianapolis, and it was time to show and prove at The Big House in Tavares, Florida this past weekend.
The 17 and under showcased many top teams and players from around the country. Here is our breakdown of 50-plus players that caught our eye listed in alphabetical order by team. Sadly, we did not get to see every team the way we would have wanted to in order to put together an evaluation for them all. That said, yes, I am aware that I did miss some players and teams at this event, but fortunately we have been diligent in scouting the Adidas Gauntlet since the beginning and will continue to do so all way to Vegas.
Boston Isn’t The Only City With Big Time Celtics
The Atlanta Celtics came in to this event as one of the more talked about 17 and under teams in the entire country. They’re a long and athletic team full of talent that looks to use it’s physical tools to disrupt opposing team’s offensive flow on defense and then get out in transition to create instant offense.
At 6-feet-8-inches tall, Tennessee has an excellent wing in Braxton Blackwell. The skilled 2016 prospect has a good positional frame, can handle well for his size and can create well off the dribble. He looks good in transition and has natural skills that can be seen in multiple aspects of the game. In the games we saw him, his jumper does need to continue to improve– especially since his athleticism is solid, but it won’t be overpowering at the next level to make up for a lack of a jumper. Blackwell doesn’t force his way in to making ill-advised plays. Instead he finds his way in to the offense.
If an athletic combo-guard was what a program needed, they wouldn’t have to look any further than 6’5″ Kobi Simmons. The St. Francis high school rising junior is full of bounce that you have to respect either in the half court or in transition. His ability to get by defenders with an explosive first step would get the attention of any college coach in the country. His ability to create off the bounce is a needed commodity in today’s game where wings and guards have predominately taken over the landscape. He has a long frame and solid lateral quickness that will translate at the next level defensively. As long as Simmons can continue to work on getting his jump shot up to a higher point of release and refine his overall mechanics, he has the ability to be a legit threat at all three levels any time he sees the need to score.
If upside had a name it very well would be 2018 rising freshman E.J. Montgomery. Listed at 6’10″, Montgomery has a smooth game in the 12-15 foot area. He can pass well for his size, make good decisions with the basketball and has a solid jumper inside the arc. Montgomery, while he is still young compared to his peers, already has the foundation to be a very skilled player come his senior year. Having played as a point-forward as he was being talked about on the national scene as a then seventh grader, he already has pretty good ball handling skills for his size. Montgomery will need to continue to add strength– as most younger players do– as well as continue to define his natural skill set, but he has the makings of a player who can affect almost any aspect of the game that he wants. He’s very mobile, can rebound out of area and can get up and down the floor well. His jumper beyond the arc will either need to improve or he will have to be coached to bring his game inside the arc more. We’re hearing that Montgomery could be transferring to national power Montverde Academy. Nothing by Hardwood Hoops Central has been confirmed at press time.
6’5″ D’Marcus Simonds is the quiet glue guy that can fill up a stat sheet. Simonds has good positional size and is a good rebounding guard. He’s not ultra quick, but has good athleticism and uses his body well to help him get to his spots on the floor to score. He possesses solid length, plays alert and active on both ends, and showed a good feel for the game. D’Marcus can be an extra ball handler, is a three-level scorer who can be used in a variety of ways on the offensive end. Overall, Simonds is the kind of prospect a team needs– a guy who not only is willing to do what is needed, but also more than capable to do so. Simonds claims offers from Mississippi State, Georgia & UCONN.
Alpharetta, Georgia prospect, 6’8″ Kaiser Gates, is a do-it-all small forward who makes his impact within the flow of the game. He has good size and length combined with active hands and feet to defend. He’s a solid to good shooter depending on where he is on the court. Gates works his way in to the offense well– whether it’s moving without the ball, grabbing an offensive rebound for a put back or running the floor hard and finishing in transition. He provides good flexibility for his team as he’s anything but a ball stopper on offense. He advances the ball well and plays with patience. Gates has the ability to take his man off the dribble and score at the rim in one-on-one scenarios due to having a solid frame and enough strength to finish through most contact.
High-Major Inside-Outside Combo Allows the Hawks to Fly
Standing five-feet-nine-inches tall, Austin Conway, is a two-sport athlete who is on the record as wanting to be a high major basketball player at the next level. He certainly has the tools to be. Equipped with excellent and lightning quick handles, Conway is able to use his speed and shiftiness to get to the rim and create. Conway can also knock down the open three and pull up off the bounce. His top speed end-to-end will have even the best defenders with the quickest feet struggling to get back in time before he is ready to make a play. He’ll need to add strength, continue to develop his decision making, but overall looks to be capable of running an offense at the next level while adding a quickness dimension that is a real asset.
Teammate and big-body big man De’Ron Davis is an interesting prospect. Davis showed back-to-the-basket instincts, a strong and wide frame, and a very solid tendency to clean up the glass on either end. Davis doesn’t force the action and kept the ball moving well for a big man to avoid any double teams. He ran the floor well, showed good hands and an ability to finish above the rim. He showed to be agile in the post when he would catch in the post and make a quick spin to the rim. Davis has good touch and a developing face up game out to the free throw line area. He competed on both ends and showed he’s willing and able to use his size to be a very capable post defender. Davis recently received a offer from UCLA.
North Carolina Prospect Loaded With Talent
By the end of the weekend, if there was one name you were well aware of it was Team Loaded NC’s 2016 point guard, Dennis Smith, Jr. Smith is a big guard who understands how to get to his spots and be a elite level scorer. Dennis made open threes, got in to the lane and created for himself and teammates and was almost always in attack mode. Whether defenders were ready or not to guard him, Smith looked to punish opposing teams every chance he got. He is also a very capable rebounding guard– evident when he posted 13 rebounds to go along with 30 points against Mass Rivals in the Saturday morning session. Smith also anticipated well in opposing team’s passing lanes on the defensive end and showed good hands. There wasn’t much to not like about Smith. The one area we did notice that still needs work is his ball handling and that he should continue to develop explosiveness in his first step. If he can lock these two areas down and combine that with his excellent leaping ability, Smith has all the makings of a possible top 5-10 prospect in what should be a special 2016 class. Reports are that the North Carolina prospect will transfer to national power Montverde Academy. Smith is scheduled to take unofficial visits to Duke and North Carolina soon.
Teammate and 6’2″ guard Jaylen Fornes is a do-it-all guard who plays with good feel. Fornes doesn’t force the action, instead he finds his way in to it. Fornes is a skilled scorer at all three levels with good athleticism and handle. He showed he could pull-up when needed and even make open threes. He’s a willing rebounding guard who plays unselfish and can create well for others. His quickness is solid and he has enough to get to the basket and draw fouls. Fornes has the ability to put up big numbers offensively and should intrigue a lot of college coaches along the way this summer.
High school and AAU teammate, six-foot point guard Demetrius Troy, completes the Word of God back court. Fornes and Troy are a very formidable pair at the high school level as both are capable of big scoring games. In the game we saw, Troy’s shot wasn’t quite falling, but he remained active and engaged throughout. While the impression left wasn’t quite what we’d hoped for from Troy, we are familiar with his game and hope to see him again soon.
Indiana’s Elite Showed Up
One of our favorite teams to watch this past weekend was Indiana Elite. These guys play well together and show you why the Hoosier state is all about eating, sleeping and breathing the hardwood.
Indy Elite’s Kyle Guy is an excellent guard. He can score it at all three levels with a smooth stroke. Guy has a very natural game and almost never forces a play. He knows where he needs to get on the floor to get his shot off and can do just about anything to get a bucket for his team. One look at his long, rather lanky frame one may assume he isn’t much of an athlete, but that perception will change once you see him attack the rim and show fearlessness in doing so. Best off all, he’s pretty efficient. The form on his jump shot is very consistent as he’s almost always squared up prior to his quick release. The sharpshooter has offers from Indiana, Indiana State & Purdue. He also claims several other Big Ten schools are actively recruiting him along with the likes of Colorado, Butler, Tennessee, California, Xavier, Louisville & Vanderbilt. The question we have is: if you have seen him live, why haven’t you offered?
Teammate Ryan Cline is possibly the best pure shooter we saw this weekend. Cline’s ability to catch-and-shoot was on full display. He plays well within the flow of the offense, keeps the ball moving and showed he can attack the rim when defenders close out on him. He can be an extra ball handler and showed solid drive and kick skills. According to reports, Cline lists offers from Purdue, Ball State, Belmont, Lipscomb, South Alabama & Northern Kentucky.
Indiana Elite also has a skilled front court in Makur Puou and Koch Bar. Both prospects are high energy guys with great motors. They run the floor well and can finish in transition or catch and finish above the rim on drop off passes. Bar is an excellent shot blocker and rim protector with a good first jump that if he doesn’t block your shot, the direction of it will change. Bar’s offensive game is still pretty raw; whereas Puou is further along. Puou showed he can put the ball on the floor and finish, could post up and spin off his man and score at the rim. He can also knock down shots well from 12 feet. Both of these prospects are active and alert on both ends with good feet. Both will need to continue to add muscle, but they have the athleticism you would hope for from guys who are 6’10″ and 6’11″, respectively.
Compton’s Magic On The Hardwood
6’10″ wing T.J. Leaf is a skilled big man who can do just about anything a guard can do. If you’re going to be a player with his height and play predominantly away from the basket, you’d better be able to shoot with accuracy and Leaf does. He can play as the trailer in transition and either finish above the rim or pull up from beyond the arc. He’s a threat to get a bucket anywhere on the floor. He can handle the ball with more than just straight line speed, as he has some shift in his handle that allows him to get to the rim against bigs his size. He can catch and finish inside and is active on the boards despite having a game that is mostly away from the basket. Leaf has good feet and runs the floor well. Overall, he possesses a skill set not often seen from player’s with his height on the offensive end. As he adds strength and continues to develop his post game, he will be a threat anywhere and anytime he touches the ball.
6’3″ Sedrick Barefield was the best combo-guard we’d seen at the event. The SMU-commit can pull up from just about anywhere and score. He has range on his shot and a solid middle game. He’s also a very tough player as he attacks with relentless aggression. Once he gets the ball he’s headed towards the rim and welcomes contact. Barefield pushes the ball well in transition, makes good outlet passes when needed, and is a threat with his ball handling skills to finish plays against defenders even if they commit early to stopping the ball on the break. Sedrick’s ability to run the point and be more of a facilitator will have to mature, but as long as he can find balance in his attack, score-first style, he’ll be one to watch when he steps on the floor in Dallas for the Mustangs.
6’8″ Cameron Walker is a long wing type who can score it at all three levels. He handles the ball well for his size and can knock down open threes with a smooth stroke. Walker is an athletic finisher and passes well for at his position. Walker will need to continue to add muscle to his frame to help with taking contact and his motor will need to improve. Overall, Walker has a smooth game that, given some additional development, could translate very well at the next level.
6’8″ Nicolas Pete is an energy guy who runs the floor hard and has a motor that never seems to stop. He plays with good length, active feet and hands and is the kind of glue guy teams need. He’ll chase down opposing players and get blocks from behind in transition. He can finish plays above the rim, but his offensive game will have to continue to develop if his stock is to improve.
Vegas Heats Up Down South
The best prospect at the event, to us, was Chase Jeter. The 6’11″ rising senior did just about anything he wanted throughout the weekend on a consistent game-after-game basis. Jeter’s post up game was impressive. His ability to catch and shoot the short hook over his left shoulder seemed automatic. Add to that a solid face up game and the ability to effectively use ball fakes. His shot can stretch out the perimeter. Combine all of that and you’ve got yourself an elite scorer. He has excellent feet and hands and makes good decisions with the basketball. His ability to pass from the low and high post is good. Jeter has a great motor and good athleticism that allows him to be a skilled rebounder in and out of area. He’s vocal on either end of the floor as well. Chase runs the floor well, can be an asset in transition and will finish strong above the rim when given the opportunity. Jeter has good length and has added size to his frame. He has transformed himself in to one of the most coveted west coast prospects regardless of class and it’s easy to see why.
6’7″ forward Ray Smith is an awesome athlete. Smith finds his way in the offense by being able to play above the rim catching lobs or by knocking down spot up threes. As his jumper continues to become more consistent, his ability to use length and athleticism to get to the rim will allow him to be a constant threat at all three levels. He’s pretty sound defensively using length, activity and alertness to make an impact. Ray has the makings of a solid college prospect.
6’7″ rising junior Solomon Young showcased an intriguing skill set over the weekend. At 6’7″ he plays more of a undersized power game down in the lane. However, he also showed he could catch and shoot threes and even make some shots go down in the middle of the floor. He plays with good energy and activity on defense and was able to use his upper-body strength to disrupt opposing post players and keep them from scoring. Young has good athleticism and can finish above the rim in transition. With more maturity and reps added to his game, Young has the makings of a solid prospect.
Playing Up To A Perfect 10
The Eric Gordon Central Stars (EG 10)– according to the Adidas Gauntlet final standings– finished out the circuit with a 14-2 record. The 14 wins includes an 11 game win streak. Needless to say, this team has played some excellent basketball so far this spring and they continued that trend in Orlando.
6’9″ Tahjai Teague is a long, smooth shooting forward who was quite impressive. He’s active around the paint– grabbing rebounds and scoring on drop-off passes. He can run the floor well and put the ball on the floor and throw down a strong dunk when given the chance. Teague isn’t just a long wing who can stroke the three over small defenders, he showed a consistent mid-range game as well. Tahjai also has solid handles and moves the ball well on offense. He’s active and alert defensively and should be a very solid prospect.
6’10″ Elliot Welmer is a skilled big with good hands and feet. Welmer is a combo forward who can stretch the defense and score it beyond the arc. He also has a good mid-range game when he got involved in the pick and pop game. The St. Louis-commit is also active on the glass. Overall, Welmer is very efficient and his mobility and skill set should allow for him to create mismatches at his position at the next level.
Sunshine Prospects Shine
6’7″ Deng Adel continues to make a name for himself this spring. Adel is a high energy prospect with a great motor. He can rebound and push the ball up the floor and finish well above the rim. He has a smooth stroke that should continue to improve in consistency and a capable scorer along the baseline. He handles the ball well with good pace and can create for himself and others– as he is a capable passer. He can catch and score the three, has a solid pull-up and attacks the rim using his length and athleticism. Adel’s stock will only continue to rise as summer approaches.
6’5″ Eric Turner has a game similar to Adel. He can score it at all three levels and his shot has been improving. Turner is an excellent athlete who looks good in transition whether it’s finishing or passing the ball out ahead to an open teammate. He rebounds well and can defend multiple positions out on the floor. Eric looks to attack on the offensive end and doesn’t shy away from contact. Turner has a middle game that will need to continue to improve, but has all of the makings of a high-major prospect.
Georgia Prospects With Elite Game
6’7″ small forward Jaylen Brown is a household name at this point. He has great positional size and has a skill set that will allow him to transition at any level. He has athleticism that’s a notch above everyone else at this event. His motor and jumper seem to be improving and will continue to need to do so based on this past weekend’s games. There isn’t much to left say that hasn’t already been said by multiple outlets. However, as his game continues to mature, he has it in him to be a NBA prospect.
6’6″ Marcus Sheffield Jr. is a top-rated prospect in the Peach State. He has the game of a big guard who can handle the ball well and score off the bounce. His jumper will need to continue to improve– especially in one dribble pull-ups, but he looked good in transition. Sheffield was also able to make good passes over defenders and has good length and is a solid athlete. He also showed an ability to finish above the rim on the break as well as finish with a floater in the lane. Sheffield will need to add muscle to a rather lean frame, but has the core skill set of a very solid prospect at the next level.
Game Time With Gamepoint
Gamepoint has one of the better one-two combos on the Adidas circuit in Justin Simon and Bennie Boatwright Jr.
Six-foot-five-inch Simon is a big guard with excellent athleticism. His athletic capabilities are best showcased in transition where he’s a very good finisher above the rim. The Arizona-commit will need to continue to improve playing on the ball and distributing more to teammates in the half court. Simon is a skilled passer in transition so this shouldn’t be a major problem to continue to develop. Simon has the ability to score at all three levels that will only become more dangerous with improved consistency on his jumper’s mechanics. Justin is a solid ball handler who stays in attack mode. He has the size to take contact and finish through it. He has good explosion in his first step and plays with the necessary aggression that should allow Simon to make an impact in college.
Boatwright is a skilled stretch four who is pretty unique in his playing style. He has good foot speed and ball handling ability that allows him to get past his man and finish well above the rim. He can stretch the defense with three point shooting ability; although he can tend to fall in love with the shot at times. It is, however, impressive to see him rebound the basketball on defense, bring it up the floor and then pull up from three on the other end. He can face up in the middle of the floor and shows good touch from 12-15 feet. He’s very mobile with good feet and he runs the floor well. Boatwright has a smooth, natural skill set that when given room to operate can do things that very few 6’9″ players can do.
Gamepoint also has a solid front court forward/center in Dallas Jordan. Jordan, a 6’10″ rising senior, is long, lean and active on both ends. He played with good feet and hands and was able to catch and finish as well as demonstrated a nice touch around the rim. Dallas also proved to be capable of catch-and-shoot around the free throw line area. Jordan doesn’t play with much wasted movement and will play within himself. Throughout the weekend, even though he typically didn’t put many shots up, he was very efficient with the ones he did. Overall, Jordan is a glue guy who has the potential to block shots, grab rebounds and get some buckets inside.
Talented Team Even Without Their Best Player
The Mass Rivals 17U squad came in to last weekend’s games without it’s star guard Jaylen Adams– who was out studying for finals. The void left due to Adams’ absence meant others would need to step up.
7-footer Josh Sharma was another developing big with an intriguing skill set. Sharma has good length and showed he could rebound and start the break. He has good feet and runs the floor well. Sharma has a solid face up game and can put the ball on the floor and score. He’s active on the glass, but will need to add muscle to allow him to be a better contributor in that area, but he has a good motor and showed effort in doing so. Sharma also showed good touch whether it was shooting a mid-range jumper or in put back situations. Overall, Sharma is a good athlete for his size and is a developing big with a very solid foundation to build on.
6’1″ Makai Ashton-Langford is an impressive 2017 point guard who has a huge upside. His game is very poised and patient in the half court. Ashton-Langford is a pass-first guard who plays with his head up and is always looking to make plays. He knows when to create for himself and isn’t afraid to finish plays. He does tend to dribble too far in to the defense and make an errant pass or two, but based on the skill set he has now that will change over time as he matures and gets more reps. Ashton-Langford was a pleasant surprise in the absence Adams and should continue to work towards being a top-level point guard.
Now standing 6’8″, Wenyen Gabriel is a high motor, high energy player who seemed to be everywhere when we saw him live. His mobility and athleticism make him an asset on the glass and running the floor and finishing in transition. He demonstrated that he could rebound and finish inside as well as make open jumpers. He has great feet and excellent positional length. His biggest asset is how hard he plays on both ends. Gabriel has all of the makings of a high major wing given his ability to score at all three levels and defend multiple positions on the floor. Gabriel will have to add muscle to his lean frame, but that should come with time.
6’4″ shooting guard Chris Cobb showed a ton of ability to be a next level two-guard. He has a solid frame and uses good body control. Even though in the game we watched, his shot wasn’t consistently falling he showed good form on his jumper and an ability to stay engaged on the offensive end. Cobb was able to use the pull up and attack the rim to score.
Mississippi Hoops One-Two Punch
6’7″ wing Mario Kegler is a high volume scorer who has a college ready frame. Kegler has the ability to be a capable extra ball handler, be solid on the glass and is an excellent athlete in transition. He also looks to attack and stays in that mode throughout the game. He has a score-first mentality and isn’t afraid of taking contact. He didn’t always finish well through contact but showed flashes of good body control. Kegler’s motor could be better and this will help in areas such as rebounding and defensive presence where we thought he lacked in the game we saw. Overall, we see what the talk is all about with Mario. As long as he continues to work and stays engaged on both ends consistently, he has all of the athleticism and natural abilities to be a capable scorer and game changer. Kegler will attend a loaded Arlington Country Day squad next season in Jacksonville, Florida.
6’3″ Lamonte Turner is a balanced score-pass point guard who is able to impact the game with patience and good understanding of where to pick his spots. Turner is a skilled drive and kick point guard who has good vision. Lamonte knows when to attack the basket and is athletic enough to finish through contact. He also knows when to pull up as well. Turner is a sleeper in his class and doesn’t get talked about enough nationally, but that could change this AAU season.
Touted as being the most entertaining player on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit, 5’9″ Damontrae Jefferson‘s reputation precedes him. Jefferson is a fearless point guard who is seemingly always on the attack. His ball handling is what helps him create separation between him and his defender. He is shifty and crafty going to the rim and accepts the fact that he’ll have to score in traffic with a lot of contact. He’s pretty strong for his size– evident by the fact that he was able to complete plays and get to the line. He’s vocal on both ends and isn’t afraid to express himself on the floor. Jefferson will have to work on not over-dribbling and being able to find ways to get others involved. To be fair, Jefferson is averaging just over five assist per game in the Adidas Gauntlet circuit. Additionally, he is the team’s best scorer and is a factor in his style of play for this team. However, with his mentality being what it is, he’ll want to work on finding balance between scoring and passing– especially given the fact that he can tend to be a volume shooter in order to be a volume scorer. Overall, we loved his aggressiveness and willingness to lead his team.
Top Talent In The Pacific Northwest
To be honest, this was one of the teams we saw that we are anxious to see again in July. The Panthers are a talented team and one of the tops in the Dwight Howard division.
When watching this team, you automatically notice Washington-commit David Crisp. Crisp is a player who will attack and put pressure on you the entire game. He always seemed to use his uptempo style to create from the time the ball was in-bounded. David is undersized in terms of height, but has a solid looking frame and plays with plenty of quickness and athleticism that he uses well to get in to the lane and finish. Crisp was fun to watch in transition whether he was attacking on his own or finding teammates who were filling the lanes. He showed he could make open jumpers and identify and convert on opportunities to pull up. Crisp did have some issues finishing, but with added strength that should improve. The future Huskie will reportedly play a year at a prep school before going on to the collegiate level.
Honorable mentions for this team are 2015′s Dominic Green, Quintals Hall & Robert Franks. These young men stood out, but we need to see more and are looking forward to it.
Bragg & Rowan Lead OBC
Coming in to this event, there are a select few names that almost everyone had heard of prior to the first games tipping off last Friday night. One of those names is 6’9″ 2015 forward-center Carlton Bragg.
We saw Bragg play last Saturday morning against T.J. Leaf and the Compton Magic. This was our favorite match-up of the day, and Bragg did not disappoint. One thing is for sure, when Carlton’s jumper is in rhythm, he’s almost impossible to stop at the high school level. Bragg is long, athletic and has solid strength. He is a guy that can put the ball on the floor well from anywhere and use his body to finish at the rim. He seeks contact once he’s in the lane. His bread and butter is the mid-range game. He has a smooth stroke, consistent in his form and he had it going in this particular game. Whether it was the elbow or baseline, Bragg was able to catch and shoot with ease. To top it all off, he’s excellent in transition and can finish strong above the rim. When it was all said and done, Carlton finished the game with 30 points and 7 rebounds. An impressive performance and possibly the best of the day from what we saw.
Teammate and Pittsburgh-commit, 2016 6’7″ wing Maverick Rowan came out the gate shooting hot. It didn’t matter if it was the mid or perimeter range game, Rowan was on early. He showed good catch and shoot ability with nice form. He also showed he could be an extra ball handler and could create off the dribble either in pull-up situations or getting to rim. He later cooled off, but remained active and didn’t force the action despite missing some shots. Rowan is quite capable of spreading the floor and knocking down shots if not respected by the defense. The impression left by the rising junior is one of a pure shooter who plays within himself and does what he can to make the right play the first time.
6’3″ 2015 Craig Randall is a skilled combo guard who is capable of scoring big numbers. Craig has good positional length and solid athleticism. He plays a game that is better suited to be off the ball than on, but he shoots it and attacks the rim with confidence. You can tell he knows he can get his shot off and contribute to the scoreboard. Randall will need to continue to improve his ball handling ability and his decision making ability. It’s evident that his point guard skill set is still developing, but if they can improve he has all of the makings of being a solid collegiate guard.
Stacked With Talent
One of the most impressive all-around teams we’ve seen on this Adidas Gauntlet circuit is Stackhouse Elite. They play a total team game on both ends of the floor. A very unselfish team that defensively operates as one with excellent help and timing.
Stackhouse Elite took on and eventually defeated division leading Atlanta Celtics this past Saturday afternoon. This was possibly the best game of the day that we saw.
6’8″ Brandon Ingram is another nationally known name coming in to this event. While Ingram had a rather quiet weekend, he showed flashes of the player many have heard of. His length and shot making ability make him a special prospect. He has a smooth game that appears effortless. Ingram is a player who can stretch the defense with his range or get to the rim and finish with a floater or strong dunk. Orlando may not have been his best stop, but we’re sure he’ll make his impact felt the rest of the AAU season.
Ayinde Russell is a 6’2″ combo guard who is very skilled. Russell is a scoring guard, but is a solid point guard as well. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this squad and therefore not the first time we’ve seen Russell. Each time we’ve walked away impressed with his motor on both ends and ability to score at all three levels. He’s effective when creating for others or when scoring in transition. He’s a solid on the ball defender whose active and alert combined with quick feet.
Back court mate Ahmad Caver is a 6’1″ point guard who plays with good pace and be a capable playmaker. He, too, is a good on the ball defender who isn’t afraid to get in a guy’s chest. Caver is crafty finisher who plays with good athleticism. The North Gwinnett product has a chiseled frame and he doesn’t mind taking contact when driving to the rim. Overall, Ahmad will need to continue to improve his jumper. We’d also like to see him be more aggressive on a consistent basis as he can tend to play too much in the flow of the game and his skills are missed when he does. With his ability he has it in him to make an impact on both ends of the floor when he wants to.
Stackhouse Elite has two emerging power forwards inside in 6’8″ 2016 Romello White & 6’7″ 2015 Malik Carter. Both guys had a quiet weekend, but it’s clear with their combined size that they’ll be a factor inside at some point this summer for this team. We’ll look forward to seeing them again in Vegas.
Pritchard Playing Fast
West Linn high school has a 2016 gem in Payton Pritchard. Team Fast is led by a pure point guard who can stroke the three. Pritchard has a quick release on his jumper and can pull the trigger from beyond the three point line at any time. He is an excellent ball handler who plays with poise and who looks to set up teammates. He showed good court vision in drive-and-kick scenarios. Payton isn’t just a long range threat, he can get in the lane with solid athleticism and score as well as pull-up when needed. Pritchard could be a bit turnover prone and his shot selection wasn’t always the best, but we chalk this up to the fact that Payton is the predominant shot maker on the team. We like his obvious ability to lead on the floor and his motor that continues to keep him and those around him competing. Size might seem like an issue at the college ranks, but after watching him play live we doubt it will be.
Pritchard’s high school teammate and New Mexico-commit Anthony Mathis is a good scoring option who plays off the ball for Team Fast. He’s a good catch-and-shoot player with range. If the opposing team closes out, he showed he could put the ball on the floor and score at the rim. Mathis has solid positional length, but will need to add muscle to his frame. His athleticism and foot speed are solid, but those could be better. Mathis can finish in transition and find open teammates when he gets in the lane.
Maker Brothers Lead Team Loaded (VA)
Top 2016 prospect, 7-footer Thon Maker has a scary skill set for a player with his height. He runs the floor like a guard and handles the ball well enough to start the break after a rebound and finish with a dunk on the other end. He’s a very athletic finisher in transition and has excellent feet and mobility. He can cover a lot of ground defensively in the half court and is quick enough to chase down players from behind to get a block. His length showed to be a great asset when defending the post. Despite still having a thinner frame, his ability to get off his feet and use his long arms to block or redirect shots proved to be very troublesome for opponents who tried to post him up. He likes to score primarily away from the basket. His shot will have to get more consistent to make him a threat in that regard, but has good form. He’s added weight and should continue to do so. Reports are that he could reclassify to 2015, so the added muscle/weight to his frame should be an important factor to make that decision.
Younger brother, Matur Maker, is a 2017 6’9″ forward. The rising sophomore looked great in transition and has a game that’s played closer to the basket compared to Thon. Matur plays with an excellent motor around the rim and can finish strong above it on drop passes or put backs. Like his older brother, he too can put the ball on the floor and make plays. He’s able to go up and get the ball at it’s highest point for a rebound and showed a nice touch inside. His activity is impressive and so are his feet and mobility for his size. Reports are that interested schools could land both brothers when the time comes to commit.
2016 6’4″ shooting guard Curtis Jones caught our eye. He has good athleticism and and solid positional length. He showed he could play on the ball some as an extra ball handler. Jones proved to be a reliable shooter and finisher in transition. We liked his ability to spot up and knock down threes. If the defense was able to close out on him, he showed he could handle the ball well and still find a way to slash to the rim to get a bucket. He’s an athletic finisher around the rim who is capable of finishing with either hand.
6’6″ 2015 shooting guard Kentrell Barkley is an interesting prospect. He has a good feel for the game, plays within himself and always seems to be making the right play. He keeps the ball moving on offense and knows when to take his own shot. He uses his body well when getting to the rim and can finish strong above the rim. The lefty looked good in transition and is a capable ball handler. He’s a good spot up shooter in the mid and long range game. He has a good motor and is active in all areas of the game. He’s a willing defender and rebounder. Overall, players like Barkley are what make a team better.
Basketball Ambassadors Of The Loan Star State
2015 forward Jordan Murphy is a very solid prospect from the first time you see him. He has a great feel for the game and moves well without the ball. He’s able to find the openings in the defense and score from wherever he catches the ball. He doesn’t look to force the action and he keeps the ball moving. Murphy has a smooth looking jumper that extends out beyond the three point line. Jordan also has the middle game covered. He has a solid frame that’s college ready combined with good lateral quickness– all of which allows him to guard multiple positions on the floor. Murphy is a capable ball handler and rebounder. When needed, Murphy has the skill set to play much bigger than he is. Jordan is tough inside and doesn’t shy away from contact. The bottom line for Murphy is he’s skilled at any aspect of the game and should be a very solid addition to a college program.
2015 forward Rashard Odomes is a big body wing with good range on his three. Odomes looks best in catch and shoot. He’s very tough to keep out of the lane and seeks contact when he does. Rashard has a solid first step and when given room to operate looks to attack. His ball handling needs to continue to improve, but he uses his body well to create space and can finish above the rim when he gets in the lane. Odomes is good in transition and is able to either use his size and athleticism to finish or facilitate to an open teammate. He can use shot fakes well to get his defender off the ground so he can get by them and score. He also has the physical tools to be a capable rebounder and defender.
We’d like to thank Ben Mann and the rest of the staff responsible for putting on such a great event. We look forward to covering this event next year and we’ll see you all in Vegas this July.