Session 1 of the J.D. Lewis Fall League wrapped up with four teams playing in the semi-finals and finals on the same day. The JD Lewis league still has the same high level of talent as always but has grown, and has added a 10-team second session starting this weekend. Julius Barnes led his Pacers team to an undefeated run capped by a title win. Barnes walked away with MVP honors and averaged 21.8 ppg during the session. Barnes’ partner in the backcourt, Antonio Watson, took home the MOP award.
Here are some notes on the players competing on the final day.
Julius Barnes (PG, 5’9″, 2015) Garner HS (NC) – Barnes is a solid all-around guard who is an effective scorer; has a good hesitation dribble and squares up very well on his shot, gets good elevation on his jumper. Good upper body strength and should continue to get stronger. Doesn’t settle for the outside shot, will put pressure on the defense by slashing. Has a high motor on defense and is a good player to help defend against fast teams that like to run. Undersized and still tends to slash too deep against the bigs but a quiet leader who competes. Definitely a player to be watching and should be getting college interest. A college prospect; the ceiling is somewhat unknown because of his age and height.
Antonio Watson (PG/SG, 5’10”, 2015) Enloe HS (NC) – Watson is a tough-minded player who understands the game. But while he can add points and he’s a valuable combo guard who can play both on or off of the ball, I see Watson as the type of player who adds impact regardless of whether he scores. He’s effective on defense, he’s a vocal leader and he doesn’t back down. High motor. Recognizes offenses on the floor and reacts defensively, even making sure teammates are aware of what’s being run.
Austin Burnette (SF, 6’5″, 2015) Cardinal Gibbons HS (NC) Every time I see Burnette I come away more impressed. He’s a prototypical college small forward with an extremely high Basketball I.Q. Fluid and runs the floor like a wing, loves to move into the mid-range without the ball and can kill teams with his catch-and-shoot from the gaps. Has an excellent high release on his shot and good elevation. Burnette already has D1 interest and offers but I still think Division 1 colleges are probably overlooking him and should really be heavily recruiting him now.
Iran Bennett (C, 6’9″, 2016) Pace Academy – Great hands and a pure post player. Needs to improve conditioning and is currently a low motor player, but feet are nimble and definitely a high ceiling on him. Needs to stay active in the post but can catch and score with ease. Should be one of the better post prospects in the state and if he puts in the work – conditioning, footwork, free throw shooting – could be a really solid big man at the collegiate level. D1 prospect. Any area school should start paying attention this high school season. If Bennett reaches his potential, schools who sleep on him now will be kicking themselves.
Detaren Spuill (PG, 5’7″, 2016) Southeast Raleigh HS (NC) – Quick, hard nosed, aggressive guard who already has good build and plays hard in transition. More of a scorer than a pure PG right now, but playing well enough as a freshman to show that he has potential. Good defender in transition.
Isaiah Riley (SG/SF, 6’2″, 2016) Middle Creek HS (NC) – Has good length and agility. A little raw overall at this point but fluid and one to keep an eye on, obviously has the athletic tools to build on.
Harvey Griffin (SF, 6’3″, 2014) Wakefield HS (NC) Griffin is a very strong player – I put him in the category of B.J. Gladden of Olympic (committed to Akron), where they fill that solid banger at the 3 who can also play some 2, 4 or 5 when the time comes. Griffin is a physically strong player with broad build and a good shot blocker. Add in nimbleness to play the 3 and he’s a versatile wing/forward. Griffin should be getting D1 interest as of now.
Chase Tyler (PG/SG, 5’10”, 2014) Upper Room Christian Academy (NC) Tyler can shoot from deep and is an effective scorer. Will definitely be checking him out more this season at Upper Room.
Justin Reid (SG, 6’2″, 2015) Cardinal Gibbons HS (NC) – Reid is an effective scorer and can play at the 2 or the 3. Good slasher and has erupted for some solid scoring nights during the JDL.
William Walker (PG, 5’11’, 2014) Southeast Raleigh HS (NC) – Walker has good size and has bulked up so that he’s now a big guard; he is a true point with the handle to play the position at the college level. He understands the game and he knows where everyone should be on the floor. The one knock so far on Walker is his showing his leadership and knowledge on the floor, but that should come this season, and I expect him to have a breakout year where he owns the team.
Pervis Louder (SG, 6’1″, 2014) Enloe HS (NC) – Louder is a long wing player with big-time explosiveness. Louder is a player who I feel is under-recruited and definitely has Division 1 athleticism. Great first step – one of the best in the state. Can get his own shot, active, high motor. College athlete who is getting better quickly. Working on finishing consistently on offense but there’s a lot of potential there. Excellent student – has interest from the Ivy League and great grades – a D1 prospect.
Roger Ray (PG, 5’10”, 2015) Upper Room Christian Academy (NC) – has a ball-on-a-string flashy handle and very quick feet. Pure PG with a solid build, can find players in transition or score. Should be getting serious college looks this season at Upper Room. D1 prospect.
Daron Gipson (PG, 5’8″, 2013) Neuse Christian Academy (NC) – There’s not much to dislike with Gipson. He has great poise on the court and the thing I really am impressed with is that he’s one of those ‘no blunders’ guards. Fast break? He’s going to make the right choice depending on the situation. Half court? He’s either going to cross over or use the changeup to get a shot inside or find a teammate. Solid ballhandler and passer and a true floor general. Knock on Gipson is his height, but I think he’s going to really show he can compete this season at Neuse. I see Gipson as a college prospect, his size may hold him back but this season he’ll have the chance to show he can defend bigger, athletic guards.
Zach Bruns (SG, 6’1″, 2013) Havelock HS (NC) There’s one thing opposing teams should know about Bruns up front – he can scorch it from deep. However, he’s not just a spot up set shooter. He’s active and fast, stays involved in the offense and has a high motor. He can also shoot on the move. Probably a great fit at the D2+ level but I’ve seen shooters like him with D1 offers who were much less mobile and he has a better handle than some of the pure shooters I saw in this year’s Peach Jam. Could be a real find for the right school.
Alex Ade (SF/PF, 6’3″, 2013) Cary Academy (NC) – Ade runs the floor very well and will play either the post or some wing; doesn’t have a great first step but is a decent defender in the post, can catch and score on the move and works to clean up misses off of the glass.