By Marcus Shockley
I had a chance to drop by the US Elite Hoops Showcase held at Gaston Day School last week and was able to see several solid prospects and catch up with a few players who I hadn’t seen in a few months. I recommend the events organized by US Elite Hoops and be sure to follow them on twitter @USELITEHOOPS so you can keep up with their future events.
Trevor Anderson (PG, 6’1″, 2015) Gaston Day School – Anderson is one of, if not the, fastest guard end-to-end with the ball in the state of NC, comparable only to Derek McKnight, another Gaston Day guard. Anderson is a strong, high motor player; one of the first things I noticed when watching him play a couple of years ago was his ability to play through contact. At last Spring’s NC Top 80, Anderson was one of only a handful of players who seemed to go harder and faster as the games wore on, while other players started feeling fatigue. The knock on Anderson is that coaches see him as a ‘score first’ guard, but he’s dedicating himself this year to work on every aspect of the point guard position; he knows he can score but he also understands he needs to get his team involved. I see Anderson as a definite Division I level guard who is under recruited at this point; he can break the press with the dribble, shoot from deep and already has the physical strength to play the college guard position. We’ll be broadcasting Gaston Day this season as they host powerful rival Northside Christian on January 16, so be sure to tune in to watch the matchups.
Michael Baez (G/F, 6’5, 2015) Charlotte United – Baez continues to show high-octane game and has an ability to take over any game he’s in. Quite frankly, Baez should be considered one of the top natural unsigned talents in the class; He has a high, quick, deep release that is extremely hard to defend; he can bring the ball up and slash to the hoop, with an array of quick moves to finish in traffic; he likes to play way, way above the rim and is an explosive dunker. The knock on Baez in the past has been his consistency, but in this event he got into the flow quickly and didn’t let up. As I’ve said before, when he’s locked in, he will flat-out light up the opposition. Baez continues to be one of my top sleepers for his class.
Chris Price (G, 6’3″, 2015) West Mecklenburg HS – Price is a versatile player who does a lot of things coaches like; most notably, he plays defense. Had at least 5 open court steals and has good length and foot speed to guard the 2 spot effectively. He also hit over 60% of the 3 pointers he shot while I was watching his games and had multiple assists. Good size and is now back 100% from an injury that had limited his play this past summer.
Aiden Richard (PF/C, 6’11”, 2015) Gaston Day School – Richard is a true big with excellent hands, nimble feet and an array of offensive post moves. It’s become a mantra that big men at every level would be more effective if they could just develop a go-to move and a counter-move. However, Richard has far more than two moves; during today’s event, he was pretty much impossible to guard as he got off shots in a dizzying array of deft moves. He also had several open court dunks off of alley-oops from breaking guards. Will need to add strength to move his game to college, and show consistent aggressive play, but he’s made huge strides in his game over the past year and he’s another player who I think coaches should be watching during the January 16 broadcast on NetCast Sports against Northside Christian.
Isaiah Lowe (PG, 5’11”, 2015) Kennedy Charter – Lowe is a guard who completely understands the game; he knows where he is supposed to be at all times. When the ball moves around the perimeter, he knows when to slide down into the deep corner or move out; he can run the team and plays eyes-up, and has the ability to break the press with the dribble. Passes players open in the half court and can push the ball on the break. Makes great decisions with the ball. Made several smart defensive plays where his angles and footwork made the difference.
CJ Miller (SF, 6’5″, 2015) Kennedy Charter – big time athlete with a great first step and explosive finisher. While many high flyers need the open court to show off their skills, Miller is extremely effective in the half court, and he can get explosive plays whether he’s slashing with the ball or moving without it. One of the best slashers I’ve seen in the half court this year, he has the ability to get a step on his man and finish so effortlessly and above the rim it’s hard for the big man to rotate over in time to defend him without fouling. He also knows that he doesn’t have to dunk everything to get the job done, but make no mistake, he’s a rim-rocker when he gets the chance.
Lucas Johnson (SF, 6’5, 2015) Kennedy Charter – great passer from the 3 spot, good size, excellent slasher. One of those rare players who have great ability to find teammates from the small forward position while also being a danger to slash and score at any time. Can shoot from deep as well, which makes defenders have to make tough choices on how to guard him.
Jordan Ruth (G/F, 6’5″, 2016) Comenius School – Ruth is another explosive above-the-rim player who has great strength and size for the wing spot. One thing I’ve liked about his game is he makes an impact all over the floor from the moment he steps into the game, whether it’s grabbing loose balls or finding open teammates with the pass. Definitely a versatile player who just ‘gets’ team basketball in a way that makes his team better. He can score, he can dunk, but he always looks for the best play for his team over his own highlight film. And the best part is, he gets his highlights anyway.
Cameron Holmes (G, 6’3″, 2016) Nations Ford HS – Excellent passer in the transition game; always seemed to make the right pass or play at full speed. Long guard who has good bounce and some upside. Quick first step and poise, definitely a player who looks like he could make big strides this year during the high school season.
Alex Van Dyke (SF/PF, 6’8″, 2015) Union Grove HS (WI) – Van Dyke has a great build and plays way above the rim – plays high school ball in Wisconsin but is looking to go to school in North Carolina. I love Van Dyke’s natural ability and his fluid game. He already has the look of a college small forward and has excellent size and athleticism. An inspiring person who was diagnosed with childhood cancer (leukemia acute lymphocytic), he beat the disease and made a full recovery and is now looking to make his mark on the court. I think the upside on Van Dyke is tremendous. Right now he is still working on being more proactive as opposed to reactionary, but there is so much natural ability to his game I can’t wait to see his progression. I’d really want to see him become really aggressive with the slash or shot when playing against bigger defenders because of his quickness and athleticism. I think he could be a real match up nightmare at the 3 in time. Definitely a player I want to see multiple times.
Ryder Mansfield (PF/C, 6’7″, 2015) Charlotte United – A hard working post player who doesn’t shy away from contact and showed a couple of nifty post moves. Good hands, seals in the post and defends. Runs the floor and makes himself a target for the guards, and boxes out for the rebound every time. Doesn’t get knocked off the blocks easily.
Josh Nork (G, 6′, 2016) York Prep – Hard nosed player with a high motor; good at finding space in transition and making himself a target. Had to play off of the ball due to the abundance of guards in the game but even slid down to the 3 when needed. Moves well without the ball and another solid player who understands how to play in the team concept.
Trevonte Diggs (G, 6’3″, 2015) Charlotte United – Diggs is a player I meant to add to my report from the CIBL fall league, and in this event I quickly remembered why. A high flying guard with great strength who can play with anybody in the state, Diggs gets the job done by moving without the ball, slashing with the dribble and can bring down the house with posterizing dunks when he gets a step on the defender. Plays above the rim and another under recruited player who should be getting looks; definitely has college athleticism but has a well rounded game on both ends. Really like how he plays off of the ball – so many guards need to have the ball in their hands to make something happen, but Diggs is a player who can make his impact even when cutting or setting picks.
Keeshon Phillips (PG, 5’9″, 2017) East Mecklenburg HS – A deft ballhandler with some flash, Phillips can work over a defense with the dribble or the pass. A crafty, elusive guard who rarely turns the ball over and has a rock solid handle.
Jonathon Paramoure (G, 5’10”, 2015) Charlotte United Christian Academy – Paramoure is a player who can scorch the deep shot and should be considered a combo guard at this point. He has good strength and speed and can create his own shot, whether with the dribble or moving without the ball.
Marcus Shockley is a member of the US Basketball Writers Association and scouts high school, college and pro players for multiple outlets. You can get latest scouting notes by following him on Twitter @M_Shockley