With just a half a night of basketball on Friday, we decided to put the first two days of coverage together for the Nike Memorial Day Classic. An EYBL qualifying tournament for 16-U, the MDC boasts some elite talent in the 2015 and 2016 classes, giving scouts and fans alike a glimpse of a few players bound to explode on next year’s EYBL, or elsewhere.
Here’s a look at some of the standouts form the first two days at the MDC:
Harry Giles, 6’9, PF, CP3 All-Stars 16’s, 2016- Giles was always in the conversation for top player in the class, but it was his performance here that ended the debate in my mind. Taking his game to another level athletically, Giles dominated a tough Playaz squad in the paint on both ends. He looked to conver everything with a dunk, rebounded the ball at a high rate, and made an impact defensively. Once you add in the fact that he is a gifted passer with a developing jumper AND just turned 15 years old, it’s easy to see why many consider him the top player in a deep 2016 class.
Skal Labissiere, 6’10, PF, Arkansas Wings 16’s, 2015- After running with M33M and Team Penny in the past, Skal Labissiere is now with the Arkansas Wings and brought his patented defense to their 16-U squad. The big Haitian showed great timing blocking shots, stepped out to the perimeter to hit a few jumpers, and tried to dunk everything around the rim. He still needs to get stronger, but that doesn’t change the fact that there aren’t ten better players in the class of 2015.
Haanif Cheatham, 6’5, PG/SG, Nike Team Florida 16’s, 2015- An absolute scoring machine, Cheatham paced two blowout victories for Nike Team Florida. The lefty hit a number of deep threes, controlled the tempo of the game, and defended all three perimeter positions. Already holding BCS offers, expect Cheatham’s stock to rise when college coaches witness the versatility that he could bring their program.
Damon Wilson, 6’5, PG/SG, Playaz 16’s, 2015- An ATL transplant to St. Benedict’s, Wilson nearly led the Playaz to victory over a stacked CP3 squad. The lefty rank the pick and roll well, killed people with euro-steps, and made some gorgeous passes. Still transitioning to PG, look for Allen to pop up in people’s top 150 lists as he becomes more of a well known commodity.
Kaiser Gates, 6’7, SF/PF, Atlanta Celtics 16’s, 2015- The most impressive player in the Atlanta Celtics matchup against the Upward Stars was Kaiser Gates, a 6’7 forward. Able to play both inside and out, Gates changed the game in the paint with his athleticism and stretched the D with his three point shot. Kaiser is one of the better prospects in a loaded 2015 class in the state of Georgia.
Jaylen Brown, 6’5, SG, Game Elite 17U, 2015- The best guard in Georgia’s 2015 class is Jaylen Brown, who lived up to his reputation. At every bit of 6’5 and maybe 6’6, “JB” used his size to finish in the paint and block an absurd amount of shots for a guard. He also created his own shot on whatever defender was thrown out at him, exhibiting his elite shot-creating ability that has made him one of the top 25 players in the class of 2015.
CJ Simmons, 6’2, SG, Houston Hoops 16U, 2015- One of Houston’s better juniors, Simmons had an outstanding performance for a loaded Houston Hoops team that just merged with the Houston D-Fenders. The slithery wing was lethal in transition, showed off a smooth mid-range jumper, and played great defense on the ball. Simmons may not be well known on the national circuit, but expect that to change this July with the Hoops.