Action at the Nike Memorial Day Classic only continued to get better, as seen by the fact that we stayed in the gym from 8am until midnight evaluating some of the nation’s top underclassmen. Teams are competing for a spot in the prestigious EYBL, playing harder than you’ll see in most AAU tourneys. The field shrunk after bracket play on Sunday, and here are a few of the guys who turned in strong performances:
Jayson Tatum, 6’6, SG, St. Louis Eagles 16′s, 2016- The Show Me State’s best overall prospect continued the dominance that he’s put on opponents on the spring circuit, leading the Eagles into the final day of action with his all around play with Larry Hughes in the stands watching. Tatum played everywhere from point guard to power forward, maximizing his matchups to his advantage. He beat defenders from the top of the key in isolation, posted smaller defenders, and saw over the defense to find the open man everywhere in between. You could make a case that there hasn’t been a better wing at the 16u level all spring, a testament to the absurd production Tatum has given the Eagles.
Kevarrius Hayes, 6’9, PF/C, Nike Team Florida, 2015- Nike Team Florida has waxed just about everyone they have played and a huge part of that is their biggest player, Kevarrius Hayes. At 6’9 and with a huge wingspan, he has the ideal size that you look for out of either post position. With a motor that doesn’t stop, he rebounds the ball all over the court and is a shot-blocking threat in the key. On the offensive end, he looked to dunk everything around the cup and hit a couple of short jumpers. We didn’t see much as far as back to the basket moves, but there’s time for this high major prospect to develop over the next two years.
Malik Monk, 6’3, SG, Arkansas Hawks 16′s, 2016- A player who we had heard rave reviews about but had never seen in person, Monk lived up to the hype. He’s an explosive athlete with an automatic floater in the lane, given his ability to rise over the D and then put the ball softly above the rim. The heralded Arkansas freshman also shot the ball well from three and used his freakish athleticism to lockdown defensively. He’s not a guy who is going to hit you with any crazy crossovers, but he handles the ball efficiently enough to get past his man. Look for Monk to be the premier name in Arkansas for years to come.
PJ Dozier, 6’5, PG/SG, Upward Stars 17′s, 2015- The top player in the state of South Carolina did not disappoint on Sunday, nearly posting a triple double in Upward Stars’ win over the South Florida Celtics. Dozier used his size to see over the defense, finished through contact, and changed the game with his ability to create for himself and others. Perry was the cog in Upward’s come from behind W, showing everyone in ATL why he is one of 2015′s truly elite guards.
Daniel Giddens, 6’10, C, Game Elite 17′s, 2015- Giddens has taken that next step, emerging from promising prospect to dominant player. Playing up on the 17u level, he was simply a man amongst boys, establishing deep position in the paint and dunking everything he touched within five feet of the rim. Daniel showed development with his right hand hook and with the progress that he has made, expect him to stay in the top 25 of 2015 for quite some time.
Samir Sehic, 6’9, PF/C, Houston Hoops 16′s, 2015- A new addition from the Texas Titans, Sehic immediately made his presence felt. In the Hoops blowout victory, he threw pinpoint outlet passes, rebounded anything within five feet, and stretched the defense with his outside jumper. Considered by many to be one of the top big men in the lone star state, Samir gave us a reflection of that with his play Sunday.
Diondre Overton, 6’5, SF, Karolina Diamonds 17′s, 2016- While Kwe’Shaun Parker and Junior Smith get the majority of the acclaim, many often forget that the Karolina Diamonds is far more than a two man highlight show. Trailing in the first half to a gritty Hoop Dreams squad, Diamonds coach Kevin Graves went with the second unit and Overton flourished. The lefty drilled open threes, finished creatively at the rim with both hands, and gave the Diamonds the scoring boost they needed to win the game. Not a highly touted prospect in NC yet, expect that to change in the near future if he continues playing at this level.