Despite just starting his freshman year at DeMatha Catholic, DJ Harvey has been a common name within the basketball community for a while now. You see, Harvey played varsity basketball as a middle schooler for the renowned Christ School in Arden, NC, continuing the rich tradition left by the Plumlee brothers. With his family relocating, there was no better place for DJ to begin his high school career than legendary DeMatha Catholic.
Taking part in the CP3 Rising Stars Camp, DunkDog.Com All-America Game, and John Lucas Midwest Invitational, we saw our fair share of this talented freshman over the last few months. Standing 6-foot-6 already, he has ideal size for an elite wing and the game to match. A big time athlete, Harvey is able to get past most defenders to the cup, where he is able to finish over the top with either hand. Not solely a slasher, the Alabama native can shoot the ball from deep with his feet set and has shown glimpses of a pull-up off of the bounce. His advanced skill set and athleticism seem to work against him at times, though. When playing with peers his own age, DJ can at times look disinterested and can coast at times based on his immense talents.
A consensus top 10 player in the class, the recruiting process has already started for Harvey. Xavier was the first school to put a scholarship offer on the table and big-time programs like Indiana have already shown significant interest in the DMV’s top player for 2017.
Willie Cauley-Stein has long been known as a player with all of the tools, but his level of production didn’t always mirror that throughout his high school career. Now a sophomore at Kentucky, Cauley-Stein is putting it all together and is drawing considerable buzz from NBA teams.
At 7-foot-1 and 245 pounds, the 20-year old has prototypical size for an NBA center, but that is not what makes him an elite prospect. “WCS” has incredible range as a defender, able to switch out out and defend point guards on pick and rolls. His athleticism enables him to not only be an outstanding positional defender, but an elite shot-blocker. The aforementioned athleticism also enables Willie to finish over the top of defenders at the rim and while he is still incredibly raw in terms of moves out of the post, but has shown glimpses of jump hook with both hands already.
When evaluating Kentucky prospects, you have to look past the numbers. Willie is averaging 5.5 points, 9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks through the Wildcats’ first four games on a squad that may boast as many as 9 future NBA players. Projected as a first round pick by ESPN, NBADraft.net, and DraftExpress.com, WCS will be forced to make a tough decision at the end of the season, but the opportunity will certainly be there for him to trade in his textbooks for a paycheck and head to the NBA.
The class of 2017 is beginning to emerge and while Austin Wiley dons the honor of being the top player in the class of 2017, combo guard Jamal Johnson is atop of all of the perimeter players in the state of Alabama.
Standing 6-foot-3, Johnson has the ability to play either guard position. He is an elite defender on the ball and has really gained a reputation as a shot-blocker from the backcourt. Offensively, he is a crafty slasher to the rim who can finish creatively over length. At Clay Dade’s Fab Frosh Camp and the CP3 Rising Stars Camp, he also showed the ability to keep the defense honest from beyond the arc with his feet set.
The product of the Birmingham Storm AAU program has already taken an unofficial visit to Alabama and having just played his first high school game, expect other schools in the southeast to follow suit soon.
Package deals are always spoken of, but rarely come to fruition. High school players enjoy playing with one and other, but there are so many factors that come in to play when deciding on a college that things usually don’t work out. Kentucky got the best package deal in the nation last season with the Harrison twins and it appears that some lucky program will get the best in 2014 today, in Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor.
Both Jones and Okafor are consensus top five players in the class and have games that perfectly compliment each other. Tyus, a Minnesota product, is an outstanding lead guard who can run a team with the best of them. He’s a pass first guard who is deadly running the pick and roll, making him a dream to play with for any big man. Okafor, on the other hand, is 6-foot-11 and 275 pounds, yet has the footwork of a guard. Throw in some great hands, soft touch, and an advanced post game and you see why he is one of the best centers to come out of high school in quite some time. This potential deadly 1-2 punch will be announcing their decision on Friday afternoon at 3PM Central Time.
Duke and Kansas are the two front runners to land the services of this pair. Baylor is still in the mix too, although most consider them to be on the outside looking in.
Keith Appling has always been known as a fearless competitor. Dating back to his college days at Detroit Pershing, he always went at anyone he was pegged against, regardless of ranking. Making the transition from shooting guard to point guard, he carried over that same mentality to the college level, as the nation saw last night. The 21-year old’s 22 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, and 4 steals paced Michigan State over #1 Kentucky and it was clear that he was destined for a big year at this summer’s CP3 Elite Guard Camp.
A 6’2 point guard, Appling utilized a downright insane change of pace to get by fellow guards at CP3. While many of the campers were playing the game at one speed, he kept switching things up, allowing him to blow past defenders to the cup. Once at the rim, the former R.E.A.C.H. Legends AAU product used his strength and ability to finish with either hand to convert at a high rate. Additionally, the jab-step series that he utilized was best in the camp aside from Chris Paul himself, allowing him to create space to raise up for his jumper.
Off to an outstanding start to his final collegiate campaign, Appling’s strong play will only continue to solidify his status in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Paul VI has been a staple of Virginia high school basketball for ages now. The roster boasts massive UNC-Greensboro bound Quadree Smith, Georgetown recruit Marcus Derrickson,elite combo guard Franklin Howard, Josh Reaves, and Kevin Dorsey amongst it’s upperclassmen who will all play at the mid-major level or above. Toss in solid 2016 prospects Curtis Jones and Tyler Scanlon. The rich seem to get richer, in the form of 2017′s Chyree Walker.
At Clay Dade’s Fab Frosh Camp, CP3 Rising Stars Camp, and DunkDog.Com All-American Game, Walker shined. The explosive athlete used his first step to blow by guys off of the bounce and then finish at the cup with either hand. Chyree keeps the defense honest with his ability to shoot the rock with his feet set and has some serious potential on the defensive end. There’s room for growth in Chyree’s game off of the bounce and his consistency, but the athleticism and potential that he offers immediately make him right there amongst the DC area’s best for 2017.
The fifth highest recruit of Kentucky’s legendary recruiting class, James Young did not have the weight of the world on his shoulders. Sure, we knew that the lefty was an elite scorer and could get buckets from just about anywhere on the court, but he was not expected to have the immediate contribution that Julius Randle and the Harrison twins were to have. Now two games into his college career, many feel that Young has the chance to be a lottery pick in June’s NBA Draft.
Kentucky is 2-0 and hasn’t necessarily faced any world beaters, but that hasn’t stopped the buzz surrounding Young. In fact, he is only scoring 8 points per game on 27% from the field and 27% from beyond the arc. You see, it wasn’t about the numbers that the Detroit product put up, but how he got them.
NBA scouts have been making the pilgrimage to Lexington all fall to get a look at the most talented team in America and we’re taken back with the ease in which Young could fill it up. He shoots it effortlessly from the three point line, has a variety of floaters in the lane, and can finish in the rim with either hand. The 6-foot-6 two guard’s size and athleticism allow him to convert over the top of the D and while he hasn’t made a huge impact on the defensive end, you can see the potential there.
A mere two games into the season, it’s a bit premature to talk about what’s going to happen come June 26th, but there isn’t a player in college basketball who has drawn more early season buzz from NBA scouts than James Young.
Size runs in the Stokes family. At 6’8 and 270 pounds, Jarnell Stokes is controlling the paint for the Tennessee Volunteers. A 19-year old junior, Stokes entered college a year early and posted averages of 12 points and nearly 10 rebounds in the SEC last season. He’s not the last in his family, though. His little brother Jarnell already stands 6-foot-8 and weights 250 pounds…and is just beginning high school.
Deemed “the scariest 8th grade football player ever” by USA Today, Isaiah is not just a one sport star. Aside from being arguably the nation’s top offensive lineman in the class of 2017, the Memphis Southwind freshman doubles at the city’s top basketball player his age, as seen at Clay Dade’s Fab Frosh Camp.
Blessed with nimble feet and a soft touch, Stokes was able to dominate the camp despite playing the game below the rim. He was a dominant rebounder, using his massive body to clear out space and let the ball fall right in his lap. Offensively, showed an advanced skill set with his ability to hit jumpers out to 18 feet and resounding footwork out of the post. Stokes also used his size to create a presence on the defensive end, rotating well to seemingly act as a wall for opposing offensive players.
It’s too early in the game to deem what route Stokes will go in college as far as football or basketball, but whichever route that may be, there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel.
Dante Exum, Ben Simmons, and Thon Maker have paved the way. All three are natives of Australia that came to the States and immediately exploded playing against elite high school competition. You can add a fourth to that group: Deng Adel.
At the 2013 John Lucas Invitational, the 6-foot-7 Adel was a standout and even dominated at times. Equipped with excellent perimeter skills, he was able to get by virtually any defender off of the dribble. He can drill open three pointers, explode off of ball screens, and finish above the rim in traffic. Deng’s length hasn’t translated to the defensive end yet, but that doesn’t change what makes him such a unique prospect.
“What makes Deng so special is that he has the ability to play on and off of the ball,” Victory Rock coach Loren Jackson told CityLeagueHoops. “He really understands the ball screen game at 6’7 or 6’8.”
Unfortunately, those talents weren’t on full display at this past weekend’s Midwest Prep Showcase, as Adel was suffering from a minor injury that has him at less than 100%.
“Deng is suffering from a quad injury right now,” explained Jackson following the tournament. “He hasn’t been able to show what he showed at John Lucas Camp.”
What Jackson was referring to was an astounding skill set for a player with prototypical size, which will translate into a lot of attention from college coaches throughout the country.
The 2013 Quality Education Academy Invitational is in the books, giving scouts and college coaches alike the opportunity to see over 20 D-1 prospects throughout the two day event. Held inside the gorgeous brand new gym on QEA’s campus, the event brought teams from four different states to Winston-Salem for what was a great weekend of hoops.
Here are a few of the players who caught our eye at the 2013 QEA Invitational:
Thon Maker, 7’0, PF/C, The Carlisle School (VA), 2016- Donned the top sophomore in the country by most scouting services, Thon Maker backed up his lofty ranking with 22 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 assists. Playing primarily on the perimeter, the Australian import did damage distributing the ball and was especially effective out of the high post. This game served as a tune-up for Thon and Carlisle, who will battle Oak Hill Academy on Friday.
Kwinton Hinson, 6’5, SG/SF, Quality Education Academy (NC), 2015- One player who we were not aware of going into the QEA Invitational was Kwinton Hinson, who immediately caught our eye. The 6’5 lefty slashed to the rim with his explosive first step and once he got there, finished with either hand. Kwinton showed good toughness and while we didn’t see him shoot the ball a ton from the perimeter, we saw enough to know that he is one of NC’s better players in the junior class.
Kaleb Johnson, 6’6, SF, The Carlisle School (VA), 2015- Kaleb Johnson was one of the surprises at the QEA Invitational, using his combination of size and athleticism to create mismatches all over the court. The lefty was tough slashing to the tin with either hand, used his size to help on the glass, and was versatile enough to play either forward spot. Running with the Richmond Squires on the AAU circuit, Kaleb is bound to receiver a considerable amount of attention.
Imani Miller, 6’1, PG, Quality Education Academy (NC), 2014- A solid and sturdy point guard, Imani Miller is the type of player who may not necessarily put up huge numbers, but will help you win games. Miller does a great job controlling the tempo of the game, is a vocal leader on the court, and played tough defense. Still open in the recruiting process, Miller is a player who will certainly have some buzz come the late signing period.
Iran Bennett, 6’9, C, Bull City Prep (NC), 2016- A massive presence, Iran Bennett held down the paint against Genesis Academy. With good hands and nimble feet, the 285-pound sophomore used his size to go around and through opposing posts. Bennett is still shedding weight, but his combination of size and skill level are enough to have high-major D-1′s monitoring him.
Marquez Letcher, 6’7, PF/SF, Genesis Academy (VA), 2015- An agile and bouncy forward, Marquez Letcher was an absolute game-changer against Bull City Prep. He used his athleticism to block shots, create deflections, and keep balls alive on the offensive glass. Throw in the explosive dunks that he had and you see why he was the most exciting player in the gym at the QEA Invitational.