Jeff Griffith (@Jeff_Griffith21)
NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — With the high school and college basketball seasons fully in the rearview mirror, the second weekend in April marked the beginning of the offseason’s first official NCAA Division I evaluation period. As a result, Adidas’ 3-Stripes Select Basketball (3SSB) was one of a few AAU circuits to converge on the Indianapolis area for three days of action, April 8-10.
Here’s a notebook on several of the players in attendance at the event, held at Mojo Up Sports Complex’s Finch Creek Fieldhouse:
Xzayvier Brown (2023 | K-Low Elite 17U | Roman Catholic, Pa.)
In the past 12 months, Brown has experienced both sides of the championship game coin.
Xzayvier Brown (above) has his eyes on an Adidas championship this summer. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Within the span of the 2021-22 school year, having played at Roman Catholic, Brown had his chance to erase the bad taste of a postseason loss. After falling, somewhat unexpectedly, in the Philadelphia Catholic League semifinals, the Cahillites righted the ship with a state title.
“It was fun,” he said. “We knew we wanted to get to states for the seniors.”
Of course, that state championship run ended on March 26, just two weeks prior to the start of Brown’s AAU season. According to Brown, the quick turnaround isn’t something he minds one bit.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “But I just love the game, I can’t get tired of it. It’s a new season.”
But Brown’s past that now. Now he’s focused on exorcizing new championship demons.
After coming up just one game shy of an Adidas 3SSB 16U title in July 2021 with is K-Low Elite team, Brown’s eyes are locked on getting to the pinnacle in his last summer of AAU ball.
“I feel confident with this team. I feel like we’ve got all the right pieces,” he said. “Last year, we lost in the championship, so this year, we’re trying to get it back.”
Of course, though, that’s not the only focus of Brown’s summer. The summer before any senior year is one of the last big chances to make major waves on the recruiting scene.
The 6-foot-1 guard made his fair share of waves a year ago, picking up offers from Cleveland State, Fordham and Marquette during the month of June. He also owns a pair of offers Drexel and St. Joe’s that came prior to his 2021 summer. Of that handful, Brown noted that Marquette and St. Joe’s, where his stepfather Justin Scott is an assistant coach, have expressed the most interest.
In terms of goals for the summer, though, Brown didn’t even go to anything related to scholarships or playing at the college level — in that sense, he knows those chips will fall as they may, as long as he keeps developing his game.
According to Brown, he just wants to see K-Low Elite reach new heights.
“(I want to) win Adidas,” he said. “And just help my team. I know I have offers, but I want everybody on my team to get offers.”
Eli DeLaurier (2024 | Team Loaded VA 16U | Miller School of Albermale, Va.)
Year-round basketball has been part of DeLaurier’s life for about a decade, at this point.
The younger brother of Javin DeLaurier — a 2016 high school prospect and Duke signee who now plays in the NBA G League after a productive four years in Durham — Eli DeLaurier has seen plenty of AAU basketball and recruiting events.
A rising junior, he’s got two left, and hopes to make the current one count. He began to pick up steam with Division I offers a year ago, but knows there’s more work to be done.
“Those were my first couple of offers, so there was a lot of excitement,” he said. “But you’ve just got to keep your head down and keep working.”
DeLaurier enters the summer with five offers, including West Virginia, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech. WVU was the most recent to offer DeLaurier, near the end of September 2021, and DeLaurier mentioned that the Mountaineers showed the most interest in the time since.
If his performance in Indiana was any indicator, DeLaurier certainly has an array of skills he can bring to any Division I program. He’s a bit light for his height, but makes great use of his length especially on defense and is comfortable guarding multiple positions. Despite being on the thin side, he can take contact and rebound well, and has creative finishing ability around the rim, with a solid outside shot to boot.
According to DeLaurier, though, the hope for this summer is to become more independent on the floor. College coaches, he said, have mentioned wanting to see him be more ball-dominant and “take control of the game.”
“I want to be able to bring the ball up the court,” he said. “Just go get a bucket by myself, rather than needing a guard or someone to get me the ball. I just want to be able to get it out of bounds and push it.”
And throughout the process, DeLaurier said, his older brother has been a key supporter in his development — namely, in terms of providing inspiration.
“He’s one of my easy motivations,” DeLaurier said. “I don’t want to be in his shadow forever. I definitely want to be able to take him one-on-one; it’s one of my dreams.”
Anthony Finkley (2023 | K-Low Elite 17U | Roman Catholic, Pa.)
It didn’t take long for Anthony Finkley to come back home.
Prior to the 2021-22 school year, Finkley — then entering his junior year, enrolled at West Catholic — made the decision to transfer to Huntingdon Prep, a highly-regarded program in West Virginia.
Anthony Finkley (above) barely played his junior season after transferring from West Catholic to Huntington Prep to Roman Catholic. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Midway through the school year, though, Philadelphia came calling. Transferring back to his home city, Finkley ended up landing with the PIAA 6A state champions.
“It feels really good to be back home,” he said. “It was hard to adjust (in West Virginia) but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.”
According to Finkley, going back home played a major role in his transfer — and of course, so did the opportunity to round out his high school career with one of the city’s and state’s most prominent high school basketball programs, one that has won four state titles in the last eight years.
“It’s a winning program,” he said. “I’m just trying to get used to winning.”
At Roman, Finkley will also have the opportunity to run with K-Low Elite teammate and point guard Xzayvier Brown, who played an integral role in the Cahillites’ 2022 championship run.
“Just playing my point guard, (Brown),” Finkley said when asked what he was most looking forward to about his season to come at Roman Catholic.
At last weekend’s Adidas event in Indianapolis, Finkley finally got the opportunity to get back on the floor and put his array of skills on display. He’s got impressive ball-handling ability and footwork for his 6-foot-8, bulky frame, can run the floor with the ball in or out of his hands, is a strong defender and isn’t afraid to play on the perimeter on either end of the floor.
While he did say he’s got plenty to work on — namely, shotmaking ability and getting in shape — Finkley mentioned just being able to get on the court and play again was a major relief after sitting out most of the 2021-22 school year due to mid-year transfer regulations.
“(The weekend) was good,” Finkley said. “It felt good to be back out there after not playing for four months.”
Finkley’s got a handful of mid- and high-major Division I offers — six in total, most of which he picked up during the 2021 summer cycle — but the rising senior mentioned Marquette as one of the main schools pursuing him to date.
Marquette head coach Shaka Smart was in attendance watching K-Low Elite’s weekend-ending victory over Elite Amateur (EAU) Sunday afternoon.
Finkley also has offers from a pair of Philadelphia schools in La Salle and St. Joseph’s, and referred to them in the same breath as Marquette in terms of his most prominent suitors.
“Marquette, St. Joe’s and La Salle,” he said. “They’ve been the most active.”
The forward said he’s still got a ways to go before narrowing down his list, and while he didn’t mention either of those two as schools he’s most notably interested in, he didn’t rule out the idea of staying home for the next step of his basketball career.
“Yeah, I haven’t even thought about a college decision yet,” he said. “I want to go wherever I feel most comfortable.”
Of course, if he were to decide to stay home, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.
— While he mentioned he’s yet to receive a Division I offer, K-Low Elite 2023 guard Trey Shinholster put an array of skills on display in Indianapolis in college coaches’ first evaluation opportunity of the new cycle. Shinholster, who said he prides himself on being an active defender, proved that to be the case with multiple sequences of on-ball pressure and quick hands in passing lanes.
“That’s something I love to do,” Shinholster said. “I feel like, every game, what starts me off is my defense. If my shot’s not hitting, if I can’t find it on offense, a quick steal and a quick layup will get me started.”
On the offensive end, he found his shot throughout the weekend, sinking several three-pointers, and showed a strong ability to move without the ball and find his spot on the perimeter. According to Shinholster, he’s had interest prior to this spring from Ivy League schools, and is aiming to work on his ball-handling ability this summer in order to attract further interest.
“To play at a high level, I have to be a point guard as a 6-2 guard,” he said. “And right now, I’m kind of like a wing, but I’m working to be a ball-handler.”
— Fresh off of a breakout sophomore season at Archbishop Ryan, K-Low Elite 2024 guard Darren Williams put together a quality first weekend of AAU action as one of the lead guards for K-Low Elite’s 16U. Williams entered a much more prominent role for Ryan during the 2021-22 season, and as a result, sees major growth in his game from this time a year ago.
“I feel like I’m more poised, smart and under control with the ball and have a better understanding of the game, so I make better plays,” he said.
Ultimately, Williams possesses plenty of skills that should set him up for an active 2022 summer as he eyes his first collegiate scholarship offers. He fills out his 6-foot-2 frame well, has a smooth jump shot, can score at multiple levels, and is an active defender from end-to-end. This summer, his focus is on improving his decision-making and leadership, and, ultimately, beginning to pick up college interest.
— 6-foot-9 forward Carter Lang — whom 247 lists as a four-star prospect. Lang, visually speaking, looks the part of a Division I big man; he’s got a very solid build at 6-9 and 220 pounds, and stands his ground as such on defense down low. But his goal for this summer is to develop further into a stretch-four; he mentioned it’s what many college coaches have wanted to see from him, and he’s got the skills to do it, too. He handles the ball well for his size, is a capable passer, and has a very clean release on his jump shot. As of now, Lang mentioned in-state Virginia Tech has been the most active of his seven Division I offers — the list also includes Richmond, George Mason, Illinois, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Old Dominion.
— One of the most active players on K-Low Elite’s 16U squad was Friends’ Central 2024 guard Reid Belcher. He’s certainly undersized at 5-foot-10, but he plays with major energy on both sides of the ball. Beyond his intangibles related to effort, Belcher put a handful of noticeable skills on display, including but not limited to his quick first step, quick reflexes on defense, and impressive finishing ability at the rim.