Eric Ayala (above) showed off the growth in his body (and game) with a strong opening weekend on the UAA circuit. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
The first April live period was as crazy as expected, with major events all over the country showcasing thousands of high school prospects in front of thousands of college coaches.
CoBL writers were at three such events: the Nike EYBL event in Brooklyn, the Under Armour Association in Manhattan and the Hoop Group Spring Jam Fest in Manheim, Pa.
Here are players we saw this weekend who stood out:
Bryan Antoine (2019/Ranney School/Team Rio)
Smooth, confident, and more talented than the vast majority of freshman guards, Antoine put on a show in his Under Armour Association (UAA) debut this weekend, dropping 30 points on Team Beastmode’s 16Us. Despite playing up an age group, Rio went 3-1 on the weekend thanks to a roster with several D-I prospects, including this 6-5, 170-pound guard. Antoine can score around the bucket with either hand and is a proficient 3-point shooter, making 36 percent of his triples in four games. Based on his current trajectory, Antoine should be one of the top scoring guards in the country by the time his senior year arrives.
Eric Ayala (2018/Putnam Science/WeR1)
An inch or two taller and 10 pounds stronger than he was this time last year, the Delaware native really stepped up his game over the opening weekend of the UAA. Playing alongside one of the top guards in the country, Trevon Duval (see below), Ayala averaged 17.2 ppg, shooting 57.9 percent from the floor. But he was doing much more than just getting easy looks inside; Ayala also knocked down half of his 18 3-point attempts and grabbed four rebounds per game as well. Expect his phone to blow up on June 15 when college coaches can finally contact rising junior directly; South Carolina, St. John’s, Penn State and Cincinnati have offered since his reclassification last fall.
Geo Baker (2017/Proctor Academy/DC Blue Devils NH)
Geo Baker is a very exciting 2-way player. The 6’2” combo guard has an astonishing change of pace complemented by a deceptive handle (which is certainly the highlight of his game). His elite handles allow him to either create his own shot off the dribble or blow by his man and get to the basket. He can play both on and off the ball, and shows true promise as a facilitator even though his primary role for the Blue Devils is as a scorer. Baker is also extremely solid on the defensive side of the ball. He’s a very hard worker who moves his feet well to stay in front of his man and is very aggressive closing out on shooters.
Mo Bamba averaged 15 ppg and 15 rpg over the opening weekend of the EYBL circuit. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Mohamed Bamba (2017/Westtown School/PSA Cardinals)
One of three top-10 forwards in the Class of 2017 who plays on the EYBL, Bamba had arguably the most impressive weekend of any 7-footer on the circuit. With his motor running at a high level through all three games, the super-talented, athletic big man averaged 15.3 ppg and 15.7 rpg, collecting a double-double every time he took the floor. An excellent student, Bamba is considering a multitude of options from Duke, Syracuse, Kansas and Arizona to Harvard; the only blue-blood program that is yet to offer is Kentucky, but John Calipari and his staff had to impressed with what they saw on Saturday and Sunday.]
Antwuan Butler (2018/Del-Val Charter/WeR1)
There might not be a more typical Philly guard in the 2018 class than “Booty” Butler, who emerged during his sophomore season at Del-Val to start to fulfill some of the potential he displayed as a talented middle-school point guard. In averaging 13.8 ppg, Butler knocked down five of his nine 3-point attempts but makes his money off of getting into the lane, which led him to take a team-high 26 free-throw attempts; he was also consistent, scoring nine points in the first game and then no fewer than 14 over the next three. The compact (5-10) but strong lead guard also dished out 15 assists over the course of the four games.
Hamidou Diallo (2017/Putnam Science/NY Rens)
An aggressive 6-4 wing guard, Diallo is one of the most ferocious players in the country in the open court. It seemed like every five minutes during the Rens’ three games (2-1), Diallo was throwing down another one of his rim-rattling dunks. But more than just a raw athlete, the five-star guard is a terrific pull-up jump shooter who can hit shots off the bounce from anywhere on the court, and knows how to find openings when he’s working off the ball to spot up for 3-pointers. Right now, he’s ranked in the top 15 prospects in the country by the major scouting services, but he wants that No. 1 ranking.
Trevon Duval (2017/Advanced Prep Intl./WeR1)
The top prospect in the entire UAA, Duval showed why seemingly every major program in the country is chasing after his services for what could very well only be one year. At 6-3, the lead guard can do everything: score (19.5 ppg), rebound (3.2 rpg), pass (3.8 apg), and defend (2.0 spg). He’s a top-level athlete, as he showed with a few ferocious swats on the defensive end and some equally-large jams, and he’s got one of the best handles in the class as well. There might not have been another player in New York who drew as many head coaches to his games.
Quade Green (above) is the EYBL's assists leader (10.3 apg) by a wide margin after an impressive three games in Brooklyn. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Quade Green (2017/Neumann-Goretti/PSA Cardinals)
The MVP of the first session of the EYBL was Philly’s own Quade Green, making his top-level Nike debut with Bamba and the PSA Cardinals. The 6-foot guard was spectacular all weekend, averaging 13.7 ppg and a circuit-best 10.3 apg, racking up 11 more dimes than anybody else through three games of play. With almost every major program in the country watching closely, Green showed he could do it all: knock down open jumpers, get to the rim, dish to teammates and D up his man. Currently the No. 41 prospect in the ESPN 60 for his class, Green could end up in the top 20 with a few more weekends like that.
Chris Lykes (2017/Gonzaga/Team Takeover)
One of two point guards in the Takeover backcourt along with Paul VI (Va.) guard Aaron Thompson, Lykes got to show off his scoring ability this weekend. Only standing about 5-7 but muscular, athletic and incredibly talented, Lykes led Takeover to a 3-0 weekend, averaging 16.3 ppg while making 56.7 percent (17-of-3) from the floor and 38.5 percent (5-of-13) from 3-point range. Before the live period, he cut a list of more than 15 offers down to just Villanova, Notre Dame, Miami, Georgetown and VCU, but said he was open to new schools; Tony Bennett and Virginia became the latest to join the fray, offering on Sunday night.
Kevin Knox (2017/Tampa Cathoic/E1T1)
Knox entered the weekend with one goal: proving that he’s a small forward, as opposed to a ‘4’ man. If you were to ask any coach that watched one of E1T1’s three games, they’d surely tell you he did just that. Already a five-star prospect, Knox showed off vastly improved ball skills on the perimeter, even initiating offense at times as a de facto point guard, and knocked down over 44 percent of his threes. He’s got great versatility on the defensive end, with the ability to guard both forward spots, switch onto point guards, and even protect the rim in a pinch. Knox particularly shined in a matchup against fellow five-star John Petty, holding the Alabama native to 3-of-11 shooting and stuffing the stat sheet with 25 points, eight boards, five assists, three steals, and a block. Already a top-10 recruit, Knox might be moving up a couple slots after this weekend.
Brandon McCoy (above) impressed on the court and off it at the EYBL. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Brandon McCoy (2017/Cathedral Catholic/Cal Supreme)
Though he plays on the same frontcourt as the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2017, future lottery pick DeAndre Ayton, McCoy still found plenty of ways to show off his own talents--and he has quite a future in basketball in his own right. A 7-footer from San Diego, McCoy is athletic with a lean, yet powerful frame that he should be able to add to in a big way once he gets to a high-major workout program. More than just a rim protector and floor runner (both of which he does well), McCoy also has great footwork and hands plus a nice face-up game; the entire Pac-12 is in pursuit, as are Michigan State and several other high-major programs. Oh, and he plays five instruments and wants to study marine biology.
LaPri McCray-Pace (2017/Conwell-Egan/Philly Pride)
How balanced was Philly Pride this weekend? McCray-Pace led them in scoring at 10.2 ppg, with with other players averaging between 5.5 ppg and 9.2 ppg. The muscular 6-3 wing, who’s set to prep after graduating from Conwell-Egan this spring, was his usual attacking self, though he hit a number of mid-range pull-up jumpers, a key step towards his development as a Division I prospect. Most impressively was his showing from the FT line, where he knocked down 16-of-17 (93.8 percent); he also grabbed 3.2 rpg--seven players averaged between 2.5 and 3.8 boards, another remarkable example of balance.
Jonathan McGriff (2019/Bishop McNamara/Team Durant)
Maryland’s own freshman Jonathan McGriff is what we like to call a true ankle-breaker. He is a 5-9 point guard with an explosive crossover who rarely comes up against someone quick enough to guard him, even when playing up an age bracket with Team Durant’s 16U squad. He also possesses incredible vision and passing ability. A typical possession for Team Durant when they clear out and give Jonathan the ball usually ends with his defender eating his dust and one of his teammates finishing off his dime pass with an easy layup or dunk. He will certainly have to improve his jump shot and continue to get bigger and stronger moving forward, but Jonathan looks likely to be staking a claim as one of the top point guards in his class in the coming years.
Jahvon Quinerly was the most impressive of the Sports U "Fab Five" at the UAA. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Jahvon Quinerly (2018/Hudson Catholic/Sports U)
One-fifth of the so-called “Fab Five” that comprises the Sports U 16U starting lineup, Quinerly was the most impressive of his fellow high-profile teammates this weekend. With high-scoring wing Luther Muhammad sitting out with a broken foot, the elite floor general took on much more of a scoring load, averaging 17.5 points which is good for fifth on the 16U circuit thus far. Quinerly was in takeover mode on Friday night, leading his squad to a come-from-behind win with 26 points. He seems to always know what his team needs from him at a given time, and he possesses all the intangibles one could want in a lead guard; while the scoreboard isn’t always a player’s top priority in an AAU setting, Quinerly was visibly dejected and choking back tears after this Sports U squad took its first-ever loss on the UAA circuit.
Cormac Ryan (2018/Milton Academy/Middlesex Magic)
Cormac is a 6-5 point guard with a lengthy wingspan who is able to influence the game in a variety of ways on the offensive end of the floor. He has a very smooth shooting stroke, and a nice range from inside the paint out to the three-point line. In addition to being a very sharp shooter in catch and shoot situations, He has an advanced handle for a guy his size, and uses ball fakes to create his own shot. Getting to the basket is also one of his strong suits as he is able to use his length and soft touch to finish around the rim. Apart from his scoring capabilities, Ryan also shows extreme promise as a facilitator. He has outstanding court vision, and unselfishly looks to get his teammates involved.
Lonnie Walker (2017/Reading/Team Final)
Let’s put it this way: Walker did everything in his power this weekend to make his case as the best shooting guard in the nation. Watched by several high-major head coaches during each of Team Final’s three games. Known to be a bit tentative at times in the past, the local product was in attack mode all weekend, dragging his team back to defeat Arkansas Wings on Saturday and squashing an Elfrid Payton Elite comeback attempt with some clutch drives to the rim. His elite athleticism was on full display around the basket, but he showed off his versatility as well, knocking down over 45% of his three-point attempts and making a number of plays for his teammates as a secondary ballhandler. Walker finished the weekend averaging 20.0 points per game on nearly 65 percent shooting.
Tremont Waters (2017/South Kent/Expressions Elite)
Playing in his first ever EYBL games after coming over from the New England Playaz and the Adidas circuit, Waters quickly proved to be one of the elite floor generals in the entire league. The best word to describe is game is “shifty”, as the 6-foot guard uses a variety of crossovers, hesitations, and stepbacks both to create space for his deadly jumper and get in the lane to create plays. Waters put up gaudy averages of 17.0 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game. He’s also a pest on the defensive end, hounding ballhandlers en route to 2.3 steals per game. Most impressive, though, was his efficiency, as he got his points on 57.1 percent shooting and knocked down seven of his eleven (good for a scintillating 63.6 percent) attempts from long range.
Isaiah Wong (2019/Notre Dame HS/WeR1)
“He passes the eye test for sure,” one high-major assistant remarked after watching this slippery freshman put up big numbers all weekend at the UAA. Playing up a level with WeR1’s 16Us, Wong averaged 15.8 ppg, shooting 22-of-38 (57.9 percent) from the floor and 17-of-22 (77.3 percent) from the free-throw line. A 6-2 baby-faced guard, Wong certainly doesn’t lack in confidence on the offensive end, utilizing his smooth handles to break down defenders and get to the rim, where he’s a top-notch finisher. As he continues to expand his pull-up game and his court vision, Wong has a chance to rise to be one of the elite guards in his class.