Classes for high school students either already have or will start back up in the next week or so, which means we can expect a couple of ‘back-to-school’ fall basketball showcases taking place. The ‘Assist Student Athletes’ team, led by CEO William Carter, specifically stayed busy this past weekend in hosting two separate events within the regions of Northern and Central Virginia, respectively. Saturday (8/17) saw the annual ‘ASSIST 804 Top 48 Camp’ happen in Prince George High School’s (Prince George, VA) gymnasium. Two split sessions, girls in the morning to early afternoon followed by boys from mid-afternoon to evening, made up the entire hoops-filled day. The very next day (8/18), ‘Assist’ took things up North to Hayfield Secondary School (Alexandria, VA) for the inaugural ‘ASSIST DMV Top 100 High School Showcase,’ featuring all-male hoopers. I had the opportunity to cover the entire weekend and also once again ran into my Phenom Hoops co-worker, Frank Bennett, during Saturday’s second session. In addition, it was also good to catch up with former Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)/professional overseas standout Bo Jones, who did an excellent job operating the majority of Saturday’s drills. All sorts of players in different age ranges, both familiar and new faces, arrived to compete and get better throughout the weekend; something that I personally deemed as achieved, overall.
After the girls wrapped up Session I, over 60 Guys took over for the rest of Saturday. In a likewise fashion to the morning, I saw good competition and improvement within several players whom I’ve been able to scout in the past. Of course, it’s always great to also run across new prospects for a first glance too.
My Saturday Standouts
Kenard Richardson ’21 – Life Christian Academy (Chester, VA): In my eyes, the 6’4” Richardson’s play satisfied the most on Saturday afternoon due to a particular reason: his improvement in perimeter shooting. As one of the area’s best 2020 slashers, I’ve been saying for the last couple of months that the wing would need to show a greater willingness to take jump shots. He showed all of that and then some during the day’s games; looking like more of a complete scorer than I’ve ever seen in his offensive package. Richardson continued to give defenders much trouble by pounding his way to the rim but also swished jumpers from all over the perimeter, both off the dribble and catch. If he can add this as a consistent attribute within his game, defenses are in trouble (something I can recall referring to in one of my tweets). It only felt right that he landed the Camp MVP trophy.
Mohammed Mahadi ’20 – Thomas Jefferson HS (Richmond, VA): One of the top athletes in the gym, Mahadi doesn’t immediately attract eyes with his 5’10” physical appearance but typically causes a stir once he finds chances to show off what he can do in the air. A good example of this happened at one point later near evening time when the scoring guard took off for a powerful tomahawk jam off of two feet. Mahadi uses a blend of athleticism and scoring feel well to get his buckets but also played quite nicely as a playmaker for others. The Thomas Jefferson Vikings may need to see even more of this out of him for the winter season, as 2019 standouts Teon Tiller ’19 and Orlando Davis ’19 both graduated from the program. The senior contains a lot of excitement in his game and always competes on both ends. Even in a regular preseason prospect showcase, he still showed why he deserved a second-team nod on my ‘2019 804 All-Defense Team,’ released back in March.
Anthony Green ’23 – Life Christian Academy (Chester, VA): Green made a strong impression from the very start that he has the potential to soon become another four-year varsity player if the Life Christian Eagles make that decision. His strong build goes way beyond that of a guy who’s just entering his freshmen year. As a lefty, he knows how to break his opponents down with a sneaky handle and muscle his way through traffic, similar to Richardson. I especially liked how well he stretched to the basket with his notable wingspan; a move that worked repeatedly. Green has the physical tools and solid ball skills already to become a good scoring wing who can find openings in different areas. I feel he could become a tough defender too if he puts his mind to it. A name in Richmond’s 2023 class to mark down early.
Jaden Daughtry ’22 – Benedictine College Preparatory School (Richmond, VA): At this point, it’s pretty much always expected that Daughtry will give you plenty of highlights and workhorse plays whenever the ball tips off. He’s another man-child who knows how to impose his will on each and every possession. Strong rebounding, stick-backs, running the floor, and driving finishes all come quite naturally for the 6’5” forward. The biggest improvement I saw out of him on Saturday was a tighter handle with the ball. Daughtry looked much shiftier and more difficult to contain when he made moves past the defense. This frequently occurred both in transition and half-court settings. Adding that confident asset to his game makes him a greater handful considering his high motor that already persists. The Benedictine Cadet just keeps getting better each time I see him and seems to always know whenever a gym opens up. It’s no coincidence why he has such a good feel for the hardwood.
Ikechi Chantilou ’21 – Life Christian Academy (Chester, VA): A guy that I’ve viewed as a fairly underrated prospect, it felt good to see Chantilou back out there on the floor. My last viewing of him in travel ball took place around late-May. In the past, he’s had some games that were better than others but his smooth style of play has never missed a beat. This continued all throughout Saturday and the 6’4” wing really started to turn it up around the second half of the afternoon. I think three dunks in a row at one point in a game by Chantilou really motivated him; he couldn’t miss after that particular sequence. The athletic senior can do several different things and looks at his best in the open floor. If he doesn’t have the ball, he’s one of the best at running open lanes and finishing above the rim. He’s another noteworthy get for Life Christian this semester and should immediately become a fun player to watch in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division III classification. Chantilou’s strong play earned him the Co-MVP honor.
Jordan Parham ’20 – Huguenot HS (Richmond, VA): One of the deadliest marksmen present, the 5’10” Parham displayed the most range on his three-point shots than anyone else I saw in games. He has that ‘in-the-gym range,’ as one could call it; stretching out past the high school volleyball line. While his shooting remains effectual, I also thought the guard did well in using shot fakes to make opponents bite and slice his way to the rim with few dribbles. Parham’s reputation causes defenders to acknowledge him as such a shooting threat that they tend to close out on him a bit too hard at times. Whenever that happens, he smoothly finds angles at the rim for layups and floaters. On the defensive side of things, he uses his great lateral quickness to collect steals rapidly; making himself an intimidating on-ball defender for players who do not protect the ball too well.
Oh, and an unexpected moment happened towards the end of the session when Parham pulled off a self-reverse lob to win the camp’s Dunk Contest title. Honestly, I didn’t even know he had hops like that. It capped off a stellar day by the Huguenot Falcon.
Ja’Mais Werts ’21 – Monacan HS (Chesterfield, VA): The Monacan Chiefs’ program has some talented pieces and I see Werts as another one who could make a big impact these next two seasons. He has a 6’6” lengthy frame and seems to relish defense before any other areas of the game. His long arms, timing, and focus all make him a reliable rim protector and one who can guard multiple positions. Offensively, I liked how he played with high energy but also didn’t rush opportunities. It’s a prime example of players who know how to “be quick but not hurry;” a common phrase I’m sure most coaches can relate to. Right now, it’s clear that Werts can shoot well at his position and score with touch around the basket. The biggest thing for him pertains to staying in the weight room so opposing front court players won’t be able to easily push him around. There’s a high ceiling for the forward if he can add on strength and keep sharpening up his ball skills.
AJ Willis ’23 – Life Christian Academy (Chester, VA): The youngest player on this list, and in attendance, there’s a LOT to admire about the youthful Willis. First of all, the freshman played with an absolute fearlessness going up against the big boys on Saturday. He’s not the biggest guy but handles the point guard spot with an assertiveness and knows how to control a team’s tempo. I really appreciated how poised Willis competed on the floor; he started off his first game of the day strong by pouring in several three-pointers from all over the floor but never got too amped up. He can shoot it, finish in crafty ways, find others, and communicates on the defensive end. I felt his leadership truly illustrated how maturely he approaches the game at his age. Being part of a Life Christian program that should help him progress by going up against other talented teammates each day, I think Willis is in a good spot to become a gritty guard who knows how to will his team to wins.
Be sure to also check out my ‘2019 ASSIST 804 Top 48 Camp; Girls (8/17/19)’ recap of standouts!