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.
In a similar fashion to Saturday, around 60 players showed up at Hayfield for Sunday’s four-hour camp. I’ve been a bit familiar with the atmosphere surrounding Northern Virginia for years now so it didn’t surprise me to see how well the guys went at each other. I could hear the impressed tone in Carter’s voice when discussing the talent filling up the gym. Daniel Harris, a new contributor for the ‘Assist’ team and incoming redshirt junior at Mount Aloysius College (Cresson, PA), did a remarkable job of supervising everything. There’s much pride in basketball competition around the region and certainly some names next-level coaches should start looking into.
My Sunday Standouts
Landon Hawes ’20 – Potomac Falls HS (Sterling, VA): From my own observations, nobody in the gym produced in multiple areas better than Hawes. At 6’4,” the senior combines versatility and skill quite nicely to act as a major wing threat. He did a bit of pretty much all that one could look for on the court: scoring from different levels, transition finishes, rebounding, defense, you name it. I like Hawes’ way of knowing how to throw opponents off by playing at his own slower type of pace. It definitely contrasts to most of his peers, who usually try to beat opponents with quickness. Regardless of the method, Hawes knows how to stand out by making winning plays every time I watch him and ended up leaving with the well-deserved Camp MVP trophy in hand.
Kevin Siakam ’20 – Veritas Collegiate Academy (Fairfax, VA): The tallest camper in attendance, around 6’8,” Siakim brought an energy to the gym that never diminished in the slightest bit over four hours of work. I loved his high motor and mentality of finishing everything with authority. He became one of the most difficult prospects to keep away from the basket due to athleticism and solid body control at his size. Siakim does best near the rim but also showed some capable perimeter skills also; he looked pretty comfortable in ISO situations. I’d still classify him as fairly raw but the big fella undoubtedly has a high ceiling when looking at his physical tools, confidence, and passion; a slew of intangibles.
Terique Brown ’21 – Middleburg Academy (Middleburg, VA): He stood out back in both sessions of the ‘Virginia Live Period Shootout’ (June 2019) and Brown once again showed how naturally he can pour in buckets from all over the floor. The 6’3” guard can REALLY shoot it at a high clip and controls the game with such a smoothness. He made it look just as, if not, easier than any other guard in the gym. Brown releases his lefty jump shot at a quick speed with good elevation and I saw him embrace contact quite well against defenders in transition. He has a feel for things that illustrates everything about a ‘hooper’; one who makes it appear as if they were simply born to ball. Coaches should mark down the Middleburg Dragon as another piece of the school’s varsity program full of next-level targets.
Micah Jones ’20 – Hayfield Secondary School (Alexandria, VA): Starting off in 1v1 play and continuing well into full-court runs, Jones had one of the best mid-range games on Sunday. Of course, I’ve always perceived that certain skill as an important one that all guards should contain, so I appreciated how well he could operate in different close areas. As soon as he gained a tad bit of space, the 6’3” guard got off his high release that clearly possesses a nice soft touch. He had instances where he would go off for strong personal runs and played as a reliable presence for his team all afternoon. At his size, I also feel Jones can rebound even better for a guard and look for any instances where he could score over a smaller defender in the paint. He has a good array of moves in his footwork, to go along with his shooting, for separation moves that led to the upperclassman being crowned as winner of ‘King of the Court’; a competitive 1v1 drill that took place right before the start of games.
Jordan Radford ’20 – Battlefield HS (Haymarket, VA): Radford has some serious speed to him…I would caution others to challenge the 6’3” guard in a foot race. Those same boosters made it breathtaking to simply watch the speedy senior zip past defenders for all sorts of finishes. Radford’s a very good athlete who can make jumpers but his ability to attack suits him best right now, in my opinion. He has the size and enthusiasm that’s necessary of an effective slasher; it really puts opponents in a pickle when they see the Battlefield product charging right at them. Of course, he’ll have to be careful about not playing overly fast and causing charges but his ‘young Dwyane Wade-esque’ game becomes pretty exciting to watch. Don’t blink or you might miss it.
Ethan Wilson ’20 – Osbourn Park HS (Manassas, VA): An acknowledged lethal scorer in the 703, Wilson’s coming off of a good travel ball season and continued to prove on Sunday that he can score with the best of them. At 6’0,” one can typically find him on-ball to create for his own offense. His three-point shot falls from deep range and I saw an improved quickness by the energetic guard. He has a chip on his shoulder that’s to like; not afraid to battle against anyone who’s on the other side of the ball. Ever since the 2018-19 high school season concluded, Wilson’s worked to become more of an all-around combo guard. In my eyes, he’s certainly made progression and keeps taking the proper steps. If he continues to demonstrate playmaking for other guys around him, it should help his stock boost up even more. I see it all coming along quite nicely.
Corde Jenkins ’20 – Virginia Academy (Ashburn, VA): Jenkins is another one who has a good upbeat vibe about him that can become contagious on the floor. He does well offensively whether the ball’s in his hands or not. Being a solid rebounder as a 6’3” left-handed guard/wing, Jenkins can snag boards to take it coast-to-coast by himself; using long strides and his lengthy arms to finish at the rim. When he doesn’t have the ball, he spaces out well to get open for perimeter shots and baseline finishes, whichever opportunity looks best available. I saw promising defensive tools out of him also, as his reaction time leads to intercepted passes occasionally. Following a strong summer with Higher Level Premier 17u, Jenkins should arrive to the Virginia Academy Patriots as another stellar addition and compete well in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division II classification.
Coretez Lewis ’20 – Saint John Paul the Great Catholic HS (Dumfries, VA): A strong-shouldered wing who broke out for the Wolves last winter season as a newcomer, Lewis looks even more skilled now when the ball’s swung towards his way. He showed more range on his jumper and knocked down many mid-range looks around the free-throw line. Per usual, the 6’3” prospect imposed his way inside for strong finishes through contact; bouncing defenders off of him. This has worked best for Lewis in the past times I’ve scouted him but I feel he’ll find himself not nearly as worn out if he can keep displaying good outside skills. He already has the physicality and mindset of an effectual bruiser and defender but that improved shooting can take him a long way, offensively.
Lavion Morales ’20 – Veritas Collegiate Academy (Fairfax, VA): Morales has a good build to his 6’2” frame at the scoring guard spot and used that same strength at an advantage to get pesky defenders off of him. I saw some good shot-creating skills from the senior; he sizes up in triple-threat well to create space. Once he spots daylight, Morales can both shoot and drive it solidly for his points. He definitely goes up with power for his finishes at the rim, illustrated by one of the day’s best highlights when he caught a poster slam off of an inbounds setup. He’s definitely one to keep an eye out for in the Fairfax area on Veritas this year. The private school team holds other notable names in Siakim (listed above) and Bryce Hawkins ’22; another younger camp attendee.
DJ Slaughter ’20 – Saint John Paul the Great Catholic HS (Dumfries, VA): A back-court mate of Lewis, the 6’0” Slaughter has been an area standout for the last couple of years and it’s quite obvious to see how much easier the game comes to him now. He had great patience and slick moves throughout Sunday for many tightly-contested shots. In transition, Slaughter changes directions well to put opposing defenders’ heads on a swivel. He has some craftiness in his layup package and doesn’t shy away from contact. Along the perimeter, the guard uses quick snatch-backs and other moves for separation of a pretty-looking jumper. It’s satisfying to notice he’s put on more muscle, which I felt was a past need. Having been one of the leading scorers for Saint John Paul the Great in the last two years, the team’s expectations will likely increase even more for Slaughter as a veteran lead man. I have no doubt that he’ll continue to deliver.
Be sure to also check out my standouts from the ‘2019 ASSIST 804 Top 48 Camp; Girls (8/17/19)’ and ‘2019 ASSIST 804 Top 48 Camp; Boys (8/17/19)’ events this past Saturday!