Yesterday evening saw me again make the 45-minute drive to the West End of Henrico County, VA for continuation of The Steward School’s hosted annual high school summer league. As I predicted, more faces arrived to participate in the competition, following last week’s ‘live period’ for travel basketball. As they say, the more the merrier, and I had the privilege of scouting a slate of competitive games that filled up both gymnasiums of Steward’s athletic facilities. Eight games made up the night, the majority of which resulted as tightly-played for much of the 40 minutes. Heading into next week, the league’s final three days will take place on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; officially rounding things out. I plan to again make an appearance mid-week and see how the young hoopers close out Richmond’s final summer league of the year.

Wednesday Evening Standouts

Roosevelt Simpson ’20 – J.R. Tucker HS (Henrico County, VA): In a fast-paced matchup between the J.R. Tucker Tigers and King William High School (King William County, VA), Simpson made a number of big plays to keep his squad in the game up until the final few minutes. The lead guard showed an ability to perform both on and off the ball; putting up the most team points on the scoring end. In the first half, he knocked down a couple of shots from outside the arc and then went on a tear to gain an ample number of paint touches once the second half arrived. J.R. Tucker had many free throw attempts later in the contest, which mostly came from their rising senior’s aggressive penetration down the lane. His handle looked good enough to break past defenders both in transition and half-court defensive settings. Continuing that production into the winter could lead to him becoming a notable prospect within Region 5B.

In a conversation with Tigers head coach Adam Desgain, I also learned Simpson, who has not been playing basketball for that long, is the nephew of a retired NBA star, Ben Wallace.

Joe Bamisile ’20 – Monacan HS (Chesterfield County, VA): Well, whenever Joe “The Show” steps into the gym, we can always expect plenty of highlight plays and prolific scoring. Still, last night showed how well he can act as a facilitator too. The athletically gifted 6’4” guard threw plenty of nice passes to his open teammates all around the court, showing off a skill that’s been relatively overlooked in his game. Getting buckets continues to come with the most ease for him, however, as he sliced his way in for a number of tough finishes against Atlee High School’s (Mechanicsville, VA) defense. Offensively, there’s seriously very little he can’t do with the ball in his hands and his incredible dunking ability appeared evident as usual; he threw down at least 3-4 powerful jams during the evening. Defensively, he’ll need to build a habit of showing more consistent effort. The Northwestern University commit has enjoyed a big summer of making even a greater name for himself, especially after being deemed one of the top performers for the renowned NBPA Top 100 Camp last month. One of, if not the biggest, must-see-prospect residing in the 804.

Mario Jackson ’20 – Trinity Episcopal School (Richmond, VA): The 6’5” Jackson checked in to contribute as one of the biggest spark plugs I saw. He played very hard for the Titans on both ends and especially anchored their defense. The team’s focus on that side of the ball seemed to grow stronger by the minute and led to them capping off the most impressive comeback victory of the evening. Down by seven points late in the second half, TES implemented a full-court press and capitalized off of several caused turnovers to defeat Douglas Freeman HS (Henrico County, VA), 57-56. Martin Lomax ’20 scored the game-winning basket off of a stick-back with less than two seconds remaining on the clock. Jackson looked most effective in his hustle play, as he controlled the offensive glass with an assertiveness and picked up steals after switching to guard on-ball. His defense made that much of a difference due to his lengthy wingspan and quick instincts. He finished well around the basket too but should work on improving his shot selection. The forward has had a solid summer playing for Underground Phenoms 17u and contains potential to give valuable contributions for the reigning Virginia Prep League champions once the school season tips off.

Zach Rosenthal ’21 – The Steward School (Henrico County, VA): The 5’11” lefty guard stood out in a satisfying way last season during his sophomore campaign and again gave Steward another scoring presence in the final game of Wednesday evening against James River High School (Chesterfield County, VA). Rosenthal’s quick first step hasn’t missed a beat at all since I last saw him play…he knows how to use jabs and sweep low for attacks towards the rim from a variety of angles. Whether he’s at the top of the key or in the corner, the rising upperclassman always seems to put the ball on the floor in a straight-line drive. More times than not, it leads to a drawn foul, where the freebies are often completed. His three-point shot makes him a threat if a defender plays a step short as well. Rosenthal can go on explosive spurts when he starts to get into a zone; something I’ve noticed multiple times. Adding in a pull-up jumper would make him closer to emerging as a complete scorer; he already seems to have confidence when looking for his own offense.

Efton Reid ’21 – The Steward School (Henrico County, VA): Fresh off of a showing at the yearly ‘Peach Jam’ live period event in North Augusta, SC, the tallest 2021 product in Richmond (at 6’11”) appeared content being back out there with his high school peers. There’s a lot to praise about Reid’s capabilities on the court but I personally enjoy his ‘do what I do best’ approach probably the most. The big guy very rarely ever tries to perform in an area way outside of his range; displaying all of the attributes a coach would desire from a player at his size. He’s arguably the best rebounder in the area, protects the basket, always talks on defense, fights to make himself available on the block, finds others when double-(or triple) teamed, and has a good shooting touch. Reid’s a nightly walking double-double and clearly knows how to control the tempo. His calm demeanor plays a role greater than he might even realize himself. Oh, and it doesn’t matter how many guys a defense sends toward him once he gets the ball on the block, he’ll end up making the right play. The four-star forward is one of those guys you want to root for and will hold even more of a leadership role in the near future, now as an upperclassman.

Summer league hoops continues tomorrow (7/19) for those interested in sliding on by the nice school campus!