Phenom Hoops traveled to Fayetteville, North Carolina for some post-Thanksgiving basketball over the weekend. The field featured an incredible amount of talent, including teams from five different states, which made for some quality competition. This article will dive deeper into some of my favorite performers from the event. Each of these prospects should be monitored closely by Division I coaches, as they’ll continue to become increasingly coveted throughout the next year or two.
6’5 ’20 Robertas Jonaitis (Heritage IJN)
Last week, the newly founded Heritage IJN team (from West Virginia) debuted at our National Showcase and began the process of becoming a powerhouse program. This week, they attended the Hoops and Dreams Showcase and looked like a completely different team. Many players on this squad just concluded their fourth ever basketball game, which is more intriguing than it sounds. They are loaded with athletes and physical specimens, so each gradual step towards developing is a positive sign for these guys. Fortunately, after seeing all four of their contests, this group improves at a rapid rate and looks likely to start dominating their competition within the next year. The most polished prospect on the team is Jonaitis, who stands at a long, wiry, 6-foot-5, and possesses a natural instinct for scoring the ball. He’s done an incredible job of learning on the fly and applying new knowledge within the game. Jonaitis has recreated his jumper since joining the team and has become noticeably more consistent/accurate since first suiting up. His ability to knife and slide by defenders is among his best attributes, as it allows him to attack the basket with relative ease—frequently finishing above the rim with unexpected explosiveness. Jonaitis’ feel for the game should continue to steadily improve, but he’s already a quality teammate with unselfish tendencies and a useful on-court identity. There’s a lot to like with this team, so it’ll be interesting to monitor their growth going forward.
7’0 ’20 Jeriah Coleman (Great Bridge Christian)
One could truly argue that Coleman was the most appealing prospect on display at our Hoops and Dreams Showcase, given his blend of size, fluid athleticism, and clear two-way upside. The big man just recently came to Great Bridge Christian (in Virginia) from Alaska and should become extremely coveted within the next calendar year by all types of Division I programs. Coleman rebounds at a high level on both ends of the floor, finishing second-chance opportunities or quickly advancing the ball and purposefully running from rim to rim. His defensive polish is clear, as he showed the ability to protect the rim quite well and move his feet when defending the perimeter. Coleman attacks closeouts and recovers like a guard, but utilizes his length exceptionally well to accumulate a ton of blocks and deflections. He made efficient use of his touches on offense and was able to highlight quality touch around the basket. Coleman is already playing at a very productive level, but looks likely to blossom into a top 100-150 player in the Class of 2020.
5’11 ’20 Isaiah Wilson (First Love)
There should be little debate about the best point guard on display, as Wilson was nothing short of phenomenal. He’s somewhat small, but plays with major toughness and simply knows how to wear down opponents with his constant relentlessness and dog-like mentality. Wilson is a chippy, no-nonsense competitor with the ability to lead a team on both sides of the ball. He was the most intelligent performer on display, utilizing his craftiness and unbelievable vision to set the floor for his teammates on a regular basis. Wilson possesses a blindingly quick first step and can enter the paint whenever he desires. He’s an excellent creator, both for himself and others, and also scores the ball at an efficient rate from all three levels. Wilson is a threat to shoot the ball from anywhere within thirty-feet and torch the nets, but also finishes extremely well around the basket with his array of reverses and in-between moves. He was among the few players that clearly made all of his teammates better on both sides of the ball while setting the tone with his leadership and communication. Another thing worth noting: Wilson was the youngest player to receive significant minutes on this squad and still emerged as a leader.
6’10 ’20 Javarzia Belton (Moravian Prep)
There’s been an incredible amount of buzz surrounding Moravian Prep since their overtime battle with Oak Hill at our Carmel Christian Tip-off Classic and for good reason, as this team possesses an abundance of college-level talent. They obviously hang their hat on the offensively overwhelming duo of Josh Hall and Caleb Burgess, but Belton has arguably been their best two-way performer since the aforementioned showdown in Charlotte. Everyone that has seen the big man in-person understands that he’s a physical specimen, considering his muscles looked likely to burst through his skin before he began working out on a regular basis. Now, Belton appears to be in the best condition of his playing career and continues to get better with each passing day. He is so physically overwhelming, especially on defense, welcoming contact and willing to go toe-to-toe with any big man in the country. Belton guards the post and protects the rim with great poise; he poses a terrific shot-blocking threat and alters an incredible amount of attempts around the paint. Though still getting comfortable, he displayed the ability to bully opponents on offense during the weekend, finishing very effectively around (or above) the rim. It’ll be interesting to see where Belton ends up, especially if he maintains another year of steady growth, as he’s already a clear lock for the next level.
6’11 ’20 Francesco Borra (Tri-City Christian)
The most intriguing team at our Hoops and Dreams Showcase was probably Tri-City Christian, given their team-construct and staggering amount of polish. Like Heritage IJN (mentioned above), Tri-City has brought in an abundance of talent from various locations across the globe. They represent numerous different countries, including Italy, which is where their promising big man is from. He’s big, strong, and very fundamentally-sound, which allows him to overwhelm opponents on both ends of the floor. Borra typically operates in the low-post, where he showed the ability to finish with either hand or over either shoulder effectively. That being said, he displayed signs of a formidable perimeter jumper, both from midrange and beyond the arc. Borra embraces his role quite well and rarely forces the offensive action, frequently scoring on dump-off passes and finishes above the rim. He utilizes his size nicely to fight on the glass, where he proved to be one of the top two-way rebounders in attendance. As just a junior, the sky is the limit for Borra over these next two years.