This past weekend, Phenom Hoops traveled to Spartanburg, South Carolina for the first live period of the early summer season. There were over 150 teams in attendance from all over the region, college-level talent was on display, and college coaches of all levels were sitting baseline throughout the weekend. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of my personal standouts from the big man position…
6’7 ’20 Tyler Young (New Light Disciples)
For those who were in attendance at Phenom Challenge, it’s pretty obvious as to why Tyler Young is the first name on this list. He was nothing short of dominant when operating on the low block, where he proved to be the most efficient post scorer on display. Young is so big, strong, and poised, which makes him virtually unstoppable against most interior defenders. He has an excellent feel around the basket and possesses phenomenal hands with soft touch going over either shoulder. Young is a monster rebounder that knows how to consistently clear out space, corral misses with two hands, and pitch the ball ahead to a guard in transition. He runs the floor hard and does a quality job of anchoring the paint without fouling. Young has picked up his first offer and should only continue to see his recruitment trend upward from this point going forward.
6’7 ’20 Zack Austin (Team Winston)
While Zack Austin isn’t necessarily a true “big man,” he possesses enough two-way versatility to be featured at either of the three frontcourt positions. Austin is a defensive dynamo with his ability to protect the rim or step out and defend the perimeter. He does a lot of things well on offense, from posting-up to spotting-up to attacking the basket and playing above the rim. Austin is skilled enough to be a leading scorer on a game-to-game basis, but also works really well within the flow of the offense. He moves extremely well for his size and checks all the physical boxes necessary to thrive at the next level. While he has an abundance of tools, Austin is the type of player that becomes more enticing with each new viewing. Scholarship-holding coaches should look no further, as Austin could be a phenomenal late addition for a variety of programs.
6’10 ’20 Kuluel Mading (New Light Disciples)
Though somewhat thin, it’s easy to see how Kuluel Mading is arguably the most tantalizing prospect on this list. He’s an extremely long, fluid athlete with underrated two-way instincts and a blossoming offensive skillset. Mading already possesses a clear defensive identity as a quality rim-protector and very impressive rebounder. He’s fairly nimble for his size and displays the ability to closeout hard and then quickly recover. Mading has a nice, constantly improving feel for the game and understands how to establish his presence on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he has touch with either hand and can work on the low block, but most of his scoring comes from dump-off passes or the occasional three-point shot. Mading is a prospect that should have folks excited, as his trajectory has been amazing and his continued growth is certainly worth monitoring over the next calendar year.
6’7 ’20 Jaylen Siermons (Fayetteville Flash)
The Fayetteville Flash was one of the tougher, grittier programs at Phenom Challenge and Jaylen Siermons definitely provided them with a useful presence on both ends of the floor. He’s a big, strong athlete with an exceptional frame and the ability to control the paint while playing nicely within his role. Siermons consistently stood out with his defensive prowess, both as a rim-protector and perimeter defender, and was able to outwork basically every opponent in his path throughout the weekend. He moves extremely well for his size and displays terrific rebounding instincts, able to utilize his blend of motor, length and strength to clear out space and outwork opponents for every available loose ball. Siermons doesn’t need offensive touches to impact the game but is capable of playing above the rim or scoring around the basket with decent touch. There’s definitely a place for him at the next level, which should have scholarship-holding coaches buzzing.
6’7 ’20 Brandon Johnson (7thNation Warriors)
There was a lot to like with the 7thNation Warriors, but Brandon Johnson consistently stood out as their most intriguing prospect throughout Phenom Challenge. He caught the eyes of spectators on Friday night with his strong versatility, especially on offense, and only continued to get better as the weekend carried on. Johnson has a big-bodied frame and knows how to rebound the ball at a terrific rate, but it’s his ability to grab boards and push the break in transition that seems to overwhelm the opposition. He was able to operate as a primary creator in a pinch and has a pretty solid handle for a player of his size. Johnson has a nice feel for the game and was able to score quite effectively from anywhere inside the arc, especially when looking to attack in transition. Keep an eye on him as the summer carries on, as Johnson could be an absolute steal for the right program.