This past weekend, Phenom Hoops traveled to Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia for our Hargrave Military Challenge. This event wraps up our high school showcases for the season, and we certainly went out with a bang. There was a ton of talent/high-level programs from all around the East Coast and they each came with something to prove, arguably making this the most talent-rich event on our calendar. We saw an abundance of talent across the two days, and this article will take a closer look at some personal favorites…
7’2 ’20 Kai Sotto (The Skill Factory)
Seemingly everyone who attended our Hargrave Military Challenge walked away in absolute awe of Kai Sotto and rightfully so, as he’s clearly a unique talent. Skilled big men are somewhat of a common entity in the modern era, but calling Sotto skilled is like calling LeBron athletic—it simply does not tell the full story. In two games, he highlighted the entire arsenal and truly left nothing to be desired. Sotto’s understanding of the game is incredibly high, yet his creativity and ability to see/do things that others simply cannot is a large part of what makes him so special. His IQ, footwork, touch with either hand, and unlimited array of moves make him basically unstoppable out of the post. He finishes over both shoulders, knocks down turnarounds with efficiency, utilizes all types of fakes, and even brought back Kareem’s patented sky-hook. Sotto can also step out and hit perimeter jumpers with undeniable fluidity and consistency. He’s tougher than opponents think and battles hard on the glass to secure rebounds at a quality rate. Sotto runs the floor hard in transition, displays solid athleticism at the rim, and passes the ball as well as any post prospect in the country. Although rankings don’t really matter, national scouts have criminally underrated him. There’s still so much time for Sotto to continue developing that it’s almost scary to think of how incredible he could become, especially since he already has all the makings of an NBA prospect.
6’1 ’20 KD Johnson (Hargrave Academy)
Each time someone at Phenom Hoops would go to Hargrave, they’d come back with nothing but praise for KD Johnson. Everything that has been said is absolutely true, as Johnson is one of the most complete and electric point guard prospects across the country. There’s really nothing to knock or dislike about his game. Johnson is a phenomenal leader with incredible toughness and a poised, gritty approach on both ends of the floor. He possesses a very high IQ, always seeing and making the best available play before most opponents can even react. Johnson has an impressive balance of patience and quick-twitch moves, even though he always seems to be in fifth gear. He’s unbelievably fast and almost unstoppable in the open floor, where he gets from baseline to baseline in the blink of an eye and makes plays for himself or others. Johnson’s intense, rugged nature is evident on basically every possession (especially defensively), as opponents have quickly learned not to try and get involved in a physical battle with him. He’s an explosive leaper with great all-around athleticism. Johnson possesses a tight handle, sharp vision, and an extremely reliable three-level scoring arsenal. Few players are capable of dominating and affecting all facets the game quite like Johnson, which should make him a monster at Georgia and beyond.
6’8 ’21 Markus Ilver (Massanutten)
There’s always constant talk and circulation about underrated prospects in the bigger scheme of things, but Markus Ilver might be one of the most overlooked players throughout the entire country. Maybe it’s the initial look test, but for Ilver to currently hold zero Division I offers is truly laughable. He’s long, wiry, and possesses an incredible balance between explosiveness and three-level scoring. Ilver operates as the offensive focal point for this Massanutten squad, displaying a high comfort level as their primary creator and scoring threat. He scores the ball in a variety of different ways and, at 6-foot-8, naturally causes his fair share of matchup problems. Ilver is a quality defender, rebounder, and transition threat that can find scoring opportunities without requiring the ball in his hands. He displays a high IQ and strong willingness to set up his teammates whenever possible. Ilver has great size for his position and utilizes it quite effectively on both ends of the floor. There’s no denying his talent level or remaining upside. It would be absolutely shocking if he didn’t blow up and collect at least a dozen offers over the next six to eight months.
6’6 ’21 David Jones (Teay’s Valley)
At this point, it seems impossible to host an event with Teay’s Valley where David Jones isn’t one of the best handful of players on display. Although still slightly underrated, Jones has finally begun to pick up offers at an appropriate rate but that hasn’t stopped his on-court hunger from shining through. Outside of Cam Thomas, one would be hard-pressed to find many more dominant scoring wings—especially in the Class of 2021. Jones is so smart and versatile that his efficient, seemingly nonstop scoring display appears so incredibly effortless at all times. He has no offense weakness, able to truly dictate the action as a scorer and playmaker from start to finish. Jones can consistently generate clean scoring opportunities out of thin air, both for himself and others, and knows how to mix it up regularly with his approach. He attacks the basket, pulls-up from midrange, posts-up smaller players, knocks down three-pointers off the catch or bounce, and scores extremely well in transition. Jones possesses excellent IQ, vision, athleticism, and two-way leadership qualities. He’s a winner and team-first player that should only continue to get recruited at the highest level in college basketball.
6’5 ’22 Jalen Hood-Schifino (Combine Academy)
North Carolina is blessed to have such impressive prospects in the Class of 2022, and now it’s time we start discussing Jalen Hood-Schifino as the potential top prospect. We’ve seen him countless times over the last four to five years but his showing at our Hargrave Military Challenge indicated a clear step forward in his progression. Hood-Schifino is already well-known for his elite size, defense, and playmaking abilities but continues to make strides in all other facets. He’s an excellent rebounder that can reliably push transition play, control the tempo, and make intelligent decisions with the ball in his hands. Hood-Schifino is crafty, especially through traffic, and gets to the rim at a pretty consistent rate. However, it was his improved perimeter jumper that seemed to stand out over the weekend. Hood-Schifino led in his normal manner on both ends of the floor but simply looked more comfortable since his commitment to Pittsburgh, as if the weight of the world was no longer on his shoulders. He created with relative ease and knocked down an impressive amount of midrange and three-point jumpers. Hood-Schifino is already a high-level talent, but looks likely to continue getting better and better.