By: Cooper Hart
6’7” ’24 Mason Smith (Team Charlotte/Davidson Day)
Smith impressed as a knockdown shooter with good size and length. He has a quick release, able to get his shot off without a dip if needed. His ability to get to his spots and shoot out of different actions was impressive, even more so when you consider that he gets his shots within the flow of the offense. Defensively, he is a solid team defender, using his size to wall up on bigger post players, guarding his yard on the perimeter, and understanding where to be on closeout rotations.
6’2” ’26 Jaden Hayden-Barber (Next Level Elite SC/South Pointe)
Hayden-Barber was arguably the best player in the entire 15u division this past weekend. He’s an athletic off-guard with a serious burst and an aggressive play style. What impressed me with him this weekend was his ability to take over games with his motor, athleticism, and ability to score with efficiency. He dominates defensively, creating havoc in passing lanes and traps while also overwhelming his opponents on the ball. Offensively, he’s a solid outside threat but makes his money by generating paint touches (that usually end in impressive rim finishes), either using his handle or attacking closeouts to do so.
5’9” ’26 Malik McCotter (Team EAT/Chambers)
McCotter has displayed his toughness, change of pace, and play-making ability all spring and this past weekend was no exception. His ability to stop and start on a dime is impressive and allows him to practically live in the paint. He scored the ball well at all three levels, showing toughness when finishing at the rim (especially against the older 16u defenders), touch and pace when getting to floaters and pull-ups, and his usual consistent presence from beyond the arc. Coupling all of that with his bulldog-like approach to defense and you have one intensely pestering matchup to go up against and one exciting young guard.
5’11” ’26 Chris Asuzu (Palmetto City Hurricanes/Dreher)
Asuzu has an interesting game, using his smaller but strong frame to will his way to the rim and dominate bigger matchups. He has good body control on drives, able to either recover from bumps with relative ease or brush them off entirely. His relentlessness in getting to the rim bleeds into other areas of his game as he is a great rebounder for his position and an agitating on-ball defender. It’s always promising when young guards have relative ease when generating paint touches and rim finishes and, considering this is his biggest strength at the moment, I would say all signs point to positive regarding his future development.
6’6” ’26 John Slusher (TTA/Hough)
Slusher is an intriguing young big prospect that flashed solid footwork and touch coupled with good feel and instincts. He’s been a consistent producer all spring, doing his damage in the paint on both ends. He runs the floor well, understands positioning, and has good timing on rebounds and shot contests. He impacts the game within the flow of offense and doesn’t often struggle with usual young forward mistakes (dropped passes, bad misses, clumsy fouls, etc.). Due to his current consistency and his obvious upside, Slusher is a strong bet for future development.