If you have come to a Phenom Exposure Camp this Fall, you have heard Rick Lewis talk about, “you can play at the level you can defend”. At Saturday’s 7th Annual Phenom’s High School Jamboree there were a few defenders who would be classified as “special”. Guys who showcased the ability to defend at any level, with versatility, toughness, and athleticism.
Here are the defenders who had the coaches talking, and should be thought of as game-changers on that end of the floor …
Defensive Player of the Event
6‘8″ 2021 Keeyan Itejere – GRACE Christian
Itejere is a newer name to the stage, however one who is turning heads quickly. Itejere has legitimate size, to go with excellent length and great athleticism. Still very raw, he has game-changing ability and upside on this end of the floor. He moved his feet on the perimeter, he blocked shots at the rim and he showed great recovery. He is able to rapidly switch ends with quickness and stamina. What stands out about Itejere the most is his motor, pair that with timing, length and athleticism/explosion and he makes life very uncomfortable. It was Itejere’s performance against Christ School that gave him this nod.
Five Other Defensive Game Changers
6’7″ 2020 Zach Austin – Moravian Prep Grey
Austin went through the summer, showcasing his defensive ability. He is walking into this season with more strength, more pop and playing with an unwavering chip on his shoulder. He is a switchable combo-forward who can move his feet from the perimeter to the block. Where he most stands out is his timing and rim protection. Every game he gets a host of game-changing, heavy blocks. He entered his prep year with a couple of D1 offers, more should be on the way.
6’7″ 2021 Omarion Bodrick – Independence
The common thought, throughout the event, was Bodrick may be the best defensive prospect in North Carolina. He has the ability to end up as a 1.5 steal and 1.5 blocks per game type in college. His length, his pop and his timing are un-rivaled. He plays with an excellent motor and toughness. Bodrick has the sense that he loves defending, and he is a game-changer on that end.
6‘3″ 2021 Darius Davis – Moravian Prep
Davis is new to North Carolina, but he is the ultimate glue guy, who can do so much, on both ends of the floor. Offensively, the lefty is an excellent passer, who can initiate, post or get downhill from the wing. Defensively, Davis can guard any of the three perimeter positions. He is very strong, very athletic, very quick and has great length. He also takes pride in the little things, just as willing to get a steal as he is a dunk. Davis showcased all this versatility this weekend, and he is one whose defense translates at the highest level.
5’11” 2021 Jamarii Thomas – Piedmont Classical
Thomas’ best attribute is his toughness. Sure there are a lot of people who are tough, but Thomas’ tough is just different. It is a type of toughness that intimidates the opposition by the second half. The type of toughness that fans immediately notice and his teammates thrive off. Thomas has very quick hands and is laterally like a cat. He is very strong physically and has a want to sit down and defend for 94 feet. He has great physical tools, but his heart is his biggest trait. His sum will always outplay his individual parts, and winning follows him around like his shadow.
5’11” 2020 Shakeel Moore – Moravian Prep
Not only should Moore be considered the best on the ball defender in North Carolina, but he is on the shortlist of best on the ball defenders in the country. Moore has incredible anticipation and body control. He will defend for 94 feet, but it is his strength and explosion that keeps him there. He is just as good a defender off the ball as he is on the ball. He makes life tough for all opposing ball handlers as a one-man press. When he turns his defense into offense, as he often does, watch your head … he’s coming for you!