Ah, an event I’ve been anticipating all month has finally tipped off: The first ever ‘Virginia Live Period Shootout.’ Taking place here on the beautiful campus of Blue Ridge School (St. George, VA), around 18 teams from both in and out of the state constitute the three days full of hoops. Being a break from travel ball, I see this two-part showing as a great opportunity for the players to both receive exposure and build up a collective feel amongst their high school guys. This working of camaraderie doesn’t always emerge in the summer time; a mere couple of months after the (very) lengthy winter season concluded. Once again, Blue Ridge has proven themselves as a bunch more than capable of hosting an excellent and competitive showcase. I plan to see every team play at least 1-2 times and will have daily tweets/articles releasing out on my social media feed. Stay tuned…there’s a lot of basketball occurring.
While several front court guys stood out on Day 1, I saw very good performances from mostly guards during the course of Saturday’s heavy 20-game schedule. Many of the same college coaches returned from the opening night, including some new ones. That opportunity to shine in front of next-level programs went well for quite a few players who picked up offers throughout the afternoon/evening.
My Seven Standouts of Day 2
Jackson Threadgill ’20 – Davidson Day School (Davidson, NC): I don’t recall anybody putting on a smoother showing than Threadgill in the games I scouted on Saturday. The 6’5” wing scored in a very calm yet dominant way against Trinity Episcopal School to keep the score close for most of the 32 minutes. With his tall and slender frame, Threadgill has length and ball skills that are solid enough to make him his own shot creator. His pull-up game looked very good in transition and he also proved capable of stretching out in the lane to create contact. He’s the type of guy who doesn’t beat you with speed…but with pace. It’s hard to get him uncomfortable or sped up because he’s so confident in knowing how to get open looks both on and off of the ball. That typically requires a great IQ; something I could see in the Davidson Day Patriot early on. I’m hoping to soon learn more about his recruitment, as next-level coaches should definitely have taken notice on Saturday.
Garrett Johnson ’21 – Episcopal HS (Alexandria, VA): Being a team full of many guards/wings, I think that the newly arrived Johnson gives Episcopal a needed piece who can play both inside and out. He has the size at 6’6” to go along with solid agility to move around the court easily. The Northern Virginia native scored some easy points by getting out ahead in the open floor but really started to draw attention in steadily going after offensive rebounds. Johnson showed a throwback type of toughness in that area; doing his best to give the Maroons any possible second-chance points. He demonstrated more outside ability as the day went on and looked pretty confident to step out for jumpers/shot-fake drives. Consistency in his shot appeared as if it’s still getting there but he should definitely become a valuable asset to Episcopal this year as long as he just keeps doing what he does best. It’s a simple type of game that ultimately works.
Jamonte Smith ’21 – Roanoke Catholic School (Roanoke, VA): Smith had a good performance against a VERY talented and athletic Life Christian Academy (Chester, VA) team; going right at their taller frontcourt players. He doesn’t have a lot of height, only at 5’9,” but used his strength to an advantage by powering through defenders. He especially knows how to get low and explode past whoever’s guarding him after using small size-up hesitations. This resulted in him getting a bunch of paint touches, more than anyone else on Roanoke Catholic. What I liked about him the most, however, was his mature style of play. Even as a only a rising upperclassman, he understands how to stay disciplined and make the right decisions even while likely acknowledging that he can go get his points more than often. Maintaining that mindset will keep making his teammates better and hopefully help him gain some more recognition outside of the 540 area.
Josh Campbell ’20 – Carmel School (Ruther Glen, VA): Well, honestly, Campbell stands out pretty much every time I check him out on the court. Still, he undoubtedly entered this weekend as a man on a mission; it’s been some of the best play I’ve ever seen from him. The 6’3” shooting guard went up against other talented prospects with next-level offers/interest and won his individual matchup on both ends. I really thought he looked good defensively on Saturday by playing lower, showing his hands, and just taking more pride in it all. When talking about the scoring end, however, Campbell really got into his bag to pretty much seek out any type of look he wanted and capitalize. His first step keeps looking quicker by the day and I can see his handle making improvements also. Knowing how to always attack in that North-South direction without any uncertainty makes him very hard to contain around the baseline. Not to mention the fact that he can shoot it from all over the perimeter. EXCELLENT performances from the Carmel veteran. I’m hoping that the coaches on the sideline took notice of what he brings to the table.
Kenard Richardson ’20 – Life Christian Academy (Chester, VA): You can always count on Richardson displaying a competitive fire whenever he laces them up but I can tell his high motor is starting to become even more natural. He doesn’t want to take plays off at all anymore, which likely starts with how well he’s approached the process of handling his body. Trimming down has made him more conditioned and explosive; two important aspects that fuse nicely into his everlasting ‘attack’ mentality. Richardson’s ball-handling also keeps looking sharper and creates him as an even more dangerous threat in slicing his way to the basket. This spring, I’ve yet to see any team keep him from getting out of the lane and Saturday proved as no different. The 6’3” guard will still need to show more perimeter shooting, however. I’ve seen him make shots in the past but he tends to embrace that ‘bully ball’ play the most. It works well for him now, but scoring from outside of the paint will play an importance at some point in the near future.
Mac Macdonald ’21 – Collegiate School (Richmond, VA): As I predicted, the rising junior looks more than ready to take over as one of the go-to guys for the Cougars. A great loss in offensive production, due to key players graduating a few weeks ago, now makes Macdonald as one of the most reliable scorers returning. He satisfied in Collegiate’s contest against Blue Ridge by showing that he’s both capable and willing to take on that challenge. The 6’2” two-guard had one of the best three-point shooting performances I saw on the day, as he poured in triples from different spots all over the court. I noticed this same type of shooting prowess last season also but a key area I see Macdonald now appearing more comfortable in is working as a playmaker for others. He’s obviously still figuring out ways how to drive and find open teammates in different spots but putting the ball on the floor more has definitely taken a leap in his game. He’s not just a guy who can work off of the ball. With time, I see those playmaking skills becoming stronger and his recruitment rising higher. He’s definitely a 2021 name to know in Richmond.
Matt Rogers ’20 – St. Maria Goretti Catholic HS (Hagerstown, MD): Frankly, you don’t see this a lot anymore in summer ball, but I clearly deemed Rogers as one of the more vocal guys in the gym. It’s such an underrated part of the game that nonetheless contains an importance that becomes greater as the level goes higher. Rogers already has that trait down by looking like he enjoyed playing as a constant communicator. In addition, the 6’8” forward has a strong game in being able to score both on the block and around the perimeter. He’s patient on both levels of the floor, using his height to shoot with a smooth touch over opponents. I also liked how he operated around the rim; going over either shoulder looked pretty comfortable for him. Similar to Threadgill, Rogers can be defined as another 2020 prospect who plays under control and rarely ever gets in a rush. He has the chance to develop into a difficult matchup at that size if he keeps sharpening up skills with the ball. Footwork and touch already looks pretty established.
Don’t forget to also look out for my standouts from Day 1 and Day 3 of Session I!