To be completely honest with you all, I’ve probably looked forward to this weekend more than any other one since the summer concluded. Our entire Phenom Hoops has finally made the trip here in my home state for the 2019 ‘Virginia Phenom 150 Camp.’ I haven’t seen the crew since May so it feels great having them all at the ‘U-Turn Sports Complex’ (Richmond, VA) for what should be a commonly productive day of camp. Per usual, our scouts will spend hours of analyzing prospects in drills and games for endless exposure; highlighting some names that may come both as familiar and new to others monitoring our updates. Expect tweets and write-ups to persist all morning and afternoon long until the camp wraps up around the early evening time. Nothing beats a Phenom camp, that’s for sure!
As Saturday progressed into the afternoon time, I deemed a few names to make up a list of my personal ‘second half standouts.’
6’4” Alphonzo Billups ’22 – Varina HS (Henrico, VA):
At 6’4,” Billups continues to show spectators that he’s on pace to break out as a versatile problem for defenses within the 804. He knows how to stand out each time I see him by consistently proving he can make plays happen with the ball. Shooting from three-point territory, posting up smaller guards, and taking slower defenders off of the dribble all work fluidly for the sophomore. He can both play and defend up to four different on-court positions. Defensively is where he stood out some of the most throughout the afternoon; sending shots off of the backboard. There’s a high ceiling for the Varina Blue Devil and this should emerge as the year in which he takes on a much needed role. Even with his youth, I have no doubt he’ll make things happen.
5’8” Tyler Gary ’22 – Capital Christian Academy (Upper Marlboro, MD):
One of the day’s best on-ball defenders, Gary made it a mission to have other ball-handlers feel uncomfortable the moment that the rock touched their hands. He can pick up for the full-length of the court and moves his feet with excellent lateral quickness to cut off slashing drives. I could easily tell other guards would get frustrated and unsure of what move to make whenever Gary matched up with them. On the scoring end, he didn’t appear to succeed in any particular category but indeed plays hard enough to contribute in different areas. I liked his unselfishness to find other teammates and hustle for clean-ups. His shot should continue in its works, as it could potentially make him a ‘3&D’ guy of value.
5’9″ Hayden James ’21 – Heritage Christian School (Manassas, VA):
The gritty Northern Virginia guard always gives a reliable spark whenever stepping onto the floor, playing as a presence on both ends. James’ toughness with the ball results in many paint points, where he can absorb contact for floaters/high finishes or skip passes to open teammates around the perimeter. He’s constantly active on defense, as I’ve always deemed that end as arguably where he succeeds the most. I always know to expect production out of the passionate junior whenever he steps into the gym. He has this way of using a blend of smarts and sheer will to help his team out in multiple ways. When you add that factor to his skill and athleticism, it’s honestly no wonder why he finds a way to shine.
6’4″ Jaden House ’21 – Middleburg Academy (Middleburg, VA):
Honestly, I expected nothing less than a fair amount of highlights shown by the Middleburg Dragon… and he indeed delivered. House has turned himself into a dangerous threat on the offensive side of things. He now looks like a more complete scorer than I’ve ever seen from him and puts defenders on their heels with a non-stop killer mentality. The guard is broad-shouldered, athletic, plays with some finesse, and competes from start to finish. One of the biggest improvements he’s made pertains to playing comfortable in the half-court. Transition still works strongly for him also but it’s clear he knows how to search for his looks in settings where the ball’s not being pushed.
6’1″ John St. Germain ’23 – Miller School (Charlottesville, VA):
St. Germain had a HUGE chip on his shoulder…I think he wanted to ensure nobody took him lightly due to his age. Trust me, I saw him last year when he lit it up from distance in the 2018 ‘Battle of the Rock’ showcase (Fort Mill, SC), hosted by our Phenom Hoops crew. His ball-handling has taken a leap forward to make him a bigger threat on shot creation. Sometimes, he over-dribbled a bit too much but undoubtedly contains enough skills to get his shot off consistently. The fact that he fears absolutely no one and performs when the lights shine bright makes me confident that he’s up for a big high school career. Both St. Germain and his Miller School teammates should be a fun group to watch this year.
6’5″ Caleb Kenney ’21 – Douglas Freeman HS (Henrico, VA):
Having progressed all during the summer, Kenney’s reached a point now where I feel it’s time for next-level coaches to start showing him more recognition as an upperclassman. He’s transitioned from a workhorse athlete to a wing with greater skills. Making transition passes, knocking down jumpers (mainly in midrange spots), and getting open for finishes all worked in strong fashion for the 6’5″ local product. He still shows that same knack for rebounding and denying shots with his ridiculous wingspan but it’s clear work has been put in to expand his offensive game. With standout Michael Fortune ’19 having departed from the Douglas Freeman program, I’m sure the Rebels will count on a big remaining two years from the active Kenney.
6’1″ Malaki Whittaker ’21 – The Carmel School (Ruther Glen, VA):
The stocky 6’1″ guard showed he’s a handful to contain whenever placing his eyes on the rim, as he protects the ball to muscle right through opposing defenses. I acknowledged Whittaker’s football-like frame in my first analysis of him during a recent ‘open gym tour visit.’ It’s without question one of his best traits used in more ways than one. Along with his slashing mindset, Whittaker also focuses well on the defensive end to prevent other guards from powering through him. This often leads to them becoming tired out and the Carmel guard can then continue to attack. Shooting-wise, he can get off his looks but will need to continue in deeming appropriate shots to take, both in range and scenario.
Also be sure to check out my standouts from earlier today: ‘Virginia Phenom 150 Camp (9/28/19); K-Rob’s First Half Standouts.’