For the most part, AAU/travel basketball will be put on hold during these incoming weeks in June. Folks in the basketball community can acknowledge that this month has always operated as a ‘dead period’ for tournaments, as most players spend their time partaking in team camps, summer leagues, college elite camps, and whatever else before the AAU scene picks back up in July. Nonetheless, I fortunately came across another weekend tournament in Richmond, VA: the 2019 ‘Southern SuperCup,’ hosted by ‘Zero Gravity Basketball. Being the second ‘Zero Gravity’ event I’ve covered this spring (after the ‘Southern Showdown’ in early April), a large number of travel programs did not fill up the bracket this time but I indeed landed a first look at every team I came across this weekend. Seeing new rosters always sparks my interest and I marked down several impressive players who next-level programs should keep an eye out for once July opens up. I’ve also included the high school that each player attends, just in case a coach might want to check him out in any team camps and/or summer league play occurring this month.
(My Seven) Weekend Standouts
Jordan Brown ’20 – Underground Phenoms 17u – Mills Godwin HS (Richmond, VA): The 6’0” Brown stood out last winter when I saw the Mills Godwin Eagles but now looks even better as a scoring guard. He clearly has put on some muscle to become more powerful in his attacking drives. His ability to play both as a solid facilitator and go-to guy still jumps out quickly; I feel an improvement on shooting has helped him become an above-average bucket-getter. Brown’s way of setting up his teammates for shots in the corner off of baseline rips caught my eye some of the most during Saturday and played a part in Underground Phenoms’ solid shooting en route to a blowout win over Superstars Basketball Club 17u. I see the guard as a ‘microwave guy’ who can really heat up in spurts, evident in second half performances during both Saturday and Sunday. The next area of improvement should involve him recognizing his open guys a bit quicker and not relaxing on defense as much. Definitely an underrated 2020 prospect out of the 804.
Aaron Cavezza ’21 – DMV Warriors 17u – Christ Chapel HS (Woodbridge, VA): Standing as the tallest guy for the 6-man roster of DMV Warriors 17u this past weekend, Cavezza spent most of his time being active inside. However, in several instances, the rising upperclassman had the chance to step out and show he’s a threat around the perimeter also. At around 6’5”/6’6,” the forward moves with notable agility around the floor, which led to him collecting a good number of steals in his team’s transition defense. He has a big body and showed some athleticism by taking off for a couple of dunks during Saturday. Rebounding, on both sides of the floor, appears as Cavezza’s strongest attribute currently; something he should continue to take pride in. If he can keep on sharpening up his ball-handling skills and build into his body, I’m confident we’ll see him transform into even more of a deadly inside-out presence within Northern Virginia. I absolutely liked the smoothness of his outside shot.
Caleb Kenney ’21 – Underground Phenoms 17u – Douglas Freeman HS (Tuckahoe, VA): I’m seeing satisfying progress out of Kenney, who’s taken on a large role for Underground Phenoms as one of the younger players. Back during the 2018-19 high school season, the 6’5” prospect played mainly on the wing but now is working to become a lead guard for his travel squad. He’s still learning in how to properly dictate an offense but I noticed some capabilities as a reliable facilitator. Regardless of what position he takes over on the floor, Kenney always gives a valuable presence by being able to contribute in many areas. He can REALLY rebound, finish above the rim, push the ball up the floor aggressively, make shots, and, above all else, relentlessly protect the basket. I don’t think I’ve seen a better shot-blocker at his position since I started scouting last year. His vertical leap and 7’3” wingspan does help a bit, I guess. The rising junior’s still a bit raw, but he looks better each time I see him and will undoubtedly continue to build up his skills. A do-it-all type of guy.
Dana Woodley ’21 – Underground Phenoms 17u – John Marshall HS (Richmond, VA): Probably the smoothest player I saw in the 17u age division, Woodley’s been a great addition to Underground Phenoms and can get the job done without breaking a sweat. He maneuvered around the floor very well off of the ball to get open for finishes and spot-up shots. His 6’4” size at the guard spot works well in a few advantages, especially using his frame to brush past smaller defenders for drives. Woodley didn’t do this often during the weekend but I also feel his size could result in a couple of mismatches if he decided to post up other guards. His shot appeared a bit streaky but he can make attempts from different areas around the floor. Very similar to Brown, I also deemed Woodley as a ‘microwave scorer’; the best example of this happening on Sunday afternoon during the first half of a contest against Court Authority 17u. I know we probably shouldn’t look too far into the future this early, but I can’t help but recognize a big year he can have for the John Marshall Justices next school season. With a pair of all-state first team guards graduating, Levar Allen ’19 (13 ppg) and De’Marr McRae ’19 (18 ppg) graduating, I’m sure Woodley will be asked to step up and fill some holes.
Curtis Allen ’22 – Team Flight 16u – Prince George HS (Prince George, VA): I saw a lot of good things from Allen throughout Sunday morning, who already seems to have confidence in taking over when the time becomes needed. In a back-and-forth affair between Team Flight 16u and Fluvanna County Rockets 16u, things stayed at a really fast pace for pretty much all of the 32 minutes. Allen fit right in with his team’s tempo as a strong 6’3” wing/forward who can bully his way down the court. He did well playing as his own one-man fast break at various points, getting to the rim consistently. His finishing could’ve been better early on but a great nose for the ball and hustle on the glass resulted in Allen gaining some of the most chances for paint points compared to other players around him. I became more impressed when he stepped out to make a few shots from outside the wing; an area he didn’t show much reluctance in. Improvement in handling the ball would take his game farther in several aspects. Watch out for him and his older brother, Chris ’21, these next few seasons in the Prince George Royals program.
Nikkos Kovanes ’22 – Rockit Sports-Axselle 15u – St. Christopher’s School (Richmond, VA): Based off of the showings I saw, no one put on a better passing clinic than the Rockit Sports guard. On Saturday afternoon, the team’ execution of excellent ball movement all started with Kovanes’ court vision that appeared way beyond his years. He completely controlled their win against Higher Level 15u Black with his unselfish play to find others. Outside of his facilitating prowess, Kovanes also did well in drawing fouls and rebounding. His stocky frame and physical play helps him go right through contact once getting into the lane; the whistle tends to go in his favor. Crashing the boards very well as a guard results in him starting off the fast break quickly, where he can find his teammates in the open floor. In my eyes, that IQ of knowing how to play “the right way” is one of the greatest intangibles a player at Kovanes age can have. He should keep progressing as a heady guard if he keeps developing his shooting off of the bounce and transforming his body.
Jacob Estrada ’22 – Team Attack 434 15u – Liberty High School (Bedford, VA): Like the other 2022 prospects on this list, Estrada has a high ceiling if he stays true to the game. I already like his 6’2” ‘basketball frame’ (which is likely still growing) and solid perimeter skills. His handle isn’t advanced yet but he can protect the ball to get past defenders and finish at the rim, while also shooting it from range with a soft touch. His overall feel for the game looked like some of the best on Team Attack 434. He’s young and will need to learn how to keep his head in the game at all times but that shouldn’t be an issue with growth. Experience at the high school level has already gotten off to a strong start for Estrada, as he made the Liberty Minutemen varsity team this past season as a freshman and has the chance to become a starter next winter, per Team Attack head coach, Justin O’Dell. I’ll make sure to keep an eye out for the young hooper, who performed well at our Phenom Hoops Tennessee Phenom 150 camp in April.
Another well-run tournament by ‘Zero Gravity.’ Players, make sure to stay as active as possible for the rest of this month!