The first day of the NBPA Top 100 Camp got underway on Wednesday and several did their best to stand out amongst their peers. This event brings together some of the very best from both sides of the nation and is about developing the kids on and off the floor, and preparing them for the next level, wherever that might be. Held at the John Paul Jones Arena on the campus of the University of Virginia, this is the true gem of the June camp season. Competing against the very best in morning and sessions affairs, the NBPA Camp displays who really has the inner fire that would make them succeed, regardless of the level of competition. In the late evening affair, the likes of Jawun Evans, De’Aaron Fox, Chase Jeter, and Ben Simmons shined the brightest.
Most Steady Point Guard
Jawun Evans/6’0 Kimball High School (Texas) 2015
The native of Greenville, South Carolina is the true essence of a point guard. Tough off the deck capable of setting others up with supreme passes from all angles, a developing perimeter jumper, and the demeanor to guard the ball with physicality, Evans has the assets to truly stand out at the next level. In 19 minutes of action on Wednesday evening, the Nike Team Texas guard hit on all five of his shot attempts in tallying 13 points, while also dishing it out three separate times. Most importantly, his squad got the victory and the rising senior was a major reason why. At this point, Evans is down to a final eight schools of Clemson, Illinois, USC, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma State, and Cincinnati.
Best Court Feel:
Payton Pritchard/6’2 West Linn High School (Oregon) 2016
In my first ever viewing of Pritchard, I was taken aback by just how in control the rising junior is on the hardwood. Evaluating him first in a practice session before the nightcap of games, Pritchard was directing his team like he was Peyton Manning yelling out ‘Omaha’ under center. What the casual observer sometimes might fail to appreciate with the Oregon native is just how well he does all the small things on the floor. Whether it is understanding how to feed the post, when to make the extra pass on the perimeter, or how far he can dive into the teeth of the defense before kicking out to the open teammate, Pritchard has all the tools to be contribute immediately at the high level in two years. Tallying 10 points, eight assists, and five boards in 22 minutes of play, Pritchard looks to be a Bo Ryan point guard on steroids. Wisconsin, Oregon, Indiana, UCLA, and Villanova are just some of the schools involved with the Portland native.
Ben Simmons/6’9 Montverde Academy (Australia) 2015
The LSU commit is the number one player in America in my book, no arguments asked. He plays
with a competitive fire that is burning brighter by the day and is developing the ability to attack with either hand off the face-up. He can post up smaller defenders on the block, yet also draw out bigger, bulkier opponents on the perimeter prior to the blow-by attempt. Scoring 18 points off of just 10 shot attempts is the model of efficiency and the next step within the elite level forward’s game is bringing the same fire down low and onto the glass as a consistent rebounder. Regardless, Baton Rouge should be very excited about this new cat that is about to come to town next year.
Chase Jeter/6’10 Bishop Gorman High School (Nevada) 2015
There has been much talk about the progressions and developments of Chase Jeter during the winter and spring months. With summer about to get underway here in a few days, expect for the heat of the season to not change a thing about the Sin City native’s work on the hardwood. In really putting some time in with getting stronger and quicker laterally and vertically, Jeter has gone from playing primarily on the block, to being able to face his man up from 17 and take him off the bounce. He does have to continue to work on scoring it better through the contact, however, his footwork on the low post might be the best in high school basketball. He is nearly automatic in using his righty hook over his left shoulder and he understands how to get the angle and positioning on his defender in the post with steady drop-steps, step-thrus, and reverse pivots. It is always great to see a kid develop; it is even better to see a kid of Jeter’s talent level work on his craft like he doesn’t plan on giving up the game anytime soon in the nearby future.
Best Crunch Time Playmaker:
De’Aaron Fox/6’2 Cypress Lake High School (Texas) 2016
Though his squad went down in defeat, it wasn’t due to the lasting impressions that Fox portrayed in the evening session in Charlottesville. I have written deeply in the past about the junior’s ability to step his game up when it mattered most and he did just the same at the NBPA Camp. Nearly unguardable off of the high ball screen, if you choose to go under it, Fox will step back and nail the quickly elevated deep ball; if you decide to hard hedge it, Fox will just use his explosive first step and either get past you like vintage Dwyane Wade, or deliver the precise dish to the rolling big man. Fox was given the ball at the lead guard spot all game long and it was impressive to see the highly instinctive Lone Star State native run his team. Finishing with 12 points, five boards, and four assists in 24 minutes of play against the very best tells us that Fox is more than ready to make a name for himself even further as an upperclassman within the elite level ranks of high school basketball.
Best Glue Defender:
Derryck Thornton/6’0 Findlay Prep (Nevada) 2016
Thornton has been a much talked about name compared to the rest of his class of 2016 counterparts and for good reason. The tremendous and steady lead guard has continued to mature into the point guard spot on the floor as he showed his ability to create for others while playing downhill to the bucket. His jumper still needs a bit of fine polishing as he tends to shoot too early on the way up, yet where the Findlay Prep guard shines brightest is on the defensive end. If I were to have the rock and I saw that Thornton was about to guard me, I don’t care how tight my handles would be, I am giving it up! He sticks to you like he was produced from the Elmer’s Glue Factory and doesn’t relent for the entire 94-feet of action. Thornton is tough, gritty, and a competitor and a guy that you’d want on your team in any given contest.
Others of Note:
2015 St. Francis (Georgia) wing Malik Beasley is all about getting to the rack with his hard-nosed approach and though he has to work on his court feel, the Peach State native was able to throw down an impressive highlight dunk off the baseline attack displaying his athleticism and solid body control off his feet.
There is something about making a commitment to a college early on and still working on your craft in getting better. Ohio State commit, Austin Grandstaff, and UCLA commit, Aaron Holiday, have made great strides within their games over the past several months and should see their production in college remain visible early on just due to their hard-working nature.
The son of new Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle, Tres Tinkle is someone to really watch and appreciate during his time out on the floor. The lefty makes all the right plays where he can knock down the deep ball with his feet set, make the right read on the perimeter in finding the open man, and rebound the ball with angles on the glass against the more athletic ballplayers around.
Three guys that don’t get appreciated as much as they should but produce regardless, 2015
prospects Samir Sehic, Chris Clarke, and Luke Maye were the model of efficiency all day long yesterday. Sehic missed a double-double twice by one board, Clarke tallied 17 points and seven boards in 23 minutes of play, and Maye was able to hit on the double-double with 15 and 10. Each have flaws, like most kids do, but that doesn’t let them relinquish their energy capacities and killer mindset on the hardwood and should be appreciated more fully by the media and college coaches.
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