The NBPA Camp finished on Sunday where the likes of Derryck Thornton, Cheick Diallo, and Derrick Jones led the way in helping their Knicks squad capture the championship. The need for solid backcourt play showed its ugly face all throughout the week and was a primary reason why the Knicks squad, hosting the likes of Derryck Thornton, Kobi Simmons, and Malik Monk, brought home the trophy. Lead guard play can oftentimes determine a success of any given team. Without further or do, here are some of the stand out performers at the point guard position that consistently got it done during their time in Charlottesville.
Derryck Thornton/6’0 Findlay Prep (Nevada) 2016
Thornton recently picked up an offer from Kentucky after leaving the campus of Virginia on Sunday and for good reason. The tough and gritty lead guard was phenomenal from the beginning of the camp, and all the way until the final game of the event in helping lead his squad to the championship and in earning the MVP of the title game. There have been some haters of the Findlay Prep guard over the years, for reasons I cannot understand, but even those who have had questions about the rising junior had to have come away impressed with his production and contributions in the backcourt. Thornton is one of the toughest on-ball defenders in all of America and has done a better job of controlling his gears on downhill attacks with the basketball in his hands. Leading the entire camp in assists at six per game, and having nearly a 3-to-1, assist-to-turnover ratio is a major statement when keeping in mind the elite level competition that the fiery point guard went up against. Expect for Thornton to see his name jump in several of the national rankings the next time that they are released.
Jawun Evans/6’0 Kimball High School (Texas) 2015
You just aren’t going to be able to find a steadier, consistent point guard nationally within the
2015 crop of lead guards. Evans has unbelievable breakdown moves with the basketball in his hands where he can create for others and himself at a drop of a dime. With a strong frame and an electric first step on the perimeter, Evans is nearly unstoppable from getting into the lane. He sees plays before they happen and in several occasions on the break, made tremendous dump off and alley-oop passes that had many onlookers gasping for air. Making all ten of his foul attempts, averaging nearly nine points, over three rebounds, and finishing in third in assists, Evans is a dynamite of a point guard who is making a name for himself as quite possibly the best point guard left on the market. The South Carolina native still doesn’t have a timetable for his decision but expect for the eight programs still involved to heavily recruit the lead guard even further.
Payton Pritchard/6’2 West Linn High School (Oregon) 2016
Pritchard had a bit of an up and down camp, yet it was his intentions on the floor and ability to look for others off the dribble-drive that was so impressive. Following the camp, Pritchard took an unofficial visit and picked up an offer from the University of Virginia, while he will also trip to Wisconsin from Sunday to Tuesday. His recruitment has gone national due to just how heady and unselfish the Portland native really is in the backcourt. Pritchard is sneaky quick where he plays low to the floor on the attack and has a thicker, stronger body of which he uses appropriately in putting down his shoulder to keep his line to the bucket. He can sometimes over dribble but with a guy like Pritchard, it is all about having a good feel for where his teammates are going to be, something difficult to do so in a camp setting. The West Linn product has a lot of TJ McConnell qualities to his game and can hit the stepback jumper when the defender goes under the ball screen, is as skilled of a passer that you are going to find in the open floor, and is a crafty finisher in traffic. Pritchard finished second in steals and fourth in assists throughout the entire camp and should see his production increase even further as he gains further reps and experience on the hardwood.
De’Aaron Fox/6’3 Cypress Lakes High School (Texas) 2016
This is a tough one because Fox isn’t just there yet as a primary lead guard, however he did a
good job of running his team and in making the appropriate reads in the backcourt. More of a scoring ball handler, Fox’s feel and vision at the lead guard spot is promising and the lefty can make the tough pass on top of it. Whenever he receives the high ball screen, Fox can deliver on the lead pass to the cutting teammate, or step back and nail the deep jumper. He always seems to step up his game when it matters most and definitely has the clutch gene within his DNA. Sporting a 2.3 assist-to-turnover ration showed that the Houston native can continue to nurture and develop into a tremendous, elite guard in 2016. Fox continued to state how much of a priority the University of Texas has made him as the entire staff is recruiting him, while Baylor remains also in the mix as the two schools working the hardest on the Texas native.
Justin Jenifer/5’11 Milford Mill Academy (Maryland) 2015
Maybe the most impressive with his play, not primarily because of his numbers, but because of just how well he did some of the things this past week that used to be some of his shortcoming. Coming up, Jenifer was always more of a score-first option at the point guard spot. However, until the final day of camp, Jenifer was leading the entire event in assists and was making tremendous reads and passes in the half court. The stronger built point guard recently committed to Cincinnati a few weeks back and Bearcat fans should be more than excited about the recent developments in the DMV guard. Yes, he can definitely still score the ball, however his decision-making and willingness to make the appropriate play with the basketball in his hands was impressive and Jenifer should have a solid senior year before heading to the 513.
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