Derrick Walton (2013, PG, Michigan Mustangs – Commit)
Great point guards should blend in when things are going well and stand out when the going gets tough. Scoring guards are valuable, but the best point guards make their teams better. That’s exactly what Derrick Walton did at Spiece. He didn’t force shots out of the offense and was more than content to push the ball, get in the lane, find shooters and facilitate the rest of his talented offense. He continually drove the basket, taking hard fouls and getting to the free throw line, but he probably racked up close to 10 assists in a Friday night win over the Peoria Irish. Walton still appears to be most effective in the full court but he showed significant improvement in his half court offense, showing off some nice pick-and-roll dimes. We missed his game Saturday night but reports were that Walton finally took over in the scoring column, knocking down a triple at the buzzer to send the game to overtime before leading the Mustang offense in the extra period. Michigan has been spoiled with point guard play throughout the past two seasons and should be in good hands when Walton replaces Burke down the line.
Keita Bates-Diop (2014, Combo Forward, Illinois Wolves)
Bates-Diop is 6-foot-7 but he looks like he’ll soon be pushing 6-foot-8. His length is incredible and his skillset for a young player with that much size is tremendous. Bates-Diop is smooth on the perimeter and shows the ability to shoot the three, put the ball on the floor or play with his back to the basket. It’s that combination of length and skill that has college coaches in love with his game. At times he appears too passive, not looking for his shot consistently, but he scored 24 points twice on Saturday and made the most of his opportunities. On the defensive side of the ball, Bates-Diop’s length makes him a solid shot blocker but he needs to continue to add strength and physicality which should help him improve defensively and on the glass.
Trevon Bluiett (2014, Wing, Spiece)
Bluiett is a pure scorer. He has good size for a guard but has room for improvement physically – something he said he’s been focusing on this spring – both in his upper body and with his jumping ability. Improvement there will help on the defensive side of the ball but offensively there’s little doubting his ability. He has a jumpshot, he can get to the basket and he has a great feel for the game on the offensive side of the ball.
Luke Kennard (2015, Wing, King James Shooting Stars)
Kennard’s King James team rolled through pool play without facing much of a real challenge. The 6-foot-4 freshman filled up the stat sheet on Saturday afternoon as we’ve come to expect. He had a pair of breakaway dunks, knocked down a couple of triples and also rattled off a pair of no-look passes in transition. His game is complete and most 15U squads can’t pose a threat to his loaded team, which eventually lost in the tournament’s gold finals to Indiana Elite.
AJ Harris (2015, PG, King James Shooting Stars)
Harris had a quiet game that we watched on Saturday. Not looking for his shot often and struggling with the few shots he took. He does have a great pull up jumper and the 5-foot-9 guard also showed impressive elevation when he just missed a one handed slam on a fast break. Harris, like Walton, knows how to let the game come to him and is more than content to be a true point guard when that’s what his team needs.
Brennan Gillis (2015, PF/C, Eric Gordon All-Stars)
Gillis shows a lot of promise in the post, with a nice 10-foot jumper and good footwork around the basket. He’s got a strong build for a young age but, like most young big men, his ceiling will be determined by how much he grows in the next couple of years. High majors have taken notice, he’s already hearing from Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue.
Amanze Egezeke (2014, Forward, Illinois Wolves)
Playing alongside Keita Bates-Diop, it’s tough not to compare the duo of Illinois Wolves forwards. Bates-Diop has range out to the three point line while Egezeke prefers to do his damage from 15-feet and in. He’s a good athlete and knows how to get to the basket where he did a good job of finishing. He’s more of a face-up four than a stretch four like Bates-Diop but he’s also a bit shorter, something that probably holds him back a bit at this point.
Trevor Manuel (2015, PF/C, Meanstreets)
Manuel was playing up with the Meanstreets 16U team and while he didn’t necesarily score a lot of points, his size and length made it obvious that he’ll be a name to remember over the next couple years. Manuel played around the top of Meanstreets’ zone defense and showed surprising quickness and athleticism for such a long frame. He needs to continue to develop his offensive skills and post moves but there’s a lot of promise in this 2015 Michigan native.