Sets of Fives BALLIN at NBPA Top 100 Camp!
National Grassroots Editor
Ronnie has evaluated basketball talent for 20 years and has over 15 years of experience in publishing, editing and managing high school sports websites for companies such as Student Sports, ESPN and Ballislife. Ronnie compiles the FAB 50 National Team Rankings while serving as an account manager and consultant for grassroots event run by Ballislife and other companies, in addition to serving as a color commentator on high school broadcasts.
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We wanted to evaluate two main sets of players at the 25th annual NBPA Top 100 Camp at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Va.): those who participated in the Pangos All-American Camp two weeks ago and those top-level talents who were unable to attend. What Pangos campers were able to keep up a consistent high level of play? Which players we haven’t seen since early in the spring or the high school season made a favorable impression? We take a look and break down five in each category.
Approximately 120 of the top high school players from across the nation and beyond are participating this week at the NBPA Top 100 Camp. As part of the new NCAA sanctioned live period, this prestigious camp was open for viewing for NCAA Division I coaches, as well as NBA scouts.
The prevailing thought was, with the presence of college coaches, camp games would be as crisp and well-played as they have in recent memory. With the combination of the camp’s highly-regarded coaches and emphasis on teamwork and post play, many expected an upgrade from th game play over previous summer camps, including the Pangos All-American Camp held in Southern California two weeks ago. While some well-respected national scouts were disappointed and made their feeling known on social media, to us the camp’s games didn’t seem much different than in year’s past and were what we expected: a high level of play and sloppiness at times.
Bottom line is, the presence of college coaches can’t magically change the way elite high school players approach camp games in a short period of time. The habits they have developed and the way those players have performed that led to an invite is what they’ll show. It’s hard to expect anything else when players are rewarded for what some influencers see as bad habits. Lesser talented players would perform no better in the same setting. What we were looking for was players who could withstand the long and tedious format of the five-day camp where there is much less down time than a majority of the other national camps. We also wanted to get progress reports on the top shelf talent unable to attend Pangos Camp for various reasons.
As far as college coaches being in attendance, they were able to view for a 24-hour period between Thursday and Friday and for some we spoke to, it wasn’t an adequate amount of time based on travel time and travel ability to Charlottesville, Va. from destinations around the country. The camp is also not a recruiting venue for well over 50 percent D1 programs across the country. Those college we’re speaking of realistically have minuscule to zero chance to land a high major prospect that attended this camp. We’ll continue to monitor how the NCAA’s new recruiting calendar impacts the grassroots landscape and recruiting. It’s obvious there needs to be changes to the newly-implemented calendar to make sense for all, including grassroots event operators and non power conference college programs.
Five NBPA Top 100 Standouts We Wanted To Get A Good Look At
Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.) 6-7 2020
The son of former NBA standout Shareef Abdur-Rahim is one of the most talented wing scorers in attendance at the NBPA Top 100 camp and has impressed with his ability to score at all three levels. He is not the swiftest or most athletic, but Abdur-Rahim knows how to break down defenders and change direction. He also uses change of speed to lull defenders to sleep or keep them off-balance, and is one of the camps leading scorers (15.8 ppg). He’s also had the long range shot falling (10-of-21 from 3-point range through Friday) and has displayed marked improvement in his overall game in the past calendar year.
Isaiah Cottrell, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) 6-10 2020
Unfortunately this talented post wasn’t able to attend the Pangos All-American Camp because of nagging injuries, but he’s made the most of his time here in Charlottesville so far. Cottrell is scoring with efficiency around the rim (66 percent field goal shooting) and mixing it up in a camp with an impressive lot of centers and power forwards. Cottrell runs the floor well, is light on his feet and has the ability to impact the game on both the offensive and defensive glass. Competing on the glass is what his college coach Bobby Huggins would like to see Cottrell do on a nightly basis. He committed to West Virginia over Kansas at the camp.
Chet Holmgren, Minehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Minn.) 7-1 2021
We didn’t know that much about Holmgren coming in, but there is plenty to like. He moves his feet well laterally for a young prospect his size and knows how to get to the openings on offense and make offensive players feel him on defense. He is a high level shot blocker and had one that caught our eye against 2020 standout post Day’ron Sharpe on Thursday. Holmgren is also a skilled offensive player around the basket with good touch and finesse moves that makes him a tough check for heavier set bigs. Holmgren had a five-block game on Thursday and a 19-point, 10-rebound performance on Friday and is one of the best underclass players, regardless of position, in attendance.
Brandon Boston Jr., Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 6-6 2020
This skilled wing has had a big reputation in his class for many years and most think his recruitment will come down to Duke or Kentucky when it’s all said and done. Boston wasn’t able to attend Pangos this year after playing well at the event as a rising sophomore. Boston is slight of frame, but his innate ability to score is surpassed by few, if any, in attendance at the NBPA Top 100. He uses long strides and good footwork to get by defenders and knows how to create separation. Boston is especially effective attacking from the top of the key and knows how to draw fouls. He 3-point shooting is not his strength, but he’ll shoot it well enough down the line to keep defenders honest and at this camp, few have been able to check him, regardless. Boston had three consecutive double-digit scoring games to open camp before taking five shots and scoring six points in his final game on Thursday. With a big closing on Saturday, he could be right there with Abdur-Rahim among the top performing shooting guards/wing forwards in our camp player rankings.
Bryce Thompson, Booker T. Washington (Tulsa, Okla.) 6-3 2020
After his terrific high school season in which he led Washington to the Oklahoma Class 6A state crown and a final No. 45 FAB 50 ranking, we were eager to get a look at the muscular shooting guard. We were not disappointed, as Thompson punishes defenders with his relentless ability to score in the key, push the ball in transition and shoot it deep. He’s had his deep jumper working so far (7-of-11 through Friday) and has impacted every single game because he’s a threat from every spot in the half court offense and his teammates look for him to take the big shot. He had 19 points, including 3-of-5 3-pointers, in a Friday game, with three assists and two steals.
Five More Who Impressed:
Jaemyn Brakefield, Huntington Prep (Huntington, W. Va.) 6-8 2020 PF
Cameron Fletcher, Vashon (St. Louis, Mo.) 6-7 2020 SF
Tramon Mark, Dickinson (Dickinson, Texas) 6-4 2020 PG
Dwon Odom, St. Francis (Alpharetta, Ga.) 6-2 2020 PG
D.J. Stewart, Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) 6-4 2020 SG
Banchero Stands Out Once Again
Paolo Banchero, O’Dea (Seattle, Wash.) 6-9 2021
This versatile power forward is in the running for top overall performer among forwards in camp to follow up on an excellent showing at the Pangos All-American Camp. In fact, with his performance at Pangos and NBPA Top 100, Banchero could challenge the likes of small forwards Jalen Johnson and Patrick Baldwin of Wisconsin and wing guard Terrence Clarke of New York for the top spot in the consensus national 2021 rankings if he closes out the summer the way he played on Friday. He had all the moves in his vast repitriore working, going 9-for-12 from the field for 28 points in a 82-21 victory in which teammate Johnson hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer. He also had nine steals in two camp games on Friday and is averaging 16.0 ppg (No. 3 in camp) while shooting over 63 percent from the field. Banchero has a relaxed and confident offensive approach and is near automatic in his mid-range field goal attempts.
R.J. Davis, Archbishop Stepanic (White Plains, N.Y.) 6-1 2020
After being selected for the top all-star game at the Pangos Camp, Davis has turned in another series of fine performances in a camp setting. Early on he had some flashy moments where teammates weren’t ready, but since that first game Davis hasn’t had more than one turnover in any game while scoring at an efficient clip. This combo guard is confident and can really push the ball to put pressure on defenses. He also is a square shooter and when he get his feet under him, it looks like every jumper is going down. He’s seen his stock soar in the past few weeks and was recently offered by Vanderbilt and UCLA, as new Bruins boss Mick Cronin was recruiting him while at Cincinnati.
Zion Harmon, Marshall County (Benton, Ky.) 6-1 2021
It was going to be awfully tough for this dynamic point guard to top his Pangos performance, but he’s done a good job of both getting teammates involved or creating his own scoring opportunities. The well-traveled junior-to-be gets it done offensively with a wicked handle, strength and the ability to find passing angles on the move. Harmon’s greatest asset is it takes an elite, NBA-type defender to stay in front of him or slow him down. If he just works on cutting down on the flashy and low risk passes, there’s no telling how high he could finish in the 2021 national rankings next year.
Day’Ron Sharpe, South Central (Winterville, N.C.) 6-10 2020
This muscular force inside was one of our top dozen performers at Pangos Camp and will finish even higher at NBPA Top 100. Sharpe is simply relentless and as a majority of the guards showed signs of weariness and fatigue by the camp’s third day, the forwards have helped serve while Sharpe has gotten stronger. Simply put, he’s a load inside with his power moves and stands out even in the most physical matchups. North Carolina has to be salivating over what he’ll bring to Chapel Hill and he’ll likely be one of the top high school players in the country for the 2019-20 season. Heading into Saturday, Sharpe is averaging 15.0 ppg and 10.3 rpg (No. 1 in camp), including a 20-point, 10-of-11 from the field, eight-rebound performance in a Friday victory.
Many Sissoko, Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) 6-9 2020
With the camp’s format more regimented and its length a day or two longer than most of the similar elite national camps, the NBPA Top 100 is often a battle of attrition. The players that are in the best physical shape and display a love for competition are more often than not the ones who stand out late and rated accordingly. This camp traditionally contains more McDonald’s All-American voters in one setting than any camp or event throughout the year and there is little doubt Sissoko has made a positive impression with his play. He was productive at Pangos Camp, but here his physical nature, relentless work around the boards and energy are contagious. Many times as skill wanes because of fatigue, simply playing the right way and consistently playing hard is the difference-maker at this camp and Sissoko embodies that notion. Sissoko makes defenders feel him and few can outwork him on the glass.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) June 14, 2019
Five More Who Impressed:
Jaylen Clark, Etiwanda (Calif.) 6-6 2020 SF
Franck Kepnang, Westtown School (West Chester, Pa.) 6-10 2021 C
Ian Martinez, JSerra (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) 6-2 2020 SG
Cliff Omoruyi, Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) 6-10 2020 C
J.T. Thor, Huntington Prep (Huntington, W. Va.) 6-9 2021 PF