We took in each of the sessions of the 2021 Fantastic 40 in Gibson Park (Miami, Fla.) and broke down our notes to highlight 10 standout performers. Even thought the high school season is still going on for some and hasn’t even started in a few selected states, the 2021 grassroots season is gaining steam as the country slowly begins to open back up. There will be a close to “normal” 2021 grassroots season.
10 Fantastic 40 Standouts
Ray Allen III (Gulliver Prep, Pinecrest, FL/Florida Lightning 16U) 6-0 G 2023:
Has good form and lift on his jumper and that shouldn’t come as a big surprise considering his father is one of the greatest pure shooters ever. His father also coaches this 16U team for Gary DeCesare, the veteran coach at Gulliver Prep who has mentored countless future D1 players. Allen III is not as big or athletic as dad was in high school in the early 1990s, but he plays more on the ball and has the ability to make tough shots. The young team Allen III plays on took its lumps at times at this event, but it was a great learning experience and this young guard will be one to watch as the summer unfolds.
Marcus Allen (Norland/Miami Gardens, FL/LAB 17U) 6-6 F 2024:
We spent most of our time tracking younger players at the Fantastic 40 and Allen stood out as one of the best long term prospects. He’s already a physical specimen and this terrific athlete can really get after it on the wing, whether it’s defending or slashing to the basket. For a player with only one year of high school ball under his belt, Allen already possesses solid skill, including a nice step-through move and the ability to create space in tight quarters. His Norland teammate, Clarence Burts, is a 6-foot-3 2024 prospect who also turned heads among scouts. Burts is more of a lead guard type and with him and Allen, the future is bright for both Norland and LAB 17U.
Tyshawn Bridges (Academy of Science/Milwaukee, WI/KL Power 5) 6-1 G 2024:
Would be hard-pressed to find a better freshman lead guard in the Midwest than this terrific all-around talent. Still has three more summers to improve and that’s a scary sight because he’s already a terrific point-man now. Bridges always keeps his head up looking for openings and can really thread the needle with either hand. Bridges can also get down hill and is a terrific rebounder from the lead guard position. He also keeps defenses honest with a nice perimeter stroke and can finish at the rim. Teams keyed on him at times and still couldn’t stop Bridges from impacting winning basketball.
Isaiah Elohim (Heritage Christian, Northridge, CA/Belmont Shore) 6-4 G 2024:
With a limited summer in 2020, with the high school season in Nevada cancelled and California and other Western states delayed until the spring, we don’t have as good read on the 2024 West Region pecking order as we’d like. It’s safe to say, however, when we feel more comfortable with the 2024s, Elohim will be right near the top. He has a terrific combination of size, skill, and athleticism to make an immediate impact on both high school and 17U competition. Elohim can play on the ball, covers ground as a slasher, and is an effortless scorer. He netted a big basket late to lead his team to a victory over Rhode Island Elite. When it’s all said and done, Elohim will be able to punch his ticket to almost any high major program in the country.
Jamar Franklin (Rockledge, FL/Team Speights 17U) 6-4 G 2022:
This club had plenty of standout 2022s who should see their recruitment take off this summer, but we highlight this combo guard. Franklin is a terrific athlete and a skilled scorer who went over 20 points on multiple occasions at the Fantastic 40. Jaylen Jordon, a 6-foot-7 forward out of Hilliard (FL), and Derrick Mitchell, a 6-foot-5 wing out of Tampa Catholic (FL), also had strong weekends. Jordan is a strong lefty who converts a ton of baskets by the rim using his motor and strong frame, while Mitchell attacks the rim with a vengeance.
Jaden Henley (Colony, Ontario, CA/Team Inland 17U) 6-5 F 2023:
Veteran grassroots coach Elvert “Kool Aid” Perry is excited about many of the young prospects in his program and this 10th-grader was his best performer of the weekend. Henley is a slashing wing who can blow by defenders and finish around the rim, or create for himself off the dribble. Henley also isn’t afraid to take (or make) the big shot. Michael Miller, a 6-foot-4 2022 from Oak Hills (Hesperia, CA) is another talented wing guard who made good plays for Inland 17U and is one to track.
Scotty Middleton (Patrick School, Elizabeth, NJ/LAB 17U) 6-7 F 2023:
One of the best all-around talents and prospects at the event, Middleton can play a variety of positions and easily projects as a national Top 50-75 player on the low end. He can play on the ball and read defenses or can slash and score effectively. Middleton also can shoot the deep ball and can hit the pull-up three quite well for a young player his size. Patrick School, a FAB 50 ranked club that finished 14-1, was hit by COVID-19 and never really found its stride. According to coach Chris Chavannes, he was the back-up point guard, could play multiple positions and had as good an individual season as anyone on the talent-laden team.
Isaiah Miranda (The Phelps School, Malvern, PA/Rhode Island Elite) 7-1 C 2023:
There were plenty of excellent 2023 prospects in attendance and this agile big man was arguably the most intriguing of the bunch. Miranda shows great promise because he’s coordinated and can run well. Miranda can rim-run and finishes well above the rim. He also has a nice combination of power and finesse with the ability to float on the perimeter and make some plays. The more one watches him, the more one realizes he has solid touch on his shot. With normal progression, he will be big-time in a few years.
Ausar & Amen Thompson (Pine Crest, Ft. Lauderdale FL/Illinois Stars) 6-6 G 2022:
The Thompson twins were arguably the most talked-about players in Miami, and for good reason. They are both oozing with talent and potential and bring a high level of excitement to the court. Both could use a bit more intensity at times, but that is nit-picking because their ability helps teams win. The duo helped Pine Crest capture the FHSAA Class 4A state crown with a 21-1 record. The twins played like Top 50 national prospects in this event with the ability to move up. They are similar in height, as Amen plays with the ball more as a facilitator on his travel team, while Ausar is more of a scoring finisher. They are versatile, so the differences were minimal in this setting. Amen is a smooth passer while Ausar also has good instinct. They can see the play ahead and are both explosive finishers around the basket. Their frame and game scream high ceiling and it wouldn’t surprise us if both tick upwards on the national rankings radar this summer.