The 2023 NCAA spring live period has come and gone. With all three shoe circuits holding events the weekend of April 29-30, I opted to check out the Nike EYBL in Phoenix, as did approximately 300 D-1 college coaches. Held at gorgeous Legacy Park in Mesa, it was a one stop shop to see the nation’s strongest shoe circuit all under one roof.
There was no shortage of battles amidst the underclassmen, especially at the top of the 2025 and 2026 groups. Cameron Boozer and Cooper Flagg are in constant debate for the top player in 2025, whereas A.J. Dybantsa and Tyran Stokes are 1A and 1B in 2026
With this being the first time that many D1 coaches laid eyes on some of the younger prospects in the flesh, there were no shortage of players who exploded, as well as those who cemented themselves amongst the elite in their respective classes. Here are a few of the aforementioned underclassmen who caught our eye:
A.J. Dybantsa, 6’8, PF/SF, Expressions 17U, 2026
It’s truly rare that you see a freshman dominating the EYBL, but Dybantsa is doing that, sitting second in 17U in scoring at 20.4 PPG after two sessions. The 6-foot-8 do-it-all forward uses his powerfully built frame through contact, offers potential as a versatile defender, and has developed much more confidence as a 3-point shooter (34.1 % 3PT). Touted by ESPN as the #1 player in 2026, there has already been considerable chatter in regards to Dybantsa landing in the class of 2025.
Cameron Boozer, 6’9, PF, Nightrydas 16U, 2025
Considered by most to be the top player in the class of 2025, Boozer brought the combination of production and winning culture to justify his lofty ranking. Leading the E16 in both scoring (27.1 PPG) and rebounding (12.5 RPG), Boozer is simply putting up video game numbers across the board. His .784 FG percentage and .480 3-point percentage make you think they are typos. The inside/out game that Boozer offers, his willingness to get others involved, and his continual team success (undefeated in EYBL, back to back state titles at Columbus HS, etc) place him at top of the class.
Cooper Flagg, 6’9, PF, Maine United 16U, 2025
Maine’s finest has lived up to his lofty reputation in the EYBL, tying Boozer for first in scoring at 27.1 PPG and drawing no shortage of onlookers in the process. The new age forward scored at all three levels, did a great job of utilizing mismatches with his size, and was at many times the team’s facilitator offensively. Flagg certainly lived up to the hype and reminded coaches, scouts, and fans alike that he is one of the best players in high school basketball regardless of class.
Tyran Stokes, 6’7, SF/PF, Vegas Elite 17U, 2026
The leading scorer (14.3 PPG) for the only defeated squad left in 17U play (Vegas Elite is 8-0), Stokes showed that he has no problem making his impact felt against older foes. The Louisville native is simply unstoppable in transition, can defend a multitude of positions, and kept countless plays alive with his activity on both ends. The ability for Stokes to acclimate to whatever situation he’s put in on the hardwood is one of the virtues that make him one of the truly special prospects in the class of 2026.
Darius Acuff, 6’1, PG, The Family 17U, 2025
Acuff Jr. left Phoenix was one of the hottest players in the class of 2025, earning offers from the likes of Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State, and a host of others after his monster 30-point performance against MOKAN. The sophomore playmaker is great in pick and roll play, utilizes different speeds exceptionally well, and can finish through contact. Fresh off of both a Detroit PSL championship and state title with Cass Tech, Acuff is the next gritty guard from the Motor City that you’ll catch at a power 5 school.
Marcus Johnson, 6’2, PG/SG, Spiece Indy Heat 15U, 2025
Next up in the Garfield Heights (OH) pipeline is Johnson, an elite shot creator from Cleveland. The lefty is elite at creating separation off of the bounce, is a threat to score every time that he has the ball in his hands, and has made serious strides as a creator for others. The son of former Ohio Mr. Basketball Sonny Johnson picked up high major offers from LSU and Ohio State in the days following EYBL Phoenix.
A’Mare Bynum, 6’8, PF, Mokan Elite 16U, 2025
Bynum certainly isn’t the flashiest in the EYBL, but he’s the type of old school no nonsense player who is simply going to win you games. The long armed forward punished defenders in the paint with his ability to finish through contact, controlled the glass, and showed nice vision when hit with doubles. It wasn’t just me who saw the potential and upside that Bynum offers, as both Cal and Nebraska put scholarships on the table for him over the past few days.
Desmond Bellot, 6’2, PG/SG, Expressions Elite 15U, 2026
A versatile guard, Bellot showed that he could play either backcourt spot equally well for Expressions Elite throughout the E15 session. Playing varsity basketball since he was 13 years old, Desmond shows an IQ of someone well beyond his years, knows how to finish with contact in the paint, and was outstanding in collapsing defense. Bellot is still flying a bit under the radar nationally, but has established himself as a well-known commodity in the Northeast.