Before diving into the BoTs top prospects, let's first set the stage. In the modern era, with three robust apparel companies — Nike, Adidas and Under Armour — combining to sponsor more than 100 teams, organizations lacking an affiliation with one of the big three face a steepening disadvantage. Scouts like us obviously gravitate toward the most talent-laden events, and that means the shoe tournaments and camps.
And that's great to an extent, as it consolidates talent and enables us to make more detailed and accurate evaluations. It also puts players into situations where they'll get tested by their blue-chip peers.
But the increasing rarity of tournament of Best of the South make them all the more valuable. I saw many prospects for the first time here and likely won't see most of them during the remainder of the month. I expect a similar scenario to emerge at next week's Peach State event in South Carolina and at the legions of events in Vegas to close the period, but the point stands: I need to make evaluation hay while the sun shines.
From the players' point of view, they have to make the most of the opportunity. Because coaches naturally flock to shoe events as well, their presence at the BoTs escalates the stakes for all involved. Some shoe-backed teams did compete here, too, but most of them were missing players to the morass of individual camps.
All of that serves as an explanation for why the guys competed so hard at this event. Even the losers bracket games featured high-level intensity. Even when watching some games with fewer college prospects, I enjoyed observing those contests simply has a hoops fan.
Now, about those players:
Bryce Brown, PG, 3T All-Stars — Brown (pictured, above) might have the find of the day. A 6-2 PG/SG at Tucker (Ga.) High, he's getting under-recruited and definitely will be one for coaches to watch closely at the month closes out. Brown has a lean, strong frame and compact style, dribbling into himself as he knifes into the perimeter and initiates contact. But what he does best is drill long bombs and run the break with skill and savvy, and defensively he boasts impressive potential as well. He has good touch as both a shooter and a passer, and he races ahead hastily in the open court. On drives he actually doesn't explode as well in traffic as some others, and thus he sometimes gets snuffed when he drives too deeply into traffic. Still, based on his play here, he looks like a potential high-major point guard in a class desperately needing them.
John Collins, PF, Florida Flash — No big man at the event enhanced his stock more among the throngs of coaches attending. Collins is solidly built albeit not yet strong, but his frame is far sturdier than that of many of his peers. In terms of skills, he boasts sure hands, good touch around the basket, already nice post moves, some face-up range and sharp passing ability from the interior. He doesn't rank as an elite athletically but is okay, and he jumps pretty well with a running start. Added to all that: He's a year young for the 2015 class. Collins is a high-major big man all the way.
Derric Jean, PG, Florida Flash — A teammate of Collins for the Flash, Jean appears to be one of three potential high-majors. He's a 6-1 speed guard at Hollywood (Fla.) McArthur who scores from deep yet also is an acrobatic finisher on the break. He possesses outstanding potential as a scorer and defender, and he has blossomed very quickly. Is he even slowing down yet? Like Collins, Jean is young for the senior class.
Ahmad Caver, PG, Stackhouse Elite — Opinions vary on this explosive guard. Is he an undersized combo without a shot, or is he a potential gamebreaker in transition for a major conference program? No one with a brain functioning at even 50 percent would dispute Caver's quickness and speed; he's among the most fleet players in the Class of 2015. He's at his best pushing on the break and either scoring quickly off the glass or finding a teammate for a dunk. He's also a capable, albeit streaky, jump shooter who has three-point range. To dispel the critical mass, he'll need to gain strength, improve his decision-making and shoot a bit more consistently.
Deng Riak, C, Florida Elite — Built like a power forward, I actually prefer Riak at center in order for him maximize his length. He's a lanky big man who also runs the floor quite well and, at 6-10, the Bradenton (Fla.) Victory Rock product has the size to play at the five. He also appears to be well-coordinated and thus should be able to add polish as he matures.
Travis Munnings, WF, Bahamas Jaguars — A 6-6 forward who attended Bel Air (Kan.) Sunrise Christian last season, Munnings runs and jumps in eye-catching fashion and also is fairly strong. He has athleticism and skill, and he didn't back down from the competition. He needs more exposure but is worth the effort to watch.
Jonathan Isaac, PF, Florida United 16s — Friend and event organizer Justin Young commented that Isaac reminded of a young Brandon Ingram, and there's definitely truth in that. Isaac wears the look of a future ranked prospect, and potentially in time for our next set of 2016 rankings.
|Isaac needs weight but possesses major tools|
He's very thin, long and skilled, like Ingram, but he's no imitation. Isaac has his own style, which includes above-average quickness despite his lack of muscle and a mechanically sound jump shot to the three-point line. He also handles and passes pretty well, and hopefully as he gains weight he'll become more athletic. Regardless, at 6-8 he's plenty tall to be a stretch four, and the Hollywood (Fla.) International School of Broward product will be a high-major mainstay for the remainder of his recruitment.
Quentin Jackson, PG, Stackhouse Elite — This quick and aggressive driver is at his best foraging in from the outside. He passes up jumpers in order to get to the rim (obviously something he'll need to balance) and is particularly adept along the baseline. Jackson can score himself or make a slick dish in traffic to finalize the play. I saw him attempt one pullup 16-footer that he missed, but it didn't look bad. With a pretty solid frame for a rising junior, athleticism and a hard-nosed style, he'll be heard from over the next two years.
John Ogwuche, SG, Team Forrest 16s — I didn't get a long look at this talented young wing, but he had a huge scoring outburst earlier in the tournament and definitely caught my eye. He's a coordinated, flexible athlete with a ball control style; he doesn't play with burst as much as he does a gradual demolition. Ogwuche knocked down a contested corner three, scored in transition and made probing passes to big men in the halfcourt. He also plays with admirable poise and didn't force the action. We need to see more, but he's definitely a prospect.
Terrell Turner, SG, Florida Flash — The third of the Flash's three high-major prospects, Turner could develop into a national name sooner than later. He has an athletic physique that should become more explosive with time, and already he's plenty quick and bouncy for 17-under competition. He also buried one stepback mid-range jumper that suggests he could become a big-time scorer.