Donovan Mitchell, SG, The City — The Summer of Mitchell rages unabated and is burning with the heat of a thousand Vegas afternoons. Mitchell's body, specifically his powerful shoulders, long arms and huge hands, looks like it's nearly ready for the NBA. He isn't as tall but brings a physical presence to the court reminiscent of Marcus Smart. Like Smart, Mitchell shoots a slightly rigid jump shot, but his form and release look somewhat better. He isn't just strong, he knows how to maximize his power. On one play during a Thursday contest, Mitchell got ahead on the break with a defender running stride for stride. He hip checked his opponent and used the force to bounce back directly into a jump stop and a monster slam that woke up the gym. He doesn't boast a great straight-up vertical but jumps quite well with a running start and also possesses good speed. In terms of skills, Mitchell brings solid passing and excellent defense in addition to his scoring talents. Look for him to burst into five star territory in our next rankings.
Alize Travis, PG, Team Superstar 16s — Alize is one of those rising juniors who appears to be sitting on the high-major/mid-major fence. He doesn't yet boast exceptional quickness and definitely needs to work on his jump shot, but I liked his methodical style and desire to make the right play. We spend a lot of time hailing those who project well in an uptempo collegiate setting — because that's the style that obviously defines travel circuit hoops — but Travis to me appears a better fit for a program that relies more heavily on structure. Regardless, he's a prospect we'll continue to track going forward.
Chris Seeley, PF, Team Superstar 16s — Another guy whose ultimate level may not become clear until later, Seeley possesses a lean frame that suggests future athleticism and power. He missed some chippies during the game I watched but clearly moves well and possesses clear mid-major or better talent.
Devin Kirby, PF, Arizona Magic Elite 16s — Down the road Kirby could blossom into a real player. He's skinny and developing now, but already he does a few things inside that suggest a bright future. He runs the court pretty well and can receive the ball in the post and make a reasonably educated move with his feet to get his shot. He also works well in the high post, keeping the ball high and making intelligent passes to teammates. His coordination is sound, as he ran at full speed on one occasion and made a tough catch that he finished with a layup. He wasn't on my schedule for Thursday, but just glancing him in action I sat down and began takng notes. In and of itself, that's significant.
J.J. Caldwell, PG, Houston Defenders — It's difficult to take much away from a rout, and the Defenders ended up on the wrong end of the Playaz Basketball Club. But Caldwell showcased an impressive open court burst that caught the attention of college coaches sitting nearby. He's also powerfully built and very much unafraid of physical contact. Going forward, he'll need to change up his speed to at least have a third gear, if not a first or second. He attempted only one jump shot while I watched, a set shot three from the corner that missed. As he matures and eliminates some of his too-fast plays, what will emerge is a guy who picks his spots and creates some big-time action in the open court.
Michael Hurt, PF/SF, D1 Minnesota 16’s: Hurt impressed during our first viewing at the beginning of July in the adidas Unrivaled all-star games. With his AAU team, he played similarly. Hurt, who stands 6-foot-6, but appears to be still growing, as he looks very young, is a combination forward. He likes to face the rim and attack. He has nice touch when he gets to the rim, but the southpaw is also capable of making jump shots out to three. He lacks strength at this point, but he plays hard is a crafty finisher at the basket.
Daron Henson, PF: Dream Vision 16’s: In the first half, Henson, a 6-foot-7 face up forward, made shot. He hit three three-pointers off the catch and showed good form and range on his shot. Henson is mobile and runs the floor with ease. He also had a face up drive, giving him 11 points in the first frame. His calling card is his ability to shoot. The next step is adding to his game and getting on the glass more. (Daniels version)
Daron Henson, PF, DreamVision 16u: At about 6-foot-7 with a good frame, Henson’s best asset – by far – is his three-point shooting ability. If you give him space he’s a very good shooter off the catch and given his size, it’s a tough shot for opponents to defend, especially at that position. He’ll need to keep adding to his skill set and using his size, length and athleticism to be a better rebounder, but he’s always been a kid with upside and still is. (Gershon version)
Thon Maker, C, Team Virginia: By this time readers should be used to seeing Maker, a 7-foot mobile big man, in this space. He’s able to make his presence known on both ends of the floor and he did just that in a heavyweight tilt against Mass Rivals.
|Maker reaffirmed his status as an elite prospect|
Maker hit multiple catch and shoot three-pointers and also faced up the opposition and looked to attack off the dribble. For his size, he has tremendous skills, is a pretty good passer, which he showed on the block, and races end to end with ease. Defensively he’s a major threat to block shots. He uses his length, has good timing and protects the rim with the best of them in high school basketball.
Jordy Tshimanga, C, MWA Elite: A massive center prospect, Thsimanga, who stands 6-foot-10 and weighs in at 245-pounds, is able to carve out space in the lane with his size and strength in his legs. Tshimanga rebounds his area well and was able to get a handful of put backs just from getting in great position for offensive rebounds. He also contested shots and played physical in the paint. He’s not a finished product and will need to spruce up his offense, but the tools are there.
Mark Vital, PF, MWA Elite: The early Baylor pledge brought the energy on Thursday afternoon in a match up with Prodigy Elite. A 6-foot-6 forward, Vital was aggressively attacking the rim and looked to dunk on the opposition at every opportunity. His best move was a drive from the high post. A defender stepped up and he quickly rose up for a powerful slam through contact. He’s quick off his feet and is blessed with a strong, chiseled frame. He’s physical and aggressive inside and looks to rebound the ball.
Ike Anigbogu, C, Compton Magic 16u: A big center at about 6-foot-10 with very long arms and a good frame, Anigbogu has definitely improved over the last year. He’s a very good athlete for the position whose skill set is coming along. Anigbogu made a living on the offensive glass on Thursday morning, scoring several points on putbacks. He’ll need to improve his conditioning so he can give full effort the entire game and keep working on his footwork and skill set, but he has a lot of upside.
Michael Howell, PG, Coastal Elite 16u: A slender and baby-faced point guard, Howell definitely looks like a kid who is still growing but he’s a nice prospect even if he doesn’t. He’s a shifty point guard that changes speeds well, but the thing he does at a very high level is pass it, and on Thursday evening he showed just how talented he was at that skill, tossing one perfect pass after the next to teammates. He’s definitely a young prospect to keep an eye on.
Gavin Baxter, PF, Utah Prospects: A long forward from Utah, Baxter is a player that is just scratching the surface of his potential. He’s 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan and is a very good athlete that quickly gets off the court and finishes well above the rim. He has very good feet and is capable of finishing inside and out. Once he gets stronger and expands on his skill set, he has the chance to be a very good player.
Jaylen Hands, PG, Compton Magic 16s — He looks like a little kid and is built like one, too, but Hands could become a big-time prospect with natural maturation. He's impressive to watch just in the way that his wheels turn, as he already understands how to strike a balance between his own scoring and setting up others. Hands likes to penetrate the lane and utilize floaters as a finishing tool, a great weapon for him to develop early in his career. He also is a slick passer and despite walking on his heels (not unlike 2016 elite guard Dennis Smith) possesses ample quickness and speed. He'll no doubt continue to earn bandwidth in his corner of the internet.
Alex Barcello, PG, Team Bibby 16u: A heady point guard who has a nice blend of scoring and ability to create for others, Barcello did both well on Thursday afternoon. He has pretty good size at about 6-foot-2 and is capable of scoring not only on pull-ups from midrange and three but also using a step-back. He absorbs contact well going to the basket, and sees the court well. Barcello won’t blow you away physically, but he’s a talented kid.
Jules Bernard, SG/PG, Compton Magic 15s — We don't spend much time on here hyping rising freshmen, but it's worth mentioning this thin combo guard who's already drawing mentions in the Los Angeles-area newspapers. A southpaw, Bernard is a smooth jump shooter who likes to drive to the baseline and loft in 12-16 footers. He shoots a soft, high-arching ball that should continue to translate to higher levels of the sport. Bernard isn't explosive yet, but of course that could come with time. He's very skilled to be so young.
Harrison Butler, SG, Compton Magic 15s — Another touted member of the Magic 15s, Butler is the son of former So.Cal star Ricky Butler. Harrison is a quick driver who missed most of the shots I saw him take, but he generated them easily thanks to his first step and ability to weave through traffic. Butler also wields a nice looking jump shot and appears to possess a scorer's mentality.
In a match up with the Utah Prospects 16’s group, Kelvin Robinson used his speed and athleticism to make plays. He was able to get by his man and got a handful of paint touches. Robinson showed a floater in the lane had a handful of finishes at the rim.
It took Gonar Mar to the second half to start impacting the game. The 6-foot-8 long, lean forward ran the floor, contested shots and rebounded his area. For a 2017 prospect he’s intriguing and already has some high major schools tracking him.
Indiana coach Tom Crean has been a very busy man at the Fab 48. In addition to his appearances on Wednesday night, he returned Thursday for Donovan Mitchell.* Evan Daniels, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report.