NTF Workout: Day One

SARASOTA, Fla. — The Nike Team Florida Workout has been a coverage mainstay for nearly a decade, and over the years some players I've observed for the first time here have included Joel Embiid, Kasey Hill, Kenny Kadji and Okaro White. Today, it was Jonathan Isaac (pictured above) who struck the greatest impression.

Held this year at Riverview High School, day one at the Workout featured players in the 2015 and 2016 classes, while Sunday will present those from 2017 and 2018.

Several top players highlighted the action, with a handful of guys at times dominating the action. It's a camp format and thus the teams obviously lacked familiarity, yet the activity level was high and players continued to compete over the course of a long day.

2015

Kevarrius Hayes, C — This Florida commitment actually didn't play that well when I saw him during the summer, but he had a pretty good day. Hayes likely won't ever blow anyone away with his scoring prowess, but he runs very well and possesses outstanding closing speed as a shotblocker. He tracks down offensive players from behind and surprises them with his ability to erase their dunks and layups. Hayes also plays hard and scraps for some offensive rebounds that he converts into offense. He'll need time to get stronger before he's ready to start for the Gators, but long-term he should become a fine contributor to the program.

Haanif Cheatham, SG — Cheatham recently committed to Marquette and will give the Golden Eagles a gifted, versatile, four-year player. He actually didn't play as well at this event as he did at times during July, struggling with his jump shot, but he got it going in the late afternoon. Cheatham is a slender southpaw whose floor game impresses most. He's an outstanding handler and passer for a wing yet (usually) scores effectively as well. With a stroke that has range to the three-point stripe, it's no wonder he ranks among the country's top 100 seniors.

Keith Stone, WF — A largely overlooked and underrated prospect, Stone enjoyed a solid day. He has a thicker lower body than your average wing and isn't terribly explosive, but he does catch defenders off-guard when he's able to time his steps in transition because he's a talented one-footed leaper.

Stone cold may be an easy pun, but it matches his playing style

Meanwhile, when given time to release his jump shot he's a solid stationary jump shooter. His shot suffers when he has to put the ball on the floor or step to the side in either direction. Stone is a power wing all the way and naturally will be called upon to focus on defense, and in that regard he should become a screen-wrecker who's far more physical on defense than most small forwards.

Chance McSpadden, SG — McSpadden is an interesting study. The slender left-handed guard likes to fire up jump shots, but he's easily quick enough to play the role of slasher. He had far more success today creating for himself off the bounce than he did launching long bombs, and at Central Florida — to which he has committed — he should develop into a vital scorer.

Rodney Hunter, SG — A 6-4 performer at Cape Coral (Fla.) Mariner, Hunter is a nice lower Division I prospect. He possesses good quickness and utilizes it make drives to the rim, and he also slides his feet well on defense. His missed the only jump shots I saw him attempt, so that aspect of his game remains a question mark.

2016

Jonathan Isaac, WF/PF — Isaac was the prospect of the day. There are aspects of his future that still need ironed out — at 6-8, he has grown over an inch over the past few months and may not be finished yet — including his long-term position. Isaac is almost 100 percent perimeter and he would benefit from becoming more balanced, but he showcases a few things around the basket when he buries a sweet eight-foot half hook. And on the outside, he's a very good handler who loves to set up long jump shots with a slick crossover dribble. Given his length and fluidity, he still projects as a wing with the caveat that he may outgrow it. Regardless, the country's No. 50 junior looks like he could be on the rise.

Udoka Azubuike, C — This rugged native of Nigeria had his way with the smaller opposition. Frankly, it was difficult to assess his performance given his natural physical advantages. Still, a big man with an opportunity to impose himself absolutely should do so, and without exaggeration Azubuike likely had 30 total dunks in three games. He runs the court very well and is a bull inside who loves to rattle the rim with two hands. He also possesses sound hands and makes some tough catches in traffic. Azubuike isn't an explosive leaper nor a polished offensive player, but he's certainly among the most impressive specimens in the junior class and knows that he'll always be a bruising center — there's a lot to be said for that.

Trent Forrest, SG — Albeit not highly publicized, Forrest quietly pieced together an impressive EYBL run this year with Alabama Challenge. He showcased here why he's an established high-major target, using his strength, athleticism and highly physical style to make plays. He finishes using power and craft, as he has a knack for putting the ball through the hole in traffic. Forrest loves to lower his shoulders and force his way to the bucket, and he's a tough rebounder from the backcourt who also boasts outstanding defensive versatility. His priority over the next year must be to improve his jump shot. As it is, he's a clear high-major talent with room to rise even further in the junior class.

Leando Allende, SG — I need to see much more, but Allende intrigued as a potential major conference talent. The solidly built native of Puerto Rico already has accumulated experience on the international circuit, playing in the FIBA 17-under Championships. His father, Luis, played for the Puerto Rican national team during the 90s and early 00s, so obviously it's a basketball family. The younger Allende is a nicely proportioned athlete who moves well and makes plays for himself and others. He's one to watch going forward.


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