Elite Preview Recap

MARIETTA, Ga. -- For the second year in a row, Justin Young and his crew at Hoop Seen put together a terrific one day showcase, featuring the top basketball talent in Georgia. A number of new names stood out, including RaShaun Hammonds and James Banks, while familiar names like Wendell Carter and Alterique Gilbert continued their strong play.

HAMMOND STEALS SHOW

Heading into the Elite Preview not much was known about Norcross (Ga.) High sophomore Rashaun Hammonds nationally. But if Saturday was any indication, recruitniks and colleges coaches will certainly be familiar with him soon enough.

At 6-foot-7, Hammond is a long, versatile forward. Hammond was aggressive on offense, but played within himself. He made mid-range jump shots with consistency, finished well at the rim and looked to drive the ball form the high post.

“Going to the hole, attacking everybody and looking for teammates,” Hammond said when asked about his strengths. “When I have a little person on me, I take them to the paint. If I have a big guy on me I take them to the wing and go straight to the hole.”

“I work on it every time I work out,” he said about his perimeter game.” I do a lot of dribbling drills and pull-ups from mid-range.”

While he admits that he feels quite comfortable shooting from mid-range, Hammond said the next step in his development is extending his range out to the three-point stripe.

Hammond said Georgia, George Mason, Stanford and Georgia State are the schools showing interest in him. He said he’s yet to take a college visit. He did, however, cite two schools he grew up following.

“When I was growing up I liked North Carolina and Georgia,” he said. “I’m from Georgia and I like Georgia teams, so I like Georgia. North Carolina, that’s always been my dream school. They’ve had a lot of good players and know how to develop guys to the NBA.”

Hammond plans to play this spring and summer with the Atlanta Xpress 16’s team.

BANKS EMERGES

When I walked into SSA Cobb, the first player I noticed stood 6-foot-10 was blessed with wide shoulders and had a set of arms that hung nearly to his knees.’

So already impressed with his frame, James Banks was one of the players I was most eager to see once the games got rolling at the Elite Preview. And the Atlanta (Ga.) Mount Vernon Prep standout didn’t disappoint.

Banks rebounded his area, flashed a nice set of mitts, finished off plays around the rim, used his length to get to shots and consistently scored with a right jump hook. He even showed good form and touch on his mid-range jump shot.

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Banks emerges as high major prospect
Despite being overly impressed with Banks as a prospect, it’s clear that Banks is just starting to scratch the surface of potential and that makes sense considering he’s only been playing basketball for three years.

“I started out around the elbow, knocking down those jumpers and I feel comfortable making that shot,” Banks said when describing his offensive game.

“As you develop footwork you can develop an inside game,” he added. “My go-to move is a hook with my left and right. I have a couple counters working with coach [Korie] McCray, who used to coach at UCLA. He’s been working on my footwork a lot.

Banks, who said he hasn’t decided who he will play AAU with, appears primed for a big spring and summer and certainly is a prospect the Scout recruiting team will track closely. College programs will be doing the same. To date, Banks has taken unofficial visits to Mississippi State, Tennessee, Clemson, Georgia and Georgia Tech.

OTHER TOP PERFORMERS

  • Robert Baker, PF: Coming off a strong junior season, where he averaged 20 points a game, Baker performed well. The event consisted of a number of talented power forward prospects and Baker certainly has to be listed with the best of them. At 6-foot-8, Baker is skinny, but long, fluid and athletic. He has a terrific set of hands and impressive touch. He made multiple mid-range jump shots and shooting from that area appears to be a strength. The next step in his game is getting stronger, so he can play more physical. Regardless, Baker is a promising looking prospect and one that will likely see his recruitment gain some steam this spring.

  • Brandon Robinson, SF: Ever since Robinson’s 25-point outburst in a loss to Wheeler last month, he’s been gaining attention. After his play Saturday, that attention will only escalate. The 6-foot-5 wiry wing confirmed everything Georgia scouting experts have told Scout. He’s an impressive athlete that can really score. During the event, he looked comfortable getting points from all three levels. He made multiple threes, including one from well past the three-point stripe, hit pull-ups and floaters, and despite not being an overly strong player scored it at the rim as well. Robinson could potentially be a big mover in the national rankings.

  • Chuma Okeke, PF: One of the better sophomore power forward prospects in attendance was this 6-foot-7, 205-pounder out of Fairborn (Ga.) Langston Hughes. Okeke is a unique player that stretches the floor with his jump shot. He’s comfortable shooting out to the three-point stripe, but is also very good from the mid-range area, where he hit multiple shots on Saturday. While he’s not a wing, Okeke handles the ball well for his size and is blessed with an impressive set of mitts.

  • Wendell Carter, C: Although he missed the first round of games, Carter, a five-star prospect in the 2017 class, still made his presence known at camp. Carter has very good size (6-foot-10, 235-pounds), plays physical in the paint and is a very good area rebounder. He’s especially effective as an offensive rebounder and recorded a number of put backs during camp. Offensively, Carter can score in a variety of ways. He made a catch and shoot jump shot from three and showed good form. He also showed quality hands and nice touch around the basket.

  • Lance Thomas, PF: Thomas was arguably the biggest surprise of camp. Word was the 2017 prospect wasn’t utilized much during his sophomore season, but if Saturday was a preview, he’ll certainly be utilized much more during his high school career. He’s apparently grown rapidly and now stands nearly 6-foot-9. Thomas is long, mobile and a good athlete. He’s comfortable and confident shooting threes and he made multiple long-range shots at camp. He also showed an ability to start a break with his dribble and was relatively active on the defensive end.

  • D’Marcus Simonds, SG: After struggling in the first game of the day, Simonds, a Mississippi State commit, got things going. At one point, Simonds strung together 11 straight points that started with a tip dunk. The scoring run included a pair of adjusting finishes at the rim, a three-pointer and a pull-up from 15-feet. While he handles the ball well, Simonds is at his best as a scorer, especially from the mid-range area.

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    Gilbert has strong showing
  • Alterique Gilbert, PG: Gilbert was the best point guard at the Elite Preview. He's tough, gritty and doesn't back down from competition. During his second game of camp, an opposing guard challenged him. That only ramped up his play. He’s quick and hard to keep in front, but what makes him so hard to guard is his blend of passing and creating with his tremendous scoring ability. He’s a good shooter off the bounce, but is also a crafty handler that can get into the lane where he can drop in mid-range pull-ups, floaters or toss out nifty passes.

  • Khavon Moore, SF: The youngest player on this list, Moore was certainly a standout. A 6-foot-7, maybe 6-8, wing, Moore stood out because of his ball skills and passing ability. His skill level is clearly advanced for his size and age, as is his feel for the game. Moore is an unselfish player that looked to find open teammates before looking to put up points himself. Just a freshman, Moore proved to be one of the more talented players at camp.

  • Michael Durr, PF: Another intriguing power forward prospect, Durr, who stands 6-foot-8, is a 2017 prospect to keep an eye on. He has a long, lean frame and moves well, as he consistently ran the floor with purpose. Durr has use of both hands around the basket and soft touch. He’s also capable of making mid-range jump shots. Durr could certainly be more physical at times, but there’s a lot to like about the direction he’s going as a prospect and will likely be a key target for high majors in the south to follow this spring.

  • Ikechukwu Obiagu, C: At 7-feet tall and equipped with a lengthy set of arms, sophomore Obiagu was the premier shot blocker at the Elite Preview. To be frank, Obiagu changes the game when he’s patrolling the paint. He’s active, has good timing and plays with energy. At this stage, Obiagu isn’t much of a threat on the offensive end, outside of offensive put backs, but his impact on the defensive end makes him an interesting long-term prospect.


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