EYBL Houston: Top Performers

HOUSTON -- The third stop of the Nike EYBL landed at the MI3 Center in Houston. The stop provided Scout with a closer look at Jonathan Isaacs, Javante Smart, DeJon Jarreau, plus a host of other players that made the weekends top performers list.

Isaac shows continued development

Entering the spring, one of Scout’s priority evaluations was 6-foot-9 power forward Jonathan Isaac from E1T1.

The 2016 prospect has grown continuously over the last couple of years and while he’s shown progress over the last year or so, with his new size, length and athleticism, there was even new reason to be optimistic about him.

On Saturday night at the Houstom EYBL session, Isaac showed he has made the jump from prospect to player and is moving into elite territory quickly.

Isaac is still very physically immature which isn’t surprising given the fact that he’s still growing, but he’s got a nice frame with long arms and is very athletic.

On one play, Isaac showed what makes you so optimistic what he could be when he grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled down the court, got just past the opponent’s three-point line, stepped back and drilled a shot beyond the arc, one of several threes he hit on Saturday night.

Isaac used his quick hops and length to block shots and rebound, while also was aided by his athleticism and touch when finishing inside. He’s also a relatively unselfish player with nice vision.

He’ll need to keep getting stronger and adding to his back to the basket game, but Isaac is a very good prospect with extreme upside.

Jarreau, Smart impress

With Elfrid Payton looking on, E.P. Elite showcased a number of future college players on Saturday.

Two, however, stood above the rest. DeJon Jarreau, a senior-to-be, and JaVonte Smart, a 2018 standout, are both emerging on the national scene with their play on the Nike EYBL circuit this spring.

Although Jerreau has been ranked on Scout for nearly 10 months, he’s starting to further build his reputation. Against Jayson Tatum and St. Louis Eagles, Jerreau pumped in 20 points and hit three of his five three-point attempts.

At 6-foot-5, Jerreau has a slim build with a lengthy set of arms. He’s quick, has a strong handle and is able to get into the paint to make plays for himself in others. He’s also proving to be a valuable three-point threat, as he’s shooting 46.7% from three during the EYBL. Jerreau is a scorer, but is also effective as a primary ball handler. He’s tracking as a sure fire high major recruit.
Smart shows potential
When Jerreau didn’t have the ball in his hands on Saturday, it was usually in Smart’s. Although not quite as tall as Jerreau, Smart, a standout at Baton Rouge (La.) Scotlandville, has good size and is tracking as a combination guard.

Smart is quick and has good handle. He has good vision, likes to push the tempo and aggressively looks to find ways into the paints. Through 12 games in the EYBL, the sophomore guard standout is averaging 10.9 points and 3.3 assists game. He’s not necessarily shooting the ball at a high percentage in the league, but not many sophomores do. Smart has impressive upside and is one that will certainly be under consideration when it’s time to start ranking 2018 prospects.

2016 Top Performers

Another event and another high-level performance from Tatum, one of the nation’s premier basketball recruits. Against Elfrid Payton Elite, Tatum showed the full arsenal, scoring the ball on the block, from mid-range, off drives from the perimeter and transition attacks. He’s an efficient scorer and arguably the top perimeter bucket getter in the EYBL. Tatum has scored 266 points through 12 games on the circuit, which is good for 22.2 points a game. He’s second in the EYBL in scoring.

A scoring, jitterbug like guard out of New York, Ponds has drawn comparisons to Russ Smith. While not quite as athletic, the likeness isn’t far off. Much like Smith, Ponds is quick and elusive with the ball. Ponds proved tough to keep in front and used his tricky ball handling and quick first step to get by for mid-range pull-ups or adjusting finishes at the rim. The southpaw is also a threat to make perimeter jump shots, is a pest defending the ball and looks to get out in transition and make plays. Ponds is a legitimate combination guard and one that will make a push for the 2016 rankings when they are updated.

With his point guard – Cassius Winston – sidelined with an injury, Bridges was asked to do more for The Family this past weekend. That didn’t seem to phase the 6-foot-7 combination forward one bit. Bridges played tough, aggressive and physical. One of his strengths is his versatility and ability to play both inside and out. Bridges is an improving shooter, especially when he has time and space. He’s also good at slashing to the rim and because of his strength and athleticism is a quality finishing once he’s there. Against NY Lightning, Bridges finished with 26 points on 10-for-19 shooting and hit three of his six three-point attempts.

The talent has always been there for King, but this spring he’s become more efficient and effective with his scoring moves and his jump shots. At 6-foot-6, King has good size for the perimeter and projects as a college wing and possibly a professional two guard. King could certainly shoot it better from three than he has in the EYBL, but his form and release point are good and he’s getting more and more consistent with his mid-range pull-ups. With his size, frame, length and athleticism, King is loaded with long term potential so it’s promising to see his game rounding out.

One of the most impressive players of the weekend was Jerome, who has already committed to play for Tony Bennett at Virginia. Jerome is ultra competitive and is capable of impacting the game in a variety of ways. He’s versatile and is effective both on and off the ball. He’s a very good passer with an impressive feel for how to the play the game. He takes care of the ball, as he has just three turnovers in 132 EYBL minutes, and his passes are on time and on target. Jerome is also one of the better long-range threats in the 2016 class. He’s currently shooting 50% from three in the EYBL and made all three of his attempts in the match up against Boo Williams on Saturday.

Dennis Smith, PG, Team Penny: Smith suited up for a new team this weekend, joining the EYBL circuit, and he didn’t miss a beat. He’s a freak athlete for a point guard whose ball skills, vision and playmaking ability all make him a lot of fun to watch. He’s almost impossible to stop off the dribble and does a very good job of getting into the lane and either scoring himself or creating for someone else.

Lamar Stevens may be an undersized four, but he’s an old school power forward who brings it every time out and flat out gets things done. He has decent ball skills that allow him to take bigger opponents outside, face them up and get to the basket. His motor helps him grab offensive boards and finish around the rim, while he also does a nice job grabbing defensive rebounds and blocking shots.

Nick Rakocevic is a slight four man with good size who has a definite plus-skill in his three-point shooting ability. At 6-foot-9, he’s going to be someone that opposing defenses will always have to account for due to his ability to hit long range jumpers off the catch. Rakocevic also put the ball on the ground a couple times and made some nice passes to teammates.

2017 Top Performers

Petty, a junior-to-be at Huntsville (Ala.) J.O. Johnson, had a strong showing in a loss to Howard Pulley on Saturday. A 2017 recruit, Petty scored 19 points on 8-for-15 shooting and hit a pair of long-range shots. Petty has good size at 6-foot-5 and his body is filling out and he’s gotten stronger since last summer. Petty has a good feel, makes the correct decision with the basketball and can go off the bounce for a mid-range pull-up. He’s averaging 15.5 points a game through 12 contests on the EYBL circuit.

The hard-working Lee has become one of the West Coast’s top rebounders and he did plenty of that on Saturday evening. He’s especially lethal on the offensive glass, where he flies out of nowhere to grab rebounds before scoring an easy two points. Lee has also improved his outside jumper and continues to put in good effort on defense.

Daejon Davis is a kid with a tremendous skill level and basketball IQ. He really sees the court well for the position and makes the right pass almost every time. While his vision is impressive, so is his scoring ability, as he has the ball skills and craftiness to take opponents off the dribble and either score with his jumper or get to the basket and finish.

Jaylen Nowell is an explosive athlete who is very tough to contain off the dribble. He’s especially lethal with his one or two-dribble pull-up jumper from midrange, something he can hit at a high rate. His quickness and handle help him get to the basket and he shows nice touch when he gets there. He’s one of 2017’s better scorers.

P.J. Washington is an undersized four but is a good athlete with long arms who plays very hard, which helps make up for any lack of height. Washington’s motor, athleticism and feel as a cutter helps consistently put him in the right place at the right time underneath the basket, where he finishes at a very high rate.

It was just one half of play and Brooks didn’t put up big numbers, but it was easy to see the tools that he has to work with. Standing a legitimate 6-foot-9 and blessed with a nice basketball frame that will continue to add weight, Brooks showed good mobility, a nice set of mitts and good rebounding instincts. A 2017 recruit, Brooks, who is the son of Mississippi State assistant George Brooks, is sure to be recruited at the high major level.

One of the premier point guards in the country, regardless of class, Coleman had a solid showing against the PSA Cardinals on Saturday. He scored 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting, including hitting 2-for-4 from three. Coleman is quick and tough to keep in front. He’s a good passer with impressive vision. His speed and lateral quickness also help him on the defensive end, where he has quite a bit of potential. He’s averaging 9.9 points and nearly four assists a game in the EYBL.
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