The camp has featured an impressive array of prospects during the years, and although USA Basketball’s simultaneous event dinged this year’s lineup slightly, at least a couple dozen high-major talents competed at the event over three days of action.
Every prospect listed here is just a rising sophomore, and thus all the usual caveats apply about forecasting development curves for such young players, but the bottom line is that you’ll continue to read about many of these names for the next three years and beyond.
Top Prospects To Watch
I don’t feel able to choose a No. 1 prospect from the event, but let’s just say that Romeo Langford (pictured above) certainly resides somewhere near the top. The slender guard from Indiana possesses springy athleticism, a smooth perimeter jump shot and the ability and confidence to create on his own and pull up in traffic. He also hit the defensive glass impressively well for a guard, and that attention to detail bodes very well for his future. Langford suffered an injury and missed the final day of action, but he’d already made a strong impression, averaging 18 points per game in three contests.
Drue Drinnon was another player who caught my eye on multiple occasions. The talented point guard from Georgia thrives pushing the ball in transition, yet he also can change speeds, set up defenders with tight dribble moves and whip passes to teammates. He was streaky with his jumper at the end of the weekend — likely due to tired legs — but his mechanics look good and thus that aspect of his game should evolve into a consistent strength as well.
There’s no question that Keldon Johnson shone very brightly at this event as well. The shooting guard also performs impressive scoring moves like two-dribble drives that he finishes with a stepback jumper along the baseline, and he’s very effective retaining body control while stopping short on drives and lofting in short bankers. Johnson is one of those guys everyone will describe as a natural scorer, and they’ll all be correct. This Virginia native ensures that the state’s hot talent run will continue into the Class of 2018.
Florida combo guard Michael Devoe proved to be among the most prolific scorers. The slender southpaw already possesses a large complement of fakes and slides, and he uses quickness and craft to get to the rim. He’s a gifted finisher due to his ability to change angles around the basket, and his ballhandling appeared nearly flawless versus pressure. His three-point shooting accuracy looked brilliant in the official stat sheet, but oddly I came away thinking his form needs further tinkering. Nevertheless, Devoe was one of the event’s top players and should continue his rise within the Sunshine State.
Reggie Chaney was an easy eval. The angular, athletic performer is a true power forward, someone who should excel in college as a post scorer and overall inerior playmaker. The 6-8 Texas native leaps quickly for above-the-rim finishes and also corrals rebounds in and out of his area. Meanwhile, he made some drop steps — finishing with either hand — that will have college coaches drooling the next couple years. Chaney likely will want to expand his game so that he can become more rounded, but as it is he does a lot of things well.
Tall hybrid forward Chris Smith made believers out of numerous courtside observers. He looks like he may still be growing and thus he could end up as more of a PF/WF as he matures, but already he looks comfortable in either forward role. Smith scored on spinning halfhooks, moved well without the ball, hit a few threes despite shooting flat-footed, pulled down traffic rebounds and utilized his size to back smaller defenders down in the post. His inside-out style is unusual to see in a rising sophomore.
I hadn’t seen most of these 2018s prior to the weekend, but this was my second extended look at Solomon Uyaelumno. Which was fortuitous, because the athletic hybrid forward has become much stronger since last fall. He relies on his quickness, bounce, power and hustle more than he does skill, but having said that he gets a lot done and certainly ranks among the more accomplished players in the class. He also projects to be a versatile defender in college, possessing the muscle to defend most posts, quickness to step out against many wings and the ability to close out on stretch fours.
In terms of jumbo skills, few at the event could match Kamaka Hepa. The 6-7 face-up forward looks like a tall wing now but could evolve into a stretch four as he matures. However his body goes from here, he already shoots with a soft touch from long-range, handles well and is a fine passer who clearly has been coached well as a youth. He moves without he ball, finds open seams in defenses and understands court spacing. Hepa is just average athletically but does hold the tools to compensate for a lack of elite explosion. A native of Alaska, he also makes for something of a novelty here on the American mainland. He’ll compete at the Super 64 in late July, however, so college coaches will get a chance to check him out.
One look at Isaiah Mucius was enough to cause encouragement. A thin but very long wing forward, Mucius was a highly active presence throughout the weekend. He utilizes his athleticism to hit the offensive glass, finish breaks with dunks and block shots, and he also handles fairly well and attacks off the bounce in either direction. He hit some perimeter shots, too, though his form may require tinkering in the coming years.
I didn’t notice as much early, but over the course of the event Ryan Boyce began to shine. He tossed down a couple of filthy slams on the break, showcasing top-end speed racing from end to end in transition. The slender wing also drilled a couple of corner threes and scored on one head fake, baseline drive dunk that looked far beyond his years.
High-octane utility swingman Nassir Little represented his home state of Florida very well. He’s a lively athlete who climbs the ladder for dunks and rebounds, and he also nailed a few threes while also creating havoc on defense. He was among the most all-around present players at camp.
Among the most polished floor generals at camp, Jordan McCabe demonstrated why he’s already a heralded prospect in Wisconsin. The slightly undersized point guard might be the most enthusiastic practitioner of the between-the-legs dribble in all of high school basketball, and he utilizes that and other moves to slice into the lane and make plays for himself and teammates. McCabe also knocked down jumpers and proved a willing defender with a very solid grasp of the game for a young guard.
Rodgerick Brown impressed with his overall toughness, athleticism and work ethic. His offense didn’t strike me as refined as some of the other prospects at the event, but he consistently provided strong production as a transition scorer, offensive rebound scrapper and staunch defender.
There was nothing particularly flashy about Mamadou Doucoure, but let’s face it: Any 6-10 rising sophomore who can run warrants attention. Doucoure is somewhat mechanical but certainly does run very well (short strider), and he also appears he’ll become a powerhouse as his body fills out. The occasional post turnaround jumpers he hit from 10 feet also was very encouraging.
No one casts a more imposing shadow in the class than David McCormack. A two-sport star who also excels in football — not surprising, at 6-8 and more than 300 pounds — the Virginia native also thrives on the hardwood. He uses his body for its maximum worth, shredding defenders inside and creating space at will. While not a high flyer, he also dunks from a standing position. McCormack will need to keep his weight in check and add polish, and obviously the specter of football could loom large, but he’s clearly a high-major talent in hoops should he move forward in that direction.
Another developing center, towering big man Emmanuel Dowuona must improve his entire game but has obvious size and also a lean strength. He’s fleet running the floor and, despite being tight through his shoulders, hits some short facing jumpers.
He didn’t put the ball on the floor much during my viewings, but Braxton Clark gets mentioned here due to his what appears to be a pure jump shot. He didn’t make every attempt by any means, but he buried plenty and looked like a natural in the process.