ST. LOUIS -- In recent years players like Julius Randle, Kennedy Meeks, Diamond Stone and Skal Labissiere have emerged at the prestigious Nike Elite 100, which is arguably the top underclassmen camp in the country. This year it was Mohamed Bamba and Billy Preston that led the way. What other 2017 and 2018 post prospects stood out?
2017 Top Performers
The top overall prospect at camp, at least in my eyes, was Mohamed Bamba
(pictured above), a 6-foot-11 post prospect. Bamba, who plays with the PSA Cardinals on the EYBL circuit, measured with an absurd 7-foot-8 wingspan and a standing reach of 9’5”. At his size and length, Bamba moves fluidly and runs the floor with purpose. At times, Bamba showed a mean streak, as he swatted shots, dunked on the opposition and aggressively made moves to the rim. He even showed he could face up and make jump shots. While Bamba has made advancements to his game in the last six months, his best days are certainly ahead. Bamba picked up scholarship offers from Kentucky
following camp. Duke
also put in an initial call to show interest.
Arguably the top power forward prospect at camp was this 6-foot-9, 230-pounder. Billy Preston
, who has had a terrific spring with MWA Elite, continued his strong play in St. Louis and showcased his offensive versatility. His jump shot has improved a great deal and he confidently dropped in jumpers from mid-range and three throughout the four-day camp. While he’s able to face up and make shots, Preston can score consistently around the basket and is also a good area rebounder. Preston has a wide range of recruiting interest, including interest from Kansas
, UConn, Texas
An active and aggressive forward, P.J. Washington
impressed at camp with his motor and physical style of play. Although he’s a tad undersized, Washington has a 7-foot-1 wingspan, which helps him when he’s contesting shots and corralling rebounds. Washington runs the floor well, vigorously hits the glass and also is comfortable shooting and making mid-range jump shots. Washington was one of the more productive power forward prospects in attendance. Washington told Scout that Texas, Michigan State
are recruiting him the hardest.
One of the biggest finds of camp was Daniel Gafford
, a 6-foot-10 center prospect out of Arkansas. Gafford was one of the better post prospects in attendance. He has a long set of arms, good mobility and plays with energy. Gafford contested shots and rebounded his area well. He was also active on the glass and put back a number of misses. Gafford displayed good touch in the paint and finished off plays around the basket. Gafford plays for the Arkansas Wings 16’s team on the summer circuit.
This was my fourth viewing of Ikechukwu Obiagu
and the fourth time I’ve walked away wondering if he was the top shot blocker in all of high school basketball. And the truth is he likely is. Obiagu’s pure size and length is overwhelming for opposing players. He measured in at 7-foot with a 7-foot-5 wingspan. But to go with the physical characteristics, he has good instincts and timing for a shot blocker. By the end of camp, guards stopped challenging him and posts stopped trying to score on him. Offensively, he’s still raw and doesn’t have a go-to move, but he’s an elite defensive specialist and there’s major value in that.
Playing up with the Houston Hoops on the EYBL circuit, Royce Hamm
has certainly had his moments. But here, Hamm, a 6-foot-7 forward, played with more confidence than I’ve seen in the past. Hamm ran the floor well. He’s quick off his feet and a good leaper, which translates to rebounds and blocks. Where Hamm surprised was with his mid-range jump shot. Hamm was comfortable facing up defenders and shot the ball confidently out to 22-feet off of the catch.
Over the last year Isiah Jasey
has added some weight to his frame, which allowed him to play more physical at camp this time around. Jasey is now able to hold position in the paint and aggressively post up. Jasey played hard throughout the four-day camp. A good leaper, Jasey used his athleticism well around the basket. He was active on the glass and was able to get his hands on shots.
In my viewing of Jeremiah Tilmon
in the spring I left the game wanting more from him, so it was great to see Tilmon back on track at camp. He was active, aggressive when he opportunities and especially rebounded his area well. At this size – 6-foot-11, 245-pounds -- Tilmon has good length at 7-foot-2, impressive mobility and is equipped with a nice set of hands. Tilmon is full of long term potential. During camp, Tilmon told Scout that Indiana
, Kansas, Kansas State
and St. Louis are the schools that have offered him.
In late April when I saw Nick Richards
at EYBL Lexington, it was noted that Richards had visibly added good weight to his frame. That was evident at Elite 100 too, as he returned for the second year. Richards was clearly stronger than most of the post prospects in attendance and that specifically helped him getting good post position and on the glass. He’s a very good area rebounder and will also contest shots. On offense he cleaned up misses, showed a hook and even made a mid-range jumper. Among the schools interested in Richards are Kentucky, Indiana, VCU, Kansas, Villanova
, Seton Hall
and St. John’s.
, who recently came back from a shoulder injury that led to him missing most of his sophomore season, is at his best when he uses his strong, physical frame to get on the glass and play with energy around the goal. At times at camp, Lee showed that. At 6-foot-7, 235-pounds, Lee is a good athlete that pursues the ball with vigor. He's a good finisher in the paint, but is also showing he can step away and knock down mid-range jump shots with ease. Lee is one of the better rebounders in the 2017 class.
2018 Top Performers
is the brother of 2017 standout and top five recruit Michael Porter
. Although they are brothers the two play the game very differently. Jontay already stands 6-foot-9 and has a thicker frame. The southpaw from Columbia (Mo.) has a good set of hands and nice touch by the rim, but at camp he primarily hunted perimeter jump shots. He made a number of threes, plus made mid-range jumpers. Porter’s father is a women’s assistant coach at Missouri.
is a strong, chiseled post player out of Montverde (Fla.) Academy. At 6-foot-8, pushing 6-9, De Sousa is physical and he uses his powerfully built frame to muscle up with the opposition in the paint. An impressive athlete, De Sousa runs the floor well and is a very good area rebounder. Majority of his points came off close range finishes or dunks, but he did show good form and confidence shooting mid-range jump shots as well.
One of the few 2018 post prospects in attendance, Shareef O’Neal
, the son of Shaquille O’Neal, more than held his own against some of the nation’s top underclassmen. In fact, this was the best effort I’d seen from O’Neal, a 6-foot-8 power forward. O’Neal showed good mobility and ran rim-to-rim. He flashed good hands and touch and also proved he could step away from the basket and smoothly knock down mid-range jump shots. From seeing him as a freshman at Los Angeles (Calif.) Windward, it’s easy to see O’Neal is gaining confidence. O’Neal told Scout that he has scholarship offers from Kansas State, USC
and UCLA. He said he plans to visit UCLA in the near future.
, or “Sticks” as he’s known, was among the better 2018 power forwards at camp. Smith is young for his grade and is equipped with a long, lengthy frame. He runs end-to-end with ease, is a solid all around athlete and quickly bounces off the ground. He has a good set of hands and nice touch, plus is able to face the rim and make mid-range jump shots. At this point, he lacks the weight or strength to play physical, but that will come in time. Smith is a high major prospect and one that will see his recruitment soar over the next year.
Check out the Nike Elite 100's top point guards and combo guards.