One of the top prospects on the West Coast in 2018 heading into this event, Jules Bernard backed up his stock on Monday. He’s got good size for a wing with long arms and has an attacking mentality, using his ball skills and body control to get to the rim and draw fouls. Not just a slasher, Bernard is an improving shooter who can hit jumpers off the dribble. He’s a good player now but has the upside to get a lot better too.
The shooting guard position isn’t typically somewhere you go to find toughness, but Payton Moore isn’t your typical wing. The 2018 prospect is a terrific competitor who thrives on defense due to his size, length, lateral quickness and ruggedness. He hunts rebounds on both ends and scores around the basket, whether it be by slashing or posting up. His handle and jumper will determine his ultimate success, but he’s a winning player who is fun to watch.
At about 6-foot-8 with long arms, Shareef O'Neall already has a very good frame for a four man, but he also has the skill set to go with it. He’s got a very good stroke and can hit jumpers from midrange and three, something that he had success with on Monday. O’Neal’s athleticism makes him a threat to finish around the rim and grab rebounds on both ends. He’s a player with a high upside.
Charles O'Bannon Jr. best attribute is his shooting ability and he can score in bunches with his jumper. He’s got good size with long arms, and can knock down shots off the catch and pull from both midrange and three. O’Bannon is much more likely to score with his jumper than by slashing, but will often find his way to the basket in transition by beating opponents down the court. He continues to show progression in his game.
Cassius Stanley is just a freshman, but he's already developed quite the reputation in Southern California. Stanley, whose mother was a track star at UCLA, stands 6-5, is equipped with long arms and is a freak show athlete. Laterally, Stanley is quick and moves his feet well. That combined with his length and athletic ability, have him tracking as a potentially elite defender. He blocked multiple jump shots in a game Monday. Stanley also made plays in transition, knocked down a pair of threes and flashed a floater. Stanley has the look of an elite freshman prospect.
Gonzaga signee Zach Collins has had a productive and promising senior season for Grant Rice's Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. At the Max Preps Holiday Classic, Collins, a 6-10 post player, showed his potential on both ends of the floor. Collins has good hands, nice touch, is a good interior passer and is capable of facing up and making jump shots from mid-range out of three. With Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter in college, Collins is now the man in the post at Gorman and he's excelling in that role.
One of the surprises of the event was 6-foot-2 guard Charles Neal. A junior at Rancho Mirage (Calif.), Neal impressed with his feel for the game, vision and passing ability. He’s a skilled guard that showed an adequate handle, but it was his set up ability and overall savvy play that ultimate caught our eye. He made mid-range pull up and dropped in floaters as well. Neal also competed on the defense and recorded a half a dozen blocks.
After a solid showing at the City of Palms Classic, Darius Banks had a very strong opening night game against Bentonville (Ark.) High, who touts five-star guard Malik Monk. A 6-foot-4, possibly 6-5 wing, Banks is a tough, physical driver with an improving long-range jump shot. He showed good shot mechanics and confidence shooting the ball from deep and connected on a handful of threes on his way to a 24-point outing.
While watching Cassius Stanley, we stumbled Will Thigpen, a 6-foot-3 combination guard out of Indio (Calif.) High. Thigpen, who has a long set of arms, made crisp passes with both hands and displayed an effortless stroke from long-range. In all, he pumped in five three-pointers. Thigpen faced double teams for most of the game, and still took good care of the ball. He also showed a solid handle and a comfort level shooting off the dribble.