The clear breakout performer at the NY2LA Summer Jam was 6-foot-11 Australian Jacob Epperson.
Epperson began to gain steam among college coaches in Indianapolis during the first evaluation period playing with AUSA Platinum. But in Milwaukee at the Summer Jam, coaches showed up in full force, and based on the amount of scholarship offers he reeled in they were clearly impressed.
Epperson obviously has good size for the position, but he’s also equipped with good length. He’s mobile, moves his feet well and runs rim to rim. Athletically, he’s average, but he his length and timing allow him to get to shots. In one of our two viewings, Epperson blocked a half dozen shots.
Epperson didn’t get many scoring opportunities in our two viewings. He did show off a tremendous set of hands and good finishing touch around the basket. But what stuck out the most was his passing ability and feel for the game. He whipped passes to teammates from the high post, as well as the block, and perhaps his best was a dime from the top of the key on a backdoor cut.
Although from Australia, Epperson is expected to finish up his high school career at La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere.
Quentin Grimes is the big name on Basketball University, but with the 6-foot-5 wing down with an ankle injury, his teammate, Greg Bowie II, stepped up in a major way.
Bowie, a 6-foot-2 combination guard, is tough, fast and athletic. His first step is extremely quick and he was in attack mode in our viewing of him.
Bowie not only got into the paint, but found ways to get all the way to the basket. He also connected on a mid-range pull-up from 15-feet and hit an off the dribble jump shot.
Defense appeared to be a strength as well, as Bowie slides his feet well laterally and puts effort into that end of the floor.
Recruiting: UTEP, UT-Arlington, UIW, UTSA, Texas State, Sam Houston, Louisiana tech, Duquense, FGCU, UTRGV, Long Island, North Texas, Buffalo, San Diego
Perhaps it’s tough to call a high major commit like Brady Manek, who will go to Oklahoma, a breakout performer. But the truth is Manek hasn’t received much national attention and based on our viewing at the Great American Shoot out, it’s warranted.
Manek, a 6-foot-7 versatile forward, has a wide set of shoulders and lengthy arms. He’s mobile and runs the floor with a purpose. Offensively, he’s gifted. He has very good hands and nice touch around the basket.
Where Maneky impresses the most may be in pick and pop situations, as his long-range shot is a weapon. But he’s not just a shooter, he’s able to deck the ball and finish at the rim.
Manek, lacks strength at this stage, has sneaky bounce and is a candidate to snag an offensive rebound and flush it back, as he did twice in our viewing.
Wing Darius Banks has always shown some ability. He first got onto the radar at the Nike Elite 100 in June of 2015, and then he played well during the high school season to give himself options. However during the spring and summer Banks hasn’t always been easy to find.
Playing in the open division of the Under Armour Finals, Banks put on a show. The 6-foot-5 wing was absolutely cooking for his team, and put up some big scoring numbers. Banks showed the ability to get to the rim as well as having a solid looking outside shot.
An above-average athlete, Banks should provide versatility on both ends of the floor, and proved that he is no doubt someone who can be a solid player at the high-major level.
Scoring guard Eric Ayala did his thing all week long in helping We R 1 to the title at the Under Armour Finals. Ayala, who is a big time scorer, fed off of Trevon Duval all weekend and proved that he is someone who is more than capable of putting up huge scoring numbers.
While not an elite athlete or an elite shooter, he is good in both of those categories, and then also plays with an impressive confidence that allows him to be someone who makes plays on the court. He is okay off the dribble, and when motivated can be a solid passer.
Ayala is a 2018 with a ton of natural ability, and he broke out some with his play during the second evaluation period.
Watching Matt Bradley in the spring, it was clear that he was a player with high major upside given his size, strength, basketball IQ and vision.
However, Bradley has taken another leap since then and is clearly a player whose recruitment is going to pick up sooner than later. He's an unbelievably strong kid for his age but moves very well, can shoot and score from midrange and in and is a very good passer.
Bradley isn't afraid to mix it up inside and uses his strength to his advantage on both ends of the court. He's a former football player and looks like it but is way more skill than power player.
Recruiting: Bradley is hearing from schools such as Nebraska, UC Irvine and UCSB.
There has always been upside to Malik Ondigo considering his size at 6-foot-10 and 210 pounds to go with very long arms. However, he's always been pretty raw, which is explainable considering his newness to the game and the fact that he was a year young for the class.
Ondigo reclassified from 2016 to 2017 and has taken a major step forward as a prospect. He's got work to do on defense but his size and length give him hope there. Offensively, he's using post moves and finishing in ways he hasn't before.
He still is a project but the way his stock is moving is giving high major programs belief in him.
Ever since he showed up on the scene as a freshman, Miles James always had the size, length and athleticism of a high major small forward. However, to put it bluntly, he hasn't shown much development in his motor and skill set throughout most of his career. Until now.
James had the best game Scout has seen from him in a long list of viewings on Saturday and it's clear that he's working harder. He's still a very good athlete, but he's shooting, handling and passing better than he has in the past, while he's also playing harder.
Bottom line is he has all the physical tools and talent and if he invests in himself he can have a lot of success. This week was a step in the right direction.
Recruiting: James picked up an offer from Pacific this week.