EYBL Minneapolis Preview

Minneapolis is the last stop for pool play in the Nike EYBL circuit yet again this year. Teams will be fighting for the coveted bids to the Peach Jam in July. Here's a look at what to expect.

The Nike EYBL circuit is one of the premier high school hoops spring leagues every year, and often the EYBL features a high percentage of the nation's top talent. This year is no exception.

Among that talent are several Illinois prospects. The IlliniPlaybook staff will be on hand to bring you the latest from Minneapolis all weekend. Here's a quick look at some players we'll be watching and some storylines we'll be tracking.

Point Guards a Plenty:

Several of Illinois' top point guard prospects will be on hand at the event, headlined by 2015 lead guards Jalen Brunson, Jawun Evans, and Justin Robinson, all of whom have offers.

Brunson leads the EYBL so far in assists, closely trailed by, yep, you guessed it, Evans. If these two dish out dimes all weekend, it should translate to some good basketball for their teammates.

Robinson's play should be interesting to watch as well. Hampered by an ankle injury during the first half of the EYBL circuit, Robinson was limited in both his minutes and production. But if he's fully recovered, I want to see just what he's made of and what convinced the Illinois staff to give the thumbs up on the offer.

Everything's Bigger in Texas:

Speaking of Texas, Evans' AAU teammate on Team Texas Elite Elijah Thomas is still out of action as he recovers from his hand surgery. In his absence, Texas Elite has leaned heavily on Ohio State pledge Austin Grandstaff. It's doubtful that Thomas plays this weekend, but he will make the trip with the team, and we'll have the latest with him and see when he expects to suit up again.

Seeing Red:

Jalen Coleman was very impressive when we saw him earlier this month at the Spiece Run N' Slam in Fort Wayne. He's continued that performance and brings that hot streak into Minneapolis with him. The All-Ohio Red shooting guard has been on fire from outside, but has flashed his improved slashing game.

Teammate Esa Ahmad has interest from Illinois, although no offer appears to be in the immediate future. Ahmad is a plays mostly in the paint for a team with a heavy lean toward strong guard play, but if he picks his spots and doesn't back down from contact, he could be one of the unexpected keys for A-O Red.

Taking Flight:

2016 SF Jayson Tatum is constantly showing new skills and ways he can beat his opponents. His combination of size and skills makes him one of the most unique talents in the 2016 class. He will have a huge opportunity to prove himself against one of two other players ahead of him in the 2016 rankings in Harry Giles in the Eagles first matchup on Saturday.

In addition to Tatum, Jordan Barnes, a young and upcoming point guard who is receiving interest from Illinois, will be running the show for them. While a lot of the attention will be on Tatum, Barnes' role will be crucial as well.

Not Just Hockey in Canada:

Canada-based CIA bounce cranks out top talent year after year. The duo of 2016 PG Jamal Murray and 2015 SF Montaque Gill-Caesar are the torchbearers for Bounce this year. If those two have it going, CIA Bounce is going to be a problem for a lot of teams.

Streets Smarts:

Chicago-based Meanstreets is another team we will be tracking in Minneapolis. Led by Kentucky-bound Charles Matthews and Illinois commit D.J. Williams, Meanstreets has a lot of length and athleticism to use to their advantage. Williams played a lot of point guard this past season, and his high school coach Rob Smith said that it made him a more aggressive player. We will see if he is keeping that up this spring and being assertive with the ball in his hands.

Other Notes:

The weekend will also feature 16U action with some of the top up-and-coming underclassmen in the nation, including several elite players from around the Midwest.


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