2013 U-M Bball Elite Camp: GBW Recap (Part 1)

GoBlueWolverine was in attendance at Michigan's sixth annual Elite basketball camp yesterday. We break down the top performers from the Saturday morning session which featured the underclassmen. Among those profiled are 2016 standouts Caleb Swanigan, Cassisus Winston, Ibi Watson, Skyler Nash, Devin Daniels, and more.

Sam Webb, Andre Barthwell, Kyle Bogenschutz, and Josh Newkirk contributed to this report.


(Listed alphabetically)

Marlow Brown – SF, Southfield (MI) Christian, 2016 – Long and athletically gifted, this 6-4, 160 lb. lefty handles the ball like a point guard.  He blew past people off the dribble and can knock down long jumpers. Brown’s game will continue to flourish while playing with talent laden two-time state-champ, Southfield Christian. Brown appears to be a perfect fit for a small forward position, but obviously needs to get much bigger and stronger.  Fortunately he has plenty of time to do that and should continue growing and expanding his game.

Devon Daniels – SG, Battle Creek (MI) Lakeview, 2016 - Daniels is a tough wing that knows how to play the game on both ends. During the scrimmage portion of the camp Daniels beat everyone down the floor for a fast break finish at the rim.  The sophomore-to-be exploded for a powerful dunk attempt that rimmed out.  Even so, it one of many examples of 6-2, 190-pounder’s impressive bounce.  His body is pretty well developed at such a young age.  His obvious definition in the upper body is an indicator of why out muscle people when he decides to get to the rack and when he gets into opponents defensively. Daniels outside shot is improved as the day went, but that’s definitely the aspect of his offensive game that needs the most work.  This is definitely an in-state kid whose development will be intriguing to watch in the coming years.

Skyler Nash – SG, Chicago (IL) De La Salle, 2016 – Nash’s size was among the most impressive at the guard position during the morning session.   6-foot-3 and built, he is a true in and out player. His outside shot fell with regularity and he also showed a nice mid-range jumper in transition and half court sets. When Nash got into the lane he made a habit of heading to the free throw line or finishing a basket high at the cup. He is tough as nails and was one of the most athletically gifted players in attendance.

Jamal Nixon – SF, Oak Park (IL) Fenwick, 2017 -  Remember this name.  It’s hard to believe Nixon has four years of high school ahead of him because his offensive game is already so mature.  The 6-4, 175 lb. freshman-to-be put the ball on the floor effectively going left and right.  One of his better plays was a right to left crossover from the left elbow before driving baseline with his left and powering through contact at the basket for a lay-up.  Then there was a left to right crossover into a floater in the lane for another deuce.  And the pièce de résistance was an 18-foot baseline pull-up that he drained despite getting hit in the elbow.  There were times when he tried to force it – like his airmailed a three in transition and air-mailed a turnaround jumper in traffic – but that can certainly be attributed to his youth. This youngster will be “a guy” in the coming years.

Caleb Swanigan – C, Ft. Wayne (IN) Homestead, 2016 - Man amongst boys comes to mind when watching this talented big man.  To say he was dominant would be an understatement.  “Biggie” was simply too big and too physical for his overmatched competition to deal with.  But at 6-8, 275 lbs. he is supposed to be able to bully his opponents physically.  What he is not supposed to be able to do is move around with the grace of a player 40 lbs. lighter.  His nimbleness is best be summed by a conversation we overheard from the sideline.  After Swanigan made it through Bacari Alexander’s big man stations the Michigan assistant could be overheard telling one of his colleagues “that kid has feet like James Brown!”  That fancy footwork was on display defensively when he went out to the perimeter and was able to stay in front of a few guards that attempted to drive around him.  On one occasion he stepped out on a cat quick point guard, shuffled his feet as his elusive opponent tried to blow by, and then rose to block the baseline pull-up attempt.  It was an amazing display of grace for a kid so big.  Swanigan is unquestionably a youngster that could defend the pick & roll. Meanwhile on offense he did whatever he wanted in the paint area.  Again, what was most impressive was the work he did away from the basket.  In one of drills he drained 7/10 jumpers going from one side of the rim to the other.  Then later in three-on-three action he caught the ball on the elbow, shot faked, put the it on the floor, spun into the post… then after one power dribble with his back to the basket he drop stepped to the rim for a lay-up.  This kid has major tools.  What’s scary is he is not even close to be in great shape yet.  When he gets into a dedicated strength and condition program, look out.  Then consider that he may not be done growing yet. Look out even.

Ibi Watson - F, Athens (OH), 2016 - The very first thing that stands out when watching Watson play is his high basketball I.Q.  Throughout the camp he consistently made plays around the rim whether it was getting to the cup to score, assisting for a basket, or grabbing a rebound. This is a kid who is quite versatile and doesn’t seem to have wasted movement out on the floor. Watson is listed as a two-guard or small forward, but he is a player that you can put out on the court and he will blend with the other five. To top it off his high school coach told us Watson is also a terrific student.

Cassius Winston – PG, Detroit (MI) U of D Jesuit, 2016 - Winston didn’t have the type of physical advantage over his competition that Swanigan did, but the freshman phenom was almost as tough to stop.  The day started with him wowing Michigan’s headman in the three-point shooting drill.  The U of D Jesuit star calmly drained 9/10 threes with John Beilein looking over his shoulder.  That Beilein was impressed was evident in his huge smile he had on his face and the push-ups he did in Winston’s place as penalty for the lone miss.  The display verified all the work Winston has been putting in to hone that part of his game.  That being said, the scrimmage action was where Winston really shined.  His best game of the day came in his match-up with Ypsilanti freshman point guard standout, Corey Allen.  Winston had it all going right from the very start.  On one occasion he crossed Allen over before hoisting a step-back jumper that found nothing but the bottom of the net.  During another impressive sequence Winston stole the ball to create a fast break opportunity.  After dribbling behind his back to avoid defenders in transition, he crossed over left to right at the free throw line and exploded to the rim for a lay-up.  And as always he did a terrific job of distributing in the half court and especially in transition. This was yet another even where Winston lived up to the hype.

Others of Note

Corey Allen – PG, Ypsilanti (MI), 2016 - This talented youngster led an outstanding Ypsilanti team in scoring last year, and it was easy to see why. He shot it well from distance in drills, and in games routinely got to the basket.  He also showed great court vision.  The difference between him at Winston (other than Winston’s superior quickness) was finishing.  Winston converted at the rim with a much higher proficiency.  With more strength that aspect of Allen’s game will improve.  That said, it’s already clear that his size (he is an inch or two taller than Winston), high basketball I.Q., and ability to get to the rim make him one to watch.

Barrett Benson – C, Darien (IL) Hinsdale South, 2016 - Standing out simply immediately of his physical stature, Benson is nearly 6-9 and has several facets to his game. He isn’t fleetest of foot, but he can bang with the big boys inside and even step out to knock down mid-range jump shots. Benson appears to still be growing and learning how to utilize his body on the floor, but there is plenty of upside and a lot to like about a big man that can finish strong inside and pop out to draw out defenders.

Alex McCall – PG, Saginaw (MI), 2016 – McCall is a point guard that has a lot of swag to his game. It was hard for anyone to stay in front of him as he went to the cup at will to score. What makes him a tough cover is that he can really stroke it from the outside.  That made it much tougher for defenders to stay in front of him.  McCall showed a nice understanding how/when to get others involved and when to go with for his own offense. He is also a solid defender that plays hard.  As the game slows down for him he will be even better.

D.J. Wilkins – SG, Merrillville (IN), 2016 – Wilkins is a combo guard that is athletic, long, and versatile offensively.  He may be young, but his ability to get to the basket and finish with either hand has “future player” written all over him. Wilkins has a solid jumper that currently is not as consistent from deep as it is from mid-range. His long arms and quick feet should allow for him to be a very solid defender. As he continues to grow, rebounding will become more apart of Wilkins’ game. He will also be the starting quarterback for his varsity high school football team. He has only played three years of football and that very well could be his best sport.

Staff’s Top Five Camper Picks

Sam Dre Kyle Josh
Caleb Swanigan Cassius Winston Cassius Winston Cassius Winston
Cassius Winston Caleb Swanigan Caleb Swanigan Caleb Swanigan
Jamal Nixon Ibi Watson Devin Daniels Barret Benson
Skyler Nash D.J Wilkins Skyler Nash Devin Daniels
Devin Daniels Devin Daniels Marlow Brown Corey Allen

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