Elite Camp Underclassmen Report - 8 to Watch

GoBlueWolverine was in attendance at Michigan's seventh annual Elite basketball camp yesterday. We break down the top eight performers from the session featuring the underclassmen. Xavier Tillman, Branden Johns, and Dylan Alderson were among those that turned heads.

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

If you missed prior camp reports click the following links:


Eight to Watch

(Listed alphabetically)

Dylan Alderson – PG/SG, Davison (Mich.) – 2017

Sam’s Take: Alderson was among the better shooters in attendance and made a habit of knocking down long grange shots in transition.  He also surprised opponents with his ability to put it on the deck when crowded on the perimeter.  He plays point guard for his high school team and his court-generalship was often on display as well.  One of the more vivid examples came while running the wing in transition. Before the pass came to him he noticed his big man streaking down the middle floor.  When the ball finally came Alderson’s way he delivered a quick touch pass to the middle for a lay-up. He also was able to set teammates up off the dribble.  Alderson possesses good athleticism at 6-3 and about 170 pounds.  He has a good, not great handle at this point can be bothered by ball pressure from players with quickness.  That said, his combination of size, shooting ability, and unselfishness clearly had the attention of Michigan’s coaching staff.  He is also said to be a big Michigan fan. Definitely one to watch in the years to come.

Gregory Eboigbodin – PF, Detroit (Mich.) U of D Jesuit - 2017

Sam’s Take: This Nigerian import was one of the more physically imposing youngsters in attendance during the morning session.  Already standing 6-7 and a solid 200 lbs., Eboigbodin is a strong bodied defender that is an obstacle in the post, is quick enough to guard some opponents on the perimeter, is a good rebounder, and runs the floor extremely well.  While he is a good athlete, he isn’t very explosive.  On the offensive end he is much more comfortable facing the rim than he is with his back to it.  He is comfortable taking the 15-footer and puts it on the floor decently for a few dribbles.  He isn’t the absolute project on the basketball floor that a lot of foreign imports are, but definitely has a great deal of development ahead.  But you say that about a lot of freshmen.

Malik Ellison – PG, Flint (Mich.) Beecher - 2017

Dre’s Take: Leader and orchestrator… Malik understands what needs to be done as a point guard out on the floor. More than a few times when his teammates were scrambling on offense, he called for the ball. He told everyone to settle down and began putting everyone where they belonged on offense before putting the offense in motion to run a play. He is very quick getting to the basket to score and has a nice midrange jumper.  There is a lot of toughness packed into his 5-8 frame, and he also puts it on display on the gridiron. The kid is FLINT TOUGH and Sam Webb knows exactly what I am talking about.

Jaren Jackson Jr. – SF/PF, Indianapolis (Ind.) Park Tudor - 2017

Dre’s Take: If you were a Georgetown fan his father Jaren played for the elder John Thompson and was a two-guard in the 90’s. Jaren is another young and talented big man who already is displaying an ability to play inside and out. He has multiple ways he can help his team win. He has the ability to rebound and attack the glass.  He can also shoot it from deep, but is most efficient from 10-15 feet. He brings great energy on defense and can guard both on the perimeter and in the paint. Jackson still has a ways to go but at first glance I like the package that is being put together.

Branden Johns – SF, Lansing (Mich.) Eastern - 2018

Sam’s Take: This high school freshman-to-be was the best prospect in attendance during the morning session.  The future is amazingly bright for this talented youngster.  He is 6-6, but handles it like he is 6-2.  On one occasion hit an opponent with a crossover to get him leaning, came back the other way with a behind the back dribble, then fired the ball underneath to a teammate for a lay-up. In a match-up with Xavier Tillman, Johns really impressed.  One time down the floor he caught it in the post and went over Tillman for two.  Another time he hit Tillman with a crossover on the wing before hitting a floater from the elbow.  He also drained a number of threes on the day.  All that said, there were some hiccups on the day.  The stronger Tillman was able to push Johns around at times.  Johns also was sometimes too deferential.  Both of those shortcomings can be coached out of him.  This kid is a skilled point forward at this early stage of development.  If he gets to 6-9-plus like his dad he could develop into an unbelievable stretch-four.  Also worth of note is this was Johns’ first ever camp experience… a very nice distinction for the Maize & Blue to have.

Kyle’s Take: For a young man that has yet to officially become a freshman in high school, Johns is as skilled a player as I’ve seen at his stage of development. At 6-6 with long arms and a frame that will allow him to grow even more, Johns runs the floor well, can handle the basketball, has a jump shot, and a good ability to use his body to finish inside. I’m not big on comparisons but this young man is a young Anthony Davis type (Davis was a guard before experiencing a late growth spurt).  Style wise he is similar as well to Arizona’s Aaron Gordon. There is a ton to like about Johns, who is one to watch closely as his career moves forward.

Xavier Tillman – PF, Grand Rapids (Mich.) Forest Hills Central - 2017

Sam’s Take: Activity is the name of the game for this big-bodied youngster.  He isn’t super explosive off the ground, but he is very nimble for size.  His tenacity on the glass is hard to match.  Offensively he is really coming along. Right now he is a 6-5 post player, but he is working on broadening his arsenal.  Early in the session we witnessed him crossover into a spin move that led to a lay-up. On a subsequent possession he posted on the elbow and drop-stepped to the rim for a lay-in.  Later he delivered a no-look pass to the perimeter for a wide open three.  While his versatility on the day was impressive, there is still a lot of work to do.  He isn’t yet to the point where he routinely put it on the deck and get to the rim.  Another improvement he’ll make is playing under control more consistently.  His non-stop motor is mostly a blessing, but it’s sometimes a curse. He can be caught trying to do too much at times, which often results in turnovers or fouls. He is better with his back to the basket right now, and the big question with him is will he get taller. If this kid gets to 6-8/6-9, look out! He’ll wind up being one of the better prospects in his class.  If he doesn’t grow don’t be surprised if he goes the Antonio Gates route.  Tillman is apparently quite the pass-catcher on the football field and is slated to be the feature player on his team’s offense next season.

Dre’s Take: Young and talented. I must say I enjoy watching Tillman play.  He runs the floor very well, he is a load down low right now that can score in the paint with either hand, and he is starting to develop a nice hook. Rebounding wise he snatches anything in sight with his large meat hooks. Another thing I really come away with is what a good passer he is when double-teamed.  It is going to be interesting to see if he gets to 6-9 or beyond because if he does watch out. If he doesn’t then more of a perimeter game will have to be incorporated into his skill set.

Kyle’s Take: Tillman is just a man-child. With hands that can cup the basketball and the arms to allow him to play well above everyone else, he has good touch around the rim and really uses his size to his advantage. Similar to Mitch McGary in the sense that Tillman can push the ball up the floor, even if it doesn’t look overly athletic, and he did so on multiple occasions. Tillman is most effective in the post right now, though, and for good reason. It was a very solid session for Tillman, though it should be noted that he was often doing his work against players much smaller than him.

Jalen Tobias – SG, Detroit (Mich.) Renaissance - 2018

Dre’s Take: Coach Vito has a really nice wing coming into his program at Renaissance next season and his name is Jalen Tobias. He surprises you with his athleticism because he is a laid back kind of guy, but one play made it clear to everyone that he was in the building. Driving to the basket on a fast break with a defender riding his hip, Tobias went up and instead of laying the ball in, he tried to punch it. He missed the dunk, but it spoke volumes to his aggressiveness. The kid went to the cup at will to score and has a nice looking jumper. He doesn’t try to be flashy or step outside of what he can’t do, Tobias has the chance to be a really good defender and he showed uncharacteristic desire for his age on that end of the floor. He has good quickness, certainly is athletic, and is very good rebounder on both ends of the floor.  

Sam’s Take: Unbelievable hops on this kid.  The best athlete in attendance. If you heard oohs in the gym there was very good chance that Tobias had thrown down another thunderous dunk.

Kobe Webster – PG, Indianapolis (Ind.) Park Tudor – 2017

Sam’s Take: He is Yogi Ferrell's size, but he wasn’t the Yogi Ferrell play-alike that some internet postings suggested him to be. Webster isn’t the relentless scorer that Ferrell was during his days at Park Tudor. What Webster does have, though, is a very high basketball I.Q. He does a great job of distributing and forces defenders to play his honestly because of his deft stroke from three. He could stand to be more aggressive seeking his own offense (particularly going to the rim), but as we’ve said so many other times in this piece… that will likely come with time.

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