Jevohn Shepherd is a name not familiar to many on the summer basketball scene, but the Toronto native is looking to change all of that this summer. His travel team made it’s way down to the Charlie Weber basketball tournament in Washington D.C. this weekend, which provided me with my first opportunity to see the athletic wing in person. That this young man can fly to the rack goes without saying. His reputation in that department precedes itself and his aerial exploits during this tournament only further validated those sentiments. On one occasion he drove baseline to the hole, jumped from one side of the bucket to the other, and then reversed it to convert the basket over the outstretched arm of the Syracuse Rochester Rap’s star player, 6-11 center Andrey Blatche. It was a phenomenal display of athleticism, and he showed a penchant for making plays of that same variety all game. (Blatche, by the way, was outstanding on the day. He showed the ability to handle the rock, shoot with range, and finish with authority. On defense he blocked just about every shot within his vicinity. He’s from Marquise Walker’s old school (Henninger) and has heard from Michigan. Unfortunately, grades will most likely keep the Wolverines from seriously pursuing him and he’s on his way to prep school next year. )
While Jevohn’s grace going to the basket was evident, his struggles from the outside were more so. GBW correspondent Roscoe Hill was at the tournament with me and he felt that even with those struggles, the young man’s offensive ceiling is very high. “Jevohn’s athleticism allowed him to get to the hole with ease,” Hill said. “He is very smooth when the ball is in his hands, but he is more of a rhythm player. When we watched him he was either playing fantastic or barely doing anything at all. We overheard a few coaches mention that he had a nice jumper, but he was extremely cold from the outside…missing all of his jump shots. Some of them barely grazed the rim. If any part of his game needs work, it's that one. Jevohn is a very laid back kid and that certainly comes through on the court. That said, I think he needed to be a little more assertive out there. There were times when you forgot he was even in the game. He has a ton of raw talent, but he’ll have to be molded. With hard work and the right coach, he could become a very good player at the next level.”
Jevohn puts up the shot
Jevohn’s troubles could have stemmed from a simple case of nerves since there were a plethora of high major coaches in attendance. Whatever the case may be, it certainly isn’t fair to make an evaluation based solely on this performance. One coach really brought that to light when he mentioned that he had gone to see the kid play earlier in the year and that he had nailed every jumper that he took. Was this merely a case of an off night or evidence that he is a streak shooter? GBW will get a chance to see him again this summer and it will be interesting to see which proves to be the case.
Jevohn flies to the hole for the reverse!
Another top prospect that we finally got the opportunity to see was Delaware Sharpshooters’ star center Eric Boateng. The first thing you notice about Eric, aside from his size at 6-10 225 lbs., is his outstanding footwork. He moves very well for a big man and seems to have a great feel for establishing post position. He also has a very nice touch as Sharpshooters Coach Duane Coverdale suggested in an interview last week. (For those that missed that interview, click here). Eric nailed a beautiful fade-away bucket from the baseline over the outstretched arms of two defenders. I also liked that he played with a little bit of a mean streak at times. In one of the games we watched the opposition put in a 6-7 300lb. guy to intimidate and muscle Eric and he didn’t back down one bit. He only seemed to struggle when he tried to do a little bit too much. At times he would put on a few too many moves and at others he didn’t look for the open man when the entire defense collapsed on him. He’s still a work in progress but the raw talent is there. Hill agreed with those sentiments.
“I think Eric Boateng has the most potential out any of the kids we came to see from his class,” Hill said. “He utilizes a good combination of power and finesse and his footwork in the post measured up to the hype. He used pump fakes and ball fakes as good as anyone at the tournament. He also has a deadly fade away jumper that seems to touch the ceiling when he shoots it. The kid is just a super athlete. Getting off the floor for an alley-oop is nothing for him. Basically, Eric is money between the rim and 12 feet. My favorite part of his game is his intensity. He had no problem with talking a little "smack" when the other team tried to take him out of his game by getting physical. Eric just used that to inspire himself and the rest of his team. The only real flaw in his game is that he's a little indecisive at times. He got a few three second violations while holding the ball in the lane. But as his game improves, so will his decision-making.”
Eric nails the jump hook!
After the game he indicated that his recruitment was wide open at this point, but that he enjoyed his trip to Michigan. He was preparing to take his first trip to the West Coast this weekend to visit the UCLA Bruins. Distance won’t be an issue for this young man and the Wolverines will be a factor. We’ll have more on him in the coming days.
Two other players that we seemed to be getting Michigan interest on the day were DC Blue Devils center Matt Hewson and DC Assault center Arinze Onuaku. Hewson, who is 7-1 230 lbs. and hails from Hylton Virginia, reminded me of a slightly more athletic version of current Illinois center Nick Smith. He needs to get stronger and continue to work on his game down low, but his potential certainly got the attention of a number of coaches along the sideline. GBW will continue to monitor his recruitment throughout the summer to see if Michigan makes a move on him.
Onuaku, who plays his prep ball at Alexandria Episcopal high school, is a bruising force down low. He has very nice size at 6-9 230 lbs. and is good on the boards. He’ll add muscle to any lineup that he’s a part of, and Michigan is one of his early favorites. That said, he didn’t exhibit anywhere near the grace of Boateng. He’s another kid that we’ll keep an eye on throughout the summer.
Look out for part 2 of this report where we profile some of the underclassmen in action at Weber that are on Michigan’s radar.