Beach's Bits: Rotary N.E.T.S. Report

MERCER ISLAND - After five long years, the talent is back in a big way in the Pacific Northwest. This weekend marked the debut of NW Express - A Nike sponsored AAU team that combines some of the best prep talent in Washington and Oregon - at the HTC N.E.T.S. Tournament, presented by Seattle Rotary. N.E.T.S. stands for Northwest Elite Talent Showcase.

Despite the absence of Isiah Brown's talented APlus squad, the tournament was bursting at the seams with quality prospects. Here are some of the standouts from Saturday's action.
Dejounte Murray, 6-4 SG NW Express - The game comes so easily to the touted shooting guard from Rainier Beach, and there's little he doesn't do well. Murray is a versatile, high level distributor and unselfish to a fault. He utilizes an extra gear to set up defenders for dribble penetration, and will also rely on an improving pull-up jumper and solid three point stroke to earn buckets. He's an advanced defender as a high school junior, utilizing above average quicks and long arms to stay in front of his man. He lacks strength finishing at the cup, though his long arms and soft touch help compensate for his still maturing body. Murray is receiving attention from most of the Pac-12, as well as Gonzaga, Kentucky and Kansas, among others.

Mandrell Worthy, 6-4 SG NW Xpress - Worthy may lack the flash of some of his higher profile teammates, but there's no mistaking his ability to contribute at a high level. He's an above average athlete with a mature, muscular frame, and is a jack-of-all-trades-type wing, and can rise and finish in traffic or bury it from behind the arc. He possesses excellent speed, and is a blur in transition. He's also a motivated defender. Worthy currently projects as a mid major shooting guard with high major potential.

Matisse Thybulle, 6-5 W/F NW Express - Thybulle is one of the most intriguing prospects in the Northwest due to his fantastic bounce and great length. He sports an impressive frame, and long arms and is an easy standing leaper. He possesses guard-like skills in spite of his size and is comfortable handling the ball in transition where he often finishes with thundering two-handed dunks. His three-point stroke has improved considerably over the course of the high school season and he was dialed in from behind the arc on Saturday. His effectiveness in the paint separates him from his peers. His broad shoulders and exceptional secondary bounce help him eat space and dominate the glass where he flushes two handed put-backs with ease. Thybulle is currently being recruited by several mid-majors, including Seattle U and Long Beach State, but expect his recruitment to explode this summer.

Scott Hastings, 6-7, F NW Express - The Lynden forward is a rugged, blue collar player who does the dirty work for NW Express. He's a solidly built, energetic rebounder and defender, possessing a good motor and solid athleticism. Offensively, his skills are a work in progress and he primarily relies on his energy to bull his way to the cup, finishing well through contact and is an opportunistic offensive rebounder. He currently projects as a mid-major power forward.

Anthony Mathis, 6-2 SG Team Fast - Mathis is a wiry shooter from West Linn, Ore. His shooting touch from mid range, as well as from beyond the arc, is excellent, and he's beginning to attack the basket more consistently as well. He's a good athlete, quick and nimble, and his handle is quite impressive. Though his penetration abilities are still developing, he's confident weaving through defenders in transition. His above average quickness helps him stay in front of opposing ball handlers, and he's a quality defender with good effort. Mathis has the attention of several programs in the Northwest, including UW, UO, WSU and holds offers from Oregon State and Portland.

Kadeem Strickland, 5-8 PG NW Express - Strickland is a diminutive, sweet shooting point guard from Jefferson High in Portland, Terrence Ross's alma mater. He relies on his exceptional three-point range to generate the bulk of his offense, and he can put up points in a hurry. As one might expect of a player his size, his handle is excellent. Strickland uses his quicks and speedy handle to penetrate and create for teammates, and earns high marks for his passing ability and overall basketball IQ. Whether or not those skills prove enough to compensate for his lack of height will determine his college future.

Ty Gibson, 6-3 G Friends of Hoop - Gibson is an impressive combo guard from Issaquah High with good size and a confident demeanor. As a shooter, Gibson stands out, especially from mid-range, where he showcases a stellar pull-up jumper. He also possesses an excellent three-point stroke and is adept at creating space despite lacking high level athleticism. Gibson is reasonably quick, showing a good handle and quality passing skills. He's a high IQ player, deft distributor and also a motivated defender.

William Luckett, 6-8 PF Inglemoor - Players like Luckett tend to stand out, and for good reason. He's a tall, muscular post player who knows exactly what he is. Luckett is a throwback to a time when post players patrolled the paint and didn't stray. His big body and solid athleticism helps him gobble up rebounds at both ends and he's a menacing defensive presence as well. In limited touches he didn't show much in the way of post moves, but he did make the most of the looks he got, showing a nice touch at the cup. He'll draw plenty of interest from mid-majors due to his size and physicality.
Keith Smith, 6-6 PG NW Express - In his first game back from a knee injury, Smith quickly shook off the rust and showed why he is one of the top college prospects in the Northwest, regardless of class. It's a rare player that can run the point effectively at his size, but his combination of sneaky athleticism, skill and IQ make him one of the more unique prospects in the West. Physically speaking, Smith is well built, and his frame is still maturing. The baby-faced sophomore is a crafty, silky smooth penetrator, whose long strides help him cover ground quickly, giving him a floating quality not unlike Brandon Roy. He's a stellar passer and his height allows him to easily see over defenders for pin-point passes. No matter what the play calls for, he's got a pass in his toolbox, whether it's whipping a three-quarter court pass to a streaking teammate, or zipping a nifty no-looker in traffic. His mid-range jump shot is a strength and tough to defend due to his size, and his expanding range extends well beyond the three point line. His size also makes him a factor in the paint, where he's not afraid to mix it up on the glass. Smith is an elite recruit, and already holds an offer from Washington.

Alphonso Anderson, 6-6 F NW Express - No player was more impressive during the high school season than Wilson's Anderson. Anderson looks like a brute, with broad shoulders and sculpted arms that mark him more of a defensive end on the gridiron than a small forward. Anderson is much more than a sturdy body, though. He's a skilled, mobile small forward, powered by a high-idle motor that makes him a menace defensively and on the glass. He's a vocal leader on the floor, utilizing an above average handle and possesses surprising passing skills. He handles the ball well for a player his size, and as a scorer, is versatile, and a good finisher at the cup. He dunks with ease, and can stretch defenses with a decent three-point stroke. If there's a question mark, it's what position he plays in college. Right now Anderson a bit of a tweener, though he's just a couple of inches away from emerging as an elite power forward prospect. Regardless, Anderson holds an offer from Boise State and has the eye of every major program in the Northwest. That attention is sure to expand significantly this summer.

Payton Pritchard. 6-1 PG Team Fast - As pure point guard prospects go, no player in the Northwest draws more raves than Pritchard. His ball-handling skills are mesmerizing; his crossover truly NBA-worthy. But that's just one sensational aspect of the Oregon sophomore's game. As a passer, he makes everything look easy, no matter what the degree of difficulty. Flashing the ball through the wickets to set up defenders, he uses the drive and dish to keep opponents on their heels. As a shooter, his three-point range is excellent and he also utilizes a quality mid-range pull-up jumper. With a growing list of offers that includes Wisconsin and Oregon State, as well as interest from much of the Pac-12 as well as Ohio State, Pritchard is one of the top prospects in the Northwest.

Jashaun Agosto, 5-7 PG Seattle Rotary - The former internet sensation developed a bit of a cult following in the Northwest due to his blazing speed, eye-popping ball handling and passing skills and sparkling athleticism. Unfortunately, as is often the case with youngsters who enter the public eye far too early, he stopped growing long ago. But there's still a lot to like about the flashy showman from Garfield. He's blazing quick, and dishes out one dazzling dime after another. He's a fearless penetrator, and can rise and finish effectively at the basket. He's also a quality shooter, and can stroke it to 25 feet. On penetration, he sets up opponents with an explosive first step, and changes speed at will. He conjures up images of Nate Robinson and Isaiah Thomas, and for Northwest basketball fans, the comparisons aren't without merit. Agosto's high level of exposure means he has drawn the attention from a host of high majors, though whether they'll result in offers remains to be seen.

Sharif Khan, 6-0 PG Friends of Hoop - Khan is a slightly built point guard from Bellevue. As a floor manager, Khan demonstrates considerable poise on the floor and uses his legs to quickly change direction and speed. He's a good penetrator and possesses a quality three point stroke. Surrounded by scoring options with Friends of Hoop, Khan took control of the offense, which clearly suits the heady ballplayer. He's got excellent court vision, a high basketball IQ and manages his teammates effectively. While his long term physical upside is limited, his quickness and overall polish should net him quality mid-major offers.

Tony Miller, 6-4 W/F Friends of Hoop - Another intriguing wing prospect from Woodinville, Miller returned Saturday after being recently sidelined with a hamstring injury. Checking in at a long 6-foot-4 and possessing huge hands and feet, Miller is clearly still growing. Despite average athleticism further limited by the injury, you can see a late maturing player not unlike Kameron Chatman during his mid-teens. In his first game Saturday morning, Miller shot the lights out from distance, connecting on eight three-pointers, and followed with another good shooting performance a couple of hours later. On the rare occasion where Miller attacked the basket rather than shot it, he had a tough time finishing around the cup, owing to his lack of strength and explosiveness. He possesses an above average motor, and is a willing defender and rebounder. Miller's long term upside is excellent, depending on how he grows into his body.

Mike Henn, 6-7 F Friends of Hoop - Henn is a big bodied forward built like a lineman who utilizes his considerable bulk to clear space and battle in the paint. The Bellevue high sophomore is a solid athlete with good footwork and a nice array of developing post moves, including a soft baby hook, which he hit a couple of times Saturday. He's an active rebounder, though he plays primarily below the rim. His post skill and soft touch are intriguing traits for a player of his young age, as is his solid size. At present height he has excellent potential at the mid-major level, though a couple more inches may very well vault him into the high-major conversation.
Jaylen Nowell, 6-2 G Seattle Rotary - Nowell is an energetic slashing combo guard with excellent ball handling skills and great feel. He's at his best in transition, possessing good speed and vision. Nowell has a nice frame, and though he lacks great leaping ability, his body control is excellent and he's a creative finisher, including a well honed runner which he uses effectively. He's got a tremendous motor and is an energetic, advanced defender, showing maturity beyond his years. Though his three-point shot remains a work in progress, he relies on a quality mid-range jumper to score outside the paint. Nowell has interest from Washington, Gonzaga, Oregon and Oregon State, among others.

Corey Kispert, 6-4 SG Friends of Hoop - Kispert is the best Northwest player you've never heard of, and may just be the top 2017 prospect in the state. Checking in at a sculpted 6-foot-4, Kispert is a man amongst boys at his grade level. Though his long term position remains to be determined, the three games I've observed have shown him to be an active, energetic guard comfortable playing both on and off the ball. Kispert is a good ball handler and slasher, an athletic leaper and a powerful finisher. He shoots a beautiful three-point ball, and made a number of crafty passes in the paint feeding teammate Trey Pavitt. He's patient, and doesn't force his shots, and appears to be an unselfish teammate. Playing on the 15U Friends of Hoop team is doing him no favors however, and two weeks into the AAU season, he's already overdue for a promotion.

Jalen King, 6-8 F Seattle Rotary - King immediately passes the eye test at a lanky 6-foot-8. The slender forward from Pasco has some nice skills as a starter on the Rotary 15U squad. He's runs a bit stiff but is clearly athletic, and dominated the glass during the game I watched Saturday afternoon. He's a good looking prospect with loads of long term upside.

Trey Pavitt, 6-4 F Friends of Hoop - Pavitt is an active, physical forward possessing a sculpted, muscular frame. He showed good footwork and was a relentless worker in the paint. He showed good footwork and a nice touch around the hoop. Top Stories