Arsenal Tech point guard C.J. Walker and Lima Senior point guard Xavier Simpson were the best two players at Xavier’s high school team camp on Saturday. Walker showed off his usual high-octane penetrating ability, while Simpson whipped a variety of flashy passes around the Cintas’ main and auxiliary courts.
There was also a trio of local 2018 prospects that impressed.
Here’s a breakdown of the top prospects from the camp. All of these plays have Xavier interest, and offers are noted.
Xavier Simpson, PG (Lima Senior) - Simpson was a magician with his passing the entire day. He’s so crafty with the way he sets up the defense and the angles from which he passes. On his high school team, he was still able to elevate even lesser players than the ones that play alongside him on his King James AAU team. He struggled, especially earlier in the day, with his jump shot and even on floaters and runners that he usually makes with consistency. However, his Lima Senior team played in three close games - against Columbus Northland, one of two teams from Southport High School (IN) that participated, and Oak Hills – and in all three games he carried his team down the stretch with strong drives to the hoop for and-ones or big jump shots. He’s shown the clutch gene on numerous occasions while playing AAU, and it was no different at the Cintas Center on Saturday. Simpson has a Xavier offer.
CJ Walker, PG (Arsenal Tech) – Walker loves to use his strength and quickness when attacking defenders off of the bounce. Against high school opponents, where the talent isn’t as concentrated as it is in the Nike EYBL, those advantages stand out even more. He overwhelmed a few different defenders with his crossover and first step. And like Simpson, he’s not a knockdown shooter, but when he can hit his pull-up or stepback jumper he is very difficult to guard - he reiterated that fact on Saturday. One interesting wrinkle to this viewing of Walker was the way he passed the ball. Seemingly more comfortable and familiar with his high school teammates, he made some tremendous reads and executed precise passes. Typically this spring in AAU, he’s attacked the basket at nearly every opportunity with reckless abandon, but on Saturday he was a little more controlled and looking to pass when penetrating. Walker has a Xavier offer.
Seth Towns, SF/PF (Northland) – Towns has had an established relationship with the Xavier staff for a few years now, and, while the Musketeers’ recruitment of him has definitely cooled off over the last year, he’s still a guy that they keep in contact with. In two viewings on Saturday, he had performances that typified his game. He knocked down shots, and showed off his skill level. His highlight of the day was when his team was playing against Lima Senior and he had Simpson switched onto him. Simpson won the battle initially, using his long arms and lateral quickness to cut off the penetration in either direction, but Towns countered a third time and hit a Steph Curry-like spinning 19-foot fadeaway.
Paul Scruggs, SG (Southport) – Scruggs was also clearly one of the top players at the camp as he gave great effort and impacted the game on both ends. At 6-3 and 190 pounds, he’s a beast when attacking the basket, using his explosiveness and strength to get to the rim and finish. He scored a ton of points off of drives to the rim while shouldering some extra scoring load without star center Joey Brunk in the lineup on Saturday. He’s typically a great athlete that struggles to shoot from the outside, but he was shooting the ball well on Saturday. He also made plays on the defensive end - locking up opposing guards and getting in passing lanes - and rebounded at both ends for the Cardinals. He has a Xavier offer, but also has offers from Kansas, Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois and Purdue. He’s visiting Kentucky this week.
Darius Bazley, SF (Finneytown) – Bazley was the most intriguing prospect in the camp. He’s 6-7, lean and skilled. He’s a wing, but for most of the game I watched him on Saturday he was running the point for his team. He had a lot of shake in his handle, and was also smooth and confident when shooting off of the dribble. He’s athletic and looked reasonably willing to mix it up in the paint when attacking the rim, trying to block shots or rebounding. He’s raw and doesn’t have a ton of game yet, but he has a ridiculous amount of upside.
E.J. Williams, C (Middletown) – Williams had his day cut short when he got his lip split by an opponent's elbow during his third game, and was sent to the hospital for stitches. Before that though, he showed why the staff has already been tracking him closely and bringing him on campus for visits. Listed at 6-10, 300-pounds, he’s a massive presence on the block that possesses a lot of skill, touch and feel. He has a long way to go with his body and conditioning, but he was active on the glass and impressive on offense. He made smart passes out of double teams, showed post moves with his back to the basket, and had the touch to knock down mid-range jumpers when he faced up.
Xavier Johnson, PG (Summit Country Day) – Johnson is a big-bodied guard that plays with a maturity and feel beyond his years. He’s a great passer and ball handler that really excelled with his decision making in transition and in pick-and-roll situations. Though he mostly acted as a floor general that ran his team, he did have moments where he put his shoulder into a defender and drove him to the basket or knocked down an open jumper. He’s not a great athlete, but he’s skilled, physical and has a strong build for a young guard. His development will be interesting to watch.