What happens when the most talented grassroots basketball league holds an event with minimal roster restrictions on a weekend lacking similar events? Well, a event loaded with talent explodes to a ridiculous level.
That happened on Friday night in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, as a dozen or so top-50 caliber prospects were added to several rosters of the most talented grassroots basketball teams in the country, making for a terrific competition level with head-spinning talent. Several newcomers in the top-50 in their respective classes made their EYBL debut, including Trayvon Reed (E1T1), Tyler Dorsey and Daniel Hamilton (ICP), Isaiah Whitehead (NJ Playaz), Dwayne Morgan (Baltimore Elite), De’Aaron Fox (Houston Hoops), and Ben Bentil (NY Lighting).
SoCal duo spurs ICP over Mac Irvin’s twin towers
On paper, the Mac Irvin Fire seemed like a heavy favorite to wallop ICP in the nightcap of EYBL play. That paper probably didn’t include the addition of Dorsey and Hamilton for the weekend, who both normally play for Belmont Shore of California. A Kameron Chatman 3-pointer (half court shot) drew ICP within 11 points at the half, but Mac Irvin, during the return of elite center Jahlil Okafor, looked like they would be difficult to beat.
ICP continued to claw back between Dorsey’s penetration and Hamilton’s shooting, and the Portland, Oregon-based squad brought Mac Irvin to a 67-67 tie with four minutes left in the game, shortly after Okafor fouled out. Dorsey was fouled numerous times in the waning minutes, and converted from the stripe while Mac Irvin failed to make the most of their opportunities to win the game, missing several key free throws. ICP pulled out the upset win 77-72.
After the victory, Hamilton announced his commitment to UConn, and finished with 19 points (3 of 6 from 3-point land) and 12 rebounds. His partner in crime, 2015 point guard Tyler Dorsey, racked up 20 points on 12 free throws (of 15 opportunities). The smooth Chatman, who plays at Long Beach Poly (CA) but is a native of Portland, was the third cog in the Portland attack, impressing with his savvy passing and inside-outside play.
The duo of Cliff Alexander and Jahlil Okafor was dominant at times on the hardwood, though Okafor did show some signs of rust as he missed the two live weekends in April with injury. Alexander was particularly bombastic, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds, including numerous exclamation mark dunks. When he is at the top of game, as he was for stretches, he shows why he’s in the conversation for best prospect in the land.
E1T1 features deadly backcourt
It will be hard to find many better backcourts on the grassroots circuit than the one that E1T1 of Florida pressed into action in their blowout victory over the Kentucky-based Basketball Travelers. Three top-30 prospects, Joel Berry (North Carolina Tar Heels), Grayson Allen (Duke Blue Devils) and D’Angelo Russell all played well as their squad rolled to victory.
In particular, future ACC rivals Berry and Allen had terrific chemistry (this was Allen’s first game with the team, having formerly played with Southern Stampede), and Berry set the table for Allen and others. Allen scorched the nets at the Fieldhouse USA facility, netting 30 points in only 18 points, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range. He was tenacious on defense and had a heady overall game. In the win, Berry dropped 6 dimes, controlled the tempo, and set up teammates with regularity in the victory. Russell demonstrated his versatility, as well.
Names to know:
- Elijah Thomas, 6′-8″, 230, 2015, C, Prime Prep (TX)/Team Texas Elite – The stellar big man with a penchant for rebounding has upgraded his body and the results on the floor are obvious. Thomas retains his ability to possess the paint, but also strays from his area to collect caroms. He has increased his skill level near the hoop, and moved with more speed and agility against some tough opponents from the Georgia Stars. With an elite nose for rebounding, Thomas is a great option inside for high-majors.
- Angel Delgado, 6′-8″, 215, 2014, PF, Redemption Academy (NY)/NY Lightning – Due to Delgado’s impressive scoring and rebounding stats, Hoopniks.com made it a point to check him out on Friday, having never seen him before. Based on our viewing, Delgado may be among the most underrated players in the country. It isn’t always pretty, but his results come from having an active motor, not quitting on plays and some skill level inside. Delgado will get a long look for inclusion in most top 150 rankings for the 2014 class. He made 22 points and 16 rebounds look pedestrian.
- Cheick Diallo, 6′-9″, 215, 2015, C, Our Savior New American (NY)/Team Scan – Another motor guy, Diallo never quits and outperforms his peers as a result. He does most of his damage near the hoop, but with the ability to block shots and convert on high percentage shots cannot be overlooked. If there are 25 better prospects in his class nationally, we would be surprised. Diallo is physically gifted, and his continued improvement will be interesting to watch.
- Terrence Ferguson, 6′-6″, 160, 2016, SG, Prime Prep (TX)/Texas PRO – There was no intimidation for Ferguson despite playing for a packed house of Lone Star State fans against Houston Hoops. Ferguson has the looks of a nice all-around player, but he made it rain from outside with shocking regularity. He’s a terrific outside shooter that is nearly automatic when he spots up from beyond the arc. Clearly, Ferguson is among the best in his class as a shooter.
- Kelly Oubre, 6′-7″, 197, 2014, SF, Bush (TX)/Houston Hoops – On a team with more touted wing forwards, such as North Carolina-bound Justin Jackson and Justise Winslow, Oubre stood out in a come from behind win over Texas PRO. He showed some handle, and an inside-outside game on offense. He was also notable for his rebounding ability, as he displayed strong energy and versatility.
For those fans that wish college basketball was a year-round sport, the College Basketball Newcomers Guide paperback and Kindle book previews the incoming recruits for every team nationally. There’s no need to wait until Fall to learn about the new names in college basketball that will be starring on the hardwood.