A strong slate of games graced the schedule at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League on Saturday in Frisco, Texas, with numerous tests, strong individual match-ups and squads pushing towards a berth in the championship tournament, the Peach Jam in July.
As always, Nike’s team impressed by putting together a well-run event that was on-time, had accurate rosters, and sparkling facilities. In short, Nike is the king of grassroots basketball until unseated, due to terrific events like the EYBL.
Takeover remains undefeated, but not unscathed
Only one of the forty teams in the EYBL had an unblemished record going into Saturday’s play, Team Takeover. They didn’t cruise through the competition, though, as they faced two difficult and disciplined opponents in BABC and Spiece Mokan. Still, the moxie and overall depth of Team Takeover ensured that they are the sole unbeaten squad as it stands after two arduous wins.
With at least a half-dozen future high major players, Team Takeover has terrific depth and has an added benefited of also playing well together. Recent Georgetown Hoyas pledge Tre Campbell runs the show at point guard, always playing within himself and setting the table for his talented teammates. On the wing, Team Takeover has two extremely dangerous threats, Phil Booth and Dion Wiley. Either is capable of stroking long range shots, and Wiley is adept at getting to the hole and finishing through contact. Both have range and can handle the ball.
The sole incoming junior on the team, Marcus Derrickson is an inside-outside threat, in the post and farther away from the basket. He has a strong frame at 6′-6″, and is versatile with a bit of a handle and mid-range capabilities. Up front, Team Takeover has some solid options in Martin Geben and Obi Enechionyia. Both are active presences inside, capable of scoring and pulling down boards. Geben has a strong frame, while Enechionyia can use his athleticism on the interior.
Team Takeover also has a pair of super role players in energetic wing forward Therence Mayimba and mid-range shooter James Palmer. Mayimba’s motor is always running and can play a couple positions, while Palmer can handle and hits key shots.
There’s certainly no guarantee that Team Takeover will get through the EYBL unscathed, but their overall depth ensures that when one player has an off game, there are more players that can pick up the slack. Among the contenders, Team Takeover has to be on the short list for the championship when the Peach Jam rolls around.
Names to know:
- JaQuan Lyle, 6′-5″, 2014, PG/SG, Bossi (IN)/Spiece Indy Heat – Hopefully his coaches didn’t make him wash the uniforms after the games, because Lyle did almost everything else for his squad. True, he isn’t what idealists want a point guard to be, but his effortless switch between positions, maintaining effectiveness at all times, is to be admired. He bounds from the perimeter to the paint, from an even-keeled distributor to a scorer. Lyle is a fit for most high-level college basketball teams, given his exceptional versatility. Lyle played on and off the ball and took on a scoring role from multiple levels on Saturday. Lyles finds numerous ways to fill out the stat sheet and gets it done on the floor.
- Ivan Rabb, 6′-10″ 2015, C, Bishop O’Dowd (CA)/Oakland Soldiers – Making the transition from a prospect to a interior beast that is capable of taking on the role of an alpha big man, Rabb is still a work in progress but is improving rapidly. His footwork and post moves have continued to improve, and he excelled Saturday drawing fouls in the paint, and converting at times through contact. His free throw percentage can improve, but Rabb never shied from contact and took on a huge role in owning the paint through scoring near the bucket and rebounding. Rabb’s potential upside is as the No. 1 prospect in the class.
- Malik Newman, 6′-3″, 2015, SG, Callaway (MS)/Jackson Tigers – It’s certainly arguable, but Newman appears to be the best scorer at guard in the high school ranks as an incoming junior. Newman’s knack for putting the ball in the basket was both unstoppable and headshakingly impressive on Saturday, as despite being heavily guarded with various shadowing defenders, Newman was only slightly slowed from his scoring outbursts. Newman got to the rack, hit floaters, drew fouls and nailed outside shots. He has range on his shot, and show no signs of being stopped in two contests. Newman has a tight handle, which exacerbates his scoring penchant. Like Rabb, Newman is a legitimate contender for the No. 1 slot in his class nationally.
- Bonzie Colson, 6′-5″, 2014, SF/PF, St. Andrew (RI)/BABC – A mid-sized player with an undefined position, Colson is a classic effective high school tweener forward, thriving on his motor and skills. The last forward tweener with a similar description that played on BABC, Georges Niang, is working out well for the Iowa State Cyclones, and though they aren’t exact matches, they are similar enough to make the comparison. Colson is the engine behind a good BABC team, and is worth being tracked by high-majors going forward, provided they are able to find a fit. Colson was a workhorse that played plenty of minutes, and his squad ran everything through him.
- Dion Wiley, 6′-4″, 2014, SG, Potomac (MD)/Team Takeover – Perhaps the best overall prospect on the aforementioned loaded Team Takeover, Wiley has a terrific frame and balanced offensive game. He’s got the strength to be a factor early on in college, and has a good motor as well. Among the traits one could want in a high-major shooting guard, Wiley checks the box for most.
- Greyson Allen, 6′-4″, 2014, SG, Providence (FL)/Each 1 Teach 1 – The most effective of the numerous EYBL roster changes this weekend, Allen has shown himself to be a torrid outside shooter for his new team. Those that focus on his terrific outside shooting (and it was just that, outstanding) perhaps could be missing his savvy and overall feel for the game. He’s also a great passer with tremendous vision, and does so many little things that benefit his team. The recent Duke Blue Devils commit showed none of the expected signs of adapting to new teammates, and fit in with his unselfish and team-oriented style.
- Jae’Sean Tate, 6′-5″, 2014, SF, Pickerington Central (OH)/All Ohio Red – A tremendous energy giver, Tate is the motor that keeps a good All Ohio Red team going. He showed some range on his shot, but his slash game and above the rim antics spur his team forward at times of slowness. Tate keeps things moving forward with his penchant for explosiveness, and he’s a glue guy for his team as well. He’s made an early decision to play for the Ohio State Buckeyes, and seems like a great fit.
- Zylan Cheathem, 6′-7″, 2014, PF, Westwind Prep (AZ)/California Supreme – It’s easy to identify his high-major skill, as Cheathem rebounds like few others in the 2014 class nationally. A long, wiry and athletic “4”, Cheathem has an uncanny nose for the ball, and catches caroms with reckless abandon. His offensive game is admittedly raw, but as an energetic presence few can match him.
- Edmond Sumner, 6′-3″, 2014, PG, Detroit Country Day (MI)/The Family – Last week’s expected decision between Xavier and UMass never materialized for Sumner, and it seems realistic to believe his list could get longer as Sumner is a lanky lead guard that can also stroke outside shots. Sumner has the ability to dish to teammates, and can use his length on defense. Sumner has upside and can make his team better.
- Lourawls Nairn, 5′-10″, 2014, PG, Sunrise Christian (KS)/Spiece Mokan -A fleet and explosive blur with the ball on offense, Nairn is gifted like few others athletically. Still, his height isn’t ideal, but that is mitigated by his ability to get off the floor in a hurry. Nairn is a mini-Nate Robinson at the high school level, and could be tremendous in the right situation in college. Given his jumping prowess, it’s no surprise that Nairn’s rebounding vastly exceeds what would be expected for his size and height.
- Tyler Ulis, 5′-8″, 2014, PG, Marian Catholic (IL)/Meanstreets – An interesting case, Ulis lacks size like Arizona Wildcats commit Parker Jackson-Cartwright, but is effective in similar ways. Ulis has a pristine shot, nice passing ability an great intangibles as a team leader on the floor. Defensively he has obvious limitations but competes, and isn’t exploited as much as one might expect. Ultimately, the math on Ulis is easy if the right personnel is in place for him to excel with.
- Mikal Bridges, 6′-7″, 2014, SF, Great Valley (PA)/Team Final – One of the most pleasant surprises of the EYBL, Bridges is a nice combo forward with a good mix of versatility and skill level. Bridges can get to the basket from a catch on the perimeter, operated in the mid-range, and had some good athleticism and bounce. Bridges lacks strength against 4s, and is a bit of a tweener, but his handle showed signs of competence and he is one certainly worthy of a long look for high majors this summer.
- Jared Terrell, 6′-4″, 2014, SG, Brewster Academy (NH)/Expression Elite – With brawn and a sure stroke, Terrell is a college ready two guard for most systems. He possesses a good offensive game and the strength to guard bigger wings. Terrell can take the ball to the hoop and finish through contact all game long.
- Boubaca Moungoro, 6′-6″, 2014, SF, IMG Academy (FL)/Each 1 Teach 1 – A tremendous athlete, Moungoro has really refined his skill set going into his senior season. He has exceptional bounce and athleticism, and has improved his shooting to where he has a capable mid-range game. Unofficially, Moungoro caused the most “Who is that?” and looks down at the roster book of any player in the event. He has a great combination of explosiveness, agility and finishes near the cup.
- Devin Booker, 6′-4″, 2014, SG, Moss Point (MS)/Alabama Challenge – Perhaps the best catch and shoot threat in the ’14 class, Booker is nearly automatic to hit 3-pointers when given space and time. He is a skilled offensive player that can handle, though he didn’t necessarily score much off the bounce. Instead, Booker possesses an advanced understanding of spacing, and movement to create scoring opportunities. Booker isn’t overly flashy, but fits in like a cog, and scores without boastfulness or show.
- Tadric Jackson, 6′-2″, 2014, PG/SG, Tift County (GA)/Georgia Stars -A bouncy and tough combo guard, Jackson gets to the basket with regularity on offense. He has a nice combination of body control and explosiveness, and has some toughness in his DNA as well. Jackson plays larger than his height, and also showed improved lead guard skills.
Others that caught our eye:
- James Blackmon, 6′-2″, 2014, SG, Bishop Luers (IN)/Spiece Indy Heat
- Jordan Barnett, 6′-7″, 2014, SF, CBC (MO)/St. Louis Eagles
- Ed Simpson, 6′-4″, 2014, SG, St. Martin (MS)/Jackson Tigers
- Jalen Lindsay, 6′-7″, 2014, SF, Huntington Prep (WV)/Southern Stampede
- Tremaine Isabell, 6′-0″, 2014, PG, Lakeside (WA)/Seattle Rotary
- Montague Gill-Ceasar, 6′-6″, 2015, SF, Huntington Prep (WV)/CIA Bounce
- Luke Maye, 6′-8″, 2014, PF, Hough (NC)/Team United
- Tre Campbell, 6′-1″, 2014, PG, St. John’s (DC)/Team Takeover
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.