By Ian Powers
Deandre Ayton 7’0" 220 PF/C Nassau, Bahamas Balboa City 2017 -Ayton might be the most talked about and intriguing prospect in the country regardless of class and he was on his game again in Vegas. His athleticism and burgeoning skill level are at a point now where you shutter to think what he could become with just minimal development. His back to the basket game is not great, but most young big men don’t have polished back to the basket games. A 2 play stretch on Wednesday summed his upside up. On one play, he got the ball at the elbow from about 16 feet, faced his man up, took a right jab step to create some space and rose up and knocked down a textbook jumper. The next play he made a great pass to a teammate, who missed the layup. Ayton came out of nowhere and followed it with a right hand tip dunk where he got off the floor before anybody else realized where the ball was coming off. He is a very good area and out of area rebounder and runs the floor better than most bigs and some guards. To say the sky’s the limit is an understatement.
Skal Labissiere 6’11" 220 PF/C Port-Au-Prince, Haiti Evangelical Christian 2015- It was my first time seeing Labissiere in over a year and he was more impressive than he was the last time I saw him. He is very skilled and looks to be a guy who can play the 4 full time at the next level and beyond. He has great foot work and touch, both around the basket and away from the basket. He is a matchup nightmare because he is able to step out and shoot the ball and utilize his quickness and put the ball on the floor to get by other bigs. His length played a big factor in Vegas as he was able to cover up for defensive lapses by his teammates by blocking or altering shots. Labissiere is skilled enough that he can give you a few minutes a game at the small forward spot and not look out of place. The one area that seemed to give him problems were when he was being played by bigger, stronger opposition. He had a hard time establishing position and as a result had to settle for tougher shots further from the basket than he would like. He projects as a face up 4 man. Overall, he was highly impressive and has a great chance to be a pro.
Cody Riley 6’8" 242 SF/PF Chatsworth, CA Sierra Canyon 2017- This sophomore to be looked better in Vegas than any time prior. He showed a little bit of everything in leading his team to a near come from behind victory against Mac Irvin Fire. He rebounded on the defensive end and busted out with the dribble which would either lead to a bucket for himself or a teammate. When you see his pro body you automatically think power forward, but he has improved his handle enough to the point where him becoming a 3 full time is not out of the question. He shot the ball from deep, used his improved handle to get to the basket, rebounded on both ends and made plays for teammates. He had his ups and downs at Lebron earlier in the month, but he looked more at home with his AAU team and really showed himself to be an elite player in the 2017 class.
Lonzo Ball 6’5" 185 PG Chino Hills, CA Chino Hills 2016- The UCLA commit was outstanding in Vegas. Let’s get this out of the way. He is immensely talented and can get anywhere he wants on the floor. In Vegas he played off the ball more than he normally does and he showed himself just as capable of playing that role as he is with the ball in his hands as a point guard. He scored either by driving into the lane or by shooting it from deep. His passing ability is the best I have seen at the high school level since Jason Kidd. I’m not saying he will ever be that good, but his passing ability in certainly reminiscent. He has long arms and broad shoulders which should allow him to fill out his frame in time. The next step for him will be developing into a true point guard and learning how to run a team better. As he gets older and matures, that shouldn’t be an issue as he has a high IQ and seems to pick things up easy. UCLA is getting a good one in Ball.
Brandon Sampson 6’4" 175 SG Baton Rouge, LA Madison Prep 2015- The Louisiana native was a pleasant surprise last week in Vegas. I had not had a chance to see him at all this summer because he was out with a concussion, but he did not disappoint. He can do everything from facilitating to being a go to scorer for his team. He can play the 1,2, and 3 spots and play them equally well. His game is smooth and effortless. He was on from deep in the game I watched and made plays for his teammates. On the defensive end he can be really special. He has great lateral quickness and length to be disruptive on that end. He doesn’t always apply himself the way he should on that end of the floor. He is a versatile performer that can make a slick pass or get in the lane and sky over you for a dunk. If he’s engaged like he was in Vegas, he has all the makings of a pro. He recently cut his list to St. Johns, Cal, LSU, UCLA and USC.
Dwayne Bacon 6’6" 195 SF Lakeland, FL Oak Hill Academy 2015-This Floridian was very good in Vegas playing for his Showtime Ballers team. He can score the ball in a variety of ways. He has a strong body that can finish through contact at the rim. He also possesses a nice step back jumper. The thing that makes him an attractive prospect is the versatility that he shows. He can score in the open floor because of his athleticism but he can also break you down in the half court due to his very good handle. He has a tendency to take some bad shots and while he can make shots, his jumpshot still could stand to be more consistent. His release is a little low and that would help solidify his perimeter game if he can get that corrected. He plays hard and wants to win and poses matchup nightmares all over the floor for his opponents. His recruitment is heating up and it will be interesting to see where he ends up. Fit will be important for him to maximize his pro prospects.
Corey Sanders 6’2" 170 PG Lakeland, FL Kathleen 2015-Sanders is a pure floor general who is exciting to watch in the open floor. He has the ball on a string and can get in the lane at will for a score or a dish to a teammate. He is a high level athlete that can finish with dunks in traffic. He is capable of making shots out to 3, but that’s a part of his game that will have to improve for success at the next level. He plays downhill and puts a lot of pressure on the defense with his attacking style of play. He also shows flashes of being an good defender but is effort is not always consistent. At his size he will have to get a mid range game. At this stage of his development, he either gets to the rim or shoots it from deep and college defenses will make adjustments and force him to get a middle game. He has good size for the point guard at the college level and beyond but he has to be more consistent and iron some things out in his game to maximize his ability.
Kerwin Roach 6’3" 170 PG/SG Houston, TX North Shore 2015-Every year sleepers emerge at the end of the summer in Vegas and Roach was the one kid who had the gym buzzing. This kid is an electric athlete who can make plays at the rim in exciting fashion. He has a lightning quick first step that allow him to get by guys for finishes at the rim or plays for his teammates. He has a very good feel for the game and has the potential to be an excellent on ball defender. His playmaking ability is well above average and he is great in transition. He was everywhere on the floor in Vegas and was the most talked about kid in the gym Thursday night. He is in constant attack mode and with his quickness and athleticism, he is almost impossible to keep out of the lane. He is under ranked right now and has a huge upside going forward. His recruitment should see a huge surge based on his play in Vegas last week.
Asante Gist 5’11" 170 PG West Orange, NJ Roselle Catholic 2016-Gist plays in the shadow of top 20 guard Isaiah Briscoe at Roselle Catholic, but if his play in Vegas is any indication, that won’t be the case for long. He is a strongly built point guard who can get wherever he wants to get on the floor. He shoots the ball well enough to keep defenses honest. His ability to break down a defense is very good and it creates a lot of opportunities for his teammates to score the ball. He makes others around him better. He has a tendency to pick his spots a little too much and is not always in attack mode the way his talent suggest he should be. When he is attacking he can do whatever he wants, but too often he is not aggressive on the offensive end. In order to get to the next level as a prospect he will have to keep his foot on the gas at all times.
Justin Patton 6’10" 215 C Omaha, NE North 2015-Patton may end up being the biggest sleeper in the 2015 class. He can play and would probably be more highly regarded if not for the system employed by his AAU team. They rarely get him touches down on the box, but when they do, he usually puts the ball in the hole. He has great size and length and showed great touch around the basket. He has room to get bigger and is not the most explosive guy around, but the tools are there to possibly end up hearing his name called on draft night in the future. He is a Creighton commit and can end up being a major factor for them down the road.