By Darnell “Tate” Johnson
I purposely waited a few weeks after the conclusion of the NBPA Top 100 Camp to release my evaluations so the dust could clear after the NBA Draft and Free Agency. I want people to understand that this is my opinion, not a pool of others, based on NBA potential, and not based on high school accomplishments or college projections. My evaluations are based on potential, heart, I.Q and durability. I don’t care about internet rankings or which teams have offered who. The short list below are my opinion of a number of kids with the best long term potential and how they performed.
Paolo Banchero 6’9 PF/C 235 (O’Dea High) Seattle WA (2021)
When he graduates high school, he projects to be one of the most NBA ready big men in years. He already has an NBA ready body along with physicality. He’s one of the most patient big men I’ve seen in a while. He plays with the I.Q of a point guard. His foot work is outstanding and he never seems to be in a rush. He can shoot at all three levels but he plays within himself and doesn’t live around the 3 point line. He has decent athleticism, which allows him to switch on the high screen and roll and make him not look like he’s lost on a island. I’ve been following him over the last 3 years and his game seems to just keep improving. He’s a very good post defender that plays by position, but not a great shot blocker. At 6’7, he was an option QB on one of the best football teams in the country. That attributed to the advancement of his game. If he’s not a top 3 pick by the time he enters the draft (2022), I will be highly surprised.
BJ Boston 6’7 WF 175 (Norcross High) Peachtree Corners, GA (2020)
BJ came in the camp with a lot of fanfare and you could tell in the beginning he pressed a little to live up to the hype. Once he gathered himself, he showed why he’s considered one of the top players at his position and definitely one of the most polished in the country. He has NBA range and shoots it with ease. He handles the ball well for his position. He has very good court vision and when he plays within himself, I love his decision making. He definitely makes teammates better. He has sneaky athleticism and will make you pay if your caught slipping. What makes him really special is on the defensive end, where he can guard at least 3 positions. His quick feet and long wingspan definitely cause defenders problems. When he gets stronger, his game will take another leap.
Devin Askew 6’3 PG 210 (Mater Dei) Costa Mesa, CA (2021)
He’s a very poised PG that can also move over and play the SG position. When running the team, he can rattle off 10 points with ease or drop 4 to 5 dimes in a row. He lets the flow of the game dictate how he plays. He plays way beyond his years. He showed the ability to absorb and finish with contact with ease. If you guard him with your hands down, he will definitely make you pay. His offensive skill set has NBA all over it. In transition he stays in attack mode and puts constant pressure on the defense. He can at times get loose with the ball and needs to play defense with more consistency.
Bryce Thompson 6’5 180 SG (Booker T Washington High) Tulsa, OK (2020)
He’s as complete a player to come out of Oklahoma in years, probably since Blake Griffin. He’s your prototypical NBA shooting guard. When he gets it going, he’s almost unstoppable. He can put it on the floor and come off the screen, both with great efficiency. I like the way he handles the ball for his position. He’s very selective with his shot. He showed he can consistently knock down the mid-range pull-up. He’s a very good defender when he decides to buckle down and play defense. Adding consistency will be key.
Chet Holgren 7’1 C 190 (Minnehaha Academy) Minneapolis, MN (2021)
This may be one of the most unique evaluations I’ve ever done. First and foremost, this kid doesn’t look anywhere close to how he plays. Some people say he’s a unicorn and i cant argue with that assessment. He’s 7’1 and 190 pounds soaking wet. He plays with defensive intensity of a Kevin Garnett, but with very little emotion. It’s been since Anthony Davis in high school, have I seen as slightly a built big man be this intimidating in the post. His shot blocking timing is impeccable. Offensively he’s as skilled as they come at 7′. He takes it off the glass and leads the break. He can cross you over and shoot off the dribble. He’s great at the pick and pop and he has very good footwork when his back is to the basket. To top it all off he plays with an edge to his game. If he was a foreigner, we be talking about a top 3 pick in the NBA draft.
RJ Davis 6’0 PG 161 (Archbishop Stepinac) White Plains, NY (2020)
He may be the most underrated point guard in the country. I’ve seen every PG in the class of 2020 play and I would stack him up favorably to all of them. He’s very poised and plays with a lot of patience. He also has three gears and can be explosive. During the entire camp I didn’t see one player that could stay in front of him. He can shoot off the bounce or play off the high screen and roll. I watched him play once where it called for him to get major buckets and he did that and I also watched him play where it was important that he get his teammates involved and he accomplished that. He was tenacious on defense and made it hard for the opposing guard to bring it up the floor. I didnt see any major deficiencies in his game all weekend. Of course with him being 6′, you would like for him to be taller, but that doesn’t deter me from recognizing his talent. Also it should be noted he led his team to the championship.
Jalen Johnson 6’8 SF/PF 215 (Nicolet High) Glendale, WI (2020)
You cant deny his talent and his basketball I.Q. He came with a target on his back and it was definitely hard at times to live up to it. You have people calling him a PG and that’s just not his position. He’s more of the new wave NBA stretch 4. He plays facing the basket and at the four offensively he’s a defensive nightmare. He handles well enough to go by most fours and he shoots well enough if given room to make you pay. For his position he’s an excellent ball handler and passer. He definitely can rebound and lead the break with ease. My main concerns are on the defensive end and playing his future PF position, which will be the one he’s likely going to be most comfortable guarding.
Maddy Sissoko 6’11 C 230 (Wasatch Academy) Orem, UT (2020)
From the start of camp he bought more energy then any other camper. He was tenacious on the boards and on the defensive end. He was very good on the high screen and roll when caught on the switch. I was impressed how he guarded the perimeter players. He was terrific running the floor on the break and finishing. He sets great picks and knows how to roll off them. If he can get his offense skills to decent before he enters the draft, I could see him floating around the lottery.
Joe Bamisile 6’5 SG 195 (Monacan High) Monacan, VA (2020)
Similar to four years ago when we added a last minute edition and he went on to be drafted number four in this years draft (DeAndre Hunter). I get the same type of late bloomer vibe with this young man. Now I’m not saying he will become the number 4 pick in the draft, but he has plenty of talent left to develop. He hasn’t played on a major circuit and that may knock him with some prep rankings but that has no bearing on what I see. He has future pro written all over him. He has NBA size at 6’5 and is an incredible athlete. He didnt come into the camp with any attitude because he was a late addition, he just played with bad intentions. With numerous players shutting down because of “ghost injuries”, he just kept impressing with his desire and intensity. He can score from all 3 levels, and is most effective when playing down hill. For how aggressive he plays, he’s very unselfish. He was definitely one of the better on ball defenders all week. This young man hasn’t yet scratched the surface of his potential.
Patrick Baldwin 6’9 SF 200 (Hamilton High) Sussex, WI (2021)
It’s clear that Patrick projects as a future lottery pick and a sure fire pro and showed flashes this weekend. But I came away disappointed in his intensity and his ability to play with guys he’s never played with before. He lacked aggressiveness. He had one very impressive game all week that showed all his skills and that was the first game of the camp. In that game he was dominant offensively and solid on the defensive end. But he needs to learn to bring that type of intensity every time out if he’s going to fulfill his potential.
Cameron Thomas 6’4 SG 185 (Oak Hill Academy) Chesapeake, VA (2020)
He left early, but before he left he was probably the most consistent scorer in camp. When doing NBA evaluations, commitment is a very big factor. He mentioned that Kobe Bryant is his idol. Well Kobe competed every opportunity he could. Kobe wouldn’t have left camp early without attempting to win the event championship. Hopefully Cam will learn to value his opportunities.
Day'Ron Sharpe 6’9 PF 246 (South Central High) Greenville, NC (2020)
He’s another player that played very well most the week but left before the conclusion of camp. I feel talentwise NC got another special one. He shows tremendous upside. He showed he knows what he’s doing when his back to the basket and really showed good footwork. I liked his aggressiveness on both ends on the boards. I just wonder is he too content or is he really working towards being a potential lottery pick?
Makur Maker 7’0 C 235 (Orange Lutheran High) Yoruba linda, CA (2020)
He came in with a lot of fanfare off of one of the hottest springs in a while. He definitely passes the look test. He looked good in the scrimmage and the first game and then got injured. He showed good ball handling skills for his size and deep range. He plays with a lot of confidence.It was unfortunate he wasn;t able to stick around and show more.
Keon Johnson 6’7 SG 180 (Webb School) Shelbyville, TN (2020)
He looked like after the first game, he was on his way to competing for camp MVP. He was definitely one of the best two-way and complete players at the camp. It’s a shame he only has one game to show it.
MarJon Beauchamp 6’5 SG 175 (Rainier Beach) Seattle, WA (2020)
He had a very explosive first day and left a lot people raving about his play. But day two he struggled. He complained of a nagging injury, so perhaps that affected his performance. He has every skill you want from that guard position. He’s silky smooth and can make every shot. He has a lot of upside left to realize but the question remains how dedicated and focused he will be.