Player of the Week
Deandre Ayton 7’0 250 C – Hillcrest Prep 2017 (Arizona)
Ayton registered two big double-doubles over the past week. The first coming against Trinity with 26 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks. The second in the win over Aspire Academy with 21 points, 20 rebounds, and three blocks. Ayton’s been at the top for so long, he’s taking it a bit personal as most rankings have dropped him behind Michael Porter, who has been absolutely sensational this season. He recently retweeted his fan page tweet that said, “I am the Best Player in the Country, Period! Watch rest of this season…” while tagging recruiting analysts. Ayton is the most talented player in the country. There is no debating that. But seeing his name at 1 for so long seems to have undermined his desire and hunger to a degree. It would be nice to see Ayton finish the season with a chip on his shoulder and playing with something to prove.
It’s good to see the bigman showing some fire and emotion for being dropped to 2nd on many lists, including ours. Despite the numbers against Trinity, a team lacking any quality bigs, Ayton’s intensity level comes and goes. He hasn’t worked to improve his post game enough, and doesn’t seem to have anyone challenging him on a day to day basis. And he appears to be losing some of the fire and intensity that he showed earlier in his high school career. Despite the big statistical game in Napa against Trinity, he looked uninspired in the seond half, drawing criticism from onlookers for his lack of defensive intensity, and allowing a 25 point lead shrink to 6 (88-82) by the end. Granted, playing out a high school schedule as a dominant big can lead to complacency, due to the lack of competition.
His ability to knock down 3s with ease as a 7-foot elite athlete, will undoubtably keep him in the conversation to go first in 2018 and he’ll likely draw comparisons to Joel Embiid. But there is speculation that he may have difficulty gaining eligibility at Arizona. If he opts to sit out the season or go the China or Australia route, it is questionable whether he will develop as he could in college. If Ayton can develop a permanent chip on his shoulder, it will help his long term success immensely. He had just a subpar perfromance at last year’s Hoop Summit, so a dominant performance this year (in practices and the game) would be big in re-establishing himself at the top of the class.
LiAngelo Ball 6’5 220 SG – Chino Hills 2017 (UCLA)
Ball has been tremendous this year while scoring at a ridiculously high rate and Chino Hills continues to tack on the wins. He scored 49 points in three quarters of play against Rancho Cucamonga. Then he upped his previous scoring output with 52 points in the win over Damien. Ball would have a quiet game for himself with 32 points defeating Wasatch Academy. Although he’s not receiving attention from rankings, Ball has well established himself as one of high school basketball’s best shooters and scorers.
Chino Hills remains undefeated with three big wins over the week. They’re getting contribution from multiple teammates not just the Ball brothers. The first win coming against Rancho Cucamonga, Eli Scott posted 20 points and 21 rebounds, while LaMelo Ball added 23 points and ten assists. Scott would beat his previous performance with 29 points and 23 rebounds against Damien, while LaMelo would contribute with 29 points and Onyeka Okongwu with 17 points. The final win of the week came against Wasatch Academy. LaMelo would add 33 points and 15 assists. Scott would add another double-double with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Chino Hills’ success from last season has rolled over into this year. While losing projected top three pick, Lonzo Ball, they haven’t lost their rhythm.
Troy Brown 6’6 220 SG – Centennial 2017 (Oregon)
Brown led Centennial with two recent victories. The first dropping 34 points and 15 rebounds over Faith Lutheran. Then scoring 39 points against Shadow Ridge. Oregon’s incoming versatile guard was recently named to both McDonald’s All American Game and Jordan Brand Classic to finish his senior year.
Gary Trent Jr. 6’5 210 SG – Prolific Prep 2017 (Duke)
Trent averaged 33 points per game while coming away with three wins at the Crush in the Valley. His first 33 points came in the 99-39 blowout victory against Aspire Academy. Not the scoring eruption we’ve become used to against Trinity International with 21 points and six rebounds. His final game was his best yet where he scored 45 points and made all 16 free throws beating Balboa. He also added seven rebounds and three steals.
Collin Sexton 6’2 180 PG – Pebblebrook 2017 (Alabama)
Known for his scoring ability, Sexton looks to close out his high school career with a bang. He dropped 35 points, seven rebounds, and four assists defeating Wheeler. Then for senior night, he went off with 53 points while making 11 threes in the win over Campbell. Wheeler looks to get revenge in a rematch coming later in the week.
Nick Weatherspoon 6’1 175 PG – Velma Jackson 2017 (Mississippi State)
Weatherspoon has been playing well all year but had an exceptional week. Two of his standout games include 32 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals defeating East Side. Then following up with 43 points, eight rebounds, and six assists over Baldwyn. Weatherspoon wasn’t named to either All American All Star games but has made his case as a snub.
Tre Jones 6’1 175 PG – Apple Valley 2018
Coming off a hot week with a triple-double and a game winning buzzer beater last week, Jones managed to impress this week as well. The triple-double feature wasn’t a one-time occurrence as he posted 12 points, ten rebounds, ten assists, and two blocks in the win over Milwaukee Riverside. Then, scoring 22 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and seven assists to defeat Eastview in the next game. He closed out the week with 21 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, and seven steals over Eagan.
South Kent lost their last three games coming against Northfield Mt. Hermon, New Hampton, and Brewster Academy. Some of the scoring outputs coming from notable players include; Northfield Mt. Hermon’s Andrew Platek with 30 points, New Hampton’s Kimani Lawrence with 31 points, and Brewster Academy’s Thomas Allen with 21 points. South Kent will seek a rematch with New Hampton later in the week, while facing Hasahn French, who’s had a tremendous season, and Commonwealth Academy next week.
Under the Radar
Collin Gillespie 6’2 180 SG – Archbishop Wood Catholic 2017 (Villanova)
Gillespie had strong set of recent games. His performance in the win against Neumann-Goretti and Kentucky commit, Quade Green made some noise with 42 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. He had a quiet 15 points against Emmaus but contributed with six assists. His final game consisted of scoring 27 points to beat West Catholic. Gillespie is committed to play for reigning national champs, Villanova. The 6’2 guard provides ability to serve as a shooter or distributor, and he’s also comfortable with the ball in his hands to close out games.
Top 5 Versatile Prospects
1. Marvin Bagley 6’11 225 PF – Sierra Canyon 2018
Bagley shows intrigue with his athleticism and mobility as his height. He distributes the ball well and can score in the post as well as hit a three from outside. The junior forward can play at multiple spots on the floor and defend multiple positions.
2. Jarred Vanderbilt 6’8 215 SF – Victory Prep 2017 (Kentucky)
The point forward possesses speed and coordination. His shot is a concern but his passing and body movement resemble a guard at 6’9. He doesn’t quite possess the strength to defend the post but his height, length, and foot speed allow him to defend guards and forwards.
3. Kevin Knox 6’9 205 SF – Tampa Catholic 2017
Knox can score inside and out. He also shows some potential as a half court and transitional threat on offense. Very good coordination, ball handling, and shooting ability at his height allows him to play on the perimeter. The 6’10 forward has good size on the wing.
4. Billy Preston 6’10 240 PF – Oak Hill Academy 2017 (Kansas)
Preston may settle outside more than most would like but he’s a threat from everywhere within the half court. He can score in the post on one play while showing face up ability the very next. He needs some polish in both the perimeter and post but the foundation is there.
5. Simi Shittu 6’9 210 PF – Vermont Academy 2018
Shittu has the height, athleticism, and the strength of a grown man. His perimeter shooting needs improvement but he distributes well and shows ability as a leader in transition. In the half court he passes well out of the post and can muscle his way to the hoop on the low block. With the right development Shittu has the make up to be a big time player.