The coronavirus (COVID-19) has put sports on hold, but the Grind Session finished out their season and might be the only league at any level that was able to crown a champion. Here’s a rundown of some of the top players in the tournament over the week.
The Grind Session Awards
Jalen Green – Prolific Prep 2020
Daishen Nix – Trinity International 2020 (UCLA)
Offensive Player of the Year
LuCye Patterson – Minnesota Prep 2020
Most Improved Player
Jordan Nesbitt – St. Louis Christian 2021
Under the Radar Player of the Year
Kiran Oliver – PHHoenix Prep 2021
Defensive Player of the Year
Jabari Walker – Arizona Compass 2020
Coach of the Year
Peter Wehye – Our Saviour Lutheran
Jalen Green 6’5 175 SG – Prolific Prep 2020
Green was imperative to Prolific’s Championship run. With a blend of athletic finishes and 3PT shooting, he averaged 29.7 points per game at 48.3% FG% over their three full games. While his ball handling and passing still has room to improve, he’s noticeably gotten better in those areas over the season, making plays he probably wouldn’t have made last summer. His shooting has also improved, although I think he should look to take it in more as he made many impressive drives with his hang time and body control that other players in the class can’t match, he tends to settle for pull-ups at times. However, his 35.5% at 10.3 3PT attempts per game isn’t bad and it can’t be denied that when his shots are falling, there’s not much you can do when defending him, including a pair of clutch 3PTers in overtime against Central Pointe Christian. With Burnett off the ball, Green ran the point the majority of the time and averaged 4.7 assists to 3.7 turnovers per game. He got his hands on a lot defensively and his potential on both sides of the ball adds to his intrigue.
Nimari Burnett 6’3 185 PG – Prolific Prep 2020 (Texas Tech)
As always, Burnett had a great showing, scoring at all three levels. He played off the ball more than usual and displayed his scoring in the half-court without forcing his impact. In the three full games Prolific played, Burnett shot 54.2% 3PT% on eight attempts per game and averaged 26.3 points per game at 61.9% FG%. He scored off the dribble on both jump shots and to get to the rim, he used his floater when appropriate as well. He averaged 2.7 assists to 3 turnovers per game, but he’s shown in the multiple times I’ve seen him in the past, he can serve as a distributor as he’s an ideal combo guard. Burnett’s performed well in big games over his high school career and he closed it out in the same fashion, scoring 37 points (12-20 FG, 6-10 3PT, and 7-8 FT) as Prolific defeated Our Saviour Lutheran 95-80 to earn MVP of the Championship game.
Posh Alexander 5’11 180 PG – Our Saviour Lutheran 2020 (St. John’s)
Alexander was fantastic all week. Some areas he can improve is staying out of foul trouble; picking up fouls early and having to sit more than preferred, sometimes reaching in too much and picking up offensive fouls at other times, recording four fouls in game one and five fouls in game two. Another area is turnovers, losing the ball while forcing himself into the paint or off the mark with the pass; with seven turnovers in game one, five in game two, and four in game three. An area he drastically improved in is 3PT shooting, which was a glaring weakness in previous times I had seen him, as he dribbled into his shot with confidence and shot 13-28 3PT over the four games, which is much better than the 14-65 3PT (21.5% 3PT%) over the Nike EYBL last summer. Alexander excelled penetrating to the rim and was quick to recover nearly every loose ball. Although he was high in turnovers, he passed the ball well with 5.5 assists to his 4.3 turnovers per game, including ten assists in the game against Arizona Compass alone. Alexander scored 21 points in the 60-47 win against Veritas Prep, 28 points in the 87-65 win against Orangeville Prep, 23 points in the 79-67 victory over Arizona Compass, and 34 points in the 95-80 Championship loss to Prolific Prep. Alexander displayed leadership and great competitiveness all week, looking like the most underrated player in the 2020 class.
Jaquan Sanders 6’3 170 SG – Our Saviour Lutheran 2022
Sanders was up and done as far as consistency goes but he’s a talented sophomore. He’s not explosive but he’s a lights out shooter with ridiculous range, pulling up between half-court and the 3PT line with 29 seconds left on the shot clock to find the bottom of the net on one play. He has the green light to let it fly, although he was 10-35 3PT over the four games, he has to be guarded close within the half-court. The last two games hurt his percentage, where he shot 2-9 3PT in game three and 2-11 3PT in game four. Overall, he was a weapon for Our Saviour and displayed good passing as well, with 3.8 assists to two turnovers per game. Sanders scored eight points against Veritas Prep, 24 points against Orangeville Prep, ten points against Arizona Compass, and ten points against Prolific Prep. Sanders is definitely one to monitor over the next two years.
Jabari Walker 6’7 205 PF – Arizona Compass 2020
Walker started with a seven-point and eight rebound game in the 65-42 win against St. Louis Christian, but stepped it up in Compass’ next two games. He’s a good athlete, with numerous above the rim finishes and a versatile skillset on both ends, flashing perimeter game with ability to handle in spurts and although 3PT shooting wasn’t great (5-16 3PT), he showed fluid form. Walker was best finishing inside and attacking the rim. He scored 21 points (8-13 FG), six rebounds, two blocks, and three turnovers in the 81-70 second round win over Minnesota Prep, and 14 points (4-12 FG and 3-7 3PT) and 15 rebounds (seven offensive) in the 79-67 loss to Our Saviour Lutheran.
Seryee Lewis 6’8 200 PF – Arizona Compass 2020
Lewis benefitted from outhustling the defense, using cuts and rim runs for the majority of his baskets. He’s not a bad athlete, finishing with a few jams and used eurosteps to add some creativity on his layups. His scoring range is limited, and shooting isn’t a strong point in his game, going 5-16 FT and didn’t attempt a single 3PTer in his three games. Lewis finished with 12 points and eight rebounds against St. Louis Christian, 18 points (8-11 FG) against Minnesota Prep, and had a rough final game against Our Saviour Lutheran with three points and three turnovers.
Ty Ty Washington 6’2 180 PG – Arizona Compass 2021
Washington was very good off the dribble and under pressure; quick but patient, displaying good passing and court vision in both transition and the half-court. He’s not much of an above the rim finisher but his timing on his drives and ability to react to the defense allowed him to score in the paint. He showed ability to shoot from outside, going 7-16 3PT over three games, but he didn’t hunt for scoring opportunities. Washington finished with 16 points, eight assists, and four turnovers against St. Louis Christian; 17 points (10-12 FT), six assists, and two turnovers against Minnesota Prep; and 15 points, seven rebounds four assists, four steals, and three turnovers against Our Saviour New American.
Sadraque Nganga 6’10 210 SF/PF – Arizona Compass 2022
Only a sophomore, Nganga was one of the top prospects in the tournament. Although he didn’t have a high assist count, he passes the ball very well and can handle the ball, although he can improve when facing ball pressure. He shot the ball at a good rate (6-11 3PT) and as most high school sophomores, that should be an area he continues to improve upon as his career progresses. He’s a good athlete and very mobile but he’s not incredibly explosive off the ground and can improve lateral quickness, as he had trouble staying in from of Jordan Nesbitt at times. Overall, Nganga played well and was a big piece in Arizona Compass’ Final Four run. He ended with ten points (4-9 FG) and nine rebounds (three offensive) against St. Louis Christian; 11 points (2-3 FG, 6-8 FT) and nine rebounds against Minnesota Prep; and 23 points (8-12 FG, 4-6 FT) and nine rebounds (four offensive) against Our Saviour Lutheran.
Jadrian Tracey 6’5 190 SF – West Oaks Academy 2020
Tracey showed out in the tournament West Oaks forfeited in the Final Four. He opened with 19 points (8-21 FG), 11 rebounds, three assists, four steals, and six turnovers in the first-round win against Bella Vista Prep 67-62, but only shot 1-8 3PT. The next round, he finished with 21 points (8-14 FG) with a much more efficient 4-5 3PT, along with three rebounds, five assists, and four steals. He has a strong build and high-level athleticism that made him a handful on his drives. He competed on the defensive end as well. Tracey had a strong showing and played with the best of them, looking severely underrated nationally.
Isaiah Todd 6’10 210 PF – Word of God Christian Academy 2020 (Michigan)
Word of God played in two games and Todd scored 21 points in each of those games. His tools and talent give him intrigue as a high-level prospect. While he’s productive on the court, he can still improve in areas to maximize those tools and talent. His jump shot looks good, even his misses weren’t far off the mark, but he shot 3-11 3PT over the two games and he was too content for jump shots. While he has perimeter skills, he should look to post up more and try to get to the rim in general as he had the size advantage when he was on the floor. He had a few big dunks, including a reverse jam on the baseline that the defense couldn’t contest. Playing on the perimeter at the next levels, he can also improve as an initiator as he generally pulled up for a jump shot or took a straight line drive, passing out if it got cut off but didn’t show much wiggle or advanced reads with the ball. Defensively, he can lock in more but he’s versatile on that end as well. Todd scored 21 points (9-14 FG), six rebounds, and six turnovers in the 83-59 win against Core4. He followed up with 21 points (6-16 FG and 8-10 FT), eight rebounds, two blocks, and three turnovers in the loss to West Oaks Academy.
Ramses Melendez 6’5 190 SF – Central Pointe Christian 2021
Melendez provided shooting and scoring for Central Pointe. He’s a smart player and positions himself well on both ends. He was money as a 3PT shooter, shooting 6-10 3PT over the two games. Physically, he has some filling out to do, especially in the upper body but he competed until the very end in both of Central Pointe’s overtime games. Melendez finished with 14 points (4-8 FG) and six rebounds in the 84-81 overtime win against Trinity International, and 23 points (9-12 FG), five rebounds, two steals, two blocks, and three turnovers before fouling out of the double-overtime loss to Prolific Prep.
Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe 6’6 195 SF – Orangeville Prep 2020 (Oklahoma State)
Moncrieffe’s very athletic and talented but he’s still in the process of putting it together. He’s loose with the ball and doesn’t seem to know where he needs to be off the ball. There are definitely times he makes a nice play in the midst of sloppiness; making drives and dunks that shows why he’s a high-level prospect, then back to back travels at other times in the game. He didn’t show much jump shooting and missed all three 3PT attempts over Orangeville’s two games. Moncrieffe scored 12 points in the 66-56 win over Dream City Christian and ten points in the 87-65 loss to Our Saviour Lutheran.
LuCye Patterson 6’2 195 PG – Minnesota Prep 2020
Patterson’s a skilled combo guard with good strength who embraces contact and drew numerous fouls, shooting 6-10 FT in game one and 9-12 FT in game two. He’s a good ball handler and gets to his spots with his dribble. He’s very good in drive and kick situations and a solid passer overall. Although he wasn’t consistent, he has a nice jump shot but doesn’t have great size/length lacks explosive athleticism when finishing in the paint. He put up points but was very high-volume as a shooter; posting 12 points (3-13 FG and 0-4 3PT), four rebounds, five assists, and three turnovers in the 84-69 win over PHHoenix Prep and followed up with 24 points (6-23 FG and 3-11 3PT), seven rebounds (three offensive), seven assists, and three turnovers in the loss to Arizona Compass.
First Round Exits
Gethro Muscadin 6’10 215 C – Aspire Academy 2020 (Kansas)
With Muscadin injured earlier in the season, this was my first look at him. He’s strong and gets off the floor well when rebounding or blocking shots. He does have work on contesting shots, rather than swiping to get a block as he picked up some early fouls that sat him out much of the first half, allowing Core4 to get back into the game. He also showed a nice elevated jumper from midrange and knocked down a three with proper form. The Kansas commit showed nice mobility and threw down a jam in traffic for an and-one. I would have liked to see more of Muscadin but he only played in one game finishing with in the 62-56 loss to Core4.
Daishen Nix 6’4 195 PG – Trinity International 2020 (UCLA)
As usual, Nix was great with the ball; dribble-driving while changing pace/directions with his dribble then again with the last two steps of his layups with excellent body control. His shot wasn’t working for him, so he aggressively took it in to finish with multiple and-ones at different angles while using either hand, initiating contact and consistently being physical with the ball. Although he’s not real explosive, he’s quick to rebound his own misses and never quit on second chance points. As a ball-handler, he split the defense and made cross-court passes with either hand to find open shooters. Defensively, he stuck to the ball and had a few clean swipes as well as jumping passes. His timing on lead passes are second to none, hitting teammates in stride and finding them open under the basket even at times they don’t realize they’re open. Although Nix wasn’t shy to get to the foul line, he missed out on quite a few opportunities at the stripe late in the second half and overtime to eventually lose to Central Pointe Christian. Nix ended with 34 points, 16 rebounds (six offensive), nine assists, four steals, and four turnovers in Trinity’s only game.
Jordan Nesbitt 6’6 205 SF – St. Louis Christian Academy 2021
Nesbitt played hard and scored 28 points (8-22 FG) but came up short against Arizona Compass. He hit some tough threes in the face of the defense but shot 4-12 from 3PT for the game. He didn’t get a lot of clean looks, facing multiple defenders at times and he possesses the strength to handle contact. He passed well overall, finding the open man when the help defense came but finished with four assists to six turnovers.
Arthur Kaluma 6’7 190 SF/PF – Dream City Christian 2021
Kaluma makes some impressive plays at his size; shaking his man with the ball to pull-up into a jump shot on a few occasions, getting shifty, and using his go-to spin move. He finished with 12 points and nine rebounds (four offensive) in the loss to Orangeville Prep. He showed he can score inside and out, and can defend multiple positions as well. He can handle the ball and start the offense but finished with one assist to five turnovers in the loss.