The things I think I liked from the 2023 Border League
LAS VEGAS, NV - The Border League delivered once again as the premier preseason event in the country. The nation's best found their way to Sin City and set the tone for what should be a major scholastic season ahead. Justin Young runs through the things he thinks he liked from this year's platform.
We’ve talked a lot about reclassification and reranking and reshuffling rankings. All of it warranted. All of it is totally fine and part of the ever-changing landscape of graduating years and the race to the NBA. What we didn’t talk about enough was just how good Cameron Boozer is and how consistent he is. The superstar from Miami is the most consistent producer in the class of 2025 and delivers without saying a self-serving word. He does the work. Boozer will be an elite college player. He’ll be a no-brainer pick in the NBA lottery. He should be an easy pick for a team when that day comes at the pro level. Maybe we take for granted his steady elite-ness. At the Border League, Boozer dominated the very impressive Prolific Prep lineup and did it to the tune of 25 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and the win. Any questions?
I have said to just about anyone who has ears that I think Derrion Reid of Grovetown and now Prolific Prep is the high school version of Kris Middleton. For Reid, the question seemed to always come up about his perimeter shooting. Reid was 6-12 from three against Harvard Westlake, Columbus and AZ Compass Prep. That question continues to get answered and the five-star Peach State stud just gets better and better. That part of his game that I liked the most? His passing. He’s an underrated passer.
It is Halloween season, baby. So, I wanted to find the closest thing to Jason Vorhees at the Border League. Future Arizona Wildcats Emmanuel Stephen certainly fit the bill. The 7-footer for Dream City Christian was a scary sight in the paint. He was true nightmare fuel for opposing big men. In a matter of a year, the big man from Nigeria has really made some big strides in his game. We’ve seen Tommy Lloyd help further develop some quality big men during his career. Stephen’s trajectory goes all the way to the top. Expect him to be wearing a very large NBA jersey in the near future.
Here at HoopSeen, we haven’t really peeled back all of the layers to the class of 2026 just yet. We’ve merely dabbled. What we’ve seen, so far, is really good. The more we see, the more we like. The top of the class, from our perspective, has a lot of wiggle room to play out. At this stage, I think I have a nice idea of what kind of filter I want to look at Junior County with. The 6-foot-5 guard from Utah Prep warrants some thought for the top 30 overall in the nation. He keeps getting better and better as an all-around guard. Offense is easy, as it is for so many of the best players, but the defense is what really caught my attention. He guards all over the floor. He guards with purpose and a great feel. I’m serious about that top 30 view with him.
The great measuring stick for point guards oftentimes is paragraphs like the one I wrote above. County looked awesome in large part because of the play of his teammate JJ Mandaquit. The native Hawaiin slows down the game and makes everything around him easy. His passing and understanding of where to be and how to get there gets teammates open looks and great positions. Mandaquit is one of the best in the nation when it comes to game control and putting his teammates in a position to succeed.
If you’re into futures - a popular thing here in Vegas - go ahead and lay down some on the long-term trajectory of Slim Rogers of Corona Centennial. The 6-foot-5 guard from the class of 2026 plays with a nice dose of confidence. That’s a requirement for Centennial guards. He has it. And he has that ‘it’ factor that good ones have. We saw some sharp shooting from the young man in this setting. He already has a profile with high-majors. We’re seeing him now in the phase of his game where he’s stacking up good event after good event.
Speaking of Corona Centennial and Arizona… I wonder if Carter Bryant watches a lot of Keegan Murray film. It wouldn't surprise me if he did. Bryant has a lot of traits of the current Sacramento King and former Iowa superstar. Bryant is a great shooting four-man who should be a super stud in Tucson. What a friggin' fun class Arizona is bringing in with the 2024 group.
Some of my best memories of Las Vegas youth basketball came in the mid-2000s when travel ball was really at a fun place. The Big Time lived up to its name. Bill Walker was an absolute menace on the rims. He was as electric of a player that I’ve seen at the youth level in my career. So, the flashbacks came flooding back when I watched Overtime Elite’s Jahki Howard. The springs, man, the springs! Howard is pure entertainment, man. He’s Walker approved.
I could watch 2026 guard Mikel Brown, Jr., handle the ball forever. He is so fast and so deliberate with the action that you forget he’s just a 2026 kid. He’ll have a big spotlight on him this season with Overtime Elite.
Right down the road from me here in metro Arizona is a fine, fine point guard in 2026’s Mason Magee. The sub 6-footer is young in age but he plays with a confidence that says he has years behind the wheel. Magee is an elite passer, and creator. He has a sniper scope on his teammates who go to the basket.