Thursday's News and Notes from the NBPA Top 100 Camp
Lake Buena Vista, FL—I’ve made it down to Orlando for the NBPA Top 100 Camp at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports at Disney World. This camp brings some of the top talent from around the country to the Sunshine State, and this year’s crop of players has certainly created plenty of talking points already.
Here are some notables from Thursday.
Estrella del Dia
JP Estrella was one of the stars of the day in my book. The 6-foot-11 forward showed off plenty of upside for the coaches and scouts adorning the sidelines. Estrella is a mobile big that runs the floor well. He showed off a well-rounded offensive game that expands across multiple levels. Around the basket, Estrella is effective with a bag of post moves combined with a bit of patience. He’s also shown that he’s comfortable stepping out and shooting from deep. Plenty of coaches were on hand to see Estrella, including Duke’s Jon Scheyer.
Familiar Faces Shine
Being based in Georgia, I’ve gotten to see a lot out of Wheeler High forward Arrinten Page and Newton High guard Stephon Castle.
Page’s development has been steady, and his efforts have come to fruition this spring as he’s taken off and become a national name. It’s outings like the one he had in Thursday’s morning session. Page did what he does best and punished the rim. Whether attacking off the dribble or serving as a target for guards to pass to, Page was assertive and looked to dunk everything. When he has that fire going, he’s hard to stop, and it showed via his 14-point outing.
Castle opened the afternoon session aggressively. Looking to get downhill, he was in attack mode and found success more often than not. The UConn commit played under control and dictated the flow of the game when he had the ball in his hands. If he wasn’t scoring, he was dishing the ball off with some nifty passes.
The Shooter of the Day
In a gym full of established shooters, the best one I saw on Thursday was 6-foot-7 Ashton Hardaway. He has a beautiful stroke, and whenever he lets it fly, it looks like it’s going in.
Misses didn’t happen too often though. The more likely outcome was that the ball found its way through the rim touching as little net as possible. When he gets to the next level, he’ll be the focal point of plenty of scouting reports.
Just don’t leave that guy open.
Blake Buchanan out of Idaho was one of the better, more productive big men I saw on Thursday. He’s a sturdy 6-foot-10 and employs a physical, tough style. Buchanan is a double-double machine that makes his presence known on the glass. He finished the morning with 12 and 10. At the next level, he could be a high-level defender with his feel for the game and the physical tools he brings to the floor.
From a leadership perspective, I’m not sure that I saw anyone better than Ohio State commit George Washington III. Vocal on both ends of the floor, Washington noticeably took charge as the team’s captain. Of course, Washington showed off a bit of the 3-point shooting stroke that he’s known for.
Aaron Bradshaw continues to show why he’s one of the most sought-after prospects in the country. His defensive upside is obvious. For a 7-footer, his ability to initiate the break and put the ball on the floor is what impressed during Thursday’s games. Kentucky seems to be the favorite in regards to his recruitment, but Louisville—another perceived top contender—-also had coaches on hand to see Bradshaw.
Blue Cain had one of the best outings of anyone on Thursday. The Georgia Tech commit was productive in both games that I saw him play. He finished one with a double-double, and in the other, he finished with double-digit points. Cain’s shooting was on point, and he made several nice finishes at the rim.
One of my favorite prospects to watch is Omaha Biliew. His motor and intensity run high, and he checks a ton of boxes when he’s on the floor. Defense and rebounding are his calling cards. He’s going to be able to make an immediate impact at the next level based on those attributes alone. His ability to make plays happen off the bounce is special too. On Thursday, he made some drives to the basket that made me think, “only Omaha can do that.”
Jared McCain had a great morning on Thursday. He was deliberate when dissecting defenses and operated with surgical patience. McCain consistently looked to get his teammates involved, but when he elected to take control, he was able to convert creative finishes at the rim.
Bryson Tucker was one of the prospects that I hadn’t gotten a chance to see yet that impressed me. He’s capable of taking a game over with his multi-faceted offensive game. He scored it well on multiple levels. When Tucker is in attack mode, it looks a little different than most. He’s comfortable with driving into the paint and backing someone down when he gets there. He has a nice pull-up, mid-range jumper and has a slithery style that allows him to evade defenders when going towards the basket.