Make no mistake about it, the talent at The St. James NIBC Invitational was as good as we are going to get in the patchwork season of 2020-2021 prep hoops. Even with such a wild schedule of events, this platform brought together some of the best teams we have in scholastic basketball. The stars, to no one’s surprise, shined.
Let’s take a deeper look at our Top Overall Performers. Here is Part II.
RELATED: Part I
If it possible to be a top 40 national prospect and still be a riser? Yes. Dailey certainly is. With regards to the 2022 class, I think we are at the part of the prospect development calendar where consistency needs to pair with upside. That’s where I’m at, at least. Dailey has always made things happen when I’ve watched him whether it was with IMG or in the USA Basketball setting.
On this stage, Dailey proved himself as a versatile forward who can really own a stage on the defensive end of the floor.
I wrote this after watching him play a role in IMG’s run to the Border League championship back in the fall:
“The strong-bodied wing just gets the job done and will guard with physicality. There are guys who play professional basketball that play this way and play for a long time.”
The more I watch him, the stronger I feel about that. I’m contemplating moving him into our top 25 - the All-American range - for the class of 2022. I think an upward tick is warranted.
It was a really good showing from the future Kentucky guard at The St. James NIBC Invitational. Over the course of seven games, the Seattle native posted 16.9 points (averaging three made three-pointers a game) and 5.7 assists a contest. Hickman was one of the top shooters in the field.
Some of his best games came against the best teams. Hickman plays with a confidence that not too many point guards in the class of 2021 have nationally. He’ll probably tell you his turnover ratio was higher than he would have liked but he always was trying to make plays to help his team win on the big stage.
As the narrative goes on about the Big Blue Nation and the season Kentucky is having this year, and even moving forward, a guy like Hickman is necessary for sustainable success at that level. Hickman is a great glue guy who can be a big game go-to option. That skill is cultivated on stages like this one.
There is no doubt that the Montverde team is stacked with talent. There is a reason they are the No. 1 team in the nation. Balancing and managing talent as a point guard is a harder task than it may seem. Spreading the love amongst a roster full of high-major players takes a special kind of decision-maker. Nembhard was outstanding that role.
His value doesn’t show up as a scorer. He’s not going to burn a defense as a drop dead shooter or an athletic rim attacker. Instead, he systematically carves up a defense with his smarts and decision-making. Paired up against IMG in the premier game of the high school season, Nembhard was awesome Just awesome.
He averaged 6.1 assists a game stretched out over seven contests. When the right play was needed, Nembhard delivered. As you look at Creighton’s incoming class - it’s loaded and one of the best overall in the 2021 class - he’s going to pair so nicely with the likes of TyTy Washington. That’s a scary 1-2 punch to guard.
If you’re looking for a riser in the class of 2022 nationally, Ward certainly made a case for him being one of those chart climbers.
The long and lean forward can stretch the floor and make a defense come out to the wing and guard him. He was a threat from three and his catch and shoot ability was his best strength.
Ward is a good passer and long enough to be a good to great defender on the wing. Physically he isn’t the strongest guy on the floor but his effort is there and he’s not afraid to mix it up.
He runs the floor well and jumps into passing lanes quickly. His length is a strength on the defensive end of the floor. Ward showed that he can covert off a two-dribble pull-up. There were buckets made at all three levels from Ward in this setting. It will be interesting to see him develop his overall skill set moving forward. That’s why his recruitment is high-major across the board.