EYBL Louisville: 17U Standouts, Pt. I
LOUISVILLE—As a final entry into the spring 2022 AAU cycle, there wasn’t a better way to usher in the June high school period than with EYBL’s session in Louisville. Some teams made their push for a Peach Jam invitation in July while some maintained levels of dominance on the Nike circuit.
Plenty of players did the same. Some maintained their high status, and others used the weekend to elevate themselves in the eyes of evaluators. Today, I’ll begin my dive into the standout players from the 17U division that I got a chance to see.
At the heart of one of the more intriguing recruiting battles in recent memory is NJ Scholars guard DJ Wagner. With Kentucky and Louisville locked in the race for Wagner, EYBL Louisville saw a spectacle surrounding all of the Scholars’ games. Local basketball legends, current players, an army of media, and stands full of red and black swarmed whichever court Wagner was on. He didn’t let them down either.
Wagner is regarded as the best player in his class by some, and at the very least, he’s a consensus top-three player. The 6-foot-3 combo guard averaged 19 points per game and led the Scholars to a 4-1 record. Wagner showed off his well-rounded offensive game and especially thrived when attacking the basket. He’s long and crafty with the ball in his hands. Wagner routinely set the crowd abuzz with nifty drives to the basket.
Not limited to being a high-level scorer, Wagner racked up solid assist numbers and did his part on the glass when needed.
The uber-skilled 6-foot-9 forward reminded everyone why he’s among the top players in 2023 with a solid outing in Louisville. Buzelis was a player that you could set your watch by. In other words, he was as consistent as anyone. Hovering around the 15-point mark in every game, Buzelis led Expressions to a 4-1 record.
It’s not often that players can combine size and skill the way he can. Buzelis is an adept playmaker from the wing and handles the ball well enough to serve as a reliable option to serve as a secondary creator. He shoots the ball well enough from the perimeter to space the floor and opens things up for his teammates.
Arizona, Kentucky and UNC appear to be the frontrunners in his recruitment.
In terms of pure production from the point guard spot, I can’t say that I saw anyone better than Tylaur Johnson. He’s aggressive in his attack and uses his quickness to get to his spots on the floor. Johnson is a terrific scorer from all levels, but what impressed me the most was his passing. He’s a walking double-double because of how well he distributes the ball.
Johnson has received numerous offers from the Big East, and the fit makes total sense because of style of play and geographic location. From the greater NJ/NY area, Johnson embodies many of the tropes that we typically associate with Big East guards. He’s tough, he defends, and he brings some of that electricity that makes Madison Square Garden the place to be in early March during the league’s tournament.
If there was an MVP award given out at the end of the weekend, Royal would have certainly been among the frontrunners to win it. The 6-foot-6 forward was one of the most consistently great players in the building.
Royal showed off plenty of versatility on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he can fulfill a number of roles. Great around the basket, he can serve as a small-ball four-man that bangs down low. Royal is also a guy that can play out on the perimeter and make plays from the wing. He can put the ball on the floor and attack the basket well, and he’s a reliable shooter. On defense, Royal can guard multiple positions both inside and out. He can be a switchable guy at the next level.
Based out of Ohio, Royal is being recruited heavily by the Big Ten. Stylistically, he’d fit in well with the league because he has a strong frame that can handle the physicality of the league.
Mokan was the most dominant team of the weekend. They went 5-0 with four double-digit wins. The only game that was close was their first of the weekend, and they played it without Omaha Biliew.
He was without a doubt one of the best, most impactful players of the weekend. Biliew’s motor is constantly revved, and when you pair that with his strength and physicality, it spells trouble for his opponents. A consistent double-double threat, Biliew rebounds the ball tenaciously and scores the ball well. His perimeter game is rounding into form, and he looks to be adding plenty of consistency in terms of shooting and playmaking in that regard.
At the next level, Biliew will be able to defend multiple positions, and his effort and intensity will never be in question.