Elite Preview: Three things learned
The Elite Preview brought in some of the best from the Peach State and others from the surrounding states on Saturday. The go-to camp prior to the commencement of the travel season, some of the very best have suited up at it in past years along the lines of Jaylen Brown, Daniel Giddens, and Malik Beasley. A jam packed day with premier talent and budding potential was again on hand and with it, there were a few things learned along the way.
COULD GEORGIA STARS REPEAT?
That is, could the Georgia Stars 17-under squad win the Nike Peach Jam this summer, again? While it will be a totally different team compared to last year’s group featuring the likes of Udoka Azubuike, Trent Forrest, Jared Harper,and Brandon Robinson, the talent is still there and it was on full display on Saturday at The Elite Preview.
Since the Nike realm went to the 40-team EYBL season, not one program has repeated as the champion of the famed event. This could be the year that it all changes. Headlined by Ikey Obiagu, the 7-footer showed off his elite shot blocking skills on Saturday along with an improving back to the rim game and a go-to hook over his left shoulder. Add in the fact that they picked up one of the sturdiest, more polished big men in 6-foot-9 junior Garrison Brooks, who competed on each possession and cleaned the glass in Suwanee, and the duo should create major problems this summer. Bebe Iyiola then finds fit as an instant energy giver with a prospering skillset as he converted on a few face-up jumpers from the high-post throughout the day but it is his rim-running and activity on the glass that allows for him to contribute the most.
Davion Mitchell was a star this past weekend and the fact that Auburn solidified its backcourt with the electric, competitive lead guard so early, it looks to be quite the impressive haul. Mitchell is an absolute killer and an alpha-male type and is the head of the snake for the squad. Give Mitchell his partner in crime, that is Chuma Okeke, the do-it-all forward who can play the 1-4 at points throughout any given contests, and this squad is one to keep an eye on. The wildcards to it all is Jamie and Danny Lewis, two brothers out of the Westlake program. The former is a member of the 2018 class and one of the best lead guards within his class nationally. The latter is more of a jump shooter off the catch but over the weekend was able to display an improved skillset in creating for himself and others off of the hard attack to the basket.
Throw all these names together, a few others that will and should play their roles appropriately, and what you have is a premier threat as one of the best travel teams in all of America once again this summer.
MYREON JONES ESCAPES FROM THE ABYSS
We have continued to speak on the crazy amounts of talent that are coming out of the state of Alabama. Known as a football state on the college level, Avery Johnson and Bruce Pearl have been doing their very best to turn their own respective programs around and while both men are great at their craft, it should be noted that they walked into a state chock full of upcoming talent which should allow for the reclamation process to go a lot quicker than originally thought. On Saturday, another prospect entered the fray from the state, this one coming by the name of Myreon Jones.
A 6-foot-2 guard who can play both on and off the ball and with a feel for the game that is already extremely polished, Jones really impressed. He shot the ball and scored with efficiency from each level on the floor and while he is far from filled out physically, Jones didn’t back down from physical play in closer proximity to the basket. What really jumped out about the Alabama native was just how patient he was in the half-court setting. He allowed plays to happen before making the appropriate pass or drive and seemed to make every decision that you would want out of your point guard. A relative unknown by most coming into the camp and even by those within the college realm, expect for the Birmingham Storm product to blossom this summer as he should bring in a bevy of college offers as a member of the 2018 class.
It is crazy just how productive you can be if you just play hard. Furthermore, it is crazy just how much you can impress by giving it your all on each possession. I came to The Elite Preview excited to see the likes of Okeke, Obiagu, Brooks, Mitchell, and several others. While all impressed in their own way, it was a few others that jumped out to and not just because of their ball skills, but more through just how hard they played on the hardwood.
Zach Cooks may be on the smaller side of things, but man, does the kid play his butt off! A product of the Berkmar basketball program, Cooks is a lightning bolt with the ball in his hands. He is neatly impossible from keeping out of the lane and really stood out with his energy levels on Saturday.
Haven’t heard of Christian Brown? Better learn about him ASAP because the South Carolina native has a developing skillset and a super long body but what really stood out about the 6-foot-5 wing was his ability to grasp every 50-50 ball that he was around and also defend various spots on the floor, making him an entertaining prospect to keep track of.
Speaking back on Bebe Iyiola, no one ran the floor better from rim to rim and competed on each possession than the 6-foot-8 forward. An instant energy giver who isn’t afraid to fight it out down low for positioning or the loose ball, Iyiola impressed with how hard he played and the fact that he can score now with his back to the basket.
Lastly, it was Brian Thomas that really stood out as a guy that I had never heard of prior to Saturday. While he is a bit undersized at the 5-spot, the long-armed junior is a tremendous shot blocker. Not only can he change your shot when guarding the ball, he may be actually be at his best coming out of the helpside and in tracking down shots in the open floor. He had a number of swats and with either hand that took place atop of the box on the backboard and with the grades to top it all off, Thomas was a fine, energy filled big man with an impressive egoless playing style that was showcased in Suwanee.