It was another successful weekend with the annual Norman Parker Showcase. Georgia and the surrounding area brought their best talent to be showcased against some of the top teams the area had to offer.
Here’s a couple of things I learned over the course of the weekend…
BIG APRIL IN STORE FOR DANNY LEWIS
The Georgia Stars are known as one of the top programs in the country, as the 17U and 16U won Peach Jam last summer. Expect nothing less this year, as the Ryan Lewis’ Georgia Stars team will be one of the top teams in the EYBL circuit.
The Georgia Stars have a nice roster with a little bit of everything. Elite 2018 point guard Jamie Lewis and explosive combo guard and Auburn commit Davion Mitchell control the backcourt, while one of the nation’s premiere shot-blockers, Ikey Obiagu, controls the paint. Combo forward Chuma Okeke brings versatility and production.
However, the player that made a statement this weekend was 2017 shooting guard Danny Lewis – one who gets lost in the shuffle at times. Lewis, a 6-foot-4 sharpshooter, showcased his shooting ability and range each game. In fact, in a semi-final matchup against Stackhouse Elite, Lewis hit five 3’s and accounted for 17 of the Georgia Stars’ first 22 points in the first half. It was impressive, to say the least. In an era where more and more emphasis is coming to perimeter shooting behind the arc, Lewis is a player that could make a big jump during the April evaluation periods in the next few weeks. He already holds double-digit offers, but I’ll go out on a limb and say he will earn plenty of more soon. Keep an eye on him in April, high-major coaches.
COLLEGE COACHES: PULL UP A CHAIR AND CIRCLE THESE NAMES
A handful of prospects had good showings over the course of the event, but three guys distanced themselves and proved they need to be priority prospects for low and mid-major coaches during the live periods. And to make it more convenient, all three will be at the Atlanta Jam April 15-17 to open the evaluation period.
Upside, upside, upside. That’s the best way to describe 2017 Fayetteville (GA) Fayette County High School and ISBC forward Noah Gurley. The 6-foot-7 combo forward exploded onto the high school scene this year and looks primed for several scholarship offers to roll in. Gurley still has some work to do, but man, he looks promising. The long, wiry forward is skilled and can put the ball on the floor and shoot from the perimeter. He also caused problems on defense with his ability to tip passes. The best is yet to come for Gurley and I encourage all mid-major to take a peek at him Friday night on April 15th. Oh yeah, he has a 3.8 GPA, too.
2017 Warner Robins (GA) Veterans power forward Josh Linder played his tail off at the NPS, and, as expected, the results came. Playing with the Smyrna Stars, Linder was everywhere on floor. He scored at the rim, treated missed shots and loose ball as passes to him, and competed in all facets of the game. He was one of the prime reasons why the Smyrna Stars made a big run in bracket play. It was the best I had seen Linder play over the years, and he looks like a guy that is hungry for scholarship offers. Troy and Tennessee Tech have offered, but that number will skyrocket soon.
2017 Decatur (GA) Greenforest Christian Academy combo guard Justin Forrest is going to cause a lot of problems for college coaches one day. Head coaches will lose sleep on how to slow him down at the college level because he does so many things well. The explosive 6-foot-2 combo guard can score in bunches from the perimeter or slice through the defense and score at the rim. He also facilitated and showed the ability to find his teammates efficiently. Forrest is currently ranked No. 15 in our 2017 Georgia state rankings, and he backed that up this weekend. He has some low and mid-major offers, but he is definitely worthy of some mid-major plus looks, too.
REMEMBER THE NAME IN A FEW YEARS
Some prospects aren’t going to be immediate guys to watch for in the next few weeks, but three guys with different roads ahead of them are players to remember going forward.
TeShaun Hightower, a 2016 wing from Suwanee (GA) Collins Hill, will have to go the JUCO route this year. However, after a couple of years there, he could emerge as a high-major prospect, if not one of the top JUCO players in the country. The athletic 6-foot-3 wing was active and all over the place for the Atlanta Xpress 17U this weekend. He has great length, size, and athletic ability that allows him to slash through the defense and finish at the rim. On a team full of talented prospects, Hightower used his motor and athletic ability to differentiate himself from the rest. Remember the name.
I remember seeing 2019 Newton (GA) point guard Ashton Hagans for the first time at the Fall Preview last October. I thought he was good, no doubt. But wow, this kid has taken things to the next level over the course of a few months. The 6-foot-3 lead guard is a terrific passer in transition and knows when and how to get the ball to his teammates. He has a solid frame and excels at attacking the rim. In the 16U championship matchup against the Atlanta Xpress Sunday afternoon, Hagans didn’t back down from five-star wing Khavon Moore. It was an intense matchup and Hagans earned a lot of respect.
Georgia has already extended an early scholarship, while Mississippi State and other high-major schools are showing high interest. He’ll be a coveted point guard in a few years.
One of the pleasant surprises of the weekend was 2018 Birmingham (AL) Parker and B4U power forward Xavier Williams. The 6-foot-8 big man is skilled but still growing into his body. He’s still in an awkward stage, but if the light ever clicks, this guy has a chance to be a force. Williams already possesses a skill level that many players his size fail to have. He can put the ball on the floor, shoot from the perimeter, and block shots at the rim. However, the most impressive aspect of his game is his passing. He has great vision that led to several assists throughout the weekend.
KEEP AN EYE ON THE ATLANTA XPRESS 16U
Yes, the Atlanta Xpress program is always stocked with talented from top to bottom, but I took a liking to the 16U squad this weekend. Why? They have so many unique guys that can do a variety of things. There’s length and versatility from top to bottom with some really intriguing players.
2018 point forward Khavon Moore is already a nationally-known commodity as a five-star prospect, but there are several other players that make the team go. Isaiah Kelly, a skilled 2018 forward, brings refined game to the team, while Alabama products Emmanuel Littles and Anquavious Pollard bring length and athleticism. Nelson Phillips also showed some promising time from the perimeter.