It became quite evident during the 2015 Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions that the talent at the 16 and under level was off the charts. Our staff will look back at the top performers from the age group all week here on HoopSeen.com. Here’s our first round of player spotlights.
Deaundre Ballard, SG, Georgia Stars, 2017: With a combination of size and natural offense, Ballard was one of the most difficult players to defend in the 16 and under division. He was one of the best natural offensive players in the field and should be a no-brainer top 50 national prospect in the rising junior class. He has ideal high-major size and can fill up a scoreboard in a hurry. Ballard continues to terrorize defenses on the circuit. - JY
Devin Gilmore, SF, New Orleans Elite, 2017 (pictured above): I heard rave reviews of the long and athletic 6-foot-7 forward coming into the event and the flashes he showed lived up to the expectations. Many believe he’s the top rising junior in the Magnolia State and it would be hard to disagree with the natural abilities he has to work with. Gilmore was a tough player to match-up with at the 16 and under level. With a nice mix of size, athleticism and range, Gilmore will be a coveted player in the coming years for high major schools. - JY
Mario Haskett, PG, River City Reign, 2017: The Richmond, Virginia guard led his River City Reign team this weekend by carry the scoring load and being team's main distributor. His physicality at the guard position really allowed him to make plays across the board. I'd expect low-major-plus Division I programs to start knocking on the door. - KK
Ikey Obiagu, C, Georgia Stars, 2017: I’ve tossed around this thought for the last couple of months and after watching the 7-footer in action once again and changing the way teams play inside the paint, I’m not afraid of tossing this out there - Obiagu is the best shot-blocker I’ve ever covered. High praise, yes. But it is true. He’s better at this age than Greg Oden, Nerlens Noel and Anthony Davis. His timing is incredible and his length keeps the opposition out of the paint. At this level, he’s legitimately worth 10 points on defense. In between the semifinals and finals, Obiagu blocked 33 shots against some of the best teams in the field. Obiagu grades incredibly high on the unique scale. A strong summer could, and should, supplant him as a five-star prospect in the class of 2017. - JY
AJ Oliver, CG, Upward Stars Southeast, 2017: It’s easy to see that Oliver is the son of a coach and former college basketball players. He is very smart on the court, as he understands how to get himself open off cuts and screens. From a physical standpoint, he has great length for a shooting guard and he hits shots from the 3 and mid-range. USC Upstate is his only offer, but that won’t be the case for long. - GT
Evaluators: Kory Keys (KK), Garrett Tucker (GT), Justin Young (JY)