Some more top performers from the Top 20 all star game in Pt. 2 of our report:
Justin Winston 6’8” ’19 Putnam Science Academy (Putnam, CT) – Winston just finished up a somewhat standout career at Immaculate Conception HS in Jersey but despite his obvious talent he didn’t generate the kind of interest he wanted and decided to head to Putnam Science to strengthen his resume. If his play in the top 20 game is any indication of his desire to improve his stock and prove any detractors wrong well mission accomplished. In earning game MVP honors he led all scorers with 21pts while adding 5reb and he did it with some swagger. He got inside hitting a few lay ups off of spin moves that were pleasing to watch and on one play he had a great head fake that froze his defender and left him no recourse but to foul him as Winston darted past and thru the contact of the obvious push he somehow kept his wits about him long enough to steady himself to flip up a shot that banked in off the window for the and 1 and the did you see that looks from those in attendance. During the second half he got into a man to man matchup with 6’7” ’20 Justin Lewis that was quite entertaining and he at one point tricked up his younger opponent by starting a drive with his left hand then stopping on a dime and hitting a step back three ball. Conditioning seemed to be an issue for him at times in the past but he looked in great shape here and I think this year of prep will do him good as he looks to refine his overall game.
Zach Crisler 6’9” ’19 LaSalle College HS (Wyndmoor, PA) – One of Crisler’s skills that I think he under utilizes is his perimeter jump shot which is really good but at times he seems reluctant to shoot it. Well today was a different story as he came out and knocked down his first two three point shots with that smooth form and feathery touch. He was a big reason that his squad had a big lead early getting 10 of his 14pts in the first half. Of course this was an all star game and the fortunes can change from minute to minute but his play was refreshing as he ran the floor well calling for the ball and finishing the opportunities he was given. He needs to improve his ball handling as far as putting it on the floor is concerned but he is quite the passer from the high post and he made several nice decisions with the ball leading to assists as he found open teammates for scores. He also does a good job rebounding the ball getting 5 in the contest and he’s no slouch defensively with his ability to block shots and defend the interior. Big challenges are ahead for him as he will be playing for a new coach at LaSalle and maybe a new system as well but if he’s willing to not hesitate in shooting the rock I think it will go a long way in improving his stock for the college level.
John Bol Ajak 6’10” ’19 Westtown School (West Chester, PA) – If one word would be used to describe Bol Ajak it would be ‘Active’. Not always productive he is always active and his hustle while not always generating stats for him is somewhat contagious to his teammates and that was certainly the case here as he finished this all star scrum with 7pts 8reb 3blks and lots of inspiration for his fellow team members as he constantly went after loose balls keeping them in play while sacrificing his body to do so. Last season at the Church Farm School he started to develop some selfish traits on an offensively challenged team and he became a ball dominant player in the games I viewed which seemed out of character for him based on what I saw in his Frosh/Soph years there. He has shown some good court sense and an ability to pass the ball with purpose but his ball handling is suspect and an area he needs to work on. He’s an excellent shot blocker and tenacious on the glass and he did these well in this contest. He still has a ways to go as a player but the finished product has some intriguing possibilities as he enters this coming season at a new school with a new coach and teammates and we’ll just have to see how this plays out for him.
Scottie Lewis 6’6” ’19 Ranney School (Tinton Falls, NJ) – I have always thought that his HS & AAU teammate 6’6” Bryan Antoine was the better scorer of the two but Scottie was the more well rounded player that puts team first and individual stats second which is not a knock on Antoine but just an observation. In this contest Lewis led his team with 15pts while getting 3 each of rebounds and assists which is not surprising. He played very unselfish from the start and took advantage of the opportunities he was given without forcing the action at any juncture of the contest. He is a very adept passer getting the ball to his teammates when he sees even the slightest opening. He’s also a really good rebounder who has great timing when looking to corral missed shots and a quick burst leap to get up over the rim for a put back slam of which he had a really crowd pleasing one in the contest. He can handle the ball in any situation and from a defensive standpoint he engages on that end of the floor with keen instincts to pick off lazy passes and quick hands to strip unsuspecting opponents. I will say that Lewis and Antoine seem to compliment each other very well so you might want to check them out this coming season as they may be heading their separate ways for college.
Zach Freemantle 6’8” ’19 Bergen Catholic HS (Oradell, NJ) – Freemantle has been a revelation this spring and summer with a relentless and aggressive style of play in the paint that endears you to college coaches and with that has come an uptick in his recruitment as well. I originally thought he would be a low major prospect but his play has obviously raised the stakes here and he continued to impress with a 10pts 7reb 2blks outing in the top 20 all star tilt. His board work is what attracted me to his potential as he is relentless going after missed attempts on both ends of the floor. He has good timing and uses his body well to box his man out. He’s also more athletic than he seems as he not only can get up for boards but he can also block shots with good instincts and great timing. He can run the flor and while not the ideal guy to handle the ball he possesses decent hands to catch the ball in a crowd and the wherewithal to get it to an open teammate in the flow of the game. He has nice touch around the basket and his footwork has improved immensely allowing him to make solid moves in the paint and finish thru contact if need be. It will be interesting to follow his recruitment as he has certainly earned a chance to play at a HM school.
Marcus Dockery 6’2” ’20 Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, VA) – As one of only two 2020 players in the game Dockery validated his selection to this game with a very solid 14pts 4reb 2asts effort in his squads two point loss. From an offensive vantage point this young man has proven multi-faceted in that he can drill jumpers with a well balanced shot with range to the arc (he had 2 treys) or he can put it on the floor and with slick dribble drive moves can score it inside. He plays the angles well and if a defender leaves an opening Dockery will take it thank you very much. He also has shown that he knows when to pull up and dish the ball instead of forcing himself into an untenable situation. He has good floor vision and can get the ball to teammates in positions where they can make plays and he balances the two skills to produce points for his team. He has some work to do on the defensive end but a lot of kids are in the same boat and with 2 more seasons of HS ball and another go round on the circuit no matter what that will look like moving forward in the NCAA’s brave new world ha will have the chance to tighten up his entire package of skills to maximize his potential landing spot in college.
Justin Lewis 6’7” ’20 Polytechnic HS (Baltimore, MD) – In that 2nd half skirmish with Justin Winston it’d be safe to assume that Lewis came out of it on the short end but I think he raised his stock a bit because he was giving up 2 years in age but refused to back down and probably learned a thing or two which will help in his future development. As I pointed out there were only two 2020’s in the game and both acquitted themselves well in a tough two point loss. Lewis finished with 13pts 4reb scoring most oft them in or around the hole. He has decent touch in the paint and his footwork and body control are improving quite nicely. He is a very good rebounder who uses his sturdy frame to his advantage on both ends of the court. He definitely could use some improvement as a passer from the top of the key as he seldom looks inside preferring to pass to the perimeter instead and as a ball handler he’s ok for one or two dribble bursts before getting rid of the ball. These are all fixable considering that I saw him handle quite a bit as a frosh at Pangos Frosh/Soph camp and he did it well. As a defender I like his moxie in taking on any opponent thrown at him and while Winston did score on him I think he was caught up in the moment as he fell too easily for the assortment of head and ball fakes that he had in his arsenal. Lewis is a HM prospect no doubt and he just has to iron out the kinks in his game to reach his full potential.
Qudus Wahab 6’11” ’19 Flint Hill Prep (Oakton, VA) – This young man has come a long way in the last two years and it shows in the caliber of schools showing interest in him and he capped it off here with a workmanlike 12pts 6reb 3blks stat line combined with the fact that he went at it vs. John Bol Ajak. The day ended up a mixed bag for him though as he lost his final camp game in the morning then got beat in the all star game by a deuce in the afternoon despite putting up decent numbers in each contest. On the whole Wahab probably would have preferred less production to getting a couple W’s don’t you think. He is adept at scoring down low with ever improving touch and his footwork has definitely improved to the point that most teams routinely double him in the post so to combat that he has developed a jumper which is starting to become a real weapon out to 15 feet and he has really worked hard to knock down shots off the baseline. He has become a more proficient passer especially from the high post but he still struggles a bit if forced to put the ball on the floor for any reason. No matter what the game has evolved into a player like Wahab can always be valuable as he can dominate on the glass getting boards and blocking or altering shots in the paint as a kind of pick your poison conundrum. I have certainly seen great strides in his development this year and I like his upside at the next level. This concludes our coverage of the Hoop Group Elite amp session II.