The final event of the 2nd live period that I covered is the Summer Showdown at Jefferson University in Philly put on by Elevate Hoops. Here are some of the standout players at the event:
Nisheem McNeal-Wright 6’2” ’18 Team PYO (Ernest J Jordan Academy NC) – I first saw this young man while he attended Universal Audenried Charter in Philly and he was giving Philly Pub powerhouse Imhotep all they could handle. After a Prep year Nisheem came back for another go round with PYO in hopes of drumming up some college interest. This is a gritty won’t back down player who has a very good offensive skill package and plays with the intensity that college coaches love. In the two games I caught here at the Showdown he had 11pts in a low scoring 1 point PYO win then doubled that production with 22pts in a 6 point loss to a strong Sports U (NJ) squad. In both contests he got to the basket with strong dribble drive moves showing that toughness by making shots thru contact. His handle is pretty tight and this enables him to get where he wants to go on the floor without over dribbling. He has a reliable jump shot with range to the arc hitting 3 in the game against Sports U and he has good balance between driving and pulling up which makes it hard to guard him. His passing game is adequate but he is definitely more of a SG but he can dish the rock for assists. Defensively he will guard people using his strong frame to maneuver his man to his advantage on the perimeter then getting a little physical inside the painted area. One area that flustered me on Sunday was FT shooting (he hit 5 in each game) as he missed a few in crunch time which is unusual as he is generally a good shooter from the stripe. As of this writing it looks like Nisheem could be headed to a Juco in Texas to try and ignite his recruitment. This young man is a player who could definitely step on a college campus at the low 1 level and provide immediate help so we’ll see how this plays out for him down the line.
Naheem McLeod 7’3” ’19 Team PYO (Plymouth-Whitemarsh HS PA) – This has been a rough spring and summer for McLeod from a production standpoint as he has been frustrated by lack of touches and inconsistent play. Way back in April he had a bad outing vs. Philly Pride that I thought nothing of but as time past I saw or heard similar games from the big fella and it surprised me to say the least. While he is still a work in progress I kind of expected more from him especially going into his Sr. season. In two tilts here he again did not get the touches he should’ve finishing with 10pts In the 8a win over Olympus Elite (NJ). It should be noted that this was a typical 8a game in that nobody shot it very well and the final score of 43-42 certainly backed that up. In their afternoon matchup with Sports U in the event Semi’s he played up to his potential getting 16pts on an assortment of back to the basket moves, alley oop dunks and jump hooks and still didn’t get enough touches. You can say that being over 7 foot helps him but he is starting to move more fluidly in the post and he coordination is 100% better than it was when he was a Frosh. He has really good hands to catch the ball and he has the keen basketball instincts to reverse the ball vs. the double team or kick it to an open outside shooter when necessary. He rebounds the ball well and that can be attributed to his height for sure and as a defender he is no doubt a great rim protector who can block a ton of shots. He recently as of this writing announced his final 6 schools and they are LaSalle, Rhode Island, Penn St., VCU, Florida St. and Oregon so clearly they haven’t been scared off by his lackluster play in his last go round of grassroots hoops.
Deuce Turner 6’2” ’20 Team Final 2020 (Malvern Preparatory School PA) – Before this spring/summer season started I was told that Turner was looking to become more of a lead guard to compliment his offensive skillset and from what I’ve seen so far he’s about halfway there. This kid can score the basketball as everyone knows and he does it in a variety of ways. He can shoot from the perimeter with good range and his mechanics are top notch. He can shoot off the catch or create his own shot off the bounce and his handle and ability to change direction on the fly is a weapon unto itself. Play off him and he uses his outside game to beat you and play up and risk him putting it on the deck to get by you and create something. In his first game of the day he went for 21pts as the Final 16’s lost to DC Premier, who would go on to win the Under Armour championship in Vegas that week, by a score of 59-55. He was able to penetrate the lane for an assortment of pull up jumpers and straight to the basket drives to score mixing in 2 treys and caused a lot of issues with his speed. Passing the ball was an issue in this game as he tried to force the issue at times which led to missed possessions and turnovers which hurt in the close loss. In game two a showcase matchup with Philly Pride UAA 17’s he was off shooting the ball but he made plenty of solid passes and finishing with about 7asts in a 10 point loss. I would say at this point in time that as he enters his Jr. season he’s more 2 than 1 but that’s not a bad thing because he is more combo right now which plays into what the game has gravitated too in recent years.
Donta Scott 6’7” ’19 Philly Pride UAA (Imhotep Institute Charter PA) – My favorite player to watch in Philly’s 2019 class, which is really good by the way, Donta has had a great Grassroots season and I’ve run out of superlative’s to describe his play. Ok just kidding there but as Pride gets set to head to Vegas for the final live period they engaged in two more showcase games here at the Showdown after playing two yesterday at Spooky Nook. The results were predictably wins vs. NEBC-Philly and Team Final 2020 and Scott played well in both contests. He put up 22pts 2 treys in game 1 then getting 18pts in game 2 scoring with some pretty spin moves and putback slams in both outings mixed with the occasional deep ball. He can handle the ball and is a capable passer and he can speed the game up or slow it down at his leisure. Defensively he can defend multiple positions and is a lockdown guy in the open floor. He has narrowed his recruitment down to 10 schools with no timetable for a decision as of yet and his list includes 3 members of the Big 5 in Temple, LaSalle and St. Joe’s. they join the likes of South Carolina, Florida, Penn State, Ohio State, Seton Hall, Georgetown and Auburn. Next up for Donta will be scheduling visits around his preparation for the coming season.
John Wilson 6’0” ’20 Sports U (St. John’s College HS DC) – I get that some people will see that school next to his name and wonder how a NYC kid is now in DC and I just found out that he had left Abraham Lincoln in Brooklyn before this writing so I didn’t get a chance to ask him. But I think his frenetic game will excite folks in DC just as well. Wilson is a scoring PG in all facets as he can dart around the court using his solid handle to weave in and out of traffic then deliver pinpoint passes to cutting or stationary teammates in position to make something happen. He picks up on tendencies in his opponent then exploits them to make positive plays. His speed is a weapon that allows him to get to the basket for quick strike lay ups and while not considered a knockdown shooter can hit shots off the dribble or the catch out to the arc when he’s on. He had it all working today in leading Sports U to the 17u championship getting 16pts 3asts in the semi and finished with 12pts 6asts in the title game. Defensively he can terrorize opponents with his quickness and instincts to strip his man and start his own fast break. He’s a master at hiding behind teammates and pouncing when you let your guard down and he takes delight in striping big guys who after a defensive rebound get careless and bring the ball down where Wilson is waiting. In the semi he had at least 6stls many of them in that change of possession manner. With the move to DC in the immediate future we’ll check to see if the dynamics in his recruitment have changed at all.
Naim Miller 6’4” ’19 Rytes Warriors (Greater Beckley Christian School WV) – This Pittsburgh native has played well every time I’ve seen him so I wasn’t surprised when he lit up the scoreboard in a Showcase game vs. We R 1. This young man can shoot the basketball and he nailed 6 treys on his way to a 28 point effort. He hit shots from the wing and corners some off the catch and others with a defender in his grill. He is equally adept pulling up off the dribble and creating his shot and he can handle well enough to snake his way to the cup for driving lay ups. If you play him to just be a scorer you would be wise to note that he can pass the ball and while he may not excel in that facet of the game I’ve seen him make some really fine scoring passes to open teammates and he did it twice today in the game I viewed. He’s also a good defender using his angular frame to disrupt passing lanes and digging in to defend opposing ball handlers. His recruitment is mostly in the low to mid D-1 territory as Buffalo, Central Connecticut, Stony Brook, Canisius, Kent State and Youngstown St. have been in contact but Cincinnati, Rutgers and West Virginia have been poking around as well and we’ll see where that leads as the summer winds down.
Chereef Knox 6’6” ’19 We R 1 UAA (Imhotep Institute Charter HS) – Knox has been the glue guy for Imhotep the last two seasons doing the little things and dirty work necessary to win and doing it well I would say. He always plays hard without getting the fanfare of his more heralded teammates. But his contributions have not gone unnoticed by college coaches and he was at his hustling best in the game I caught at the Showdown. He is a primo rebounder going after missed shots like they were rare artifacts or something. He also is a really good defender which is not surprising if you’ve ever seen Imhotep play D. But today he was on fire hitting 6 treys in their win and leading the team with 20pts. His shot looks funky at times but he is working really hard to develop a credible perimeter shot to balance out his interior game which gets him plenty of scores on put backs and driving baskets. That outside shot will only enhance his recruitment as in college I wouldn’t expect him to play on the block. His ball handling and passing games are also showing marked improvement and while he is not the primary scorer for his teams I believe with continued hard work that he’ll make a fine secondary type guy at the next level. His recruitment has a wide range of schools interested in him like VCU, LaSalle, Northern Illinois, Florida International, Old Dominion, Rider, Quinnipiac, San Diego and St. Bonaventure and he now is in the process of setting up some official visits to narrow the field down as he prepares for his final go round of HS ball. This concludes our coverage of the Elevate Hoops Summer Showdown.