Upward Stars Upstate White
Starting things off, we look at a silky-smooth scorer that can get buckets whenever and wherever he wants, 6’4 Foster Bridges (2018). He’s a deceptively athletic wing with the ability to play with or without the ball, both extremely well. Opposing defenses cannot ignore Bridges; he rarely settles for shots and will go right at the rim, regardless of those in his way. He’s so smart and skilled, making it easy to create opportunities for teammates, which he frequently does. Bridges’ most intriguing asset is his intensity; he legitimately wants to destroy any opponent in his path to a win. Defensively, he has no issue covering either guard spot, as he possesses the necessary length to cause havoc on or off-ball. Bridges will continue to be a major offensive force and underrated defensive piece; he is definitely one to watch during this LIVE period.
Next, 6’1 Bradley Childers (2018) proved to be one of the most impressive all-around players on display throughout the showcase period. Childers’ game is the same as it has always been, but some guys just don’t get the proper appreciation until much later. At this point, it’s impossible to deny his unmatched relentlessness and motor; he is also one of the toughest players we’ve ever seen. Childers plays through contact and has incredible craftiness around the rim; he is way more athletic than meets the eye and isn’t afraid to rise up for dunks regularly. Offensively, Childers is a terrific three-level scorer with strong shot creation abilities, able to open up clean looks for himself or others in almost any circumstance. He plays under control with a high IQ and quality pace. Childers is a versatile defender that does anything possible to annoy and harass opponents; he can cover both guard positions extremely well but also has the ability to handle bigger forwards. A prospect with his two-way strengths can absolutely benefit a variety of DI programs; Childers will gather offers once coaches see how consistently hard he plays from game to game.
Upward Stars Southeast
The 2020 class has tremendous depth and it’s easy to find appeal when watching the loaded Upward Stars Southeast squad. 5’11 Jalen Coit (2020) is among their many poised, well-rounded prospects, but there are numerous things that separate him from others. Offensively, he is a very strong three-level scorer; he can walk in the gym and get twenty with relative ease. Coit has some sauce in his handle, but he’s really effective when operating within two to three dribbles. He’s deceptively quick and it shows especially on the defensive end, as he’s able to get steals on and off-ball fairly often. Coit is already a really intriguing prospect but his best basketball is certainly ahead of him.
One of the most intriguing players of the day had to be 6’4 Brayden Gault (2018) and his consistent shot making ability from all three levels. Both of his parents played high level basketball in college and Gault is looking to do the same. Though he is a great scorer, that is not all he is capable of doing, as he has a really tough all-around game. Gault can definitely be a quality glue-guy at the next level, where he can score in bunches, play as the secondary ball handler, and defend/outrebound his assignment regularly. Seeing as how he is one of the best options on his team, confining him to a role that allows him to play his game could be greatly beneficial. Gault should certainly see an uptick in his recruiting in the coming weeks and months; coaches will easily get on board with his all-around abilities.
Rugged meets smooth with the Fayetteville product that has maintained his high level of play over the last year, 6’4 Raekwon Knuckles (2019). He’s a long-bodied wing that can play with or without the ball quite well. Knuckles has continued to improve his consistency from three-point territory, allowing him to still hurt teams without the ball in his hands. However, he typically carries most of the ball handling/shot creation duties for the team; defenses are focused on him, so it opens up numerous opportunities for teammates. Knuckles has a high IQ and brings grittiness that coaches love, only looking to make the right play and then dog his matchup on the other end. It will be interesting to see the two-way killer through July and into his junior season; he should absolutely start turning heads and making noise.