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Bendel's Best of the 2017 AAU Season: Bigs

08/21/2017, 1:15pm EDT
By Phenom Hoop Report/Jeff Bendel

PHR Analyst Jeff Bendel dives into a pair of prospects with enormous ability and upside.

Just over four months ago Phenom Hoops opened the travel ball season in Greensboro, North Carolina. This event kicked off what would be an exciting summer full of breakouts and surprises, coming from all over the east coast. Next, we will look at some of the players that were the most memorable throughout the season. These players are in no particular order and have made the cut for a variety of different reasons, not necessarily just elite-level guys, though many are (or will be) considered "elite."    

Bigs

The category of “Bigs” is probably the most difficult to find a large quantity of, seeing as how such a small percentage of players will never grow to the necessary size for said label. However, Phenom Hoops did not have that issue this summer while hosting a variety of skilled/quality players that fit the expectation of a big man. With that being said, two guys were head and shoulders above the rest (especially given the skills relative to their age).  

6’8 ’20 PJ Hall (Upward Stars Upstate)

Sometimes in life, the stage is set and all the tools are provided for a player to be exceptional. It would appear to be the case here with the Dorman native. Upon the first time seeing Hall, it was almost an outright certainty that he would emerge into a HM-level player sooner than later. At six-foot-eight, he has more ways to hurt opponents on the court than many realize. Hall is already a force in the low post, showing the ability to finish with either hand from either block incredibly well; he has a vast array of tricky counters and ball fakes that warrant him easy buckets. He’s far more patient (with or without the ball) than a heavy majority of big men around the country and knows when to defer versus take it himself. In the two-man game, Hall is as close as they come to unstoppable; he is a great screen-setter with phenomenal rolling and popping capabilities. Most guys his age and height don’t possess the proper coordination or frame to carry out the game like he does. Hall is an efficient scorer on all three levels and has supreme confidence in his scoring ability (as he should). The vision he showcases is terrific; Hall has displayed the ability to handle the ball in transition and his decision-making abilities are beyond his years. His IQ is already at an elite level, along with almost every other facet of his game. Defensively, Hall understands how to use his IQ and length as well as anyone, and is able to single-handedly shut down an opposing fast break. He is very fundamental on the glass, boxing out every single time while looking to secure each rebound with two hands. Both of his parents are tall, former D1 athletes, and his sister is one of the top volleyball players in the country. For Hall to become anything other than a superstar would be uncharacteristic, especially given his advanced basketball abilities and genetic gifts. If you haven’t heard of him, go ahead and make a mental note of Hall, who will blow up very soon. 

6’9 ’20 Akeem Odusipe (B. Maze Elite)

The other big man to join Hall is Odusipe, who we saw in April at Phenom’s Queen City Showcase, where he was utterly dominant against every opponent. His team, B. Maze Elite, is full of D1 capable players, at all levels, and he is right there at the top. Odusipe is an incredibly athletic specimen that can get 20 and 10 just by lacing up his sneakers. He’s a matchup problem on offense, and not just because of his athleticism. Odusipe displayed a variety of go-to moves on the block for an easy bucket, including drop-steps, spin moves, and a soft righty hook. Physically, opposing big men struggle to maintain the nonstop motor and bouncy nature that Odusipe has from start to finish. He is explosive off one or two feet and possesses the strength to throw opponents in the rim, along with the ball. Odusipe is the most ferocious rebounder we saw throughout the summer; he uses his length and size to relentlessly pursue the basketball on each possession. His aerial ability instills fear in opponents, as they know he is always lurking around the paint for a big block or shot alteration. One on one, Odusipe shuts down opposing big men; he simply has all the physical and mental tools to continue being a forceful defender/rim protector at the next level. He has unlimited upside and will almost certainly be atop the 2020 class sooner than later. 

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