The Hoop Group Future All American camp (Part 6)
By Chick Gillespie
Nate Tabor 6’4” 2020 CG
Our Savior New American School (Centereach, NY) – For Tabor this camp gave me the opportunity to see him as facilitator instead of flat out scorer and I was duly impressed. I had seen him previously put up big offensive numbers so I was keenly aware that he has solid skills in that aspect of the game, from strong drives to the basket using great body control and toughness in getting to the rim to score thru contact or earn trips to the line as well as an assortment of jump shots from pull ups in traffic off the dribble to catch and shoot 3 balls from the wings, but seeing him passing the rock and running the show for his camp team was impressive. He has an underrated handle in that he controlled tempo without rushing things and turning the ball over in either game I saw him play while also keeping defenders off balance with his ability to avoid double teams with change of pace and direction dribbling. He also didn’t over dribble which is common in these camps. He appeared to have fine court vision as he continually found open teammates for scoring plays and he got his offense within the flow of the game scoring inside or out when other options broke down. For some Tabor may have been a disappointment as he did not score it a ton but I think he raised the level of his game by showing a willingness to share the ball and uncover a hidden talent of being an extra PG on the floor.
Nnanna Njoku 6’9” 2021 C
Sanford School (Hockessin, DE) – Having seen Njoku at the Summer Final the week before I was interested to see if he could sustain the high level of play from that event to this one. Mission accomplished would be the best way to describe his play as he picked right up where he left off from the previous week. He’s not particularly quick of foot or an explosive jumping athlete but he does use his body well in screening action and sealing off his man in low post offensive play. His footwork is coming along very well and he got plenty of touches in the paint using his frame to carve out space to score at a nice clip. He rebounds rather well too but when he gets in better condition and gains strength I believe that facet of his game will really improve on both ends of the court. His shooting away from the basket is a work in progress but again as he gets in better overall shape I suspect his form will certainly beget big results. Defensively he struggles with quicker foes but he does hold his ground around the basket and his best basketball has yet to reveal itself.
Raejon Figures 6’2” 2020 CG
Immaculate Conception (Montclair, NJ) – Figures is another young guard who looks to be able to slide into a PG role as in the two games I viewed of his he was able to enter the ball into his bigs with some zip and also in a position for the recipient to do something with it as well. He often worked his way into a position to receive a kick out pass from the interior and made sure he had room to square up and fire away from the midrange out to the arc. His form is very good and he gets elevation on his release point which makes it hard to block or disrupt. He did possess a decent handle and he didn’t try to force it inside off the bounce but wisely backed out of trap situations which was instinctive. If I observed a fault in his game it was in passing the ball and by that I mean the zip part as some of his entry passes sailed out of bounds or were too hot to handle. He also was no slouch defensively as he engaged his man using his feet on several occasions to cut off penetration and his arms to interrupt passing lanes. With a couple strong low post scorers on his team Figures got his numbers by making smart decisions instead of forcing up shots and still was able to impress as a viable scoring option in the future.
Cliff Omoruyi 6’10” 2020 C
Roselle, NJ Catholic HS – A bit raw would be the best way to describe Omuruyi at the offensive end but with a year of high level high school ball behind him he has certainly improved that aspect of his game especially around the basket. He is much improved at scoring at the rim either on putbacks or short off the glass layups even in traffic. Thought primarily as a rebounder/shot blocker by many those facets of his game are surely a staple of his but now he’s expanding on these skills by becoming more aggressive in running the floor and calling for the ball. His shooting form has gotten better away from the hole and his FT stroke has improved as well. He also showed an ability to kick the ball out from the post on double team situations and his instincts in setting up good rebounding position on either end led to him getting close to double figure rebounds in each of his games I watched. Defensively he guarded the rim with a watchful eye setting up like a roadblock in the paint. He does tend to get himself out of position at times trying to block every shot within reach but as he matures and starts to understand situational basketball I suspect he’ll realize that just taking away the shooters vision of the basket can be just as effective along with helping him maintain his rebounding positioning. Since bigs generally take longer to develop just remember that he has three more years of HS ball to play and find his groove which should be fun to observe.
Jordan Toles 6’3” 2020 SG
St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, MD) – Toles is super athletic with tremendous hops and an ability to get to the cup with fluid movements and a quick first jump that defies all logic. Throughout the couple games I viewed his team play he never ceased to amaze me with his forays to the basket finishing with majestic dunks or just plain old fashioned layups at the rim shaking off defenders along the way. While his perimeter game is still in the development stages he showed some improvement by hitting a couple midrange jumpers in one of his games and his form and balance looked much better than in the past. He rebounds very well for a guard and loves igniting the break while following the play looking for the return pass he can flush down in transition. Toles does sometimes play too fast which can lead to turnovers but when he keeps his head up is less likely to force a bad play. Defensively he has good instincts and quick hands and feet which helps him in the open court and he excels in stripping guys who make the mistake of bringing the ball down in his vicinity. As he matures and gets more under control I believe we’ll start to see more balance in his overall game.
Luke Kolaja 6’9” 2020 PF
Montclair Kimberly Academy (Montclair, NJ) – From what I saw of this young man he seems the perfect modern day stretch 4 complete with a smooth jumper out to the arc and beyond. He has a quick release with good rotation on his shot and no fear in launching if he’s open. He does venture into the paint from time to time but primarily his forte is shooting the J and bringing a big away from the basket. On defense Kolaja uses his long arms to try and keep the entry pass from reaching it’s intended target more so than getting physical with the opposition as he simply doesn’t yet possess the needed strength to push guys off the block. He also gets his hands up inside to obscure shooters vision as he isn’t known as a shot blocking demon at this point in his development. He is a good passer out of the post on those occasions when he sets up on the block and also shows a good feel to feed his teammates from the outside when defenders close out on him to take away the open 3 ball. At 6’9” he should be a better rebounder but as I’ve mentioned earlier he simply lacks the power to be effective in the post at this time but it should be interesting to watch his progress in the next couple years.
That wraps up Pt. 6 of the Future All American camp.