Over the Memorial Day Weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Under Armour’s grassroots AAU event held at House of Sports in Ardsley New York. Several high-major talent was on display throughout the weekend and many players impressed as we approach the apex of the AAU season.
With these being the last days of the UAA regular season, the players played with a lot of intensity as a bid to the UAA Finals Championship Bracket in Atlanta was on the line. You can see the final standings here.
Here then, are a few observations on some of the marquee players who participated in the event. This will be a two-part series. Part 1 here will discuss the marquee players of the event with Part 2 being about the stock risers and the undervalued.
Disclaimer: Many of these evaluations are based on a small sample showing. Plus, I did not get to see every player I had wished to see. Thus, you may notice the absence of some marquee players (a la Edrice Adebayo).
Josh Jackson 1 Nation 2016 6’8” forward (Justin Siena)
Some regard Jackson, pictured above, as the No.1 player in the 2016 class and I can see why. He has a versatile skill set and plays a hybrid point-forward, as he has great handles. Jackson is very long and rangy and may remind some people of Justise Winslow. He can sore at will as dish the ball, too. Sometimes, though, he can try to do too much. Much props go out to his knee-length Spiderman socks!
Markelle Fultz DC Blue Devils 2016 6’4” guard (DeMatha Catholic High School)
Fultz loves to have the ball in his hands and always wants to take over a game. He can score in transition just as well as take it to the hoop and has great burst with the ball in his hands. Fultz is not afraid of contact and he is fearless with the ball in his hands.
Thon Maker Canada Elite 2016 7’1” Center (Orangeville Prep)
Maker is the “International Man Of Mystery” and although he may play college ball in the 2015-16 season, he wanted to play in Under Armour’s event this weekend. By now you know the story on him, as he is one of the more versatile 7-footers you will see in your life.
DeAndre Ayton Supreme Court 2017 7’0” Center (Balboa City)
Speaking of seven footers, there may not be one better in the country than Ayton. Just a junior, Ayton may be the best prospect in all classes combined. He is so skilled in the post and can get up and down the floor with ease. Ayton is an amazing shot blocker and great on-the-ball defender as well. I’m not sure where Ayton stands with his recruitment—specifically in regard to Kentucky—but Ayton plays a lot like Anthony Davis and Willie Trill Cauley-Stein. Expect John Calipari to make that his recruiting pitch.
Eric Hester Team Breakdown 2016 6’4” guard (Oldsmar Christian High School)
Hester is fast-rising prospect to keep an eye this year. He is has a lot of tools and can attack the rim very well. Although he needs added strength, he runs the floor well and is very active on the court.
Dewan Huell Team Breakdown 2016 6’11” forward (Miami Norland High School)
Remember Huell, the bodyguard for Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad—you know the one with the very round figure? Well, Dewan Huell has the opposite frame, as he’s long, lean and mean. I don’t know how I found a way to get a Huell from Breaking Bad mention into this evaluation, other than they have the same name and who doesn’t like Breaking Bad? Anyway, back to Dewan Huell. He had a massive double-double on Friday with 37 points and 14 rebounds. He is very active around the rim, has good spin moves down low and can get up and down the floor with ease.
Joey Brunk Indy Hoosiers 2016 6’10” center (Southport)
When you think true low-post players, think Brunk. Brunk always get good position, as he works hard on the block and is a plus-plus rebounder. He is great at blocking out and muscling his way to the hoop. Brunk also has good footwork and can find the open man. He should rise in the rankings.
Devon Daniels 1 Nation 2016 6’6″ guard (Kalamazoo Central High School)
Not blessed with the best athleticism, Daniels gets by on basketball smarts and know-how. With Josh Jackson as a teammate, Daniels will always defer to him. Daniels can mix it up and does not fear contact. Although an off guard, Daniels can handle the rock really well. He’ll make a great combo guard at the next level.
Seventh Woods Carolina Wolves 2016 6’2” guard (Hammond School)
Woods came to prominence with YouTube hits a few years ago, and while he is not the best prospect in his class, you can tell Woods has world-class athleticism when you watch him play. He has an improving jump shot, but his bread and butter is his quickness and first step. Woods can accelerate with the best of them and drive to rim easily.
Joseph “J.J.” Caldwell Houston Defenders 2016 6’1” guard (Cypress Woods High School)
Caldwell, a Texas A&M recruit, is a great get for the Aggies. This fearless floor leader has fantastic vision and loves to set up his teammates, as he is your classic pass-first point guard. Although not the biggest player in the world, Caldwell plays with a chip on his shoulder.
Kameron McGusty Houston Defenders 2016 6’5” guard (Seven Lakes)
Wow, does this kid love to score. While I missed his 38 and 31-point performances on Friday and Saturday, respectively, McGusty is a high-major player with great moves to the bucket. He can slash as well as mix it up. McGusty just finds a knack to score. Word is Shaka Smart is all over him at Texas. Expect him to soar in the rankings over the summer.
Terrance Ferguson MWA Elite 2016 6’7” forward (Prime U Academy)
This five-star recruit is only starting to scratch the surface of his immense potential. Ferguson is an effortless scorer who has one sweet stroke. He will be a wanted man and whatever school is able to secure his services will be getting one the country’s best shooters—if not the best.
Billy Preston MWA Elite 2017 6’9” forward (Prime U Academy)
There is no doubting the legit size that Preston possesses, as not many in his class are as well-built as him. He is a rugged rebounder and very intimating in the post. Simply put he is one of 2017’s better power forwards.
Mark Vital MWA Elite 2016 6’6” forward (Prime U Academy)
Vital is like a bull in a China shop. Ferocious would be the best way to describe this future Baylor Bear. Vital has a mean streak and he isn’t afraid to show you it. He has a fine build and despite being listed at 6’6”, he plays a lot taller.
Mamadou Diarra NY Jayhawks 2016 6’8” forward (Putnam Science Academy)
Speaking of tenacious forwards, look no further than Diarra. Much like Vital, Diarra is a beast going to the bucket. Diarra is also an intimidating presence in the post and any high-major school will be lucky to have him on their team.
Quade Green We R1 2017 6’0” guard (Newmann Goretti)
There are not many 2017 point guards better than Green. Green is a composed guard, who can shift gears without hesitation. He has above-average handles and great quickness. Green and Trevon Duval are one heck of a backcourt for We R1.
Trevon Duval We R1 2017 6’4” guard (St. Benedict Prep)
Onto Duval. To make it simple, he is clearly one of the best guards in the 2017 class. He can make the hard pass look easy. Duval is a steady guard, who when his jumper is on can take over games.
Skylar Mays MWA Elite 2016 6’4” guard (University Lab High)
Rapidly moving up the 2016 rankings is Mays. Playing on a loaded Mo Williams team with high-major talent makes it easy for Mays to get lost in the shuffle, but he is a fine player in his own right. He is steady with the ball, makes good decisions and has great fluidity to his game. Mays had one of the better follow jams over the weekend and is athleticism is off the charts.