Defense is at a premium at a showcase tournament where some players get focused on trying to demonstrate their offensive skills. But defense travels, and it was on display at the Midwest Kickoff event in Kansas City last weekend. Here…
Here are some guys who stood out for their work at the defensive end of the court (listed in alphabetical order):
Zak Abdalla, 6-foot-1 CG, 2025, West Coast Select:
Abdalla was one of the top all-around players at the Midwest Kickoff. He showed some of everything. But his defense was a difference-maker for his club team from Las Vegas. He played at the point of a 3-2 zone that put his long limbs and quickness right in the passing lane for opposing guards. He got his hands on a lot of passes and created a lot of havoc all weekend. Abdalla is a very skilled 6-foot-1 guard who can turn a tipped ball into instant offense.
Jax Chai, CG, 2026, KC Prodigy:
Chai comes off the bench and makes things happen for KC Prodigy. He brings some long range marksmanship, but the first thing you notice is his defense. He has in-your-face aggressiveness, bodying up cutters and crowding ball handlers. He’s tough after rebounds and he denies every pass. He has the quickness to guard anyone, and the speed to beat everyone down the court.
Lamont Hamilton, 5-foot-8, CG, 2026, Wisconsin Elite:
Hamilton took over a couple of games with his disruptive defense. He has lightning quick hands and can terrorize the best of ball handlers. Like Abdalla, Hamilton is a talented offensive player who understands the value of defense. His attacking attitude turned a game against Teague around, propelling the Racine-based club to the 13U championship.
Plamedie Ibinion, 5-foot-11, SF, 2025, Champaign Heat:
There were some frustrating moments for the Heat in KC, but Ibinion channeled that frustration at the defensive end. He can really spring and anticipated passes and shots. He thwarted shots and was annoying to shooters in the lane all weekend. Ibinion is a bit raw, but has some elite athleticism.
Rhikenzo Lee, 5-foot-10, SG, 2026, Minnesota Splash:
Lee is a talented all-around player who took pride in his defense at the Midwest Kickoff. He is tall enough to guard bigs, but has the agility and quickness to stay with most any guard. His versatility makes him a valuable tool for the Splash defense. He has long arms, good physicality and quick actions. Best of all is his basketball sense and cool demeanor.
Jacorey Robinson, 6-foot-1 SF, 2025 Kansas Gauchos:
The Gauchos found themselves undersized at times, and relied heavily on Robinson’s ability to defend bigger players with his leaping ability, quickness and intensity. Robinson worked hard at whatever was needed by his Topeka-based club, and he made a lot of plays with his anticipation and long arms.