On the July 4th weekend, the Global Grassroots Nationals didn’t wait for the city of Birmingham to give a fireworks show but provided spectators with a show over the weekend that parallels any fireworks show that was on display in…
On the July 4th weekend, the Global Grassroots Nationals didn’t wait for the city of Birmingham to give a fireworks show but provided spectators with a show over the weekend that parallels any fireworks show that was on display in the city. Here are a few standouts that I saw at the event.
Peyton Kemp Peyton Kemp 5'7" | PG MI / 5’9 / Point Guard / D5 Global 2026 / Grosse Pointe Academy (Grosse Pointe MI)
There was not a more impactful player at the Global Grassroots Nationals than Peyton. I would venture to say that in all classifications represented that he was the best player in the building the entire weekend. If I was to be debated, I could accept it, but one thing that could not be debated is that he put on a show every time he stepped onto the court. If you have not heard by now, he made the shot of the tourney by nailing a three at the buzzer to lift his team over a feisty NYBA Elite team in the Final 4. He is listed as a PG and is a score-first PG that can light it up from anywhere on the court. Despite being a score-first PG, his unselfishness balances his offensive game. He has a strong game and was the best player on the court in every game that I saw him. He plays with a competitive edge and does not back down from anyone. I saw a player score on him and started to trash talk him, and what happened next made me respect his game more. Instead of barking back at the player, Peyton just laughed, went down to the offensive end, and attacked. He let his game say everything that he needed to say throughout the tournament. He has excellent shooting mechanics and touch from all levels.
When the ball is in his hands, he makes all the right decisions in P&R action, he takes care of the ball as he had limited turnovers, and you can see that his PG IQ is exceptionally high.
Before I finish, let me say that his play did not drop on the defensive end as he is a hard-nosed on-ball defender. Peyton is just a flat-out winner. As you see, I can go on for days, but let me just say that the kid is a ’balla.’ Opportunities for Growth: Peyton is already lightning quick with the ball in his hands, but he is going to have to start developing his body to get stronger. It is always said that the next level of the game is always faster and stronger. As opportunities for Peyton to compete against the best players in the country present themselves, it will be important that his body can handle the physical play.
Deonte Jiles / 5’11 / Small Forward / Central Florida Rising Stars 2028 / WJ Christian (Birmingham AL)
If you follow my reports, you will know that I just put ink on Deonte last month, and here he is again in my first report coming out of #GGN. Let me just say with the show that he put on and the numbers that he put up it was no way that he could be left out of the first report coming out of #GGN. I guess Deonte had something to prove in his hometown, and if that was the motivation, let me just say that he proved his point. You already know that the tools DJ possesses are beyond his years. As I watched him, it was scary to see what he was doing on the court at this age. He doesn’t shy away from making tough plays, as he wants the ball in his hands. He is a top-tier talent coming out of Birmingham, AL, as long as he keeps working and not getting caught up in the love he is getting from the media outlets. He showed that he is a multi-dimensional scorer and versatile on both ends of the court. He was a walking bucket the entire tourney.
We talk about ceilings, but truthfully, his ceiling is nowhere in sight right now.
Opportunities for Growth: Despite being a potent, powerful, prolific scorer, D must continue to improve on the defensive end of the court with his on-ball and help defense techniques. Working on low-block and elbow post-ups will add another dimension to his game. Continue to work on his range from behind the arc.
Savion Stewart / 5’8 / Small Forward / Gators Elite (Canada) 2027 / School: N/A (Canada)
No one brought energy and effort to the court more than Savion. He flys around the court, making plays on both ends of the court. He plays extremely hard on every play. At an early age, he is a player that puts his mark on games in so many ways as he competes relentlessly. On the offensive end, when he gets his speed up in the open court and starts downhill, watch out because he is coming hard in the paint. He embraces the contact at the rim and does not make himself small going up. Teams found it very difficult to trap him, as he showed his ability to split the traps better than any other guard in the tourney. His attacks off the bounce got many defenders in foul trouble, as it was hard to guard him when he was attacking. He doesn’t waste a lot of movement, as his drives are straight-line.
He is athletic and has a lot of bounce to his game.
Outside of his offensive prowess is his tenacity at going after rebounds and his on-ball D. Opportunities for Growth: If you watched one particular game that Savion played, you will know what I am about to say: FREE THROWS. As much as he will get fouled as he continues to grow in the game, he will have to work on his free throws. Right now, with his athleticism and his bounce, he can get his own rebound from misses at the rim, but he has to continue to work on his attack angles and his finishes at the rim through contact.
Jamichael Thomas / 6’2 / Guard & Forward / Steel City Gators Gold 2026 / Green Acres Middle (Birmingham AL)
Jamichael has a good physical profile and plays physical. He brings a level of toughness to the court, and that set the tone for the SCG squad. He can do a lot of different things on the court, which is why he impacts the stat sheet in numerous ways. He has an intriguing combination of size and shot-making ability in the paint. He has an aggressive mindset and is a high-energy player. He was efficient from the floor when he was doing what he does best, and that is attacking the rim off the bounce. With his ability to handle the rock, he puts pressure on the D as he is able to get the defensive board and start the break, which was tough to defend for teams that did not have good transition defense. Opportunities for Growth: I saw JT a couple of times, and during the first game, he disappeared in the 2nd half.
With his ability to produce in the paint off the bounce, he needs to be more assertive throughout the entire game.
He needs to continue working on his ability to post smaller guards, as he could have punished some of the players guarding him if he had put them on the low block. Continue to work on tightening up his handles and showing production and consistency from beyond the arc. In the 2nd game I saw, JT seemed to have been injured as he was limping around, but he was still gutting it out.
Sequel Patterson / 5’8 / Shooting Guard / Central Florida Rising Stars 2027 / Walter G Byers Middle School (Charlotte, NC)
Sequel had a monster day 1 at #GGN. He put the entire repertoire on display. He is a skilled scoring guard that showed his ability to score in a variety of ways. He made tough shots, knocked down the trey ball, and had consistent production. Scoring is definitely the strength of this highly athletic young player’s game, and he is productive and full of potential when scoring the rock. He is difficult to contain off the bounce, as his straight-line attacks were hard to defend and help on, as he cut down the amount of time that help defense had in their rotation. He showed that he has vision and passing accuracy, as he often set up teammates for open shots off his dribble attacks.
He excelled in transition as he got downhill in a hurry when the ball was in his hands.
He is active on the defensive end as he has quick hands and feet and had several steals throughout the tournament. Opportunities for Growth: Sequel has a lot of promise; he just has to continue to work on his overall game. Working on change of pace and direction will add another dimension to his game and keep defenders off balance. More consistency from beyond the arc and developing a mid-range pull-up will also elevate his game.
This is the first of three articles coming out of the #GGN. Stay tuned for more standouts that I saw putting on shows on the 4th of July weekend in Birmingham, AL.