With so many events taking place this weekend, Marcus McGee has still been able to bring together a very talented group of players from across the southeast region to display their talent at the 10th Annual Best of The Best Middle School Showcase. Here are some immediate takeaways from Day 1.
Nolan Nelson (6’7/PF/’27/Patriot Oaks Academy)
Let me just go ahead and say this, Nolan made a case today as the best player in camp. He is a 6’7 PF that is skilled and excellent in ball screen action. He is a good screen setter and an even better roller out of the screen. He was doing a lot of damage, rolling hard and receiving the ball in the middle of the paint. Once he got that deep, he was finishing at and above the rim. I really enjoyed watching his post-up game on the low block. He controlled the game for two seconds every time he had a post-touch. He is a terrific passer out of the low block, especially when he recognizes the possibility of the double team. He showed developing versatility on the offensive end of the floor as he showed that he could make the trey ball, but I definitely need to see more from this area before I say he can legitimately stretch the floor. He showed that he could put the ball on the floor, which is also an area of continued growth for Nolan. Defensively, he was disruptive in the paint as he was a rim-protecting presence. At the end of the day, Nolan’s size was just too much for 98% of the players in his division.
Let me just go ahead and say this, Nolan made a case today as the best player in camp.Terry J. Drake
Carter Florient (6’4/C/’27/Pines Charter)
Carter continues to impress with his play in the paint. By now, everyone familiar with grassroots basketball in the Southeast USA knows of Carter’s dominance around the rim. I have mentioned before that it is crucial that he begin to expand his game to the perimeter. Putting eyes on him today has caused me to move to a concerning level, as he is still raw with his ballhandling skills. He showed attempts to try and handle the ball in the open court, which is a good sign. So as mentioned, his dominance in the paint on both ends of the floor, which he showed again today, has been discussed extensively in previous articles. At this point, the need for his game’s expansion is what needs to take place for the next step in his maturation.
Carter continues to impress with his play in the paint.Terry J. Drake
Antwain Tennell, Jr. (5’9/CG/’27/The Villages)
Antwain came into camp a little under the weather, but he still showed glimpses of what he could do as one of the best, if not the best, PG in the building. He is at his best when he completely controls the offense and is creating for his teammates. He is an excellent passer with vision and can make all the passes needed from the lead guard spot. Despite being a step slow, he was still a step ahead of his peers in his division. His feel for the game and command of the game is a responsibility he can be trusted with at his age. Look for Antwain to be challenging for the spot of best PG in the state of FL by the time he decides where he will be taking his talents to at the collegiate level.
He is at his best when he completely controls the offense and is creating for his teammates.Terry J. Drake
Kelson Sandi (5’10/SG/’27/Xceed Prep)
Let’s just say that scoring is not an issue for Kelson. He was aggressive off the bounce and was a good finisher in the paint. He actually scored at multiple levels and was efficient in doing so. He was as reliable as anyone at camp in being able to put up numbers in the scoring column. Just as good as Kelson was at scoring the rock today and winning his one-on-one match-ups, the core of the modern game has evolved into pick-and-roll basketball, and Kelson is one of the game’s chief practitioners at a young age. He was an excellent ball-handler in the ball-screen action with the aforementioned Nolan Nelson, and his decision-making coming off the ball screen was superb. He was a tough cover off the bounce, as his ability to create for his teammates was second to none. He played with a good understanding and a good feel and is an emerging prospect in the ’27 class.
Let’s just say that scoring is not an issue for Kelson.Terry J. Drake
Owen Boyle (5’8/PG/’28/Pine View)
Like several others in this article, I have put ink on Owen before. The strength of Owen’s game is his stroke from deep. He was highly productive from behind the arc, even when making contested threes. He can fill it up from the three, but it is his ability to facilitate the offense from the lead guard spot that is continuing to improve. He is learning how to get his teammates involved more, and as long as he can remain a student of the game, I am interested to see just how far he can go with the game of basketball. He came up to me after the game I watched him play in, and he asked what did I see he needed to work on. I shared with him his need to get better on the defensive end of the floor and winning his one-on-one match-up. I also shared with him the need for him to work on his lateral quickness. Owen is the type of player I believe will dive into getting better in those areas, and I look forward to seeing the improvement.
The strength of Owen’s game is his stroke from deep.Terry J. Drake
Stephen Morrison (5’9/PF/’28/Pine View MS)
Stephen started off the game looking to be aggressive off the bounce, and he found early success when getting to the paint. He finished well at the cup and even had a few moves where he showed off his footwork and soft touch. He finished well with both hands at the cup and wasn’t afraid of contact. He is a fundamentally sound player that contributes as a scorer, passer, screener, and rebounder. He is a solid screen setter who rolls into a deep post-up. He wasn’t hit on the roll, as not many guards in the division could hit the roll guy coming off the ball screen. However, with the deep seal and post, he was the recipient of the post entry pass and was able to go to work from there. With the dawning of his versatility starting to come forth, Stephen is a young playmaker who can create for himself and his teammates. He came up after I watched him play and asked me what he could have done better. I shared with him the importance of working on his speed, quickness, and mobility. He also has to work harder on the defensive end of the floor.
He finished well with both hands at the cup and wasn’t afraid of contact.Terry J. Drake
Anthony Walcott (6’3/G|F/’27/New Renaissance MS)
Anthony is another player that I have put ink on, and over the years, as many times as I have seen Anthony, the one thing I have grown the need to see is consistency. There have been times I have seen him play, and you could put him in talks as being one of the best ’27 kids in the country, then there are times when you could be watching a game and consider him just an average player. Today at camp, he put the tools in his toolbox on display, and I sat analyzing his game, seeing what areas he needed to improve. As I mentioned, I have talked extensively about just how good Anthony is, but there are still some areas of his game that he can grow in. He did not show his middle game, which would have been something to go to, especially with an athletic and versatile 6’7 PF guarding him. The floater game could have been an option instead of continually challenging the big man at the rim. Also, developing his ability to finish with his left is an area of improvement for Anthony. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen Anthony utilizing the tools I mentioned that he needs development in, but today, he was in getting to the cup mode, regardless of the shot blocker in the paint, which resulted in some rejected shots.
As I mentioned, I have talked extensively about just how good Anthony is, but there are still some areas of his game that he can grow in.Terry J. Drake
Gabriel Durand (5’11/F/’27/Tequesta Trace)
This camp is Gabriel’s first basketball camp, and one thing is for sure. He is having a lot of fun. He wears a size 13 shoe and has the pedigree as far as family size and athletic background. There is a good chance he can stretch out to around the 6’5 mark, and maybe more, as there is a 7-footer in the family. He is very raw but showed signs that depending on if he truly commits to the work it will take when the lights are not on, he can develop over the next few years. Gabe must understand the commitment he will have to make to emerge into the caliber player he desires to become. He has to work on his all-around game to master the fundamentals and become a student of the game and begin to watch games from the perspective of a student and not a spectator. As I said, he showed his ability to finish around the rim, but his focus right now has to be the lab, and we will see where he is in 365 days.
He is having a lot of fun.Terry J. Drake