Memorial Hoops Festivities: Under Armour Association Los Angeles
Southern California — The Memorial Day weekend hoops festivities consisted of roughly 35 hours of gym time spread across four gyms in four days.
From Garden Grove to Thousand Oaks and back to Garden Grove and then to Orange Lutheran, it took a good amount of gas, hardly any food or sleep and about 20 cups of coffee.
All bitching aside, the quality of basketball seen was so good it was more than worth it.
Here’s a day-by-day, event-by-event breakdown of what I watched over the weekend, which will be released in a three-part series.
Sunday: Under Armour Association III at MAP Sports Facility in Garden Grove
The beauty of the Under Armour event was the fact that it was a short drive from my house and it housed the 17s, 16s and 15s under one roof.
The star of UAA Sunday was a kid who could be playing 15s or 16s, but has been going to work on the 17s stage during the spring and that is class of 2020 point guard Jalen Suggs of Grassroots Sizzle.
At 6-4, 185 pounds Suggs has a feel for the game far beyond his years. His court vision and ability to see the game one or two plays ahead of his opponents truly sets him apart. He can score from all three levels as needed, but Suggs excels in a role where he can dictate pace and tempo, while setting the table for his teammates.
Another point guard who possesses an elite feel for the game is Sports U’s Jahvon Quinerly. Like Suggs, Quinerly is a step or two ahead of his counterparts and picks defenses apart with his passing ability in half-court and transition settings, but can put the ball in the bucket when his team needs an offensive boost.
Jahvon Quinerly was one of many talented point guard's on display at Under Armour Association in Los Angeles. Photo credit: Matt Moreno, GOAZCATS.com
Devon Dotson of Team Charlotte is another highly-recruited point guard who made sure everyone knew why he’s so sought after. Dotson has a nice combination of size, strength and speed as a floor general and used it to get to the basket and finish at-will. Dotson doesn’t pound the basketball, either, and swings the ball side-to-side to get the defense moving, then picks the perfect time to probe the lane and create.
Speaking of the ability to create, West Virginia-commit Jordan McCabe makes everything go for Wisconsin Playground. McCabe is one of the more clever passers and ball-handlers you’ll see on the high school level. He has every pass in the book, has incredible court vision in both the open and half-court and makes strong reads off of high ball-screen action. McCabe also knocked down a handful of 3-pointers in each game.
Tyron Mosley of Illinois Wolves brought a throwback feel to the event with his size, length and old school approach to the point guard position.
Mosley is rangy at 6-feet-4 and 175-ish pounds, and not lightning quick, but his craftiness with the ball and ability to change speeds and direction allows him to get into the paint where he can explode for a finish or drop off a dime to teammate for a easy bucket.
Houston Defenders wing Miller Kopp was one of the more productive wings on both ends Sunday. Kopp is a strong and athletic scorer at 6-7 and put the ball in the hoop in a variety of ways. He knocked down the catch and shoot 3-pointer with consistency and blew by over-pursuing defenders to get to the basket and finish through contact or above the rim.
The 2019 Team Rio backcourt of Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine, who impressed last year at the same event, brought their game with them again this year.
Lewis is still as insane an athlete as he always has been, but continues to add consistency to his 3-point jump shot and is morphing into one heck of a defender and shot blocker as a guard.
Antoine had his high basketball IQ, unselfishness and court vision on display, setting up teammates for easy buckets in a number of blowout victories.
One of the smoothest scorers on Sunday was 6-foot-7 shooting guard Emmitt Matthews of Washington Supreme. Matthews is a silky lefty who creates space with footwork to get to his mid-range and 3-point jump shots. He also has the ability to kiss shots off the glass from 15 to 17 feet.
Josh LeBlanc of Louisiana Elite might be of the “undersized” variety for his projected position, but that doesn’t take away from his production. LeBlanc is a do-it-all-type guy at 6-7 and 200 pounds. He can legitimately defend positions 1-5 on this level due to his size, length and mobility and sprints the floor in transition where he can slash to the rim for power finishes.
In an age where big men are few and far between, New Heights 7-footer Moses Brown has the true size and feel that, in the right fit, could be molded into a big time back-to-the-basket prospect.
New Heights center Moses Brown (right) has the size and dexterity few others possess in the 2018 class. Photo credit: Matt Moreno, GOAZCATS.com
Brown is still super raw as far as skill set goes, but he is mobile, has good hands and touch around the basket, and does a nice job of contesting shots at the rim. The next step for Brown is conditioning work to help with changing ends of the floor with purpose.
A big man who needs absolutely no work on his conditioning or motor is 6-foot-9 rim abuser Silvio De Sousa of Florida Vipers. De Sousa is the definition of a motor guy power finisher who dunks everything in the paint, sprints the floor in both directions and takes getting scored on personally.
Earl Watson Elite power forward Riley Battin continues to put to rest the question marks surrounding his athleticism by letting his skill set do the talking. Battin continues to add to his mid-post game with face-up shot fakes and drives to the basket. He’s also stopping and popping from 3-point range.
On the 16U level, the Mitchell twins, Makhi and Makhel, of DC Blue Devils were two of the most talented forward/centers in the building. Both are capable scorers at 6-feet-9 and pass the ball well out of the high post.
The Earl Watson Elite backcourt tandem of 2020 Nico Mannion and 2019 Josh Green continues to work well as a one-two punch. Mannion’s basketball IQ is as high as it gets and his 3-point shooting is getting more consistent. Green is as good a vertical athlete as you’ll find who fills the wing wide in transition and can finish above the rim with the best of ‘em.
KC Run GMC is loaded with a trio of 2019 talent led by 6-foot-5 combo guard Zach Harvey. Harvey is a stellar athlete with a tight handle, ability to split double teams and get to the rack and finish with authority.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Joshua Earley proved to be formidable inside forces for Run GMC. Robinson-Earl has a polished back to the basket game with a vast array of post moves and ability to finish with either hand, while Early is more of a rugged prospect who does the dirty work on the offensive and defensive boards. Earley has a high motor and brutish strength he uses to his advantage.
The class of 2020 son of former California star and longtime NBA player Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Jabri Abdur-Rahim, showed a tong of game for Team Rio’s 16U squad. The 6-foot-6 wing has a nice blend of size, length, smooth athleticism and feel for the game.
Perhaps the best long-term prospect across all age levels was 2020 Team Thrill forward Isaiah Todd. At a rangy 6-feet-9, Todd has interior footwork and touch from 3-point range that’s rarely seen from a young big at this stage.
Micah Peavy of Texas Hardwork looked to be one of the more naturally gifted athletes on the weekend. The 6-foot-6 wing in the class of 2020 is quick and explosive off the ground and catches lob passes with ease while finishing strong above the rim. Peavy has some catch and shoot ability from 3-point range and utilizes a strong jab-step and long first stride to get to the rim and score.
More in the series