DUNCANVILLE, Texas -- Michael Porter was the prime attraction at the Next Level Nationals on Friday, an event that featured at least 15 potential high major prospects. The Next Level proved to be a very valuable stop for the national media in town for Saturday's Nike Elite Youth Basketball League event, as loads of underclassmen were on display.
Underclassmen shine in Dallas Metroplex
A little over a year ago, Rivals.com got our first look at Michael Porter as a rising 9th grader and he was easily identifiable as a potentially big-time talent. Porter didn't disappoint on Friday night. A 6-foot-7 wing from Columbia (Mo.) Father Tolton, Porter was the best prospect we saw on Friday. Playing with MoKan Elite's 16U squad, Porter showed immense skill. He can shoot from deep, he creates off the dribble with ease, passes very well and has deep range to go along with extraordinary size for a young wing.
A lot will shake out in his class, but at this point, he's got to be at or very near the top of the heap nationally. His father is a coach for the women's team at Missouri and the Tigers have offered, along with Indiana and Kansas. Porter said that his godfather is Lorenzo Romar of Washington and the Huskies, along with Baylor (where he plans to visit after the weekend), Illinois, Ohio State and Florida are among the many others to show early interest.
Porter's running mate on the MoKan Elite 16's, 6-foot-9 freshman big man Jeremiah Tilmon from East St. Louis (Ill.) High, looks like an elite prospect as well. Tilmon runs extremely well, has great length and is a bouncy finisher around the rim. Normally, young big men his size are awkward and gangly, but Tilmon is fluid and has great instincts. Kansas State, Missouri and Illinois have dropped early offers while Kansas, Saint Louis and Indiana are among a host of others that have been in to see him early.
A new name on the evening was 6-foot-4 maybe 6-foot-5 sophomore wing Reginald Todd of Mobile (Ala.) LeFlore. He showed extreme quickness with his first step while getting to the rim early on, and later in the game while his Alabama Challenge 16U team was getting spanked by MWA Elite, he hit a couple of threes, got engaged in some trash talk and began to carry his team back into the game. The Challenge lost, but Todd proved to be an excellent find. He said that he usually plays with the Alabama Legends and mentioned early interest from Alabama, Illinois State, Middle Tennessee, Troy and South Alabama. That group will get much larger.
Playing alongside Todd on the Challenge, 6-foot-7 combo forward Darius Hicks showed elite athleticism around the rim. Hicks made a spin and drive, finished way above the rim and showed all the tools of a potential high-major prospect as he cleaned the glass, ran the floor and made things happen with his energy.
A five-star prospect in the class of 2016, Terrance Ferguson combines freaky athleticism, 6-foot-6 size and a smooth jumper. He is no secret and his talent is already pretty well-known. However, when he attacks the rim, gets out in transition and attacks rebounds like he did on Friday night, it is hard not to think that he is what pro shooting guards are supposed to look like as sophomores. Ferguson mentioned offers from Oklahoma State, Kansas, Baylor, Texas, SMU, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Texas Tech.
Ferguson's MWA Elite 16's didn't lack for other impressive prospects as well. A teammate of Ferguson's at Dallas Prime Prep, shooting guard Deshawn Williams, showed added dimensions to his game. Well-known for his ability to stretch defenses with his jump shooting, Williams looks like he has grown to about 6-foot-1 and displayed a much-improved ability to attack off the dribble.
A freshman playing with MWA, 6-foot-3 shooting guard Jordon Myers is one to watch as well. An extreme athlete in transition relative to his age, Myers is a high flyer with a tremendous first step. He isn't a jump shooter just yet, but he has tremendous natural ability. He mentioned early interest from SMU, Texas and Baylor. Finally for MWA, keep an eye out for 2017 point guard Jhivvan Jackson from Euless (Texas) Trinity. He is quick, he gets into the lane, he finds teammates for shots and he has a dangerous jumper. Jackson looked like a young version of Miami guard Angel Rodriguez.
Southeast Elite is a 15U team playing in the loaded 16U division at the Next Level Nationals. They lost a tough overtime game to a very good New Jersey Playaz team, but looked to have several 2017 prospects worth keeping an eye on. Big men Wendell Carter and Austin Wiley can run and are very bouncy around the rim. Shooting guard Jamal Johnson has live legs, a good-looking jumper and nice size at around 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3 with room to grow. Also impressing was 6-foot-5 wing John Petty, who showed a very smooth jumper out to the three-point line and smooth athleticism. This looks like a crew to be reckoned with as they mature.
Continuing the parade of impressive-looking 2017 players, Expressions Elite 16's rolled out wings Jermaine Samuels and Kimani Lawrence, who both look like potential high-major talents. Both Samuels and Lawrence are in the 6-foot-5/6-foot-6 range, are good athletes and have some skill. Samuels is a bit more explosive and an above-the-rim finisher who can make a jumper, while Lawrence wore out jumpers from mid-range and showed that he can finish at the rim as well. A stretch forward, 2016 prospect Boris Ulker showed signs as well. He put the ball on the floor some and hit jumpers from 18 feet with ease. He is a skill guy all the way.
Finally, the South Beach All-Stars are essentially a 15U team playing up in the 16's like Southeast Elite. Near seven-foot freshman Zach Brown backed up what Rivals.com saw from him in the Fall of 2013. He has a great frame, good hands and soft lefty touch. It is easy to identify him as a potential big-timer but he isn't alone.
Brown's brother Clayton Brown is almost as tall, and while not quite as built, the freshman also has great hands, can really run and is a fine athlete. Among the other impressive rising sophomore talents on a loaded South Beach All-Stars squad was 6-foot-6 wing Latravian Glover. Glover has a basketball body, good strength and he will attack off the dribble. He made a handful of pull-ups from the 12-foot range and was active on both ends of the floor. Also, keep an eye on Al-Wajid Aminu. The 6-foot-5 small forward is the younger brother of NBA player Al-Farouq Aminu, young for the class of 2016 and very athletic.