Bossi's Best: EYBL Indianapolis Awards
INDIANAPOLIS -- This week in Bossi’s Best I wanted to take one last look back at last weekend’s loaded Nike EYBL event, where players like five-star forward Isaiah Todd stood out.
So, today I’m handing out awards from the weekend. I wanted to try to focus primarily on some of the players that neither myself or Corey Evans were able to address during our weekend coverage of the event.
MORE FROM EYBL: Ten takeaways from Indy | Eric Bossi and Corey Evans dish on Nike EYBL action
THE BALANCING ACT: ISAIAH TODD
The award: One of the toughest things for a prospect - especially an elite one who people want to tug at - is to balance playing your game with what is best for your future. It can often be difficult, but after watching Todd over the weekend, it really looks like he has found the right balance of playing on the block, facing the hoop and knowing when to do what. His effort and playmaking were tremendous during a key Sunday game, and with 17.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, nobody can knock his production.
His recruitment: Baylor, Florida, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, Memphis, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Wake Forest and many more are among those involved in what is currently a pretty wide-open recruitment.
TEAM OF THE WEEKEND: PHENOM U
The award: It's pretty self explanatory here, and of all the excellent teams I saw over the weekend, I didn't see any that were more impressive than the loaded Milwaukee-based Phenom U crew.
Headlined by 2021's top ranked player Pat Baldwin Jr., who was outstanding, and elite 2020 wing Jalen Johnson, who is a versatile playmaker, Phenom U steamrolled everybody in their way while wining all four games. In addition to those two nearly 6-foot-9 versatile wings, Phenom rolls out an outstanding four-star point guard in Reece Beekman and a lean and athletic four-man in Jamari Sibley. The third-highest ranked player on the team, combo forward Jaemyn Brakefield, is another versatile and skilled 6-foot-9-ish forward, and he had himself a tremendous weekend as well.
MR. COMEBACK: N'FALY DANTE
The award: During the latter half of the high school season and in the early spring, N'Faly Dante wasn't always playing up to his ranking and his effort was up and down. There were no effort issues or questions about his status as one of 2020's elite big men in Indianapolis. He imposed his will physically, was on the glass, blocked shots, ran the floor and scored the ball when called upon. Not surprisingly, his MoKan Elite squad was rolling right along with him.
THE ENFORCER: MOUSSA CISSE
The award: As I wandered the gym, I was looking for a big, bad, physical, tough and intimidating dude who cleaned the glass and blocked shots. Mercy, Moussa Cisse did all of that and more. He racked up 57 rebounds and 25 blocks and tried to tear the rim down whenever he could on offense. You have to appreciate the nasty he can bring to the floor.
THE BIG SMOOTH: PAOLO BANCHERO
The award: Who is more smooth and complete as a four-man than Paolo Banchero? Not many, that's for sure. I love watching his skill-based, versatile all-around game, and even more I love his demeanor. He scores, he rebounds, he's a gifted passer and he seems to always have a sense for which of his skills his team needs most.
HEART OVER HEIGHT: DAESHUN RUFFIN
The award: This one goes to the sub 6-foot player who was the most difficult to contain, and Daeshun Ruffin has to be that guy. Playing with MEBO Express, the 5-foot-10 sophomore was constantly hurling his body into much bigger players to finish at the rim and then drilling jumpers when defenders were on their heels. He stays in attack mode and plays with an attitude like he's 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds.
BEST CAMEO APPEARANCE: JOSH HALL
The award: So far this spring, skilled wing Josh Hall has been impressing with his size and scoring for Team Loaded NC on the Adidas Circuit. But he showed up in Indy with Team CP3 and put on a show. He hit shots from deep, attacked off the dribble and showed off a high-level game. He's already made a big climb in the rankings, but he may not be done yet.
His recruitment: East Carolina (where his dad played), Florida, Kansas, Maryland, NC State, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, Providence and Virginia Tech are just a few involved, but word on the street is that a North Carolina offer could be a game-changer.
ALWAYS IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME: MICAH PEAVY
The award: Peavy is always hustling and as a coach's son, he just seems to have a feel for being in the right place at the right time. You could also call that basketball IQ. Peavy has always been a big-time athlete, but he's improved his ball-handling, jump shooting and effort on both ends of the floor. He took a big leap in the winter and looks to be making another one.
AHEAD OF HIS PRO FATHER: A.J. GRIFFIN
The award: I remember watching A.J. Griffin's father, Adrian Griffin, play at Wichita (Kans.) East when I was in high school and then watching him at Seton Hall and into the pros. Now, I understand I was a teenager when I first saw the elder Griffin, but his son sure looks to be way ahead of where his father was at the same age. Griffin has a chiseled frame, versatile skill, sneaky athleticism and some seriously long arms. Playing with the PSA Cardinals, he easily backed up his top 10 status in the class of 2021.
TRENDING UP: RYAN KALKBRENNER
The award: Don't get me wrong, 7-footer Ryan Kalkbrenner is still pretty rough around the edges. He needs strength to be more physical and he's got to be more consistent, but he's sure trending up - and quickly. This guy has found some serious confidence and is quickly emerging as one 2020's top rim-protecting big men. It doesn't hurt that he has soft hands and some touch on offense.
DESERVED MORE TALK: LANGSTON LOVE
The award: I didn't know a lot about the Houston Hoops sophomore prior to the weekend, but my co-worker Corey Evans has been high on him. I see why. This guy just gets buckets. Off the bounce, timely jumpers, through contact and in transition he simply finds ways to score. As much of a hotbed for hoops as Texas has become and how heavily the state is scouted now, I'm pretty surprised there hasn't been more talk about him.
NEED TO LOOK INTO: KOBE BUFKIN
The award: Finally, this last award goes to the guy who just so happened to make an impressive play as I was walking by while looking for a game to close out my day on Sunday. I saw this lanky 6-foot-4 wing make a nice hesitation dribble to freeze a defender before pulling up for a good-looking lefty jumper. The shot didn't go in, but all that went into it was smooth. So, I stuck around for the rest of the game and loved everything about Bufkin. He looks like a high-major and one of the better two-guard prospects in the Midwest if what I witnessed is how he regularly plays.
His recruitment: TCU is the only program to offer.