Las Vegas awards: Best of the best on big stage
The travel basketball season has come to an end but there is never a bad time to dish out a few awards to deserving prospects that suited up last week in Las Vegas. While LaVar Ball and his Big Baller Brand took up most of the spotlight, dues must be given to Devon Dotson, Jalen Green, R.J. Hampton and a few others for their play.
Devon Dotson, a 6-foot-1 point guard that faced off against some of the very best talent at his position, showed that he should be considered among one of the best in the 2018 class. He averaged more than 22 points, six rebounds and two assists per game, while knocking in close to half of his perimeter attempts. Dotson officially visited Arizona this week and is expected to check out Kansas and Florida in September.
Let’s not undersell all that Jalen Green is because he is more than just a high-wire athlete. The Truth star has developed an exceptional pull-up game and improved in making the proper play from off the attack to the rim. However, Green displayed just how impressive his athleticism is in Las Vegas with a number of amazing finishes. Green is already tracking as an elite, five-star prospect in the 2020 class and has put together a fair enough argument to be slated as the top recruit in his class nationally.
PLAYER THAT BEST MAKES OTHERS BETTER
R.J. Hampton, a legitimate 6-foot-3 (and growing) lead guard, helped lead his BU Nation team to a win over a super-talented Team Loaded VA team on Friday. The following day, despite going down to another supremely talented Compton Magic bunch, Hampton showed an unbelievable know-how of when to shoot, when to pass, when to start the fast break and when to settle into his team’s half-court offense. He is the total package at the point guard position, which is why he holds early offers from Oklahoma State, LSU, Texas and Kansas.
TOP BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE
For one reason or another, it took two years for the recruitment of Nate Laszewski to hit the biggest of stages. In an era where stretch 4-men have become as valuable as ever, Laszewski is arguably one of the best shooters in America. This was on display during his stay in Las Vegas, as Laszewski averaged more than 16 points while making 43 percent of his perimeter tries. Arizona, Indiana and Wisconsin are the latest to offer, while North Carolina jumped in with their own on Monday evening.
BIGGEST BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE
Even though Alonzo Gaffney is ranked No. 110 in the 2019 rankings, he made us look foolish with his inspired play. The OBC junior is a true 6-foot-7 small forward that can handle, pass, score and defend, all of which has made Kansas and Ohio State jump in immediately with an offer. A 50-spot jump in a ranking update is tremendous but a 100-spot bump, well, that is just unheard of. However, the breakthrough performances of Gaffney might warrant such a leap.
This one is going to be a push as the Team Loaded 17-under squad and Team Takeover 16-under brigade each brought home their respective championship trophies after an excellent few days in Las Vegas. The Loaded team is perfectly named as it is headlined by top-50 big men David McCormack and Armando Bacot, a trio of standout guards featuring Penn State commit Rasir Bolton, Princeton commit Jaelin Llewellyn and entertaining playmaker Mac McClung, and a bevy of hard-nosed wings including Mike Wynn, Jairus Hamilton and Kiyon Boyd.
While Loaded won the Adidas 17-under division, Team Takeover has set the bar at the 16-under level. Super sophomores Jeremy Roach, Earl Timberlake and Terrance Williams, along with ever-improving guard Casey Morsell led the way to the Fab 48 championship. This is one of the best teams assembled at the 16-under platform within recent years and the scary part is that it was missing potential five-star 2020 center Hunter Dickinson.
Josh Phillips was overshadowed a bit this week playing next to Gianni Hunt, Bryce Hamilton and Kamaka Hepa on Dinos Trigonis’ Belmont Shore team. His play should not be overlooked, though. While Phillips does not have go-to abilities around the basket, the 6-foot-8 forward's upside is evident. Ending his first but also his final year of travel basketball, Phillips pulled in offers from Portland, Portland State and Cal Baptist a few weeks back, the first three programs to jump into the mix. Expect for a slew of others to evaluate the blossoming and hard-playing forward this fall as Phillips' game is on the uptick and his recruitment could face a similar trajectory.
PLAYER THAT CAPTURED THE MOST COACHES' EYES
Three-star forward Aaron Henry was not short for head coaches at his games. He played six games in Las Vegas and nearly a dozen head coaches were at each of his contests. A rough and rugged small forward that improves by the game, the lefty has become more of a skilled wing player instead of relying on physicality to overcome his deficiencies. Head coaches from Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Washington State, UConn, Virginia Tech, Purdue, Butler, Akron and Indiana were spotted watching Henry this week, reflecting just how much of a priority he has become. Look for Henry to trim his list to six or seven this month.
MOST WATCHED GAME
The matchup between Big Baller Brand and Zion Williamson, quite possibly the most watched travel basketball game of all-time after surpassing 800,000 views on Facebook live, was one that will not be forgotten. Williamson and his SC Supreme team won the game but not many will remember who came out victorious. Instead, it will be the antics of LaVar Ball and the fanfare created by Williamson that concocted for one of the craziest nights that the travel basketball landscape has seen in some time.