Evans' Takeaways: Nike EYBL circuit concludes in Dallas
MORE FROM THE EYBL: What we knew and what we didn't know
DALLAS – The third and final leg of the Nike EYBL circuit hit the Dallas area this weekend with some of the swoosh’s best adding more to their already sparkling prep careers. There was a lot to entangle but it was performances from Paolo Banchero, N’Faly Dante and Cade Cunningham that stood out the most from the Lone Star State.
PAOLO BANCHERO IS VERY POLISHED
The son of arguably the greatest player in Washington women’s basketball history, Rhonda Smith, Banchero might have a chance to write his own records one day, regardless of where his college career takes place. The five-star sophomore can score in every way possible. His left hand is as good as his dominant hand, his passing skills are precise and his motor has never been better. Banchero began the weekend with a triple-double and completed his spring in the best manner possible. Memphis is his most recent offer, and the new staff at Vanderbilt has also been in touch.
TOUGH COMPETITION FOR TITLE OF BEST JUNIOR IN CHICAGO
There is a nice, unspoken rivalry in the Windy City between Steward and Miller as they continue to prove their worth as ready-to-go high-major producers. Steward has had a breakthrough spring and while his time was cut short this weekend thanks to a minor ankle injury, his infectious personality and scoring binges make him a valuable commodity. Miller walks like he is good because he is good. The lefty is a premium bucket-getter. Both Miller and Seward continue to raise the ceilings of what they can achieve.
CADE CUNNINGHAM WILL SELL TICKETS
Cunningham drew a big crowd over the weekend. In fact, college and NBA stars showed up to see what the five-star was about. When we asked Kentucky-bound Tyrese Maxey if he was going to come back again the next day, he stated that he was only going to return to see his fellow Texan. No one made a bigger statement this spring than Cunningham and he is charging for the top spot in the 2020 rankings.
RECLASSIFICATION TALK HEATS UP WITH N'FALY DANTE
There is not a better shot-blocker or rim presence in America than Dante. The 7-footer has tremendous length but even better instincts and timing in dominating his area near the basket. It is even more promising to see his offensive capabilities improve, as has his confidence within crowded spaces. Having done really all that there is to do in the high school game, talk has picked up again on possibly making the move into the 2019 class. Kansas, Kentucky, LSU, Michigan State and Oregon are just a few of the programs in the mix.
SHARIFE COOPER AND B.J. BOSTON ARE ENTERTAINING
Neither Cooper nor Boston have struggled with the spotlight in recent years and having shared the backcourt with the AOT Running Rebels program for two years, their chemistry is off the charts. Cooper and Boston were excellent again in Dallas, scoring, playmaking and defending. Thanks to their swagger and entertaining dynamics, they have made for one of the most entertaining backcourts in recent memory. Auburn and Kentucky would love to extend their time on the floor together, though Duke and Florida are in the mix as well.
SCOTTIE BARNES IS BACK
One of the most unique prospects, Barnes reclaimed his status as an elite playmaker, entertainer, offensive orchestrator and versatile defender in Dallas. The walking stat-stuffer nearly averaged a triple-double over the weekend. Barnes' swagger has returned and so has his ability to win game thanks to his all-encompassing skillset. Barnes has already taken official visits to Florida State and Oregon, with Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Miami remaining in close contact with him.
DAESHUN RUFFIN STOLE THE SHOW
Ruffin's physical appearances doesn't stand out but he can put on a grab-your-popcorn show. His confidence is through the roof and his shot-making prowess is just tremendous. Ruffin can throw 20 points on the scoreboard in the blink of an eye. The Mississippi native has yet to really gain traction on the recruiting front, maybe because of his size, but after scoring a weekend-high of 51 points on Sunday, he should transition to a high-major recruit this summer.
THERE WILL BE FUN DISCUSSIONS ABOUT THE TOP OF THE 2021 CLASS
The elite talent in the 2021 class will make for heated discussions about who belongs on top of the rankings. We already discussed the ultra-polished Paolo Banchero, but Terrence Clarke, Pat Baldwin, Michael Foster and, most of all, Jon Kuminga, all look to be capable top-ranked prospects in America. Kuminga has been the most dominant all spring long but there is nearly two years before the 2021 Rivals150 is finalized. There's more than enough time for the contenders to bolster their argument for the top spot, a timeframe that could allow someone such as Jabari Smith to sneak into the conversation, too.