Evans' Takeaways: Cunningham, Green shine at Nike Skills
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Nike Skills Academy hosted over 30 of the best high school prospects in America over the weekend, running the group through instructional drills during the morning session and games to end the night. Rivals.com Basketball Recruiting Analyst Corey Evans looks back at his time in California and offers up his biggest takeaways from the event.
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2021 Rankings: Rivals150
CADE CUNNINGHAM CONTINUES TO SET THE BAR
Any conversation with an NBA scout this week usually included discussion about Cunningham. His pace, feel, versatility and efficiency were on full display, which made many point to Cunningham as the most NBA-ready prospect in attendance. Talk continues to revolve around him landing at Oklahoma State where his brother is an assistant coach, but he will take official visits to Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina and Washington before reaching a decision. His recruitment is more open than many presume.
PAOLO BANCHERO ENDS HIS SUMMER ON A STRONG NOTE
Arguably the best post prospect on hand in California, Banchero drew rave reviews with his sturdy skill set and ability to check practically every box on the final stat sheet. His pick-and-roll game was on point and so was his finishing abilities in traffic. Banchero fits the modern game perfectly and can play in any sort of scheme thanks to how well-rounded he is.
There is increased discussion about possibility that Banchero could reclassify into the 2020 class, and the five-star standout will likely take official visits to Duke and Kentucky this fall with others, such as Memphis, Tennessee and Washington, heavily involved. Look for Banchero to receive more and more attention as he enters his junior high school season.
DEVIN ASKEW KNOWS HOW TO RUN A TEAM
Askew was very vocal in facilitating for his team in the half-court and calling out orders for where each of his teammates should be on the defensive end. He is a more than solid shot-making threat, case in point being his above 40 percent 3-point numbers on the EYBL circuit this summer, but it was his playmaking and intangibles that really separated himself from the pack.
Askew is a reclass candidate but, for now, he has decided to stay in the 2021 class. He will visit Louisville during Labor Day weekend and could also see Kentucky, Memphis, Villanova and a few others within the coming months.
CALEB LOVE IS TRENDING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
The four-star guard out of St. Louis began the camp in the best manner possible. He didn’t settle for long-distance attempts but rather attacked the basket, made the proper pass whenever it was presented and defended both guard positions without much drop-off at either spot. Love has only gotten better and shined against the elite of the elite in attendance.
JALEN GREEN HAS STARTED TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
The last time many saw the tip-top talent, Green was pushing his Team WhyNot squad to the Nike Peach Jam championship game. This weekend, Green was a relentless downhill scorer that defended all over the place and cemented his name in the No. 1 conversation in the 2020 class.
He will make his college commitment on Christmas Day and could see the campuses at Kentucky, Memphis, North Carolina and maybe a few others before coming to a decision.
N'FALY DANTE AND MOUSSA CISSA ARE ELITE SHOT BLOCKERS
I’d take Cisse over Dante if it comes down to primarily shot-blocking alone, but Dante is a little bit further ahead on the offensive end. He has continued to rework his jumper where he could evolve into a pick-and-pop threat in due time. Cisse could do the same, and his effectiveness around the basket and ball control in traffic has really taken off.
Dante is expected to be on a college playing floor this winter with Kentucky and Oregon sitting as his top suitors. For Cisse, his move to Memphis for his junior year could push the local Tigers’ program into the favorites category, but a legitimate leader hasn't emerged yet for the elite shot blocker.
THE EMONI BATES SHOW ROLLS ON
While the NBA scouting audience focused most of their time on the college participants throughout the week, many were intrigued enough to see what all the fuss was about with Bates. The majority had yet to see him prior to the camp but, once they did, the feeling that Bates was a special prospect was pretty universal. Yes, Bates has to become more efficient at times with the ball and also get stronger, but his best is better than anyone’s else’s best. He made many believers of the top-ranking NBA personnel in attendance and if the one-and-done rule is erased for members of the 2022 class, the chances of Bates ever attending college looks to be non-existent.
GREG BROWN IS THE BEST ATHLETE IN AMERICA
I know, Earth-shattering news! We all know how great of an athlete Brown is, but even alongside the college participants in attendance, the top-10 prospect stood above the rest. Brown had a few eyebrow-raising dunks but also showed the ability to make shots out of the mid-range and lead the break off of the defensive glass. If he’s doing that consistently, his ceiling as a prospect is raised another few levels.
NO ONE PLAYS WITH A BIGGER PERSONALITY THAN SCOTTIE BARNES
The five-star is the definition of a utility knife that is best used as a small ball power forward. I’m not sure how great Barnes can be, but he sure is going to maximize every ounce of talent that he was blessed with. He has begun to shoot it better but still has room to improve. However, he is a lock-down defender that makes his teammates around him better. Oregon remains the most talked about landing spot for Barnes, but Kansas, Kentucky, Miami and Ohio State are in the mix as well.