Basketball Recruiting - Evans' Takeaways: Prospects that shined at Hoop Exchange
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Evans' Takeaways: Prospects that shined at Hoop Exchange

Zeb Jackson
Zeb Jackson (Brandon Brown)

APOPKA, Fla. – The Hoop Exchange Fall Festival has become the go-to stage every September for some of the more underrated Sunshine State natives to propel their stock nationally.

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2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

AJ STATON

There may not be a bigger breakout prospect from this weekend’s event than Saton. The 6-foot-5 wing is a ball hawk sort of defender with a relentless motor. He is just coming into his own and it seems like he gets better by the game. Saton looks the part of a do-it-all wing that can score, defend, pass and shoot.

He recently took an official visit to Illinois State and is expected to visit Northeastern next weekend. Look for the highest rung to get involved if he does decide to sign late as DePaul, Florida and St. John’s are the latest to show interest in the three-star prospect.

The lefty came out with a purpose on Sunday and lived up to the billing of a potential high-major big man this fall. While he did say that he would not sign until April, Haynes will take his first official visit to VCU next weekend.

He told Rivals.com that the Rams and Virginia Tech are currently working the hardest within his recruitment but plenty of others are showing heavy interest, too. He has only gotten better since the summer as he showed the ability to put the ball on the floor and create his own offense, finish with impressive footwork around the basket and also make shots to the perimeter.

One of the highest-ranked seniors suiting up in Apopka, Jackson has continued to develop his perimeter jumper while also improving his motor. Jackson was never soft in the past but it was nice to see him compete more consistently and also become involved in more 50-50 plays.

The Michigan commit made shots from all three levels and showed the capacity to defend either guard position. He is on track for a solid career in Ann Arbor under first-year coach Juwan Howard.

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Decision day is looming for Miguel, a ready-to-contribute wing that competes and impacts the game on both ends. Personally, I never understood how or why more power level programs weren’t originally involved. Too bad, because Miguel looked the part of an all-league defender over the weekend. He will choose from Kansas State, Texas A&M, TCU, USF and Western Kentucky on Tuesday.

I would not be surprised if programs soon begin to prioritize Nembhard after catching a quick glimpse of him. The younger brother of Florida’s Andrew Nembhard, the four-star prospect is a bit different than his older sibling. He is not a jumbo playmaker, but rather a quick-twitch, sneaky athlete that is similarly built but more athletic around the basket. His jumper remains a work in progress but finding pass-first floor generals that can really guard have become a difficult task in recent years.

This makes Nembhard unique which is why he will be recruited nationally and already holds offers from Florida, Ohio State, Stanford and USC.

I remember the first year or so of evaluating current Texas Tech forward Chris Clarke and it was more about picking him apart instead of appreciating his strengths. That same feeling is what I get with James. Yes, he doesn’t have a defined position on the floor. Yes, he doesn’t shoot the ball great just yet. But there are so many other ways that he impacts the game.

The Oak Ridge wing is a downhill driver that gets to the foul line in heavy amounts but also is an underrated playmaker that makes the quick pass. He is tough, versatile, a quality defender of many positions and doesn’t take a play off.

USF and Wake Forest are the lone two power programs to offer but more will be on the way once schools begin to actually sit down and assess everything James brings to the floor.

Reclassifying into the 2020 class earlier this summer, Edey does need the right system and scheme to flourish in college. There is one thing that you cannot teach and that is size, which is something that he has a lot of. The IMG product is a space eater at its finest but also is rather skilled from 10-feet and in. He has decent mobility for how big he is and is great at sealing his man in the low post and out top as a screen setter. Edey displayed great hands and the ability to finish around the rim.

Due to an already depleted crop of centers in the 2020 class, expect for plenty of newcomers to enter his recruitment. Purdue will be in for him on Tuesday, and Edey’s offer list already includes Florida State, Minnesota, Seton Hall, TCU and USF.

It was not his best string of games but there is a lot that Love can do that impacts the wins and losses column. First and foremost, it is the degree of physicality that he plays with. While he enters the Montverde Academy program known for his penchant for scoring, it was nice to see the four-star guard compete and win many of the 50-50 plays whenever his shot wasn’t falling.

Love has become better off of the catch, though, but his bread and butter is out of the mid-range or in attacking the closeout prior to the hardline attack to the basket.

His transfer to Monteverde has allowed for some of the national powers to show greater levels of interest in him, including Villanova and Virginia. Arkansas, Baylor, Texas and Texas A&M continue to prioritize him.