Evans' Takeaways: Scottie Lewis turns heads at Nike Skills
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The Nike Skills Academy has become a must-attend event for high-ranking NBA scouts and personnel that want to get a better pulse on the top high school and college talent in basketball. Rivals.com Basketball Recruiting Analyst Corey Evans dishes out several takeaways from his time in California.
Evans' Takeaways: Cunningham, Green shine at Nike Skills
2021 Rankings: Rivals150
Scottie Lewis has continued to win naysayers over
The recruiting industry has not seen someone like Lewis in recent years, a competitive, all-around force on the wing that makes his team so much better. Entering his freshman campaign at Florida, Lewis looked stronger and showcased a more consistent shot. His outgoing nature is noticeable, and I was asked a handful of times whether it was authentic or just for show. No, it is legitimate, which is why Lewis is going to become an NBA personnel favorite this winter and should dominate pre-draft meetings leading up to next year’s NBA Draft.
Kahlil Whitney might be Kentucky’s best option at power forward
The Wildcats struck out too many times to recall last year whenever it came to chasing the best post prospects nationally. This may have forced the hand of John Calipari going the small ball route, and placing the five best bodies on the court has become the dominant theme in Lexington. Whitney didn’t shoot it great in California, but he was all over the place on the defensive end and was at his best as downhill attacker off of the perimeter. Whitney at the four might not be what he wants to hear right now, but it could also be the game-changing type of move that raises the Wildcats’ ceiling next season.
Mamadi Diakite is ready to be ‘the guy’
I haven’t had a chance to be around Diakite for a prolonged period of time since he left the grassroots world four years ago. Back then, he was just a raw athlete that relied on his instincts and energy to impact the game. Now, the soon-to-be face of the Virginia basketball program is a much more outgoing and charismatic leader with a translatable skillset that should work well beyond the college game. Despite all of the program's roster losses over the offseason, the Cavaliers will remain a dominant name in the sport if Diakite steps his game up another level.
Cole Anthony is going to post major numbers
Anthony has never been short on confidence, which has transitioned into this next phase of his playing career. He took some difficult shots throughout the course of the week, but also made more than his fair share. Anthony is just as explosive as I can remember and should have no issues putting his team on his back from the get-go. A stat line of 18 points, five rebounds and four assists could become the norm for the likely one-and-done candidate.
Cassius Winston will get drafted
Arguably the most productive college player in attendance, Winston looked a bit more svelte than he was last season. While he doesn’t have prototypical NBA measurables, he does possess a plus-five wingspan and leadership qualities that set him apart from his peers. There is something to be said for making the simple play but also the right one which has become the norm for Winston. He was a major talking point at the camp and while he doesn’t have the appeal that many others showcase, the recent success rate of Yogi Ferrell, Jalen Brunson and Fred Van Vleet should help him on NBA Draft night.
Ochai Agbaji passed the eye test
He didn’t have a tremendous camp but whenever it comes to the immediate eye test, many were stumped at how Agbaji was a potential full-year redshirt candidate at Kansas last year. He still showed that he has more room to grow before he settles into the off-guard spot that could ultimately be his long-term position in the NBA. However, Agbagi is a Herculean figure at 6-foot-5 and just over 210 pounds. He should be Kansas’ primary lock-down defender next season.
Udoka Azubuike wins the measurement test
The last time that most of us heard about Azubuike, it was regarding the ligament tear that he suffered in his right hand that ultimately led to the redshirt being taken off of Ochai Agbaji. Back and fully healthy, Azubuike still has a ways to go in the skill department but when it comes to rim-running, dump-off dunking and rebounding, not many do it better than the Kansas star. This all is enforced further by his 7-foot-8 wingspan. A plus-nine wingspan on a center that weighs more than 275 pounds and competes on each possession is difficult to stop at the college level. Questions continue to circulate about his ultimate fate at the NBA level, but that shouldn’t stop his efficiency numbers from soaring at KU this winter.