football Edit

EYBL: Youth movement in Houston

THE RIVALS150: 2015 | 2016
HOUSTON -- On Saturday, Rivals.com spent the first half of the
day checking out 16U action before making it back to the MI3 Center for the 17U
action at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League's Houston stop. Marvin Bagley, the top-ranked player in the class of 2018, showed flashes of
brilliance but suffered a loss in the 16s. Meanwhile, another 2018 star was
being born in the 17U division as guard Javonte Smart impressed for
Elfrid Payton Elite during the first round of games.
No fear for Smart
For most freshman, just playing up two age groups in the 17U division of the
EYBL would be pretty impressive. It would also be pretty daunting. Elfrid Payton
Elite's Javonte Smart isn't just playing up on the 17U level, he is
thriving and at times has looked like one of the most confident players in the
gym.
A 6-foot-4 guard from Scotlandville (La.) High, Smart has long arms and an
impressive build for a freshman to go along with quickness and bounce around the
rim. In earlier viewings, Smart had looked like a potentially elite shooting
guard prospect. After seeing him again, he is still a potentially elite prospect
but it may be at the point guard position.
Smart played pretty much the entire game at the point in a tough win over the
Spiece Indy Heat and he looked quite comfortable doing so. He was able to get
into the rim and finish with either hand, plus he created lots of easy shots.
Defensively, he can really move his feet and makes great use of his length.
We won't begin ranking or assessing stars to the class of 2018 until after the
summer, but Smart has put himself into serious five-star consideration. Smart
doesn't think he has any offers yet but LSU,
Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Wake Forest and
UMass have made early inquiries.
On the afternoon, Smart finished with 13 points, five assists and five rebounds
in a win over the Spiece Indy Heat. It should also be noted that Smart came back
down to Earth a bit in an evening loss to the St. Louis Eagles, but that doesn't
take away from his talent level and future potential.
"I think I've been doing pretty good," Smart said. "It's great competition out
here but I'm not surprised to be doing well. I came out confident that I
belong."
To be clear, Smart is far from a one man show for the Elfrid Payton -- whose
namesake was on hand to watch Saturday -- squad. They are loaded from top to
bottom with quality athletes and players. When Smart isn't attacking the paint.
Four-star 2016 point guard DeJon Jarreau can be found doing the same.
Still recovering from a hip injury, the 6-foot-4 point shifts gears with ease
and is tough to keep from the rim. He said that he's added offers from
UTEP, Temple, Oklahoma State and Miami since
the end of the April live periods to add to a rapidly growing group of high
major offers.
Ponds looking to win
During the winter, point guard Shamorie Ponds emerged as one of the
better scoring floor generals in the class of 2016. He scored the ball so well
during his junior season at Brooklyn (N.Y.) Thomas Jefferson that some wondered
if he was really more of an undersized shooting guard.
Thanks to his play in the EYBL with the New York Lightning, Ponds has proved
that he's a point guard all the way while backing up his status as a four-star
prospect and the No. 99 player in the class of 2016.
Saturday night against the Northwest Express, Ponds absolutely took over in the
second half. Though he's quite skinny, he took contact and finished at the rim
and sprinkled in a few jumpers as he led his team to a win. Ponds finished with
22 points, four rebounds and a pair of assists but most of all he was happy to
get a win and help his team move to 5-6 as they look to battle their way back to
.500.
"I feel like I have been playing good but I can play even better," Ponds said.
"We really need to get more wins and I'm just doing everything I can for us to
get more wins."
On the recruiting front, Ponds listed offers from Minnesota, Oklahoma,
DePaul, St. John's, USF and South Carolina. Ponds
said that the St. John's offer came from the Steve Lavin staff and that he's not
yet had much contact with Chris Mullin's staff since they took over.
More Saturday notes and news
One of
Rivals.com's favorite players of the day was Bryan Assie of the New
York Lightning. A rugged 6-foot-6 power forward from the class of 2016, Assie
does the dirty work around the rim and doesn't care about being rewarded with
offensive touches. He only scored seven points in the Lightning's win over
Northwest Express but he grabbed 10 big rebounds and dished out all sorts of
physicality. Assie listed offers from Fairfield, St. Francis and Niagara to go
along with interest from Quinnipiac and Fairleigh Dickinson.
The best
point guard in the class of 2016 found his comfort zone on Saturday night.
Making an appearance with Team Penny, Dennis Smith had been getting
acclimated to his teammates. Saturday night the No. 4 player in 2016 went off
for 29 points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists to lead Team Penny to
an overtime win over All-Ohio Red. Not only did Smith produce, he gave the crowd
what they wanted to see with some high rising jams including one particularly
impressive one where he drove left along the baseline, exploded off two feet and
cocked back with one hand on a defender.
Mac Irvin
Fire point guard Charlie Moore could make a push for the 2016
Rivals150. The sub-six footer can really score it off the dribble and though he
looks offense first he is a very capable playmaker for others. Moore has
benefited from some added strength and played very well during a win over the
Oakland Soldiers as he tallied 20 points, four rebounds and six assists.
Four-star
small forward Oshae Brissett has had himself a nice spring with the
Las Vegas Prospects. The junior from Canada who plays at Henderson (Nev.)
Findlay Prep reported that he now has offers from Oklahoma, Oregon,
Carlos JohnsonClick UNLV, Texas Tech, IUPUI and UCLA.Here to view this Link. is a guy that coaches will have to think outside of the box on.
He's probably not much bigger than 6-foot-3 but is built like a linebacker and
doesn't really have a true position. What Johnson does do, is play hard and
compete physically. The Oakland Soldiers took a loss to the Mac Irvin Fire but
it wasn't for a lack of effort on the part of Johnson. Operating primarily near
the rim, Johnson had a manly 21 point and 15 rebound effort.
One thing is
very clear at this point, power forward Marvin Bagley is the best
prospect in the class of 2018. The southpaw is athletic, he can handle the ball
at 6-foot-10, passes very well and the southpaw has a high basketball IQ. On
Saturday, he had flashes of brilliance -- like a two dribble pull-up jumper from
the elbow going to his right -- but he and his We Can All Go team took a tough L
to a scrappy St. Louis Eagles team in a 16U game. Still relatively lean, he will
only get stronger and more explosive as he matures. Also making some noise for
WACG was point guard Darius Garland. The thin six-footer is a very
dangerous shooter from beyond the three point line, sees the floor well and can
control the tempo. He looks to be a potential high major prospect himself as he
adds weight.
Picking up
where he left off in the 16U division of the EYBL's first session in Hampton,
Va., 6-foot-5 wing Cameron Reddish of Team Final did several nice
things. Most of all he was extremely confident with his jumper. Reddish dialed
them up from three point land and got to the free throw line. He told Rivals.com
that he's received his first offer from Penn State.
Louisville, Temple, Syracuse, Virginia,
Villanova, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Duke
and N.C. State have all expressed some level of interest. In the last
year Reddish said that he's visited Louisville, Syracuse and all of the North
Carolina schools.
Down in the
state of Florida, the Each 1 Teach 1 program really has things rolling. While
their 17s have been making lots of noise, their 16U team is right behind them.
Impressive 2018 power forward Silvio De Sousa put on a dunking
exhibition on Saturday morning. De Sousa is put together more like a college
freshman than one in high school and he gets off the floor as quickly as anybody
in any age level of the EYBL. While he's an aggressive rebounder and dunker, De
Sousa also exhibits some patience and is a good passer out of double teams.
Also catching Rivals.com's eye on Saturday morning was 6-foot-7 Tyler Polley.
The sophomore can play as either a skilled faceup four man or a tall wing. He is
very thin but has a high basketball IQ and lots of upside as he fills out.
Polley said that his first offer came from UAB and that he has interest
from Maryland, Florida, Miami, UCF and
USF.
Finally,
we'll end Saturday's coverage with a quick run through of some of the other
players who caught our attention in the 16U division.
For Team Melo, 6-foot-4 wing Montez Mathis is an impressive looking
2018 prospect. Well built and athletic, Mathis is tough with the ball and
attacks the rim relentlessly . ... The Playaz Basketball Club 16's shook off a
slow start to knock off the Alabama Challenge and six-foot combo guard Jamir Harris intrigued. A good jump shooter with strength, he's looking to
transition to more of a true point guard and listed offers from Seton Hall, Creighton and USC to go with interest from
Oklahoma, St. John's and East Carolina. ... King James combo guard Markell Johnson is a big time athlete who is offensively gifted. Though he can be a
bit wild at times, the 6-foot-1 2017 prospect can attack the rim, has good
strength and should be a more than respectable enough jump shooter. Like many
young players, he just needs to learn to play with consistent effort and that he
can't win by himself. ... One of the top 25 prospects in the class of 2017,
6-foot-10 Floridian Mitchell Robinson of Alabama Challenge can really
run the floor. He alters shots, hits the glass and looks to have good enough
hands. Unfortunately he wasn't the beneficiary of lots of touches while we
watched. Robinson said he thinks that UAB and DePaul have offered.
For Team Penny, 2018 shooting guard T.J. Moss and 2017 combo guard
Khalil Garland impressed. Standing 6-foot-4, Moss is a quick and athletic wing
from Memphis (Tenn.) East who plays with ridiculous energy. He hit some threes
and attacked the rim. A skilled ball handler, Garland's game is all about tempo
and controlling it. He's comfortable going to his right or left, is pushing
6-foot-4 and the Little Rock (Ark.) Parkview product can be a primary scorer or
playmaker. ... Jordan Poole of Playground Elite has a great looking
jump shot and good ball skills. The 6-foot-2 2017 guard plays a lot on the wing
but looks good enough with the ball to project as a point guard. He listed early
offers from Illinois-Chicago and Wisconsin-Milwaukee to go with interest from
Creighton, Drake, Connecticut, Wisconsin and
Marquette. ... For the PSA Cardinals, big man Mohammed Bamba
is already a well known product and one of 2017's premier big men. He ran the
floor, showed touch around the rim and the ability to dominate as a shot blocker
when he wanted but didn't play with the intensity that he could of scoring 15
points. His PSA and high school teammate at Westtown (Pa.) School, 6-foot-4 wing
Najja Hunter scored all of his 15 points in the second half. A lanky
wing with athleticism, Hunter can also knock down a jumper and looks to have
good upside.