Starting Five: Future stars shine at Crossroads Elite
ANDOVER, Kans. -- One of the best camps in the country to scout underclass talent, the Crossroads Elite Invitational took place just outside of Wichita over the weekend. I was able to take in Sunday's action and will dedicate this week's Starting Five to coverage from the camp where twins Amen and Ausar Thompson made a statement and were among several big time prospects on hand.
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1. THOMPSON TWINS MAKE A STATEMENT
Over the years, Russ Wood has been a valued source, analyst and contributor all across the Rivals.com network. I've long trusted what he has to tell me about players, particularly in his home state of Florida, so when he told me about 2022 twins Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson, I was sure to listen. Based on Russ' recommendation and some good looking sophomore season film, we inserted the 6-foot-5 twins into the Rivals150. After watching them at Crossroads I'm glad we listened to Russ. I only wish we had been more bold with their rankings.
The two put on an absolute show and were dynamic on both ends of the floor. They have great basketball bodies, compete and have tremendous feel for the game. Amen is a little more of a passer and has the passing skill to be a big point guard while Ausar is a little bit more of a slasher. Both could use some work with their jumpers, but even so I'd say they are each in need of at least a 50-spot bump when we update 2022 rankings. Alabama, Florida Atlantic, Florida State, Howard, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Stetson and USF have offered the duo, who confirmed that they would like to play together in college.
West Coast schools should take some interest here. The duo is originally from the Oakland area.
2. 2022 FIVE-STARS BACK UP THE HYPE
Miller continued his outstanding play from when I watched him a few weeks ago at the Bradley Beal Challenge. He's not a true blow-by wing, but he's big, pretty athletic and can shoot. When he's fully engaged and competing, he's a monster.
Like Miller, I've had opportunity to see Mitchell this summer. Since we both live in Kansas City, I've seen him at various events around town. At 6-foot-8 he has really hit his stride as a mismatch combo forward who simply doesn't get sped up by others and who always produces. His nickname is "EZ" and you can see why. He played as well as anybody in camp and backed up his lofty ranking.
As for Livingston, this was my first chance to see him in person in about a year. At times, he looked a little rusty with his jump shot -- this was his first event of the summer -- but he can get to his spots and he gets there in a hurry. Livingston was a good athlete the last time I saw him, but now he's a truly elite athlete who looks to have grown to at least 6-foot-6. He's got a devastating spin move and when he wanted to get to the rim, he got to the rim. On the recruiting front, he told me that he's been hearing the most from South Carolina and Tennessee State.
3. RISING SOPHOMORES SHOW OUT
Unfortunately a few players who will factor into introductory 2023 rankings, Omaha Biliew and Jeremy Fears, were done playing by the time I got to camp. However, there were still at least two potential five-stars and many other impressive players from the sophomore class.
One of those potential five-stars is Kwame Evans Jr. from Baltimore. Pushing 6-foot-9, he's rail thin but possesses a high level of skill, a dangerous jump shot and he just screams upside. He's still got a long way to go, but as he adds strength and confidence over the next few years his ceiling is extremely high. It's hard not to bet on a guy like him long term. He picked up his first blue blood offer from Kansas on Saturday.
The other player who will be in the argument to debut as a five-star in our 2023 rankings was Colorado center Baye Fall. Pushing 6-foot-11, he is skinny but he is bouncy (see above photo) and very quick off the floor. He can run all day long and looks to have pretty good hands. It wasn't a great day of finishing for him, but the tools are all there. Kansas has also offered him as have Georgetown, Georgia, Memphis and Minnesota.
The other 2023 player that I had some familiarity with was point guard Jeremiah Johnson from Oklahoma. He's crafty, he plays tough and he's got a little bit of an old school game. He'll be in the discussion for our initial rankings.
I want to touch quickly on Jahnathan Lamothe, Shawn Simmons, Matas Buzelis, Taison Chatman and Cameron Carr. Lamothe is a nicely put together shooting guard who looks to be nearly 6-foot-4. He was one of the very best deep jump shooters in camp and already has DePaul and Georgetown offers.
Simmons was another good looking wing. At least 6-foot-5, he's got long arms, was hitting the pull-up jumper in transition and is also a good athlete getting to the rim.
Buzelis is a really intriguing forward from Illinois. He has skill, he has some athleticism and despite a very lean frame plays with a real chip on his shoulder.
Chatman is a skilled combo guard from Minnesota who looked better and better in each game. Hits open shots, has good passing instincts and looks to be a pretty well rounded player.
Finally, Carr is still pretty slender and probably not much bigger than 5-foot-10. But, he's got a lot going for him. He is very skilled, he can shoot and he handles the ball really well. He's also got long arms and looks like he's about 12 years old. His father Chris Carr is a former NBA player and current assistant for Kansas State's women's program.
4. CAMERON SCOTT WILL BE ONE TO WATCH IN 2024
The class of 2024 hasn't even been able to play their first high school games yet. Well, actually a few have and one of them is Cameron Scott.
A 6-foot-5 guard from Lexington (S.C.), Scott actually played varsity basketball as an 8th grader. He didn't just get some minutes either, the dude was an All-State selection in class 5A. I don't care where you are from, making All-State as an 8th grader is eye-opening.
I can see why he made it too. For my money, Scott was one of the five or so best long term prospects I saw take the floor in a loaded camp. He has great size, is already very athletic and plays with a nice blend of off the dribble and jump shooting. There is a long way to go between today and his 2024 graduation date, but Scott sure looks like the real deal as a high level prospect. It will be fun to watch him develop.
5. REPS RISING IN WICHITA
Lastly, here are a few already ranked players that look to have gotten better and a few kids whose reps should be on the rise from the class of 2022.
Four-star Arkansas guard Nick Smith is really starting to figure it out. His blend of size, athleticism and creativity off the dribble make him a real problem. He's a scoring point guard who is almost impossible to keep out of the lane.
When it comes to shot blockers in 2022, or any class, few are better than Felix Okpara. The 6-foot-10 big man will need to add strength, but he can really run and is a human eraser around the rim. This kid is fun to watch on the defensive end.
A big wing with extreme athleticism, Aidan Shaw just keeps getting better. He's another kid I see frequently around Kansas City and Sunday was maybe the best I have ever seen him play. At 6-foot-7 with great length to go along with his athleticism, simply playing hard makes him a load. He lived on the rim (including one nasty baseline rim assault you can see linked below), drilled some catch-and-shoot threes and generally made things happen.
Big man Tarris Reed was feeling it with the mid-range jump shot. He had some nice baseline turnaround and free throw area hits. If he is making those consistently, then the four-star becomes and entirely different dude. Either way he's a lock high major guy.
Early in the spring we introduced Nebraska forward Isaac Traudt. At around 6-foot-9, I like him as a skilled combo forward and a real matchup problem. He has a pretty jumper, is a very good ball handler and has some edge to his game. We need to be talking about him as a potential top 50 or so player.
Combo guard Reggie Bass is the kind of guy I would like to have on my team. The Rivals150 guard has some toughness about him and is comfortable in a setup or a scoring role. He looks destined to be a valuable upperclassmen at a high major program.
Currently ranked outside of the 2022 Rivals150, three-star forward Demarion Watson-Saulsberry will be in the discussion for inclusion. Owning a high major offer from Missouri, Watson-Saulsberry has plus wing size at around 6-foot-7 and he is a pretty good jump shooter. It's not out of the question that he could play a combo forward role in college and he's a good defender.
I liked watching big men Cameron Fens from Iowa and Isaiah Carr from New Mexico get after it. Fens is 6-foot-9, has good skill, likes to mix it up and doesn't give up anything easy on the defensive end. Carr is a bit more mobile, gets off the floor quickly and runs the floor well. He looks to have real potential as a rim protector. I'm pretty surprised that there are no reported offers for either of these promising post prospects.