basketball Edit

Tarkanian Classic: Bossi Awards

Jaden McDaniels
Jaden McDaniels (https://thenewstribune.com)

LAS VEGAS -- Another year of the Tarkanian Classic has come to a close and it's time to hand out some awards from the event.

MOST ELIGIBLE BACHELOR: JADEN MCDANIELS

The highest ranked senior in attendance who has yet to make his college decision, Jaden McDaniels is going to be a monster scorer for either Kentucky, San Diego State, Texas, UCLA or Washington.

It was frustrating to see him have to spend more time than he should have on the bench because of questionable calls, but when he did get his chances he impressed. McDaniels can stretch defenses, create his own offense and he's simply a freaky mismatch on the offensive end.

His finalists have been going all out for him and he's worth taking things up a level.

PAT MAHOMES OF THE HARDWOOD: DAISHEN NIX

Similar to the way Pat Mahomes has taken the NFL by storm this year, 2020 point guard Daishen Nix is taking the high school basketball scene by storm. Like Mahomes, Nix isn't just among the best there are at his craft, he's among the most entertaining. No look passes, off handed passes, willingness to take some risks and at the end of the day he's all about making his teammates better and doing whatever it might take to win.

Illinois, LSU, Memphis and West Virginia are among the most recent to offer him and's got the grassroots hoops world buzzing.

THE NATURAL: JADEN HARDY

Some have to work their tails off to make things happen, for others the game just seems to come naturally. Hardy certainly makes things easy on the offensive.

This isn't to short change the work that the versatile and tough combo guard has done to get his game to this high of a level at a young age. But, it's pretty clear that he has natural instincts as a playmaker, scorer and all-around basketball that some others just aren't born with.

He's already a West Coast priority and will have the best of the best involved with his recruitment before he's done.

MOST LIKELY TO STAR IN COLLEGE: ISAIAH MOBLEY

There were maybe some guys at the Tarkanian Classic with more "upside" than the USC bound Mobley., but there weren't many that look to be more bound for college stardom than Mobley.

While he certainly has a very good opportunity to reach the NBA, Mobley doesn't yet look like a one or two and done type of prospect. Surely, Andy Enfield and his staff will hope to have him on campus for as long as possible because he can do so much from the four. Offense can be run through him, he can stretch defenses, he can score on the block and he can help the Trojans win a lot of ballgames over the next few years.

MOST PHYSICALLY GIFTED: JONATHAN KUMINGA

Kuminga sure looked the part of a top five prospect in the class of 2021. A lot of that has to do with the way his physical gifts allow him to play.

Kuminga is a truly ridiculous athlete. But it's not just his ability to run fast or jump high. He's laterally quick, he's built more like a college than high school sophomore and he's always in attack mode. Sure, his emotions can get the best of him for stretches, but he needs no prodding to be aggressive.

BEST COMMUNICATOR: JOSH CHRISTOPHER

When a guy is built like a truck, can shoot from deep, gets buckets off the bounce and plays unselfishly, it's not easy to pick what impresses most. But, watching Christopher interact with his teammates on and off the court, his ability to communicate stands out. He appears to be a genuine leader and in an era where some kids really have to be pushed to lead, Christopher is cut from a different cloth.

MYSTERY MAN: MAKUR MAKER

It was the summer of 2015 when Maker first hit the scene as a member of the class of 2019. Now, after not being the most visible of prospects for the past few years Maker has resurfaced in SoCal where he's listed as a member of the 2020 class.

So, first layers are going to have to be peeled back about what he's been up to and if he will stay in 2020. But after that he's a mystery because he's got such a unique game. Maker very clearly prefers to play on the perimeter where he can handle and shoot. It's all pretty impressive for somebody in the neighborhood of seven feet tall. It also makes him easier to guard for a high school team because at least he's not in the post where hardly anybody is likely to have the size to stop him at the rim.

It's going to be really interesting to get another look at him this winter.

UNDERAPPRECIATED SIGNING: ELIAS KING

Any Mississippi State fans should be pretty excited about the long term potential King could have in Starkville.

A big wing who can shoot with range, King has started to fill out his previously lean frame. Along with adding strength, King has really become a more consistent competitor and producer. It would be great to see him use size to his advantage at the rim a little more, but his ability to score and pass over the top of defenses should be hugely beneficial when he hits the floor in the SEC.

BOUNCE BACK: JULIAN STRAWTHER

The first to admit he didn't have the type of summer he wanted to, the four-star junior wing made sure he was at his best at the Tarkanian Classic.

With very good wing size, Strawther was a scoring machine from deep and showed more ability than ever to go and get a basket off the dribble. All great developments with his game. He's another who has become more vocal on the court and after visiting Marquette officially in December he's got trips to Gonzaga, Florida, Florida State and Washington after 2019 starts.

BEST FRESHMAN: SADRAQUE NGANGA

Time will tell just how good he can be, but no freshman in Las Vegas made a stronger first impression than Nganga did.

Because he's young and still adjusting to high school basketball there are some silly mistakes and his ability to impact the game comes and goes. But, when you see his combination of size, instincts and overall skill it's hard not to be highly impressed. As much as a high school freshman can, Nganga has the chance to be an elite prospect.

HEART AND SOUL: WILL MCCLENDON

Host Bishop Gorman won the championship at the Tarkanian Classic and is loaded with talent. Noah Taitz gets buckets, Isaiah Cottrrell is turning potential to production in the post and Zaon Collins does a tremendous job of running the show. Taitz and Collins shared MVP honors and were very worthy choices. But, watching the Gaels it's hard not to look at McClendon and think he's the guy that ties it all together.

McClendon is a rugged competitor who is already strong, vocal and can help his team win a game on either end of the court. If he needs to score, he'll score. If it's tough defense or hustle that is required, he will give you that. He's always going to compete and guys like him turn into winners on the college level.

MR. RELIABLE: NIMARI BURNETT

By their nature, 16 and 17 year old high school basketball players are inconsistent and at times unreliable. Not Burnett. His coaches, his teammates and anybody watching him knows exactly what they are getting any time he takes the court.

Burnett is a pure scorer who has deep range, tremendous feel for the game and a versatile set of skills that allow him to find ways to score a nights when things aren't necessarily going his way. The trick appears to be his attitude and the way he carries himself. He doesn't get too high, doesn't get too low and as a result he's as reliable as a junior can be.