Ten takeaways from three days at the Nike EYBL
RIVAL VIEWS: Eric Bossi and Corey Evans dish on Nike EYBL action
INDIANAPOLIS — The second leg of the Nike EYBL circuit brought great play from the nation’s elite and also production from a few others that we didn’t quite know about. After spending three days in Indianapolis, we drop our top takeaways from the swoosh platform.
Ziaire Williams is no longer just a prospect
The 6-foot-8 small forward has long been coveted for his potential, but now Williams is turning that potential into production. He began the week with a near triple-double that was headlined by a 37-points outburst, but it didn’t stop there. Williams piled up impressive game after impressive game, which is why he is a blueblood target. North Carolina has been targeting Williams for over a year now.
Out with one Texan, in with another
Ranking the top of 2020 class became a bit easier last month thanks to the reclassification of R.J. Hampton, but the picture became a bit cloudier this weekend after a stellar performance by Cade Cunningham. The ultra-polished junior has been knocked in the past for his lower basketball ceiling and athleticism but, after a while, you have to give credit where it is due. Cunningham is a winner and has improved his game and production every step of the way. His argument for the No. 1 ranking becomes louder by the game.
DJ Steward had the best weekend out of anyone
Steward's recruitment has improved of late, but it probably hasn't hit its peak yet after what the four-star guard achieved this weekend. The 6-foot-2 standout had two games of 37 points or more, but it's his toughness, intangibles and work ethic that really sets him apart from his peers. The regional powers are lurking but more suitors are on its way. Texas just offered and Wake Forest did the same on Sunday afternoon.
Purdue’s backcourt is set for years
Jaden Ivey is going to be an absolute stud in West Lafayette and, when coupled with Ethan Morton, the Boilermakers are going to be stacked in the backcourt. Morton should play a facilitating role for Purdue, giving Ivey free reign to score or make plays, depending on the situation.
Josh Christopher is a walking bucket
One of the true elite scorers in America, Christopher excels in isolation situations. He can go and get his team a basket at the drop of a dime and is also the type that can save his team when the shot clock is winding down. Christopher's footwork is elite and he is difficult to stop. He remains a national priority as he has ties to Arizona State, Cal and Missouri, while Arizona, Florida State, Oregon and UCLA are a few others in hard pursuit.
The race for the 2021 top ranking is getting heated
Patrick Baldwin sits atop the 2021 rankings and he did nothing to jeopardize his spot over the weekend, especially after a 31-point barrage. We asked him to rattle off some NBA players he enjoys and not surprisingly he mentioned Milwaukee's Khris Middleton and Baldwin operates like the All-Star in many ways. However, staying in the pole position may be difficult due to just how much Jon Kuminga has improved. The 6-foot-8 forward is not just an athlete anymore but a skilled scorer that can rebound and defend, too. Terrence Clarke isn’t far behind, nor is Paola Banchero or tough-nosed Michael Foster. Reclassifications could take one or two away from the conversation months down the road but for now, we are in for a great race until the very end between the elite in 2021.
Jamal Shead is a four-year starting point guard
While his Drive Nation team was down a few guys this weekend, it didn’t stop Shead from putting up big numbers on the stat sheet. Already respected for his on-ball defensive prowess, Shead is also one of the top play-making point guards in the 2020 class. He notched 14 assists in his Saturday morning session and clearly comprehends the intricacies of running his team. He should start over 100 games in college. Houston’s Kelvin Sampson and Texas A&M’s Buzz Williams are the lone two coaches to have completed an in-home visit with him this spring.
Donovan Johnson does it again
The younger brother of former North Carolina standout Cam Johnson, the Rivals150 junior has been a major standout on the adidas circuit this spring. Switching to the Nike platform this weekend, Johnson picked up where he left off, scoring over 15 points in every game he played in and, in one contest, making nine 3-pointers on his way to 31 points in a giant win for his All-Ohio Red program. The lefty is a premier perimeter shooter that has seen his stock explode in recent weeks. He just visited Miami last week unofficially with his latest offers coming from Auburn, Louisville and Notre Dame.
There isn’t a more polished 2022 point guard than Dug McDaniel
He might be small but the intellect, ball skills and wizardry from McDaniel only comes along every so often. He is one of the most polished play-makers that I have ever seen from someone at his grade level. Place scoring weapons around him and he will carve you up. Virginia Tech and Wake Forest have each offered and, despite his size, the talent level and imprint that he makes each time out should equate to a blueblood recruitment.
LeBron is still the king
LeBron James continues to draw crowds and attention wherever he goes. If you missed it, national analyst Eric Bossi recapped the scene on Saturday. James was courtside for his son’s game against prolific freshman Emoni Bates. The crowd was eight deep, the buzz in the gym was at an all-time high and a security team of six was primarily responsible for 8th grader Bronny James. He’s a talented prospect, yes, but it comes with the territory of being the son of the King that draws the greatest attention in the sport.