The Bossi Awards: First live period
ADIDAS GAUNTLET FINALE: Bossi's scouting notebook
During the first of July's three live periods, I split my time between Nike's Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C. and the Adidas Gauntlet Finale in New York City. After five days of great basketball, I have some awards to hand out.
BEST PERFOMANCE BY A GROUP- TEAM TAKEOVER
During the months of April and May, I felt that Team Takeover from Washington D.C. was the best grassroots team that I saw, regardless of circuit. In order to prove that, though, they had to walk away from Nike's Peach Jam with a championship and that's exactly what they did.
What I love most about TTO is that they are truly a team. I sat down to try and highlight one player that was the key to winning, and as awesome as Armando Bacot was patrolling the lane and averaging a double-double, I have no doubts that if he wouldn't have performed, somebody else would have stepped up to fill the void. But that's the thing, nobody pulled a no-show for these guys. It wasn't just Bacot down low, it was 2020 bruiser Hunter Dickinson doing his thing too.
In an era of star players who want to put up their numbers and it's cool if they win a title too, the egos get set aside whenever this group takes the floor. Nobody needed to score 20 a game, they just needed to win and with a loaded perimeter group consisting of five-star point guard Jeremy Roach and four-stars Casey Morsell, Justin Moore, Anthony Harris and Terrance Williams to go along with their interior studs, Takeover just proved to be too much and finished their overall run through the EYBL with a 23-1 record.
How things will play out at the top of the 2019 rankings between current No. 1 Vernon Carey, No. 2 Cole Anthony and No. 3 James Wiseman is a debate for the end of the summer. But on opening night of the Peach Jam, the pressure was on for Wiseman to produce big in a one-on-one matchup with Carey.
Up until their Peach Jam meeting, Carey had been getting the better of Wiseman head-to-head and from a pure numbers standpoint, has held the edge for a while. If Wiseman is going to make a run at the top spot, he had to have a big showing against Carey. He did that.
Let me make this clear -- Carey was very good himself and ended up having maybe the best week of any big man in the country.
But this is about living in the moment and delivering big and when Wiseman had to come up with a big performance, he did so. He scored 19 of his 25 points and grabbed seven of his nine rebounds during the second half as he helped lead the Bluff City Legends to a one-point win.
I'll tell you what I loved most of what Wiseman did, though. What I found most impressive is that he didn't let a hyped up one on one matchup ruin what his team was trying to do. He didn't get discouraged by early foul trouble, he never made it about him and by living inside the team concept and playing with passion, he showed just how much he's capable of and deserves the credit for what he did.
I wouldn't really blame Matthew Hurt if he felt a little overlooked. He's dominated on the Adidas Gauntlet for the last two years and hasn't really gotten a lot of credit for doing so. He crushed it with USA Basketball and for whatever reason seemed to have his efficient production questioned.
Well, he was the best player that I saw at the Adidas Gauntlet Finale and as far as I'm concerned, he backed up his top five ranking. Hurt is a tremendous jump shooter and has a high skill level, but I liked the way he competed and fought on both ends of the floor. There's a reason that guys like Bill Self, John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski are constantly sitting courtside when Hurt takes the floor.
Thanks to a huge spring, C.J. Walker made a huge leap in the 2019 rankings. After a monster Peach Jam, Walker could be doing so again and deserves to be in the conversation for five-star status when we update rankings after the summer ends.
Walker has always been a big-time athlete with "potential." That potential is now production on both ends of the floor and you can see him getting more confident with each dribble, jumper, dunk or rebound. You can play him all over the floor and his best days are still ahead of him. His Each 1 Teach 1 team struggled, but Walker was one of the Peach Jam's brightest stars.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
It's hard to believe that 2020's No. 2 ranked player would have to play the role of Robin on his own summer team, but on Nike Team Florida there is no question that 2019's No. 1 ranked player Vernon Carey is Batman. Whatever you want to call Scottie Barnes, he was incredible in a supporting role.
Barnes is the epitome of positionless basketball. He can legitimately defend all five positions at the high school level and on the offensive end he can play the point, the wing or as a mobile power forward depending on matchups. A little over 13 points, about 10 rebounds and nearly six assists per game during Peach Jam, Barnes is one of the few players in high school basketball who you can call a triple-double waiting to happen.
BAND OF BROTHERS
It was really tough to not go with the Compton Magic as the best team. What they've done in the Adidas Gauntlet is incredible and after watching them win the Gauntlet Finale in NYC, there is no question in my mind that they would be among the favorites to win a title at any shoe company's event.
But one thing that there is no question about is that the Magic feature the best brother tandem in America and one of the best brother duos to come around in quite some time in Isaiah Mobley and Evan Mobley. Isaiah is the skilled veteran who is a calming influence while Evan is the young colt who is coming on strong and has immense upside. They were both performing at a high level and thanks to their contributions the Magic were champs.
Isaiah is committed to USC, their father is a coach there and it would seem to be simply a matter of time before Evan commits an they can take their brother act on the road in the Pac-12.
IN GOOD HANDS
The class if 2019 is loaded with high quality bigs and a lot of them have good hands, but I don't think I could say with a straight face that anybody's are better than Isaiah Stewart's. In fact, he's got some of the best hands I've seen since Kevin Love graduated high school back in 2007.
Not only that, Stewart is a true competitor. It was pretty clear that he was gassed after arriving at the Peach Jam from winning a gold at the FIBA U17 World Cup with USA Basketball. But there was no sitting for him and he made it very clear to me that he didn't ever want anybody to think he ducked competition. Nobody would accuse him of that after averaging 19 points and 12.7 rebounds. Look for him to chop his list of 10 finalists -- Duke, Georgetown, Indiana, Louisville, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Texas, Villanova and Washington -- to five in the near future.
Find me a more physically imposing and tough guy in the class of 2019 than Oscar Tshiebwe. I'm sorry, you can't do it. If you are headed down a dark alley late at night, he's absolutely the dude you want to have your back.
Tshiebwe is a fighter, a competitor and has a motor that never stops. What has to be pointed out as well is that there's nothing at all dirty about the way he plays. He's just tough. There was a lot of talk among coaches that Tshiebwe's camp has been indicating that he's open to the recruiting process and not a lock for West Virginia, but those same coaches are a bit skeptical. If I was a coach, I'd at least give it a try because the last thing I would want to see is that dude lining up across from me and playing for Bob Huggins.
HE'S GOT NEXT
We've nailed N'Faly Dante's top five in the class of 2020 ranking. At he same time, of the top 2020 kids that I was able to see last week, he played the best when I watched. Hitting the floor with an outstanding MoKan Elite team, Dante took his game to a new level and played with energy and passion on both ends.
He's a gigantic kid with speed, athleticism and much better touch than most have given him credit for. So far, Kansas, LSU and Oregon have gotten the most mentions when people talk about his recruitment, but Dante hasn't indicated any favorites to this point.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
I've been to something like 14 or 15 Peach Jams during my career and it feels like I've seen Cole Anthony at all of them. In all seriousness, he's only been at the last three, but I wonder how many players have had a better run over the course of three years playing in the 17U division than Anthony has had for the PSA Cardinals. I can't think of very many.
During his final run in North Augusta, Anthony was good for 26.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game to back up his status as the most productive player in the class of 2019. The recruiting world can't wait to see who he ends up seriously considering because he'll be a difference-maker wherever he lands.
BEST NEW ARTIST
Prior to the start of last week, I identified Donovan Williams of the Houston Hoops as a kid who should see his stock take off during July. At least this time, I got it right as Williams has turned into one of the most popular wing prospects in the country.
With his 6-foot-5 size, smooth athleticism, skill and big-time upside, Williams has always been a nice long-term prospect. But he's arriving ahead of schedule. SMU, Miami, Houston, Kansas State, Arizona State, Virginia Tech and DePaul were among those to get in before the live period but in the past few days Texas, Texas A&M, Illinois, Oklahoma and Northwestern have thrown their hats into the ring. Look for more to do so next week.
EARNING THEIR RESPECT
After watching them play in the spring, I was surprised that more programs weren't all over big man Zach Freemantle and shooting guard Dajuan Gordon. They didn't complain, they just worked, continued to put up numbers and now they are earning their respect.
Freemantle is a hard-playing and skilled big man who has picked up offers from Boston College, Xavier and Northwestern following his play with the New Jersey Playaz at the Peach Jam.
Playing with Team Rose in the Adidas Finale, Gordon was one of the toughest two-way players that I saw. Xavier must have liked the same things that I did because they offered and Wake Forest and Cincinnati are poking around. Loyola (Chicago), Colorado State and others are keeping their fingers crossed that big schools keep sleeping on Gordon.