The Evans Awards: Nike Elite 100
ST. LOUIS — The Nike Elite 100 camp hosted some of the best prospects in the 2020 and 2021 classes over the weekend. Recapping our four days in St. Louis, we hand out the awards to some of the event’s standouts.
Arguably the top participant at the Nike Top 100, Johnson is all about making the simple play. Sure, he can wow onlookers with a 40-foot outlet pass or an impressive off-handed dart pass, but it's the simplicity of his game that makes Johnson such a valuable prospect. Standing over 6-foot-7 and with a college-ready frame, Johnson is best used as a point-forward type that makes everyone around him better. His shot has steadily improved and so has his lateral abilities as a perimeter defender. Many of the elite are due to step in with an offer for Johnson, just as Arizona did on Saturday.
Jackson is bar none, one of the top-five most versatile frontline defenders that I’ve had the chance to evaluate. Super quick twitch, long and full of energy, Jackson is the embodiment of a multi-positional defender. He leaves an imprint on the floor every single time out as his shot blocking skills from in and out of his area are some of the best that one can find. He can switch the one through five, block shots with either hand, just as he did 11 times during a shortened scrimmage session on Thursday evening, and also knock down the mid-range jumper.
The light has come on for Brown as the 6-foot-7 forward produced some of the top highlight plays seen over the weekend. A long and slender forward that has an evolving offensive skill set, where Brown wreaks havoc is on the defensive end and on the weak side glass.
He does have to get stronger and improve upon his shot mechanics, but whenever it just about balling, pound for pound, there are not many others as talented as Brown. His instinctive plays on the offensive glass and in reading the passing lanes equates to next level stuff.
BEST ISO SCORER
Clarke made another statement over the weekend which is that he belongs among the elite in the 2021 class. A smooth 6-foot-5 wing that has no issues creating his own shot, Clarke was the best isolation scorer seen in St. Louis. He does have to better his perimeter shooting numbers but his ability to get his defender on its heels with a variety of wiggle, breakdown moves, and the use of either hand off of the attack, is excellent.
UConn and Georgia Tech have already offered Clarke and while he is years away from hitting a college floor, he is not far off from becoming labeled as unguardable. He is a talented prospect with elite scoring abilities as he sits as the next man up out of New England.
TOP STOCK BOOSTER
Holding his city down is what Love set out to do; that objective was clearly met as no one bettered their national standing more than the local product. Confidence never wavers with Love, nor does his scoring approach. He does have to become a more consistent perimeter shooter, but when it comes to putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket, not only can Love do that but he can also finish. He is more of an undersized scorer, but he combines an entertaining playing style, the willingness to compete on both ends and a massive scoring punch. He should see his regional offers from Kansas State, Missouri and Illinois take a massive leap as the July evaluation periods commence next month.
The state of Florida has become known for producing under-the-radar talent that has come to shine in college. Wideman is next in line. He displayed much improved handles, a jumper and massive instincts as a playmaking wing over the weekend. However, things begin and end with his athleticism. Whether it is in the open floor or in crowded spaces, Wideman has no concern for others in his way. He is arguably the top athlete in the 2020 class and he backed his claim further in St. Louis.
He remains under recruited currently where zero power conference programs have offered, though that should change soon.
One of the very best big man prospects in the 2021 class, no one played harder on each possession than Kepnang. The definition of an interior presence, Kepnang, who measured in with the biggest wingspan of all participants, was a human eraser around the basket as he repeatedly threw away opponents’ shots at the rim. Intensity and ferocity are not lacking with the PSA Cardinals’ product as he impacts the game without having a single play called for him.
Whether it was his rim running abilities, diving on the floor for the loose ball or the physicality that he presented within the trenches, Kepnang’s motor was the best under the Arch as a slew of Atlantic-10 programs have already offered.