basketball Edit

USA Basketball Friday: Love, Thompson & Steward impress

2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150

Caleb Love
Caleb Love (Courtesy of USA Basketball)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – College coaches and NBA scouts are not allowed into the building until Saturday morning, which allowed us to get a leg up on the play at the USA Basketball Mini-Camp on Friday. Hosting over 70 of the top high school prospects in the nation, Caleb Love, Bryce Thompson and DJ Steward were among the early standouts from Colorado Springs.

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Caleb Love has taken that next step with his game - and then some. Arguably the top standout from beginning to end on Friday, it was nice to see Love take a more vocal approach to things in Colorado Springs. No longer is he just the new kid on the block, but instead he is now a seasoned veteran that acts like he belongs, because he does. Love is slowly evolving into the primary point guard role and he showed positive progressions in running high-ball screen sets to precision and facilitating for his unit within the half-court. Look for Love to narrow his school list in the coming days to a group of five or six, with official visits to be taken in the fall. Earlier this year, he took unofficial visits to Indiana, Louisville, Kansas and Missouri.


Bryce Thompson has been a hot name all spring and summer, and he kept the hype going in the Rocky Mountains. A gifted three-level scorer that plays with loads of confidence, Thompson is just the type that can take over any game, thanks to how well he can put the ball through the basket. That he did on Friday evening, and while he was able to get to whichever spot on the floor he wanted, Thompson's improved athleticism makes him even more of a difficult stop. A nationwide priority, the next step is for Thompson to narrow his school list, with Kansas, Michigan State, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State likely to be found on it.


There wasn’t a play that DJ Steward found himself out of. Steward, known primarily for his perimeter shot-making abilities, failed to find the mark on a number of his jumpers that he attempted on Friday. Instead, he made it a point to contribute in other facets of the game, whether that was coming up with a number of 50-50 balls, playing the passing lanes or rebounding against the bigger bodies in the lane. He has to finish better in traffic, but it was nice to see his all-around skill set be put to good use. It was a good day for Steward, and he made plays that he wouldn't have made last year due to his reliance on the jumper. Duke is the latest player in his recruitment as nearly the entire Midwest has made him a top target.


Nathan Bittle came out with a purpose on Friday evening and he produced on the scoreboard, thanks the perimeter threat that he showcases. While he still has some room to go before he fills out entirely, Bittle is great out of the pick-and-pop, where he made a handful of rhythm jumpers in the half-court offense. He has a good feel for the game, which is reflected by how well he moves off of the ball and can even make for plays outside of his area on the weakside glass. His skill set is perfect for today’s style of basketball, which is why practically the entire Pac-12 Conference has already offered.


There wasn’t a better point guard-forward combo on Friday than Dug McDaniel and Isaiah Todd. Both natives of the talent laden DMV region, there is no prior history between the two, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that with all that with their play in Colorado Springs. McDaniel is 5-foot-10, but he makes up for his lack of height with an unbelievable IQ and feel for the game. He repeatedly made timely passes to Todd, which often came off of the high-ball screen. It is refreshing to see Todd move much better and more efficiently off of the ball, which should bode well as he enters the higher levels of the sport. In all, it was a good day for the talented tandem. They should make a quick impact on the high-major game when their college clocks begin.