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USA Basketball: Underclassmen standouts

COLORADO SPRINGS – Because of age guidelines, some of the top 2019 players at the USA Basketball Minicamp won't be eligible to try out for the national 16U team next summer. That's too bad because guys such as five-star wing Scottie Lewis would be an easy choice for the team. In our final look at last weekend in Colorado Springs, we break down the top underclassmen in attendance.

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ARE LEWIS AND ANTOINE THE BEST SOPHOMORE TANDEM IN AMERICA?

Scottie Lewis
Scottie Lewis (Garrett Ellwood/USA Basketball)

Amazingly enough, there are three sets of five-star teammates in the class of 2019 top 50. Only one of those three duos was in attendance at USA Basketball and 6-foot-5 guards Scottie Lewis (No. 4 overall) and Bryan Antoine (No. 12) of Tinton Falls (N.J.) Ranney Prep certainly staked their claim to the title of best sophomore tandem in the country.

We'll start with Lewis. A breathtaking athlete, he burst onto the scene the summer prior to his freshman season because of his high-flying play in transition. What he drove home in Colorado Springs, though, is that he's a complete player. He is easily one of the top perimeter defenders regardless of class and he is a very dangerous playmaker for others off the dribble. His jump shot is a bit inconsistent but he's made great strides there.

Though Antoine isn't quite the athlete or defender that Lewis is, he betters his teammate in terms of offensive skill. He's a dangerous shooter from three, passes well enough to play the point for stretches and has a good feel for when to drive and when to pull-up for smooth mid-range shots.

A package deal could be brewing here for college and they both have offers from Kansas, Washington, Miami, Xavier, VCU, Villanova, St. John's, Florida, Maryland, Notre Dame, Seton Hall and Rutgers among others.

Now, it's too early to declare Lewis and Antonine the outright best 2019 tandem, but they certainly have an argument. The other five-star sophomore duos are No. 2 overall R.J. Barrett and No. 17 Andrew Nembhard who both hail from Canada and play together at Montverde (Fla.) Academy while No. 3 Balsa Koprivica and No. 8 Vernon Carey (who was also a standout at USA Basketball) form a set of twin towers at Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) University.

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HARMON LEADS POINT GUARDS

De'Vion Harmon
De'Vion Harmon (USA Basketball)

Of the point guards in attendance that are eligible to make next summer's 16U team – class of 2019 five-star Cole Anthony, who played in only two of four sessions, is not eligible because of his birthdate – perhaps nobody outplayed four-star floor general De'Vion Harmon from the class of 2019.

Easily one of the most physically tough players among the freshmen and sophomores in attendance, Harmon let his play speak for itself. He competed in every drill, he set up teammates, ran his team and played aggressive on-the-ball defense. Harmon just narrowly missed our initial top 50 for the class of 2019 coming out of the summer and he certainly made a strong case for inclusion in the next set of rankings.

Harmon holds offers from Texas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, LSU, Texas-Arlington and SMU at this point. He'll visit Oklahoma next weekend and Texas in early November.

Other 16U team eligible point guards that stood out to us throughout the course of the weekend were R.J. Hampton, Jaden Springer and Jeremy Roach, who are all from the class of 2020. Hampton has terrific size and feel for the game, Springer is a dangerous scorer and creator off the dribble while Roach is a downhill athlete who has the tools to be a high level playmaker once he cuts out some errors caused by being somewhat out of control at times.

GARY HIGHLIGHTS WINGS

Juwan Gary
Juwan Gary (USA Basketball)

Like the already discussed Scottie Lewis and Brian Antoine, five-star small sophomore wing Christian Brown has already turned 16 ruling him out for next summer's 16U team. Those three were the top underclass wings in attendance but five-star sophomore Juwan Gary was right behind, if not neck and neck, with them after finishing the camp out strong.

Strong, athletic and with some skill that goes unappreciated, Gary really did it all during the last two sessions of camp. He never backed down from the older players and was too much for his counterparts to handle. Ranked No. 16 overall in the class of 2019 he has offers from North Carolina, South Carolina, Clemson, East Carolina, Coastal Carolina and the College of Charleston to go with interest from Maryland, Kansas, Ohio State and Virginia.

The other wings that we would seriously consider for the 16U squad based on their play in Colorado Springs are four-star sophomores Wendell Moore, Isaac Okoro, Zach Harvey and Jaime Jaquez along with freshmen Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Micah Peavy and Jalen Green. Moore is built like a young Rashad McCants and is effective and tough, Okoro is a high-level slasher and finisher in traffic, Harvey can shoot the ball from either wing while Jaquez is a hard-charging athlete who takes everything to the rim. The son of former McDonald's All-American and NBA player Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Abdur-Rahim is a good-looking 6-foot-5 shooting guard with polish and poise. Peavy can create off the dribble and has plenty of athleticism while Green is a slender athlete who is at his best finishing in transition.

CAREY HELPS LEAD SOLID GROUP OF FRONTCOURT PLAYERS

Vernon Carey
Vernon Carey (USA Basketball)

Probably the strongest group of contenders for the 16U team were the frontcourt players. As a bonus, that group only loses out on 2019's No. 5 overall player, skilled faceup four man Matthew Hurt, of those who were in attendance when it comes to eligibility for the national team.

While 2020 forward Isaiah Todd might have been the best long-term prospect of the frontcourt players in attendance, 2019's No. 8 player Vernon Carey Jr. is the most ready to help Team USA win games right now. The son of a former NFL player, Carey has strength, size, toughness and a well-developed set of skills facing the hoop. Miami, Florida State, Tennessee, USC, Louisville, Florida and Baylor are among those who have already offered.

Right in step with Carey for the honor of most ready to help immediately is 2019's No. 10 overall James Wiseman. The 6-foot-10 forward may be slightly under-ranked when thinking purely about long-term potential. He runs the floor, showed excellent athleticism and compares well with the last elite high school big man from Nashville, Brandan Wright. Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Florida and Iowa have all offered while Duke and Kentucky have recently jumped into the mix.

Others that we would put in contention for the 16U team include 2019 five-star forwards Trendan Watford and Onyeka Okongwu and 2020 prospects Xavier Foster, Greg Brown and Todd. Watford is a skilled combo forward who likes to face up, Okongwu is a defensive and rebounding specialist who is slightly undersized. Foster is a slim post with athleticism, some touch and upside, Brown is a bit out of control at times but has big-time athleticism and a great motor, while Todd is 6-foot-9 of long arms and monster potential.