2019 #NPS - Final Thoughts
In a day and age where lots of events claim to be the best around, last week’s National Prep Showcase reminded everyone why it has set the standard in prep school basketball for well over the last decade.
The NPS annually draws all of the very best teams and prospects the country has to offer and, as a result, is unrivaled in terms of the amount of exposure to national media, college coaches, and NBA scouts.
The 2019 National Prep Showcase attracted scouts from 26 of the 30 NBA teams, hosted over 40 college coaches on each of the three days for a total of over one hundred on the weekend, and welcomed over 50 media members creating content in print, audio, and video that continues to populate social media even a week later.
So, who took advantage of the stage?
Here are five lasting impressions.
1. Best unsigned 2020’s
There were a couple that might not be going to college at all, but if they do both IMG’s Kenyon Martin Jr. and TSF’s Kai Sotto will have their choice of high-major suitors at this point. Others who undoubtedly moved the high-major needle include Hargrave’s Mark Sears, Mt. Zion’s David N’Guessan, IMG’s Darius Miles, and Sunrise’s Tyrin Lawrence. Scotland’s Jayson Woodrich was the best unsigned shooter in the event while Tilton’s Jalen Leach and Putnam’s Marty Silvera also stood out in that area. NMH’s Moses Ngodock and Massanutten’s Touba Traore were among the most active and rugged available big men in the field. New Hampton’s Jahmyl Telford, Woodstock’s Ronnie DeGray and Massanutten Tyson Brown were two forwards who moved the needle. IMG’s Noah Hutchins and Scotland’s Jaeden Zackery showed off the recent improvements in their games as did a handful of other guards fighting for a D1 offer including Bridgton’s Bryson Andrews, STM’s Jair Currie, NMH’s Darius Ervin, and Tilton’s Kevin Constant. Fork Union’s Shaunta Wilson did the same on the wing.
2. NBA radar
The NBA scouts weren’t there for the masses, but only to get a look at a select few. Vanier’s Karim Mane had a disappointing opener on Saturday but rebounded on Sunday to show the full gamut of his explosiveness and physical upside. Brewster’s Terrence Clarke showed the nation what local New England fans have known for the last year, that his shot-making is evolving into potentially one of his best weapons. Blair’s Jabri Abdur-Rahim went for a tournament high 37 points in his one game, showing why there are few better volume scorers in the country. TSF’s Kei Sotto displayed an incredible combination of hands, touch, skill, and passing acumen at 7-foot-2.
3. 2021 and beyond
It’s rare that an underclassman can come make their presence felt on this stage, but there were a handful that managed to do just that this weekend. Cushing’s Bensley Joseph and Blair’s Jaylen Blakes showed why they are two of the most recruited junior guards in the northeast on Sunday with 24 and 22 points respectively. Vermont’s Josh Bascoe exploded for 26 points as well, showing deep shooting range and a crafty lay-up making package at the rim. Hargrave’s Gabe Witznitzer, who is now solidified in 2021, was dominant inside with 16 rebounds in one game. Vermont’s Nana Owusu had 20 rebounds in two games as well. Alex Karaban was terrific for New Hampton, going for 20+ in both of their games while showing the versatility of his offensive game. Worcester’s DaSonte Bowen and Vermont’s Chisom Okpara reinforced their status as two of the region’s best sophomores. NMH’s Avery Brown may be creeping into that discussion as well as he had his best performance to date on a stage of his magnitude.
4. Already committed
The NPS falls immediately after the national signing period and there were a handful of schools who were undeniably relieved that they had received a signed NLI a week before. Iowa State was tops among them as Scotland’s Darlinstone Dunbar might have walked away as the most recruited guy in the field. KD Johnson isn’t on anyone’s top 100 list, but he was the event’s leading scorer, going for 60 points in two games and showing why he was a good early get for Georgia. Montverde CBD wing Anwar Gill is going to be very good for LaSalle as he’s a competitive slasher and defender who continues to develop his skill set. IMG’s Mikeal Brown-Jones is another great get in the A10 after signing with VCU. BU and Holy Cross both got great value in the Patriot League with CJ Jones and Judson Martindale respectively.
5. Who was the best team?
Brewster is the most talented and will have the X on their back all season long but they’ll need to continue to get more cohesive to claim their latest championship by season’s end. IMG was probably the most dominant team on the weekend, playing with unmatched pace and enthusiasm. Putnam and Hargrave were also both 2-0 on the weekend and certainly in the mix for the number one spot overall while Scotland lost a close one to Putnam but looked every bit as formidable and bound to be in the mix by season’s end.