Mass. 8th Graders Steal Show at Elite 75
The 8th graders of Massachusetts stole the show at Friday night’s New England Junior Elite 75 Showcase. Here’s a look at which of next year’s freshmen were most impressive from the Bay State:
Chris Baldwin - An imposing physical presence at six-foot-seven with supreme length and quick bounce around the rim, Baldwin scores and rebounds through contact, rotates from the weak block to pin shots high off the glass, and can stretch the defense with a developing stroke out to the three-point stripe. In one sequence on Friday in which he showcased his huge upside as a game-changing presence on both ends, he jumped over the top shoulder of his man to steal a high-post entry, sprinted the wing after a quick outlet, and finished the break with an emphatic finish above the rim off one hard bounce inside the arc.
Tyree Weston - A superior athlete with an explosive first burst from the wing, Weston combines his elite length and quickness with a smooth offensive skill-set to consistently beat his defender and finish at the rim from a variety of angles. His creativity off the bounce is enhanced by a nice feel for making plays over and around size in traffic, and, with a pure stroke from three and ability to lead the break in transition, he’s a complete offensive talent capable of putting up big numbers in a hurry.
Ikenna Ndugba - As dynamic an attacking lead guard as there was at the event, Ndugba was impossible to keep out of the lane on Friday, as he consistently broke people down off the bounce with a series of creative crossover exchanges to finish at the rim in traffic or find an open teammate for an easy score. Always looking to push the pace in transition, he is as poised as he is explosive with the ball in hand, and, while he can often make the spectacular play look easy, Ndugba impresses with a willingness to make the simple, sure play in favor of a more difficult alternative.
Juwan Gooding - Joining Ndugba as one of the premiere playmaking guards at the event, Gooding is an absolute nightmare to deal with off the dribble, consistently leaving his initial defender with an explosive left-to-right-switch, only to knife his way through contact and bring the ball back to his dominant left hand to finish with ease at the rim. Having already established a reputation as a big-time scorer capable of putting up huge numbers in a variety of ways against elite competition, he will pull-up on a dime from three in front of a retreating defender and flashes ability as a creative passer capable of threading the ball through traffic to a left-alone teammate after drawing multiple defenders at the second level.
Aaron McLean - An athletic big with a long, lean frame and terrific bounce, McLean is a menace on the glass on both ends, rebounding and scoring in high volume with either hand through contact over defenders unable to match his elite athleticism around the rim. With soft hands and live feet, his mobility and skill-level are a load to deal with on the interior, and, as he continues to add to a steadily-progressing offensive arsenal, McLean projects as a multi-dimensional talent capable of dominating a game on both ends of the floor.
Randy Glenn - With great length and an explosive first step from the wing, Glenn lived in the lane on Friday, losing his defender with a straight-line burst to attack the paint and elevate for a series of athletic finishes at the rim in front of late-arriving help. At his best attacking the basket in transition, he is a long, rangy defender who pressures opposing ball-handlers and gets out in passing lanes to create easy run-out opportunities in the open floor, where he is an elite finisher with a propensity for scoring the ball with flare.
Anthony Mitchell - A long, highly-skilled, lead guard with outstanding feel and unique creativity off the bounce, Mitchell explodes past defenders with devastating change of pace to finish at the rim or lay the ball off to open teammates for easy buckets without contest. With a sound perimeter stroke that will become a more dangerous part of his game as he continues to get stronger, he is a relentless perimeter defender who loves to pressure the basketball with his length and quickness to force turnovers that lead to easy run-outs in transition, where he proved to be one of the elite pound-for-pound finishers at the event.
Nick Serretta - One of the more polished offensive players at the event with an equal ability to hit consistently from three and go by in either direction for a balanced, mid-range pull-up, Serretta showcased impressive maturity as a volume scorer who’s much more than just a knock-own perimeter shooter. He stood out in station work with outstanding footwork coming off an array of down-screen action and translated such polish into five-on-five play with a variety of buckets that not only showcased his ability to read and react to defenses from one possession to the next, but his natural mold to be as efficient as he is productive.
Best of the Rest
Tommy Mobley - Efficient scorer who took and hit good shots from all over the floor, very active on the glass at both ends.
Emmanuel Payton-Clottey - Strong, physical wing who loves to attack the basket in transition and use his elite athleticism to finish above and around contact in traffic.
Justin Stewart - Smooth, creative lead guard who combines a tight handle with crafty change-of-pace to make plays in the paint.
Lukas Kay - Cerebral playmaker with a natural feel for drawing two at the second level and locating open teammates for easy scores.
James Aaron - Long, active player with terrific length and quick-leaping ability in tight space, volume rebounder who defends hard and scores through contact on the move.
Nasir Wallace - Lefty with a nice shooting stroke and a quick release, hit several mid-range jumpers and threes off the catch.
Colin Bennett - Nice young guard with a good feel for the game, keeps his head up and found his teammates with some excellent passes in transition.
Armani Alleyne - Guard with a smooth crossover and very quick first step. Does his best work off the bounce and attacking the rim, also showed off a nice Euro-step.
Ryan Noel - Face-up four man who’s very active on the offensive glass and has a great midrange game. Scored the ball in variety and showed versatility on the offensive end.
Augustine Makarutsa - Small-forward who attacks the rim with purpose. Long and athletic, very tough on the offensive glass.