Yags’ Point Forward - NE Prospects Shine at NBA Camp
The NBA Players Association held their annual Top-100 Camp last week, giving current NBA players a chance to work with the league’s future in a variety of roles both on and off the court. A handful of New England products, including three Mass Rivals prospects, participated in the event and took advantage of the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of the game’s best.
Vermont Academy’s versatile manchild Simi Shittu made it clear that his name should be on the short list whenever the Class of 2018’s top prospects are mentioned. Shittu turned in one dominant performance after the next, starting with a 24-point (8-12 FG/2-3 3pt/6-7 FT), 9-rebound, 2-assist, 2-steal gem in the camp’s opening game. Shittu kept his foot on the gas pedal for the remainder of the week, leading the event in scoring (18.1ppg) and rebounding (7.7rpg). Going about his business in typically efficient manner, Shittu shot 58% from the field, dished out almost two assists per game and was ultimately named the camp’s Most Valuable Player for his efforts.
Cole Swider, representing St. Andrew’s and The BABC, continued to make his case as the Class of 2018’s Best Shooter. Swider put on a long range clinic in Virginia, draining 52% (12-23) of this 3’s and hitting 56.8% (21-37) of his field goals. He finished as the Top-100’s 3rd leading scorer, dropping 14.8ppg over the course of four games. Swider’s effortless mechanics and simple stroke also caught the eye of one of the greatest shooters in NBA history. Jason Terry, who won an NBA Championship in 2011 with Dallas, took to Twitter and called Swider the “best pure shooter at Top-100 Camp” on Saturday.
Swider ended his big week by trimming his list of future schools to a final four and also set the dates for his upcoming official visits on Sunday. Syracuse (visit on June 18-20), Duke (June 23-24), Xavier (June 26-27) and Villanova (TBD) made the cut and will host Swider prior to the July live period.
AJ Reeves used the Top-100 to remind his fellow prospects, opposing coaches, national scouts and anyone else willing to pay attention, that his plan to become one of 2018’s most dominant 3-level scorers is still right on track. Playing alongside 5-star wing Keldon Johnson and consensus top-50 recruit Darius Bazley, the 6’6” Brimmer/Rivals star asserted himself throughout camp and didn’t hesitate to shoulder the scoring load whenever it was necessary. Reeves put together a string of brilliant performances and averaged 13.5 points, good for 5th in this year’s camp, while shooting 48% (40-84) from the field and 41% (22-54) from 3.
Reeves was joined on the business trip to Virginia by Rivals teammates David Duke Jr. and Akok Akok. Duke, fresh off a trip to Italy where he represented the United States at the 2017 Adidas EuroCamp, played alongside Shittu during the week and used his versatility to fill whatever role was asked of him on a game to game basis. The 6’5” Cushing-product ended up playing nine games in seven days on two different continents and cemented his status as one of the highest-ceiling prospects in the nation.
Akok, one of only 27 prospects from the Class of 2019 to earn an invite to this year’s Top-100, proved that his skills as a rim protector and 3-point shooter aren’t dictated by the level of his competition. After proving that he belonged on the same floor with the nation’s best early in camp, Akok put together his best performance in his team’s playoff game against Reeves’ star-studded squad. Putnam Science’s 6’8” wingspan big man filled the stat sheet with 5 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and a steal in his camp finale.
Putnam Science was the only New England prep program to be represented by multiple players at the 2017 NBPA Top-100 Camp. 6’5” point guard Eric Ayala showcased his versatility with an efficient 14-point (6-9 FG/2-2 3pt), 2-rebound, 2-assist game in the middle of camp. Incoming Brewster wing and consensus top-100 prospect Isaiah Mucius opened eyes with his athleticism and elite frame on the Top-100 stage. Lawrence Academy- and DC Blue Devils-product Travell Washington made his debut on the national stage, showing off his easy athleticism and 6’10” size against the highest level of prep competition.