Breaking Down The Top Prospects At The 2011 Elite Youth Basketball League

June 1, 2011

Harbor City, CA -- Forty of the best AAU teams in the country converged for the final session of EYBL, just outside of Los Angeles. Among the participants were about 30 of the top 60 rising seniors (class of 2012), 20 of the top 50 rising juniors (2013), and 6 of the top 10 rising sophomores (2014) in the United States.

The team play was noticeably great, particularly from the Howard Pulley and the Houston Hoops squads. In fact, many of the players here played together in the past, sometimes for years, as opposed to being hastily assembled at the last minute. As a result, this tournament was one of the best events to attend this summer.

Although I interviewed numerous scouts and coaches, including USA Basketball U17 Coach Don Showalter, the final evaluations below are solely mine.

It should be noted that in forming my analysis, I observed all of the prospects mentioned in this article for at least two halves. Because of the number of games that ran simultaneously, there was no way to see all the players.

Furthermore, I am more inclined to report players who excelled in the tournament, as opposed to players that fell short of their reputation. This is because one does not know whether that player underperformed due to injury, fatigue, or having an inflated reputation.

In addition, all evaluations took into account not just the successful highlights, but also the less successful plays. The adjustments that a player makes over the course of a game are an invaluable and intrinsic aspect of his play, so I valued the mental part of a player’s game almost as importantly as his physical attributes.

Below are listed the top players that we saw, broken down by position. The group of wing (SG/SF) players is the deepest among the positions, while the center position is at a premium, as always.

It seems that for the center position, coaches need to consider a trade-off between skills and size, as a coach might accept a shorter but more skilled player, or perhaps a taller but less mobile player.

Also listed separately are the rising sophomores and sleepers, as there is a bit of drop-off between them and the best players.

The EYBL will culminate in a final session, which will be televised later in the summer on ESPNU. Here are our player evaluations:


Exceptional point guard play was hard to come by in this session, despite the presence of quite a few highly-rated playmakers in the tournament. Although some of the better point guards might not be as physically blessed, they still displayed good command of their teams, particularly Dominic Artis and Marquan Botley.

Marcus Paige – 6'1", 169, 2012, All Iowa Attack
Coaches want a point guard who plays under control, and Marcus Paige is a great example of that quality. The North Carolina commit is fast, but does not rush plays. Sometimes he can still shift to a higher gear and play comfortably. He also shows a great shooting touch and can hit the open jump shot whenever the defense falls back.

J-Mychal Reese -- 6'2", 170, 2012, Houston Hoops
Reese and L.J. Rose shared the ballhandling duties for the team. However, Reese provides an added bonus because he is a capable scorer. He is more of a combo guard at this point, but he also runs his team well.


The 2 guards listed below do more than just driving and dunking on the fast break. They also shot the ball well, and seemed to have a grasp of team play and shot selection.

Rasheed Sulaiman – 6'3", 183, 2012, Houston Hoops
Sulaiman is the most ready to contribute at guard and the least likely to fail. He has an excellent all-around game: defense, offense, and leadership qualities.

In a game against the Rodney Purvis led CP3 team, his team pulled out a 63-58 win largely because he scored key baskets and made all of his free throws down the stretch. To sum it up, he emulates Kobe Bryant’s game. Although he is not a 6'6" prototype with unbelievable athletic ability (that would be Archie Goodwin), he does so many things well, both driving the ball as well as shooting it.

Rondae Jefferson – 6'7", 190, 2013, Team Final
Assuming a significant portion of the team’s ball-handling duties, this rising junior is the driving force of Team Final. He makes the spectacular as well as the routine plays. In addition, his athleticism is near the top of the list. Given his height, we would probably want to see some post-up moves, which players like Goodwin and Anthony Bennett have.


I did not observe Jeremy Grant often enough to make an assessment of his game. However, many scouts raved about his production and how he elevated the play of his team (Team Takeover) to a perfect 15-0 record.

Jabari Parker – 6'7", 220, 2013, Mac Irvin Fire
Considered by many as the Number One player in the junior class, Parker did not disappoint. He has an excellent wing forward skill set, in addition to very polished post-up moves. Also, he shows excellent leadership skills, along with a hustle that is contagious. He plays smart, very much within himself, and never seems to make careless mistakes. His body is not as chiseled as other elite players, but he is capable of taking punishment inside.

Justin Anderson –6'6", 215, 2012, Boo Williams
Anderson is probably the most athletic player at this position, regardless of class. His defense inside is exceptional for a player his size, but his perimeter defense could be more sophisticated. This can easily improve with better positioning and more knowledge of the tendencies of his opponents. He can do it all on the offensive side, but could use better shot selection. As an example, he often attempts deep three-point shots that he only occasionally knocks down.


Aaron Gordon – 6'8", 210, 2013, Oakland Soldiers
Gordon improved immensely from last summer. He is now far more assertive, and thus, makes plays more consistently. For a player his size, he dribbles very well and his play-making skills in the half court set, as well as during the fast break, are commendable. Expanding his shooting range is probably one aspect of his game that can be improved.

Brandon Ashley – 6'10", 220, 2012, Oakland Soldiers
Ashley plays mostly center for the Soldiers, but he projects as a power forward in college. His frame can use a little bit more bulk, but from all his three-point conversions in the paint, he is not afraid to mix it up. In addition, he has excellent shooting touch and driving skills, better than most big men his height. Because of his previous exposure in the AAU circuit, people are less impressed of his ability compared to a new arrival.


Richardo Gathers – 6'8", 235, 2012, Louisiana Select
Gathers, a specimen of a player who probably can play college football, is as strong a player as there is in high school. There is always a concern whether a player this muscular would have the flexibility to defend away from the basket or to make fluid post-up moves.

However, this does not appear to be a problem for Gathers. He has a variety of moves and can overpower players much taller than himself. Moreover, he also displays good leadership on the defensive side, which is why he is projected on this list at the center position.

Nerlens Noel– 6'9", 215, 2013. BABC
Probably the most talented interior defensive player in high school, Noel blocks many shots, both from one-on-one defending and from help defense. He does not need to box out his opponent, as he can grab rebounds by out-jumping other players. On the offensive side, he passes very well from the high post, and he makes a concerted effort to make himself available for entry passes into the post.


James Woodard–6'2", 175, 2012, Athletes First
I believe Woodard has enough height to play at the 2. He shoots surprisingly well, and his explosiveness driving to the basket (and dunking over people) demonstrates that his athleticism should not be questioned. He opened the eyes of quite a few scouts this weekend.

Jake Layman– 6'8", 190, 2012, BABC
Layman is a fine shooter with a long frame, and an active defender. BABC plays mostly 3-2 zone, and he plays at the top of that zone. He is not physical, so won’t likely play inside, despite his size. If he can improve this part of his game, he can be a great inside-outside player.

Jimmie Taylor– 6'10", 215 2013, Alabama Challenge
Jimmy is an ideal combination of size and skills. His potential to improve looks great because he is willing to learn and hustles on the court. Because most of his plays are close to the basket, it would be nice if he could develop a bit more shooting range in the 15-20 foot area.


A few players, namely Tyus Jones, Theo Pinson, and Justin Jackson, are quite exceptional, especially considering their ages. Among the sophomores that we saw, Tyus Jones is the only one who starts for his team (Howard Pulley) and clearly is its best player.

Tyus Jones – 6'0", 160, 2014, Howard Pulley Panthers
Jones, who is relatively short (for coaches who likes tall guards) but does not have a thin frame, plays both the point and off guard position. He is a cerebral player who takes what the defense gives because he is a complete player. In addition, he plays beyond his age, as he is always involved in the flow of the offense.  He makes proper cuts and takes good shots.

Theo Pinson – 6'6", 190, 2013, CP3
At this point, most scouts I talked to believe Theo Pinson is the one with the most upside. Currently a wing forward off the bench for CP3, Pinson is a smooth slasher who consistently knocks down jump shots. His body is still thin, but he can defend well and moves very fast.

Justin Jackson – 6'5", 175, 2014, Houston Hoops
Justin Jackson plays far fewer minutes than the above sophomores. However, every time he is in the game, he is effective.

In the game against CP3, he came off the bench late in the game and scored a few key buckets in an otherwise out-of-control situation. He seems to have a plan of how to score easy buckets when he has the ball. Physically, he needs to develop more, but he can shoot and his shot-making ability is much further along than is expected of a sophomore.

By Christian Siagian
Contributing Writer for

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...