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Prospect Analysis: Best of Hoophall



In the latest edition of “P.I.Pulse”, Pro Insight’s Zach Welch highlights some top performances at the Hoophall Classic after spending several days on-site in Springfield, MA:


Last weekend, we made the trip to the birthplace of basketball — Springfield, Massachusetts — to take in the action at the renowned Hoophall Classic. This annual fixture in the high school season is well known for showcasing dozens of the best players in the country, across every class, each year. Over the course of the five-day event, we got to catch countless names that will be key to watch for years to come in basketball. Below, we’ll highlight some of the most intriguing performances of the event.


Jase Makes His Case

Jase Richardson continued the strong start to his senior campaign last weekend across two big matchups with top teams in the country — one against Long Island Lutheran (NY) and the other against Paul VI (VA). Facing off against some of the top players both in his class and in high school basketball as a whole, Richardson consistently looked like one of the most impactful players on the court. The athletic strides he’s made continue to wow, as he inches closer and closer to his father’s historic athleticism each time we see him. Becoming such an elite athlete pairs well with the foundation of skill and motor he already possessed, helping him open up his game further and reach new heights, literally and metaphorically. He showcased some impressive versatility on offense as someone who was comfortable and effective playing on or off the ball. Off the ball, he drew hard closeouts due to his reputation as a shooter and attacked them well, as he was able to slash to the rim with creativity and nuance, both in his handle and his footwork. Once he got to the rim, he combined his creativity and athleticism to find acrobatic ways to contort around rim protectors and draw fouls. He also proved himself to be an exemplary passer, especially when he got downhill, totalling 13 assists across the two showings and generating a plethora of great looks for his teammates. On the other end, he was capable of playing smart, controlled defense on and off the ball, as well as providing real defensive playmaking, highlighted by his 2-block, 4-steal opening performance. On top of all this, Richardson got active on the glass with 12 rebounds across two contests, showing his dedication to the little things, as well.


The Eagles Soar

Another impressive performance belonged not just to one prospect alone, but rather to an elite collection of talent led by Kevin Boyle, a living legend in high school basketball. Montverde (FL) won each of their three games in three consecutive days in Springfield. Highlighted of course by the star-studded roster — including the likes of Cooper Flagg, Derik Queen, Liam McNeeley, Asa Newell, Robert Wright, and more — the quality coaching and game-planning was just as much on display. This was evident, for example, in Cooper Flagg’s defensive usage. In his first two games, he showed that he is capable of wreaking havoc with aggressive pick-and-roll coverages and as a weakside rim protector, using his length, ground coverage, vertical pop, and feel to be a dominant off-ball defender. Then, in their final game they faced Prolific Prep (CA), so Cooper was instead used as an on-ball defender against one of the most gifted offensive players in the country, AJ Dybantsa, and did a phenomenal job. This, coupled with his indomitable presence on the glass, shooting versatility, and passing vision really stood out. Besides Flagg, their other top talent made a huge impact, too. Derik Queen was his usual dominant self offensively, getting anything he wanted attacking in the post, but he was also impactful on the defensive end, looking increasingly mobile with each viewing. He was able to force a lot of turnovers with his ability to execute aggressive pick-and-roll coverages and still recover back to his man, while also deterring shots well and cleaning the glass on both ends. Asa Newell similarly showed an ability to slot in doing the little things as an active rebounder, cutter and rim deterrent. Liam McNeeley turned some heads with his shooting prowess, but the versatility to his game beyond the shot resonated, highlighted by being selected as the Player of the Game in their win over Prolific Prep. He showed that he can shoot well off the ball, even off platform, while also being able to leverage his shooting gravity to create for himself and others attacking closeouts.


Bethea Burns the Nets Up

We would be remiss not to mention one of the most impressive individual offensive performances of the event: Jalil Bethea going off for an efficient 40 points en route to a tight victory over a tough opponent. It seemed that he could do no wrong as a scorer. He made a strong case as one of the best shot-makers in the event. He operated well in his triple threat stance, carving out just enough space with his jab steps and fakes to rise over the defender and score. He got his shot off with a quick and high release, even over contests and when off balance. He had the footwork and handle to get to his spots off the dribble, while also moving well off-ball to set up off the catch. Beyond all this, his ability to attack closeouts and draw fouls on his shot attempts led to him attempting 15 free throws and draining each and every one. Outside of his absurd shot-making, Bethea also operated well as a connective passer and put in work both on the boards and on defense. The Miami Hurricanes are getting a prolific scorer and well-rounded player in Bethea next year. 


Ballin’ Boozers

Just as their teammate Jase Richardson showed out at Hoophall, Cameron and Cayden Boozer had strong showings, as well. The 2025 twins were key pieces in Columbus leaving the event 2-0, each showcasing their two-way skillsets. Cameron was undoubtedly one of the most dominant players in the event, as a whole. He combines size, movement skills, power, skill, and feel in a way that few, if any, can replicate. He showed his ability to be a dominant scorer, displaying comfort shooting out to the three-point line and sheer dominance inside the arc, whether on the low block or from the mid-post. He supplements this scoring prowess with excellent feel and vision as a passer, totaling nine assists to only four turnovers over the two games. Beyond all this, he was a force to be reckoned with on the glass, bringing in 20 rebounds in the event. On the defensive end, he was just as imposing. While he was very versatile, he especially thrived as a weakside rim protector and general event creator, altering countless shots and really impacted opponents’ shot diet with his presence. Cayden was similarly impactful on the defensive end, but as a point of attack defender, using his strong chest, lateral quickness and quick hands to lock down opposing ball handlers. On offense, he was a true floor general as a point guard, combining creativity, vision and feel as a passer. He also thrived as a scorer, with an ever-improving jumper, elite touch inside the arc and an ability to get to his spots with his handle.


Acuff’s Ascent

Another player who demonstrated some real growth in this event was IMG (FL) junior Darius Acuff, who looked the part of a well-rounded two-way point guard, looking like the best player on the court more often than not. The excelled getting downhill, using his strength, first step and creative handle to incisively find his way to the basket time and again. He then used his strong frame and touch to finish well at the rim, even through formidable rim protectors. His jumper was also hitting at a good clip, looking capable both off the bounce and off spot-ups. Beyond all this, he looked like one of the more advanced playmakers in the event as a whole, showing creativity, manipulation and vision both in the half court and in transition. He especially showed a knack for reading the back line of the defense to take advantage of their help positioning, as well as an ability to withstand pressure and aggressive coverages and force the defense to scramble. On the defensive end, he had a similar level of anticipation, as well as a commendable effort level. On the ball, he was agile and strong enough to beat his man to his spots. Acuff also had great hands on and off the ball, possessing a high activity level and even showcased some intriguing shot-blocking ability.


Dynamic Dybantsa

Blue-chip 2025 prospect AJ Dybantsa demonstrated the depth to his game, showing he’s far more than just a scorer. In a star-studded matchup against Montverde, he showed that he can make just as big of an impact on the defensive end as he does on the offensive end. He was the primary point of attack defender for Prolific Prep for much of the game, largely tasked with keeping in front of a high-level creator in Baylor commit Robert Wright. He also had some moments of really smart transition defense against bigger, athletic players, while using his length to be a menace in passing lanes. Just as he guarded the opposing ball handler, he was also the primary handler for Prolific on a lot of possessions, withstanding pressure well, while demonstrating his combination of feel and wiggle to set himself up and get to his spots. He was fearless as a scorer, consistently going at some fearsome defenders on the other side, both with his extremely high release on his pull-up jumper and by getting to the rim and attacking contact. He was smart enough to recognize when the defense was especially keyed on him, too, and showed that he can leverage his scoring gravity to create for his teammates well. Off the ball, Dybantsa got active with smart cuts and relocations and by really competing on the glass on both ends.


Dragon Duo

Two underrated players that will be intriguing names to track down the line were a pair of AZ Compass (AZ) bigs: available ‘24 Luke Bamgboye and ‘24 Arizona State pledge Sammie Yeaney. Both are versatile two-way front court pieces, but each have very unique games. Bamgboye demonstrated a combination of polish and tools as a rim runner and rim protector that were very exciting. On the defensive end, he has the movement skills to execute a variety of pick-and-roll coverages, while also possessing the quick load time off the floor and shot-blocking timing to be an incredibly impactful and versatile rim protector. Offensively, he was a shockingly polished and hard screen setter, especially considering that he’s still filling his frame out. He also rolls hard, can finish with touch and patience or get up for lobs, and had some flashes of passing and shooting. Yeaney also showcased some intriguing versatility defensively, but his was in his switchability. He had the strength and length to guard true fives, while being laterally agile enough to comfortably and effectively stay in front of some of the shiftier guards at the entire event. Offensively, he thrived operating out of the post and driving out of face-up opportunities, using his excellent footwork and strength to get to the rim, over and over. Beyond that, he was an advanced positional playmaker. Both of these bigs will be exciting to watch next year in college and beyond.


King Koa

One of the most unique, versatile, and intriguing prospects in the entire event was ‘25 Koa Peat of Perry (AZ). We’re inclined to agree with his coach, who asserted after the game that Peat is a basketball player, as opposed to being any specific position, due to just how many things he can do at a high level on the court with his size and movement skills. Just looking at him, his tools are eye-catching as he moves incredibly well and has a developed frame at 6’8” 240 pounds. On the defensive end, he made his loudest impact as a rim protector, racking up seven blocks in the course of one game. His minimal load time required to get up for blocks was a major weapon, as well as his ground coverage and instincts flying in from the weakside. He had one especially impressive play in which he slid in to contest a driver with verticality, then managed to recover in a flash, following a pass to the opposite-side dunker spot and getting up in an instant to erase his opponents’ shot attempt. Peat also was impactful along the perimeter, with quick hands in the passing lanes and the tools to contest shots well while being positioned surprisingly far away from his man. On the offensive end, he was incredibly versatile and impactful on and off the ball. He had a good enough handle to be trusted to take the ball up against full-court pressure and showed that he can score in a variety of ways. He was most impactful around the rim, operating out of the post and tipping in put-backs, but he also showed off a good jumper, both on face-up attempts and even beyond the arc. As well as he could score, his feel showed even more in other areas, as he set great hard screens at smart times, with tremendous spontaneity. Peat also showed some exciting passing flashes, while being dominant on the glass on both ends.



Turner’s Terrific Turnout

Another team whose performance stood out as a whole was Gonzaga High School, out of Washington, DC, led by Coach Steve Turner. This group’s preparation, game planning, execution, and abundance of talent were special to watch. Everything started with Nyk Lewis for them, who was an absolute dog on both ends, while also having an impressive level of skill, patience and feel. He was a menace defensively, blowing his opponents up time and again, while also thriving as a slasher and cutter, creating for others well, and showing some shooting versatility. Derek Dixon looked like an elite shooter and was one of the most poised players on the court. He looked promising shooting both on and off the ball and had a great level of feel, especially creating for himself and others running pick-and-rolls. A lot of his work in the pick-and-roll came with Christian Gurdak, who set hard screens and slipped well. Gurdak looked extremely polished in general offensively and was quite productive, scoring 16 points in 21 minutes, thriving with excellent physicality, touch and footwork inside the arc, while being able to operate as a post hub, at times. Lastly, one of the bigger sleepers in the event may have been forward Alex Touomou, who looked like an incredible role player. His impact started on the defensive end, where he made incredibly smart reads as a back line defender, making timely rotations to blow up passing lanes and fly in for helpside blocks. On the other end, he was an active cutter, athletically attacked the rim, and showed some potential as a passer and shooter. This well-run unit will be exciting to watch as a whole down the line.


Pettiford Paves the Way

Much like Jalil Bethea, Tahaad Pettiford absolutely lit the nets on fire in his showing at Hoophall. The Auburn-bound guard proved yet again what an advanced on-ball creator he is. In isolation scenarios, he had the handle, footwork and shiftiness to get to his spots well. These differentiators of his, along with his pacing and feel in the pick-and-roll, really set himself up well as a manipulator of the defense and as a scorer. This was all bolstered by his absolutely elite shot-making and touch. His ability to shoot off balance and hang in the air for varied releases on his off-the-dribble jumpers was mind-boggling at times. Just as impressive — if not more so — was his off-ball shooting. Hudson Catholic (NJ) ran play after play to get him running his man off screens. His ability to catch the ball, set his feet and organize his body in an instant after coming off movement was remarkable. Beyond being such a versatile shooter, he showed an ability to leverage his shooting gravity and use his advanced handle to get downhill to draw fouls and get to his spots to drop soft floaters in, too. There were few performances as impressive as Pettiford’s shotmaking display and he should fit in well next year as a versatile shooter for Bruce Pearl and the Tigers.


Bailey Aces It

Another impressive shot-making display came from ‘24 Rutgers commit Ace Bailey, who was comfortably one of the most intriguing long-term prospects in the entire event. While his shot wasn’t falling from behind the arc, Bailey showed some really intriguing flashes, especially considering his 6’8” height and 7’0” wingspan. His positional handle, advanced feel for screen manipulation and ability to get to his spots in a variety of situations really stood out. Inside the arc, he could score by pulling-up while driving, operating out of the mid-post or facing up and rising above his defender. His form is pure and he has such a high release point and the soft touch to get his shot off over tight contests and make even the most difficult looks appear simple. This was exemplified best by a clutch bucket he got towards the end of the game, in which he caught the ball in the mid-post and immediately spun into a one-footed turnaround over his defender’s outstretched arm and easily drained it right over him. Beyond the self-creation and shot-making prowess, Bailey used his tools to make an impact in other areas, as well. Most notably, he reeled in 14 rebounds and had three emphatic blocks. As he continues to grow, learn, leverage his scoring gravity, and maximize his tools, his ceiling will be looking sky-high.


Rich–what?

Last but not least, #BBN-bound Billy Richmond put on an impressive display in his showing in Springfield. The ‘24 wing had an impressive, well-rounded performance to take down a formidable North Mecklenburg (NC) team and scored his 1,000th career point in the process. His tools, as a 6’6” wing that has a ton of wiggle, flexibility, and awesome full-court speed, are tantalizing. He also has a tight handle for his size and slashing footwork, which he combined with his tools to be a force to be reckoned with, generating rim pressure seemingly at will. He also showed some budding passing chops, reading the defense well and finding his teammates in a variety of scenarios. Perhaps the most significant development for him, though, was his shooting, as he shot 4-5 from three and 4-4 from the FT line. His jumpshots came on looks both off the dribble and off the catch. If he can firmly solidify this shooting versatility into his arsenal of skills, he will be a hard player to stop on the offensive end in the SEC. Defensively, he also made a big difference by defending well on the ball, using his length in the passing lanes, and showcasing a good motor pursuing loose balls. We’ll be excited to track how Richmond’s skills continue to progress throughout the rest of this season and during his time with Kentucky.





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