In the latest edition of ‘P.I. Pulse’, Pro Insight’s Alex Brown dives into April standout performers from each shoe circuit after being on the ground at session 1 of 3SSB, session 1 of UAA, and session 2 of EYBL. Video specialist and ‘Film Study’ connoisseur Esayas Gebrekidan (check out some of his work, here and here) also assists, by breaking down film highlighting each player discussed below to complement the written analysis.
The talent pool between Nike, Adidas and Under Armour was so vast that it was simply impossible to see every talented player live. The Pro Insight team is looking forward to being in the building at future sessions to check in on many other talented prospects who piqued our interest in the two April live periods.
Kaden Cooper | W | 6’5, 180 | 2023 | Team Trae Young 17U
The name that was being discussed seemingly everywhere at 3SSB was Kaden Cooper. A fringe top-200 wing per 247Sports entering the first live period of the spring, Cooper looked like the best player in attendance quite often. With an excellent frame and freakish athleticism, Cooper had a number of jaw-dropping athletic plays as a finisher, event generator, and rim protector. He had these while also shooting the ball well and rebounding at a very, very high level. Even better, Cooper plays with toughness and energy, and was often the most vocal guy on the court. Essentially, it took all of ~2 minutes of live viewing to be impressed with him, and it didn’t stop and start again in flashes as much as you’d expect, it was far more consistent. Unsurprisingly, Cooper immediately picked up offers from a myriad of high major programs watching court side. Look for Cooper to be one of the biggest risers across the country as the circuits continue into the summer. Seeing how he continues to hone in on that jumper development and capitalize on his advantage creation for teammates will be worth following, but overall the upside is really intriguing.
Ja’Kobe Walter | W/G | 6’5, 180 | 2023 | Team Trae Young 17U
Ja’Kobe Walter channeled his inner Kobe during 3SSB Session 1, embracing a volume scorer role and filling it up at the rate of 24.5 ppg, including a game with 32 and 6/11 from 3. He still is quite streaky, but when the shot wasn’t going he was able to attack and get to the free throw line and lean on some efficient creation. The mid-range self creation had impressive moments as well, showing high confidence and shotmaking. Defensively, Walter was very impressive on the ball. He used his length, anticipation, and constant engagement to make life very difficult for opposing ball handlers, generating multiple steals. Having that positive defensive impact to lean on as a scorer is extremely valuable to being a scalable player, especially when he won’t get 20 shots a game.
Kur Teng | G | 6’4, 180 | 2023 | Mass Rivals 17U
Kur Teng was impressive in person as a volume shooter with a flamethrower jumpshot. While he was streaky overall, he had a 31-point outing against EAB Tennessee and was clearly the best player on the floor when playing in rhythm. He has a big body, too, allowing him to defend up a position and wall off smaller guards or thin wings. The largest area of improvement is finding a more consistent scoring approach, as his volume and execution wavered highly throughout. When it looks good, it looks great, and he needs to stick to that as much as possible rather than turning it off from a volume perspective.
The off-screen shooting is one area where he showed excellent flashes and could continue to add volume and emphasis, as it looked very mechanically and fundamentally sound with some schematic versatility due to his large body being used in screening actions. Teng is very scalable despite the streaky play, and an intriguing high-floor player with a lot of upside for the college level.
Koa Peat | F | 6’8, 205 | 2025 | Compton Magic 17U
There is a VERY good reason why Koa Peat is widely considered one of the top prospects in the country for the class of 2025. Despite playing two levels up, Peat was simply one of the best players playing 17U. He has a very advanced skill set for a forward his age, and is able to add value as a shooter, finisher, rim protector, open court handler, and rebounder. He started off the session with a simply dominant performance against Team Loaded, putting up 23 points, 12 boards, and 4 blocks. Peat followed this up the next day with a 30-point, 9-rebound game along with another 23-point outing. There is a lot there with regards to modern big skills, and not only did he look at home in 17U, but he was one of the best kids there. With such a scalable game, the sky's the limit for the 15-year-old star.
Flory Bidunga | C | 6’9, 220 | 2024 | Indiana Elite 16U
Entering into 3SSB unranked with no offers or hype, Flory Bidunga took 16U by storm, scoring 32 against Midwest BC on 16/17 shooting while pulling down 11 boards (five offensive) and garnering three blocks. With elite hands, great length, and a motor that goes for days, Bidunga dominated the interior on both ends, controlled the glass, and constantly altered shots at the rim. Furthermore, Bidunga consistently beat his man down the floor as a rim runner for easy dunks. In the halfcourt, he dominated at the dunker spot while also flashing post playmaking, making multiple good reads for high quality looks. It is pretty wild how skilled he actually is considering he seems to carry himself (on the court) like a player who hasn’t been playing for very long. That shows up in his movement, timing, and proprioception at times, but should easily improve down the line. All in all, he’s easily a high major talent that has an extremely promising base to build on for the type of versatile role player coveted in (non-stretch) modern bigs.
Carey Booth | F | 6’8, 190 | 2023 | KC Run GMC 17U
One of the best prospects in all of UAA, Carey Booth had a bonafide breakout in April, showing off his rim protection and stretch-four skills. PI only got to catch one KC Run game during UAA where Parker Friedrichsen stole the show, and it was Booth’s worst performance with only 7 points and a block. Going over the missed standout games that earned him high major offers and catapulted him up everyone’s priority list made everything make total sense. Standing 6’10 with a lethal jumpshot (13/24 from deep in three games, 1/3 in the other), the appeal is obvious in a world where so many successful schemes can be derived from having volume perimeter shooting, serviceable handling, and rim protection from the big(s).
He shoots a bit of a rainbow ball, but it does look about as great as you can expect for a (young) 2023 with his size and coordination. It looks every bit of a real tool, and one expected to be used at a high volume. Booth’s improvement areas are becoming more fundamentally sound as a rebounder, improving his hands, adding more physicality, and improving his contested/contact finishing.
Parker Friedrichsen | G | 6’4, 165 | 2023 | KC Run GMC 17U
After just recently decommitting from Oklahoma State, Friedrichsen is likely to become one of the more coveted young guards in the midwest. Boasting a competitive fire and sniper-level jumpshot, the 6’4 guard gives constant effort and is always a threat to score. Despite his slighter frame, he is aggressive and physical, clearly not afraid to seek contact. This manifested as free throws, rebounds, and even blocked shots. If he can improve as a passer and fill out his frame to better own his space on both ends, Friedrichsen can be an incredibly effective multi-level scorer with the competitive edge and confidence needed to be a program cornerstone.
Bryson Tiller | F | 6’8, 180 | 2025 | Atlanta Express 16U
I first got to see Bryson Tiller play live at Hoophall West in December, where he impressed me with his frame, physical tools, finishing, handle, and athleticism at his age. In this particular showing, Tiller played a great game against West Coast Elite 16U, scoring 21 and adding 10 rebounds. He added value as a switchable forward who can get to his spots as a mid-range creator and slasher. That said, he will need to add strength and physicality to fill that role at a higher level. However, his largest improvement area is continuing to develop his perimeter game over the next few years. Above all else, it will be interesting to see what his offensive niche ends up being, as there is not a clear singular elite area as of now. Presently, he is a moldable piece of clay with the tools to be a pro, and is just scratching the surface on his upside. There are not many 2025s with his combination of athletic and physical tools.
Bobby Durkin | W/G | 6’6, 180 | 2023 | Breakaway 17U
After seeing so much of the IL State Champion Glenbard West group this year, checking in on Bobby Durkin was a priority. After Durkin was one of the most slept-on available recruits in the midwest, he ended up reclassifying to 2023. Durkin is a 6’6 wing/guard with mental toughness, winning habits, and feel. His skillset is diverse, as he is a wing who can handle in the open court, shoot the 3 at a high level, find his spots from mid-range, playmake at a solid level (for his role), rebound well positionally, and is a smart defender. Sound like a winner at the college level? Often acting as the tertiary or secondary ball handler and defending in the 1-3-1 for Glenbard, seeing Durkin with Breakaway was a new context was a very valuable eval point. His primary improvement area is hitting the weight room hard and learning to translate that mental toughness into more physicality with regards to defense and slashing. He doesn’t have the burst or strength to create advantages off the bounce, so working on gaining some capability in terms of owning his space on both ends is what will make the difference in his development. In general though, Durkin is going to help a D1 team win games — simple as that.
Niklas Polonowski | W | 6’6 | 2023 | Breakaway 17U
One archetype that can be enjoyable to look for at the grassroots level is the under-ranked (or in this case, virtually unknown nationally) volume wing shooter with size, competitiveness, and defensive chops. Polonowski was a player that was unfamiliar coming into UAA, but really impressed alongside his Breakaway teammates Drew Scharnowski and Bobby Durkin. He dropped 25 points against Gateway, and then 20 points the next day. Niklas shoots a gorgeous ball with deep range and repeatable mechanics, operating off flare screens with tremendous comfort and ease. He also gives effort on defense, showing very solid moments as an individual defender. If he can open up his triple threat game, grow as a team defender, and add some slashing prowess, he could really become a name that mid-major programs need to take notice of.
DJ Wagner | G | 6’3, 175 | 2023 | NJ Scholars 17U Simply put, DJ Wagner is one of the most polished guards at creating and capitalizing on advantages at the high school level. His offensive feel is off the charts for a guard who excels as a self creator as well, giving him true star upside if the path continues. His proprioception, understanding of pace and angles, and dynamic off-the-dribble scoring bag create a truly monstrous combination of scalable offensive tools to play with. Very few guards look as natural as Wagner when it comes to processing the game as a primary, and it just looks so easy for him. Not only was he ridiculous as a scorer, but he averaged 8.3 assists per game, as well, which was the biggest value differentiator for him in my eyes. It’s one thing to be able to create advantages for yourself, but it’s a whole different ball game when you can do it for everyone. He looked natural at it, too, playing with the same pace and approach as he does when he gets his own. The fact that Wagner can do that earns him future star upside, worthy of his status as the top guard in the country.
Isaiah Collier | G | 6’3, 190 | 2023 | TSF 17U
All the talk across EYBL was about this man first and foremost, Isaiah Collier. Collier has made his case as a top-two guard in the country, and consistently looked like one of the top-three best players in attendance. Collier is a lethal pick-and-roll playmaker with off the charts feel and defensive manipulation, and now he looks to have fully implemented a very real jumpshot. Considering this was historically the biggest question mark with his game, turning this into a real strength firmly locks him in as a top 2023 guard in the country alongside DJ Wagner. While the sample may have been small, it looked every bit as scalable as you can imagine. Additionally, he has an incredible frame and plays bigger than he actually is on both ends. Collier was also a top performer in Cerebro’s database, indicating that the analytical impact matched the eye test. If this shooting continues, Collier really lacks holes in his game and has a couple elite skills to build on, and that is pretty scary.
Matas Buzelis | G/W | 6’10, 185 | 2023 | Expressions Elite 17U
The Pro Insight squad has been tracking Buzelis for quite some time (read Q&A #1 here and Q&A #2, here), and he consistently exceeds my high expectations. It’s incredibly rare to find a player with a TRUE guard skillset like his at 6’10.25 (especially one that hasn’t been a first round pick in the NBA draft). He is genuinely at his best as a ball handler who can also play off the ball. Buzelis has some wild ball skills for his size that will only become more valuable with added muscle, as he has the handle of a guard and the counters off the dribble to find his spots and create advantages. Buzelis also doesn’t need 15 shots to be valuable — he’s still able to thrive as a catalyst to winning without taking all the shots.
He’s able to capitalize on those created advantages as a passer and finisher with great interior touch and understanding of rotations. While he can still get outmuscled pretty easily (facing similar hindrances to real guards), his movement skills and excellent jumpshot (both off the dribble and in catch-and-shoot situations) make him a nightmare to guard when he gets it going and shoots with volume. The open court, grab-and-go game Buzelis brings to the table is about as dangerous as it gets at the high school level. He can also really defend off the ball, constantly making himself a threat to generate events and get out in transition, where he thrives. The competitive drive he played with was also notable, he clearly wanted to win in Indy. The obvious main development areas are just adding muscle, owning his space, and adding volume, and if he can do that… sheesh. Through-the-roof upside.
Dravyn Gibbs-Lawhorn | G | 6’1, 170 | 2023 | Indy Heat 17U | Purdue commit
If they don't already, the Big Ten — and the country — need to know the name Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn. Possessing elite confidence, a quick trigger from deep, excellent touch, halfcourt advantage creation, and sneakily freakish athleticism and bounce, DGL is an absolute offensive monster in the making. He looks to be adding muscle, as well, augmenting his slashing and point-of-attack defense. He also really competes, and while that can sometimes get him in his head, there is a clear edge there. He should grow this year with more offensive freedom at Montverde, and I’m especially curious to see if the additional scoring gravity will open up his playmaking more. If he evolves into a high-level passer, he becomes a true nightmare to deal with for opposing defenses. The athletic tools and advantage creation are there, so it's just up to him to continue to sharpen those playmaking flashes into more consistent mental pathways and add to the overall delivery bag. It will be all mental for DGL in multiple areas, and seeing how he responds to that this year will be a fun evaluation.
JoJo Tugler | F | 6’8, 195 | 2023 | Houston Hoops 17U
JoJo Tugler is an absolute beast. As a mobile, athletic, high motor big, Tugler dominates on the offensive glass, in transition, and at the dunker spot using his superior physicality and relentless attack to assert himself. Tugler is an incredible vertical athlete as well, elevating to another level that other high school bigs simply can’t reach as a finisher. Furthermore, he adds a ton of value on the defensive end by making quick, crisp rotations as a rim protector, generating a ton of events and deflections, out-rebounding his opponent, making hustle plays, giving multiple efforts, and guarding the perimeter with comfort. Tugler could shoot it better and add some additional offensive tools to really blossom, but has an excellent base and scalable role to build on and could be a very effective high major player. Overall, he is a winning piece through-and-through who knows who he is as a player, and there are very few in the nation who can match his value in his role. On a team with multiple impressive players in Jace Posey, Ashton Hardaway, Amier Ali, and Jaland Lowe, Tugler never needs to take a backseat, and finds a way to shine the brightest in his role. The numbers back up his stellar play, as he consistently scores extremely well in Cerebro’s metrics.
Cooper Flagg | W | 6’8, 195 | 2025 | Maine United 15U
Cooper Flagg may have the most incredible scoring feel of any 15-year-old in recent memory. His offensive process is just YEARS beyond where he would be expected to be, especially for a 6’8 kid. He never looks sped up and has counters to nearly everything. Furthermore, the development path is low-hanging fruit compared to the hurdles other top prospects have to overcome, as he isn’t a prospect where scouts are wondering whether or not he can improve the process, improve his feel, or add another level of offensive scoring to be effective as he moves up levels. The developmental points are relatively simple for a 15-year-old, such as adding muscle when he’s ready for it, continuing to polish his shot, and continuing to add to his off-the-dribble package.