Updated: Apr 29, 2021
In the latest edition of 'P.I. Pulse,' Rookie Scale's Jon Chepkevich partnered with Pro Insight to cover this past weekend's MADE Hoops Midwest Mania event in Westfield, Indiana — highlighting stock-risers and top performers:
An unfortunate side effect of the COVID-19 global pandemic has been a cloud of uncertainty shrouding the recruiting landscape for thousands of incredibly talented young basketball players. The development curves of these teenage athletes can often be quite steep in a very short period of time…so the limited opportunities these athletes have had to showcase the growth and development of their game has resulted in a swift game of catch-up for scouts and evaluators.
Throw your stars and composite rankings out the window, because there are about to be some major shake-ups.
*Disclaimer: There were approximately 300 teams playing on nearly twenty courts across five venues simultaneously over the course of the three-day event. As such, it wasn’t logistically possible to get scouting eyes on each and every high-caliber prospect in person throughout the weekend, but below we’ll be highlighting standouts we were able to catch in person.
6’8” | Wing | E1T1 (17U) | Bishop McLaughlin Catholic (FL) | 2022
Simply stated: Dillon Mitchell is an absolute stud.
Mitchell was sensational throughout the entirety of the weekend. Most notably, he stepped up to the challenge of guarding Emoni Bates — making his case as one of the premier defenders in the class of 2022 by giving Bates all he could handle en route to a blowout victory.
6’8”+, high IQ, fluid athletes that can dominate a game without commanding high usage are few and far between — a rare archetype that every team desires.
Coming into the weekend, Mitchell ranked outside the top 100 in his class — expect that to change drastically. Mitchell is easily a top-30 recruit in my book.
6’7” | Wing | Team Final (16U) | Imhotep Charter (PA) | 2023
Edwards is a prime example of a young man who was only somewhat on the radar (only three high-major offers) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and is on the precipice of a post-lockdown meteoric recruiting rise.
Edwards popped every time he set foot on the court with great positional size/length, a smooth lefty stroke, fluidity in space, and flashes of one-foot vertical pop.
He showed impressive toughness and will-to-win in the 16U championship tilt — fighting through nagging cramps and helping his team mount an incredible 20+ point comeback against Houston Hoops.
While he’s on the older side for his class, Edwards still seems to be growing into his body. If he can shore up his balance, lower body / core strength, and add some muscle to his frame as he matures, he has the potential to blossom into one of the top wings in the class of 2023.
6’4 1/2” | Wing | UPLAY Canada (17U) | Dream City Christian (AZ) | 2022
The first game I scouted on Friday night featured a talent-laden UPLAY Canada squad that boasts a handful of high-caliber recruits. It became very quickly apparent that Shaedon was different. He kicked the event off with a couple of high-flying, thunderous dunks that had the gym buzzing, knocked down several high-degree-of-difficulty pull-up jumpers, and dazzling acrobatic finishes with gravity-defying hangtime.
While he’s always been an impressive athlete, he has grown and put on muscle since he was last scouted in person and has evolved into one of the most explosive vertical athletes in prep hoops.
He’s not only a blue blood caliber talent due for a significant bump from a composite ranking in the 70’s, but will likely find himself more firmly on NBA radars, going forward.
6’10” | Forward | Team Final | Montverde Academy (FL) | 2022
Duren took a bit to get himself going but once he did, he was an absolute force. Boasting a freakishly chiseled 6’10” 230-pound frame and a 7’5” wingspan, Duren made his presence felt as a ferocious offensive rebounder. He leveraged his second jump explosiveness to snag several of his own misses and pop right back up for powerful, rim-rocking dunks that catalyzed his team and added fuel to his own fire.
He also complemented the power with flashes of finesse, knocking down a handful of post-fade turnaround baseline jumpers.
Duren recently announced his final eleven, which includes nine NCAA programs, the Australian NBL, and the NBA G League Ignite.
Jeremy Fears Jr.
6’2” | Lead Guard | Brad Beal Elite | La Lumiere (IN) | 2023
The Joliet, IL native played up an age group last weekend and showed maturity well beyond his years. Fears is an excellent decision-maker offensively and an absolute pest defensively. He gave opposing backcourts fits throughout the duration of the event with lightning quick hands, lateral quickness, and point-of-attack defensive physicality.
Fears has racked up offers from Gonzaga and a slew of high-major programs.
Dereck Lively II
7’2” | Big | Team Final | Westtown School (PA) | 2022
The less prominently touted member of Team Final’s twin towers is a ridiculously good prospect in his own right. His movement skills at 7’2” are pretty special and were on full display throughout Team Final’s championship run as he wreaked havoc hedging opposing pick-and-roll attacks and recovering back to the paint to protect the rim.
Not only is Lively a versatile defender, but he showed himself to be a well-rounded offensive threat, as well, confidently knocking down a few triples as a pick-and-popper and secondary break trailer with no hesitation.
The 4-star big man made his case that he deserves a fifth, last weekend in Indy. He has recently been receiving significant interest from Duke and Kentucky, and may have a future as a modern NBA big man.
Nick Smith Jr.
6’4” | Combo Guard | Brad Beal Elite | Sylvan Hills (AR) | 2022
Smith showed why he is considered to be one of the most versatile guards in the country. Capable of playing either guard spot, Smith is a smooth operator with the ball in his hands and executed some of the cleanest, most creative passes of the tournament. He knows how to run a team, make everyone around him better, and has a certain infectiousness to how he plays the game. He’s savvy, confident, and plays with an edge while maintaining discipline.
While he doesn’t yet have a formal offer in-hand, Smith has been receiving significant interest from Kentucky in recent weeks.
6’8” | Forward | Expressions Elite | IMG Academy (FL) | 2022
Karaban was a lights-out shooter throughout the whole weekend and fits the prototypical stretch-four archetype. There’s almost no wasted movement in his shooting mechanics. Karaban’s gravity really opened things up for his teammates as they attacked the paint.
Karaban, who is also a standout in the classroom, has received offers from the likes of extremely selective schools such as Harvard, Penn, and Stanford in addition to the likes of Purdue, Indiana, Georgetown, Creighton, and more.
6’8” | Wing | Mac Irvin Fire | Brewster Academy (NH) | 2023
Jumbo wing with a smooth jumper and outlier ball skills + vision for his size/age. Nightmare matchup problem for opposing defenses with the ability to shoot over smaller matchups and slice-and-dice bigs.
He recently received an offer from Kansas with more blue blood programs likely to get into the mix sooner rather than later.
6’2” | Lead Guard | UPLAY Canada | Royal Crown (ON) | 2024
Slick, efficient, versatile guard that adds value on both ends of the court. Consistently beat his defenders off-the-bounce in space, made some creative live-dribble passes, and was a confident, capable shooter from deep. He controlled the pace and flow of each and every game as a 15-year-old playing up an age group.
6’7” | SG | Expressions Elite | Kingswood-Oxford (CT) | 2023
Griffiths received an offer from Syracuse this fall and is now showcasing why he has high-major potential. A multi-faceted swingman, Griffiths can score on all three levels and seems to be growing more and more confident in his abilities.
6’4” | SG | Houston Hoops | Beaumont United (TX) | 2023
Perhaps the best shooter of the event. Averaged 20.3 PPG over six games en route to the 16U championship where he put together one of the most impressive shooting performances I've seen in a long time, knocking down eight triples in the first half, many from well beyond NBA range.
Yates’ high-major offers to-date include Illinois, Oklahoma State, and TCU.
6’8” | Wing | Mac Irvin Fire | Kenwood Academy (IL) | 2023
A top-10 player in his class, JJ showed flashes as to why he’s considered one of the highest ceiling talents in the country. The way he moves at his size is special. He confidently knocked down corner threes, caught a couple of bodies attacking closeouts, and used his length to disrupt handlers and narrow passing lanes.
Taylor has an in-state offer in-hand from Illinois with an array of blue blood suitors likely on the horizon.
The bottom line: Midwest Mania was an absolutely loaded event, at which many talented young men showed new elements of their game and staked their claim as recruits to monitor heading into the live period on June 1st.
There were certainly other high-performers that we didn’t get the chance to see and we will be leaving no stone unturned in gathering intel on performances we missed and logging those recruits in our prospect database.
Special thanks to Chad Babel and the entire MADE Hoops team for pulling off such a fantastic event. Words can’t express how great it felt to be back in the gym.
Until next time!