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Prospect Analysis: GEICO Nationals

2023 GEICO Nationals Champions: Link Academy. Credit: NIBC / SportsCenter NEXT

In the latest edition of ‘P.I. Pulse’, Pro Insight’s Alex Brown summarizes his takeaways after being on the ground in Fort Myers, FL for the second year in a row to cover GEICO Nationals. With an elite field of teams from across the nation competing live on ESPN networks, GEICO provides one of the most competitive settings that high school basketball has to offer, and for the very first time it was open for NBA scouts and executives to attend. With 28 of 30 NBA teams represented, NBA personnel were able to get an early impression of some of the top upcoming prospects in high school.

Without further adieu, here are nearly 20 players who differentiated themselves at 2023 GEICO Nationals:

Elliot Cadeau’s Offensive Brilliance and Defensive Grit

6’0” Guard | 2024 | Link Academy (MO) | Committed: North Carolina

Event Stats: (3 GP) 9.7 PPG, 7.7 APG, 3 RPG, 3.7 TOPG, 2 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 3.3 FPG, 10-26 FG (5-10 3FG), 4-5 FT

It’s become incredibly rare to find true PGs who can dominate the game like Cadeau can. After scoring 2 points and dropping 14 dimes against PVI to open the tournament, Link Academy’s catalyst returned to get buckets against Sunrise, putting up 16 on efficient 4-6 shooting from deep while also adding 10 assists. With his ability to control pace, manipulate defenses, recognize advantages, and capitalize with superb accuracy and timing, Cadeau commands the offense as a playmaker in a way that only a select few guards in the country can. He is also one of the best lob throwers in the country, as the ball placement and timing are just on a different level of understanding when compared to his peers. Along with the unmatched playmaking, Elliot buried a trio of off-the-dribble 3s that the defense simply wasn’t ready for. During pre-game shootaround, Cadeau was locked in from deep showcasing improved mechanics and rhythm as a shooter, and that carried over as the week progressed. After not hitting a field goal on the first day, that second shotmaking display showed just how deadly Cadeau can be when he has the perimeter pull-up falling.

UNC point guard commit Elliot Cadeau. Credit: NIBC / SportsCenter NEXT

On the other end, Elliot brought remarkable toughness and intensity. His combination of grit, will to win, and fight was strikingly impressive, and he made it his personal goal to lead Link’s defensive approach with his energy and toughness. His elite lateral burst helped him maximize this approach by allowing him to blow up ball handlers, slide into position for charges, and contain penetration on the ball. He never backed down from a challenge and asserted himself throughout. In short, Elliot is extremely high on the list of players you would never want to play against, but would absolutely love to have on your squad. He just operates at a professional level of basketball understanding, and that approach and execution on both ends was an immense part of Link’s championship run.

Ja’Kobe Walter’s Scoring Masterclass and Winning Approach

6’4” Guard/Wing | 2023 | Link Academy (MO) | Committed: Baylor

Event Stats: (3 GP) 21.3 PPG, 0.7 APG, 4 RPG, 1.7 TOPG, 0 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 1.7 FPG, 18-32 FG (8-14 3FG), 20-25 FT

The most unstoppable scorer of the tournament was undoubtedly Ja’Kobe Walter. Commencing GEICO with a massive, tournament-high 34-point outing against a tough Paul VI team, Walter was getting it done at each level with his pull-up and spot-up shotmaking, complemented by aggressive free throw generation and rim finishing. While he had a quieter game offensively against Sunrise, he roared back with an efficient 21-point performance on only 8 shots in the championship W against Compass. The constant threat of his pull-up jumper really opened up advantageous angles to attack off the bounce, and his physicality did the rest. 25 free throw attempts in three games combined with outlier shooting efficiency is incredibly indicative of his approach throughout of just taking what the defense gives while also asserting his will. If it were just one or the other, that would be something else entirely.

Baylor-bound Ja'Kobe Walter. Credit: NIBC / SportsCenter NEXT

While the scoring jumped off the page, Ja’Kobe further impressed with his consistent and stoic approach, as he never let himself get too high or too low while bringing the intensity they needed. It would have been easy for him to ride the shotmaking highs that he was experiencing, but he seemed to stay within the flow and operate with calculated intention rather than letting the success change his approach. Moreover, when he wasn’t scoring, Walter consistently added value defensively with his gritty point of attack defense and cognizant scheme awareness, rarely, if ever, making a notable mistake. All in all, Ja’Kobe constantly impacted the game in a positive manner with the capacity to take over as a scorer within the offensive flow, and that is an elite trait to display.

Jayden Ross’ Versatility and Intangibles

6’7” Wing | 2023 | Long Island Lutheran (NY) | Committed: UConn

Event Stats: (1 GP) 25 PTS, 4 AST, 6 REB, 1 TO, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 1 PF, 9-12 FG (2-4 3FG), 5-7 FT

Doesn’t every team want a ~6’7” wing who can add range shooting, unselfish passing, above-the-rim finishing, offensive rebounding, versatile defense, leadership, will to win, and constant effort? Well, Jayden Ross is that wing, and looked like one of the most underrated long term bets in NIBC play. Scoring 25 points, Ross brought a diverse, efficient attack to LuHi’s offense. Along with burying a couple 3s (and getting fouled on another), Ross got it done in transition and as a cutter by sprinting into open space for a couple massive dunks. He then leveraged his shooting gravity for a baseline drive that resulted in yet another dunk in traffic. Furthermore, Ross also added hustle buckets by hauling in 5 offensive boards, scoring on 3 of them. With a few dimes to top it off, Ross had an exceedingly positive offensive presence that was critical to keeping LuHi in striking distance.

While the scoring was great, the intangibles may have been what impressed the most. Along with being constantly locked in and active defensively, Jayden was hustling all game, sprinting to his spots, and led by example throughout. He celebrated teammates’ success, played unselfishly, and just made winning plays. While LuHi just fell short in an emotional game, Jayden’s poise, competitiveness, professional approach, and team-first mentality were beyond evident. As a result, Ross was undoubtedly one of the biggest stock risers throughout NIBC play, and he solidified himself as a very promising long term name to track as he continues to add muscle to his frame and build his attack off the bounce. UConn is a great landing spot for Jayden’s development, and the now defending champs have found themselves quite a steal.

Scotty Middleton’s Competitive Fire and Shotmaking

6’6” Wing | 2023 | Sunrise Christian Academy (KS) | Committed: Ohio State

Event Stats: (2 GP) 17 PPG, 1.5 APG, 2 RPG, 3.5 TOPG, 1 SPG, 1 BPG, 0.5 FPG. 12-22 FG (6-11 3FG), 4-4 FT

Last year at GEICO, one image that stayed with me was Scotty Middleton looking on as Prolific Prep celebrated their upset over Sunrise. It stayed with Scotty as well, as he wrote the score of that game down in his locker to add to his motivation during the year. As a result, Scotty was locked in for GEICO, and brought energy, intensity, and emotion to the court. Active in picking up teammates and keeping the energy high while being locked in, Scotty’s will to win was on full display.

Future Ohio State Buckeye Scotty Middleton. Credit: NIBC / SportsCenter NEXT

As far as production, Scotty went on to lead Sunrise in scoring while putting together one of the best shotmaking performances he had had all year. Against Montverde, he buried two huge clutch 3s, including the eventual game-winner, and then followed that up with a 22-point outing against Link. Scotty showcased improved shooting rhythm and that high confidence that led to him producing from deep off-the-catch and off-the-dribble in the mid-range. Overall, Scotty’s jumper looked as good as it has ever been in what was one of his best performances all year. His efficient impact and high energy level were major factors in Sunrise’s upset win and close second game.

Tru Washington’s Two-Way Production

6’3” Guard | 2023 | AZ Compass Prep (AZ) | Committed: New Mexico

Event Stats: (3 GP) 12.7 PPG, 2 APG, 5.3 RPG, 1.3 TOPG, 2.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 2 FPG, 13-27 FG (3-9 3FG), 9-14 FT

AZ Compass really shares the ball and the scoring production, but Tru was the consistent leader. The bottom line with Tru is that he always plays hard and does the dirty work — and he does it really well. He is an opportunistic scorer that seems to always find opportunities. Tru doesn’t need to create a ton off the bounce or have his offense created for him, he just finds ways to slither inside, fill an open gap, or just get to spots faster and stronger than the opposition. As a powerful, yet agile functional athlete, he has a unique ability to own his space against much larger players and finish amidst traffic, leading to plenty of efficient rim attempts. This plus the motor also contributed to second chance points off 8 offensive rebounds throughout. The jumper also looked much more positive from a touch and rhythm standpoint, which ended up being a nice bonus to his attack.

Defensively, Tru can be a high-motor lockdown guy who leans on his combination of functional strength and length to mitigate or prevent advantages. Always appearing locked in, you’ll never see Tru take a possession off. Recording 7 steals against IMG (6 in the second half), his disruption and activity plagued them and was a major factor in AZ’s ability to pull away and secure a spot in the championship game. All in all, he makes winning plays, and the consistency at which he does was a big reason why Compass made it as far as they did.

Additional Standouts

Tyran Stokes’ Disruption and Slashing

6’6” Forward | 2026 | Prolific Prep (CA)

Event Stats: (1 GP) 16 PTS, 1 AST, 6 REB, 2 TO, 5 STL, 1 BLK, 3 PF, 8-13 FG (0-3 3FG), 0-1 FT

Although Prolific fell short in the first round, Tryan Stokes played one of his better two-way games to date. His emotion, care factor, and desire to win were beyond evident, and there are not many 15-year-olds on the planet with his special blend of length, functional movement skills, strength, athleticism, and motor. Tryan was able to lean on those traits to be extremely impactful in the passing lanes, generating 5 steals against IMG. Additionally, he showed the capacity to blow up guard handlers with quick, active hands and plenty of functional movement. Offensively, Stokes did his best work around the rim and in transition. He uses his superior physicality and body control to own his space and carve out advantageous finishing angles while also providing a threat to finish above the rim. His contributions on both ends were critical to aiding Prolific’s late comeback that nearly ended in a W.

Jayden Reid’s Creation

5’10” Guard | 2023 | Long Island Lutheran (NY)

Event Stats: (1 GP) 17 PTS, 7 AST, 3 REB, 6 TO, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 2 PF, 5-13 FG (2-5 3FG), 5-6 FT

The NIBC’s assist leader and one of the top undecided prospects in attendance, Jayden Reid showed up in a big way for LuHi in the second half of the close opening round loss. Reid can really create advantages off the bounce, as he is a gamer with tons of burst, a deceptive handle, cognizant playmaking, and the ability to score inside and out. At 5’10” or so, he is very tough to stay in front of, and has a myriad of small-guard tricks to compensate. He hit a few big shots down the stretch that kept LuHi within range, and could be a great late pickup for a smart D1 team. Winner.

Blue Cain’s Complete First Game

6’4” Guard | 2023 | IMG Academy (FL)

Event Stats: (2 GP) 11.5 PPG, 4 APG, 4 RPG, 4.5 TOPG, 1 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 2 FPG, 9-17 FG (3-7 3FG), 2-2 FT

Available senior Blue Cain. Credit: NIBC / SportsCenter NEXT

The top undecided senior in attendance, IMG’s Blue Cain put together one of his most impactful all around games in the first round of GEICO, finishing with a game-winning prayer to beat Prolific to top it off. In that 21-point, 4-assist, 4-rebound performance, he showcased his ability to impact the game in a multitude of ways by burying the three-ball, getting downhill, playing great team defense, and being smart with his touches. While he had a very tough second day against the length and pressure of AZ Compass, the poise and efficient production he brought on day one showed the best of who he is as a player.

DeShawn Harris-Smith’s Leadership

6’4” Guard | 2023 | Paul VI (VA) | Committed: Maryland

Event Stats: (1 GP) 18 PTS, 1 AST, 5 REB, 7 TO, 1 STL, 0 BLK, 2 PF, 5-15 FG (3-8 3FG), 5-9 FT

While PVI fell short in the tournament-opener to eventual champion Link Academy, DHS brought tremendous leadership and intangibles to his squad. Even in defeat, he showed impressive poise and maturity, and offered high praise for his teammates. As far as production, he showed notable prowess as a pull-up shooter, and buried three from deep off the bounce. His stronger build and frame should fit into the B1G nicely, and the defensive toughness he continues to bring is a necessity. The playmaking development will be an area to track long term, but DHS looks like a great culture pickup for Maryland.

Isaiah Abraham’s Two-Way Upside

6’6” Wing | 2024 | Paul VI (VA)

Event Stats: (1 GP) 9 PTS, 0 AST, 3 REB, 1 TO, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 1 PF, 3-9 FG (2-3 3FG), 1-2 FT

Isaiah Abraham’s combination of positional size, three-point shooting, mobility, and defense provides the foundation for a promising wing prospect. His engagement and motor stood out within his role, as well, and his buy-in was evident. With DeShawn Harris-Smith and Ben Hammond receiving the creation reps and Darren Harris being the primary off-ball threat, Abraham had to produce in the gaps as a third/fourth option. While the scoring within the arc was not at his ideal level, he buried a couple 3s and made his presence felt consistently on the defensive end, where he played with great energy and toughness.

Cooper Flagg’s Two-Way Prowess

6’9” Wing | 2025 | Montverde (FL)

Event Stats: (1 GP) 8 PTS, 3 AST, 3 REB, 2 TO, 3 STL, 1 BLK, 5 PF, 2-4 FG (2-3 3FG), 2-2 FT

While Montverde did not have much to celebrate, Cooper Flagg brought his trademark winning basketball to GEICO, complete with defensive disruption, three-point shooting, unselfish ball movement, and cognizant scheme awareness. Each watch, Cooper plays with a maturity and polish level that feels unheard of for his age, and his sheer, unrivaled positional versatility and constant winning impact make him one of the most promising prospects in the U.S., regardless of class. He will get better at defending without fouling over time, but he has some genuinely incredible upside.

VJ Edgecombe’s Stellar Defense and Upside

6’5” Guard/Wing | 2024 | Long Island Lutheran (NY)

Event Stats: (1 GP) 13 PTS, 1 AST, 7 REB, 1 TO, 2 STL, 3 BLK, 4 PF, 4-12 FG (1-4 3FG), 4-6 FT

2022-23 NIBC MVP VJ Edgecombe. Credit: NIBC / SportsCenter NEXT

Edgecombe has been one of the hottest names in the recruiting world recently, and for good reason. The 6’5” breakout star and leading scorer of the NIBC has some incredible athletic tools to pair with a promising frame. The scoring was not at the usual level that NBA scouts had been itching to see, but what was most impressive was the incredible defensive impact and hustle plays. The aggression, activity level, engagement, and event generation were all top notch. VJ routinely skied for rebounds in and out of his area on both ends, blocked shots with verticality and lightning quick hands, and blew up passing lanes with his burst, anticipation and length. On the ball, he has the lateral mobility, length and explosiveness to check and recover on multiple positions. Overall, VJ has looked like one of the more promising players in the class of 2024, and a big summer should be on the way for him.

Trent Pierce’s Key Contributions

6’9” Forward | 2023 | AZ Compass Prep (AZ) Committed: Missouri

Event Stats: (3 GP) 5 PPG, 0.3 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1 TOPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 1 FPG, 5-13 FG (4-9 3FG), 1-2 FT

It has been enjoyable to follow Trent from a sleeper standout at 2021 Wootten Camp in Texas to a key rotation piece for AZ Compass’s run to the GEICO Nationals Championship game in 2023. All of 6’9”, Trent brings a three-point stroke that works off the catch and off movement, as well as quality rebounding, play finishing, and defensive mobility. He came in at the 5 and was absolutely key in the second round win against IMG, where he had a huge 12 points, 7 boards, and 2 stocks when his number was called, securing the momentum necessary for Compass to pull away from a tie game in the 4th.

The Emergence of Tyler McKinley

6’8” Forward | 2024 | Link Academy (MO)

Event Stats: (3 GP) 8.7 PPG, 2.3 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1.3 TOPG, 0 SPG, 1 BPG, 3 FPG, 9-12 FG (2-3 3FG), 6-10 FT

In the absence of Cade Phillips, Tyler McKinley had to step up in a big way into the starting big role for Link. With Link switching everything, Tyler often found himself checking opposing guards on the perimeter as well as needing to actively communicate and navigate the off-ball switching scheme. He was quite effective in both aspects, and while he struggled a bit with fouling, he was successful in executing his team’s game plan. Furthermore, McKinley had what may have been his best single-game performance all year in the championship win against AZ Compass, where he exploded offensively for 17 points (2/2 3FG) while adding 3 offensive boards and 3 assists. Overall, this was a very encouraging display heading into what should be a massive summer for him.

Cameron Carr’s Consistency

6’4” Wing | 2023 | Link Academy (MO) | Committed: Tennessee

Event Stats: (3 GP) 9.7 PPG, 0.3 APG, 0.7 RPG, 1 TOPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 1.7 FPG, 10-20 FG (6-15 3FG), 3-3 FT

Although battling a rolled ankle after a hot start in the first game, Carr was not about to let another injury keep him out of GEICO for the second year in a row. Cam has been adamant this year about playing with consistent energy and not taking plays off defensively, and he did exactly that. Staying locked in each game with more consistent defensive engagement, Carr also brought his efficient, in-the-flow offensive attack with an array of 3s and dunks to impact winning off the ball, standing out the most during his 18-point outing against Sunrise. Entering one of the best weight rooms in basketball at Tennessee this summer, Cam boosted his stock at GEICO and remains an intriguing name to track long term.

Khani Rooths’ Intriguing Two-Way Tools

6’8” Forward | 2024 | IMG Academy (FL)

Event Stats: (2 GP) 12.5 PPG, 2 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1 TOPG, 0 SPG, 2 BPG, 3 FPG, 9-13 FG (3-5 3FG), 4-13 FT

With excellent physical tools (7’0” wingspan), a promising frame, and some inside/out scoring chops, Khani produced in a big way for IMG when they needed it. With an improving perimeter stroke, Rooths was able to stretch it effectively for IMG, especially from the corners. To complement that, Khani was able to put the ball on the floor as a straight-line slasher and finish through contact, as well. Defensively, the flashes of rim protection and rotational mobility were impressive. He will be a very interesting name to track as he continues to sharpen his feel for the game and BBIQ, but overall he helped himself with his efficient approach at GEICO.

Highly-touted junior Khani Rooths. Credit: NIBC / SportsCenter NEXT

Aden Holloway’s Shotmaking

6’0” Guard | 2023 | Prolific Prep (CA) | Committed: Auburn

Event Stats: (1 GP) 21 PTS, 2 AST, 3 REB, 5 TO, 2 STL, 0 BLK, 1 PF, 6-18 FG (4-13 3FG), 5-5 FT

Leading an impressive comeback that just fell short on Blue Cain’s buzzer-beater, Aden Holloway brought what he seems to always bring: nuclear shotmaking and no memory for misses. Add in range beyond the NBA three-point line, limitless confidence, and a well-earned green light, and he can get you back in a game when he’s on. In Holloway, Auburn is getting a combo guard who fits their offensive culture and is never afraid to light it up from deep — and those types of players can really win you some games in the NCAA.

Miro Little’s Toughness and Defensive Impact

6’3” Guard | 2023 | Sunrise Christian (KS) | Committed: Baylor

Event Stats: (2 GP) 8 PPG, 3 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1 TOPG, 2 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 2 FPG, 5-15 FG (3-11 3FG), 3-3 FT

The second standout Baylor commit on this list and one of the toughest competitors the NIBC has to offer, Miro Little approaches the game like a pro. While his deep ball wasn’t falling its ideal level in Fort Myers, Miro found ways to impact the game defensively and as a glue guy outside of scoring. The most consistent value add might be his toughness, which is exemplified on every defensive possession and in his mental approach to each game. He is the type of player who never takes a possession off, plays with physicality, and is not going to be outworked by his opponent. Combine that with a strong frame and great length, and you have a recipe for a very high-quality defender who can consistently impact the game at the next level.

Aaron Rowe’s Intriguing Self Creation

6’0” Guard | 2025 | Link Academy (MO) | Undecided

Event Stats: (3 GP) 5.3 PPG, 1 APG, 1 RPG, 0.7 TOPG, 0.7 SPG, 0 BPG, 0.7 FPG, 7-11 FG (2-3 3FG), 0-0 FT

As one of the more dynamic 2025s off the bounce, Aaron Rowe added his trademark self creation off the bench as Cadeau rested, adding 8 points in the championship game off of an array of tough finishes and mid-range pull-ups. As shifty, deliberate and quick as they come, Rowe was able to get going off the bounce and show that the physicality and length of AZ Compass did not faze him despite his age and slight frame. He did not turn it over much, either, despite the size he faced, and was routinely playing within his offensive arsenal with poise. While the three-point shot has been the early swing skill, he buried a couple attempts from range in the games prior. Overall, the championship flashes off the bench add to what has been a very intriguing year of basketball from Aaron Rowe, and he is a player poised to have a huge summer.


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