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Event Recap: Sports Academy National Cup - East Session 1

In the latest edition of ‘P.I. Pulse’, Pro Insight’s David Hendren highlights prospects who stood out at Sports Academy National Cup after spending the weekend in District Heights, Maryland for East Session 1:

Matt Barnes has recently orchestrated a new tournament platform to showcase the nation’s top young prospects, called the Sports Academy National Cup. The first session out east took place at the Athletic Republic, which is a multi-purpose sport training facility that caters to football and basketball, amongst other sports. Multiple teams represented each age group, with 11 participating in the 2027 pool play, 7 teams in the 2028 pool, and 11 teams in the 2029 pool. With the conclusion of this pool play, there will now be a bracket for Session 2, which will take place in Ohio from February 24-26 at Spooky Nook.

There is also pool play in two other regions (South and West). The first session out west occurred January 7-8. Session 1 in the south concluded this past weekend as well and was held at Drive Nation. Bracket play for Session 2 in the west will occur from April 1-2 in Arizona at Inspire Courts and Session 2 in the south will take place in Florida April 22-23 at Pick A Ball.

The top four programs in each region will receive a prize, plus automatic qualification to the Sports Academy National Cup Grand Finale, which will return to Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, CA which is set for May 13-14. Beyond this leading to a tournament champion, it will also have a Legendary Cup for teams that did not qualify for the National Cup, an All-Star Game which will feature one player per team with the top four teams in each region potentially getting an additional participant, along with regional and overall performance awards. The Grand Finale will crown the Sports Academy National Cup champion and is in line to be streamed as well, with some of the nation’s finest AAU programs battling it out for the crown.

For the purposes of this article, we focused on the 2027 class, as there was quite a bit of talent and several players who should feature prominently in the NCAA recruiting discussions once they hit the high school level. Below, we’ll break down some of the top talent that Pro Insight was able to evaluate, after spring the weekend in the DC suburbs for East Session 1.

Event Standouts

Jamaal McKnight, Jr. | 2027 | Team Durant (DC)

The shifty lead guard was dominant all weekend due to his ball-handling and the ability to create separation with his speed. McKnight is constantly establishing himself in the paint and constantly looking to push the pace and apply pressure to the defense. He’s a guard who’s always in attack mode in both the half-court and in transition. He has the ability to finish with either hand around the basket and knock down floaters, making him unpredictable as a finisher around the rim. He is comfortable stopping on a dime from the mid-range as well, and elevates to get his shot off. Defensively, he smothers other guards with his motor and quick hands. He is always playing angles, generating steals and pushing the ball in transition. His team had an impressive record on the weekend, finishing 3-1 in pool play. McKnight will undoubtedly be a guard to monitor in the future.

Munir Greig | 2027 | NJ Scholars (NJ)

The electrifying forward is a unique prospect due to his combination of size, athleticism and skill. He stands around 6’5’’ and moves like a guard, running the floor effortlessly. From a defensive standpoint, Greig’s ceiling is very high due to his length and athleticism. His motor will be the key to his defensive development. When Greig’s motor is running, he’s protecting the rim with his length and verticality, switching onto guards and even stealing the ball from them on occasion. As his endurance and mentality improve from a motor standpoint, he can anchor a defense with high-level activity. Offensively, Greig intrigues with his ability to stretch the floor, as he hit numerous threes in multiple contests over the weekend. He also has the ability to exploit poor closeouts by finishing at the rim. He also showed flashes of playmaking, possessing a handle that is ahead of the curve for his size/age/position. He can lead the break himself and even break down defenders in isolation scenarios, at times. All in all, there is plenty to be excited about as Greig continues to grow, fill out and develop.

Camontae Griffin, Jr. | 2027 | NJ Scholars (NJ)

The best scorer in the gym last weekend was Camontae Griffin, Jr., a multi-level scorer who can get going without any assistance from teammates. From behind the three-point line, he’s comfortable pulling up coming off ball screens and shoots the ball with confidence. As a mid-range creator, Griffin is polished, getting into his shot off step-throughs, stopping on a dime with pump-fakes and exercising patience to keep defenders guessing. Not only is he adept from deep and from mid-range, but he has some real post-game, which you don’t see every day in a middle school guard. He loves using his size against smaller matchups, using his strong frame to overpower, but also has touch and the ability to hit turnaround fadeaways off the glass. Griffin also made some nice passing reads from the post, skipping the ball cross-court to open shooters. He also showed the ability to get to the rim, constantly drawing contact and getting to the free-throw line. Needless to say, Griffin is an advanced offensive guard at this stage of his young career. He also showed flashes of defensive potential, anticipating well in passing lanes and taking advantage of lackadaisical decisions made by opposing guards. He also possesses a chip as a competitor, bringing energy and confidence that rubs off on his teammates. This is one to monitor closely, folks.

Callen Morrison | 2027 | Boo Williams (VA)

A bolt of electricity, Morrison makes plays on both ends of the floor with his elite speed and motor. Morrison is a tenacious on ball defender and the head of the Boo Williams’ full-court press, using his lateral quickness and deceptiveness to disrupt other guards. On offense, Morrison turns heads thanks to his sound shooting mechanics and beautiful release. He shoots a soft ball with great rotation from anywhere behind the arc. Throughout the weekend, he looked comfortable drifting into corners, keeping a strong base and sound balance to consistently knock down open catch-and-shoot opportunities. As a ball-handler, Morrison is both explosive and creative and is comfortable using spins to maneuver around defenders or escape dribbles to create space for his jumper. He’s also a functional athlete when it comes to finishing at the rim, with an ability to contort his body around defenders and finish with craft. His two-way skillset makes him a high floor prospect — and the more he grows, the higher the ceiling.

Babatunde Oladotun | 2027 | Team Durant (DC)

This lanky forward is a perfect fit in the modern game with his positional size and perimeter-oriented skillset. Oladotun has a smooth release and great touch and is a proficient catch-and-shoot marksman. He stands at a towering 6’5” — bigger than a ton of eighth-grade forwards — yet is also mobile enough to operate with comfort from the outside. He regularly exploits smaller defenders by shooting over them in the mid-post and excels as a glass-crasher on the offensive end. Needless to say, Oladotun is a matchup nightmare for his peers. Improving his physicality and ball-handling will only allow him to grow his already impressive offensive repertoire. Defensively, Oladotun’s long wingspan provides potential, but he still has room to improve with his foot speed. He provides flashes of a young Jabari Smith considering his size, frame and shooting ability, and with the requisite work and continued development, his ultimate potential is very exciting.

Daniel Abass | 2027 | Team Durant (DC)

Daniel Abass is a player who oozes upside. Not only was he the tallest player in the gym, last weekend, he is impressively athletic for his size. He runs the floor with ease and really elevates for rebounds and blocks. On one memorable play in particular, he grabbed a traffic rebound and went coast-to-coast, utilizing a behind-the-back dribble en route to a finish at the rim. Abass has the tools to be a high-level prospect, so continuing to fine-tune his skillset will really determine where he ends up. Abass is active on the offensive glass, rebounding the ball in traffic and regularly finishing over defenders. He also has the ability to catch the ball in the mid-post and put the ball on the floor to evade slower bigs on drives. As a shooter, Abass has decent mechanics, but must continue to improve his touch from the perimeter. Currently, he’s at his best around the rim, finishing as a roller, offensive rebounder and scoring off dump passes. Defensively, Abass is active and leverages his length, but must become more disciplined, as sometimes he can bite on pump-fakes and get himself into foul trouble. Overall, this is a high-upside big with an encouraging longterm ceiling.

Jymin Veney | 2027 | New World (DC)

The savvy, poised combo guard is ahead of the curve when it comes to his advanced feel for the game. He is a sound decision-maker who can be trusted with the ball in his hands and knows how to get to his spots. He rarely turns the ball over and uses his IQ and vision to read the floor and react appropriately. With Veney, you know what you are getting on both ends of the floor, as he brings consistency, a rare trait at this age. Offensively, he reads the floor with confidence, knowing when to call his own number or distribute to open teammates. He’s also a good athlete, so he has no problem finishing around the rim amidst traffic. Veney also has the ability to use his size to exploit smaller guards in the mid-range, using sound footwork and balance to elevate and knock down shots. He’s comfortable as a spot-up shooter, as he has sound mechanics and a high release, and does a great job of holding his follow-through and keeping his release consistent. Veney is a strong rebounder for a guard, as well. He brings positional size to the backcourt at 6’1” and thanks to his length and discipline, he’s able to switch up and down lineups as a defender, comfortably matching up with guards, wings and forwards. Overall, Veney’s advanced poise and IQ could make a contributing piece right away at the high school level.

Jordyn Houston | 2027 | Boo Williams (VA)

Houston is an intriguing frontcourt prospect due to his size and skill. From a size perspective, he has a well-built frame that will continue to add muscle, yet he’s already stronger than many of his counterparts. Even though he’s a center, he has decent mobility and runs the lane well. His skill level is intriguing as well, as he has the ability to stretch the floor. Even though he can shoot from range, Houston knows where his bread is buttered, and that is in the paint, where he can leverage his combination of strength and touch. He has no issues rebounding the ball in traffic and finishing over defenders. He has good hands and can score well after catching dump-offs, as well. He’d benefit by improving his overall post game and adding some counters in order to maintain his advantage once opponents catch up to him physically. Defensively, Houston is productive and his length allows him to alter shots around the rim. He had stretches in DC where he really stood out as a defensive enforcer and a physical interior presence. Overall, Houston’s size and skill make him an intriguing prospect, but what will unlock an even higher level of potential will be his motor and how often he can rev it up. When he is playing hard, he is an absolute handful on both ends of the floor.

Jordan Powell | 2027 | Boo Williams (VA)

Powell is the definition of a swiss army knife and glue guy. As a player comparison, he provides shades of Dyson Daniels. He’s always looking to make the right basketball play and doesn’t care about scoring — just what will benefit his team and give them the best chance to win. His versatility really stands out and he brings good size for a wing/guard. Standing around 6’2’’-6’3’’, Powell can play multiple positions due to his physical tools and skillset. Offensively, he can initiate due to his tight handle and passing vision. He’s also a good athlete, which allows him to blow-by defenders and get into gaps, where he is creative as a passer and can make split-second decisions. He also uses his athleticism to finish with flare around the rim. However, he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective on the offensive end. He’s an active, willing cutter and also crashes the offensive glass and improvises well off those rebounds, routinely making winning plays without a play being ran for him. Powell has the IQ to survey the floor quickly in a variety of scenarios, where he is always willing to make the extra pass to best benefit his team. Defensively, Powell can guard multiple positions thanks to his blend of size and fluid movement. He is disruptive when guarding the ball and does a nice job netting his fair share of deflections. Overall, as Powell grows as a shooter, his game should really blossom, because that seems to be his own glaring weakness right now. Becoming more assertive offensively would be beneficial as well. In today’s game, versatile wings are a necessity, and Powell seems to be trending in that direction.

Joshua Rivera | 2027 | NJ Scholars (NJ)

This shooter from the Scholars is a fundamentally sound prospect who plays to his strengths and knows his role, which is refreshing to see from someone his age. Rivera does what he does very well: he stretches the floor, rebounds, is a vocal leader, and puts in effort on the defensive end. Also, Rivera is seemingly very coachable and keeps his emotions in check, channeling them positively to encourage his teammates and communicate with his coaches. Maturity and IQ are two of Rivera’s best assets, two extremely valuable traits for someone who hasn’t set foot on a high school floor, yet. In terms of his development, growing physically and improving his ball-skills will be closely tied to his growth as a prospect.

Kevin Parker | 2027 | Boo Williams (VA)

The dynamic guard has a certain flash to his game, using athleticism and flare to put his unique imprint on the game. Parker is at his best in transition, relying on his quickness and ball-handling to advance up the floor and finish. He shows an advanced comfort level operating in the pick-and-roll, using his quick first step to get downhill and put pressure on the rim. However, Parker can be inconsistent as a facilitator, where he seems to just as easily make the perfect read or miss an open teammate, but he has plenty of time to grow as a passer and decision-maker. Continuing to gain reps as a lead guard will help with this aspect of his game. Also, what benefits him in the Boo Williams system is playing next to Callen Morrison, where both of them can take turns as ball-handlers, allowing both of them to grow off the ball, where both have shown the ability to cut and finish and read defensive coverages. Defensively, he creates easy scoring opportunities by effectively reading passing lanes, where he earns a ton of steals by using his instincts. Overall, Parker is dynamic due to his ball-handling and defense. Continuing to grow as a shooter, especially off the dribble, will make it harder for defenses to cover him, especially if he can force his man to fight over the screen in pick-and-roll scenarios.

Matt Barnes Defensive Spotlight Award

This award goes to the best defensive player in the session. The recipient must exhibit a high-level of defensive capability, affecting the game in multiple ways on the defensive end.

Brandon Woodard | 2027 | New World (DC)

Brandon Woodard is phenomenal on the defensive end of the floor. Standing around 6’5’’, Woodard is a great athlete with a long wingspan. His activity level is what makes him so tough defensively, as he constantly plays with active hands and feet when guarding the ball or when rotating. He is always getting deflections and using his length to smother opponents, but where he really excels is protecting the rim. Woodard stays fairly disciplined in this department, timing his contests successfully more often than not. Overall, Woodard has the mobility to guard multiple positions and does a great job protecting the basket, resulting in excellent defensive potential as he moves up levels, especially when he is locked in.

Other Notable Performers

Zion Green | 2027 | Tim Thomas Playaz (NJ)

Bottom Line: Long, mobile center who has upside if he continues to improve his offensive skillset

Troy Tomlin | 2027 | Team Takeover (DC)

Bottom Line: High-motor forward who can stretch the floor; plays with a chip on his shoulder

J’Lon Lyons | 2027 | New World (DC)

Bottom Line: Well-rounded guard who has a two-way skillset

Darrell Davis | 2027 | Team Takeover (DC)

Bottom Line: Pesky perimeter defender who loves to attack the rim

NaVorro Bowman | 2027 | Team Takeover (DC)

Bottom Line: Can stretch the floor and really pressure opposing guards defensively

Amani Asare | 2027 | Team Takeover (DC)

Bottom Line: Left-handed guard who brings versatility offensively, both as a shooter and as a playmaker

Kirby Duran | 2027 | New World (DC)

Bottom Line: Guard with good size and skill, just needs to show more consistency

Brian Mitchell Jr. | 2027 | Boo Williams (VA)

Bottom Line: Very athletic big with explosiveness, just needs skill refinement


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