Updated: Jan 26
In the latest edition of ‘P.I. Pulse’, Pro Insight’s Michael Visenberg spotlights prospects who stood out at Sports Academy National Cup after spending the weekend in Thousand Oaks, California for West Session 1:
Looking to provide an experience, give back to the community and promote top youth basketball prospects, the Sports Academy National Cup powered by Matt Barnes had their first session in Thousand Oaks, CA at the Sports Academy on January 7-8, 2023. The Sports Academy facility, featuring five basketball courts, volleyball, track, and specialized weight training, among other features, was the setting for Session 1 in the West Region. This was the pool play session for the West, which featured 15 top AAU programs in the 2027 and 2028 class, as well as eight teams in the 2029 class. This will lead to bracket play in Session 2 to crown a West Region champion, which will take place at Inspire Courts in Arizona from March 31-April 2.
Beyond the West Region, the Sports Academy National Cup will also feature teams from the South and East. The South Region pool play Session 1 will be at Drive Nation in Texas from January 20-22, with Session 2 bracket play taking place at Pick A Ball in Florida from April 21-23. The East Region pool play Session 1 will be at Athletic Republic in Washington, DC from January 20-22, with Session 2 bracket play happening in Spooky Nook in Ohio February 24-26.
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.
Beyond having some former professional players in the building, including tournament sponsor and 2027 LA Soldiers coach Matt Barnes, Sports Academy National Cup West Session 1 featured 76 games over two days. 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, along with a few special 2028 prospects who caught our eye, as well.
Mayom Mayom | 2027 | AZ Unity (AZ)
Coming to the United States only recently from Sydney, Australia, Mayom’s combination of size, athleticism and shooting touch drew plenty of eyes to whichever court AZ Unity was playing on. An effortless leaper, he finished multiple alley-oops, could throw down windmills in the open court and most impressively, could dunk from a standstill easily. Beyond that, he showed touch out to three-point range and great timing as a shot blocker, with plenty of treacherous swats off the backboard.
With long strides and a good feel for spacing, Mayom was able to get a ton of easy baskets. He was simply overwhelming in terms of his athletic and physical advantage (was in the 6’6”-6’7” range). Working on adding strength and defending without fouling will be key in terms of his development, plus his role in this setting did not require a lot of on-ball work. Mayom still led AZ Unity to a 4-0 record during West Session 1 and has the look of a national-level recruit once he reaches the high school level for Dream City Christian (AZ).
Josiah Nance | 2027 | Paul George Elite (CA)
Impressive size, handle, and body control made Nance one of the more dangerous scorers at West Region Session 1. Left-handed with nice touch, he consistently created opportunities near the basket while scoring through contact. He could stretch out to the three-point line, which gave him opportunities to attack closeouts and utilize his floater. His toughness was still definitely present, as he had physical tools and awareness to affect the game on defense and attack the glass on both ends. PG Elite finished 2-2, though the losses came on Sunday to what could very well be the favorites for the West Session 2 championship in AZ Unity and LA Soldiers, with PG Elite only losing by a combined six points. Nance makes them a sleeper that will be a tough out as the tournament progresses.
Darius Wabbington | 2027 | AZ Unity (AZ)
We had the chance to see Wabbington last year at MADE Hoops West Coast Winter Circuit S3, where he stood out as a 6’6” seventh grader who had ball skills and a soft outside shot. Since then, he has continued to grow another few inches and was the tallest player in attendance while maintaining an impact with his skill level. He has good footwork around the basket, attacks the glass on both ends and is someone you must cover outside of the paint thanks to his range shooting proficiency. He’s still growing into his body and will need to work on his lift and lateral quickness, though he is a killer in the high post and has impressive court awareness. Wabbington is a huge reason why AZ Unity will have the top seed going into West Session 2 and he is looking like a lock to be highly coveted nationally in the 2027 class.
Adan Diggs | 2028 | Austin Select (TX)
While the plan was to focus on 2027 action for the most part, Diggs caught many an eye with his combination of size, handle, shooting, and vertical explosiveness. He immediately passes the eye test physically as a guard and looked like one of the top players in the building regardless of class with just how easily the game comes to him. Beyond the physical and athletic talent, he showed vision and shooting ability, along with a desire to play defense. Austin Select finished 4-0, with an average point differential of 22.3ppg, and Adan Diggs was the primary catalyst. Much like Mayom at the 2027 level, there’s just not much you can do about Diggs with his advanced athleticism and scoring package, which is all the more intriguing considering he was one of the tallest 2028 players in the building.
Gene Roebuck | 2027 | LA Soldiers (CA)
A great mix of both power and finesse, Roebuck was a physically dominant guard that generated looks from multiple levels. With his ability to score through almost any matchup, he almost certainly led the weekend in “and-one” opportunities. He created space well for his mid-range shot, hit spot-up three-pointers and was able to run the offense at times. With his ability to get to the basket, foul line and just overall strength with his guard skills, he is someone that could compete for final awards during the tournament and will be a name to follow as he levels up to the HS ranks.
Christopher Sanders | 2027 | 7DAYS (CA)
In a gym full of high school ready guards, Sanders still managed to stand out when matched up with many of the best. Lefty with a very strong frame and court vision, plus handle that got him to the paint and touch to finish through contact. While he did make some shots, it still is something he can smooth out and make more consistent. Was someone that could make interior dump passes, skips, and moved it quite well in transition. Grab and go threat at this level, it should continue, with him also adding versatility as a defender.
Delton Prescott, III | 2027 | AZ Unity (AZ)
One of the better offensive engines at this tournament, Prescott played with poise and pace alongside the barrage of weapons Unity had at their disposal. The confidence was apparent, and he was one of the better passers at the event, all while consistently nailing timely long-range jumpers. Prescott did a nice job getting into the paint and kicking out, plus threw some of those aforementioned highlight lobs. He has a steadiness to him and was the player who his team went to in close game situations. Prescott is planning to play at Centennial HS (AZ), and based on our post-game conversation he seems to be focused on his development, working on finishing more consistently around the basket, as well as being the best guard rebounder possible.
Kainoa Patton | 2028 | Paul George Elite (CA)
Still only 13 years old, Patton was playing up with the PG Elite 2027’s and managed to make an impact, playing a valuable role. Having previously seen Patton as a sixth grader showing out against high school players in Bellevue, WA and with him being one of the most advanced middle school prospects at The Blueprint Combine, we were familiar with his feel for the game and his deep range as a lefty. He nailed spot-ups, had tremendous passing vision, and created a number of extra possessions with his on-ball defense and ability to chase out-of-area rebounds. He’s still working on his interior finishing and adding physicality, but there is already so much to love about his game and where his development is trending.
Bruce Branch, III | 2027 | AZ Unity (AZ)
While Prescott was the major on-ball force for AZ Unity, it was encouraging to see his backcourt mate Branch so comfortable working off the ball. Branch was a spot-up shooting threat that had to be accounted for while also managing to get to the free throw stripe very often. His touch was deadly from several different spots, plus he had fantastic timing as a cutter. Beyond his strong team defense and rotations, he also chipped in as a rebounder and could make timely passing reads. He certainly does have ball skills as well, but just was too valuable as a movement shooter for this team and that should really help him become a valuable contributor to any team as he moves up levels.
Jasiah Williams | 2027 | Paul George Elite (CA)
Williams put in work as a downhill threat and played with a lot of energy all weekend in SoCal. At around 6’3”, he was able to guard the perimeter well and could even provide some deterrence while matched up against bigger players. When Josiah Nance fouled out with seven minutes left in PG Elite’s game vs. LA Soldiers, Williams was a major reason they were in the game right until the end, only losing 80-78. His ability to attack off the bounce, make good passes and get rebounds gives him utility.
Jaylin Conard | 2027 | Sports Academy Select (CA)
One of the most confident shooters in the building, Conard is a talented young scoring guard who showed he could play on-ball, as well. A tough defender, but his major calling card was his fearlessness shooting from the outside. He also displayed some creativity as a finisher, playing the angles while using his body control to absorb contact. Conard had good footwork on both ends and an advanced understanding of how to use change of speed to create space. Sports Academy Select finished 3-1 and will have the 4-seed for Session 2, with Conard being a major bucket getter and adding value beyond that, as well.
Carter Barnes and Isaiah Barnes | 2027 | LA Soldiers (CA)
They are the twin sons of Matt Barnes, and both had the confidence to pull from NBA range. Coming off an injury, Carter was only able to play the second day and made his presence felt immediately by hitting numerous three-pointers in a row. This was the day after Isaiah pushed AZ Unity to the edge with his own clutch long-range shooting. It is hard to pick which Barnes is the better shooter, and in their own words, “if we shoot it out, we’re going to be there all day.” Both had a really good eye for spacing, relocation and good feel for defensive rotations. Isaiah is more of a playmaker, while Carter gets to the hoop more often at this stage. They were on different shifts here, playing similar roles, with both being very fundamentally sound and bringing a lot of gravity to the table with their shooting. It’s safe to assume that there is still some significant physical and athletic growth to be done, but we saw a solid base here in terms of their fundamental ability and feel for the game.
Other Notable Performers
Martray Bagley | 2028 | Team Bagley (AZ)
Bottom Line: Brings size, touch and athleticism at the guard spot
Heaven Chea | 2028 | Austin Select (TX)
Bottom Line: Has the ability to run the offense, hit outside shots and brings court awareness
Izayah Cook | 2027 | UH Elite (AZ)
Bottom Line: Good size and strength, strong finisher around the basket, and can go to work in the paint
Omari Cuffe | 2027 | Sports Academy Select (CA)
Bottom Line: Positional size, energy and length on defense and a knack for getting buckets around the basket
Travon Darby | 2027 | UH Elite (AZ)
Bottom Line: Impressive physical tools, an ability to get to spots and set up teammates
Jordan Davis | 2027 | Team WhyNot (CA)
Bottom Line: Pull-up shooting, overall scoring at his size, and a net-positive defender
Anthony Etheridge | 2027 | San Diego Soldiers (CA)
Bottom Line: Positional size, plus-interior finishing, threat as a spot-up shooter, and likely not done growing
James Evans | 2027 | LA Soldiers (CA)
Bottom Line: Finishing ability, getting downhill and getting into his man as a defender
Gary Ferguson | 2027 | Sports Academy Select (CA)
Bottom Line: Shooting versatility, including off movement; passing ability and comfort with the ball in his hands
Will Hakes | 2027 | Sacramento Soldiers (CA)
Bottom Line: Midrange shooting, rebounding, touch around the basket and ability to draw charges
Asher Haloossim | 2027 | Team WhyNot (CA)
Bottom Line: Requisite hang time to finish around the hoop, long-range shooting, and crafty handle/playmaking
Jordan Hampton | 2027 | 7DAYS (CA)
Bottom Line: Length, energy, court vision, long range shooting, and adept at absorbing contact to get to the line
Adrian Higuera | 2027 | AZ Unity (AZ)
Bottom Line: Plus-handle to break the defense down, gets into the lane at will; passing vision
Cole Holden | 2027 | LA Soldiers (CA)
Bottom Line: Size, athleticism, willingness to set screens, body control around the basket, athleticism on defense
Tavid Lee Johnson | 2027 | Branch West (CA)
Bottom Line: On-ball ability, defensive acumen, energy, and outside shooting while being one of the younger players in 2027
Tyler Johnson | 2027 | Vegas Elite (NV)
Bottom Line: Court vision, functional handle, shooting ability, and lateral quickness as a defender
Amare Jordan | 2027 | LV Punishers (NV)
Bottom Line: Ability to shoot, space creation, hustle on defense, and overall communication
Jeremias Killebrew | 2027 | LA Soldiers (CA)
Bottom Line: Size, athleticism, willingness as a defender and rebounder, toughness finishing around the basket
Deion Lewis | 2027 | Paul George Elite (CA)
Bottom Line: Handle to get through tight spots, floater game, long-range shooting, on-ball defense
Grant Mattingly | 2027 | AZ Monstarz (AZ)
Bottom Line: Change of pace and toughness as a finisher, shooting ability, and eye for playmaking
Jett Mattox | 2027 | LA Soldiers (CA)
Bottom Line: Young big who still seems to be growing into his body, athleticism and potential as a rim protector, rebounder
Jordan Mize | 2028 | Austin Select (TX)
Bottom Line: Size at the guard spot, along with scoring package, playmaking, and defensive effort
Cisco Munoz | 2027 | LA Soldiers (CA)
Bottom Line: Crafty finishing, passing into tight windows, creating with his handle, and ability to manage close games
Dion Parker | 2027 | Vegas Elite (NV)
Bottom Line: Strength, rebounding ability, blossoming offensive game, and toughness
Andre Ray | 2027 | Team WhyNot (CA)
Bottom Line: Bouncy at his size, showed flashes of outside shooting, rebounding, defensive versatility
Kingston Smith | 2027 | Branch West (CA)
Bottom Line: Creative finisher, handling ability, potential for added strength and growth, playmaking
Xavier Starks | 2027 | Sacramento Soldiers (CA)
Bottom Line: Comfort with the ball in his hands, self-creation flashes, finishing ability, not getting sped up and staying at his preferred pace
Thaddeus Thatcher | 2027 | Vegas Elite (NV)
Bottom Line: Downhill driving leading to attacking closeouts, plus-shooting and solid defensive effort
Johnny Thyfault | 2027 | Paul George Elite (CA)
Bottom Line: Lefty with good touch from midrange and around the basket, defensive versatility on perimeter
Jaylan Virgil | 2027 | CTB (NV)
Bottom Line: Strong lower body, ability to absorb contact around the basket, huge three-point shooting volume
TJ Wansa | 2027 | Team WhyNot (CA)
Bottom Line: Lefty with a lot of strength, comfortable in three-point range and bringing up the ball; look-ahead passer, moves feet and uses hands well as a defender.