Updated: Apr 22, 2021
In the latest edition of 'P.I. Pulse,' Pro Insight's Aneesh Namburi highlights some takeaways and standout players from last weekend's MADE Hoops Texas Tip-off in Dallas, Texas — including top unsigned seniors, as well as top performers from 17U, 16U and 15U:
Evaluating players over the past year plus has been wildly difficult. While breaking down replays is valuable ~90% of the time, there always will be merit in taking in the nuances of live, in-person games. Making up for lost time to evaluate the 2021 and 2022 high school classes will be a rush over the next several weeks, which is why our Pro Insight team found the opportunity to attend MADE Hoops Texas Tip-Off so valuable. The high school divisions featured a ton of 15-17U standouts made up mostly of EYBL teams, along with a number of local teams with promising talent that we’ll highlight below.
When it came to recapping this event, it didn’t make much sense to really focus on the ‘big name’ players, as they’ve had enough prior exposure that most coaches and evaluators have a decent feel for their abilities. Instead, we’ll continue our trend of highlighting some under-the-radar unsigned seniors, a 2021 class that has really been limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are five players in particular that impressed and deserved a breakdown of their game for a wider audience.
*Disclaimer: there were plenty of outstanding prospects we weren’t able to catch in person throughout the weekend for a variety of reasons, but below we’ll be highlighting standouts we were able to catch in person in Dallas.
Event Standouts: Unsigned Seniors
Jimel Cofer / Drive Nation / Guard
Drive’s 17U needed a point guard to complement Jordan Walsh, Rylan Griffen, and TJ Caldwell, and Cofer did an admirable job filling that role. He’s an athletic standout who has end-to-end speed, strength, burst, and vertical pop, which he uses to finish with authority in transition and score at the rim in the half court (both with and without ball screens). He’s more of a table setter rather than creator in terms of playmaking, but will find open teammates. Cofer also looks very fluid getting into his jumpers, and should get better converting the outside looks with increased reps and an improved handle. As a defender, Cofer has the potential to be extremely disruptive at the point of attack with his physical tools. Furthermore, he was opportunistic knocking the ball loose from opponents early in possessions, something that should translate to the next level and appeal to college coaches across the board.
Tobias Roland / Team Griffin / Guard
Roland was the second-best player on Team Griffin’s 17U squad after Chris Bunch (another underrated name, but from the 2022 class). He’s a stockier big guard who can get downhill consistently due to his powerful frame. While he’s not a primary playmaker, Roland keeps the ball moving within the offense and will make basic reads off pick-and-rolls. He is developing consistency with his outside shot, but seems confident taking pull-up jumpers off the bounce as well as spot-up looks. His size presents a bonus, as you can play him in two-guard lineups without much difficulty. It will be hard for any guard to really move him without overexerting themselves at the college level. He really competes on the defensive end of the floor, relishing in taking advantage of offensive miscues. Roland especially showcases his blend of strength and movement skills annoying opposing guards when guarding 94 feet.
Zakai Zeigler / New Heights Lightning / Guard
Zeigler circulated a bit on social media this weekend due to his battle with Dior Johnson when their teams faced-off Saturday night, but this guard is more than his highlight clips. Schools seem to have overlooked him due to his size, but that’s a flat out mistake. First of all, the kid is a dog, and showcased the classic New York grit by making consistent hustle plays in the two games I watched. Defensively, he consistently made it difficult for Dior to get to his spots easily, forcing him into a lot of tough looks. Especially at the college level, Zeigler’s lack of size won’t be as punished, and we’ve seen plenty of small guards be positive defensively at the NCAA level. Zeigler also blends the skills of a classic “pure PG” with the more scoring-oriented player that is increasingly more common among modern point guards. His speed helps him get into the teeth of defenses, and he can either kick out to shooters or use his touch to complete some advanced finishes (necessary due to his lack of size). When defenses try to wall off the paint, he has a smooth looking jumper that he can get to while stopping on a dime. Zeigler utilizes the pick-and-roll well, too.
Sione Lose / Capital City Cougars / Guard
Personally, Lose was my favorite player to watch this weekend. His pace in the pick-and-roll and manipulation as a creator was stuff you simply don’t see at the high school level, much less someone who is still unsigned. His standout physical tool is his size at around 6-foot-6, and while he might not have elite burst or vertical pop, he has a silky mid-range game and craft around the hoop. In terms of his pick-and-roll playmaking, Lose was for sure within the top-five playmakers in the tournament, often engaging defenses around the elbow/FT line and then manipulating them with fakes before hitting teammates both on the interior and beyond the arc. His defensive ability will largely rely on the amount of strength he gains over the next couple off-seasons, but the aforementioned IQ definitely translates to the other side of the ball. He had a couple lovely contests while moving backwards when I expected his lack of strength to push him into the basket, and was timely (if not anticipatory) with his defensive rotations.
Cam Kimble / Vegas Elite / Wing
There’s no reason that Kimble should be unsigned at this point in the cycle. He’s an athletic wing with size that is versatile up and down the lineup, and possesses an all-around skill set that doesn’t require a high usage. Offensively, Kimble can knock down shots from deep, finish while attacking closeouts, and move the ball within the offense (see this find to a cutting Darrion Williams for an easy lay up). At 6-foot-7, Kimble currently slots in at the 3, and likely the 4 once he gets into a college weight room. He surprised me with his burst, and while his vertical requires some load time, he gets some air off two feet. While there aren’t measurements to confirm, Kimble seems to have a plus-wingspan. He still needs to learn defense a bit and get more flexible/quicker with his hips and feet, but the combination of tools and high IQ plays gives him a solid foundation.
While the unsigned seniors make up the bulk of this recap, tons of more well-known names had productive weekends and deserve recognition. The following prospects showcased the skills that have made their games so attractive to college coaches up to this point.
Event Standouts: 17U
Max Allen / 2022 / Vegas Elite / Big
Allen is a big-bodied center who showcased advanced offensive skill flashes as a shooter, playmaker, and finisher. He also was extremely productive on the offensive glass.
Mark Armstrong / 2022 / New Heights Lightning / Guard
The Villanova commit had two nasty posters in transition versus Drive Nation. The skill portions of his game are still developing, but Armstrong showed a nice feel for the game, with some nice passes and defensive reads seemingly off instinct.
Tobe Awaka / 2022 / New Heights Lightning / Forward
Awaka was a menace defensively, playing Jordan Walsh tough on Saturday and contesting multiple posters without hesitation (was 3/3 on successful denying dunk attempts that I saw). Awaka also flashed a developing but well-rounded offensive game that enhances his positional versatility down the road.
Chris Bunch / 2022 / Team Griffin / Wing
Bunch was an elite shotmaker for Team Griffin this weekend. He’s a multi-level scorer who moves fluidly and possesses some athletic pop, as well. Has garnered some attention up to this point, but still seems underrated based on multiple viewings from within our group.
Elliot Cadeau / 2024 / New Heights Lightning / Guard
Playing two (!) levels up compared to his listed class, Cadeau possessed advanced polish as an on-ball scorer. He also had an impressive alley-oop finish that flashed his bounce, and worked well with teammates Zakai Zeigler and Mark Armstrong off the ball.
Rylan Griffen / 2022 / Drive Nation / Wing
Griffen is usually known for his shooting and shot making, but I was impressed with his defensive activity, specifically as a playmaker generating turnovers and fast break opportunities.
Mouhamed Gueye / 2022 / Vegas Elite / Forward
Gueye played with significantly more polish than I thought for someone’s first year of significant playing time in the US. The big man not only was an excellent lob threat for Dior and PopPop, but he also was an impactful rim protector both straight up as well as help and had some rudimentary flashes as a playmaker and slasher. We recently featured Mouhamed on our Q&A series, which can be found here.
Pop Isaacs / 2022 / Vegas Elite / Guard
Most point guards require significant adjustment when playing alongside another high profile guard like Dior Johnson, but Isaacs adjusted almost seamlessly. Playing alongside Nolan Hickman this past season obviously helped. Throughout the weekend, Isaacs continued to hit timely jumpers, both self-created and off-ball, consistently found his teammates as a playmaker, and was aggressive pressuring the hoop when defenses took away his pull-up and playmaking avenues.
Dior Johnson / 2022 / Vegas Elite / Guard
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Dior might have the best high school handle since Kyrie Irving. It’s tough to think of a single high school defender who can keep him in front of them. Additionally, Johnson made passes that most kids don’t see at his age, and hit a decent number of jumpers, including a game-winner in sudden death double-OT against New Heights, and worked off-ball well with backcourt mate Pop Isaacs.
Jordan Walsh / 2022 / Drive Nation / Wing
Walsh is a real threat in the open court, attacking the rim aggressively almost every time he drives. If he can continue his flashes as a shot making wing in the half-court, Walsh’s wing archetype will be invaluable.
Darrion Williams / 2022 / Vegas Elite / Forward
Williams’ ability to get hot from 3 (if I remember correctly, had 5 3’s in the first half of one game) and defensive versatility both on and off-ball are valuable as the “big wing” type that is trickling down from the NBA to college. We recently featured Williams in a video breakdown from his performance with BFL Prep in The Grind Session World Championship. Check it out here.
Event Standouts: 16U
Jayden Forrest / 2023 / Woodz Elite / Guard
Forrest was a productive two-way guard for Woodz Elite who gave the impression that positive plays were going to happen with the ball in his hands. Forrest did a great job engaging defenses in transition before dishing to his cutting teammates, and provided disruptive on-ball pressure against the Team Griffin guards.
Ryan Forrest / 2023 / Woodz Elite / Guard
Like his cousin Jayden, Ryan Forrest gave Team Griffin trouble with his defensive activity. In the game I watched, Forrest worked more in the half court, and flashed potential shooting both on and off the ball while getting by a variety of defenders.
Brandon Garrison / 2023 / Team Griffin / Big
Garrison was a formidable rim protector both with the ball in front as well some flashes helping down from the back side. He has great awareness with his role as a lob threat, clean up guy, and transition finisher currently, but his mobility should portend to an offensive skill set once he commits himself to adding on-ball work.
Ron Holland / 2023 / Drive Nation / Forward
Holland uses his high-level athleticism as a rebounder and active defender all over the court. He seems like he’s still getting comfortable with his body, but the flashes in transition both with and without the ball make you raise your eyebrows. Holland has tons of potential, and it seems like it is slowly coming together.
Ian Jackson / 2024 / New Heights Lightning / Wing
Jackson is a spindly guard/wing hybrid who has bounce and a tight handle. Primarily attacking the rim with his shift and fluidity, Jackson generating paint touches at the level he did while playing a year up was impressive. (Shortly after the tournament, he was selected to try out for the USA Basketball U16 team)
Tre Johnson / 2024 / Team Griffin / Wing
Johnson was one of the best players in the 16U division playing a year up. When in an aggressive mode, he is a silky smooth scorer who could initiate the offense a bit and was aggressive attacking the hoop even though he currently lacks strength.
RJ Jones / 2023 / Drive Nation / Wing
Jones continued to prove himself as a productive shotmaker. He can put up shots from a variety of angles, and his space creation is fun to watch. Simply put, Jones is a pure bucket and one of the best scorers in the region regardless of class.
Angelo Kambala / 2023 / Vegas Elite / Guard
Kambala was on a heater this weekend, with multiple games where he caught fire from 3 (against both Team Griffin and JL3 Black). His energy was infectious for his entire team, making the little hustle plays that coaches love.
Sterling Knox / 2023 / Vegas Elite / Wing
Knox showcased his ability to score the basketball from a variety of mediums, both beyond the arc and at the hoop. I was surprised with his vertical pop and playmaking ability as well, which could turn him into a complete tertiary offensive player.
KJ Lewis / 2023 / Drive Nation / Guard
Lewis impressed with his strength advantage over his peers, and used it to get downhill consistently in transition. He also flashed touch on his jumper, which will be key as his competition most likely catches up with him physically.
Sebastian Mack / 2023 / Vegas Elite / Guard
Mack proved why he is one of the best all-around guards in his class. He was steady for Vegas the whole weekend, hitting jumpers, finding his teammates, and generally making positive plays for his team. Mack is a name that should become more nationally known by the end of the summer.
Isaiah Manning / 2023 / Drive Nation / Forward
Manning was a versatile defensive standout for Drive. He got put in a variety of roles, whether as a backside helper, small-ball big, or on-ball stopper, and he showed positive potential in each area.
Andrew Meadow / 2023 / Vegas Elite / Forward
Don’t let the goggles fool you, Meadow is a skilled player. Sure his motor helps in areas such as the offensive glass and across the board defensively, but he also has real tools such as a lethal spin as part of a power package when it comes to finishing at the hoop.
Trent Pierce / 2023 / Team Griffin / Forward
Pierce is an extremely versatile player who can contribute everywhere on the court. He flashed serious weak side rim protection skills, moved laterally on the perimeter, used his size to finish well at the hoop, and occasionally knocked down shots. An under-the-radar prospect to watch this summer.
Jason Rivera-Torres / 2023 / New Heights Lightning / Wing
Rivera-Torres is a shooter who can also make you pay if you run him off the line. He has great positional size and is a smart player. Another 2023 prospect to monitor closely, moving forward.
Drew Steffe / 2023 / Team Griffin / Guard
Steffe is known for his shooting, but I loved his ability to experiment and adjust. As he will likely transition more off ball, Steffe worked both on and off ball, and could succeed as an off-ball shooter who effectively attacks closeouts.
Jahmere Tripp / 2023 / New Heights Lightning / Wing
Tripp came to Texas in much better shape than the last time I’d seen him. His blend of power and finesse at his size with certain guard skills should be perfect as a small-ball 4 in college.
Dave Castillo / 2024 / Team Griffin / Guard
Another recent USA Basketball 16U training camp invite, Castillo possesses a unique combination of downhill power and shift. He’s able to switch directions at full speed, and uses those paint touches to either finish at the hoop or play make.
Event Standouts: 15U
Josiah Cunningham / 2024 / Vegas Elite / Guard
Cunningham was a big reason Vegas stayed in the game against Team Griffin during the second half of their matchup. His energy as a slasher gave him closing minutes despite starting the game on the bench.
Taj Degourville / 2024 / Vegas Elite / Wing
In certain stretches against Team Griffin, Degourville was the most dominant player on the court in a game featuring two of the top-five 15U teams in the country. His combination of physical tools and offensive skills are rare, and Degourville is a prime candidate to rise up the national rankings.
Khaman Maker / 2024 / Vegas Elite / Big
Maker’s size and length as a rim protector are traits that most kids aren’t used to dealing with at the 15U age group. Especially as he adds a requisite level of strength to his frame, Maker should turn into an elite high school shot blocker.
Chris Mason / 2024 / Team Griffin / Forward
Mason possesses excellent strength for his age group, and his physicality presented real problems for Maker and Degourville. Offensively, he could turn into a lob threat who can also attack downhill off closeouts and from the short roll.
Liam McNeeley / 2024 / Drive Nation / Wing
There’s not many incoming sophomore wings that present the proficiency as a distributor that McNeeley does. Defensively, McNeeley is a promising secondary rim protector who rarely gets moved due to his strength. Potential elite talent in the 2024 class.
John Paul Mobley, Jr. / 2024 / Vegas Elite / Guard
Mobley wasn’t hitting shots in the game-and-a-half I saw, but he did the best Steph Curry impression I’ve seen from a high school prospect. Credit should go to the Vegas coaching staff for utilizing his shooting gravity off the ball, but Mobley also had some nice shift with the ball and used that (plus his shooting threat) to get a decent number of paint touches. A must-track, moving forward.
Jase Richardson / 2024 / Vegas Elite / Guard
Richardson is a fluid lefty who can finish and shoot from range in the half court. Once he really hits his growth spurt (his dad is former 6-foot-6 NBA player Jason Richardson) and finally gets functional use out of his vertical, Richardson will be a big time prep scorer.
Divine Ugochukwu / 2024 / Houston Hoops / Guard
Ugochukwu was extremely fluid in his game against Team Trae. Relatively passive for most of the game, the 2024 guard flashed a smooth jumper and the ability to get to his spots with his handle, as well as some defensive playmaking.
Dylan Warlick / 2024 / Team Griffin / Forward
The other half of Team Griffin’s exciting front court duo, Warlick seems to be a perfect modern 4. He makes up for his lack of traditional height with vertical pop and fluidity moving laterally, and was effective diving to the hoop off cuts, attacking in transition, and grabbing offensive rebounds for put-backs.
This concludes our standout performers (that we were able to see live) from last weekend’s MADE Hoops Texas Tip-off event. Before we end, it’s necessary to give a massive shout out to the MADE Hoops team (especially Chad, Rob, and Brian) for all their help throughout the weekend and running a great event.
Until next time!