In the latest edition of ‘P.I. Pulse’, Pro Insight’s Esayas Gebrekidan highlights a group of undervalued prospects who stood out on film throughout 2021 AAU play:
In this piece, our intent is to draw attention to a group of under-recruited, under-appreciated senior prospects who made a legitimate impact this past summer on various AAU circuits. Throughout the summer, each helped their team in a variety of ways, whether on the defensive end of the floor, on offense, or simply by making a lot of little things happen by starring in their role. All but two of these individuals remain unsigned, with the majority still looking for a program to compete for during the 2022-2023 college basketball season. With the late signing period upon us, this is an opportunity to spotlight some talented prospects who we think have a chance to impact winning at the college level.
6’8” Forward | Brad Beal Elite (MO)
Recruitment: Bradley (offer)
Currently holding just one offer, Banks feels like the epitome of an under-recruited prospect, as he’s proven an ability to play with and against the top talent in the EYBL this past July. Banks is a versatile and athletic forward with great speed for someone his size. He has a high motor, plays with great energy and seems to have no problem doing all the little things that contribute to winning. Banks scores in a variety of ways, but especially stands out on video in how he consistently runs the floor in transition, beating opponents down the court for easy buckets. In the half court, he scores off dump-offs, put-backs and lobs, doing a great job staying active, relocating and cutting to give himself an opportunity to make an impact off the ball. A crafty finisher around the rim, Banks has nice touch and finishes with both hands. He’s comfortable operating with his back to the basket, but also a capable ball-handler who can score off the dribble going left or right and creates enough space to give himself room to finish.
Banks is a tough, physical match-up on the defensive end. According to Cerebro Sports, Bank’s Defensive Statistical Impact (DSI) of 90.3 ranks him as the 25th best defender during EYBL play. He defends every position at a high level, does a great job moving laterally and not allowing the opponent any room to drive or create separation. As a help defender, he understands playing the gaps and seeing man and ball, allowing him to help off his man at the right time. Banks averaged a steal per game in EYBL play, forcing opponents into turnovers by using his length and playing with active hands. If that isn't convincing enough, his rim presence is tough to ignore — as Banks is disciplined, plays vertical and does a great job altering and blocking shots.
Banks is the type of player a coach can call on and knows what he is getting — a high-energy individual who plays hard and competes from start to finish. Banks plays with a chip on his shoulder and it is evident every time he steps on the court — to have a player like him on a roster only makes a program better.
6’4” Guard | EAB (TN)
Recruitment: Jacksonville, UT-Martin, Campbell (interest)
Brunt had a breakout summer on the adidas 3SSB circuit and has continued to impress with Whitehaven High School (TN) throughout his senior year. At 6’4”, Brunt is a long combo guard with decent athleticism, open court speed and the ability to knock down the 3. He’s also a functional ball-handler, comfortable attacking left or right off the dribble and can pass with both hands, as well. Limiting turnovers will be the next step for him.
Brunt embraces and finishes through contact (63.4% on attempts at the rim for EAB) but will need to put on weight/muscle to handle the physicality of the game at the next level. He can act as a secondary playmaker/ball-handler and does a great job attacking closeouts, forcing the defense to collapse and finding open shooters. Brunt averaged 3 rebounds per game last summer and successfully pushed the ball in transition off misses. On the 3SSB circuit, Brunt shot an impressive 47% from 3, displaying good form and shooting mechanics. He looked comfortable knocking down shots off the dribble as well as in catch-and-shoot situations.
He’s a willing defender and embraces this end of the floor. He does a good job moving laterally and keeping opponents in front while using his length to disrupt shots: opponents shot just 14% from mid-range and 44% in the restricted area with Brunt as the primary defender. As an off-ball defender, he does a good job stunting at opponents and recovering on closeouts to defend his man. Brunt has heard from over 17 college basketball programs ranging from Texas A&M to Arkansas-Pine Bluff and wherever he lands, he will surely make an impact.
6’7” Forward | C2K Elite (OH)
Recruitment: Triton College (committed)
Dickerson doesn't jump out to you at first glance, but he is a dynamic prospect who brings Point-Forward potential to any roster. With great size, length, versatility and athletic ability, Dickerson clearly showed what he could bring to a D1 program, last summer. Throughout his time on the circuit, Dickerson averaged 12 points per game on 35% shooting from deep, just under 2 assists per game (1.9), 4.6 rebounds per game, and 1.3 blocks per game. In transition (1.111ppp), he flashes his deceptive speed and crafty ball-handling and off the ball runs and spaces the floor.
In the half-court, he scores in a variety of ways, but thrives attacking the rim where he converts 64.7% of his attempts. Dickerson creates through contact and adjusts his finishes at an advanced level. In pick-and-roll situations, he is effective as both a roller and as a pick-and-pop threat. His ability to spot up and knock down the 3 keeps the floor spaced and the defense honest.
He can defend 1-4 and uses his length to alter/block opponent attempts. In the gaps he is an active help defender, using his length to cut off drives and closeout on the kick. One of the more impressive defensive plays during the summer session was a chase down block in transition, timing the jump and block almost perfectly. Wherever Dickerson ends up after JuCo, the staff will be working with a prospect that brings offensive and defensive versatility to the floor and has major upside.
6’4” Guard | KC Run GMC (MO)
A talented point guard with a great frame, Downing-Rivers epitomizes the under-recruited prospect in the COVID era. “MDR” is a quick guard who displayed his court vision and ability to run the offense on the Under Armour UAA circuit last summer, averaging 5 assists per game, consistently making the extra pass and finding teammates on drive and kicks. He plays with great pace and has the ability to change speed and direction with effectiveness.
MDR showed good form and mechanics while shooting 36.4% from deep and a blistering 60% on catch-and-shoot three-point attempts, keeping the defense very honest. MDR is a problem on the defensive end as well — he is scrappy, tough, physical and defends the length of the floor. He gets into his opponents, making it hard for them to create or get shots off. As the primary defender, Mozae held opponents to 30% shooting from 3, 33% from mid-range and just 27.3% on attempts at the rim.
MDR’s combination of size, length and overall strength/physicality will allow a college program to use him in a variety of ways. He does not need the ball to be effective on the offensive end, but has a proven track record thriving as a PG. And on the other end, he’s a player who doesn’t take possessions off on defense.
6’7” Forward | Phenom U (WI)
Recruitment: Missouri, DePaul, IUPUI, UW-Milwaukee, Western Illinois, Grambling State (offers)
John Lovelace may not have been the star of the 2021 AAU season, but he showed some genuinely intriguing flashes. If he can finish out the high school season in similar fashion, Lovelace has a legitimate opportunity to add potential suitors to his list. The 6’7” Wisconsin native brings great effort and energy, doing a little bit of everything on the floor. Lovelace is an especially intriguing prospect due to his ability to play on the wing or as a power forward, which creates potential match-up nightmares for opponents.
An elite athlete with great speed and length, Lovelace has a quick first step that allows him to beat his defender off the dribble with relative ease. Lovelace is a decent ball-handler, getting downhill and attacking/finishing at the rim. His ability to get downhill and into the paint allows him to find cutting teammates or spot-up shooters. The biggest area of improvement based on watching his film is Lovelace’s ability to knock down shots from midrange and beyond (shot 25% from deep throughout 2021 EYBL) — this will open up his game and make him a potentially lethal two-way player.
Lovelace’s impact on the defensive end is unquestioned, as he clearly takes pride in his defensive assignments. Lovelace plays with active hands and does a great job cutting off his opponent and keeping them in front. As the primary defender Lovelace held opponents to 18% shooting and 0.5 points per possession — elite numbers. His height and length allow him to defend multiple positions. When playing off the ball, he utilizes his length to effectively close out on shooters while containing penetration. He’s a scrappy defender, as well, regularly fighting over screens, taking charges and pursuing 50/50 balls. His size, athleticism and versatility make Lovelace an intriguing 2022 prospect — as the season unfolds it will be interesting to see if more high major programs take notice.
6’8” Big | All-Ohio Red (OH)
Recruitment: Cleveland State (offer)
Lyles is a skilled and versatile big who plays with great effort. At 6’8”, he primarily played the power forward and center positions over the course of the summer for All-Ohio Red and did not disappoint. Lyles was most effective around the rim, running the floor in transition, scoring on dump-offs and put-backs, displaying good hands with a nice touch in the paint and finishing with either hand. Not just a paint presence, Lyles also displayed his ability to create for himself off the dribble, attacking opposing bigs.
An area of his game that is sure to grow is his ability to space the floor as a pick-and-pop threat and as a spot-up shooter — in these situations, Lyles shot 40% on a small sample size (2/5) from the 3. Lyles is not the most traditionally athletic big, but makes up for it with his effort and intensity. A physical defender who can guard multiple positions at a high level — this was on display against some of the top guards and wings in the EYBL, as Lyles would consistently frustrate ball-handlers with his active hands, forcing turnovers. Sporting a DSI of 80.9, Amani finished the summer session ranked 85th among all participants, per Cerebro Sports.
An effective ball-screen defender, Lyles routinely hedges or switches onto guards with success, without losing a step. He’s also a good help defender, not just understanding when to come over and help but also properly identifying where his man is and getting back to close out or prevent a layup. A rim protector as well, Lyles has grasped verticality and uses his length to disrupt and alter shots. Amani is a tough player that any coach would be lucky to have. He not only excels on the court but in the classroom as well, maintaining a 4.0 GPA. This is one prospect high academic programs should be all over.
6’4” Guard | Brad Beal Elite (MO)
Recruitment: Murray State (committed)
Stacker is an intriguing 2022 prospect who previously held three offers before recently committing to Murray State. Playing on a team with high major prospects last summer, Braxton Stacker stood out — the 6’4” 175-pound combo guard out of St. Louis plays with a chip on his shoulder. An athletic guard with a quick first step and a jumper, Braxton displayed his ability to create off the dribble for BBE, getting downhill and finishing at the rim over defenders. Stacker showed flashes of his midrange and three-point shooting (31%) throughout the summer, but those are areas for continued development. Stacker’s ability to create for his teammates is an area of his game that will grow, but with his speed and ability to get to the rim, he could average more than the 1.7 assists per game he racked up this past July.
Defensively, Stacker will make an immediate impact at the next level as the other areas of his game continue to develop. A physical on ball defender, Stacker defends the length of the floor, takes charges, blocks/contests shots and does a great job closing out and keeping his man in front. Stacker consistently pressures ball-handlers into tough shots and turnovers. Watch his chase-down block against Pro Skills, his defense in the EYBL Final and his overall willingness to take charges and you’ll see that Stacker is a player Murray State can build with. Stacker’s shooting and ability to create will be swing skills for his success moving forward. Making strides in those areas — coupled with his athletic ability and defensive impact — makes Stacker one to keep an eye on, longterm.
6’2” Guard | Atlanta Celtics (GA)
Recruitment: Princeton, Georgia, Murray State, Lehigh, Virginia Tech, Georgia Southern (interest)
Rideout has heard from an assortment of low-to-high major D1 programs and currently holds two offers (Charleston Southern and NC A&T). The 6’2” guard out of Atlanta doesn’t lack confidence and gets it done on both ends of the floor. He has a quick first step, is a shifty/crafty ball-handler and gets to his spots seemingly at will. Rideout’s ability to create off the dribble for himself and teammates makes him a threat whenever he has the ball.
Although the numbers don't suggest it, Jameel has the ability to be a pick-and-roll threat, successfully finding the roller or a spot-up shooter. During the 3SSB circuit, Rideout dished out 3.9 assists per game and did a great job limiting turnovers (1.7 per game). He pushes the ball in transition, having averaged 1.061ppp during 3SSB play. Off the ball, he does a great job spacing the floor and getting to the wing/corner. As the ball-handler in transition situations he gets downhill, using his speed to beat opponents off the dribble to the rim. Rideout has three-level scoring potential, but struggled to finish inside through contact and length last summer, shooting 46% on attempts at the rim but shot 41% from mid-range and 40% from 3. He averaged a notable 1.22ppp in attempts off the dribble and 1ppp on catch-and-shoot attempts.
On the defensive end, Rideout moves well laterally, keeping opponents in front and as the primary defender has held opponents to .78ppp on 32.9% shooting from the field, overall. In pick-and-roll coverage ( just .308ppp) he fights over screens and pressures the ball, taking away the handler’s options and forcing turnovers. Off the court, Rideout is another prospect that gets it done in the classroom with a 4.2 GPA and on the court, he is more than capable of playing high major basketball based on what he showed with the Atlanta Celtics.