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Film Study: Undervalued 2022 Prospects

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.

Tavion Banks

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.

Chip Brunt

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.

Amarion Dickerson

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.

Mozae Downing-Rivers

6’4” Guard | KC Run GMC (MO)

Recruitment: N/A

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.

Mozae Downing-Rivers. Credit: @bigalflicks._ (IG)

John Lovelace

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.

John Lovelace. Credit @dfritzphotos (IG)

Amani Lyles

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.