In the latest edition of ‘P.I. Pulse’, Pro Insight’s Esayas Gebrekidan highlights a group of undervalued 2023 prospects who stood out on film throughout 2021 AAU play:
In the last installment of Film Study, we identified some of the most under-recruited 2022 recruits who we felt were flying under the radar due to lack of exposure throughout COVID. In the short time since that last article, the list of quality names in the NCAA transfer portal has ballooned, causing an unprecedented logjam, and leaving college programs with little wiggle room on their rosters. Our team has maintained a strong pulse on the portal (shoutout to our guy, Jake!), but we wanted to continue this series and highlight some names that popped while finishing up our summer 2021 AAU film study.
With this next installment, we will be taking a look at some class of 2023 prospects who have the realistic potential to raise their “stock” as we venture into the second April live period and beyond. With the spring AAU season having recently kicked off, there will be plenty of opportunity to get an updated live look at the following six prospects who jumped off the screen while we were analyzing their games from last summer. To reiterate, our goal here is to spotlight some talented prospects who we think have a chance to impact winning at the college level.
6’8” Forward | Phenom U (WI)
Recruitment: Creighton, Xavier, Northwestern, UW-Milwaukee, Minnesota, Iowa State, Oral Roberts, Marquette (Offers)
Milan Momcilovic is a high school junior who can do a bit of everything on the court. Currently ranked 43rd in the nation by 247sports, Momcilovic stands 6’8” and weighs in at around 190 pounds. He has a slender frame/build and possesses a good feel and understanding of the game. An extremely skilled and versatile prospect, Momcilovic posted a 9.3 C-RAM and 85 3PE, ranking him among the top-20 players with five or more games played during EYBL’s 16U play, last summer (per Cerebro Sports).
Momcilovic has three-level scoring ability, evidenced by shooting 63% at the rim, 46% from mid-range and 38% from 3 throuhgout 2021 Nike EYBL play. In the post, Momcilovic does a great job sealing defenders and scoring with both hands in the paint. He has also displayed an ability to score with his back to the basket, knocking down turnaround jumpers off on leg. A tough post match-up for any opponent, Momcilovic will require teams to double in order to get the ball out of his hands and force his teammates to produce. From mid-range, Momcilovic is comfortable going off the dribble to his left and right, getting good lift on his attempts and making it tough for the defense to contest his jumpers.
What makes Momcilovic really stand out is his ability to knock down shots from range so effortlessly. He has good form/shot mechanics, a quick release and is ready to shoot consistently. As a cutter, he averaged 1.333ppp during EYBL play, which ranked in the 90th percentile. Off the ball, Momcilovic is constantly moving and understands his role in keeping the floor spaced, dragging, lifting or cutting just in time for his teammates to find him for open looks or dump-offs. Momcilovic is not just a scorer — he also helps create for his teammates, making plays off the dribble, as a pick-and-roll ball-handler and with his back to the basket. He attacks closeouts, forcing the defense to adjust and finds his open teammates. One of his more underrated traits is his ability to grab a rebound and push the ball up the court to create easy transition opportunities.
On the other end of the floor, Momcilovic is a capable defender who possesses the ability to switch and defend multiple positions but has not done so ultra consistently, as of yet. He tends to get caught ball-watching and lacks natural rim protection and shot blocking ability. These are all improvements that we’re looking forward to seeing over the coming months with Phenom U. Momcilovic is a prospect to watch and by the end of the summer should have even more offers coming in (the first three listed were all earned after the first April 2022 live period). We expect his offensive versatility and defensive potential to lead to a rise in the national rankings.
6’7” Forward | Upward Stars (SC)
Recruitment: Jacksonville University (Offer)
Arden Conyers is an extremely skilled and versatile 6’7” forward who can give you quality minutes at the 3 or the 4. A 2023 prospect flying under the radar out of South Carolina, Conyers will be running it back with the Upward Stars 17U team on the Adidas 3SSB Circuit this spring/summer. Conyers has clear upside and will be looking to make a name for himself during the coming months.
Conyers can truly do a bit of everything offensively, but his shooting helps open the floor for himself and his teammates. During the 2021 Adidas 3SSB Circuit, Arden shot 35.7% from deep, showing great form, stepping confidently into every attempt and holding his following through. In transition, he is even better from range, averaging 1.27ppp while converting 44.4% of his three-point attempts. Conyers is not afraid to let it fly with a hand in his face or an opponent closing out and displayed just how comfortable he was throughout 2021 3SSB play.
Finishing in the paint (particularly through contact) is something Conyers will need to improve, an area where he converted just 43% of his attempts, last summer. Conyers is a decent ball-handler but if improved, he possesses great change of speed and the ability to stop on a dime which can help elevate his game. A limited playmaker, Conyers had 10 assists compared to 27 turnovers during ‘21 3SSB. Looking ahead, he will need to limit the turnovers but also find ways to be more of a creator, utilizing his speed and ball-handling to find teammates.
Just an average defender, Conyers needs to be more engaged than he’s been in the past. When dialed in, he has shown he can be a rim protector and shot blocker, playing vertical and timing his jumps to alter or get a piece of a shot. While watching his ‘21 3SSB film, there were certainly instances where he was helping his team get stops and engaged as a help defender, but he lacked consistency. Too often, Conyers was caught ball-watching, losing sight of his man and giving up easy points.
Although he has been under-recruited up to this point, we believe Conyers can take a major step in helping his recruitment by improving defensively and cutting down on his turnovers. Offensively is where we have less concern, as he appears ready to build on what he accomplished last summer as well as during his high school season with Westwood (SC).
6’6” Guard | New York Renaissance (NY)
Recruitment: Georgetown, Maryland, VCU, Xavier, Marquette, Kansas State, Rutgers, Iowa, LSU, Creighton, Washington, TCU, St. John's, Seton Hall, Bryant, UMass, Stony Brook, Saint Peter's, Cleveland State (Offers)
Holding nearly 20 offers and counting, Aaron Clark will have plenty of options when it is time to make his decision. Playing both 16U and 17U during the 2021 Nike EYBL, The Brewster Academy (NH) guard did not miss a beat when he was moved up to finish the summer with the NJ Scholars 17U team. At 6’6”, Clark has great size and length and is effective on or off the ball — he can function with plenty of comfort as a secondary ball-handler. In transition, Clark can lead the break, or space the floor on either wing, where he averaged 1.280ppp during ‘21 EYBL.
A crafty finisher around the rim, Clark does a great job getting into the paint and finishing through contact, converting 62% of his attempts. In limited attempts last summer with the Scholars, Clark displayed an ability to get to his spots off the dribble, converting six of his nine field goal attempts from mid-range. Although it is a small sample size, Clark showed good speed and the ability to create separation off the dribble. He also showed he can handle the ball in pick-and-roll situations, averaging 1.666ppp in those instances. Clark plays with great pace and constant movement and comes off screens ready to shoot or attack. He was effective from 3 with the Scholars, sporting a 94 (16U) and 87 (17U) 3PE rating (per Cerebro), ranking him in the top-five of the 16U/17U 2021 EYBL sessions.
Shooting a combined 44% from 3, Clark has good shot prep, a fluid shooting motion and stays consistently ready to shoot. An area Clark can improve is limiting the turnovers, as he has a tendency to force some passes. The vision/IQ is apparent, but limiting the turnovers will go a long way with his development.
Clark is a scrappy defender, and played with great energy and effort throughout his ‘21 EYBL summer. He embraced the defensive end of the floor, remained engaged and seemed focused on making his opponents work for every opportunity. In defensive situations where it looked like he was beat off the dribble or took a bad angle, he recovered and used his length to disrupt attempts. Historically, steals and blocks haven’t been a huge part of his game, but he does a great job playing with active hands. It wouldn’t be shocking to see his “stock” numbers go up this summer while running with the Rens. Understanding his role as a help defender (as well as we could tell on film), Clark consistently dropped in coverage when necessary, tagging the roller and still recovered for closeouts.
Clark has the potential to be an extremely effective two-way player, even as he moves up levels. Look for the Puerto Rican Junior National Team member to continue to play with a chip on shoulder on both ends, picking up more notoriety along the way.
6’10” Big | Utah Prospects (UT)
Recruitment: Stanford, Southern Utah (Offers); BYU, Clemson (Interest)
At 6’10”, Bron Roberts brings versatility, length and some athleticism to the table. Throughout summer 2021 on the Adidas 3SSB 16U circuit, Roberts flashed different layers of his offensive game, highlighting his versatility and potential. Holding just two offers but plenty of national interest, Roberts is primed for a big summer, which should greatly impact his recruiting.
For his size, Roberts is a respectable ball-handler. He can attack closeouts and showed flashes of his ability to play off the dribble, last summer. Everything else aside, Roberts’ greatest trait is his ability to space the floor with his shooting touch. While running with the Utah Prospects 16U squad last July, he shot 38% on his three-point attempts. Most of these attempts came in catch-and-shoot situations, where he shot 63% from the field. He has good form and keeps the ball from dipping below his waist. On film, Roberts didn’t look very interested in sitting in the post or the dunker spot, but if he develops more of an inside presence over time, it will only make him that much more intriguing. He will need to learn to better embrace physicality and finish through contact in the paint moving forward, having only converted 48.6% of his attempts at the rim throughout 2021 3SSB action.
Defensively, Roberts does a great job using his length when patrolling the perimeter, as well as in the paint. On film, he showed he is capable of defending guards, using his length to sag off his opponent but making it hard for them to drive by him. In the post, Roberts does a great job making opponents fight for position, oftentimes pushing them out of their comfort zone and forcing them into bad shots. Playing long and vertical, Roberts made it hard for opponents to score over him, providing both rim protection and shot blocking while averaging 1.8 swats/game in 3SSB 16U play. Although he lacks ideal physicality, as the primary defender, opponents averaged just .562ppp against Roberts, last summer.
With an offer from an elite academic institution such as Stanford already in tow, look for additional high academic programs to get involved as his senior year approaches. Roberts has the tools to be a great complementary piece thanks to his combination of size, length and ability to space the floor. He should be able to make an impact wherever he ends up.
6’8” Forward | Wildcat Select (OH)
Recruitment: Ohio, George Washington, Robert Morris (Offers)
Khali Horton is an individual coaches should keep an eye as we get deeper into the summer. Horton has great size and length and is a big time athlete with point-forward potential. Horton put up an impressive 20ppg-6.4rpg-1.6apg-2spg-1.4bpg average stat line during his 2021 Adidas 3SSB campaign. On or off the ball, Horton finds ways to score and does so in a variety of ways. In transition, Horton can lead the break off a rebound, taking the ball coast-to-coast — showing off his open court speed, ball-handling ability and strong finishes at the rim, where he converted 63.5% of such attempts throughout ‘21 3SSB play.
Off the ball, Horton does a great job of spacing the floor in transition, finding his spot on the wing or top of the key, where he averaged 1.131ppp. In the half court, Horton is an effective spot-up shooter and plays really well off the ball. From 3, he remained a threat and kept defenses engaged, shooting 34% from the field. As a catch-and-shoot option his three-point percentage improved to 40.6%, as he was getting a large portion of his looks as a pick-and-pop threat or via his off ball movement.
An aspect of his game coaches will love is his consistent energy and high motor. Horton consistently crashed the boards on both ends of the floor last summer, but on the offensive end specifically, he averaged 2.5 OREB/game and 1.353ppp on put-back opportunities, converting 61% of his put-back attempts.
On the defensive end, Horton used his length to bother opponents and played with good energy. At times he found himself out of position because he’d jump the passing lanes looking for steals. Although he did average two steals per game in 3SSB last summer, Horton could benefit from staying solid and defending consistently throughout the course of a possession.
The 6’8” junior has a chance to be an immediate impact player at the next level and will bring size, versatility, athleticism, and defense to any program. If he can improve his ball-handling and finishing through contact (which he showed he can do throughout the 2021-2022 high school season), look for Horton to take his game to another level this spring/summer, and for his recruitment to perk up as a result.
6’4” Guard | Team Stuck (WA)
Recruitment: Southern Utah, Montana, Pepperdine, Eastern Washington, Cal Poly, Portland, Montana State (Offers)
Pound-for-pound, Tyce Paulsen is one of the top shooters on any of the three shoe circuits. He’s not the flashiest player, nor is he the most athletic, but he brings offensive consistency as a shooter and floor spacer. A three-point specialist, Paulsen shot 45.6% from 3 over the course of 2021 UAA Circuit while running with Washington Supreme, finishing with an effective field goal percentage of 58.3%. With 62% of his attempts coming from behind the arc, defenses know what Paulsen is looking to do but still cannot stop him. Paulsen consistently has his feet set and ready to fire when the ball comes his way.
He may not look the part of a nuclear shooter with his slim frame, but he’s someone opponents simply can’t lose sight of while he’s on offense, as he moves very effectively and strategically off the ball. As he works to get open, Paulsen is either running his opponents through screens or relocating when the defense shifts its focus to one of his teammates. On three-point attempts, Paulsen averaged 1.438ppp, ranking him in the 97th percentile amongst his peers. With most of his made field goals coming off catch-and-shoot attempts, Paulsen boasted an effective field goal percentage of 70.9% in ‘21 UAA play.
As a ball-handler, Paulsen has displayed an ability to create for himself and others but tends to struggle against high ball-pressure. Although limited (16 possessions), in attempts off the dribble, Paulsen shot 50% from the floor, last summer. With a 1:1 assist-turnover ratio, Paulsen displayed his ability to create for teammates off the dribble, feeding the post or just simply making the extra pass.
Paulsen is a willing and decent defender when engaged but he hasn’t been all that consistent up to this point — he looks for home-run type of plays (gambling on steals) instead of staying solid and defending his opponent. At his listed 6’4” and 180 pounds, he lacks the physicality to fight through/over screens and has struggled (at least on film) on long closeouts while defending the drive. Paulsen has shown he can aid his team in gettin stops when engaged, but will likely need to improve defensively and show more grit on that end of the floor in order to maximize his ceiling.
All in all, Tyce Paulsen fulfills a need every program is looking to fill and that’s shooting. His ability to knock down the 3 at a high level makes him a valuable addition to any roster. We’d expect his current offer list of a half-dozen to increase if he picks up where he left off last summer from beyond the arc.