Another great turn-out for the Tennessee Prep Hoops Rankings and Exposure Showcase held annually at Carson Newman University. This year we featured over 100 players and 15+ college coaches in the house. An extra-special in speaker in Hollywood actor and basketball savant Cylk Cozart plus instruction from local college coaches.
Here I will sift through the evaluations turned by myself and several colleagues who helped me at the event. I will attempt to do a team a day until completion.
Jonathan Hewitt (McCallie) 2017
Fun player to watch and coach as his motor is constant and his basketball IQ is high. Lefty stroke, plays with confidence and is a perfect compliment for a squad surrounding him with running and jumping athletes. He controls the pace of the game, he plays with such passion and intelligence. He gets to the rim on savvy and plain and simple effort. He is a spot up shooter who will knock down the open look. He extends the effort on the defensive side of the ball but has some difficulty with bigger and stronger athletes in on-ball situations.
Drew Pember (Bearden) 2019
Long, thin and lanky, Pember is an exciting player to evaluate because of his limitless upside. Rising sophomore pushing 6'6 is said to top out at 6'9 or better which ultimately changes the whole ball game. He has a nice stroke from deep, he uses his length to create scoring chances in the post. His lack of upper body strength hampers him now but will not be an issue as he works on his body for the rigors of high school basketball. He is active, he loves to compete and he gets his fair share of tough boards out of his area. He has a quick turn-around jumper from the elbow off the glass, love the old school mentality and he can finish in the lane with the short jump hook over either shoulder. I look forward to watching him develop as he gets stronger an tougher.
Chris Bradford (Gibbs) 2017
Big guy who has made marked improvement the past few seasons, enough so that he will suit up next fall for the Lions of Bryan College. Young man got a late start in the sport and is still learning the nuisances of playing in the post, the required footwork and such. His strength needs to be priority one as he enters his senior campaign. He needs to continue improving his hands, catching the post entry cleanly, using his foot work to get easy baskets and finishing the play. Too often his lack of foot work resulted in poor angles and easy missed scoring chances, all things that are fixable with work and repetition. He must continue to improve his rebounding, going after tough boards out of his area instead of just letting them come to him because he is the tallest kid on the court. Strength will help in that arena as well. He keeps the ball high and has made amazing strides since he first came to the showcase a few years back.
Josh Dykes (Cumberland County) 2018
Aggressive smaller guard plays with no fear and attack the rim all the way to the bucket. Kid plays with effort and is a better on-ball defender than you'd think because he seems to relish the fact that its cool for your opponent not to score. A spot-up shooter, Dykes is a solid shooter when his fundamentals are intact. His feet need to be set and then it flies. He needs to work on becoming more of a point guard that runs the offense instead of strictly an offensive weapon. His size dictates the addition of lead guard skills, getting your teammates scoring chances; as well as, controlling the tempo of a game. Kid has the moxy to be a solid high school contributor this season.
Will Austin (McCallie) 2019
Young guard with a good feel for what is happening on the floor. He is most comfortable putting the ball on the deck and going hard to the rim. He is aggressive and once he adds some strength to his frame he will become much more effective. He needs to finish better in traffic and with contact, all things that also get easier with body strength. He will need to add some point guard into his game, even if it is to get better looks for himself. Ideally you'd like to see him be able to play both spots and use his strengths. He seems to not have a great deal of confidence in his outside shooting touch. He rarely attempted a three yet preferred to take it to the rim.
Joseph Bunton (Walker Valley) 2019
Painfully small young guard who really if you watch him closely understands very well what is going on the floor. The issue is his size will not allow him to complete some of the plays he sees. He looks for open teammates, he rarely looks to score himself, he is active and plays good on the ball defense. He has developed a nice floater in the lane when he sees the chance to score himself. He has an adequate stroke from outside he just lacks the confidence to take the shot at this juncture of his development. Kid obviously loves the game and is the type of kid who others love to play with.
Dustin Bunton (Walker Valley) 2019
Another young player who plays with a motor and has an emerging skill set that could really make him a solid high school player if he just gets tougher and stronger. It seems like this statement accompanies every evaluation for every kid in the freshman and sophomore classes but that is because in my opinion strength is the single biggest factor on becoming the player who you wish to become. This kid takes what the defense gives him, a mark of a high basketball IQ. He shoot it well enough to take open shots when left unattended and he will gladly glide to the rack for easy chances if you guard him too close. He will need to add more playmaking skills to his game, get more people involved. His basketball knowledge is high so use that to make everyone around a better player as well.
Gavin Stewart (Rhea County) 2018
Young man is working on making the transition from post player as a youngster to incorporating perimeter skills and such into his game. He still finds himself more comfortable in the post when the game is relegated to the half-court setting but he showed some versatility attacking the rim in transition, running the floor hard and completing plays in traffic and with contact. His outside shooting is a work in progress but he will put the work in to make himself a competent shooter. He is very active inside, as we mentioned earlier, he goes after boards and knows how to score in the paint. He uses sharp cuts and angles to get positioning and easy scoring chances. His ball-handling and decision making skills will need to be his biggest area of improvement if he wishes to make the transition into becoming an effective perimeter player.