Knowledge Academy was the sight for the 2nd annual NPA Players Camp. I had the privilege of attending and for my part I have chosen 20 players from the event who deserve a special write-up for their play on that Sunday. I will separate them into two groups of 10. They will be listed in NO PARTICULAR ORDER, just how I had them written down on my evaluation sheet. Some of the player information wasn't particularly clear so we have done our best with the school, size, position and year in school information.
Jahari Reed (Stratford)
6-2 WF/PF 2018
Production. Coaches like production. Production comes in many shapes and forms not necessarily scoring. With a compact body and a relentless motor, Reed is productive. He goes after every loose ball, he keeps possessions alive, he fights for position, he defends everybody in his area, he cleans the glass and he can even score a little when moved. He would be classified an undersized post but his aggressive nature make him a productive part of any team he is a part of. His size dictates moving to the perimeter if he is to play on the next level, thus he really needs to work on his ball-handling, decision making and shooting. Successful teams all have a few guys just like him and if he gets the opportunity he will make someone a happy coach with his effort and determination.
Justin Williams (East Nashville)
6'3 WF/PF 2018
He passes the eye test immediately with his size and strength. He plays with good effort but does tend to get lost in the shuffle when he doesn't see the ball on a regular basis. He is more strength than finesse which was apparent as he struggled to finish around the bucket despite easy chances. He plays much too fast and will need to pace himself better. He likes to shoot the ball, not always after making a sound decision, but he is unapologetically not afraid to put the ball up. I like his aggression and he plays with a confidence in his own ability. His skill level will need major improvement but he is not devoid of talent or ability.
J.J. Platt (Stewart's Creek)
6-1 PG/SG 2020
Sleek guard who has a decent frame with some solid quickness and explosion. He can finish off the bounce and has some quickness as well. He sees the floor pretty well and doesn't mind sharing the ball. He has a tendency to dribble to excess and he will need to work on a consistent stroke from the perimeter. He has a joy for the game and he loves to compete. His skill set needs work but he appears to have the desire to become a very good player. He had some trouble finishing at the rim and really needs to work on scoring with his opposite hand. Improving his perimeter shooting and decision making is square one for this lanky sophomore guard but with his work ethic the best is yet to come for him and his skills.
Tim Chapman (Knowledge Academy)
6-2 SG 2019
One of the surprises of the camp for me as I had no knowledge of him before this endeavor. He was a smooth operator with some good length. He was skilled enough to be dangerous and showed some quickness and explosion when going to the bucket. He had decent handles when not over indulging in the dribble game. His length made his defensive effort fun to watch, once he learns more about the actual concept of defense he could be a stopper of sorts. His shooting touch caused me the most concern as an area where he certainly needs a major upgrade. He showed confidence when pulling up from three or gliding to the bucket but his form and finish do need some tweaking. Overall I liked him about as much as anyone at the event and I think if he really focuses on becoming a next level player he has a real chance to join the upper echelon of this solid Class of 2019.
Dierre McDonald (Oakland)
6'0 PG 2020
Young player showed every realm on the basketball spectrum during his brief run at the showcase. His immediate appearance is impressive. he has above average strength for this class which should bode well for him as he moves up the high school ladder. He was especially strong on the glass for a guard using his girth and strength to carve out position and snatch boards in and out of his area. His ball handling was limited and will need an upgrade while his decision making teetered on the undisciplined and the thrilling. He needs to work on his consistency in regards to effort and production. He had moments of no urgency coupled with explosive forays to the bucket for energizing scores and chances. Somewhere in the middle is the player that every coach covets. His outside shot is decent, he could use reps in the gym to hone his craft but it certainly is not broken. His strength makes him more confident when getting to the rim thus adding more consistency to his shot will only upgrade his overall game. I like where he is headed.
Jaylon Negron (West Creek)
6'2 SG 2019
Another impressive youngster who played with effort and purpose. He has good length and showed positive emotion when on the floor. He seemingly could play either guard spot while he leaned toward wanting to shoot the ball a touch more than distribute, he showed some flashes that when he matures he could give you minutes at both spots. His shooting touch was adequate and will be something he needs to work on as he moves up the talent ladder. He is a kid who enjoys playing and is working hard to get better at his craft. This will be a massive summer for him as he enters his senior season next fall.
Keshawn Lawrence (Ensworth)
6'3 SG 2020
Impressive athlete who only half heartedly participated in the festivities. A gridiron star with high major offers, his basketball talent cannot be ignored. He is powerful and can finish at the rim, he shoots the ball very well and when in basketball mode is a freight train to whatever is his destination. What position is he? That remains to be seen but he is most effective with the ball in his hands. He creates for himself and is willing to involve others. He shoots the ball in rhythm and has an impressive stroke and form. He is explosive and when motivated he is basically unstoppable at this level.
Devon Cambridge (Believe Prep)
6'5 SG 2019
Nashville native also only participated in the game portion of the showcase. His high wire act is Music City legend and he was the most impressive run and jump athlete in the gym. His body still needs more work as he will see physical play from this level forward. His shooting is improved but will need to be another area of concentration as moves towards the next level. Improving his ball skills and decision making is the final area of his maturation. Staying focused and engaged during the entire game will be a mental battle for him as he moves up the ladder and into college basketball. Nobody doubts his athleticism, it is already next level, but will his skill set and consistency rise to the level of his talent.
James Webb (Hunter's Lane)
This evaluation was based strictly on watching him in the drills and the game situations. He was obviously athletic and played with effort. He stayed relentless on the glass and was a gamble on defense but he never gave up on a play and went hard challenging every pass and shot in his immediate area. Footwork and defensive principles would make him a very good, even great defensive player. His offensive skill level needs a major upheaval. He was ok around the basket with the put-backs and short chances but his shooting touch didn't reach out to the perimeter and his size dictates he will need to play in the backcourt. I wasn't sure of his year in school so this also would have a factor on his evaluation.
Ryan Wilcox (Hillsboro)
6'2 WF 2020
A very impressive array of Class of 2020 up and coming talent was on display at this event. Wilcox was another in a line of very eye catching long and athletic kids who were long on run and jump but short on skill and technique. However the years are in their favor and hopefully they will work on the areas of the game that needs the most immediate attention. He was impressive filling the lane on the break and making the finish at the rim. When the game resorted to half-court he wasn't as involved as you would like. He wasn't sure of where to go and his inability to adapt showed in his production. His offensive game needs some overhauling but he does have some sustainable skills. He will need to work on his ball handling and decision making as he will most likely being a backcourt player. His shooting will be another area that he will need to put in the work to become good. He appears to be the type of kid who enjoys the game and he was a willing participant in all the drills at the opening of the showcase.