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Ask the Experts: The Best of AAU Season
by Andrew Force, Future150 (10:09 AM CT, Mon September 7, 2015)
Fox has grown into an elite PG. Which college will he pick?
Fox has grown into an elite PG. Which college will he pick?
Andrew Force
Andrew Force:

Future150 National Analyst. Covering High and Middle School basketball.

Nashville, TN (Future150) -- Each AAU season Future150 sends numerous evaluators out on the road.  UnderArmour, NIKE, and adidas events were repeatedly evaluated.  Still, there were bright spots outside the "Shoe Events."  

Take a look at what we learned out on the road. Each expert was asked alone, with no knowledge of the other answers.

Follow the experts on Twitter: 

@Future150Ani - Ani Umana

@F150Zach - Zac Lyon

@AForceF150 - Andrew Force 

@Future150Corbin - Corbin Osby

Who was the most amazing athlete you saw this summer?

Zac Lyon: Well. I was at the EYBL.  Probably Harry Giles or Tatum.  Even though people say Tatum isn't that athletic...from what I saw he was pretty good.  

Corbin Osby: I would say the most amazing athlete I saw this summer was Rawle Alkins.  His versatility, I.Q. level.  He played both ends of the floor.  He played hard every time he played.    I felt like he was an all-around basketball player.

Andrew Force: So many. But pure athleticism has to go to Kwe Parker, Malik Monk, and LaDarius Marshall (2018).  Their body movements boggle the eye.

Who was the best shooter you saw all summer?

Ani Umana: The best shooter would have to be Max Evans.  I saw him with Texas Elite.

Zac Lyon: Probably that Beachler kid.  Matt Beachler.  He comes to mind when I think of shooters.

Andrew Force: Michael Porter Jr. is special.  I love tall shooters.  His ceiling is frightening.  Another dead-eye shooter is Vijay Blackmon. He doesn't miss any open shots.

A bonus for the readers...Emareyon McDonald (2021) seemingly hit every outside shot this August.  Clunky motion, but you can't argue results.

Which AAU team (no shoe deal) was your favorite to follow?

Ani Umana: I have to go with M&E and Houston TopGun.  I like the Arkansas Soldiers team.  I like them a lot.  DreamTeam.  There are like four teams I really liked. 

Zac Lyon: Probably PSB.  I like to watch them out in Atlanta.  They have a lot of guys on there that I liked.  Jordan Sheperd.  And then Ben Robertson.  He plays at High Point Christian.  And Raekwon Long.  

Corbin Osby: I am going to have to say I like the Alabama Magic.  There are some hard-nosed guys on that team.  Good coaches.  Guys support each other.  They play hard.  

Andrew Force: Team Overtime Elite (TX), Kingdom Hoops out of Iowa is building something special.  Top Notch in Atlanta is high on skill development.  I also like Impact Athletics (OK).

Name a Class of 2018/2019 player that is a certain pro.  

Ani Umana: Seriale Mitchell.  Gerald Liddell.  I like Jae LeDee.  I think he has a smooth game.  

Zac Lyon: Jahvon Quinerly.  Sports U.  That dude is a beast.  

Corbin Osby: Naz Reid. I would have to say Bol Bol.  

Andrew Force: From Seattle Kevin Porter is incredible.  Check out Lugentz Dort from Canada.  He destroyed a great ATL Xpress 15u squad at BOTS.  Lastly, Jules Bernard has what it takes.  On top of his size and mobility he has the brains and hunger to be great.

Who are some projects that you believe in?   

Ani Umana: There was a guy.  He was 6-foot-9.  A 2017 kid.  He has offers from a lot of places.  Very raw.  I have to get his first name again.  Kevin Samuel

Zac Lyon: Zachary Baldinelli.  He is 2019.  I have been in contact with him for a year.  He has interest from Middle Tennessee State and Wofford already.  He will be starting on varsity, his first year down there. 

Corbin Osby: At the top I am going to say Tyler Thornton.  Tyler has grown in the past two years.  His mid-range jump shot has improved a lot the last two years.  His body, his maturity level...he is thin and filling out.  He plays both ends hard and stretches the floor.  

The next kid is Kajon Gordon.  I love the style of play.  He is going to be able to blossom in the next two years.  I feel like he is a kid that knows where he is and continues to work.  He is tremendous attacking the rim.  Very strong.  I expect to hear more about him.

Andrew Force: Tall shooters that can defend have legitimate pro aspirations.  Karim Ezzeddine is really unique.  Touching 6-foot-10 with great outside touch.  Kostandinos Antetokounmpo's older brother plays for the Milwaukee Bucks.  Kosta is another great shooter from 6-foot-9.

Wyatt Wilkes (2017) is not a project, but severely underrated.  He can be Mike Miller (NBA).

Any bigs that excite you?

Ani Umana: I like Jarrett Allen, from Texas Pro.  I like him.  I like his game alot. I do like Harry Giles.  I thought his footwork was pretty good, when I saw him on EYBL.

Zac Lyon: Probably Udoka

Corbin Osby: Naz Reid. Being so young.  Ederice (Adebayo).  Sedee Keita.  Big Chris (Lewis).  Those are a couple.  

Andrew Force: Xavier Tillman is a versatile combo forward.  

If you have 10 seconds to get a good, quality shot...which AAU player do you want handling the ball?

Ani Umana: Jacob Young.  If I had ten seconds and I need some points I knew Jacob could get that for me.  He is probably the best scorer in his class, in Texas.  That guy can light it up.  I like him a lot.

Zac Lyon: Josh Langford.  He is clutch.  I watched him with the Celtics in Atlanta.  Kobi would always screw up and (Josh) would pull through for them.

Corbin Osby: I would have to go with Quade Green.  His speed and his I.Q. level are great.  If I have ten seconds on the clock I know he can control the court, spread everybody out, and use Iso to get to free throw line and win the game.  

Andrew Force: Marcus Carr and Lugenz Dort are a pair of Canadian guards that frighten me.  I don't know how you stop either of them.  Dort is insanely strong, reminds of Wayne Selden at the same age.  Carr is lightning.  His new coach's son, and current D1 player called Carr the "best defensive guard in the country."  I also love Josh Langford in late-game situations.  He buried John Petty and J.O. Johnson in an overtime thriller last winter.

Which AAU program took the biggest leap forward this summer?

Ani Umana: I think Howard Elite, in July, took a big step forward.  I think ProSkills took a big step.  ProSkills has a good 7th grade, 8th grade team.  Their program took a big leap, from the middle school up.  

Howard Elite was very good in July.

Corbin Osby: I really like how the Florida Vipers came along, as an entire program.  Once they started winning games they started to gain respect.  As a team I think they came together and finished strong.  I think their 16u made Championship Game at UA Finals.  They were a darkhorse team.

The Golden State Warriors won the NBA Title with remarkable outside shooting.  Basketball is a copycat sport.  Did you notice an uptick in outside shooters this summer?

Ani Umana: Yeah. I did.  I saw a lot of quick, jump shooting teams.  Just get the ball 

Name your top 2016 point guards.

Ani Umana: Favorite point guard 2016 is J.J. Caldwell.  The way his game is...he plays like a mini-Chris Paul.  His jumper still needs to be developed even though it is there at times.  Hell of a passer, hell of a defender.  When it is all said and done he may turn out to be the best point guard in the class. 

Zac Lyon: Frank Jackson for sure.  Alterique Gilbert.  I think he is really under-rated.  And then Jaylen Fisher.  I like him too.

Corbin Osby: At the top of that list I am going to have Dennis Smith.  I am going to have Jaylen Fisher

Andrew Force: To me, quickness is only a part of the package.  Fox and Kobi Simmons are blurs, but give me an intelligent passer every day of the week.  I love Cassius Winston, Xavier Simpson, and Ty Jerome.  Those guys will win games.  I don't need my PG to score 25.  They make everybody else better.

Beyond Jacob Young, Texas needs, at least, five more recruits from the Class of 2016.  Who will sign with the Longhorns?

Ani: Good question.

Zac Lyon: They aren't getting Rawle.  Maybe Braxton.  Maybe De'Aaron.

Corbin Osby: Their chances of getting Thon are not extremely high.  Jarrett Allen, I would say medium.  I think Jarrett would fit right in with Shaka's style of play.  I think Braxton could fit in.  I put him as a medium.  

I feel like they have a great shot with De'Aaron.  He could become the next pro to come out of Texas, if he committed to go there.  A lot of energy.  Super athletic.  I think Shaka would love to have somebody like that, a guy out of Houston that plays with that certain amount of aggression.

Can LSU pass Kentucky this season?  

Ani Umana: Uhhh.  Ben Simmons?  I think they can.  Kentucky has a pretty solid recruiting class.  Not as strong as in the past.  They got the New Zealand guy (Isaac Humprhies) and got Jamal Murray.  Skal.  They have a pretty solid class, but I think LSU will give them a run for their money. 

Zac Lyon: LSU is going to be really dang good, but if everything falls in to place for Kentucky they are going to be really good.  Maybe better than last year.  I don't think Ben Simmons and Blakeney are going to carry them over Kentucky.  They are going to carry them far, but I don't think they are going to beat Kentucky.

Corbin Osby: I think LSU has a great chance to beat Kentucky.  They have a couple of guys people weren't expecting them to get.  They have Ben Simmons.  They didn't have a bad season last season.  With Kentucky trying to rebuild, Calipari is going to have his hands full with LSU this year.  

When you put it on the board, X's and O's, it is going to be hard to stop Ben Simmons.  He is going to be setting screens, coming off screens, with the ball.  Plus, you have a shooter in Blakeney.  It might not be as easy to play against LSU as Kentucky wants it to be. 

I feel like LSU will pull it out in the end.

Andrew Force: Not yet.  They have turned a corner, but this won't be the year.  If Simmons came back for a sophomore year, then yes, they could win.  He won't. They won't.

Where does Malik Monk sign?

Ani Umana: Where?  I think Arkansas.

Zac Lyon: I am saying Arkansas.  I think their head coach has that on lock. When he was at EYBL in Hampton he (Mike Anderson) made sure he was at every single game.  

Corbin Osby: Malik Monk is going to be an Arkansas kid.

Andrew Force: Tough.  Arkansas makes the most sense.  

Will we ever see another elite top 25 guy stay four years at his high school, like Jayson Tatum did this academic year?

Ani Umana: I think we will see it again.  It is rare.  It is going to be rarer.  You will see it once every three or four years.  

Zac Lyon: I think so.  I think we will.  I don't think schools are like that. Dennis Smith stayed at his.

Each year more and more players select a prep school for their senior seasons.  Is this the best play for basketball development?

Ani Umana: My deal with prep schools...they are going to play better schedules of course.  I think playing agianst the best talent, as far as the development, I am kind of wishy-washy on this.  You just need a good coach.  If you play for a good coach you are going to get the most out of it.  If you are just playing a lot of games, then you are not really getting better.

Zac Lyon: I don't know.  It all depends.  In Harry Giles case, if you are that elite I don't think going to a prep school is going to really put you over the top.  You are already elite.  

Corbin Osby:  It all depends on the kid.  When it comes to basketball it starts with academics.  You are a student first.  I feel like prep schools, in today's soceity, they can be useful or harmful.

Case in point: Tim Cameron going to Hargrave Military.  A power guard out of a power program (Norcross).  His situation was a little bit different.  He was just a little younger and needed maturity.  He is a high level guard and will end up at ACC or SEC guard.

Andrew Force: I honestly don't know.  I have never been to a practice for a prep school. But I do miss the days of players competing for their neighborhood school, proudly representing kids and families they grew up around.  Sadly, those days are over forever.

Is there an East Coast Bias in national recruiting coverage?

Ani Umana: I don't think so.

Zac Lyon: (Chuckles)  From what I see I would definitely say so.

Corbin Osby: I don't feel like there is an East Coast bias.  I feel like a lot of people from the East Coast reporters cover the West Coast kids. A lot of times the West Coast guys don't come to the East Coast.  

I don't think guys on the East Coast are against those guys.  They just don't get to see them as much.  It is all about the platform that they are playing on.

Andrew Force: Absolutely.  You can't convince me 90ish of the top 100 live east of the Rocky Mountains.  But, look at every single online recruiting website and count the West Coast guys.

What college will De'Aaron Fox pick?

Andrew Force: Fox has all the options in the world.  If he waits until spring, North Carolina becomes an option.  If he picks this fall, then I imagine Kentucky, Kansas, or Arizona gets him.  Point Guard U. (Arizona) is a wonderful fit.  

Can Udoka be Shaq?

Ani Umana: Yeah.  I don't know.  Shaq probably has a little something on him.

Zac Lyon: (Chuckles) I like Udoka, but I don't think he is going to be Shaq.  Maybe in a few more years.  Maybe.  He would have to take some big steps.

Corbin Osby: Can Udoka be Shaq?  I would say Udoka is better than Shaq was at this age.

Andrew Force: No.  He is insanely strong, but Shaq was more explosive vertically.  Was.

Which top 20 player do you doubt?

Ani Umana: With me it is Kobi Simmons or De'Aaron.  

I think De'Aaron is going to be a good player.  But he isn't as good as advertised.  With me he can't space the floor because his shot is not that good.  I think he will be solid, but you look at 2017 NBA Draft.  They have him as a top five pick.  I think he will be a first rounder, maybe an early second.

I think he will be a good college player.  

Zac Lyon: I would have to say Kobi Simmons.  I like Kobi, but he has to work on his ball-handling.  From what I have seen he is really inconsistent.  He can go hard one game.  And then he looks like he hasn't ever played basketball the next game.

Corbin Osby: I doubt Kobi Simmons.  It is not personal.  I have seen him so much.  I just feel like he takes plays off.  he has been hyped to the third degree and he doesn't play on his dominating level.  I watched Rawle and he go at it several times this summer.  Rawle won that matchup every time.

It wasn't that Kobi doesn't have the skill.  He just doesn't have the strength.  I don't feel like he has been coached enough to play on Kentucky level.  

Andrew Force: The 2016 class is amazing at the top, but I will take a stab.  Henry Ellenson has a pro future, but he will have to adapt to very, very physical play early on.  I think that will be an adjustment because his style of play is suited to open or slightly challenged jumpers. 

Name one player outside the top 50 that every college basketball fan needs to know now.

Ani Umana: Again. J.J. Caldwell.  I think he will be somebody that will just shock people once he gets into college. Kameron McGusty.

Zac Lyon: There are a lot of guys I like.  I would probably have to say, Deshawn Corprew.  We have him at #58.  He is a really high level scorer.  He is going to be a good fit in a faster offense.  

Corbin Osby: I would say Joe Hampton.  He has a body frame that is a football body frame.  He has lost quite a bit of weight, but Joe has the ability to face-up.  He moves well with his size.  I think going back to Oak Hill, he will actually lose more weight.  His skill set is tremendous.

He is probably about 35-40% from three.  His short range shot is superior.  His is a matchup nightmare.  He is very, very strong on the low post.  Rebounds the ball well on both ends. 

I am looking forward to seeing Joe grow this upcoming season.  

Andrew Force: We have Trent Forrest (#70) outside the Top 50.  He will be an elite defender in the ACC.  He can fly up the floor.  Aside from outside shooting he does everything at an elite level.  

Florida State is recruiting at an All-Time high and Forrest will make a difference in March. Just watch.

Traditional powerhouse North Carolina needs four players from the Class of 2016.  They have one, now that Tony Bradley verbally committed.  Is the ongoing investigation hurting their recruiting?  And, if so, how can they combat it?

Ani Umana: I think it is hurting them some.  I think the negative publicity just doesn't help them right now.  You are just going to have good P.R.

Zac Lyon: Even though I am a Duke fan I definitely think it is hurting them.  Just look back, two or three years ago they got Harrison Barnes, Marcus Paige.  Didn't have any trouble with that. 

A perfect example Brandon Ingram.  Everybody says he was a lock, but they missed on him.

Andrew Force: They are in a terrible situation.  The NCAA is dawdling and that is worse than giving the hammer quickly.  We fear what we do not know and every prospect has to wait until they find out if North Carolina will be punished severely.

There is no quick fix.

Syracuse can only give out 10 scholarships per NCAA sanctions.  How do you recruit to fit this brief reality?

Zac Lyon: I don't know man.  You just have to go after the guys that you know are for sure.  You can't really risk things.  You can't go after a developmental guy.  You have to get guys are certain.  

Andrew Force: It is all about versatility.  You need to sign guys (like Tyus Battle) that can defend multiple positions and operate from several points on the floor.

What states are surging with more and more talent each year?

Ani Umana: I am a Texas guy.  I think Texas.  North Carolina. I think they are coming up with a lot of talent each year.  I think Oklahoma is starting to put out some good talent.  It is not alot, but they have some pretty good talent coming up 

Zac Lyon: I have to say Utah.  Not only Frank Jackson.  There are two other shooting guards in that Utah Prospects program that rolled in 9+ offers this AAU season. 

Alabama has some great guys in the upcoming classes.

Corbin Osby: I feel like the state of Florida is coming up.  Each year they are bringing more and more guys. 

The state of Delaware is a state nobody talks about, but there are actually quite a few guys.

The state of Louisiana is not known as a basketball state, but they are slowly coming along.  

One more state would be Arkansas.  Arkansas has had players in the past, but kind of had a drop off the past three or four years.  I think that is a place people go look at for basketball talent. 

Andrew Force: Covering the Southeast this year for the first time was a lot of fun.  Mississippi has plenty of raw talent.  Iowa is incredible with great per capita talent down to the 2019 class.  Iowa Head Coach McCaffery's kids certainly elevated the state's depth. Nebraska is the same way.

There is a reason Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Nebraksas, and Nebraska-Omaha, and Creighton are all nearing peak program performance.


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