EMERSON, Ga. – From emerging stars to players turning in performances worthy of adding stars to their profile there were countless takeaways from our time at Nike EYBL Atlanta.
Here are just a few of the things we learned this past weekend.
Keldon Johnson is looking Top 10 worthy.
Yes, Johnson is a dominant wing who gets to the basket when he’s good and ready, finishes with authority once he gets there and locks up on the defensive end, but the skill that separates Johnson from the vast majority of his peers is that he plays with the type of energy that can’t be manufactured.
Johnson is a relentless worker on both ends of the floor and commands accountability from his teammates at all times; not a trait that you see very often at this point in a player’s development. Currently, Johnson is ranked No. 18 overall in the ESPN 60, but that number may be, at worst, eight spots too low. Johnson averaged 23.5 points and 10 rebounds a game for Boo Williams (Va.) this past weekend.
Coby White is going to produce at North Carolina from day one.
OK, given, it’s not a stretch to say that a player who averaged 31 points, seven rebounds and six assists in route to claiming Gatorade North Carolina Player of the Year honors as a junior could be well on his way to a key contribution in his freshman season, but White’s play this spring has erased any lingering doubt about how long it will take him to produce once he’s on campus a year from now.
It’s not just because he’s been dominant on the EYBL averaging 21.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists for Team CP3 (N.C.); it has more to do with White’s style being perfect for Roy Williams’ trademark fast-break offense. White keeps the defense on its heels by bolting down the court nearly every possession then scoring or creating in transition; typical of most floor generals at North Carolina. White lost a star when the new rankings dropped a few months back, but with his play of late, it’s clear that he’s well on his way to earning said star back.
It’s not easy being No. 1.
Marvin Bagley III is the No. 1 player in the ESPN 60, but, so far, that hasn’t translated into success this season on the EYBL. Bagley’s Nike Phamily (Ariz.) squad is 0-12 with just four games left in the fourth and final session Memorial Day Weekend.
That won’t get Bagley and Co. into the Nike Peach Jam this season.
That said, Bagley has been dominant this season averaging 25.1 points, 14.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game, but he hasn’t had much help.
The next highest scoring average on the team is 8.3 points per game.
The team came close to its first win this past weekend in a game against fellow top five prospect Cameron Reddish and Team Final (Penn.), but ended up dropping a 71-68 nail-biter.
Can Bagley and his teammates close out the regular season strong?
Howard Pulley is the team to beat.
That’s right, the Panthers are once again the top team in the EYBL, posting an 11-1 record through three sessions.
The Panthers do it with balance; four players are scoring in double figures and, most importantly, they’ve got Tre Jones at the controls.
The 6-foot-2, point guard is averaging 20 points, 9.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds a game and seemingly makes the right play on every possession. Jones torched Houston Hoops in the final game of this past weekend’s session posting 31 points, 17 assists and seven rebounds in a win.
Still, No. 1 isn’t anything new for the Panthers, last season they went into the fourth and final session undefeated.
Can they keep the momentum going?
Better question is can anyone stop Jones?
Jalen Carey is emerging as a star.
The Playaz Club (N.J.) point guard turned in a dominant performance this past weekend averaging 22 points, eight assists and four rebounds a game, but the Playaz finished 2-2. That puts them in the middle of the pack in Division B headed into the fourth and final session Memorial Day weekend.
That’s reassuring with Carey’s constant emergence; hard to believe he’s an unranked prospect in the ESPN 60, but that’s likely to change come next month.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY