The ninth annual Under Armour Elite 24 game featured an array of talent from all over the country, and when you combine those players with the setting that was provided this past Saturday at Brooklyn Bridge Park, well, you get one badass photo to go along with some high quality basketball (especially at the offensive end):
Jaylen Brown (23 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds) and Chase Jeter (17 points and UA game-record 15 rebounds) were the MVPs for Team Liberty as they overcame a 9-point halftime deficit and upended Team Freedom by the score of 127-116. Freedom’s MVP’s were Josh Jackson (18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) and Harry Giles (16 points, 11 rebounds).
Instead of summarizing the game, I had some of the players outline their skill-sets. These kids understand where their games are now and where they are capable of getting in just a few years, provided they work hard and improve their weaknesses. There is a ‘Scouts take’ section, too:
Jaylen Brown, 6-7, 220, 2015, Wheeler High School (GA), Undecided
Strengths: “Really aggressive. Has a different feel for the game. Tries to get everybody involved. Still is a work of progress but has a lot of potential and can’t wait to see where he’s at down the line.”
On ‘Different feel’ for game: “I don’t know how to describe it. I can mix it up and play the street ball type of game in the summer. I can play in a setting within a controlled environment. Whatever you need me to do, I can do it.”
Need to improve: “I need to work on my ballhandling, of course. My jump shot needs to get a better. I need to be at a high level of conditioning so I can play at a high level for a long period of time and I need to be healthy.”
Scout’s take: Thanks to IQ, savvy, all-around skills and unselfish, team-first attitude, the sky is the limit for this wing.
Chase Jeter, 6-10, 215, 2015, Bishop Gorman (NV), Duke
On height and development of shooting form: “I was always one of the tallest kids in my grade growing up, from what I can remember. It kind of started when I got really serious about improving my shot and I’d say that was going into my junior year. It’s been about a good year’s time since I’ve really focused on the mechanics of my jump shot. I make sure my elbow is in, that the ball is sitting in the shooting pocket, snapping my wrist, and making sure everything is nice and compact on my shot. Usually guys with long arms tend to get out of control so I try to really keep everything straight and fundamental in my shot.
Strengths: “A guy who is going to play hard and does all the intangibles. Communicates with his teammates. Coaches his teammates. Crashes the glass on both offense and defense. Skilled around the rim. Can step out and hit the mid-range and attack you [facing up] from the mid-range and eventually I’ll be able to add that 3-point arsenal to my game.”
Need to improve: “My upper body strength. I definitely need to get stronger. I have a trainer that I go see for that. At this point it’s just trying to get my body ready for the next level to be able to play right away.”
Scout’s Take: Special combination of height, length, shooting ability, overall basketball IQ and rebounding.
Ivan Rabb, 6-11, 210, 2015, Bishop O’Dowd (CA), Undecided (and injured for this contest)
Strengths: “I would want them to know that I want to win, first and foremost. I want to get better every day. I soak up information that people give me and I think that should make me a very good player in the future. I’m gonna continue to work and I’m going to listen to what you have to say.
Need to improve: “Just getting stronger. Working on my face-up game. I do different things at different positions so I just want to continue to expand on that. I want to improve on passing the ball, dribbling, shooting it. Anything that they need me to do. I want to do a lot on the court. Kevin Garnett and LaMarcus Aldridge are the two that I really watch. I’ve been studying a lot of face-up game from Carmelo Anthony and I think I can take a lot of stuff from him.”
Scout’s take: Continues to evolve his game and is willing to do the dirty work. Will be coveted as a guy who can run the floor, pass well and has excellent athleticism.
Antonio Blakeney, 6-4, 170, 2015, Oak Ridge (FL), Undecided
Strengths: “How hard I play. I can score the ball at all three levels. I’m a competitor. I’m competitive. I never want to lose. I play my hardest to win the game.”
On development of mid-range game: “I used to settle a lot for 3-pointers. I used to only shoot 3s and get to the rim, and when coaches started scouting me and my game they knew I was gonna shoot 3s or get to the rim, so I adjusted to that and now people say the best part of my game is my mid-range. It’s an easier shot than a 3-pointer and it’s rare that you get a layup. I used to play by shooting only 3’s but now I don’t like to just come out and jack 3’s.”
Need to improve: “I need to work on my strength and being a more consistent defender, which is really about your mindset. You’ve really got to have the mindset to try to lock people down and to want to guard the best player. I’m also in the weight room working on my strength.”
Scout’s take: Excellent scorer who comes out ready to go; all you need to do is watch him in layup lines.
Harry Giles, 6-10, 215, 2016, Wesleyan Christian (NC), Undecided
Strengths: “I’m versatile. If I have a big on me I can pull him out and if I have a 3 or a little guy on me I can post them up. I’m an energy guy. I bring a lot of energy to the team.”
Need to improve: “I’m working on my jump shot, trying to make it consistent. I can hit the mid-range shot and I want to be able to extend outwards. I want to be more consistent in the mid-range first, though.”
Scout’s take: Strong and solid rebounder who is active around rim on both ends. Wide frame with room to grow into his body. Good athleticism. Advanced feel for game.
Josh Jackson, 6-6, 215, 2016, Justin-Siena (CA), Undecided
Strengths: “I’m always going to play hard on every possession. Nobody is going to play harder than me. I’m always going to find the open man and find the best play possible.”
Need to improve: “Overall strength and consistent shooting. I always try to put shots up in the gym and I get in the weight room whenever I can.”
Scout’s take: Excellent scoring instincts. Willing passer. Smooth playmaker. Competitor. Lots of potential.
Mustapha Heron, 6-5, 197, 2016, Sacred Heart (CT), Pittsburgh
Strengths: “I’m very aggressive. A team player. I could play with other guys, off of other guys. I’m going to play hard. I’m very versatile. I feel like I can play the 1, 2 or 3, that I can guard those positions as well.”
Need to improve: “My defense and my decision making on offense, especially in the pick and roll. I’ve just been watching a lot of guys play. Watching guys like Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and Tony Parker, how they come off the screen and roll and change up speeds and stuff like that.”
Scout’s take: High IQ player who finds ways to be effective, no matter the setting. Rapidly improving skill-set. Getting stronger.
Donovan Mitchell, 6-3, 185, 2015, Brewster Academy (NH), Louisville
Rise in rankings / Strengths: “My rise has been from playing hard every possession, just going all out on every possession. I try to impact the game in any possible way. I feel like I can get into the paint and either finish at the rim or I can distribute very well. I can read the pick and roll very well. I can maneuver between the bigs and the guards. Also just being able to shoot it. I’ve been working on that a bunch.
On leaping ability: “It was something I was born with and I’m just blessed to have. I feel like that’s just a big part of my game on defense, offense, rebounding… It’s just a big part of my game. I’m definitely blessed to have that.”
On pick-and-roll play: “Being able to see what moves to make out of the pick-and-roll. Whether it’s splitting the defense or using the screen or rejecting the screen and getting another screen. I feel like I can contribute to any team doing those things.”
Need to improve: “I would say my shooting. You can never be too good of a shooter. Seeing these guys and how many shots they make at this level. As a guy that just came up, seeing all these guys that are highly ranked making all these shots tells me I’ve gotta keep going and get better.”
Scout’s take: Potential as combo guard thanks to athleticism, decision making and improving strength.
Stephen Zimmerman, 7-0, 241, 2015, Bishop Gorman (NV), Undecided
Strengths: “I would say that I try to make the players around me better. I’m an all-around player.”
On dealing with dirty play in post: “I try to play straight up, how the game is supposed to be played but whenever something like that happens I need to step up and show that I can compete with that stuff, too. ”
Need to improve: “Playing more consistently. My ball-handling ability. I like to dribble the ball a little bit. Post moves.”
Scout’s take: Skilled and adept in post or on the perimeter, especially considering age. Intriguing style of play. A lot to like about this lefty.
Dennis Smith Jr., 6-1, 173, 2016, Trinity Christian (NC), Undecided
Strengths: “I’m a leader. I can do whatever the coach needs me to do on both ends of the court. If he needs me to go out and guard the best guard I’ll do that. If he needs a guy to score 30, I can score 30. I can get my teammates involved. Really whatever the coach needs me to do.”
Need to improve: “I’m working on putting a floater in my game right now. Instead of trying to get all the way to the rim I can use that floater. I need to get bigger and stronger. And definitely moving without the ball. I worked out with Andre Dawkins and he’s a great shooter so we do a lot of drills off the ball to get open.”
Scout’s take: Won’t back down from a challenge. Makes excellent decisions with ball in hands. Needs more strength.
Tyus Battle, 6-5, 180, 2016, Gil St. Bernard’s (NJ), Undecided
Strengths: “I’m a versatile player. I can play the 1, 2 or 3. Pretty good on the ball defender. Like to get to the basket. Pretty good mid-range game with my pull-up and stuff. I just like to compete. I see myself as a combo guard because I want to score the ball and I like to distribute it also.”
Need to improve: “Leadership at the point guard spot; being a more vocal leader. Staying aggressive and trying to impact the game in any way possible.”
Scout’s take: Understands his game and plays with it. Great decision maker and willing passer. Range and consistency on shot need improvement.
Juwan Evans, 6-0, 180, 2015, Kimball (TX), Undecided
Strengths:“I’m unselfish. I like to get my teammates involved. I like to move the ball up the court, push it in transition. And I love to play defense.”
Need to improve: “Shooting, but I have to work on everything a lot.”
Scouts take: Excellent defensive anticipation. Quick hands. Crafty and willing passer. Game-high 10 assists in game were proof of unselfish nature. Development should be fun to track.
Jalek Felton, 6-3, 175, 2017, High (SC), Undecided
Strengths: “I can shoot and pass very well. I kind of see myself playing like Kevin Durant. A little bit of everywhere. I’m gonna get that height.”
Need to improve: “The main thing I’m working on now is just trying to get my defense better than it is, really competing on that end of the floor. Defense and my rebounding ability.”
Scout’s take: Only time will tell whether Raymond Felton’s cousin gains that aforementioned height, but should he get it, the defense will have an even tougher challenge.
Bonus Quote – Thon Maker, 7-0, 210, 2016, Carlisle (VA), Undecided
“I’m a winner.”
Top 10 Plays:
Jeremy Bauman is a shooting coach and aspiring front office professional who writes columns for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter @JB_For_3_.