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NIKE EYBL SESSION #2 – BOO WILLIAMS (DAY I)
By Brian Bosworth
The Boo Williams tournament got underway on Friday night and with it the second session of Nike’s EYBL circuit. The amount of sheer talent in the gym was almost overwhelming as all eight courts were filled with future division 1 players all night long. Even in a field loaded with star power some players managed to separate themselves from the pack and here is sampling of Friday night’s best.
Top Performance of the Night:
Tahj Shamsid-Deen (Southern Stampede 2013) – Shamsid-Deen made a name for himself last weekend as the EYBL circuit kicked off in Minneapolis and continued his strong play Friday night. The 5’10” lefty point guard was deadly pulling up from midrange going in either direction. He used a quick first step to create space and then elevated over defenders to get off jump shots from 8-18 feet. While impressive scoring the ball for the majority of the game, Shamsid-Deen showed his true worth in the final moments with his team trailing by a point and 15 seconds on the clock. Southern Stampede ran an iso set for Shamsid-Deen and as he had done all game he got a step on his defender and pulled up from 10 feet. The ball slipped through the net giving Southern Stampede a one point lead and ultimately a victory. Both his desire to take the shot and ability to make it in that big spot spoke volumes about Shamsid-Deen’s leadership and accountability at the point guard spot.
Sleeper Performance of the Night:
Lennard Freeman (Team Takeover 2013) – Freeman is a 6’8” big man with quick feet who runs the floor with energy and battled in the paint all night. He doesn’t have a refined post game but managed to remain effective inside by outworking opponents. Freeman consistently beat defenders down the floor and beat them to loose balls when they managed to stay near him. His offense and overall skill package need work but simply based on his size and athleticism, Freeman is a name that college coaches need to become acquainted with.
Other Top Performances:
Kennedy Meeks (Team United 2013) – Meeks got the better of highly touted big man Jahlil Okafor in their head to head matchup Friday night. He didn’t lead his team in the scoring column but the 6’8” post managed to impact the game with his outstanding passing skills. Meeks is a phenomenal outlet passer and started countless fast break opportunities by whipping outlets to streaking teammates. He also proficiently handled double teams on the block always remaining calm and finding the open man. Meeks needs to be more assertive at times inside but his soft feet, basketball IQ, and passing skills will carry him far.
Nick King (Bluff City Legends 2013) – A 6’7” lefty with range to the three point line and major power at the rim, King is a matchup nightmare for defenders. He was best in transition Friday night hammering down power dunks and dropping slick passes to teammates for throw downs of their own. His jumper didn’t fall with regularity but King’s stroke is solid and has gone in during past viewings. He will need to be more consistent with that jumper and make better decisions with the ball to continue progressing as a prospect.
Sindarius Thornwell (Team United 2013) – Thornwell has incredible size at the wing standing a wide 6’6” with very long arms. Everything offensively for him was attacking the rim to utilize his length and athleticism. I don’t recall Thornwell attempting a shot outside 8 feet but he was able to be effective by slashing to the rim both off the dribble and to corral offensive rebounds for put backs. A notable jump shot to go along with his considerable off the dribble skill would make Thornwell a scary prospect at the wing.
Troy Williams (Boo Williams 2013) – Among the nation’s best athletes, Williams is an absolute freak roaming the baseline and flying through the air for spectacular finish after spectacular finish. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest Williams had the five most impressive dunks I saw all night. Once he takes off he just seems to glide through the air on a different plane than defenders and always finishes strong with two hands. His jump shot was nonexistent and will need to improve at the next level to keep defenders honest but there is no doubt that Williams is one of the nation’s elite talents.
Jajuan Johnson (Bluff City Legends 2013) – Playing with more highly touted teammates Johnson was clearly his team’s most effective player on Friday night. The 6’4” guard filled it up from behind the arc showing consistent form and a confident stroke. He also worked the baseline with the drive finishing a series of acrobatic layups around big men in the lane. Johnson’s handle will need to improve so he can play the off guard at the next level but he is a surefire high major prospect.
Allerik Freeman (Boo Williams 2013) – Freeman is a polished scorer who can get his jump shot off any time he wants and make it with range beyond the three point line. His best work came from midrange pulling up from 12-18 feet after creating space with the dribble. Freeman made these shots going in either direction, fading away, with defenders draped over him, and through contact. Shot selection and consistent defensive effort are the only things holding Freeman back from the truly elite status in the 2013 class.
Nate Mason (Southern Stampede 2014) – Listed generously at 5’11”, Mason changed the game with his ability to knock down perimeter shots. A true sniper, he needed very little time to get his shot off and made it with regularity. He also was able to pump fake the shot and use 1-2 dribbles to get off a midrange shot once defenders starting flying out to contest. Not an elite athlete or finisher at the rim, Mason’s jumper will carry him as far as he is going to go in basketball.
With college coaches out in full force, here’s a track of which major programs were following which games on Friday.
Team United vs. Mac Irvin Fire: Coaches from Georgetown, Rutgers, Marquette, Notre Dame, Florida State, Florida, Creighton, Illinois, Bowling Green, Michigan State, Louisville, Yale, Kentucky, Minnesota, Virginia, Arizona, Ohio State, NC State, Harvard, DePaul, Towson, and Iowa were all courtside for this one.
Bluff City Legends vs. Boo Williams: A who’s who of the Southeast took in this game including Florida, Virginia, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Auburn, Kansas, Murray State, Iowa, Michigan State, and Missouri.
Team Takeover vs. Southern Stampede: Late into the night coaches were still out in force for this one including representatives from Duke, Wisconsin, Iowa, Boston College, Seton Hall, Oregon State, USF, San Diego State, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and Minnesota.
Kennedy Meeks (Team United 2013) – Meeks has a long list of schools including NC State, North Carolina, Georgetown, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Stanford, UCLA, and Louisville. He acknowledged NC State, UNC, Georgetown, and Louisville as the four schools doing the best work on him right now with all but UNC having offered. He expects to make a decision in the next couple of weeks likely coming from that group of 4 but other schools are still a possibility.
Sindarius Thornwell (Team United 2013) – Despite his major talent, Thornwell appears to still be in the early stages of the recruiting process. He only mentioned local schools Clemson and South Carolina as those recruiting him and had no timetable or favorite of any kind. With continued success on the EYBL circuit, Thornwell’s list should explode as the summer progresses.
Nick King (Bluff City Legends 2013) – King acknowledged a tentative top 5 of Memphis, Texas, Georgetown, North Carolina, and Florida in no particular order. He also stressed that other schools could still be in the mix outside of that 5 and he is also mulling offers from Arkansas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt.
Jajuan Johnson (Bluff City Legends 2013) – Not as well known as his teammate King among fans, Johnson has already made quite a splash with college coaches. He holds offers from Memphis, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Marquette, Louisville, Texas, Arkansas, and Auburn. Kentucky and Georgetown are also showing interest but have yet to pull the trigger with an offer.
Tahj Shamsid-Deen (Southern Stampede 2013) – Shamsid-Deen came into EYBL play last weekend with offers from Auburn, UCLA, and Northwestern. After a good showing in week one he has added offers from Stanford and Butler along with interest from Tennessee and Central Florida in the last 7 days. After another impressive outing in front of a swarm of coaches Friday night, Shamsid-Deen’s options are likely to expand quite a bit further after this weekend.