We continue our “awards ceremony” to bring you the best of the spring and summer from Sunshine State players. This category, Most Outstanding Player, is simply based on who performed the best regardless of team success.
This was a very tough call. There were several candidates, across both shoe company lines and independent programs. When we stepped back and took a look at each player’s entire body of work from April thru July, the one who stood out in terms of overall consistency and productivity was Anfernee Simons.
The 6’3 guard who will prep this coming season at IMG and is committed to Louisville, was stellar during Team Breakdown’s run to the best record in the Under Armor Association (full disclosure: Simons did not play in the final UAA session due to a previous commitment and the team went 4-0 in Los Angeles). He led the UAA 17U division in scoring at 20.4 points a game while shooting 42.4% from behind the arc. Simons upped his play in the Under Armor finals, averaging 23.5 points a contest. But it wasn’t just his play in the UAA that earned him the MOP designation.
At two premier individual events that crossed shoe-company lines, The Pangos All-American Camp and the NBPA Top 100 Camp, Simons was praised by national scouts for his play. At Pangos, he was considered the #4 player in the event while at the Top 100 Simons was lauded for his consistency in being able to score in bunches.
In the July “live” period’s final weekend in Las Vegas, one national scouting service that covered all three major events in “Sin City” (Fab 48, Las Vegas Classic, and Adidas Summer Championships) named Simons the #3 player of the weekend regardless of event. Extremely high praise.
No doubt Anfernee Simons is deserving of the MOP designation.
Our MOP for the Class of 2019 is the same as our MVP for the Class of 2019: Vernon Carey, Jr. He was given a stern test by R.J. Barrett but two things happened: One, Barrett re-classed up to 2018; Two, Barrett only played half (if that) of the EYBL season with Canada UPlay. And while he put up numbers there and with Team Canada in their run to the FIBA 19U Championship, it simply wasn’t enough of a body of work to overcome all that Carey did these past few months.
No need to regurgitate Carey’s stats from the EYBL. Just know that his play was more than enough that he will likely be listed the number one player in the 2019 Class by at least one, if not more, of the national scouting sites when the next set of rankings is released. Now Carey will be asked and possibly answer the age old question: Is it harder to get to the top or is harder to stay there?
Some will say I’ve been doing this way too long, but I can’t remember a player’s reputation exploding nationally in the time between his freshman and sophomore high school season as much as that of Scottie Barnes. He’s gone from one of the best in Florida to one of the best nationally in the Class of 2020 in a very short time.
Barnes played predominantly with Thunderstruck and Nike Team Florida this past travel season. He’s played on the 15U, 16U, and 17U level and excelled at each. He was also a key contributor to the USA 16U gold medal team this past summer in Argentina. Lauded for his versatility and high basketball IQ, he’s been compared at times to Brandon Ingram and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. While we don’t think he’s the scorer that Ingram turned out to be or plays with the same intensity of MKG, there is no doubt that Barnes has a high ceiling and should be considered one of the country’s best in his class.