In this category we looked for guys that we thought were finally getting their just due in terms of attention from the national media and/or scholarship offers from higher level programs once the travel season started back in April. Certain guys stood out from a large group of players.
Source Hoops has a long-standing policy of having only one player named when it comes to handing out our awards. However, this time around, try as we might, we simply could not find anything to separate our two main candidates that would put one over the other. For that reason, we are naming two players in the Class of 2018 as our Spring/Summer Breakout Player: Darius Days from the Florida Vipers and Nassir Little from 1Family.
First, Days. He was impressive playing in the Under Armor Association this year as he finished fifth in the league in scoring at 18.6 ppg; second in rebounding at 9.0 rpg; and seventh in overall field goal percentage at 47.3%. Days greatly elevated his game during the last UAA session and the UAA Finals. Over the course of those ten games he upped his scoring average from 14 to 22 points a game and his rebounding numbers from 7.5 to 10 per game. Without Silvio De Sousa available for the UAA Finals, Days led the Vipers to the final four by averaging a double-double with 20.6 points and 12.2 rebounds a game.
Days also gets “bonus points” for stepping away from the UAA and testing himself in the EYBL for a session with Nike South Beach. His numbers were the same for NSB in that session as they were for the Vipers over the course of the first two UAA sessions: 14 points and 7 boards a contest.
Days’ play over the spring and summer greatly elevated his recruiting profile. He now holds offers from Kansas and North Carolina, as well as the likes of Butler, LSU, Georgia Tech, Illinois, and a host of other high-major programs.
Little’s body of work was no less productive or impressive. He put up solid numbers on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit, averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds a game in the first two sessions while shooting 50% from the field overall. During the Gauntlet finals in Spartanburg at the beginning of July, Little average just over eighteen points and nearly nine rebounds a contest. He never failed to score double figures in the twelve contests we have stats for.
Little gets his “bonus points” for his play in Europe as part of an Adidas contingent that went over there in June. With NBA scouts in tow to see the next crop of “Euros”, they got a sense of what Little could do now as well as what he could become in a couple of years. Websites that follow that type of thing made it clear: Little has a real chance to reach the highest level of the sport.
Little’s national ranking has skyrocketed as a result of his play and there is a possibility that he could get a McDonald’s All American Game nod. He holds offers from the likes of Arizona, Duke North Carolina and Kansas while Florida, Florida State, and Miami would all love for him to stay at home.
The one thing Days and Little have in common? They both have garnered attention and respect for their ability to “play hard” at all times, never taking a play off.
We first caught a glimpse of Ibrahima Diallo of the Florida Sons at our Travel Team Jamboree in April. We took note of the 7’0 sophomore’s height, strong frame, and athleticism. We also noted he was “clay”, waiting to be molded into a work of art. Fast forward to the end of July and it is clear that he is on the wheel.
While he didn’t put up astounding statistics in terms of points and rebounds due to limited minutes and often being in foul trouble, Diallo was one of the better shot blockers around. He averaged just under four blocks a game at the Adidas Gauntlet finals in July. He average “just” 2.5 blocks a game in the first two Adidas Gauntlet sessions, clearly just getting his feet wet.
We got to view Diallo often at the Orlando Hoops Festival and his improvement has been rapid. While still raw when it comes to the offensive end, he has improved and he doesn’t panic when the double-team comes. Diallo has a ways to go at that end of the court but his ability to protect the rim, run the floor, and alter the opponent’s offensive plans are big weapons.
As a starter for Wildwood’s run to the state Class 1A title game in his freshman year, we thought Marcus Niblack could have a nice future. Fast forward five months later and we may have under-sold the 6’0 guard. His play for the Showtime Ballers 15U group was solid and it seemed like as Niblack went, so went Showtime. He earned all-tournament status at the Atlanta Jam in April and played solid throughout the rest of the spring and summer. His court time in July was cut short by a hand injury, but by then he had done enough to elevate his reputation beyond the borders of the Sunshine State.