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.
After a stellar junior season, Vernon Carey, Jr. earned the nod as the #1 prospect in the Class of 2019 entering the first “live” period in April. From that point forward, he has had a target on his back with his game closely scrutinized by college coaches and recruiting analysts. When the dust had settled at the end of July, nothing had really changed and Carey is still considered by many to be THE guy in his class. Not surprisingly, that earns him our Most Outstanding Player nod.
There were some struggles along the way. He missed three of four games in the second EYBL session due to injury. Carey dealt with illness during the 17U World Games. Carey earned Third Team All-EYBL honors in the Dallas first session, but only a couple of honorable mentions thereafter, showing that despite solid stats, the top player in the country is generally held to a higher standard.
Despite some challenges in the EYBL (Nike Team Florida finishing 8-8 but earning a Peach Jam birth), Carey was named to All-EYBL Third Team. After playing with Team USA and earning a gold medal in Argentina, Carey looked re-energized at the Peach Jam. He tallied 21 points, 13 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 blocks against the Bluff City Legends and rival James Wiseman. Carey followed that up with a 25 point outing against Team Takeover, leading Nike Team Florida to a win and handing the eventual Peach Jam champs their only loss in EYBL competition in 2018. He continued his stellar play in the Peach Jam (earning All-Peach Jam second team honors) as well as in Las Vegas (suiting up with E1T1).
It remains to be seen if the national scouts continue to anoint Carey as the top player in his class or if they decide upon a new flavor of the day. However, there is no doubt that Carey had an MOP caliber spring and summer for Nike Team Florida.
We’ve seen players in the past play up a year in the EYBL with various teams. Usually their numbers are understated as sophomores before “busting out” as juniors. With that in mind, it is nothing short of amazing what Scottie Barnes did this past season in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League.
Barnes missed session three and Nike Team Florida went 1-3, their only win coming by a single point. In every other session, he was named both Honorable Mention and All-Underclassmen. Barnes also earned All-Peach Jam Honorable Mention. National pundits raved how Barnes was the epitome of position-less basketball and one of the biggest mismatches on the circuit.
However, Barnes didn’t just excel in the EYBL. At the Pangos All-American camp, Barnes was considered one of the top players in a stacked event, earning the Most Outstanding Player award for his team in the Top 30 Cream of the Crop All-Star Game and considered a Top Five prospect by NBADraft.net. Barnes also played this summer with USABasketball.
Barnes will continue to battle a slew of players for the top spot in the Class of 2020. That will be tough to achieve as many national scouts think the 2020 Class is shaping to be one of the better ones in recent memory. There is no question that Barnes is the Most Outstanding Player in Florida in his class. However, if you were to say that Barnes is top prospect in the state regardless of class, you would not get much, if any, argument.
For whatever reason, we didn’t see a lot of games this spring and summer involving members of the Class of 2021. Of those we did see, no one player stepped up and blew us away. The vast majority of rising sophomores played in their age group while a few played up on the 16U level. However, Wesley Cardett played up on the Team Breakdown 17U squad against high level competition. Based on what we saw of him at the Summer Hoops Festival, Cardett gets the slimmest of nods in this category.
A lengthy 6’5 and possibly still growing, Cardett has a high skill level at this stage of development. Though a bit on the thin side, he doesn’t hesitate to attack the basket and challenge bigger and stronger players at the rim. Cardett usually finishes pretty well with either hand in traffic. He’s also proven to be a solid ball-handler and passer and if you play for the Pink and Black, you have to put in work on the defensive end, which Cardett does.
It is still a bit early to establish much of a pecking order for the 2021 Class but for right now Cardett is one of the better ones we’ve seen.