Things got a bit back to “normal” in 2021 after COVID took out last year’s Live Period and many top-level events went dark. While shoe circuit events were condensed into a couple of weekends, there were many events that took place throughout the spring and summer that attracted high-profile teams and high-level talent. Plenty of players were scouted, reputations elevated or established, and it felt good to be in a gym full of prospects and spectators.
With that in mind, it is that time of the year to give out some awards. The first category is Most Outstanding Player in each age group (Classes of 2022, 2023, and 2024). The MOP is simply based on who performed the best regardless of team success.
For the 2022 Class, one could make a valid case that Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson, 6’5 twins out of Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest and playing with Florida Pro, should earn this award hands down as they both signed million-dollar contracts with the fledgling Overtime Elite program that is offering professional pay, training, and off-court tutoring on how to be a pro as well as financial guidance and educational opportunities. Both Amen and Ausar were dynamic during the spring in leading Florida Pro to an early 20-1 record over the course of several independent events. What could be more outstanding than earning a million-dollar contract?
However, we are going to stick with the more “traditional” path in choosing a player that has played the entire spring and summer and has gotten national media attention at just about every event in which he participated, whether that event be with his travel team or as an individual at some very high-profile camps. Ernest Udeh, a 6’10 power forward for Southeast Elite out of Dr. Phillips HS in Orlando, drew major raves at the team’s first event of the spring and never looked back. Whether it was leading SE Elite to the championship of the Bob Gibbon’s Tournament of Champions or his play at the Pangos All-American Camp getting noticed by NBADraft.net, Udeh gained new admirers seemingly every time he stepped on the court. No less than eighteen different articles were written by national media regarding Udeh’s play this spring and summer. He has gone from being unranked at the end of the high school season to being a viable McDonald’s All-American Game candidate.
In the Class of 2023, Matthew Bewley and Ryan Bewley, 6’9 twins out of Orlando West Oaks Academy and playing for Team Breakdown in the Under Armor Association were the “trail blazers” for the Overtime Elite program, becoming the first two players to sign professional contracts with that organization. The Bewley twins have been nationally recognized since prior to their freshmen seasons at Northeast High School in Fort Lauderdale and supposedly had been in discussions with Overtime Elite well before signing their contracts.
We’ll follow the same route as we did with the 2022 MOP. Marvel Allen, a 6’4 guard out of Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian and playing for E1T1 16U had a magnificent spring and summer. The group played up most of that time and was more than competitive against older competition. Allen proved to be a rugged two-way player, showcasing an ability to score from all three levels as well as disrupt on the defensive end of the floor. Allen is now considered a top twenty player nationally in the 2023 Class due to his efforts.
For the Class of 2024, we don’t have to worry about a player or players that signed professional contracts (this year). When all was said and done, it was clear that alpha dog in the class is Karter Knox, a 6’5 wing out of Tampa Catholic playing for E1T1 15U. National pundits got their first look at Knox when he played up on the E1T1 16U team during a spring event and one outlet hailed him as “one of the best looking 2024 prospects in the building”. Knox was very dynamic for his club during the 15U Peach Jam. In the highest of profile events, Knox averaged just over 20ppg to go along with 4 rpg. His future is blindingly bright.