26 May 2023

Battle at the Beach: 15U Rpt

Our final report from The Battle at the Beach held this past weekend in Wesley Chapel puts the spotlight on the 2026 Class (and a few from 2027).

Sinan Huan, SE Elite 3SSB: A 7’0 freshman at Windermere Prep by way of China, Huan moves very well for a player his size and age.  The lefty has some basic scoring tools down low, has good hands and doesn’t rush his shot.  As one might expect, Huan makes his biggest impact on the defensive end.  He has some natural shot blocking talent, rarely gets faked off his feet, and usually keeps the ball in play and retrieves it after blocking a shot.  He rebounds well in a crowd and he will only get better at that as he continues to get stronger and more comfortable in his body.  Huan isn’t a bad free throw shooter and will surprise by dropping in a perimeter shot or two if left unguarded.

Aaron McGee, Team Breakdown: A 6’2 freshman at Melbourne, McGee took on much of the scoring load after a teammate’s injury and certainly looked comfortable in that role.  He was dynamic from behind the arc, going 4-5, and adjusted as the defense adjusted, using ball fakes to create space to score from mid-range and on drives to the basket.  McGee plays with a certain confidence and swagger at both ends of the court, a familiar theme historically for Team Breakdown.  He appears to be a good athlete now but as he physically matures he will get better.  Down the road we expect to see some development in McGee’s playmaking abilities.

Sam Halls, SOH Elite: A 6’6 freshman at Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian, Halls’ length and leaping ability allow him to be productive around the basket at both ends of the floor.  Offensively he is active in pursuing missed shots by his teammates and very quick to get the ball back up to the hoop before the defense reacts.  Halls always seemed ready to catch and quickly shoot layups after receiving the ball from a guard finding his penetration stopped by the defense.  He runs the floor with long strides and routinely gets ahead of the defense for easy transition baskets.  Defensively he rebounds out of his area, effectively switches onto smaller opponents on the perimeter, and challenges shots in the paint.

Jared Thompson, 1 Family: A 6’2 freshman at The Villages, Thompson’s effort and energy on the floor produce big dividends.  He has a quick first step to the basket and those forays usually end with points, free throws, or both.  There is still work to be done on his perimeter shot but based on what we’ve seen to date consistency should come in time.  Thompson is a very proficient offensive rebounder as he has a long reach and quick second and third leaps.  Due to his length and athleticism, he can be disruptive on the defensive end of the floor.

Nate Kirk, SE Elite 3SSB: A 6’1 freshman at Daytona Beach Mainland, Kirk brings calm and confidence to the court. He doesn’t get rattled by pressure, looks to make the easy play instead of the highlight reel, and if necessary can go and get a bucket on his own.  He is more likely to score on the drive than from the perimeter but his high rate of free throw success suggests consistency from the outside will come sooner rather than later.  Kirk rebounds the ball well for his size and gets the ball up the floor quickly in transition.  Defensively he is solid, moves his feet quickly, and has active hands.

Trace Westercamp, Team Breakdown: A 6’8 freshman at St. John’s Creekside, Westercamp combines the size of an interior player with the many of the skills of a guard.  He scores well facing basket as he has a good touch on either side of the arc.  Westercamp also showed to be a decent ball-handler and passer for a guy his size and age.  No doubt he will add strength in the coming years but his current lack of heft doesn’t keep him from playing physically.  Westercamp will challenge and change shots more often than block them but he is quick to pursue the rebound and get the ball up the floor in transition.

K.J. Francis, SOH Elite: A 6’0 freshman at Calvary Christian, it was clear early on that Francis was a tough cover.  He is quite quick with the ball, getting to the basket and scoring before defensive help can arrive.  When the defense backed off, he dropped in a couple of three-pointers to show their decision may not have been the best one.  A pest on the defensive end, Francis guarded ball-handlers aggressively and was always alert for lazy passes into his area, many of which were tipped, deflected, or outright stolen.

Martay Barnes, SE Elite 3SSB: An eighth grader at Holy Trinity Episcopal out of Mebourne, Barnes already has a year of varsity competition under his belt.  With good size at around 6’1, he is at the high end of the athleticism meter.  Fortunately, Barnes doesn’t rely on his physical gifts to be productive on the court.  He showed good handles, court vision, and basketball instincts this weekend.  His perimeter shot wasn’t falling but it has good form and fundamentals.  Barnes gets to the basket quickly with the dribble, makes good pass vs. shot decisions on the move and finishes well in a crowd.  He is also very active and aggressive on the defensive end.

Travis Triplett, Team Breakdown: A 6’8 freshman at Tampa Middleburg, Triplett is sculpted.  The athletic gods have given him a winning genetic lottery ticket; now it is up to him to make the most of hit.  No doubt there is work to do skill-wise but he does give great effort when it comes to rebounding the ball at both ends.  Triplett works hard on defense, protects the paint, and runs the floor in transition well.  It will be interesting to track his development these next few seasons.

Marcis Ponder, Team Breakdown: A 7’0 freshman at Norland, Ponder has captivated the mixtape mafia and social media with his Shaq-like size, strength, and assault on rims.  Physically, everything is there for him to be a dominating force in the game for quite some time.  There are still some things to work on such as not bringing the ball down to the opponent’s level, not rushing shots, and being aware of opponents when running the floor or trying to block shots.  Much to his credit, Ponder appears to want to be as good as possible, plays very hard, and is his own worst critic on the court.  A decade or so ago, Ponder’s path would be easy.  Not in this age of Curry where players aren’t used to feeding the post, coaches aren’t used to developing big men to dominate in the paint and possibly worst of all, referees don’t know how to officiate the game with such a dominant physical force at this level.

Dwight Gaines, SOH Elite: A 5’7 eighth grader in Miami, Gaines is the embodiment of new age basketball in the “ Due to Curry” era.  No shot is too deep and Gaines was absolutely mind-boggling, hitting his first four three-ball attempts and finishing 7 for 12 from deep enroute to a 25 point outing.  If he has the ball crossing mid-court and isn’t picked up, the shot is going up and likely in.  That creates a problem as Gaines is quick with the ball and hard to contain.  It was an impressive performance on a big stage.

Khanye Moss, SOH Elite: A 5’9 8th grader in Miami, Moss wasn’t the shooting virtuoso that Gaines was, but his speed and quickness with the ball made him difficult for the defense to contain.  He seemed very adept and comfortable driving the ball into the teeth of the defense and finding open teammates for shots.  He made one of his two perimeter shots but it is clear than Moss is there to help teammates score, not score himself.  His speed and quickness also rear their respective heads on defense as he attacks opposing ball-handlers with a vengeance.


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