On Saturday afternoon, it was time for the Classes of 2021 and 2022 to take the courts at the Orlando Sports Center for the Hoop Exchange Summer Invitational. Due to the shorten duration of the event and the large number of players participating, we were not able to see every player. If there were as many good players that we didn’t see as there were that we did see, the college coaches tuning in on BallerTV must have been very happy.
Devin Hines, Boca Raton St. Andrew’s: The 6’4 senior had a terrific opening game, drilling 6-8 three-point shots, and did so in a variety of ways: Off the dribble, corner kickouts, and in transition. Not only did he make perimeter shots, Hines also proved he could get to the basket and score. Simply put, he is a dynamic shooter and aggressive scorer. He also brings that same attack mentality to the defensive end of the floor.
Ben Middlebrooks, Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy: The 6’9 junior is a modern day “big baller” with his ability to stretch the floor with his shot but also contribute on the interior when necessary. He excels in pick-and-pop situations as well as when trailing on the break. Middlebrooks plays physically inside and is a solid rebounder. He’s gotten several high major offers and more should be coming his way after this weekend.
James Henderson, Miami Westminster Christian: Listed at 6’10, the senior is a chiseled physical specimen. He’s got broad shoulders and knows how to carve out space inside. Henderson plays hard at both ends of the floor, rebounds out of his area, and challenges all who dare enter the lane. Currently a limited but opportunistic scorer, he can overpower smaller guys with simple post moves but mostly gets buckets via offensive rebounds and lobs.
Riley Kugel, Orlando Dr. Phillips: If there is one problem with the 6’5 junior, it is that he makes things look too easy. He’s so skilled that he looks like he isn’t going hard, then “zip!”, he’s by his defender and scoring at the rim or setting up a teammate for an easy basket. Kugel has a high IQ for the game, can be a go-to scorer or set-up man, and play/defend multiple positions.
Ramses Melendez, Kissimmee Central Pointe Christian: The 6’7 senior is a high major recruit and with his various scoring tools, that is no surprise. He is as likely to dunk on defenders after a slick drive as he is to drop in a smooth three off the dribble from deep. Melendez plays with a bit of an edge and is physically tough.
Justin Hicks, Jacksonville Bishop Synder: A 6’3 senior, Hicks was one of the better players on Saturday when it came to completing drives at the basket. With good body control and a soft touch, he found ways to get the ball in the basket through and over a lot of hands and arms. With solid ball-handling skills, Hicks was able to attack the basket from any angle. On Saturday he was a very efficient scorer as he was able to compliment his drives with some perimeter shots, providing the defense with a dilemma on how to contain him.
Brice Sensabaugh, Orlando Lake Highland Prep: The 6’6 junior is a nightmare matchup. He’s too big and strong for smaller defenders, simply overpowering them on his way to the basket or posting them up inside. Bigger defenders get pulled outside and watch Sensabaugh drain deep shoots or blow past them after a ball or head fake. While he may not look it, he is a very good run/jump athlete that can put defenders on a poster. Bottom line: he’s a bucket.
Justin Neely, Miami Senior: The 6’5 senior is well-know as a guy that can put up big point totals and that was on display Saturday. While he has a reputable outside shot, Neely hasn’t found a defender that can keep him away from the basket or the free throw line. With a strong frame and soft touch, he gets to where he wants to go off the drive. He has good footwork and is patient in waiting for the defense to over-commit and then Neely takes advantage. A good rebounder and passer on the move, he’s a wanted player by a lot of schools at the next level.