03 Jun 2024

JR. EYBL Southeast Session II

The JR. EYBL is for elite eighth grade/14U teams related to Nike’s EYBL programs.  This year “The Swoosh” is holding regional events for these teams before bringing them together for a full field event in July.  Twelve teams from the Southeast, stretching from Texas to Virginia, took part in Session II this past weekend at The Big House in Tavares.

Eric Dampier, Jr., Alabama Fusion: Considered by some to be the top player in the Class of 2028, the 6’9 son of former Mississippi State and NBA player Eric Dampier certainly played that way when we watched him.  Blessed with a strong frame, excellent body control, and high-level athleticism, Dampier pulled down twelve rebounds in the half that we saw him play.  Impressive was the fact that he not only outlets the ball quickly but can also bust out of the pack with the dribble and push the ball up the floor on his own.  If Dampier caught the ball in the lane he was quickly surrounded by defenders.  Only one time was he able to get off a shot before he was swarmed and he showed off a nice jump hook with a soft touch.  Dampier was quick to get the ball out to open shooters, then either reposition or chase down offensive rebounds.  He showed good passing skills as well.  Dampier moves well laterally on defense, is quick to come over the change/block shots, and makes opponents think long and hard before challenging him in the lane.

Camden Cooper, Nightrydas Elite: The 6’4 Cooper already has two varsity seasons under his belt at St. John’s Country Day just outside of Jacksonville.  Arguably the top player in Florida’s 2028 Class, the lefty has a smooth stroke from deep.  Cooper is deadly off the catch but also accurate off the dribble as well.  Despite a thin frame, he doesn’t hesitate to challenge opponents by driving to the rim and seeking contact.  Cooper is a good ball-handler and passer, sees the court well, and is quick to find open teammates and deliver them the basketball.  Long and quick, he disrupts passing lanes on defense, converts steals into scores, and gets several tips and deflections throughout the course of a contest.  Cooper also isn’t afraid to mix it up inside and battle bigger players for rebounds at both ends of the court, winning more than his fair share of those battles.

Mason Collins, Team United: A 6’6 wing out of Columbia, South Carolina, Collins looked to be the best player on the best team at the event.  He has a lot of skill and versatility at this stage of his development and we would say that about him if he were six inches shorter.  Collins displayed good range on his shot, the ability to put the ball on the floor to score, some touch around the rim, and the speed to beat defenders down the floor in transition.  He is quick off the floor with long arms to grab rebounds and block shots.  Collins is effective most anywhere on the floor offensively.  He can score or dish equally effectively from either high or low post, the wings, or short corner area.  Collins has the physical tools to defend any position on the floor.

Jarvis Stevenson, Liv On Select: A 6’4 wing out of River Ridge, Louisiana, Stevenson plays with great effort and hoops IQ.  He has an instinctive ability to make plays on both ends of the floor.  Stevenson showed off a smooth jumper on either side of the arc, a quick first step burst to the basket and the ability to finish through contact in traffic around the basket.  Stevenson showed good shot vs pass decisions when driving the basket as well as when piloting the transition game.  He has a quick second and third leap when pursuing rebounds at either end of the floor.  Once he secures a defensive rebound he quickly gets the ball up the floor, either via dribble or pass.  Stevenson is a dogged defender with quick feet, long arms, active hands, and a take-no-prisoners mindset.

Jeremiah Tiplin, Middleton Hoops: A 6’7 forward out of Charleston, South Carolina, Tiplin has some work ahead of him but the future certainly looks bright.  Still a bit gangly and all arms and legs, he is quite bouncy and impacts the game at both ends of the court with his size and athleticism.  Tiplin pursues rebounds out of his area and is quick to get the ball into the basket after securing missed shots on the offensive end.  If not played too physically, he will score on post-ups with quick drop steps.  Tiplin’s perimeter skills are a work in progress but that shouldn’t come as a surprise.  At this stage he protects the rim well, doesn’t bite on fakes, and forces opponents to change their shots once in his presence.

Quentin Wilson, Florida Rebels: A 6’4 wing out of Lakeland Victory Christian, Wilson is another Florida 8th grader with varsity experience under his belt.  A high-level athlete with good skills, he makes his biggest impact in transition and when he can get past defenders and attack the rim.  Wilson is shifty with the basketball and easily finishes above the basket.  Normally a judicious and reliable perimeter shooter, he found little success in that area in the game we watched.  That should improve with maturity, repetition, and time.  Wilson has the physical tools to be a high-level defender.  Already he shows good instincts in terms of jumping the passing lanes, stripping ball-handlers, and blocking shots coming over from the weak side.

Jordan Cook, Team Mookie Betts: A 6’5 wing out of Louisville, Kentucky, Cook was another player to show a high hoops IQ and mature game beyond his years.  He always seemed to be around the basketball and made the right play with it in his hands.  Cook is a sneaky offensive rebounder, shows a soft touch around the rim, and an ability to find teammates cutting to the basket or open on the perimeter.  He surprised all in the gym when he drove baseline late in the contest and flushed home a dunk in traffic.  Cook has good ball-skills in terms of dribbling and passing.  The few perimeter shots he took didn’t fall but he hit his free-throws with good form which gives hope for his future development in that area.  Cook covers a lot of ground quickly on defense and can guard multiple positions.

Josiah Gillard, Nightrydas Elite: The 6’0 point guard out of Clermont, Florida was not only solid in his ability to run the offense but showed the capability to be a dynamic scorer if needed.  His ability to quickly get the ball to open teammates, whether in transition, in the post, when penetrating or hitting cutters is rare for most players at this stage.  A dangerous perimeter shooter, he knocks down shots off the catch, coming off ball-screens or creating space and rising over a contesting defender.  Gillard has good speed and quickness with the ball and does a good job of managing pace.  He does a good job of staying in front of opposing ball-handlers, pressuring them with jabs to the ball, and forces mistakes.

Bentley Lusakueno, Alabama Fusion: A 6’9 forward out of Atlanta, Lusakueno arguably had the most upside and potential at the event.  A high-level athlete with size and body control, he has the ability to impact the game in multiple ways.  He is tough to contain as a rim-running lob finisher, can put the ball on the floor for a dribble or two and score quickly from the high-post and short corner areas of the court, and chases down offensive rebounds for quick scores both in and out of his area.  Because of his physical gifts, he can play and defend any position on the floor.  No doubt his perimeter offensive skills will improve over the next 2-3 years, making him a high-major recruit.

Cayden Gaskins, Nightrydas Elite: A 6’7 forward from Holy Trinity in Melbourne, we had to double- and triple-check the notes that Gaskins is in the 2029 Class, meaning he just finished the SEVENTH(!) grade.  We also think his first name was misspelled as it should be “Cave In” as that is what he was doing to rims and defenders.  Strongly built and extremely athletic, he put some hurt on the rims at The Big House.  Gaskins doesn’t lack skills as he made some mid-range shots off the dribble and a couple of tough finishes through contact on drives.  He rebounds the ball well at both ends and has the ability to push the ball up the floor on his own in transition.  Gaskins moves and runs well for his size and age, can effectively guard perimeter and post, and plays with a high energy level.


Going on at the same time was the Elite Youth Open for non-EYBL related squads.  We found time to catch a few of those games in the 7th Grade Division and came away with some players to reference for the future.

Nicholas Bosire, Nightrydas Elite: A 5’11 guard out of Boca Raton, he was dynamic in his ability to get to the basket and score, using a solid frame, excellent body control, touch and concentration.  Very physical, Bosire rebounds well and has solid ball-skills.  No doubt his perimeter shot will develop in time to make him even more of a threat.

Armani Morris, Tre Mann Elite: A 6’0 guard out of Lakeland, Morris not only has speed and athleticism to spare, but he knows how to effectively use both to impact the game.  He is very quick to the basket, makes good pass vs. shot decisions once in the lane, and scores with either hand.  The one perimeter shot he took went down and looked good doing so.

Drayden McDaniel, K.T. Kings: A 6’6 forward from Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian, McDaniel has size, skills, and plays with a chip on his broad shoulders.  The lefty showed good scoring tools inside the arc, whether lofting in jumpers or getting past defenders to score at the rim.  He rebounds and runs well for a player his size at such an early age.  He doesn’t shy away from physical play at either end of the court.


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