05 Dec 2023

Notables From The Nike EYBL Scholastic Sunshine Classic

Lots of quality basketball from this past weekend at the Nike EYBL Scholastic Sunshine Classic.

Robert Wright, III, Montverde Academy: A 6’0 senior from Philadelphia and headed to Baylor, Wright was extremely impressive with his speed, quickness, and decision-making with the basketball.  He gets into and thru the tiniest cracks in the defense, scores over taller defenders and finds open players quickly for quality shots.  Wright also put in solid work on the defensive end, moving his feet, staying in front of the ball-handler, and disrupting the passing lanes.

Derik Queen, Montverde Academy: A 6’10 senior from Maryland that has yet to make his collegiate decision, it isn’t just the fact that he puts up double-doubles like healthy people breathe; its how he does it.  He has great hands and instincts for rebounding at both ends and gets plenty of points off putbacks.  Queen is also a highly skilled back-to-the-basket scorer with multiple moves and counter-moves.  He is an under-rated passer and driver for scores.  Queen may not be an intimidating shot-blocker/shot-changer, but he understands positioning, plays physical without fouling and moves his feet well on the perimeter.

Darius Acuff, IMG Academy: A 6’2 junior from Detroit, he is arguably the most important player on the Ascenders’ roster.  He gets into the lane, disrupts and collapses defenses, and finds crafty ways to score.  Acuff’s perimeter shot didn’t fall against Montverde but he has good form and will be a weapon sooner rather than later.  He runs the pick-and-roll well, makes good reads and reacts quickly to what the defense gives him.  As Acuff adjusts to this level, his status will ascend.

Donovan Freeman, IMG Academy: A 6’9 senior from Maryland headed to Syracuse, Freeman has the look of a player ready to contribute right away at the next level.  He has a lithe, wiry frame, is highly athletic, and knows how to take advantage of those qualities.  Freeman scores well around the basket and showed his versatility by stepping out and draining a three.  He is quick off the floor for rebounds and blocks.  Freeman does a good job of defending smaller players out on the perimeter if forced to switch.

Elijah Elliott, Sunrise Christian: A 6’3 senior from Orlando, Elliott put up a solid stat line against Brewster with 7 points, 4 assists, 6 steals, and just 1 turnover.  He spent time both on and off the ball and seemed comfortable in either role.  Elliott looks to attack the basket, draw contact, and get to the foul line.  He defends with great effort and anticipates the passing lanes as well as the opponent’s dribble.  Elliott had several nice passes to cutters for baskets after penetrating the defense, showing solid court vision and awareness.

Caleb Williams, Sunrise Christian: a 6’5 junior from Riverview near Tampa, Williams had a wildly efficient game against Brewster, going 7-10 from the field and finishing with 14 points, 4 rebounds, and a steal.  He wasn’t at all afraid of the moment and looked very comfortable playing at this level.  Williams has good form and release on his shot, the athleticism to finish over the rim, and solid fundamentals.  As he gets stronger and more athletic with physical maturity, look for him to make an even greater impact.

Dwayne Aristode, Brewster Academy: A 6’7 junior, Aristode caught everyone’s attention in the first quarter against Sunrise as he scored on a swift and sudden baseline drive, exploded off the court to put back a miss, and later drained an open three in transition.  He is very bouncy and made of quick-twitch muscle.  Aristode works hard at both ends, is active on the glass, and can guard inside and out.  There is some work to do when it comes to consistency and decision-making but that will come with more game experience.  No doubt he is a player to watch in the Class of 2025.

Sebastian Wilkins, Brewster Academy: A 6’7 sophomore, Wilkins physical makeup and gifts are very similar to teammate Aristode but right now he is more of an interior player, which isn’t a bad thing.  He will be remembered for an absolutely soul-crushing putback jam during the contest against Sunrise.  Wilkins did hit 1-2 three-point shots on his way to 11 points, showing promise for future perimeter development.  He has a high ceiling but also a high ground floor from which to start.

Randy Smith, Miami Columbus: A 6’3 senior, Smith had a somewhat redemptive game compared to his performance against Prolific Prep in the Explorers’ home opener on ESPNU.  He was more composed and efficient as Smith finished with ten points including 2-5 from behind the arc, dishing out two assists to just one turnover. Smith is a strong and athletic guard that likes to play at a fast pace.  He is solid on the defensive end with quick feet and active hands.  Smith has the skills and physical traits to play on the D-I level.  Admittedly, we’ve been a fan of Smith’s since he dropped 42 points in an FABC Team Camp game the summer of 2022.  No doubt Smith could be a scoring star in another program but his willingness to take a lesser role in order to get out in front of more college coaches should yield positive results.

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