Our first peek at the Class of 2022 begins at the 8th Grade AAU Nationals, held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Clearly, every player’s game is still a work in progress at this stage as skills should improve and bodies will get taller as well as stronger in the next four years.
Greg Glenn, a 6’5 wing for the Nightrydas Elite, a combination of South Florida and Central Florida players, played well in the team’s big win Friday afternoon in their last game of pool play. Physically superior to 90+% of the players we’ve seen at the Nationals, Glenn has enough fundamental skills to be effective both on the perimeter as well as inside the lane. While his outside wasn’t going down (0-3 from distance), the form is good, which bodes well for the future. He dribbles and passes the ball adequately at this stage but will need to continue to improve in those areas as he prepares to play on the perimeter full-time on the high school level. A good athlete, he rebounds well at both ends and moves around the floor quickly and alertly on the defensive end.
Daniel Jean, a 5’10 guard for Team Swoop, was solid in his role of running the team. The lefty is quick with good speed when pushing the ball up the court. He too was active in the press had several deflections and a few steals. Because the contest was so up-tempo, there were few opportunities to watch Jean operate against a half-court defense. However, he did drop a nice pass for an assist on a pick-and-roll play at one point. Jean was a solid 2-4 from beyond the three-point line in the contest.
Jimel Lane, a 6’2 wing, was arguably the more skilled of a trio of long, tall athletic players for the Florida Lightning. Despite a bit of a low release on his shot, he went 3-3 from beyond the arc in the contest. A quick leaper, Lane often beat bigger opponents and teammates to rebounds. He covered a lot of ground quickly on defense and got a lot of tips and deflections because of it. Lane made a couple of nice passes on the move and his ball-handling abilities appear to be more than adequate at this stage of his development.
Emmanuel Sharp, a 6’2 forward for Skills Center Elite out of St. Pete had a good game on Thursday afternoon. With a big frame that should tone up in the coming years, Sharp knows how to use his size when driving to the basket as well as when pursuing rebounds at both ends of the court. He has good mechanics on his shot and proved to be a solid shooter out to the three-point line. Sharp also was a solid passer both on the move along the perimeter and from the post.
Kevin Pazmino, a 6’1 wing for Team Swoop out of Fort Lauderdale, did a little bit of everything for the club in a pair of wins Thursday night. He was quite effective in the press, showing good instincts for where to be before the ball arrived. Pazmino was quick to grab turnovers or rebounds and push the ball up the floor and find teammates for shot opportunities. He completed a tough finish in traffic early in the contest and later knocked in a pair of jumpers from distance and look solid doing so.
Levertis Williams, a 6’2 wing for the Florida Lightning out of Miami, was solid in his overall play on Thursday night. He seemed to do a little bit of everything, from making jump shots out to the arc, grabbing defensive rebounds and pushing the pace, anticipating bad passes in the press, and simply making a lot of hustle plays. Williams didn’t “wow” as an athlete, but he did put down a dunk in transition and demonstrated that being a smart basketball player makes as much if not more of an impact as being a gifted athlete.
Demari Henderson, a 6’0 guard out of Sanford Seminole was another standout for the Nightrydas. With his twin brother sideline with a minor ankle injury, it was much easier to get an initial read on his potential. Henderson proved to be a solid shooter from beyond the arc, going 3-5 during his time in the game. He also was quite effective in finding open teammates after steals, in transition, and when driving against a set defense. Defensively he’s a good on-ball defender and a pretty good rebounder from the backcourt.