OTR Birmingham Classic Standouts Part III – March 31, 2023

ALABSTER, ALABAMA, – Thompson High School served as the host location of the inaugural Birmingham Classic. Just a short drive south of the Steel City, the central location made it easy for teams across Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia to come and compete. Here is a third installment at prospects who caught our eye from the event.

By: Jonathan Hemingway

We got a look at one of a unique up and coming prospect Sunday morning. Class of 2026 Carson McKinney is a 6-foot-6 post player with touch and footwork. One day he might earn the nickname “The Dancing Bear” much like Omar Spellman did while he was in high school. McKinney is a big body, but he has nimbleness, body awareness, and the ability create separation for his shot. He hit fadeaway jumpers off of pivots when the double team came towards him. He also hit step back J’s in the pinch post while also showing the pick and pop 3-point jumper. McKinney piqued our curiosity, and we are anxious to see how he develops in future years. He plays for SMB 15U.

Class of 2026 guard Zialis Blackmon is one of the best freshman athletes we evaluated at the Birmingham Classic. He showed speed with the ball in his hands. He accelerated past defenders and scored in the lane with nice body control. Blackmon, playing with Magnolia Pressure 15U, has the potential to be grow into filling the point guard position. However, he will need to polish up his passing skills into flourish in the lead guard spot.

Class of 2025 forward Jeremiah Bowman showed promise while suiting up with AR Elite 16U. He is a rangy athlete who can crash the glass and provide defensive versatility. On the offensive end Bowman is coming into his own as a threat on the wing. He showed range on his 3-point jumper while also being able to put the ball on the floor to score when the defense closes out too tightly. Bowman looks to be about 6-5 and could stretch out another inch or two in the next year.

The Hawks Elite program looks to be stacked with talent starting with the 17U team down to their younger squads as well. We took note of class of 2025 point guard Braylon Patton on Sunday after a solid performance at Thompson High School. He is a crafty lead guard who uses his body well to shield off defenders from cutting off his path to the bucket. The junior has a nose for the scoring the ball and looks to be ready to get on the radar this spring and summer.

Class of 2024 point guard JJ Jeter zoomed past defenders on Sunday morning. The Rocket City Suns guard is terrific in the open court where he has space to maneuver and find angles to score. Jeter is break leader and gets himself to the free throw line, because defenders are late to protecting the basket. We watched him score 21 points and expect to see more of those type of games this year.

Jeter’s teammate, Jeremiah Gary, on the Rocket City Suns 17U team earned a spot in this recap as well. He is a 6-3 wing from Homewood, Alabama. Gary is a solid all-around player. We watched him score 18 points in a Sunday afternoon game, but we also took note of his ball skill, rebounding, and wiliness to distribute. The left-handed senior is a solid athlete as well, so we see upside for him as well.

There is a lot to like about class of 2024 wing-forward Clay Scofield from Team Speights. He is a 6-5 lefty who impacts the game inside and out. He hit the trail 3-pointer from well beyond the arc while also being able to finish through contact in the lane. Scofield has the outline of a player who could turn into a consistent contributor. We will be watching to see if he continues this trajectory.

Jonathan Hemingway has been a National Evaluator for On the Radar Hoops since 2013. He has been involved in the basketball community since 1995 as a coach, camp director and evaluator. You can reach him at JLHemingway@gmail.com and follow him on twitter @JL_Hemingway.