OTR Hoops: Shaquan Worthy’s Battleground Finals Evals 7th & 8th – April 25, 2024

Shaquan Worthy’s Battleground Finals Evals 7th & 8th

By: Bilal Benjamin

Blaze Johnson | Atlanta Celtics | 2028 (Pictured)

Johnson is a southpaw guard that showed his true shooting ability in championship action against a well-coached Handlelife team. Burying threes both off the catch and off the bounce, Johnson did it at his own pace. He created good separation out of isolation situations and made good reads to pull up out of the pick and roll action. The guard wasn’t one dimensional as he also made some strong attacks to the basket where he finished well with either hand. His pace of play, shooting skills, and floor reading ability really stood out as he led his team to victory.

Peyton Easley | NME | 2028

One thing that every team needs is someone that can heat up in a heartbeat. Once Easley sees one go through the net, he’s liable to go on a run of his own. The combo was stellar when playing off the ball in championship action against AE5. He moved well without the ball, always showed his hands to receive the basketball and showed a high arcing, quick trigger to get his shots off. Easley took high percentage shots, and it came with success as he finished with a game high 14pts to go along with three triples.

Rardrecus Addison | Fusion | 2028 

Addison is a lighting quick guard that showed his ability to get up when finishing at the rim. The lefty guard was a problem on the break as he got out in the open floor well where he saw a ton of his success come from. He converted on a few tough acrobatic finishes in traffic against Team Forrest and used his quick hands to get steals and deflections. Addison’s defensive energy helped lead his team to a comfortable victory to conclude day two at the Battleground Session lll.

Amerjay Hunter | Jet Academy | 2029

Hunter is a very lanky forward that’s going to be an automatic double-double machine with the way he snatches down rebounds with ease. He seems to be still getting taller while also growing into his own on the basketball court. He’s quick off his feet allowing him to get extra finishing opportunities after a miss along with second chances for blocks as well. On the offensive end, Hunter showed good focus on his layups in traffic, out of the post, Hunter had his eyes on a swivel for guards digging in for steals, made rapid decisions and delivered some good kick out passes for open shots. It’s going to be interesting tracking the growth of Hunter over the summer.

Braylen Alexander | Team Scoot Black | 2029

Alexander was as aggressive of an attacker as they come. The two-way wing made it very tough in the open floor for guys to stop him from getting to the basket. Alexander showed good change of the direction dribbles to get defenders off balance, absorbed contact, showed some pretty good hang time and concentration when finishing at the rim. He was very huge down the stretch as he led Team Scoot with 19pts over ODS. On the other end of the floor, Alexander was very scrappy which forced a ton of turnovers that allowed Team Scoot to have their fast break opportunities. Alexander’s surely one to monitor moving forward.

CJ Jackson | FEA | 2029

Jackson was lights from behind the arc out all weekend long at the Battleground Session lll. Playing well within his team’s offense, not forcing action, and taking high quality shots is what allowed Jackson to have the success that he had. In one game, Jackson knocked down six threes as he finished with 20pts. With the ball in his hands, Jackson was very calm when handling the ball, kept things simple and moved the ball around very well. It was clear that Jackson is a student of the game with the way he moves with and without the ball. He’s most certainly a young athlete that I look forward to watching again.

David Whitaker | AE5 | 2029

Whitaker is the type of player that every coach loves to have. He provided pure energy and effort to his AE5 squad and took no plays off. Despite the loss to a hard playing Atlanta Xpress team, Whitaker was blocking shots from left and right, altering them in every way possible and he was always the first to react to loose ball opportunities when it was time to. Whitaker might not be the most skilled offensive player but with his athleticism, ability to finish around the basket and in traffic makes him a must have player. The growth of Whitaker’s game over the next few months is going to be very vital.

Kaden Mullins | Handlelife | 2029

First look at Kaden Mullens and the high IQ diminutive guard did not disappoint. He had his hands all over the game against a Team Scoot team that would not go away. From facilitating to scoring the basketball at all levels, Mullens did it well. He managed to take over the game as he buried more than a couple of threes, was perfect from the charity stripe and made sure his team got into the best sets to have overall success.  His 25pt performance at his size was one of the better performances over the weekend.

Shane Collins | Team Huncho | 2029

One of the biggest moments to look back on from the Battleground Session lll was a big-time game winner by Collins as he knocked down a heavily contested mid-range jump shot. He knew with the time left he couldn’t get all the way to the basket so he went as deep into the defense as he could and rose up. The tall forward has the two-way slasher ability as he was able to wiggle his way through the lane all weekend long. With his long arms, he had no problem finishing over defenders in traffic. Behind his big shot in the Elite 8, Team Hunch was able to leave champions.

Hezron Luyindula | Jet Academy | 2029

Luyindula was overly focused against a B Maze Elite squad that was able to withstand run after run. The lead guard did everything he could to put his team on his back assisting his teammates in their most comfortable spots, being the most vocal on the court on both ends and taking care of the basketball. Luyindula did all of those things well but turned heads when he went on 9-0 run of his own knocking down three straight threes. Despite the loss, Luyindula finished with a team high 18pts with five threes. Smart guard that knows how to run an offense.

Zack Derice | Handlelife | 2029

Derice showed a true ability to do it all on the basketball court for Handlelife. The wing rebounded the basketball at a high-level while being able to push the break and make plays for himself and others. Derice used his long arms to make finishing easier around the rim, he knocked down the open three ball and was an unselfish teammate. Defensively, Derice was doing what every coach would want in a wing. Properly providing weak side and strong side help when needed, coming away with steals or deflections and was one heck of a shot blocker as well. With a well-coached program, Derice’s game will only get better polished.

Tarrens Catul | Handlelife | 2029

Catul was another aggressive rebounder for Handlelife inside as he was all over the boards on both ends of the floor. Skying up and even winning the battles when they weren’t in his favor. The forward also did a good job at protecting his team’s basket by being a shot blocker but most times just altering shots. Offensively, Catul was a solid screen setter that rolled hard to the basket, showed good hands when catching the ball and a soft touch to finish around the rim. Catul also ran the floor hard on fast breaks making himself an outlet player. With the ball in his hands, Catul displayed an ability to make face up plays for himself as well.

Sam Merzius | Handlelife | 2029

Merzius is a fundamentally sound three-level scorer that showed his ability to play on the ball as a scorer and facilitator. He handled the ball well while using his body to get to his spots, he wasn’t easily sped up and controlled the pace of play when the ball was in his hands. Merzius moved well without the ball and was always shot ready. He was proficient from three while also thriving in the mid-range area as well. He also had some timely deliveries to his teammates when the ball was in his hands. The chemistry of Handlelife 2029 was a thing of beauty to watch and he was a big part of that.