OTR Hoops: Sweet 16 – Day 1 Top Performers (Sandy) – May 20, 2024

Sweet 16: Day 1 Top Performers

By: Kyle Sandy

2024 6-1 G Keelin Malone – Team Chuck Person White – Next Level Academy (Pictured)

The tone-setter in a 64-59 win over the Wellington Wolves, Keelin Malone was all over the floor making plays on Friday night. The unsigned senior thrived as a two-way difference maker. Malone plays with steady energy and makes it a point to get up and defend. His quick instincts allow him to predict which way ball handlers want to go and can cut them off and swipe steals on the perimeter. Offensively, Keelin poured in points but also served as the team’s go-to decision maker with the ball. The fundamentally sound distributor puts his bounce passes on the money to lead teammates to easy layups. Malone sees the floor as a skip passer as well. When hunting his own offense, Keelin scores with both hands downhill and is a dangerous three-point shooter that can pull-up without hesitation. Malone compiled 18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 9 steals while sinking three three-pointers.

2024 6-2 G Joseph Sonson – Team Chuck Person White – Wilson Academy

The effort of Sonson was the deciding factor in the second half as he made play after play down the stretch. Joseph posted 17 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks, doing his dirty work in the paint outworking bigger opponents. Sonson patiently finished around the basket, letting defenders fly by before going up for shots in traffic. Joseph’s big guard mentality was on display in the second half as he put his head down and came away with two crucial And-1 drives to keep Team Chuck Person in front. Joseph’s activity and athleticism caught opponents off guard with how he was able to protect the rim at just 6-foot-2. Sonson’s toughness and aggressiveness are hard to match.

2025 6-5 W Justin Bauer – Wellington Wolves – Dr. Joaquin Garcia

During a stretch of the second half against Team Chuck Person, Justin Bauer scored 10-straight points as he dominated in the paint. After a scoreless first half, Bauer finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds. The swingman got aggressive off the bounce, attacking the hoop for a pair of And-1s to spark his offense. After that, sensing a size advantage, Justin crashed the offensive glass and scored on three putbacks. Bauer’s activity inside led to multiple free throw attempts, shooting 4-6. Bauer has inside-out versatility especially if his three-point shot becomes a more consistent factor in his game.

2026 5-10 PG Denilson Torres – North Atlanta Orangemen – Norcross

In the best game of the night, Denilson Torres didn’t shy away from the moment, cashing in on a three at the buzzer to force overtime before the North Atlanta Orangemen eventually outlasted Team IBA 56-54. Before nailing his game-tyer, Torres had been effective scoring at the rim with three transition layups. Torres cut off a post entry feed for another bucket as he totaled 11 points, 1 assist and 4 steals.

2025 6-5 F Nigel Gist – North Atlanta Orangemen – Collins Hill

Nigel’s diverse offensive attack helped the North Atlanta Orangemen to victory. At 6-foot-5, Gist has a strong frame. He plays in the post, throwing his weight around to score through contact and grab rebounds. When he got post touches, he found cutters for layups. Gist stretched out the floor with a straightaway three and was a stingy interior defender. Gist finished with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Nigel’s combo-forward skillset and overall physicality in the paint give him value moving forward.

2025 6-6 F Gerkari Stegall – Team IBA – Westlake

Gerkari caught my eye right away. He’s a long, lean forward with a nose for the ball. Even though he doesn’t have as much mass as some other posts, Stegall has functional strength. He was a monster on the glass against the North Atlanta Orangemen, double-doubling with 12 points, 22 rebounds, 1 steal and 3 blocks. Stegall grabs rebounds at their highest point in traffic and has a soft touch around the basket. He moves well without the ball, looking for crevices in the defense to flash to.  Keep an eye on Stegall as he enters his senior season as a sleeper prospect.

2025 6-4 G Kobi Cooper – Mike Dean Athletics – Dalton

Kobi Cooper is an interesting player. He’s a toolsy guard that can play nearly every position on the floor. His energy allows him to do a little bit of everything. He gets on the glass, can make plays off the bounce and sees the floor well as a facilitator. Defensively, he’s a gem with his wingspan and mobility. He can help alter shots around the rim but also limit penetration and deny entry passes when guarding on the wing. Kobi plays with pace and is comfortable changing speeds, throttling back on his eurosteps to let defenders fly out of place. Cooper collected 10 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 1 block in a 65-50 win over 904 Elite. Kobi’s a valuable chess piece for a coach to have at their disposal.

2026 6-4 G Darnell Collins – Mike Dean Athletics – Rome

The 6-foot-4 wide receiver showcases his ball skills on the hardwood. Collins has great size at the guard position. The big guard is tough in transition, both able to go coast-to-coast as a slasher and also spark fastbreaks with his outlet passing. As many of MDA’s backcourt members are, Collins has positional versatility. His athleticism allows him to guard inside and out. Darnell racked up 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 blocks in the win.

2025 6-1 G Isaiah Ibok – Southern Stars Elite – Centennial

Isaiah nearly willed the Southern Stars to victory by himself in a 61-52 loss exploding for 31 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 4 steals while shooting 11-11 from the foul line. Ibok is powerful guard with great strength. He uses his burly upper body to bump opponents out of the way when scoring inside. Isaiah’s aggressiveness is seen on the backboards, attacking offensive rebounds for putbacks. Ibok is a foxhole guy – he’s the type of player you want to go to war with.

2025 5-10 G Watson Eloi – Lake Worth Pride – Somerset Academy

Watson paced a balanced attack Friday night, scoring 12 points. He is a physically strong guard that can muscle his way to the rim or open up the floor with his jumper. He sank a pair of threes, scored on two putbacks and had a basket in transition. Eloi utilized a one-dribble sidestep to clear himself of defenders when knocking down threes.