OTR The Opening Upperclassmen Standouts Part II – March 23, 2023

WOODSTOCK, Georgia, – On the Radar Hoops hosted The Opening at five different facilities in the Cobb-Cherokee County area last weekend. Travel teams from several different states made the commitment to compete and be seen at this event. Here is a recap of notable upperclassman that we evaluated on Saturday at Woodstock High School.

By: Jonathan Hemingway

Class of 2024 point guard Shaun Smith got it going early for H.Y.P.E. Hawks at The Opening. He hits jumpers behind the ball screen and is equally adept at making plays off the dribble. Smith’s shot making ability sets up the rest of his game. When he gets his rhythm dribble and a little space, he can punish defenses for not playing over the top of the screen.

Team Dickerson Green wing-forward Xander Booker is a name you should earmark for the coming travel season. The 6-foot-6 prospect does a good job on the glass and showed some versatility with a face-up game on the offensive end. He willingness to battle and scrap for interior buckets shows the type of competitiveness you like to see out of frontline player as well. Booker, a Connecticut native, attends South Kent High School.

Jonathan McBride with Trench Hope made an impact at The Opening last weekend. He mixed it up with the combination of 3-point jumpers and rim attacks off the dribble. The point guard is not afraid of contact and will make plays in traffic. We watched him put up 26 points in an early morning win to kick off the day.

The Atlanta Celtics have a wing in Langston Boyd who projects to be one of their most consistent performers this spring. The 6-5 lefty is built for contact. The junior prospect can dish it out as well as he can play through it. He is great in the downhill attack from the top of the key particularly when defenders have to make a long close out on him. He closes the space quickly, initiates the contact, and scores through any attempts of curving his attack. Boyd is a North Carolina native that played for Cox Mill High School last season.

The game of basketball once hinged upon the true floor general point guard. Today, the game favors lead guards with a score first mentality. Ryan Williams with Wood Elite reminds us of those vintage point guards whose job it was to get others involved in the offense. It is not that Williams cannot get his own shot, but instead he uses his quickness, ball skill, and vision to set up his teammates rather than be a volume shooter. There is still a spot for that in the modern game particularly as teams spread the floor and put shooters at various spots along the arc. We like the 2024 North Paulding product and believe he should be tracked this spring.

We came away impressed with the game of Will Kuimjian of the Atlanta Timberwolves in their match-up with Wood Elite. While the Timberwolves did not have the depth that Wood Elite had, Kuimjian made a name for himself as an all-around competitor. He scored 16 points in the game, but his impact was made in every facet of the game for the Timberwolves. He defended Wood Elite’s Chase Tyler and made him earn the buckets he got. The 2024 guard also acted as a lead playmaker for his team and set up teammates for easy looks. The 6-2 prospect will not be at the top of any list in terms of raw athleticism, but he ought to be in terms of competitiveness, skill, and game acumen.

I have written about Elijah Lewis a few times over the past year. The junior guard earned more praise this tournament with Team Forrest at The Opening. The 2024 combo guard will be overlooked by many because of his size and perhaps his slight stature. One cannot overlook his production, however. He continues to put up double digit points in each outing that we watch him. Lewis often plays on the wing. This allows him the freedom to work off screens and find the cracks in the defense to score. Catch Lewis this spring with Team Forrest on the circuit.

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.