Sweet Sixteen Session 1 – Full-Court Guards
ATLANTA, GA – With a large part of our staff hovering around some high-quality action at Next Play 360, for OTR’s massive Sweet Sixteen Session 1 I took in some action from the outer gyms, and as is my want uncovered plenty of guys and teams that can play.
It seems all of our tournaments possess deep guard fields, and the live period brought out more in Atlanta, some guys who got it done at both ends included:
By: Keith Agran
Spent last season playing with Prep program CBA on the south side of ATL so he was out of the limelight a bit but he impressed immediately for Flame, the speed with the ball up the floor and physicality at the point of attack were noticeable and weapons he utilized with aplomb, his prior history as a member of Team Huncho in 2022 suggests his level of play was attractive going back a year ago and I can see why after seeing him up close, that speed is an obvious asset on defense and if he gets spotted by coaches in the gym there to watch other guys he should make an impression.
Wisely can use this travel season to show off what a good prospect he can be at the point position after ceding those duties to Promise and South Gwinnett teammate Justin Redmond in past seasons, but he can totally fill that role as like all SGHS guys he’s well-drilled and knows a good scoring chance from an assist waiting to happen, defends the full 94 feet as again Promis and SGHS is know for, and on the scoring front for a guy around 6-0 he can really put it in the hole and sets up as a potential underappreciated gem among the unsigned 2023s.
Always enjoy watching TBE as they bring sterling athletes from FL and you seemingly always uncover one or more interesting guys, Smathers is surrounded by a bunch of high-flying and quick athletes but it was his sound play and willingness to meld with the group that stood out, found his way to great spots to capitalize on O and was a hard worker at both ends defending and on the glass, good frame and size for the next level as he handled the ball, rebounded from the backcourt and scored from all over the court.
Unselfish floor leader whose first move off the catch was always to have his head up, made some stellar feeds on the break and in the halfcourt and controlled the pace well, in the scoring column he was solid and comfortable from all levels with a good jumper and has some beef to get downhill at the rim, heady defender who leads the charge verbally at both ends of the floor.
Good looking group for the Gamechangers with guys like Isaiah and Caleb Cameron of Wilson Academy and Jamarcus Hacther of Columbia also making impressions, Ryan was assertive and effective as a scorer with good size for a small college 2-man and really good instincts on the glass and as a defender, not going to overwhelm you with verticality or showmanship but the Dunwoody HS product will impress you with his basketball acumen and team play.
Looks like a college football strong safety out there and showed off one of the prettiest strokes I saw all weekend, he’s crafty in how he navigates the arc and gets his shot off fast, can play some lead guard or rush the basket with that stout frame and to me he sets up well as a burly and contact absorbing Pg at the next level, willing passer and decisions are crisp and precise, has the look of a college-ready guy both intellectually and physically.
One of my absolute favorite guards in the 2024 class from outside the immediate ATL-Metro, he puts the under 6-foot argument quickly to shame because of all the things he does well and how hard he plays every possession, an ace defender on the ball and a fearless driver there just isn’t a ton not to like on the court as he can really shoot it and is far from a ballhog in a lead role even though he scores it at a high clip, if he was 6-2 he has the natural ability to be ranked a lot higher and is worth a look for sure for Jucosd and NAIA’s looking for an energizer and all day worker.
— Aj (@Ajj_horton) April 23, 2023
AJ Horton | G | 2024 | Game Elite Blue
Have seen Horton in a wide variety of settings and the size at 6-4 together with the multi-faceted ability at either guard spot always intrigues, can go on some scoring runs with a package of physical dribble drives and launches from beyond the arc, I like him as a PG because he’s got solid instincts and those extra few inches and good vision can be a real weapon, should pick up eyeballs this summer if he keeps up this pace leading to a senior where his role could be amplified across the floor.
Earl Murray IV | G | 2024 | Swift Sports Only (pictured at top)
Really popped as a floor leader and true point man on Friday night, his Swift Sports crew had multiple guys who caught the attention of our scouts, he was both fiery and a cool customer as the fire part got his team going and kept them high while the coolness was the basketball side of things where he was carving up the defense and running the break just like you want a PG to do, defended and got his hands on a lot, good-looking Florida backcourt prospect.
Seeing guys like recent signees Zyere Edwards, Tayden Owens and Jeremiah Holloway for example who too dealt with the size question come off the board shows you can stay the course at 6-0 and under and be a valuable commodity, Arnold is in that vain and is such a stellar defender he can bank on that alone trait to me, but adds offense from either guard spot that does translate well much like the guys mentioned above, you’ve got to be willing to take a chance on a guy sometimes and Arnold has always stood out on the floor to me be it at Salem or among the always fun to watch group of Promise guards.
I’ve been able to follow MU for many years as they played with Prep Hoops and I enjoy seeing their underrated guys come through OTR and generally impress, Lewis is part of a multi-headed group of guards of varying sizes like Elijah White and Christian Rankin who all can handle it and be scoring options, power-packed and low to the ground as Lewis may be he’s a deadeye shooter who was on target from distance, with the ball he was up the floor and looking for the best option each time and was an easy choice as top 2 or 3 on-ball defenders I saw all weekend.
Last summer it was Douglas County and Bouye teammate Khalil Racine who popped on the OTR stage and this past weekend Richards really showed out, a smooth scorer who cruised up and down the floor and got to the hole with a glide and control I really liked, didn’t force a thing but when he got the hot hand he took advantage and rode it, Bouye shares the ball so well and guards like Racine and Kory Young set up alongside Richards as interesting guys to watch as well the rest of this travel season.
Keith Agran has lived in Georgia since 2011 and joined OTR as a National Evaluator in 2021. He previously scouted for Prep Hoops dating back to 2019, and also spent 3 years as a sports writer at two newspapers in New Jersey. After a championship-coaching background on the HS-level also in NJ, he accepted the Girl’s Basketball Head Coaching position in May 2022 at Mt Bethel Christian Academy and now balances scouting and coaching still with a keen eye on talent around the region. You can reach him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @BracketSage.
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