Military Circuit Standout Underclassmen

We began with the Available 2021 Starting 5, and although the Military Circuit was filled with available post-grads and seniors, there were also mor than a few guys who still have some time to go in HS that left a lasting impression at the event. Size, skill, and athleticism are all in this group of underclassmen who proved they could hold their own against the older prospects and help their teams. Let’s take a look at 10 2022 & 2023 guys who produced at the Military Circuit.

6’4” G Maki Johnson (2023/WV Elite)

Johnson got off to a bit of a slow start at the Military Circuit but made 2 late 3’s in WV Elite’s 1st game and then carried that momentum into a 23-point showing in Game 2 with 7 deep ones. You won’t think Johnson is a sophomore when you first look at him; he’s a sturdy 6’4” who’s already well-developed physically. He has a sweet stroke that’s in range from almost anywhere and although he is a marksman from deep, you won’t see him take many ill-advised or contested looks. He brings a competitive fire and once he started lighting it up in WV’s 2nd game, you could tell his team’s energy picked up as well. Johnson uses his shooting prowess to set up opportunities off the bounce, where he makes good decisions and crisp passes. The offers have already started rolling in for him and he’s considered to be Top 50 in 2023 early on; he’s deserving and I’m excited to track how he continues to add to his game.

6’0” PG Kanye Clary (2022/Massanutten Military)

It was a difficult task for opposing defenses to stay in front of Clary in both of his games on the weekend; the aggressive lefty broke down defenders and was determined to get what he wanted on his way to an average of 25 PPG in 2 games. He gives up height in most situations around the basket but has good dexterity, adjusts well, and finds angles to convert among length. He’s best getting downhill with combo moves and change of pace, but he’ll keep you honest with his jumper as well. I liked how he wanted the ball in his hands in big moments and when the game was tight in the 2nd half, he stayed in attack mode and while scoring was what he had to do during the weekend, he’s a pretty good passer too. His ability to manufacture offense and penetrate the defense consistently already has him as a popular recruit. He’s in a good situation at Massanutten to be a main guy and keep progressing.

6’10” PF/C Brandon White (2022/Winston-Salem Christian HS)

We’ve talked about some other guys in this article who are physical forces, but I think White might have been the most intimidating paint enforcer at the event. His reputation comes as a rim-protector first and he had some of his usual moments contesting shots, but a lot of the time offensive players wouldn’t even try to put up an attempt when he was in the area. What kept popping up and impressing me with White was his tenacity as a finisher. He had bad intentions almost every time he was in the lane and converted on multiple contact finishes in his 2 games. White looks to go through defenders at the rim and did with 2 different poster dunks with multiple defenders around him. He has a really big body with long arms and knows who he is both sides of the ball. He has already pulled in a plethora of big offers and I wouldn’t be surprised if UNC becomes a serious option for him within the next year. The Tar Heel staff is already in constant contact and he fits their type of big.

6’0” PG Kaden Warner (2022/Beckley Prep IJN)

Another guard who’s a bit smaller but explosive offensively, Warner made his mark with perimeter shooting during the weekend and averaged 20.5 PPG with 9 made 3’s in IJN’s 2 contests. He got hot right off the bat in both games, showing his versatile shot-making from multiple levels. Warner has a quick trigger from deep that he shoots with simple form and nice touch, he also has some mid-range ability off the dribble. He’s quick with the ball, has a creative handle, and showed off some impressive vision at different points during the weekend. I really appreciated the energy and passion Warner brought to the floor; you can tell he just loves being out there and competing. He was vocal and brought activity on defense that ignited opportunities for his team, which adds a lot of value alongside his scoring ability. His recruitment should be a healthy one this travel season.

6’7” F Kyrese Mullen (2022/Massanutten Military)

I don’t think anyone at the event fit the modern-day forward mold as well as Mullen did for Massanutten. He connected on 5 3’s in 2 games and averaged 13 PPG to go along with 11.5 RPG on the weekend. Although he is a capable floor-stretcher at 6’7”, he doesn’t fall in love with the 3 and neglect interior work, which you like to see. That balance is even more important considering the big, wide body that Mullen possesses that can give opponents problems down low. He can bang, carve out space, and get right to the basket to finish or draw fouls. He’s also a better leaper than you mat expect for a guy his size and gives good effort & uses his body to rebound effectively too. His inside-out game and physical nature will attract more schools this spring.

6’4” CG Quante Berry (2022/Winston-Salem Christian HS)

A slithery 6’4” guard who is skilled and has feel, Berry was a matchup problem for teams at the Military Circuit. He averaged 16.5 PPG, 6 APG, and 3.5 SPG on the weekend for a really talented Winston-Salem group. It started with his 2nd half showing on Day 1, as he took the game into his hands and got what he wanted as WSCS won 72-60. Berry has a good understanding of how to use his length when working his way through traffic with good extension at different angles inside. I was really impressed with his in-between game as he hit a variety of floaters and push shots before getting to shot-blockers. His size & length are assets defensively too as he gets in passing lanes constantly and can bother smaller guards. His scoring & creativity with the ball are most attractive but I though Berry showed good vision & unselfishness once defenses started to key in on him and throw more help at him. He could possibly be a full-time PG in time, which is hard to find at 6’4”. Great weekend for him overall.

6’8” PF Jerome Beya (2022/WV Elite)

Beya had some wow moments during the weekend with his explosive athletic ability at 6’8”, but also proved to be more than just an athlete. He let his offensive opportunities come to him, and when they did come, they were usually loud. Beya gets way above the rim and does so quickly to throw down powerful dunks, proving to be a great lob target for WV Elite. He was also serviceable on the left block as he was patient and methodical when backing guys down and made good decisions both scoring & passing the ball. I loved his aggression as a shot-blocker as well; he had a few where he seemingly came out of nowhere to emphatically erase what would have otherwise been an easy 2 for the opposition. The fact that he plays hard and makes the most of his athleticism makes him very appealing, adding in his promise skill-wise is why high-major programs are hot on his trail.

6’9” PF James Okonkwo (2023/Beckley Prep IJN)

Although a year younger, Okonkwo is fairly similar to Beya in the athleticism category. He’s an explosive leaper and had some flashes during the weekend that you won’t see too often from 6’9” sophomores. Growing into his body isn’t a problem; Okonkwo runs well with long strides and is bouncy off of 1 or 2 feet. He has great length, is already decently strong/physical and stays active & on his toes on the defensive end. While going against HM bigs in both games and not being a primary offensive option, Okonkwo averaged 8 PPG & 7.5 RPG. He even stepped out and knocked down a corner 3 in the 2nd half against Liberty Heights that didn’t look bad. With his combination of physical traits and what his skillset could become when it’s all put together, Okonkwo will be a heavily recruited forward, and should probably have more than just a Montana State offer right now even though it’s early for 2023’s.

6’3” PG Elijah Jamison (2022/Liberty Heights)

It was a successful weekend for Liberty Heights as a team and for Jamison individually as they went 2-0 and he picked up an offer from East Carolina after their staff watched him at the event. Jamison has a mature, toned body and it fits his game. He plays with control & balance off the dribble, finding his mid-range spots well or getting all the way to the basket even through contact. His 1st game of the weekend was particularly good, taking what the defense gave him to lead Liberty Heights with 15 points in a tight 51-46 win. He’s been steady all 3 times I’ve watched him this season and consistency is important. I’d expect ECU to be a significant player for him but Jamison already has his fair share of college options and is sure to gain more.

6’8” PF Elijah Jones (2022/Mt. Zion)

Mt. Zion gave IMG all they could on Day 2 of the Military Circuit, and Jones was a big part in that as he did not back down at all while having to face IMG’s highly-touted bigs. He has a thick body but moves pretty well with it and can get up off the floor. He finishes quickly and without hesitation, has touch in the paint, and uses his body to create initial contact so he can get a little separation in the middle of the lane. The combination of all those traits allowed him to have early success against the IMG trees and once he got a few to drop, he took advantage whenever an opportunity presented itself. He’s a guy I want to see again after a very encouraging 16-point performance with as good as you can ask for opposite of him.

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