Last weekend we had 2 more opening tournaments in the Atlanta area; the RYZE Hoops Tip-Off and the HoopSeen Tip-Off. Both brought a variety of local and out-of-state teams that had prospects for all levels. In this first piece, we’ll look at a few new players who caught my attention, and some short thoughts on guys I’ve been able to see on multiple occasions.
2022 PG Bobby Taylor (Upward Stars Rudy)- With true PG’s being rare in today’s game, I enjoyed watching how Taylor ran the show for his Upward team with a pass-first approach on Friday night. He changes speeds well, dictates pace, and uses his thick body to his advantage. Taylor made a handful of impressive passes from different angles and saw things develop that you wouldn’t expect, even surprising his teammates at times. Although he’s unselfish, Taylor also does a good job of connecting on pull-up jumpers when the defense gives him space off of ball-screens. I liked how he took the game into his own hands in the 2nd half of Upward’s matchup with CP25; he created scoring opportunities consistently in the tight contest. D2 programs will want to start paying attention to him throughout the spring.
2022 G Ketron Shaw (PSB Elite Lowery)- It doesn’t take long for Shaw to catch your attention with his combination of athleticism and fearlessness attacking the basket. He had a few moments in the 1st half on Saturday night, but took things to a different level in the 2nd half after coming out of a halftime with a big traffic dunk. Once that play got him going, he was a constant factor at the rim. Whether it was Shaw slashing to the hole himself or flying in for an offensive rebound, there wasn’t much that could be done to stop him as he possesses quick leaping ability and good dexterity inside. His athletic ability extends to the defensive side of the ball as well; Shaw reacts quickly and can rack up a bunch of steals & deflections. He finished with 24 points against the Atlanta Timberwolves and kept it up throughout the weekend, averaging close to 20 PPG.
2022 PG Tremaine Dixon (CP25)- In a similar mold as Taylor except with more of a scoring mentality, Dixon was the leader of his team in both CP25 wins I watched at the HoopSeen Tip-Off, including one over Garner Road to finish the tournament. He averaged 18.5 PPG in those 2 victories and I felt like he played a clear leadership role for his team, setting the tone with his aggression and toughness. Although he gives up height frequently, Dixon makes up for it with range on his outside shot and a strong, defined upper body when penetrating. He was able to get downhill in the halfcourt on a regular basis and made things happen in transition often with impressive speed. His teammates are kept happy too as Dixon will dish out when he draws help defenders. Overall, there was a level of determination and competitiveness that I think helped Dixon make a big impact in helping CP25 go 3-1 on the weekend.
2023 W Michael Mora & 2023 PG Silas Demary (Team Curry)- Curry’s 2023 group features some guys I had seen in the past who produced last weekend, but Mora & Demary were new names who made a good impression. Demary is a new member of the 2023 class, recently announcing that he will be reclassifying. He is a PG with size and a pretty well-rounded game. Against Game Elite, he consistently got in the paint, found mid-range opportunities, and was solid defensively. After scoring well in the 1st half, Demary got others involved on drive & kick looks once the defense put more focus on him. Mora rose to the occasion after halftime Curry, becoming more aggressive as the 2nd half went along. A sturdy 6’5” wing, Mora can shoot over defenders but also has the body to be effective as a finisher. He almost converted on a poster dunk on a bigger defender and broke another guy down off the bounce into an up & under layup in addition to his 2 3-pointers in the half. Their team has pieces at every position and will be a tough out for any opponent they face the next few months.
2024 F William Jobe (Team Dickerson)- Given our current recruiting climate, you won’t see me highlighting 2024 guys as much this spring/summer. However, the tools that Jobe has displayed have me really excited for his future. He’s a legit 6’8”, might still be growing, and already sports a reliable 3-point shot that comes off his hand nicely. He’s light on his feet and runs well for a tall freshman, is able to operate from the wing or on the block, and seems to understand the game. His dad played collegiately as well. Being down at Frederica Academy in St. Simons it’ll be easy for Jobe to go overlooked the next few years, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on him because he could turn into a special prospect.
2022 SG Keith Robbins (Team Dickerson)- Robbins is taking every opportunity this spring to regain some of the attention he garnered around this time last year. He did it at the Spring Warmup, he did it at The Opening, and did it again at the RYZE Tip-Off. I watched Dickerson’s game against AC Georgia, where he scored 21 points in a blowout win. I’m not sure there’s a player in the state that’s playing with the level of confidence that he is. Robbins has enhanced his shooting ability since the winter and when you add that to his size and other traits, you have a guy whose offer list should be growing soon.
Atlanta Timberwolves Green
This Timberwolves group put together a 3-1 weekend at RYZE and are made up of numerous sleepers who are starting the spring well. Jake Mooney and Gabe Keene both man the forward spots for them but can also stretch the floor. Mooney has a big body and knows how to use it, Keene is a quick leaper who has some impressive moments above the rim. Caleb Lesch had a breakout weekend as he led the team in scoring with his sweet outside shot and Ethan Underwood is proving that he can distribute & run the team to add to his 3-point shooting.
2022 G Samaad Wright (PSB Elite Lowery)- When I watched Wright last year with PSB, he had some electric performances with big scoring outputs, and he didn’t disappoint to start this travel season. Similar to those games last summer, the defense had difficulty staying in front him when he attacked off the dribble. Although he’s small, Wright is quick, aggressive, and understands how to get good looks. He makes sure that his height disadvantage is negated as much as possible by utilizing a package of floaters in space from 8-10 feet before approaching shot-blockers. It also looks like his outside shot has some added proficiency, which kept opponents guessing. With him and KJ Shaw in the backcourt, PSB will have an entertaining duo to watch the rest of the summer.