The Exposure Breakout last weekend in Atlanta featured a plethora of Adidas 3SSB programs. There were lots of good battles with teams from different regions along with some regional matchups for bragging rights. Here I go over some of the 2022 & 2023 prospects who made their mark at LakePoint.
6’9” PF Zach Keller & 6’9” PF Jaxon Kohler (Utah Prospects)
The Prospects only brought 7 guys to Atlanta, but Keller and Kohler both came prepared to carry a heavy load for their team, and did so successfully. Keller saw his stock rise as much as anyone in the entire event, pulling in offers from Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, and Utah State shortly after the weekend. I first watched him back in July of 2019 but with his location and covid, I haven’t been able to see Keller since. He didn’t waste any time reminding me why I liked him back then. He brings a rugged, no-nonsense style that you have to appreciate. Constant effort on the glass and physical finishes were big parts of his game, but he also has a solid skillset with shooting potential, touch inside, and good feel & decision-making in the paint. Keller is able to play above the rim, finishes quickly, and makes winning hustle plays.
As for Kohler, he is a nice complement to Keller on the interior. While not as physical or athletic, he possesses some of the best footwork and fundamentals in the post that you’ll see. His skill on the block helps to offset any disadvantages he may have in the athleticism category. He was a reliable double-double threat throughout the weekend for the Prospects, and similar to Keller, he played with a high motor and consistently did the dirty work for their team. Utah State and Texas Tech also offered him this week.
6’11” 2023 C DK Manyiel (Team Forrest 16U)
It hasn’t taken long for Manyiel to create a lot of talk within Georgia as a 6’11” underclassman with impressive shot-making ability. College coaches caught on earlier in April as he brought in offers from Vanderbilt, UAB, and Old Dominion, and Manyiel hasn’t taken his foot off the gas. I checked out the Team Forrest 16U group to start the day Saturday morning and he was on triple-double watch with blocks. Manyiel is very agile and light on his feet for such a tall prospect and is ultra-confident offensively. Once he saw his 1st shot go in, he went on a tear, scoring 11 straight for Forrest. He’s able to hit shots off the dribble from both 3 and mid-range, operates well from the elbow, and gets over his right shoulder for lefty hooks easily against smaller defenders. He also has really good hands that help him both offensively and defensively. With those hands and long arms, he can erase team defensive mistakes by swatting away shots that most can’t. As he matures and becomes more disciplined, Manyiel will be even more special of a prospect.
The opposition was no match for Indiana Elite in their afternoon game on Saturday. Connor Essegian, Will Lovings-Watts, Jayden Brewer, and Zek Montgomery led the charge and all had good moments.
Essegian was the high scorer with 20 points; he hit 4 3’s with good range and a quick release, but is also effective and confident attacking into pull-ups or finishes at the basket. He has a strong body, rebounds well, and rarely makes mistakes. Belmont offered him after the weekend and many others are actively recruiting him.
Lovings-Watts used his length, energy, and athleticism to be a terror on both sides of the ball. He made numerous exciting plays above the rim to go along with wreaking havoc on defense and showing a smooth game in the open court.
Brewer and Montgomery are both available 2021 prospects and played like they’re hungry for college opportunities. Brewer is a terrific athlete who gets off the floor quickly and with explosion. He created problems as a slasher but also mixed in occasional jumpers. Montgomery has great positional size as a wing who’s around 6’6” with good skill. He connected on multiple contested jumpers in the 2nd half and used his size to his advantage around the basket.
2022 6’2” PG Liron Thomas (Team Loaded NC)
Whenever you watch Thomas, you know he’s going to put up points. A scorer by nature, Thomas gets it done in a variety of ways and employs an entertaining combination of creativity & flair. His strong upper frame allows him to get where he wants and convert inside, but what’s most impressive about Thomas’ game is his ability to hit a wide variety of shots off the bounce. He’s smooth & savvy getting to his spots, has extended his range, and has a good feel of when to rise up in the mid-range areas. Thomas can get others involved as well but if you need a basket, his confidence and skill make him a go-to guy. His recruitment has kept its steam and while he may be starting to narrow things down, I’m sure there are more schools who will try to jump in if he keeps producing at this level.
Team Loaded NC 2023
Loaded’s 16U group has been making noise as well, going 3-1 in Atlanta after a win over Team CP3 in Rock Hill the weekend before. Jakwon Moore has been the breakout prospect for them thus far, he has received offers from Ole Miss, Wake Forest, and Texas A&M within the last 2 weeks. A difficult matchup at the 16U level, Moore is a strong, physical 6’5” who slashes well and finishes through contact, has kept improving as a shooter, has a good motor, and plays with toughness. He’s not the only one on the perimeter with mismatch potential as Isaiah Washington and Truman Claytor are more the capable of putting up big numbers as well. They are both versatile scorers who have size with Washington showing a particularly impressive handle that creates space and opportunities, while Claytor uses his thick frame and shooting ability to hurt defense.
Taking on most of the PG responsibilities for Loaded is Kevon Vanderhorst, who seems to be coming into his own. He’s playing confident with the ball in his hands and strikes a nice balance of scoring and facilitating. His 3-point shot has been connecting consistently but he’s also making lots of accurate passes to get teammates easy baskets, while also looking to be a vocal leader. Mayar Wol is another one to track on this team; he’s a mobile 6’7” with defensive versatility, ball skills, and a shot that looks like it’ll be reliable in time.