While most of my time at Run N’ Slam was spent watching 17U games, I was also able to lay eyes on some really good 2023 prospects in the 16U division as well. With the important June 15th date for this class about a month away, here are some of the guys in 2023 who impressed in Fort Wayne.
The 16U champion, Indiana Elite was a joy to watch. They compete really hard and have a balanced team with lots of competent weapons. Logan Imes is at the helm of their offense at PG and made a big impact even without scoring a bunch of points. He has good size for a lead guard, is fast & effective in transition, and is a really good passer. I liked his aggression and unselfish play in both games.
On the wings for IE were Amire Robinson, Braeden Shrewsberry, and Jaron Tibbs. They complement each other well and were consistent in their production. Robinson was an inside-out scorer with his combination of shooting and physicality, Shrewsberry lit it up from deep all weekend, Tibbs was particularly good as a slasher but can also knock down shots and defend at a high level. They combined for 36 points in both wins I watched against Mac Irvin Fire and Howard Pulley.
Manning the frontcourt spots are JQ Roberts and Jake Davis. Roberts was one of the more physically imposing 2023 prospects in attendance and showed some versatility to his game. He has a chiseled body, gets off the floor explosively, and has a good motor. Davis is a wide-bodied 6’5″ who has touch, can step out and hit jumpers, and bangs & carves out space on the interior.
Grand Park Premier
Also based out of Indiana, Grand Park should make noise on the UA Rise Circuit this summer. Joey Hart, Logan Webb, and Sam Orme were the most impressive when I watched them on Sunday. There is already a lot of buzz surrounding Hart; he’s a 6’5” SG with good athleticism and an efficient, mature game. He doesn’t waste time when looking to score, has a reliable 3-point shot, and can finish with force. Schools are already tracking him closely and his list should grow significantly this summer.
If there was a rebound to be had on Sunday, Webb was likely going to get it. He has a physical frame and puts it to use often to clean the glass at a high level and also has good instincts & timing on the boards. Touches and opportunities weren’t needed as he created them himself and gave a big boost on a team that lacks true bigs. His strength was also an asset when finishing inside in GPP’s Sunday games.
Orme is close to 6’8” and plays mainly from the perimeter offensively but helps to protect the basket on defense. The release on his shot is impressive for a young guy at his size and it comes off his hand softly. He also showed the ability to put the ball on the floor from the wing and then use his size/length to score from 10 feet & in. Defensively, he’s not the most explosive leaper but has good timing as a shot blocker and does a good job staying straight up. He comes from a winning HS program and should develop nicely his final 2 years.
It would also be unfair not to mention Jaylen Mullen at PG. He runs the show well, plays with some physicality & toughness, and looks to find others before getting his own offense. He gets downhill well and can finish through contact when the opportunity presents itself. His energy and effort on the defensive end set a good example and help to ignite their team.
The Pulley guard tandem of Will Underwood and Emmanuel Schmitter to go along with 6’8” Nolan Winter caught my eye at the event. I was able to watch Howard Pulley product Ryan Larson while I was in school at Wofford, and Underwood fits that same tough, gritty PG mold. He was in attack mode as soon as the game started against C2K and was determined to get deep in the paint even through contact. He found ways to finish through traffic and brings intensity on the defensive end. Portland offered him following the weekend.
Schmitter was great getting to the basket as well, especially in transition. He is bulky for a sophomore, has good speed, and has some leaping ability. He’ll also knock in occasional corner 3’s to keep you honest. His contributions in the 2nd half on Saturday night were huge in helping Pulley get a win.
Winter is the best overall prospect on the team at 6’8″ with a pretty stroke from 3. He hit 7 3’s combined in the 2 Pulley games I watched with great form and consistency from deep. He often found himself open on pick & pop opportunities, spaces well off the ball, and is a good target on the wing or top of the key in transition. I’d like to see him be a little more active when he doesn’t have the ball, but he showed some potential slashing from the wing in straight lines or cutting for for easy baskets. I think he could also develop into an effective rim-protector in time. Power 5 programs have already began to recruit him and it’s easy to see why.
6’8” W JJ Taylor (Mac Irvin Fire)
The top 2023 prospect in the event, Taylor quickly showed why he’s considered to be Top 10 nationally in the class against Indiana Elite. At 6’8”, Taylor is fluid, skilled, and ultra-confident. He started off the game with a 4-point play and showed impressive shot-making ability off the bounce at different points in both halves of the game. His height and length allow him to shoot over most perimeter defenders and he can explode to the rim with ease. Lack of strength is an area of weakness for Taylor like it is with most young prospects, but he fits the mold of a high-level wing prospect with his collection of advanced traits.
Jack Kronauge & Nathan Dudukovich (Midwest Basketball Club)
This perimeter duo led the charge for the Midwest 2023 team throughout the tournament. Kronauge is a sweet-shooting guard who has deep range on his shot and solid fundamentals with the ball in his hands. I thought he played with an edge that helped his team as well. While also being a capable shooter from deep, Dudukovich was just as impressive in other areas. He doesn’t hesitate when he gets an open look but also has a mature body that he uses well inside. He’s very intense and competitive and comes through with tough hustle plays that are important. I hope to be able to see them again soon.