EYBL Session 4 Standouts
The EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League) is Nike’s AAU circuit. Each year, it brings together the best of the best, from all around the country to compete under one roof. For those of you who don’t know, AAU basketball is a lot more free flowing than high school, which definitely has its pros and cons, but one major positive is that you get to see the players play freely and have fun. Do not mistake that for not being competitive, but it’s just a different style of basketball that allows the kids to play their game. I’ve seen superstars like Marvin Bagley III, Michael Porter Jr, Trae Young, and many more in past EYBL’s. And I have no doubt I witnessed some of the future stars in our game, here are my standouts for the weekend.
James Wiseman (#1 Player in the ESPN 60)
The number one player in the class of 2019 was extremely impressive this weekend, showcasing an arsenal that is extremely rare amongst high school prospects. Standing at 6’11” he is a force on the glass and is a powerhouse in the paint, but don’t let that distract you from the most impressive part of his game, his touch and athleticism. Wiseman models his game after Anthony Davis and that is completely visible while watching him play, he is comfortable handling the ball, has a smooth jump shot that extends all the way out to the three point line, and runs the floor very well.
Cole Anthony (#6 in the ESPN 60)
In my opinion, Anthony is the best player in the class of 2019. That is not a knock on James Wiseman, because as a big man, his skills and potential are through the roof, but I think it’s impossible to deny Anthony’s production. He led the EYBL in scoring with 27 a game to go along with eight rebounds and 4 assists. He is one of, if not the most complete player I’ve seen at the high school level. He gets to the rim with ease, knows when to facilitate to the open teammate, can knock down the three, guards the opponents best player, and is a beast on the boards. You name it, Cole does it. Anthony was also very intellectual in our interview, and that level of confidence and basketball IQ carries over to his leadership skills on the court.
Sharife Cooper (Unranked in ESPN)
Although he’s unranked now, it’s safe to say Sharife Cooper will get the love he deserves when the next rankings update. I love Cooper’s game because he never lets the defender dictate what he does, he plays at the tempo that he wants and takes the shots that he wants. He averaged 28 points and 8 assists per contest in Hampton this past weekend, which is extremely impressive on the EYBL circuit, especially for a sophomore. He scores at all three levels and is very crafty around the rim and has great touch on his floater.
Zion Harmon (Class of 2021)
Watching Zion’s game grow from third grade when I played against him and Team Glory, to his first year on the circuit with We All Can Go to now his third year on the circuit with Brad Beal Elite has been remarkable. They say the more things change the more they stay the same, and that fits perfectly with Zion’s game. He has elite court vision and can rifle a pass to an open teammate at any given second, he can also break his defender down off the dribble with a combo that you can tell he’s put endless hours into perfecting. Harmon also has limitless range and is a threat to shoot as soon as he crosses half court, to think that he has three more years of high school left is mind boggling.
Josh Christopher (#8 in the ESPN 25)
Christopher told me one of the players he models his game after is Nick Young, and any basketball fan with eyes can see the resemblance. Josh Christopher has his own swag, the rolled in shorts, heat on his feet (multiple pairs a game sometimes) and endless burst of confidence that never goes away no matter who else is on the court. He is a certified bucket getter that just finds ways to put the ball through the rim, whether it’s playing above the rim for a big dunk, hitting a three, or anything in between, Christopher is more than capable. Interesting fact about him is that he is a legit baker, if you’re in the LA area and need a cake, you know where to go.
Team Takeover (DC)
Despite having a roster full of division one players (many of which are high majors), when you watch Team Takeover, one player doesn’t stand out over another. That’s the beauty of the system. The kids have bought into something bigger, rather than hunting personal achievements and stats, they’ve sacrificed to make history as the second team in EYBL history (first was another Takeover team) to finish the regular season undefeated. 16-0. In dominating fashion. Each guy knows their role, and executes it each game so the team can flourish. Big men Hunter Dickinson, Armando Bacot, Josh Oduro, Charles Thompson and EJ Jarvis hold down the paint and control the boards. Terrence Williams provides a versatile look, where he is lethal from three and ruthless on the boards. Guards Justin Moore, Anthony Harris and Casey Morsell handle most of the scoring load as they each can effectively score at all three levels. Josh Watts and Carsten Kogelnik provide microwave sharpshooting off the bench. And, point guards Jeremy Roach and Jahmir Young control the tempo, attack what the defense gives them and keep everyone happy. Don’t kid yourself, this team has multiple players that could be scoring at least 20 a game on the circuit, and the first five to come off the bench would probably be a starting five for most AAU organizations. But everyone makes sacrifices. And everyone’s sacrifices have a chance to become worth while as Takeover has a chance to become the first team in EYBL history to finish the entire season undefeated, and if they play their style of basketball, I have a good feeling they’ll complete history.
Going to the EYBL is always one of my favorite weekends because you get to see the stars of tomorrow before they become untouchable. It is usually filled with top talent, and this year did not disappoint.