The annual Nike Basketball Academy took place in Thousand Oaks, Calif., last week, bringing together many of the top high school players in the country to focus on skill development and gain exposure in front of a host of NBA scouts.
On Sunday, they held a showcase game at Los Angeles Southwest College, and The Crossover’s Front Office was in attendance to scope out some of the young talent. Below you’ll find evaluations for the prospects who stood out most.
Position: F/C | Height: 6’9” | Weight: 230 | Class: 2019
Despite his laid-back demeanor, Jackson-Davis plays with a terrific motor that sets him apart from many big men his age. The son of longtime NBA player Dale Davis, Jackson-Davis boasts a 7-foot-plus wingspan and is deceptively explosive off the floor.
Right now, he’s effective finishing around the rim, but has room for improvement with his shooting mechanics and stands to expand his offensive arsenal. He’s a capable shot-blocker around the rim. His physical development will be worth tracking from a long-term perspective, as he already has a thick lower half but needs to work on his upper body strength. I would project him as more of a center than a power forward at this stage. Indiana and UCLA are among the teams in pursuit of the Indianapolis-area product.
Position: F | Height: 6’9” | Weight: 200 | Class: 2019
A combo forward with impressive tools, measuring at nearly 6’9.5” with a 7’3.5 wingspan, Gaffney displayed an intriguing combination of length, athleticism and ball handling to go along with decent shooting ability. The Ohio State commit has a nice degree of bounce and finishes easily around the rim, and his unique combination of attributes create an extremely high ceiling for him long-term. In many ways, he reminds me of Brandon Ingram. Gaffney is sure to be on the NBA radar when he arrives in Columbus, Ohio, next year and was one of the more compelling long-term prospects at the camp.
Position: SF | Height: 6’7” | Weight: 215 | Class: 2019
Jeffries is a solid all-around player with ideal size on the wing and a 6’9” wingspan. After recently decommitting from Kentucky, he’s been widely tied to Memphis and Penny Hardaway (the Mississippi native played for Hardaway’s AAU team). There is not much flash to his game, but he’s effective as a straight-line driver and finisher in transition, and has the right type of toolbox to fit in as an NBA three-man. He is extremely athletic with above average handles and shooting ability, and I like his potential to be a nice complimentary player down the road.
Position: F | Height: 6’10” | Weight: 185 | Class: 2019
The highly-rated younger brother of San Diego State star Jalen McDaniels came into the week riding a lot of hype and didn’t disappoint. McDaniels is a bit of an unorthodox player, which helps make him extremely hard to guard. He is a bit of a silent assassin with an apparent passive way about him, but plays aggressively, routinely attacking defenders and making them uncomfortable with his size and skill.
An assertive scorer, McDaniels is effective one on one off the dribble to the hole, utilizing runners and step-back jumpers or using his nearly 7-foot wingspan to finish at the rim. His coordination and leaping ability allow him to be an effective shot blocker as well. McDaniels needs to add a significant amount of weight and stands to tighten up the release on his shot a little bit going forward. McDaniels is highly ranked for good reason, and has a bright future from an NBA perspective. His combination of traits is a bit reminiscent of Jonathan Isaac. The Seattle-area product is a late bloomer and has seen his recruitment explode—he’ll have his pick of colleges next season.
Position: G/F | Height: 6’6” | Weight: 215 | Class: 2019
Already committed to Auburn, Okoro is a top of the line athlete who’s easy to envision competing in an NBA dunk contest one day. He has a strong frame for a wing player his age and is extremely explosive off the floor. His shooting mechanics are pretty good, but he appeared to lack confidence in his shot. Given that he has a solid stroke, indications are that this will likely be a non-issue long term. He does not have a whole lot of skill or creativity to his game at this stage, but his athleticism and motor make up for it. Okoro will be a perfect fit in Bruce Pearl’s uptempo style at Auburn, and you can expect plenty of highlight-reel plays.
Position: G | Height: 6’5” | Weight: 190 | Class: 2019
A local Los Angeles-area product, Stanley had a strong showing on Sunday and displayed a well-rounded offensive skill set. He is more of a herky-jerky, crafty player with a good feel off the dribble as opposed to possessing blow-by quickness, but he has a knack for making plays that’s impressive for his age. He is an above average shooter for a guard with decent shooting mechanics, but can still improve his consistency from outside. Stanley has high-end explosiveness at the rim and an overall promising set of strengths as a combo guard. I see some similarities to a young Brandon Roy.
Position: F/C | Height: 6’9” | Weight: 250 | Class: 2019
Stewart was a man among boys at this event. Standing a chiseled 6’9” with a 7’4” wingspan, he displayed his high motor and impressive physicality consistently. He crashes the offensive boards aggressively and finishes at the hoop well to go along with terrific shooting mechanics. He has the potential to be a strong defender and shot-blocker as well. I expect Stewart to be able to guard both power forwards and centers regularly in the NBA. He reminds me of a more offensively polished Bruno Fernando, with similarly elite tools. Duke is said to be among the front-runners to land Stewart.
Position: F | Height: 6’8” | Weight: 190 | Class: 2019
A long, lean, athletic slasher, Walker was highly impressive despite being ranked lower than many of his peers at the event. He needs to fill out and gain weight, but showed a lot of promise as a smooth, wiry athlete. His outside shot is decent and he has some ability to create for himself. Walker is definitely worth tracking given his length and athleticism, which could translate nicely to the NBA, where wing players in his mold are always in demand.
Position: G/F | Height: 6’7” | Weight: 215 | Class: 2019
Another prospect who outperformed his ranking was Williams, a wing with good size who can shoot the lights out. He has a quick, seamless release with deep range as well as some ability to put it on the floor and finish with highlight dunks at the rim. He is assertive as a shooter and a scorer, and should transition nicely to college and the pros given his 6’11” wingspan and array of tools. I expect Williams to move up the ranks quickly from here. The Charlotte native reminds me of former NBA player Martell Webster.