Atlanta is a city world renowned for its Peachtree’s and sermons from Sweet Auburn, but it hasn’t bore witness to this level of firepower since General Sherman and his crew rolled through the city.
It was truly a great day on Holt Rd at Wheeler High School as it played host to 48 of the nation’s best high school basketball players participating in the 2nd Annual Underclassman All American Game presented by Horace Neysmith and AllMetrohoops.com.
This event was created to support and bring education and awareness to Diabetes and the importance of exercise and proper diet. The platform brought together elite freshman and sophomore high school hoopers from around the country in that effort to do battle on the hardwood under the watchful gaze of the Creme de la Creme in talent evaluation on the grassroots level. Members of ESPN, John Lucas Enterprises, Rivals, HoopSeen, CourtCred, NBADraft.net and others were in attendance.
The All American East squad was coached by University of Florida and NBA star Jason Williams aka White Chocolate and Champ Barlow of 3P Athletics. The West squad was directed by Duke Blue Devil and Atlanta Hawks former 1st round draft pick Roshown McLeod along with University of Georgia great and former 1st rounder Jarvis Hayes.
From the very first possession it was obvious that this would not be your typical all-star game where kids ran up and down the court playing one-on-one in the absence of defense and IQ. To the contrary it was impressive to see the willingness of the athletes move the basketball and compete on both sides of the court. Points did not come easy, even dunks were contested without fear of being posturized. Players didn’t take any plays off because they knew that eyes were watching but more importantly because of pride and having respect for the game.
This was a high scoring, fast paced affair were kids made reads, understood spacing and made good basketball plays. James Wiseman had 15pts to lead all scorers at the half while his West squad was up 55 to 44 over the East which was led by Charles Bassey and a very loud 12pts and approximately a thousand rebounds.
During the intermission the highest flying Atlanta Hawk of all time and NBA great Dominique Wilkins took center court and spoke about the seriousness of diabetes. He gave his testimony and provided a game plan to triumph over the disease through early detection, medical attention, dietary adjustments and exercise. Basketball in Atlanta and Dominique Wilkins have always been synonymous and it was brilliant move by Horace Neysmith, the events organizer and someone that is personally dealing with the concerns of diabetes to bring in number “21” to lend his voice to a very appropriate audience as it carried weight with the youngsters and parents in attendance.
To start the second half a very good game turned into a great game as Sharif Cooper and De'Vion Harmon exchanged assaults with Charles Bassey and DJ Jeffries abusing the rims. The bigs on both sides ran the floor very well and were beneficiaries of unselfish guard play. It was obvious to all in attendance that we were being treated to a very special basketball game that afternoon and it you weren’t there you missed a treat. This was easily the best all-star event that I ever attended not just because of the ability level of the kids but more importantly the approach to the game that was exhibited. The state of the union is good. The best youth basketball players are back to playing pure without disagreeable dispositions or too cool for school attitudes.
The East team was able to get the win117-107. The game Co-MVP’s were Charles Bassey and James Wiseman. Both had stellar performances.
Charles Bassey 6’10” 2019 PF St. Anthony Catholic HS (San Antonio, TX) - long rangy hyper athletic post player that runs the floor, defends and eats boards. Bassey is considered by many to be the number #1 player in the class of 2019 nationally and he made good on his ranking by separating himself from start to finish. I’m reminded of DeAndre Jordan of the LA Clippers when observing this man-child in the post. The kid is well versed at this juncture as a basketball player but his potential is through the roof.
DJ Jeffries 6’7 2019 SF Olive Branch HS (Olive Branch, MS) – elite athletic bouncy forward with great length that was on display throughout the game with above the rim finishes. What I found most impressive about Jeffries is his ability to get off the floor multiple times quickly and he has a good nose for the ball in traffic. He was born to flourish in transition but he’s also excellent at exploiting holes within the interior of the defense in half-court set.
Mathew Hurt 6’9 2019 PF John Marshall Senior HS (Rochester, MN) – highly versatile stretch four that can do it all. His ability to shoot the basketball and stretch defenses is well documented but his rebounding and passing ability is underrated. Hurt is a relentless competitor that has the ability to see two passes ahead. He is a good athlete that keeps the ball alive on the interior for extra possessions and he utilizes a very good floater that’s virtually unstoppable with his length.
Sharife Cooper 5’10 2020 PG McEachern HS (Powder Springs, GA) - was disruptive in the passing lanes and gave his team a sense of calm and flow when he had the ball. He is excellent at getting into the seams of the defense while making proper reads without over penetrating. Cooper’s ability to keep the defender off balance while creating separation off the bounce made him very effective against taller and stronger guards. Sharif is a Jawun Evans type of floor general with elite vision and was arguably the best PG in the Game.
Tre Mann 6’1 2019 PG Villages Charter School (The Villages, FL) - smooth floor general that plays with great pace and sleight of hand to get the job done. He’s sneaky athletic, has the ball on a string with range well beyond the three point line. Mann is very good at using the inside-out dribble to get separation for shots on the perimeter. He defends well and has the length and intangibles that are sure to have high majors drooling nationally. He’s never rushed or out of control even when under intense pressure. His jump shot is money with range and he can be a trusted to steward the point position of any offense.
Anthony Edwards 6’4 2020 CG Holy Spirit Prep (Atlanta, Georgia) – strong bodied fluid guard that glides around the court effortlessly making plays. Edwards is unstoppable when going downhill and uses change of pace and a tight handle when on the ball. He is a very capable distributor and processes a consistent jump shot that forces defenders to stay honest. During the game his prowess was on display as he shut the gym down with the dunk of the day in transition.
Dwon Odom 6’2 2020 CG Saint Francis HS (Alpharetta, Georgia) – very athletic and bouncy lead guard with good vision and high IQ. Odom is an aggressive perimeter defender but excels when going to the basket. He’s a high level competitor and natural leader on the court even amongst players his senior. During the game he did what he does best and that’s attack, attack and attack some more, with acrobatic finishes that gave glimpses into his promising future.
Isaac Johnson 6’9” 2019 PF American Fork HS (American Fork, UT) – he runs the floor well and is great at out-letting the basketball. He doesn’t shy away from contact and consistently competes. Johnson has a good feel for the game and is a very good perimeter shooter.
David Johnson 6’5 2019 SG Trinity HS (Louisville, KY) – is a long shooting guard with all the tools. He’s a knock down jump shooter that’s skilled off the dribble and finishes with both hands around the rim.
Che Evans Jr. 6’6 2020 SG Dulaney HS (Timonium, MD) – strong slasher, that is very skilled and efficient on the perimeter with the ability to do work and get separation with minimum dribbles. He plays with a tough mentality that seems to be in the DNA of all great Baltimore area guards.
Not frequently do we encounter a prospect that plays the game of basketball according to the highest aspirations that James Naismith intended. Multiplied by accrued interest compounded through time, training advancements and proper nutrition. When one such prospect is identified it is a thing to beauty. You see many recruiting websites, blogs, vlogs and etc. are littered with entries of high scoring, sky jumping, and five (5) star goliaths with wingspans of a condor that we all love and consider to be cute. But when a kid has those attributes in conjunction with muscle memory between his ears to play the game with the highest considerations to spacing, angles, matchup recognitions and high percentage shots the math gets much more advanced than mere triple doubles or stat sheets. Thus it is based on the aforementioned observations that has caused my appreciation for this Nashville, TN native to be mountain high.
James Wiseman 6’10 2019 PF Ensworth HS (Nashville, TN) – is a multidimensional hooper that always seemed to be doing the most appropriate things on the basketball court. When setting screens his release times were immaculate. When teammates were open he got them the ball. If he needed to take matter into his own hands then that’s what he did. Point production, highlight reel dunks and blocked shots are all in his repertoire but it was the not so obvious things that don’t get computed on the scoreboards that make this kids game so beautiful.
Xavier Foster 6’9 2020 PF Oskaloosa HS (Oskaloosa, IA) – an extremely long and versatile wing from Oskaloosa, IA is comfortable anywhere on the court on or off the ball. He’s a very good long range jump shooter that oozes potential and plays the game with joy. Foster had the most upside of any player in the game.
Isaiah Todd 6’10 2020 PF John Marshall HS (Richmond, VA) – there is no limit to how good this kid Isaiah Todd can be. He is great at running the floor, shooting the midrange jumper and operating in the low-post. He walls up well on defense and blocks shots out of his area. I’m reminded of a young Brandan Wright when watching him play.
Isaac Okoro 6’5 2019 WG McEachern HS (Powder Springs, GA) – there was not a player in the building with a higher combination of power, slashing ability and a relentless desire to attack the rim with bad intentions. Okoro is an automatic double-double machine with excellent body control and a quick first step that weaves through traffic allowing him to spend a lot of time at the free-throw line. He’s a high level rebounder, a solid ball handler and fierce defender from Powder Springs, GA that never takes plays off.
De'Vion Harmon 6’1 2019 PG Guyer HS (Denton, TX) – an aggressive PG from Denton, TX that loves to play going downhill and consistently touches paint. His physicality allows him to absorb contact when amongst the trees. He plays with a warrior mentality and straps up on defense. He made great decisions during the game and is the type of PG that you would love to go into battle with.
Makur Maker 6’11 2020 PF The Tech Academy (Perth, Australia) – very coordinated and comfortable dribbling the basketball with both hands. He runs the floor like a deer and alters shots defensively. Makur has good footwork similar to his cousin and Milwaukee Bucks player Thon Makur.
Aundre Hyatt 6’6” 2019 WG Miller School (White Plains, NY) – strong bodied physical guard that punishes defenders in the midrange and can step out beyond the three point line to knock down shots. He is wired to get buckets and can get them in bunches. Hyatt is has a lot of Mitch Richmond tendencies with body that’s also reminiscent.
Dekeyvan “Kyky” Tandy 6’3” 2019 CG University Heights Academy (Hopkinsville, KY) – blessed with the ability to score the basketball within the flow of the game at a high clip. He plays with very good pace and punishes defenders when in attack mode.
Jameyn Brakefield 6’8” 2020 SF Huntington Prep (Huntington, VA) – has all the tools to be a special basketball player. He is very good from the wing area with his versatility. As he continues to improve his shot selection and smooth out his jump shot I can’t image that there would be many players able to stop him from doing whatever he wants to do on the court. Brakefield has a very good nose for the ball and is not bashful about letting it be known with his aggressive play. The future is very bright for this kid from the magnolia state of Mississippi.
Righard Amaefule 6’8” 2020 PF Blue Ridge School (St. George, VA) – an athletic player with a great IQ that does an incredible job running the floor. His understanding of defensive principles and spacing on both sides of the court is refreshing and beyond his years. He has no problem putting defenders in the rim in transition or finishing through contact in post. Amaefule is a very good interior distributor that does everything you could ever ask in a player.
Devan Cambridge 6’4 SF 2019 Pope John Paul II High School (Hendersonville, TN) – high flying athletic guard that’s good at posting up smaller defenders. He has a strong motor that always seems to be on go. Cambridge love to put pressure on the defense with the ball and usually converts at the basket with acrobatic finishes.
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