Once again the JL Invitational was a great success. It had teams covering from California to NYC and twenty-one states in between. It's became one of the prominent 14U on down tourneys in the country. The 2021 and 2022 class doesn't have the early name stars like the 2019 and 2020, but it still has a lot of talent from top to bottom.
Below is a few names that stood out to me:
2021 Rodriquez Ruffin 5'9 G (Jackson Tigers Elite) Byram, MS
This young mans one of the most polish 8th grade PG I've seen in the last 10 years.. The pace he plays with is outstanding. His feel is incredible. He just makes everybody so much better. When he was out the game his team had a major drop off. He was great at taking contact and finishing. He could score at every level. I hate to over exaggerate, but he had young Kyrie like handles. The most heady PG I ever seen from Mississippi.
2021 Arthur Kaluma 6'6 F (RM5 Elite) Lewisville, TX
He was one of the most athletic players at the event. He needs to keep developing. This wing has a major upside. Has good basketball instincts around the rim and stays very active on both. Defensively he was a headache for his opponents.
2021 Kamryn Waites 6'9 C (RM5 Elite) McKinney, TX
The big boy is a monster. He has soft hands and light feet for his size. He finished with great touch around the basket. He can bang are finesse you. For his size he ran the floor real well. When he loses the baby fat and tones up his game will take big leap.
2021 Jaylon McDaniels 6' 5 F (KC Pray & Play) Lee Summit, MO
He started off a little rough in the first game I watched, then he picked it up every game after that. At times he put his team on his back. He was very patient in the post and aggressive when he needed to be. He has all the tools you want in a young wing, he must just keep continuing to develop.
2021 Chuks Lucky 6'11 F/C (West Coast Allstars) Houston, TX
He was one of the more intriguing prospects at the event. Chuks, has good patience in the post and doesn't get bothered being fouled constantly. Really needs to learn to compete and stay involved in the game. Can be special if it all comes together but has a long road ahead of him.
2021 Chris Felix 6'2 G (Houston Hoops Blue Chips)
He played much better than we have seen in the past and was a key contributor in the Hoops come back win vs Jackson Tigers. Really like his upside and fight to developing into a big guard down the road. He definitely raised his stock this past weekend.
2021 Jonathan Lawson 6'5 F (West Coast All Stars) Memphis, TN
This young mans way to talented to be going through the motions. He showed flashes last weekend of why so many people fell in love with him, but all and all he was just out there at times. He has a great attitude and is very skilled. With his versatility, he should always stand out.
2021 Lucas Powell 6'7 WF (BMM Elite)
This young man reminds me so much of former Kansas Jayhawks star Perry Ellis. He's very skilled and can do it all on the offensive end. He doesn't force nothing and lets the game come to him. He has very good touch and when called on can knock down the three. For me though, I would love to see him more aggressive and a little nastier. He has the ability and athleticism to dunk almost every time he's around the basket, but seems content to finger roll.
2021 Reuben 'Deuce' Fatheree 6'8 C (Houston Hoops Blue Chips)
This big fella more then held his own when he went up against highly ranked big an Waites. The battled to a stand still until he got in foul trouble, then it was all over. He improved his jump-shot, he looked more mobile. He was finishing with both hands around the basket and he was a terror on the defensive end contesting everything that came in the lane.
2021 Daylon Jones 6'2 G (KC Pray & Play) Wichita, KS
A long skilled PG, that has a very good feel for the game. He knows how to run a team at a very young age. He knock it down for three or getting the lane and score are drop it off. You can tell he's the leader of the team by his play and his vocals on the court.
2021 Trey Alexander 6'3 G (AET Elite)
The coaches son that happens to be the best player on the team. He scored in bunches all weekend. He can score at all the levels and got in the lane at will. He was able to beat the double and triple teams and make something happen. He has a chance to be special.
2021 Ricardo Sarmiento 5'10 G (West Coast All Stars)
He was one of the funnest players to watch all weekend. He competes and then competes even more. He willed his team to a couple of wins. He hit from deep, got to the and dropped dime after dime. He got the clutch steal. He just makes winning plays.
2021 Makale Smith 5'10 SG (Impact Athletes) Midwest City, OK
He can straight out stroke it. He knocked down wide open and when contested. He made big shots when game was on the line. He also showed me, he could put it on the floor and make things happen.
2021 Denair Dempsey 6'5 F (OZ Elite) Wichita, KS
He's a very young 8th grader who played with tons of energy and has a major upside. He may have been the bounciest kid all weekend. His second and third jump for rebounds are outstanding. He will be one of those continuously playing above the rim the older and stronger he gets. He has a decent touch but most his damage was done around the basket.
2021 Jackie Johnson III 5'10 G (OZ Elite) Wichita, KS
A lefty pit bull PG that offensively was dominant the whole weekend. He got to the cup at will and absorb contact and finished. He shot from NBA range numerous times and knocked down quite a few of them. He was unstoppable offensively all weekend, if I had any issues with his game, is game management and shot selection. I definitely see both improving over the years.
2021 Gaston Elie 5'10 G (Texas Elite OC) Houston, TX
A real solid heady PG. He has a good feel for the game and plays very aggressive. He looks to get his teammates involved first and then looks for his shot. He best when attacking the basket. Had numerous and ones over the weekend. Has very good size for his age.
2021 Michael Fischer 5'10 G (Ballers Select) Tulare, CA
Your typical high level southern Cal PG. He's deceptively quick and seems to get wherever he wants on the court. He never seems to be rushing and was always looking for the open man. He had a sweet stroke on his jumper. Only knock, he didn't handle contact well.
2022 Tre' White 6'4 F (Pro Skills)
I was surprised pleasantly surprised how good Tre' was. I've heard good things about him and he lived up to expectations and more. For an 7th grader he's very polished. He has the inside out game. He can post and has some very good pivot moves. He has very good touch 15 feet in and knocked down the occasional three ball. He was great at getting up and down the court and finishing on the offensive end and making plays on the defensive end.
2022 Bryce Griggs 5'11 G (Pro Skills) Houston, TX
A man amongst boys. His a grown man for his age that use to be a straight bully. Well that's changed I seen knock down deep ball after deep ball. Now he still has that physicality to his game. His handles have gotten much much better. He's going to be fun to watch these next few years.
2022 Quinn Clark 6'3 F (ATL Cavs) Alexandria, VA
He looked like the best player at times that's on a balanced and well coached team. He made big play after big play and more then once put the team on his back. He will come at you. He is definitely a player to look out for in the future.
2022 Richard Torress 6'4 F (Texas Hardwork) San Antonio, TX
I really liked his skill set for his age. He's very polished to be a 7th grader. He has very nice footwork and definitely not a afraid to bang. He really runs the floor and knows what spot to get to, to be successful. At times in the few games I watched, he went ahead and put the team on his back.
2022 Reggie Bass 6' G (Indiana Elite Gametime) Muncie, IN
A really heady lead guard that knows how to score and score in bunches. He has no problem getting the shot he wants. He scores in a variety of ways which makes him very hard to guard. He has a very high upside.
2022 Austin Nunez 5'2 G (Texas Hardwork) Houston, TX
One of the better shooters in his class. Nunez got to the rim more this weekend than we have seen in the past. He may be diminutive in size, but he more then makes up in it with heart. He competes and I love that.
2023 Lebron James Jr 5''6 G (North Coast Blue Chips) Akron, OH
I wouldn't write about this youngster unless he deserved it. He already has enough pressure on him. First and foremost I love that his out there having fun. He's always trying to make plays to get his teammates Involved. He has decent handles and very good court vision. He doesn't force much, but knows how to get buckets. He definitely has good size for his age.
2023 Kenneth Satterfield 5'4 G (New Heights) New York, NY
A straight up NYC style PG. he handles the ball on the string and always trying to get to the basket. He plays with a little edge which is great for his age. He showed good leadership the whole weekend
2023 Jeremy Johnson 5'3 G (Nike Team Griffin) Oklahoma City, OK
I really like watching this young kid play. He has a high I.Q., and always seems to be having fun on the court. When on the bench he always seems to be cheering and encouraging his teammates. He definitely is a young man to follow.
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