COLORADO SPRINGS, CO The USA Mini-Camp is always a great look at the incoming class nationally. I was not disappointed with the level of talent in Colorado Springs this weekend. Here are a few of the top performers.
6'8" W Emoni Bates (Lincoln HS, MI) In this day and age of social media and mixtape phenoms it's sometimes hard to tell real from memorex....until to lay eyes on the player. Bates is what you see on video. The long wing has great range on his jumper, can create space and beat defenders off the dribble and shows a very competitive spirit.
6'4" G Dariq Whitehead (Montverde, FL) He played well on Friday night but took it to another level ALL DAY Saturday. Whitehead owned the baseline with the change of pace crossver that led to multiple dunks or the catch and shoot three's. Huge upside for a player that just turned 14 in August.
6'9" Jalen Duren (Roman Catholic HS, PA) Duren showed he could be a dominant force in the paint. He has good hands, catching and finishing in traffic and corralling rebounds outside his area. On a few occasions where he got the ball on the low block he showed good patience and footwork. He also did a good job running the floor and protecting the paint on defense.
6'10" Dylan Anderson (Perry HS, AZ) I've been out to USA for the past 5-6 years and what I've seen some bigs stop competing when not getting the ball on offense.....not Anderson. I was impressed with Anderson, who showed he can shoot the ball, drive it and pass from the high post, continue to compete. He defended, made hustle plays and stayed engaged all weekend.
6'3" PG Dillon Hunter (Westlake HS, GA) Hunter earned his way to the USA Mini-Camp but didnt come with the national reputation most of the 2022's did. That all changed after his performance this weekend. Hunter, who doesnt spend a lot of time on the dribble, was good getting his teammates involved and knocked down shots when needed. Has a good feel for working ball screens. Much improved bounce.
6'5" W Marquise "MJ" Rice (Durham Academy, NC) Rice was one of the most competitive players on both ends at the mini-camp. He makes shots off the bounce and behind the line, attacks to finish through contact, used his physicality to rebound and defended multiple positions.
6'3" Zion Cruz (Hudson Catholic, NJ) He was possibly the most athletic guard at USA. Cruz has a strong build and quick step that gets him to the basket where he can use his athleticism and strength to finish. Tough downhill. He rebounded his position and defended passing lanes well.
6'2" PG Jonathan Starling (Baldwinsville HS, NY) The long guard was very effective in transition, making good decisions leading to easy baskets. Spent a lot of time in the lane utilizing his handle and quick step to beat defenders. Defensively he's a problem with his length and desire to guard.
6'8" F Kijani Wright (Windward School, CA) Very long big showed good touch around the basket with both hands. He was good on the glass and showed good feet to guard on ball switches. He didn't get many touches on offense but never stopped workimg on either end.
6'2" PG Jaden Bradley (Cannon School, NC) A pass first point guard with very good vision and leadership abilities. He was very good on ball screens, doing a good job probing for drops and kicks. Doesn't allow defense to speed him up.
6'4" W Jarace Walker (IMG Academy, FL) The physical wing has a college ready body and a developing game that shows huge potential. Walker has an easy stroke from deep, doesn't waste dribbles on attacks to the basket and rebounds in traffic. Defensively he guarded guards, forwards and bigs.
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