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Scouting Notes: A Very Melo Classic
By Tyler McKittrick
Carmelo Anthony’s inaugural “A Very Melo Classic” went down at Morgan State’s Hill Field House in East Baltimore on Saturday, the 4th. It was the first of what Anthony plans on becoming an annual event, and it provided an impressive triple-header lineup that featured a couple of nationally-ranked programs, in addition to a few other national names. While there was plenty of talent on display, two sets of teammates rose above the rest.
The DMV has a long, long history of producing high-impact, high-feel offensive engines at the lead guard position. If you ask most basketball people from the area, they’re likely to tell you that Lewis appears to be next up. Coming into the event, he had consistently proven himself against a national schedule. Against St. Frances Academy’s (MD) trio of high-major guards, he made sure to capitalize on the next opportunity. Lewis took over when it mattered most, scoring 12 of his 21 points (9-18 FG, 2-4 3P) in the 4th quarter to lead his team to victory. He puts extensive pressure on the defense by attacking hard off the dribble with a blur of burst, north-south movements, and sharp changes of direction accompanied by unique body gyrations and quick spin counters. In the lane and around the rim, he’s as crafty as they come, possessing an elite floater game and finishing package. His ability to get the ball out of his hand and up on the board before rim protectors can react is superb. Lewis excels as a drive-and-kick playmaker and is progressing in game management with each contest. He owns first-class timing and anticipation, which he uses as a top-notch positional rebounder and a defensive ball hawk. Each of these traits drive a consistent floor game, which was on full display against St. Frances, when he registered 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Savvy, poised under pressure, and a mature decision-maker, Lewis has a seriously bright future ahead of him.
Batties, Lewis’ senior teammate, did a little bit of everything for his team in their win, filling the stat sheet with 13 points (5-9 FG), 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, and a block. He continues to exhibit advancing versatility, increased vertical explosiveness as a finisher, and disciplined defensive awareness and positioning. Further, he has increased his 3P consistency on a greater volume. He operated as an additional offensive hub, facilitating to shooters out of small off-ball actions, cutters, and consistently making the simple play through sound decision-making. In these ways, as well as others, the Harvard commit is growing into quite the Connector on the prep level. He plays his role to near-perfection, with an ability to adapt to different lineups, situations, and defensive assignments. His aforementioned versatility on both ends, together with solid positional rebounding, attention to detail, a willingness to do the little things, and ability to make winning plays all helped his team to victory; and help him to aptly fit the label. He will be a welcome addition to Harvard in the fall.
Lately, there’s been some discourse around the validity of claims regarding high-school players being 3- level scorers. Indeed, prep players who are truly able to score from all 3 levels consistently are not as common as we may be led to believe by the posts we see on social media. However, there are some who possess that capability. Over the past 8 months, Nowell has shown that he deserves consideration.
On Saturday, he gave glimpses into his advanced scoring ability in the win over Oak Hill Academy (VA), putting up 25 points on 9-18 FG, including 3-7 3P and 4-4 FT. The 6’1” lead guard with a powerful build showed off his shiftiness with the rock, using rhythmic dribble moves and changes of pace to get to his midrange spots for polished pull-ups. He also flashed his ability to get to the rim, where he exhibited his floater, used the basket for protection on a left-handed reverse, and threw down a dunk in semi-transition. Ever the shot maker, Nowell displayed his range both off the dribble out of a hesi-rhythm dribble and on the catch off movement. The combination of shot-making and the ability to break defenders down off the bounce also allows Nowell to succeed at setting his teammates up for quality shots, something he did with effectiveness against Oak Hill. While he tallied 3 assists, there were a few other dishes that went unconverted. He also added 6 rebounds and 3 steals in the win.
Barno dropped an efficient 20 points on 10 shots (7-10 FG), dished out 5 assists, and picked up 4 steals in their win. With tremendous burst and a tight handle, he was able to consistently get his head and shoulders by on-ball defenders, into the crevices, and finish at the rim with craft. His speed with the ball exerts immense pressure on the defense at the right moments. He’s a heady maestro, and showed as much during the game, orchestrating quality possessions and pushing the ball at opportune times. As a pure point guard, he’s gifted with a sense of pace and lives in the painted area.
The skilled playmaker is a sure-handed decision-maker who practices sound ball security. Still working towards greater consistency from the perimeter, he shoots it well enough to keep defenders honest, making it even more difficult to stay in front and keep him from penetrating. Further, Barno is tough in the pick-and- roll, where he can turn the corner and attack the second level defender, or create looks for perimeter shooters and teammates in the dunker spot. His superior ball skills, IQ, and toughness all translate to the next level, as does his knack for making winning plays.
Other notable performances:
• Carlton Carrington, 6’5” SG, St. Frances Academy (MD), Class of 2023: stood out for the third time in 3 events, scoring 23 points on 10-21 FG, while adding 5 assists and 4 rebounds in a loss to Gonzaga (DC). His production was hard-earned against a disciplined defense, but he has become increasingly difficult to stop as a first-class bucket-getter who’s enjoying a season-long uptrend of self-creation and playmaking development. Continues to add to his scoring arsenal off the dribble. Committed to Pittsburgh.
• Derek Dixon, 6’4” CG, Gonzaga College (DC), Class of 2025: a young shot maker AND shooter who plays with poise and maturity. Deadly as a spot-up shooter, very good off of movement, and highly capable off the dribble. At his best when he balances his playmaking skills with his scoring aggression. Owns an advanced scorer’s feel and good functional strength. Was hot to start the game, and ended up with 17 points (6-11 FG, 3-6 3P, 2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in their win over St. Frances Academy (MD).
• Drew Dixon, 6’0” PG, Mt. Carmel (MD), Class of 2024: skilled lead guard with sharp ball skills and good vision. Made play-after-play off the bounce in a valiant second-half comeback, using a nice change of pace together with effective changes of direction. Set the table for his teammates and was able to knock down contested shots from the midrange on his way to 16 points (6-11 FG, 4-4 FT), 5 assists, and 5 rebounds in a narrow defeat versus Sidwell Friends (DC).