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Scouting Notes: EPL Championship
By Tyler McKittrick
The Elite Prep League’s opening season came to a competitive close earlier this week, with Hargrave Military Academy (VA) edging out Massanutten Military Academy (VA) in a 109-106 shootout to take the conference tournament championship at the Ben Wallace Gym (Big Ben’s Home Court) in Richmond, VA. The tournament capped a successful beginning for the upstart conference that features the current #1 ranked post-grad program in the country, a pair of 2024 four-star prospects, several post-grad D1 commits, and two scoops of talented, uncommitted post-grads for all levels. As always, the cream rose to the top, and a handful of players separated themselves from the pack.
It’s only right for this list of standouts to start with Myers, who averaged 34.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2 blocks on 73.2 TS% over 2 games. His offensive production spanned the spectrum of heavy rim pressure to an unconscious display of perimeter shot-making, mixed with flashes of explosiveness in transition and a steady flow to the free throw line (10 FTA/gm; 52.6 FTr). In their win over Mt. Zion Prep (MD), Myers struggled from behind the arc (1-7 3P), but successfully pressured the rim in both half-court and full-court situations. He attacked closeouts, ran the floor in transition for a pair of high-flying finishes, displayed his second jump on the offensive glass, and flashed footwork on the catch from different points of origin. He finished with 30 points (11-21 FG) and 7 rebounds in the contest.
His strength/size, footwork, and athleticism were difficult for the defense to handle, especially when factoring in his ability to finish through contact on either side of the rim. It was that rim pressure that Hargrave (VA) was well aware of in the championship game. For the first 18:58 of the game, Myers was reserved. Quiet, even. But a tough step back 3-ball moving to his right just before the half must have flipped a switch because he came out in the second half and dropped 30 points on a 3-point barrage that got downright absurd by the end of the game. Going 7-of-8 in the half from deep, he hit on a semi-transition pull-up, a pair of step backs moving left, and a couple of more on the catch. In the final seconds, he converted two more: one, a runner off a far-court baseline baseball pass without any dribbles; the other, a ~25-footer toss-up over two defenders while practically falling down. All-in-all, he finished with 39 points on 11-18 FG, 8-12 3P, and 9-12 FT, to go with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. While his second-half shooting obviously isn’t sustainable for anyone, the display gave a great glimpse into the scoring versatility and potential headed to Starkville in the fall.
Nicholls, a Toronto native, came into the conference tournament riding an impressive season, earning 1st Team All-Conference honors as the floor general for the #1 post-grad team in the country. Sharp off the dribble with impressive self-creation skills, he’s been able to open eyes using his ability to get to his midrange spots and convert at a high percentage, while keeping the defense honest with a 34.6 3P% on 4.3 attempts per game (EPL conference stats). Ranked #2 in the EPL in Cerebro’s Floor General Skills (FGS) metric, a measure for playmaking that combines assist volume (5.7 per), assist-to-turnover ratio (3.1), and steals (1.8), Nicholls has proven to be quite the offensive engine. In their championship win, he showed his full skillset, scoring 27 points on 10-16 FG (2-3 3P, 5-7 FT), handing out 5 assists, and coming away with 5 rebounds in the victory. He got his midrange game going in the first half with multiple uses of the crossover moving right and left, using stepbacks going both ways to clear space for his pull-ups. He was savvy in the pick-and-roll, exhibiting an understanding of how to set the screen up, when to reject it, and a feel for time and space when he comes off. That feel guides his decision to turn the corner, pull up, or draw the defense to create looks for others. He has good burst, creativity off the bounce, and a confident mindset. A skilled, score-first point guard who can distribute, and is still available for the class of 2023.
Fresh off his commitment to Bryant University, Davis hit the floor and quickly showed why he fits with the Bulldogs’ fast-paced style of play. The sharpshooter moved with purpose within designed sets in the half-court and sprinted the lanes in transition/semi-transition for quick catch-and-shoot jumpers from beyond the arc. When closed out on or pressured off the line, he countered with a trained one-dribble pull-up. He also used the dribble when coming hard off screens to escape the trailing defender for additional space. By the time the first-half horn sounded, Davis had 23 points on five 3PM. Throughout the contest, his attempts were decisive as he aggressively hunted for his shot. He displayed a preference for shooting while moving right, whether on the catch or off the bounce and was comfortable putting it up from deep distances. At 6’6”, he has nice size and length, and uses those tools, along with a quick trigger, practiced shooter’s footwork, and a high release, to get his shot off under duress. He finished with 31 points on 11-22 shooting, including 7 threes, and 5 rebounds in their victory over Fork Union Military Academy (VA).
Listed at 6’5”, 200 lbs., McKoy is the epitome of a big guard. He’s exceptionally strong and possesses a keen understanding of how to use his body off the bounce, where he thrives as a downhill driver who attacks with a combination of feel and control. A primary reason for McKoy’s effectiveness in getting to the rim is his ability to shoot it from the outside. In EPL play, he was ranked 5th in Cerebro’s 3-Point Efficiency (3PE) metric, shooting 39.0 3P% on 6.8 attempts per game. That ability from deep commands respect and allows him to get the step from the point of attack in the half-court. Whether he’s attacking closeouts or handling as a primary out top, he specializes in creating advantages by utilizing simple dribble moves with direct angles designed to seal defenders en route to the rim. His advanced functional strength permits him to finish through contact, and his feel helps to exploit interior defenders, often resulting in a healthy free throw rate (41.4 during conference play; 58.8 during tournament play). With his size, strength, and skill, he’s a real matchup problem and has proved to be so throughout the season. He was 3rd in the conference in Cerebro’s C-RAM metric, which compares the strength of his in-conference performance against the average EPL performer. Despite some rough perimeter shooting, things weren’t much different during tournament play. McKoy averaged 25 points and 8 rebounds on 58.4 TS%, including a 32-point, 13-rebound performance in the opening round against Mt. Zion Prep (MD).
A Few Additional Notable Performers:
DeShayne Montgomery, 6’5” W, Hargrave (VA), Class of 2023 (Uncommitted): intriguing wing prospect who excels as a slasher and flashes of greater upside. Impacted winning on both ends in a variety of ways in their championship victory over Massanutten, filling the stat sheet with 26 points (11-18 FG, 2-3 3P, 2-3 FT), 13 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. A lengthy, lefty athlete with springs that come with a quick second jump, which he shows well on the offensive glass. Thrives in transition, doesn’t need his number called to impact the game, and uses his timing and anticipation to turn defense into offense.
Malachi Palmer, 6’6” SG, Mt. Zion Prep (MD), Class of 2024 (Uncommitted): in his first game in 3 weeks following an ankle sprain, Palmer shook off some early rust and was able to find some rhythm using his patented midrange pull-up game. With a preference for getting to his left in the 15-17 foot range, he let his feel and soft shot do most of the work. Does an excellent job of keeping his strong body between the ball and the defender, and uses a slight fallaway to create additional spacing. Finished with 20 points on 8-18 FG (4-7 FT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, and a block in the loss to Massanutten (VA).
Kahlil Singleton, 6’3” G, Scotland Campus (PA), Class of 2023 (Committed to Holy Cross): led the EPL in Cerebro’s 3PE metric (110 on a soft 0-100 scale!), while shooting a blazing 46.7 3P% on 12 attempts per game. Adjusted to the defense to display a high feel off the bounce as he got to the rim and hit from midrange. Scored 22 points on 9-16 FG (1-2 3P, 3-3 FT) as he allowed the game to come to him. Was patient in his approach, played with pace and craft, and showcased a number of finishes at the rim and the short midrange level. Added 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the victory over Combine Academy Prep (NC).
Point Guard Eyes