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Scouting Notes from La Porte and Hoophall
By Aneesh Namburi
NIBC La Porte
Simeon vs. Cathedral added a new member to the 2023 small guards that flat-out win list. Jalen Griffith’s (7.1 C-RAM) toughness and confidence makes him play up to and past his listed height of 5-10, but colleges shouldn’t let that lack of size dissuade them. Against Cathedral, Griffith was a constant paint touch, created by utilizing his burst and handle in concert with advanced pace.
Photo via @PitonMedia
Either working out of ball screens or isolation, Griffith used that rim pressure to make plays for his teammates or finish with craft or a touch shot. He also uses those movement skills, combined with his aforementioned tenacity, to navigate ball screens on defense and regularly beats offensive players to their spots, forcing them out of their initial offensive flow. Currently holding just 3 offers, Griffith is good enough to be an impact player at a very good Division 1 program.
Shaka Smart and his Marquette staff have done a great job finding under-the-radar recruits, and La Lumiere wing Zaide Lowery has a chance to be the next player on that list. A medalist in 7 of his 9 events in the Cerebro Sports database (7.0 C-RAM in LaPorte), Lowery’s defensive versatility, frame to get to the rim and finish, rebound outside of the position, and flash as a shooter and secondary playmaker has the earmarkings of what Smart looks for in his 3rd guard. Lowery showed himself as a reliable perimeter option, keeping defenses honest on closeouts (11-for-27 from 3 in 7 games with LaLu in the database) or using his strength to get to the rim.
After a quiet start to the season with AZ Compass, Trent Pierce’s (10.2 C-RAM) weekend at LaPorte offered insight into his upside as a jack-of-all-trades forward. A 35% 3-point shooter on 139 attempts in the database, the 6-8 forward hit 6 of his 10 shots from beyond the arc on limited, yet meaningful versatility. While Pierce doesn’t have a standout skill, his ability to fill in the gaps as a dribble/pass/shoot wing 4 with fluid movement on defense and current baseline of positional strength gives him the potential to play across the frontcourt at the next level.
While Collin Murray-Boyles (9.1 C-RAM) has a bit of a throwback game, the value of a 4 that can defend inside and outside in addition to working from the elbow as a scorer and facilitator still has a ton of value in college. In addition to being a force on the boards (9.6 per game and 2.8 OREB in games with Wasatch), Boyles’ size, positioning, and IQ allow him to slide with quicker wings, preventing bigs from creating space down low, and make plays off the ball (averaged 4 stocks per game in LaPorte, equating to a 103 DSI score). Boyles’ ability of the forgotten art of the entry pass, touch out to 18 feet, and ability to work out of the post and as a screener should make South Carolina coach LaMont Paris eager to get him minutes early.
Arguably the biggest stock riser for 1st year NIBC member Long Island Lutheran, VJ Edgecombe (7.9 C-RAM) should find his name significantly higher on every recruiting service’s next update of the 2024 rankings. Putting up 11 points, 4.5 boards, 4 assists, 2.5 steals, and 2 blocks, Edgecombe offers a ton of 2-way production in a low-usage role. Blending fluidity as a mover with an elite first step and vertical pop, he makes up for his current lack of shooting by firing out of a cannon off closeouts and using those previously mentioned tools as a finisher, while also maintaining advantages as a playmaker due to that rim pressure. While still rounding out his discipline on-ball, Edgecombe’s tools and instincts have also turned him into a stock monster from help positions, covering ground like a free safety for deflections and steals.
Derik Queen was nothing short of dominant in Indiana, leading the event with a 14.4 C-RAM while averaging 29 points, 10.5 boards, 3 assists, and 2.5 steals per game. The 2024 big demolished single coverage against more slender defenders, utilizing his burly frame, deft footwork, and craft to generate finishing angles, and showed soft touch within 8 feet. Once defenses had no choice but to send help, his playmaking out of the post to cutters put help defenders in no-win situations. While not the most disciplined defender and a subpar athlete, a benefit of the Queen experience is his active hands both at the head of MVA’s ¾ press, in passing lanes, and most importantly, at the level of the screen, currently his best PnR coverage.
With 28 games in our database, Cooper Flagg (8.3 C-RAM) AVERAGES a 108 DSI, which includes 2.2 steals and 2.5 blocks per game. More than the numbers, you end a game of Flagg’s being surprised on the rare occasions he makes a mistake. As Flagg continues to make progress as a creator, his smart cutting and ability to attack a closeout and finish in transition has given some breathing room on a promising, yet still developing, handle and 3-point jumper.
Long Island Lutheran continues to impress me each time I watch them, and this weekend 2023 PG Jayden Reid (11.3 C-RAM) was the engine in Luhi’s win over Oak Hill. Reid used his speed and quickness at the point of attack to slow down the opposition’s sets and made a point of generating easy points out of those missed shots. As the game slowed down to the half-court, hitting 2 of his 4 3’s opened the floor up to give him attacking creases and made finishing angles for a small guard like himself easier in addition to better opportunities as an interior passer.
DeShawn Harris-Smith (13.5 C-RAM) was all over both ends of the court in PVI’s win over Roselle Catholic. In addition to flying around the court to stop many of Roselle’s transition looks, DHS was able to contain the opposing guards at the point of attack, blowing up screens with his burly frame. Offensively, his aggression created a ton of paint touches for the PVI offense, where he was able to finish with strength or find teammates when the defense collapsed on him. This decisiveness should translate to a likely off-ball role at Maryland, provided he builds on the 1.6 3’s taken per game he currently averages in the Cerebro database.
Sierra Canyon controlled their game against Columbus for the first 3 quarters, and 2023 forward Jimmy Oladokun’s defense of Cam Boozer was a large reason why. Despite not putting up large counting stats, Oladokun controlled the glass with 11 rebounds. More importantly, the 6-8 San Diego commit’s defense of Boozer was textbook, pushing him off his preferred spots with physicality and forcing him into a ton of counters.
When it comes to production and versatility, there are very few people that match 2024 Montverde wing Liam McNeeley (8.8 C-RAM). From a power-driving wing in his underclassmen years to a high-level spot-up shooter (40% from 3 on 242 attempts) while maintaining his connective playmaking and plus defense, McNeeley has been able to successfully fill a variety of roles for Drive Nation in AAU and now Montverde this high school season, making him a fit for just about any school in the country.
In Prolific Prep’s big win over Westtown, one of the individual skill standouts was Yves Missi’s (10.0 C-RAM) activity in ball screen defense where he blitzed opposing guards above the screen. In addition to causing at least 3 turnovers, there were a handful more possessions where he disrupted the action and was able to rotate back to the assignment and complete a help responsibility. For a player that was considered more of a raw talent entering the year, it is a credit to him as well as Prolific’s coaching staff for the improvements he has made in terms of defensive discipline.
After a slow start to his first NIBC campaign, 2025 Oak Hill guard Kaden Magwood (7.4 C-RAM) had his best performance of the year against LuHi, scoring 22 points on 9-13 shooting and 3 steals. Most impressive from Magwood was his success as a driver. Partially set up by hitting both of his 3’s, Magwood was also able to get in the paint with his twitchy first step and handle and finished at the hoop in just about every way you think of, whether that be patience in the lane, aggressiveness to initiate contact, and explode off the ground and hang in the air with balance and control. Generally playing as an off-guard, Magwood doing most of this as a creator provides intrigue for his future development.
As people begin to gain familiarity with the 2026 class, an early long-term prospect that has caught my eye is Bishop Gorman’s Jaxson Richardson (12.0 C-RAM). A 6-foot-5 wing with long limbs and fluid movement patterns, Richardson’s commitment to his role as a high-energy slasher is admirable. He had multiple possessions in Springfield where he had multiple efforts on the offensive glass, and despite not having a consistent jumper yet, Richardson’s ability to contort around defenders as a driver after a first step with real pop is an intriguing baseline to build his skillset.