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Takeaways from the National Prep Showcase
Intro: Spent last weekend in New Haven, Connecticut at the National Prep Showcase, getting eyes on numerous talented players and programs. I left with tons of notes, below are some of my biggest takeaways and scouting notes.
JP Estrella, Brewster
The 6’11 Tennessee commit looked every bit like a 5* center at National Prep Showcase - averaging 12/6/1 & 2.5 blocks in 21 minutes per game across 2 games. Versatile bigs on stacked teams can often become perimeter-based non-factors or get lost in the mix trying to do a little bit of everything. Estrella did not have those problems - finding a balance between picking out his spots well on high lows, without sacrificing his shooting skill. Brewster is loaded with high-level players, but it felt as though things ran through Estrella every time down when he was on the floor. Finished NPS as a top 10 performer in 3PE, our shooting metric - knocking down 5 of his 8 attempts (53.3 3Pr) for a 100 3PE. Defensively, Estrella’s continued growth with his fluidity has borne fruit - he is arriving to spots earlier, with better hand/arm placement & walling up stronger at the rim (only whistled for 1 foul in 41 total minutes). He is still growing into his body, having sprouted up over 7 inches late in his high school career & the muscle development is starting to come around. Picking Tennessee, given its legendary reputation of physical development in the weight, will definitely help pack on the pounds, but it’s a good sign for the long term that Estrella already looks noticeably different from my viewings in the summer.
Mo Dioubate, Putnam Science Academy:
Speaking of physical maturity, are we 100% sure this is Mo Diabate? Wow - the multi-year transformation that the Alabama commit has undergone is startling. Dioubate already had tools galore plus wingspan, broad shoulders, and good movement skills - but to have a college-ready frame before he steps on campus is going to start him ahead of the curve of most freshmen. Dioubate contributed in every way for PSA, averaging 14/11.5 (5.5 o-reb!) while generating havoc on the defensive end (2 spg, 1 bpg, 109 DSI). But what stood out to me most was the improved shooting touch, in the 2 games Dioubate shot 80% from the FT line (8-10). After struggling in EYBL (52.5 FT%, 61-116) there were small tweaks made that have the ball coming out of his hand softer and look to be repeatable as the season carries on. Mo has always been an effective and efficient offensive operator, even with the FT shooting challenges - should it be improved, look for all those trips to the line to turn into even further production.
Under the radar guys who stood out:
Takai Hardy, Sunrise
The 6’6 post-grad wing was only able to play 1 game due to injury - in the game that Hardy played I was extremely impressed by his gutsy play & the ability to slide between multiple positions on the defensive end. Hardy is a big-time wing athlete in terms of highlights, but it’s the blend of a low center of gravity and lateral quickness that stood out more than the high-flying dunks. The swiss army knife ability to play as a 3, 4, or even a bit of 5 on either - getting downhill and driving efficient offense (8 free throw attempts in 30 minutes played), boxing out taller players to kill possession, and moving in big space against wings is a skillset that drives winning at the next level. Lastly, Hardy has an old-school Bay Area tough approach to the game, was clearly hobbled by a lower leg injury but was the highest-energy player on the floor & came up with an out-of-area offensive rebound to give Sunrise a 2nd look at a game-tying 3.
Will Loving-Watts, Putnam Science Academy
Loving-Watts de-committed from Drake late in the cycle to take the prep route & the extra time to develop before college has really done well for him. WLW has an imposing frame at 6’6 with funky movement skills that he used to knife into the 2nd side of the defense for self-created advantage. As the games went on, I started to see Loving-Watts as a player who could develop into a creator on the next level in the right college player development system. There are a lot of positives there in terms of creation upside, even looking past the physical tools - he made smart decisions (4:1 A:TO) and took the right shots when offered to him (1-6 from 3, 26 3Pr). The jumper leaves his hand smoothly and the energy transfer looks to be replicable, I would look for that process to balance out on a larger sample size as the season progresses.
Long term prospects to monitor:
Joson Sanon, Vermont Academy
It took all of 1 game for 2025 wing Joson Sanon to be the talk of NPS - a 6’5 wing with a controlled, easy half-court game. At no point did the sophomore look hurried or bothered as he orchestrated offense and picked out his spots on his way to a 22/4/1 0 TOs showing. It seemed like whatever coverage or defender was thrown at Sanon, he knew the answer for it & would find it at his own pace. Seeing a young wing who can make the right decision over and over again acting as a high-usage perimeter hub is rare, getting that with a plus shooter (2-4 from 3 here, 22-50 in EYBL) is even rarer.
Tyler Betsey, St Thomas More
6’9 F Tyler Betsey is at this point a national name, having blown up fully this summer with NY Rens as a component wing piece sniping away on good looks on a very talented team. In this STM context, I was curious to see how much usage Betsey could handle & if acting as a primary creator was comfortable for him. The overall play was solid 17/6/2 7.4 C-RAM - the notable thing is the volume: 33 shots in 2 games at 28 usage is a big step forward in aggressive shot hunting, especially given that Betsey didn’t shoot very well in either game (3-13 from 3). In the summer, I thought Betsey was easily discouraged by consecutive misses and would pass up good shots on his bad days - not the case here.