The Take Away: Elite 75 Prep Showcase
At this point, it is no secret that the Elite 75 Prep Showcase in Charlotte, NC is one of the top showcases in the state! The director and staff have put on a top notch event over the past few years and this year was no different. There were high caliber players that came to make a name for themselves against fierce competition. While many players left it all on the floor, there were only the few that stood out above the rest!
For those in attendance, it is with certainty that everyone would agree that Forest Trail Academy’s (Kernersville, NC) c/o 2018, 6’8 wing/forward Joel Ntambwe was arguably the best player in the gym. Throughout the entire event, there was no answer for him on the defensive end. Ntambwe had his way in every game he played. He displayed his offensive ability to do just about anything he wanted. Whether it was handling the ball, controlling the offense, taking his man off the dribble, or benefitting from a mismatch in the post, Ntambwe did it all. On defense, he was light on his feet, has good anticipation on defending shots, and uses his length to disrupt the offense. Already holding an offer from Tennessee, there’s a high expectation that his number of offers will continue to grow.
In most events, it’ll be one player who comes out of the woodwork and puts on a show that catches everyone off guard. This year that honor goes to Garner High School’s (Garner, NC) c/o 2020, 6’6 wing Todd Burt. Burt dazzled everyone with his length, high motor, shot making, and defensive ability. Over the course of the event, he gave his all every time he was on the court. Offensively, Burt took good shots, knocking them down with high efficiency. He slashed to the basket and finished around the rim. Burt also made sure to get out in the open floor on the fastbreak and showed his ability to score above the rim. On the defensive end, he contested and blocked shots, catching his man off guard with his lanky arms. Overall, Burt showed that he has the potential to be another big name to come out of the HoopState.
Another standout at the Elite 75 Prep Showcase was Charlotte United Christian Academy’s (Charlotte, NC) c/o 2018, 6’5 point guard Jaylen Sims. Upon initial impression, you would think he’s a post player until you witness him bring the ball up the court and run the offense. Sims has all the tools of a good point guard and the added advantage of being 6’5. Not only does he do well facilitating, but he handles pressure with ease, combines his height and vision to see the defense, displays patience, and has the ball on a string. Sims made defenders pay with a sharp, right-to-left skip crossover that freed up space for his 15 footers. He’s also a pass-first point guard, looking to set-up his teammates for easy baskets. On defense, Sims is just as good. He uses his size and quickness to his advantage, smothering smaller guards, putting them in uncomfortable situations which sometimes leads to turnovers. Overall, Sims has the potential to be a big-time player in the Charlotte area!
Northern Guilford High School’s (Greensboro, NC) c/o 2018, Andy Pack displayed one of the best motors throughout the showcase. The 6’4 guard seemed to be all over the floor on both ends of the court! While Pack’s overall skill was fundamentally sound, it was his hustle that helped him stand out above the rest. Every time you looked up, he was getting another fastbreak lay-up or dunk – and not because he was cherry-picking. Pack was tenacious on defense and relentless on offense as he never let up on his opponent. Pack is a throwback player that gets it done with heart and effort!
If there were a “Mr. Everything” award, it would undoubtedly go to Hampstead High School’s (Savannah, GA) c/o 2017 Xavier Jones. Although listed as a 6’5 shooting guard, Jones showed that he’s not limited to a position. He rebounded like a forward, defender the other team’s big man like a center and knocked down shots like a shooting guard. Jones is a high energy, glue guy that’s willing to do what it takes to put his team in the position to win. Players like Jones are a coaches dream because he’s the type of guy that can lead the team to victory by exemplifying hard work and effort. He battles every play and doesn’t give up. Lastly, Jones is a fierce competitor. He may not say much, but you can tell by the look on his face when he plays that he’s ready for war!
Charlotte Basketball Academy’s (Henderson, NC) c/o 2017, 6’7 forward, Akeem White showed that he was one of the most seasoned players in the Elite 75. Along with his size, White showed the versatility that makes him a handful on the offensive end. Whether it was slashing to the basket, getting out on the fastbreak for the slam, or knocking down deep three-pointers, White showed that he could do it all. Most of all he was a competitor. There were moments during the Elite 75 where it seemed everyone was watching White because of his intensity. And the energy doesn’t drop when he’s playing defense. White plays with just as much passion and takes just as much pride in not letting his man score.
Fresh off verbally committing to Virginia Tech, Charlotte Catholic’s (Charlotte, NC) c/o 2019, the 6’8 power forward, BJ Mack came to show why he’s a high major player. Mack has, for the most part, always been ahead of his competition from a size (height & weight) perspective. While not very athletic, his skill level more than makes up for it. Mack is easily one of the most fundamentally sound players in the state. With his fineness, footwork and mobility he’s an absolute nightmare for defenders in the paint, even against players that are his size (or bigger). Mack is also extremely patient and does an excellent job surveying the court to make the right play. However, during the Elite 75, Mack showed that he’s been in the gym adding to his arsenal as he knocked down shot after shot out on the perimeter. These weren’t just set shots neither; it was off the dribble, jab steps, and in motion. Virginia Tech got a gem in BJ Mack, and we look forward to his continued progression here in the HoopState.
Another player who’s stock will be on the rise is Leesville High School’s (Raleigh, NC) c/o 2019 6’0 guard, DJ Horne. Horne showed that he’s a force to be reckoned. Horne has a knack for scoring, and if he gets hot, he will torch the nets. Offensively, he’s patient and always makes sure to be in the right place at the right time. Horne has an arching shot, so anytime his shot goes up it looks like it’s going in. Horne is just as efficient scoring inside the perimeter as he is outside. There was a moment during the Elite 75 where Horne was unstoppable. Whatever the defense was giving him, he was taking it and making them pay. If they gave him too much room, Horne knocked down the jumper. If they played him too close, he drove by and got to the rim. In that span, there was no answer on how to guard Horne. Playing on varsity as a freshman, having a great AAU season, and growing 3-4 inches from last year, Horne is showing that he’s ready to step into the spotlight and throw his name into the ring as one of the top players in the state. Remember the name because he has a chance to be real special.
Harnett Central High School’s (Harnett County, NC) c/o 2020 5’10 guard, Marcus Elliott was one of the younger players there but showed that his game is beyond his years. Elliott played with the calm and poise of high school senior. While he’s another player that can get hot in an instant, the lefty showed that he’s able to facilitate and run the show. Elliott made crisp passes, kept his head up on fastbreaks and got the ball up the court quickly, and took good shots. What’s most impressive about Elliott’s game is he can play both on and off the ball. When he had a chance to run the point, he facilitated, and when someone else ran the point, he moved without the ball, filled the lane and spotted up for set-shots. On defense he doesn’t shy away or slack off; he’s just as locked in and willing to defend whoever is in front of him. Elliott has a good basketball IQ and a tremendous work ethic. Expect to hear his name often in the years to come.