Cameron Barnes is the Name to Remember From This Year’s John Lucas All-Star Weekend
Published on March 7, 2018 by Clark Francis
Remember the name Cameron Barnes. We're talking about a long lanky athletic 6'8 big man from Wichita, KS and he has amazing agility, coordination, and mobility for somebody so big and so young. He also is a thoroughbred in transition and has quick hands and feet and a great nose for the ball, which he uses to rebound, block shots, and come up with more than his share of steals and deflections. His offensively skills are still evolving, but he does have a soft tough on his shot, has surprisingly good ball handling and passing skills for somebody so big and so young, and is very fluid and mobile in the post. He will need to get a lot bigger and stronger physically, but it's hard to imagine that anybody nationally in the Class of 2023 has more upside and potential, we suspect that he will end up being a 7-footer, and he more than held his own when matched up against 6'4 7th Grader Jayden Nicholsonfrom St. Louis, MO, who is recognized as one of the top five or 10 players nationally in the Class of 2023 and arguably was as good as anybody that we saw in this age group over the weekend at the John Lucas All-Star Weekend, which was held at the MI-3 Center and Westfield High School in Houston, TX.
And, while Barnes' game is finesse, Nicholson's game is power and he doesn't take any prisoners in the post, thanks to the fact that he has a great combination of strength, power, and athleticism. He also has excellent moves around the basket, makes a living garnering seemingly every rebound, does a nice job of passing out of the post, runs the court extremely well for somebody his size, still has plenty of upside, and, as an added bonus, he's a lefty. On the other hand, Nicholson was still unable to get Team Griffin Elite over the hump in the quarter finals, as Drive Nation Red advanced with a 66-63 win into the semi-finals and 5'7 6th Grader Zach Fluellan from Frisco, TX, who was one of the best 3-point shooters that we saw all weekend and has a great combination of versatility and athleticism, provided the perfect complement to Barnes out on the perimeter with 32 points and seven treys.
The North Coast Blue Chips knocked off Drive Nation Red, 64-62, in the Semi-Finals and the Houston Hoops Blue Chips, 56-54, in the Championship Game, but the big story here was the fact that 6'0 7th Grader Bronny James from Akron, OH, who is the son of LeBron James, was the guy who run the show and made this team go. And, just like his father back when we saw him play in high school, what the son does best is pass the basketball. He also has good ball handling and passing skills, plenty of court savvy, an excellent feel for the game, the speed and quickness necessary to get to the rim, and a soft touch on his outside shot, plus he seemed to get better and better as the weekend wore on. We also don't want to forget about 6'10 7th Grader Jahzare Jackson from Miami, FL, who is a project right now and rarely saw the ball during the limited minutes of action that he saw with North Coast Blue Chips. He's not very mobile and athletic and he doesn't finish real well, but he does have good hands, anticipates well and gets plenty of offensive rebounds and, like they say, you can't teach size.
Another one of the top players in this age group was 5'3 7th Grader Demarcus Singleton from Gray, LA and, with his good upper strength, explosiveness in transition, flare for the spectacular, and willingness to pull the trigger, he reminds us in a lot of ways of 6'0 SophSharife Cooper from Power Springs (McEachern) GA, who is one of the most exciting and fastest rising player nationally in the Class of 2020. Singleton had 25 points in his team's 59-53 win in the quarterfinals against the Dream Chasers, but could not get his team over the hump in the semi-finals against a well-balanced Houston Hoops Blue Chips 2023, which was led by 6'4 7th Grader Tyler Ringgold from Baton Rouge, LA, 5'10 7th Grader Chris Lockett from New Orleans, LA, 6'4 7th Grader Corey Kelly from Houston, TX, 6'3 7th Grader Wayne Yates from Beaumont, TX, and 6'2 67th Grader Zyon Little from Houston, TX. Ringgold is not a tough customer, but he has tremendous natural talent and athleticism and the skills necessary to play both inside and outside. Lockett is a slick little playmaker who uses his speed and quickness to get wherever he wants to on the court and he has the ball handling and passing skills necessary to get his teammates involved. Kelly gets more than his share of rebounds, does a lot of the dirty work, and scores around the basket. Yates is more of a slasher than a shooter, but he has good body control and he makes a living attacking the basket. Little has a good combination of size and athleticism and he impressed us with his outside shooting.
The best player for the above mentioned Dream Chasers was 6'0 6th Grader Austin Childress from Atlanta, GA and, although he was playing up a year in class, he impressed with his toughness, upper body strength, and ability to post up around the basket en route to 11 points when we saw his team play against Triple Threat. We also were impressed with two players - 6'4 7th Grader Gabriel Omoregie from Dacula, GA and 6'3 7th GraderLamaryion Jordan from Dacula, GA - from D-Elite, which lost to Triple Threat, 80-56, in the Round of 16. The former is raw offensively, but he's aggressive to the basket, owns the boards, and blocks more than his share of shots. The latter is a high energy guy with the versatility and athleticism necessary to play both inside and outside and is tough to stop when he attacks the basket. We also don't want to forget about 5'7 7th Grader Saulamon Evans from Atlanta, GA, who was another one of the great outside shooters that we saw in this age group, as is evident by the fact that he knocked down seven 3-poiinters when we saw him lead Elite 2.0 to a 65-54 win against T.J. Ford Nation in the second round of the playoffs.
We also were extremely impressed with the outside shooting of 5'0 6th Grader Jamal Chretien from Houston, TX, who was one of the best players that we saw in the 6th Grade Division. We were tipped off that he had already knocked nine 3-pointers for the Houston Hoops Blue Chips 2024 in a 73-61 second round playoff win against Wisconsin Playground. And he followed that up with six more treys, including five when the game was on the line, when we first saw him play in a 61-57 win in the quarterfinals over the Powerhouse Bulls. Chretien will need to get bigger and stronger physically and right now he's got the kind of lack of height that will scare away a lot of evaluators in our business. However, his Dad is 6'5 and his mother is 6'0 and time is on his side. And fact that he also has good speed and quickness and is also lefty makes him all the more intriguing. We also don't want to forget about 6'1 6th Grader Christian Joe from Houston, TX, who was extremely efficient with his ability to score and rebound in the post, and 6'3 6th Grader Neffi Taiwo from Houston, TX, who is like a deer learning to how to run right now, but has the size, length, and athleticism necessary to become as good as he wants to be with hard work and continued development.
The Powerhouse Bulls 2024 also had a couple of players worth mentioning in 6'0 6th Grader Tyler Johnson from Orlando, FL and 5'3 6th Grader Johnnie Brown from Orlando, FL. Johnson is a skilled 4-man with excellent athleticism, good footwork, and knack for being able to score and rebound in the post. Brown is an athletic 2-guard who did a good job defensively of not giving Chretien any open looks in the first half and he made some big shots of his own and came up with some key steals down the stretch. Brown also has a good nose for the ball, rebounds, well for his size, and knows how to attack the basket. We also thought 6'3 6th Grader Jaxon Ford from Sherman, TX was one of the best players in this age group after we saw him scorek 21 points in Drive Nation Gold's 52-35 win over GBDI Premier National in the second round of the playoffs. We're talking about an athletic big man with a soft touch and good moves around the basket, an excellent nose for the ball and aggressiveness on the boards, and a willingness to set picks and screens, And last, but not least in this age group, is 5'9 6th Grader Tayshawn Bridges from Milwaukee, WI, who not only is he an excellent 3-point shooter, but really knows how to get his shot and showed that he is capable of putting up prolific numbers to the tune of close to 45 points versus the Houston Hoops Blue Chips 2024.
We move onto the 8th Grade Division, which had a lot of good players, but lacked the national star power that we saw in 6th and 7th Grade Divisions. We start with 6'6 8th GraderMark Mitchell from Lansing, KS, who is a multi-dimensional athletic wing forward with good size for his position, excellent speed and quickness to the rim, and the ability to knock down the outside shot. He will need to get bigger and stronger physically, but he does have a competitive edge and good ball handling and passing skills for somebody his size. We also really liked 6'7 8th Grader Colin Smith from Dallas, TX He's versatile enough to play both inside and outside, has good length and athleticism, plays with a lot of energy, gets after it on the boards, handles well for his size, has good body control, is an excellent finisher, and is capable of knocking down the outside shot. And providing the perfect complement to Smith on Texas Hardwork 2022 was 6'7 8th Grader Richard Torres from San Antonio, TX. Not only is a good rebounder and has excellent skills around the basket, but he also knows how to compete, is quick enough to defend smaller guys out on the perimeter, and has good ball handling and passing skills out on the perimeter.
Next on our list is 6'7 8th Grader Max Allen from Las Vegas, NV, who checks in a 250 pounds and is a tough match-up with his ability to score, rebound, and bang in the post. He also has an excellent outlet pass, likely will continue to grow, and actually knows that his bread-and-butter is taking care of business around the basket. And providing the Houston Hoops Blue Chips 2022 with an excellent inside/outside punch were 6'9 8th Grader Mo Ngon from Houston, TX and 6'0 8th Grader Jordan Williams from Houston, TX. Ngon's defense is way ahead of his offense and he's not a tough customer, but he is oozing with upside and potential, thanks to his length and athleticism and his ability to rebounds, block shots, and defend. Williams is a tough hardnosed combo guard with the speed and quickness necessary to get to the basket, plus he is an excellent defender and has an excellent pedigree, which stems from his father having played in the NFL and his brother also being a running back on the gridiron. We also don't want to forget about 6'7 8th Grader Jaxon Kohler from American Fork, UT, who has good length, athleticism, skills, and footwork, and does a good job on the boards and passing out of the post.
Other players in this age group that played well enough to mention are 6'0 8th Grader Carl Fauntroy from Mobile, AL, 6'5 8th Grader Nehikhare Igietron from Austin, TX, 5'8 8th Grader JerQualen Parks from Dallas, TX, 5'7 8th Grader Keiveon Hunt from Jackson, MS, 6'4 8th Grader Taj Manning from Grandview, MO, 6'5 8th Grader Rylan Griffenfrom Plano, TX, 5'9 8th Grader DeMari Henderson from Sanford, FL, and 5'8 8th Grader JaCari Henderson from Sanford, FL. Fauntroy impressed us with his speed, quickness, and athleticism, excellent nose for the ball, and ability to get to the rim. Igietron put up impressive numbers with his ability to score around the basket and get more than his share of rebounds. However, it's his upside and potential that really gets us excited. Parks impressed us with his ability to both shoot and slash, great body control, and athleticism, which he used to get more than his share steals. Hunt is an athletic 2-guard who excels in an up tempo setting and likes to pull the trigger with the deep range that he has on his jump shot. Manning has quick hands and feet, rebounds well for his size, is good at attacking the basket, and he gets more than his share of blocks, steal, and deflections. Griffin needs strength, but he's extremely athletic and he can both shoot and slash. The Henderson's are twins and they were interchangeable in the backcourt with their quickness to the rim and ability to create all kinds of havoc at the defensive end. As for which one we liked better, the former hit the game winning shot to upset Drive5 Power Elite, 68-66, in the second round of the playoffs and the latter had a tendency to be a little bit wild and out of control and he also took more than his share of bad shots.