Parity at the Top was the Order of the Day at the 2016 John Lucas Future of the Game - Vegas

May 2, 2016

Written by: Clark Francis (The Hoop Scoop)

We attended the 2016 John Lucas Future of the Game-West, which was held over the weekend at the Tarkanian Center in Las Vegas, NV, and the race really was too close to call among the likes of 6'2 8th Grader Jeremiah Dargan from Concord, CA, 5'1 6th GraderVincent Cruz Davis from Plano, TX, 5'5 6th Grader Jeremiah Johnson from Oklahoma City, OK, and 5'9 8th Grader Derrian Ford from Magnolia, AR when we start talking about who the top player was in camp. However, in the final analysis, we gave the nod to Dargan for a number of reasons. First, he's got the skills, athleticism, and versatility necessary to play both inside and outside. Second, he's got big hands and feet, tremendous length, and it's our guess that he will top out in the 6'10 to 7-foot range someday. Third, he's not a tough customer and will need to get bigger and stronger physically, but we liked the way he ran the court, competed, and was willing to get after it on the boards. Fourth, he has good speed and quickness for his size and nice moves around the basket, but also has an effective mid-range game and can keep you honest from out on the perimeter. Fifth, he was one of those guys who got better with every game, plus it looks like he's only just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of reaching his upside and potential.

Davis was clearly the best point guard in camp and he did a great job of running the show, getting his teammates involved, and making those around him better. He also has great ball handling and passing skills, a high basketball IQ, and plenty of court savvy for somebody so young, plus he changes speeds and directions extremely well, has good length, athleticism, and size for his position, and has a knack for being able to take what you give him. He will need to develop more an outside shooter's mentality, but he has good speed and quickness, which he uses to shut his man down defensively and when attacking the basket. Johnson is an athletic 2-guard and, whether it be getting to the basket or beating you with his outside shooting, this guy can flat out score. He is also one of those guys who plays with a swagger and it equally effective when it comes time to catch and shoot and getting his shot off the dribble. Ford is a multi-dimensional athletic combo forward who does his best work around the basket, where he goes strong to the rim and is aggressive on the boards, However, he also has the ball handing and passing skills necessary to play some out on the perimeter.

Ford also provided the perfect complement on one of the better team's in camp to 5'10 6th Grader Max Von Ark from Portland, OR, who is a long lanky skilled 4-man with the ability to score around the basket and off transition. He also has good ball handing and passing skills for somebody his size, is active on the boards, sets a lot of picks and screens, and moves well without the ball. We also really like the explosiveness and unselfishness of 5'3 5th Grader Caelan Wright from Alpharetta, GA, who not only by -far-and-away was the best 5th Grader in camp, but also was the second best pure point guard and did a great job of finding open teammates in the open court. He didn't look to shoot it from behind the arc, but does have excellent ball handling and passing skills, terrific court vision, and he also can be a terror at the defensive end. There also was 5'6 6th Grader Aiden Mahaney from Lafayette, CA, who is a long skinny combo forward with a good nose for the ball, great body control, the ability to score both inside and outside, and the willingness and mobility necessary to be a good defender.

And rounding out our list of the top 10-ranked players in camp are 5'7 6th Grader Jordan Williams from Houston, TX, 5'10 8th Grader Marquis Cook from Portland, OR, and 5'2 6th Grader Rowan Maida from Los Angeles, CA. Williams is an athletic 2-guard with a soft touch and knack for being able to get his shot. Cook has a good combination of size and athleticism and he makes a living rebounding, blocking shots, and using his speed and quickness to get to the rim. Maida is equally effective at either guard spot, because he has good ball handling and passing skills and is not gun shy when it comes to pulling the trigger and beating you with his outside shooting. And, if we're talking about size, pedigree, and upside and potential, then 5'11 6th Grader Creed Williamson from Sacramento, CA would have to be mentioned among the top 10-ranked players in the camp. We're talking about the son of former University of Arkansas All-American Corliss Williamson, but, as of yet, the light has not clicked on and, as a result, he lacks a takeover mentality and is more of a potential guy than somebody who is ready to step up and be a dominant force around the basket. On the other hand, Williamson does have big hands and feet and he will score around the basket, get some rebounds, and block some shots.

Next on our list are guys like 4'11 6th Grader Kayden Lamebull-Ingram from Anchorage, AK, 5'8, 6th Grader Curtis Williams from Beaumont, TX, 4'10 5th Grader Jackson Shelstad from Westland, OR, and 5'2 6th Grader Camron Amboree from Humble, TX. Lamebill-Ingram knows one speed, which is fast. However, it's still hard not to like his ball handling and passing skills, the way he gets his teammates involved in an up tempo setting, and the fact he is capable of scoring in a variety of ways. Williams has the ball handling skills necessary to play some out on the perimeter, but it's our guess that he will end up being a 4-man down the road. We're talking about somebody incredible length, a great nose for the ball, and the quickness and athleticism necessary to be match-up problem around the basket. Shelstad comes from the same stomping grounds as Peyton Pritchard and the comparison is interesting, because Shelstad is a tough hardnosed competitor with excellent ball handling and passing skills, plenty of court savvy, a good nose for the ball, and the ability to knock down the outside shot. Amboree has good ball handling and passing skills and jet-like speed and quickness, but he's more of a scorer than a facilitator, which makes him more of a combo guard than a pure point guard.

We also don't want to forget about 5'1 6th Grader Jared McCain from Sacramento, CA, 5'5 6th Grader Ashton Hardaway from Los Angeles, CA, 4'11 6th Grader Jaland Lowe from Missouri City, TX, 5'9 6th Grader Brendan Hausen from Amarillo, TX, 5'0 5th GraderAaron Powell from Altadena, CA, 5'6 6th Grader Austin Nunez from San Antonio, TX, 5'5 6th Grader Brett McCella from Manhattan Beach, CA, 5'9 6th Grader Cameron Crockettfrom Houston, TX,, 5'2 6th Grader Bryant Handley from Chicago, IL, and 5'6 5th GraderGavin "Q" Murphy from West Port, CT. McCain is an athletic 2-guard with excellent body control and he makes a living using his speed and quickness to get to the basket and finish at the rim. Hardaway was a little undersized for the position that he had to play in camp, but we liked the way he used his quickness and athleticism to rebound and score around the basket. Lowe is an explosive combo guard with good ball handling and passing skills, a knack for going coast-to-coast, and he changes speeds extremely well. However, we would have liked him better if he created more for his teammates, instead of himself.

Hasusen has the versatility necessary to play both inside and outside, but he will likely project as a wing forward down the road due to the fact that he was one of the better 3-point shooters in camp. Powell has the versatility and athleticism necessary to play either guard spot, but what he does best is get to the basket and knock down the outside shot. Nunex has good ball handing and passing skills and is more of a facilitator than a scorer. Ditto that with McCella in terms of being able to both get to the basket and knock down the outside shot, but he also deserves a special mention for his great hustle. Crockett is a silky smooth athletic 4-man who needs strength, but has a soft touch around the basket. However, it's his upside and potential that really gets us excited. Handley is a versatile athletic wing with good ball handling and passing skills, great hustle and a competitive edge, and a knack for being able to get to the rim. Murphy has a high basketball IQ, plays with a lot of energy, and, just like his two older brothers, is an excellent outside shooter.