WESTFIELD, In. — The second session of the April live evaluation period was busy in the Indianapolis area as both the Nike EYBL and Under Armour Association had events near each other. It meant a lot of the nation’s elite players were all in the same vicinity and I’ve now had a chance to watch good chunks of all three shoe company circuits after checking out the adidas Gauntlet last week in the Dallas area.
I’ll have some takeaways from the Under Armour Association on Tuesday but here are five things I learned from the EYBL this weekend.
1. Missouri should try to get Jontay Porter in immediately — I’ll start with this point since it might have the most immediate impact on the college game. Missouri should be working as hard as possible to get Jontay Porter to enter school this year to help his older brother, Michael Porter Jr.
Jontay has been very good in the Nike EYBL so far this spring as he could really help the Tigers for the 2017-18 season with how much he has improved over 2017.
Jumping from the EYBL to the SEC is a whole different ballgame. But as a Class of 2018 forward who is considering the jump to 2017, Jontay has shown an ability to be a versatile threat and potential double-figure scorer as early as next season. Jontay is currently putting up 18.9 points, 12.9 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game while shooting 43 percent from three-point range.
Over an eight-game stretch, Porter is top fifteen in the EYBL in scoring and top five rebounding and blocked shots while shooting like that from the perimeter. That’s a potentially solid second or third option that Missouri could use when Michael Jr. doesn’t have a lot of help next season. Many seem to believe that Jontay will play at Missouri for next season and he could have more of an impact than what was initially perceived.
2. Marvin Bagley remains the top player in the Class of 2018
As for the Class of 2018 prospects who seem to be staying in that class, big man Marvin Bagley III remains the No. 1 prospect as he continues to look like the clear No. 1 at this point. The top player in the class since he entered high school, Bagley has lived up the hype in the EYBL so far this spring as he’s been a double-double machine while leading the league in points (26.9 points per game) and rebounds (14.7 per game).
The best rebounder in the class by a wide margin, Bagley displays great timing off the floor and his initial and secondary bounces are both elite because of how quickly he gets off the ground. Bagley can also score in a number of ways, although he has a tendency to take too many three-pointers at certain times when he could be dominating on the interior.
Down to a final six schools that includes Arizona, Duke, Kansas Kentucky, UCLA and USC, Bagley is definitely looking like a potential No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft and he’ll have a major impact in a class that is weak with star power.
3. But Bol Bol isn’t very far behind Marvin Bagley in 2018
Since moving to California for his junior season, 7-foot-2 center Bol Bol, the son of former NBA center Manute Bol, looks like a changed player.
Looking like the most lethal scorer in Indianapolis during the second session of the EYBL, the Class of 2018 five-star prospect had some breaktaking scoring runs over the weekend. In fact, this weekend made it seem like Bol is potentially the second best player in the class behind Bagley.
Third in the EYBL in scoring at 25.4 points per game, Bol elevated his play to a ridiculous level over four games this weekend.
Averaging 29.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.75 blocks per game, Bol was 45-for-60 (75 percent) from the field, 10-for-14 (71 percent) from three and 19-for-22 (86 percent) from the free-throw line. And his numbers from the weekend before weren’t that much different.
Through eight Nike EYBL games, Bol is averaging over 25 points a game on 66 (FG)/53 (3PT)/86 (FT) splits. And he’s also 7-foot-2 and can impact the game on the glass or protecting the rim. Bol’s perimeter jumper looks jaw-droppingly good at times and he’s one of the best perimeter shooters in the country even though he’s one of the tallest players in his class.
There are still times when Bol can slack a bit on defense and chasing after loose balls, but his overall talent and penchant for scoring are undeniable and he currently looks like the second best player in the country behind Bagley.
4. There is solid depth at point guard in the Class of 2018
The Class of 2018 doesn’t have a lot of star power and there does look like a healthy number of talented lead guards who should stick around college basketball for a couple of seasons. Between the three shoe company leagues, there is a lot of lead guard talent available for top programs in this class.
The Nike EYBL had a number of guys competing for the honor of top floor general in the class as Tre Jones (Tyus Jones’ younger brother), Javonte Smart and Darius Garland all looked like they could be in that conversation at various times over the weekend.
With Tyus watching him from the front row, Tre Jones had a very good weekend as he continues to be one of the top distributors in the country while also playing with more of an edge than his brother did on defense. Tre doesn’t have the same vision and offensive capabilities as his brother at the same age, but he plays with tremendous poise and has a lot of traits college coaches would love to have.
Smart is a bigger guard who plays with more of a scoring edge but his ability to get to the rim is tough to stop. Also good in the passing lanes, Smart needs to work on his perimeter jumper, but he can also score at the basket more effectively than most of the other point guards in his class.
Garland offers an enticing package of perimeter shooting and playmaking for others. Since the Tennessee native can drop in deep jumpers off the dribble, he keeps defenders honest at all times and forces them to play up on him when he crosses half court.
Along with plenty of others from adidas and Under Armour, it looks like the college ranks will get a healthy amount of quality floor generals in this class. It will be one of the fun storylines of this summer to see which of these guards can separate themselves from the pack.
5. North Carolina off to a solid start in the Class of 2018
The defending national champions are already off to a solid start recruiting this Class of 2018 as the Tar Heels own two commitments from guard Coby White and point forward Leaky Black.
Although both are only considered four-star prospects, in a class that doesn’t have a lot of elite players, both White and Black showed flashes of being better than their rankings might indicate. The 6-foot-4 White looked like a possible high-level scorer at the college level with his ability to knife in traffic and change directions. White is putting up over 20 points per game through eight EYBL games while also showing an ability to handle the ball.
The 6-foot-7 Black is more of the enigma, as he is clearly very talented but he hasn’t quite figured out how to play yet. More of a distributor then scorer, Black looks like he could take over a game but sometimes he plays too passively for his own good. Then, Black will make some sort of ridiculous pass or score on a tough finish and you see why the Tar Heels pursued an early commitment.
It’s hard to say if either of these guys will elevate to five-star status, but having two commitments means that head coach Roy Williams and his staff can spend more time evaluating other Class of 2018 and 2019 prospects who can play with these guys over the next several seasons.