CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The NBPA Top 100 Camp finished up over the weekend as a lot of top prospects gathered for one of the best gatherings of talented players each year. With coaching and development from former NBA players and coaches, the camp provides a valuable learning experience for the players who are involved. It also gives the players and scouts a chance to see where everyone stacks up against other top level competition. In the end, plenty was learned about some of the top players in the 2016 and 2017 classes who will have a major impact on college basketball in the coming seasons.
1. Thon Maker is still a major factor on the floor
Over the past year, Thon Maker’s reputation had taken a bit of a hit after trying to play more like a wing instead of a stretch big man. At the 2015 NBPA Top 100 Camp, Maker put everything together in a consistent and productive manner to clinch MVP honors and put himself back in the conversation among the nation’s elite. While Maker made some perimeter shots and showed a face-up game in the mid post, his speed and ability to handle the ball in the open floor is hard to stop for a player his size. Also leading the camp in rebounds and placing fifth in blocks, Maker was a complete threat who looks back on track as a top prospect.
2. Frank Jackson is pushing his way into elite status
During the April live evaluation period some college coaches firmly believed that Utah native Frank Jackson could be the best guard in the 2016 class after his performances in the adidas Gauntlet. After another strong showing at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, the 6-foot-2 Jackson looks like he might be a serious candidate as the best guard in the 2016 class. With very good athleticism and an ability to score all over the floor, Jackson is a threat to score from many different areas of the court. He also has enough vision and passing ability to be a big and athletic point guard who can make plays above the rim and touch the paint frequently.
3. DeAndre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba and the 2017 big man group will be fun to track
The Class of 2017 has a number of high-level big men that will push for many of the top spots in that class. DeAndre Ayton has established himself as the top dog in 2017 — and many believe in all of high school basketball — and others like Wendell Carter, Zach Brown, Mohamed Bamba and Nick Richards are starting to also look like potential five-star prospects. Carter wasn’t in attendance, but the other three all showed glimpses of greatness at the camp. The 7-foot-0 Bamba, in particular is a fluid and smooth prospect who makes big impact plays on both ends of the floor. Watching this group, which also includes a lot of other talented players, should be a lot of fun over these last two years of high school.
4. Trevon Duval will compete for best guard in 2017
One of the biggest revelations of the NBPA Top 100 Camp was the emergence of Class of 2017 five-star point guard Trevon Duval. Already a known five-star prospect entering the event, the 6-foot-3 Duval elevated his play to another level at the camp and made plays all over the floor. The Delaware native tied for ninth in points (13.3 ppg) and was first in assists while also shooting 63 percent from the field. If Duval hits shots from the perimeter he becomes completely unguardable because his first step and athleticism gets him in the paint frequently. Duval also has a tight handle and plays well above the rim, so he brings plenty of exciting plays to the table. Playing at basketball powerhouse St. Benedict’s Prep, Duval is putting himself in the conversation to be the Class of 2017’s best guard.
5. Villanova got a good one in Omari Spellman
There was an interesting conversation among media at the camp about Villanova not having a big man like 2016 commit Omari Spellman in quite some time. The 6-foot-8 Spellman was tremendous during the camp as he played with a high motor and was consistently productive scoring the ball. He averaged 15 points per game and scored on post touches, 3-pointers and got to the free throw line the fourth most in camp. Even better, Spellman was 28-for-32 at the line and he’s going to draw plenty of fouls in his career. The Wildcats have a nice post piece to build around in the 2016 class and they should have some good guards on the roster that will benefit greatly from Spellman’s arrival.
6. Markelle Fultz and Shamorie Ponds continue to score everywhere they go
Two of the biggest scoring threats of the the spring were guards Markelle Fultz and Shamorie Ponds. The 6-foot-4 Fultz put up double figures in every single game in playing for the DC Blue Devils in the Under Armour Association while Ponds was one of the EYBL’s best scorers for the New York Lightning. Both Class of 2016 guards continued scoring the ball at a high clip at the camp as they both made their way into the camp’s top 10 in scoring. The five-star Fultz is versatile enough to play multiple guard spots, while the 6-foot-0 Ponds can handle and find teammates with passes when he isn’t focused on scoring.
7. Texas A&M commit J.J. Caldwell is underappreciated
One of the underappreciated players in the Class of 2016 Texas A&M commit J.J. Caldwell. A 6-foot-0 floor general from Texas is a great start to the Aggies’ class and he gives them a tough guard who is physical and makes teammates better. Caldwell was also aggressive on the defensive end, coming up with stops and steals on a regular basis. With Texas A&M also bringing in a ton of talent around him, Caldwell should have plenty of capable teammates who can finish his passes.