Opening night of the 2016 Next Level Invitational saw a number of high quality efforts as hundreds of college coaches turned out for the first evening of the July evaluation period.  Here’s a quick look at a few who caught our attention on day 1 in Wisconsin…

WEDNESDAY’S TOP PERFORMERS (ALPHABETICAL ORDER)

ALEX ARIANS – 2017 – G – WISCONSIN SWING
The three-point marksman cannot be left open, but the 6’4 Edgewood product asserted himself defensively on the ball Wednesday in the Swing’s win over MN Select Ohnstad which is a part of his game coaches tracking him will enjoy seeing. Arians also had a couple nice finishes in transition through traffic against MN Select. 

MATT DETLINGER – 2017 – F – MARTIN BROTHERS SELECT
Detlinger knocked in shots from the perimeter, and scored in the paint – including a nice post move finished with his left hand – on his way to a game-high 19 points in a close loss to the IL Stars IBA. The 6’8 Kuemper Catholic forward possesses a solid skill set and versatile floor game.  He also had six rebounds and two blocks to go with his impressive offensive display. 

TREVOR HANSON – 2018 – F – DAKOTA SCHOOLERS
Playing up an age group in the NY2LA Sports Association, the 6’7 Sioux Valley forward showed a tenacity and toughness going up against a big and athletic Grassroots Hoops squad out of Minnesota. Though the box score won’t reflect it from Wednesday night’s game, Hanson showed the potential to be a solid big. He can move, and has a solid feel for the game on both ends and his best basketball lies ahead.

DREW JOHNSON – 2017 – G – MARTIN BROTHERS SELECT
Waukee High’s 6’ point guard put on a shooting clinic against the IL Stars IBA by canning four three-pointers, but also displayed the ability to knock down pull-up jumpers off the dribble to go with his cash catch-and-shoot stroke. DII and DIII’s would be remiss in overlooking Johnson as a possible target as they track potential recruits during the Next Level Invitational. 

CHRIS KNIGHT – 2017 – F – WISCONSIN SWING
Madison Memorial’s Chris Knight’s activity in the paint is impossible to miss when you watch him play. At 6’7 with bounce, Knight can finish above the rim and he gives the Swing a shot-blocking presence inside. He also has had to become a good screener as the Swing sport a bevy of shooters. As mid-major DI’s continued to track him Wednesday, Knight didn’t disappoint in a runaway win over MN Select Ohnstad with a team-high 12 points to go with three blocks. Knight is one of the most intriguing prospects in attendance as he still has plenty of room to grow offensively in expanding his game. 

SAM OHLRICH – 2017 – F/C – IL STARS IBA
Much like Powell, the 6’9 Ohlrich (Marian Central Catholic) is also a developing big man prospect. He converted on all four of his field goal attempts around the basket, and grabbed five boards in limited minutes. Numbers don’t tell the whole story as Ohlrich as a prospect as he displayed a good motor running up and down the court and attacking the glass on both ends. 

PJ PIPES – 2017 – G – IL STARS IBA
Throughout NY2LA Sports Association play we’ve become accustom to the 6’2 Pipes (Lemont) getting buckets from all over the floor, and on Wednesday he had a team-high 16 points. However, his jumper wasn’t falling with great consistency but like all great scorers can do – he found a way to get to the free throw line and cashed in on 7-of-9 attempts. Count on low-to-mid major DI coaches to be tracking his progress this weekend at the Next Level Invitational. 

TEE AARON POWELL – 2017 – F/C – IL STARS IBA
Powell is a project big man that has developed nicely over the course of NY2LA Sports Association league play, and the 6’9 Marian Catholic product seems to be putting it together during the first live period of July. Powell showed some strong moves in the paint, and though it’s a bit mechanical it is effective. He scored 10 points in the Stars’ win over Martin Brothers, but more impressively hauled in six boards and blocked a jaw-dropping six shots. Powell’s natural instincts and timing as a shot blocker is his biggest asset while he continues to develop his game. 

JAQUON SANDERS – 2017 – G – GRASSROOTS HOOPS
The bouncy, 6’2, Minneapolis North product was a killer in transition – as well as in the half court – attacking the rim. Though he had a slightly off game finishing some of his drives, his handle, athleticism and ability to get off nice looks at the rim stood out in a 10-point performance during a win over the Dakota Schoolers. 

BRIAN SMITH – 2017 – G – MN SELECT OHNSTAD
Despite a tough, lopsided loss to the Wisconsin Swing, Smith kicked off the Next Level Invitational with a nice 10-point performance which was a team-high. At 5’7, the Champlin Park point guard showed his size won’t deter him from trying to get anywhere on the floor. He showed off a nice shooting stroke and buried two treys, and also used his quickness and handle to get into the lane and finish at the cup. File Smith under the super sleeper category for DII and DIII’s. 

JALEN SUGGS – 2020 – G – GRASSROOTS HOOPS
First-time onlookers can barely believe Suggs has yet to begin his freshman year at Minnehaha Academy, and the 6’3 point guard didn’t disappoint in Wednesday’s Next Level Invitational opener. Suggs scored a game-high 14 points in a blowout win over the Dakota Schoolers, and also collected a ridiculous six steals. His instincts in the passing lanes, and ability to guard the ball, are exceptional for any high school prospect let alone one from the class of 2020. Suggs also was efficient with his decision making in transition Wednesday, which is another skill coaches will covet in this big time prospect. 

JASON WHITENS – 2017 – G/F – GRAND RAPIDS STORM
Powers North Central’s 6’5 wing got the Grand Rapids Storm off to a quick start against the Colorado Titans and they never looked back on the way to a 20-point win in NY2LA Sports Association play. Whitens scored 12 points, grabbed six boards, and notched three steals while showing off an impressive floor game. He had to guard players bigger than him, and held his own doing so – and also was able to move his feet to stay in front of guards. With a shooting skill that extends beyond the three-point arch, and ability to put the ball on the floor and drive past his defender, Whitens could be on track to be one of the break out prospects of the Next Level Invitational.