The 2017 annual NY2LA Sports Invitational wrapped up over the weekend. In the final event before the pause button gets hit in June, a number of prospects left a lasting impression going into the July evaluation period…

TOP PERFORMERS
Quinlan Bennett – 2018 – SG – Kessel Heat Black

Bennett has one of the best mid-range games in the Midwest. He knows where his spots on the floor are and is able to create space off the bounce and catch the defense off guard by pulling up on a dime. Bennett also has terrific lift on his shot and even if he’s contested well, will out-hang the defender to get a clear look. Bennett doesn’t take plays off either. Even if the other team has just scored, Bennett sprints up the floor and tries to catch the defense napping. A 6-foot-3 guard with a knack for scoring and a lot of defensive upside with his length, mid-majors should be all over Bennett in July.

Gacoby Jones – 2018 – PG – Playground Elite
Arguably the biggest breakout performer this weekend, Jones led Playground Elite to the 17U title game. Despite his smaller stature, Jones was living at the rim and able to finish some tough buckets using excellent body control. Jones has a unique ability to adjust in mid-air and isn’t fazed by contact on the inside. Even when he doesn’t convert, Jones was drawing so much help side defense that his misses off the rim were often easy put back opportunities for his teammates. A player whose confidence seemed to soar this weekend, Jones wasn’t wasting any time with the basketball. When he wanted to attack, Jones shook defenders and got right to the rim.

Xavier Pinson – 2018 – PG – Mac Irvin Fire Elite
Pinson was pretty clutch all weekend, delivering in crunch time with timely shots. One of the top 17U prospects in the NY2LA Association, Pinson created just about any shot he wanted. The flashy, electric lead guard broke defenders down off the bounce and got to his spots on the floor. Pinson has a deadly hesitation move that leaves defenders in the dust. When extra help came, Pinson was always one step ahead, immediately making the right pass to a teammate. Pinson’s anticipation on offense was on point. His vision, passing ability, and clutch shooting was a big reason why Mac Irvin Fire made it to Sunday.

Terrance Thompson – 2020 – F/C – Wisconsin Playground Warriors
A post prospect with a lot of promise and a chance to be special, Thompson continues to get better in a hurry. He’s already an imposing presence inside with his ability to dunk with authority and block shots. Thompson’s back-to-the-basket game is getting better and he looks comfortable with the basics, showing a nice drop step and able to pump fake and pivot and finish with either hand. Thompson runs the floor well and is a hard worker in transition. After playing varsity at La Crosse Logan, I like the steps Thompson has taken this spring and he’ll be on the radar of many high major schools over the next two years-plus.

Brandon Weston – 2020 – G/F – Wisconsin Rap
Wisconsin Rap made a good run in large part of Weston’s efforts. Not known for his shooting ability, Weston surprised with his ability to score outside the paint this weekend. The talented, high-upside freshman had some impressive scoring bursts. A lengthy, 6-foot-4 wing with some explosive leaping ability, Weston is a vicious attacker that can hang and finish in mid-air. An aggressive offensive rebounder, Weston out-muscles and out-jumps people for second chance opportunities. Weston holds an early offer from UMass with high major interest continuing to come in.

Dwayne Walker – 2018 – SG – Kevon Looney Rebels
The scoring ability of Walker was fun to watch. Although the Kevon Looney Rebels came up short against Kessel Heat in the 17U quarterfinals, Walker put on quite the display. A length, 6-foot-4 junior, Walker has a nice stroke from downtown. He can put the ball on the deck and attack and his length was a big plus around the rim as he was able to convert some tough finishes. Walker is bouncy as well and used that on the defensive end. Relatively unknown coming into the weekend, Walker’s upside needs to be monitored as he has a lot of tools that could make him a highly targeted prospect at the Division 1 or 2 levels.

Khalil Whitney – 2019 – SF – Mac Irvin Fire Elite
Playing up a level, Whitney had a good finish to the weekend. The high-upside, athletic wing scored consistently and is gaining more confidence in his jumper. An explosive athlete, if Whitney gets a lane to the rim, there are few that can jump with him and remotely contest. Expanding his offensive skillset, Whitney knocked down some 3-pointers and showcased a nice stroke from downtown. At 6-foot-7, Whitney is quite effective in a number of different areas. The scary part is that he still has so much room to grow in just about every facet of his game.

STOCK BOOSTERS
Johnathan Davis – 2020 – SG – Wisconsin Playground Warriors

A do-it-all guard, Davis is an outstanding defender and shot blocking guard. He sent shots back with authority and has been doing that all spring. Davis gets after people defensively and causes havoc. He racked up steals and assists all weekend, often turning defense into quick transition buckets. Always looking to attack, Davis doesn’t settle offensively. He lives in the paint and doesn’t shy away from contact. A likely Division 1 prospect, Davis has high major potential if he can expand his skillset away from the rim.

Delaware Hale – 2020 – F/C – Wisconsin Swing
There’s a nice upside on Hale. A long, athletic big man, Hale showcased some promise on both ends of the floor. First things first, Hale is an excellent shot blocker and rebounder. He high points the basketball and snatches it out of the air. As aggressive as he was, Hale managed to avoid fouls and gain second chance opportunities. Like most bigs his age, there’s a ways to go with his post-game. However, Hale flashed a nice spin down on the block and a soft touch around the rim. He also runs the floor very well and finished off a couple dunks in transition.

Steven Henderson – 2020 – SG – Caron Butler Elite
Henderson’s ability to score 1-on-1 was impressive last weekend. A 6-foot-2 shooting guard, Henderson can hang and finish around the rim. He made difficult, contested layups look easy en route to a couple 20-point performances. Henderson has exciting handles and can break people down with ease. The lefty showed terrific body control around the rim, able to hang and adjust in mid-air, even when he was being hit. Henderson was streaky with his outside shooting, but hit a couple of 3-pointers while sizing up his man off the bounce.

Devon House – 2020 – PF – Quad City Elite
House impressed with his versatility over the weekend. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound freshman has a soft touch from mid and 3-point range. His ability to shoot the basketball was obviously something the defense wasn’t expecting. House can even put the ball on the deck and shoot off the dribble a bit. A potential mismatch problem in the coming years, House also showed terrific footwork inside. He’s smooth and deliberate in what he does and looks advanced as far as a post-game is concerned. A big body that moves well for his size, House is quite skilled and appears primed for a bright future.

Johnathan Mpanzo – 2018 – G/F – Indiana Faith
A strong, athletic wing, Mpanzo generated a ton of offense in Milwaukee. At 6-foot-5, 185-pounds, Mpanzo is a nice looking athlete that excels in transition. He’s very quick with the ball in his hands and is able to make things happen at top speed. Mpanzo worked very hard off the ball as well, beating people down the floor and making himself available to teammates. Also a strong defender, Mpanzo moves well laterally and shut down just about every straight-line drive attempt. 

Noah Parcher – 2019 – PG – Ray Allen Select
Parcher was steady for Ray Allen Select during their run to the 16U championship. With one of the team’s top shooters out, Parcher carried more of the load offensively. A state champion guard, Parcher’s poise and calm demeanor show on the floor. Parcher shot the ball well from the outside and also attacked the rim, finishing consistently in traffic. A pass-first guard, Parcher is a big part of RAS’s offensive efficiency, often passing up good looks and setting up his teammates with great ones.

Dylan Peeters – 2019 – F – Quad City Elite
Peters is a bouncy, athletic forward with a high motor. He impresses with his ability to finish above the rim, run the floor in transition, and attack the offensive glass. The 6-foot-7, 205-pound sophomore also has some post skills and slashing capability from the high post. Peters was an active shot blocker, sometimes swatting multiple attempts on a single possession. Peeters gets off the floor quickly, even on his second or third block/rebounding attempt and high points the basketball off the glass. Although Quad City Elite fell to Ray Allen Select in the 16U championship, Peters helped his team hang around, flying in for offensive rebounds and put backs and keeping plays alive on the glass.