FRISCO, Texas - Over the past few weeks, we've now had the opportunity to watch two of the three completed sessions of Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League. Here are a few of the things that are sticking with us after last weekend's session of the EYBL in the Dallas metro area.
1. Jefferson is a tough customer
Simply put, you aren't going to find anybody in the country who plays with more toughness as Rondae Jefferson. There may be others who can match his toughness, but nobody has more than the 6-foot-7 forward from Chester (Pa.) High.
In Dallas, Jefferson rebounded from a slightly off outing in session two of the EYBL and was a standout for Team Final. If they needed him to play the power forward and defend guys such as Julius Randle, he did that. If they needed him to play as a point-forward, he did that and made plays for his teammates off the dribble, all while helping to control the glass.
On the recruiting front, Jefferson says that he's letting his coaches and mother handle that for him while he plays out the spring. However, keep an eye on Temple, where his brother plays, along with other schools such as Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Georgetown and Villanova.
2. Johnson steps it up
Nobody has ever doubted the talent of class of 2014 wing Stanley Johnson. At the same time, the No. 18 player in the country has always been surrounded by lots of talent. The Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei product found himself in a position to be the man in Dallas and responded nicely.
Johnson often brought the ball up the floor and initiated the offense. Other times, he set up shop in the low post where he's got an advanced feel for using his strong, 6-foot-6 frame to bury defenders near the rim. On top of all that, he was shooting the ball very well and hit the glass with aggression on each end of the floor.
3. Playaz succeed by committee
Over the past 10 years, there aren't many grassroots programs that have pumped out as much talent as the New Jersey Playaz. This year, the Playaz are again solid but they lack the star power of past teams. Yet, they are still succeeding thanks to a team effort.
Currently, the highest-ranked player of the bunch is 6-foot-8 power forward Mike Young of Jersey City (N.J.) Hudson Catholic. Young is a hard-working forward who has some face-up game, can make medium-range jumpers and has improved his finishing around the rim.
So far, though, the team's leading scorer and perhaps most important cog has been 6-foot-7 combo forward Reggie Cameron. A teammate of Young's at Hudson Catholic, Cameron has arguably the best shooting stroke from deep in the class of 2013. In addition to his three-point marksmanship, he's improved as a rebounder and has become a scorer off the dribble when needed.
The All-Iowa Attack is the only team in the EYBL without a win. However, 6-foot-8 class of 2013 power forward Akoy Agau was impressive in his first EYBL run. The product of Omaha (Neb.) Central showed off length, a nose for the ball, offensive skill and a great motor while averaging around 15.5 points and seven rebounds during his first four games of the weekend.
During Sunday's final game against Boo Williams, the three-star went down with an injury and the hope is that it's not serious. As things stand, he's looking good to crack the Rivals150 for his class the next time it's updated.