Rankings Update: High Upside 2020 Prospects

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Posted On: 04/12/18 5:00 AM

When it comes to the long-term projection of a prospect, you’re tasked with figuring out what a player could become. This involves things like learnable skills, athletic ability, and size.

For the 2020 prospects on this list, it seems rather clear to us that they’re not “maxed out.” There’s skills yet to be acquired and improvements to be made. That’s not to say that they’re not good right now (Heck, the no. 1 prospect in Ohio’s 2020 class is included).

Now, actually reaching that potential is a whole different ball game. It’ll be clear over the next two seasons who is willing to put in the work to get better. With that being said, we did our best to choose players for this category who have improved since their 15U grassroots season.

[1] Zach Loveday, 7’1” C, Galia Academy / Louisville Magic

Watching Loveday play with the Magic last weekend was a peek into the possible future. While he’s still extremely effective around the rim, Loveday is also shooting the triple with supreme confidence and an improved rhythm. He really plays like a true stretch 5 for that team. While he would probably score 10 more points a game if he hung out exclusively on the block, Loveday is in a situation where he’s being pushed to diversify his bag.

Where’s the upside: adding weight to his frame, expected to grow another inch or two, switching screens.

[4] Zeb Jackson, 6’3” G, Maumee Valley / C2K Elite

Jackson leapt into the 2020 top five from the no. 8 position after an impressive winter. The Northwest Ohio prospect has shot up a couple inches and become more vertically athletic. Jackson, a wiry athlete, has the ability to create shots off the dribble whenever, a trait that has adapted to the paint recently.

Where’s the upside: scoring consistency, shot selection, adding weight to his frame, intangibles.

[5] Devontae Blanton, 6’6” W/F, Lakewood St. Edward / All Ohio Red EYBL

Blanton’s body changes suggest that he’s looking to become more of a pure wing than a combo forward, which is what we projected him as last year. The transition in positions makes him even more of mismatch problem if his quickness and handle starts commanding opponents to put a true wing on him. Blanton is a good passer and is able to finish through contact.

Where’s the upside: outside shooting, ball skills, quickness, body transformation.

[6] John Hugley, 6’9” C, Brush / All Ohio Red EYBL

Hugley was a little hot and cold this season when we watched Brush. But we liked that he always seemed to get better at the end of games — a marker of competitive spirit. Hugley is a handful on the block and is starting to rev up the motor in terms of physical low-post moves. His baby hook shot has good touch and he is becoming a more advanced thinker when it comes to getting position for post entries.

Where’s the upside: mid-range shooting, gaining quickness and defensive versatility, staying on the floor longer, consistent productivity.

[12] VonCameron Davis, 6’4” W/F, Walnut Ridge / C2K Elite

Davis is currently a 4, given his ability to score inside of 15-feet in comparison to his perimeter skills. However, he hasn’t really grown much since entering high school, meaning he has a wing’s build. His quickness, solid handle, and athleticism give hope to him becoming a D-I wing prospect. Although we expect Davis’s tendency to always lean more towards driving the lane, he could jump up the charts if he shoots it better. We’re not worried about his perimeter defense, given his physical tools.

Where’s the upside: ball skills, outside shooting, confidence on the perimeter.

[19] Max Land, 6’5” W/F, Moeller / Queen City Prophets

Part of this is system. Land is spending a lot of time in the backcourt as a ball-handler for his QCP grassroots team. While he certainly has the physical makeup to handle the ball and his dribbling skills aren’t poor, we just think he’s a weapon around the rim. Land’s leaping ability and quickness in short spaces is special. If Moeller can get him to buy in to becoming a combo forward who dominates the glass and painted area, he could shoot up to top five status by the end of his prep career.

Where’s the upside: expected to continue growing, shot selection, outside shooting, court awareness.

[24] Nekhi Smith, 6’5” W/F, Shroder / All Ohio Red EYBL

Smith sincerely impressed us last weekend at the Nike Cup. In Shroder’s season-ending loss, Smith looked out of place. But, with Red, he is asked to rebound and push the ball and looked comfortable as a secondary ball-handler. Smith is a very good finisher in the lane and opts to drive into the trees instead of settling for a shot. However, we expect him to attempt more jumpers and act as more a wing later in his career.

Where’s the upside: outside shooting, reading the defense, ball skills, adding muscle, becoming quicker.

[26] Jackson Ames, 6’10” C, West Clermont / Louisville Magic

Last weekend in Cincinnati, Ames proved to be better than the skeptics warned us about. The filled out 6’10” low-post center moves pretty well for his size and has a developed upper body. Although Ames made poor decisions with the ball at times, more experience against elite competition this summer should help him there. We’ve currently got him pegged as a low-major prospect, but he could only go up from there.

Where’s the upside: scoring ability, activity, IQ, aggressiveness on the glass, shot-blocking.

[38] DaSean Nelson, 6’6” W/F, Rogers / All Ohio Gold

The Toledo City League sophomore has caught up with his body transformation over the last 12 months. Now that he’s moving around the court fluidly, he’s able to make some moves off the dribble. Nelson is a very strong and bouncy athlete who moves his feet with guards while being able to challenge shots at the rim.

Where’s the upside: outside shooting, ball skills, court awareness.

[45] Dante’ Wheeler, 6’7” W/F, Elida / Northwest Ohio Basketball Club

Wheeler hasn’t even played in nearly a full year because of his knee injury last summer. Unfortunately, he was also recently ruled out for the entirety of his 16U season.

However, the versatile offensive weapon has grown three inches in height, which could make all the difference for a player who isn’t an explosive athlete. Wheeler is able to score inside and out and was often the primary ball-handler and playmaker for NWO last summer.

Where’s the upside: health, handle, court awareness, adding muscle.