Posted On: 04/10/18 5:00 AM

The 16U grassroots season is a major step up from that 15U level. The level of play has climbed to a new stratosphere and college scouts are now locked into those games.

We’re still a couple weeks out from the D-I programs being able to watch live, and many other programs are putting the finishes on their 2018 classes. However, this weekend was a window into who’s ready for the show to begin.

(The 2020 recap will be split up into frontcourt and backcourt recaps.)

Marcus Johnson, 6’3” W/F, All Ohio Red EYBL / Columbus South

Johnson played free on Saturday and it was the best we’ve ever seen from the high-ceiling athlete out of Central Ohio. Given his tremendous leaping ability, Johnson is a rebounding machine. He turned defensive rebounds into transition opportunities and was even able to get into the lane in the halfcourt. If he adds a jumper, watch out! However, he still struggles to score.

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

Smith is one of the new additions to the Red 2020 group, and it appears that he’ll have a major impact this summer. He was given the opportunity to play often and rewarded the coach by producing. Smith is tough to stop on the glass. He’s got a promising wide frame. Smith gets into the lane with ease and has soft touch. Although we’d currently classify him as a face-up 4, Smith projects as a 3, assuming he adds the necessary ball skills.

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

After watching Nelson multiple times this winter against a relatively weak Toledo City League, it was nice to see him against rather elite competition. Turns out, Nelson is ready to go and might work his way into the D-I range as a prospect.

He has started to figure out his body after hitting a major growth spurt before last grassroots season. Now a legitimate 6’6”, Nelson is blocking a lot of shots and grabbing a ton of boards. He has a nose for the ball. He finishes at a high level and even made some impressive moves on the dribble drive. Major stock-riser this weekend.

Marcus Peaks, 6’4” W/F, Mid Ohio Pumas Silver (Fenner) / Watkins Memorial

Peaks looked like he can legitimately defend four positions. We know for sure that he’s able to guard 4s and even 5s because of the activity and athleticism. Peaks gets his hands on a lot of balls. It’s unusual to see anyone protect the rim like he was doing, and he’s only 6’4”. One of the best defensive specialist in this class.

Tyler Eberhardt, 6’6” F, Mid Ohio Pumas (Jayaraman) / Kenton Ridge

Eberhardt can shoot the ball with size. He often floated out towards the 3-point line after setting a screen and let it go with confidence. He moves pretty fluidly and made a couple intelligent cuts towards the rim. Overall, we liked his activity in the paint in our first viewing. We’ll keep an eye on him going forward.