Posted On: 07/10/18 7:52 AM

Thanks to AAU and the numerous leagues that help basketball run all year round, we continue to see the pure skill level of each incoming class increase. In the Baltimore area specifically, there were a number of freshman who came into their new schools, played (some even started) and produced on the varsity level. The class of 2022 will be much of the same and has the potential to be a special class in Baltimore.

In this series, we’ll take a look at some of the talent broken down by position.

Carlos Alexander | 5-foot-11 | St. Frances/Team Thrill

We’ve already written a fair share on Alexander, but his level of talent warrants every word. It’s not strange to watch players from the city of Baltimore play with a chip on their shoulder, however some let that chip force them into being too aggressive on the floor and can lead to mistakes or turnovers. Alexander has shown a balance of flash, speed and smoothness in his ability to make plays when the ball is in his hands. The 5-foot-11 lefty dissects defenses whether it be in the open floor or the half court with his vision and ability to look off defenders to free teammates for open looks. Some players try to execute no-look passes for the flare and to get a reaction out of the crowd, Alexander does so to make the defense rotate where he wants them to. As a scorer, he’s quick off the dribble which allows him to break down his man and get into the paint. He has displayed the ability to finish with both hands around the rim despite being contested. Where I’ve seen an improvement over the past few months is with his jumpshot. He’s capable and demands close outs when catching on the perimeter, but knows when to attack close outs and is becoming more effective with his pull up jumper. Defensively, he moves well laterally. Alexander is always looking to jump passing lanes and anticipate in order to get his team transition opportunities. Where he will go through growing pains is simply executing offensively and gambling defensively. At the varsity level, Alexander has the right ideas on the majority of his passes, but there are certain times where he gets away with a chest pass at the 15U level and where at the varsity level, the situation will call for a bounce pass or making an extra pass so that his teammate can easily find the primary target.

Antonio Hamlin | 6’0 | Mt. St. Joseph/Team Thrill

For his age, Hamlin has a strong build that will bode well for him holding his own physically at the varsity level. This isn’t to say he should be guarding forwards, but he’ll be effective guarding either guard position and sometimes some wing players. As for his skill set, Hamlin is ready to be productive right away for the Gaels this upcoming season. He can feel it up from three on the catch, while also having the ability to finish through contact when he takes it to the basket. Defensively, he’s good at keeping his man in front of him and using his chest to prevent penetration in the paint. As I’ve seen this spring and summer with Team Thrill’s eighth grade team, Hamlin is a good rebounder who can lead the fast break and make good decisions. Becoming more dynamic as a ball handler will be something Hamlin needs to improve on at the next level to become a liable point guard option for Coach Clatchey.

Sammy Scott | 5’6 | City/Team Thrill

When you first look at Scott, he takes on the look of a running back on the football field. While the five-foot-six guard is known for making plays on the gridiron, he has had quite the spring and summer thus far. Hamlin, Alexander and Scott all play for the same Team Thrill squad. While Hamlin and Alexander can put the ball in the basket, Scott acts as the floor general and does so effectively. The one part of Scott’s game that translates well to the varsity level is his vision and willingness to advance the ball in transition. It’s not only the the passes that he makes that directly leads to a lay up for a teammate, it’s the ones where he advances to a wing running the lanes, forcing the defense to sprint back and locate their man, which also leads to open looks. The obvious flaw with Scott is his size, but Scott has dealt with that his entire life. His strength and physicality allow him to maintain his positioning on the floor.

Christian Winborne | 6’0 | Gilman/Team Thrill

Winborne is a crafty scoring guard that has a good understanding for the game. If I had to use one word to describe Winborne’s game, it’d be: solid. He’s a solid all around player who will play big minutes for the Hounds this upcoming season. The six-foot guard is a capable outside shooter. While he isn’t always looking to attack the rim in the half court, he can finish efficiently on the fast break. At a young age, Winborne will quickly take on a leadership role as he gets comfortable at the varsity level.

Kai Brooks | 5’10 | City/Team Thrill

Brooks is a scorer. Simple as that. Almost every time he gets the ball, he’s looking to free himself up for a look at the basket. When the five-foot-ten guard is in rhythm on the catch, he can be deadly from deep. Once he sees one go in, he can follow it up with multiple. Brooks has shown glimpses of putting the ball on the floor and finishing floaters with a soft touch. When his freshman campaign officially begins, Brooks will have to start using his reputation as a scorer to his strength of getting others open looks. The gravity of the defense will shift towards him on the perimeter, meaning cutting teammates or those lurking on the baseline should free themselves up for opportunities. Once Brooks develops that vision and willingness, the ceiling for his potential is high.

Everett Cooper | 5’10 | McDonogh/Team Melo

Cooper is going to be one of the special freshman who see a lot of time right away for his school. Similar to all of these guards listed, Cooper has a tremendous feel for the game. He can score at an alarming rate when needed, and uses his impressive handles to break down his defender down off the dribble. At the same time, he can penetrate and read the rotating defense to find open teammates. Above all, he’s a competitor, which fuels his effort on the defensive side. The Eagles have multiple freshman who will produce right away. There will be growing pains for Cooper along the way, like all freshmen experience, but will be a player to watch this season in the MIAA.