Posted On: 06/18/19 5:00 AM

Evaluating players at this young of an age has its challenges. How do we know who is going to continue working hard? Who is going to grow more? Who is going to improve and to what extent? Sure there are indicators, but we don’t know.

So you’re looking for signs. You’re looking for growth. You’re looking for certain skills. And we liked what we saw from these kids at the University of Dayton team camp this weekend: 

Sean Jones (2022) | 5-9 PG | Gahanna / All Ohio Red

Jones — who was already highly regarded — vaulted himself into a new tier of prospect this weekend with his growing physical profile and two-way ability. In many ways his low center of gravity is an advantage because of his abilities to get to tight spots on the floor and sit down to defend. Remarkably quick hands. Seems to anticipate plays before they happen. Elite feel and poise. Fundamentally excellent. Fights for rebounds when he’s in the area. 

Jacob Conner (2022) | 6-6 SF | Alter / Team Flyght

This was our second time scouting Conner. Last time at Havoc in the Heartland, he was playing high-low against 2-3 zones with Belmont center Shawn Phillips. Showed some passing and mid-range shooting ability. OK, we’re intrigued.

Then, this weekend, Conner is running point for Alter for long stretches. And he was pretty good at it! Handled the ball with pace and made the right reads as a passer. Dealt with ball pressure from much smaller, quicker athletes. Conner is remarkably skinny, even considering his age, and will need to add weight, though — easily bumped off his path when he attacks the basket. Capable 3-point shooter.

CJ Hornbeak (2023) | 6-1 G | Toledo St. John’s

Hornbeak has the quickness and IQ to play right away in the Titans backcourt. For a team with knockdown catch-and-shooters and not a lot of people who can draw a second defender to free up looks for those snipers, Hornbeak is a valuable addition. The incoming freshman is a straight-line-driver with blow-by speed who likes to attack. Flashed playmaking ability with a few late passes in the paint. 

Derrick James (2022) | 5-6 PG | St. Charles / JH1 Elite

When talking about the rising talent in St. Charles’ program, don’t forget to mention Derrick “Doogie” James. He’s a critical piece. 

More of a defensive energy guy when we saw St. Charles last season, James has progressed as an offensive creator. Super quick ball-handler with a tight handle who can score it in the mid-range. We liked his comfort and confidence in that area of the floor. Pressures opposing ball-handlers. Pretty good shooter from distance, too. 

Joshua Whiteside (2022) | 6-6 PF | St. Charles / Nova (Reese)

Whiteside, formerly with Gahanna, debuted with St. Charles in Dayton. He will likely play a lot of 4 alongside senior Victor Searls, a true center. Whiteside surprised us with his ability to make reads away from the rim and attack out of the triple threat from the perimeter. Also quicker off the ground than we gave him credit for. Delivered excellent interior passes with his back to the basket.

Kebba Njie (2022) | 6-6 PF | Centerville 

Pretty wowed by Njie in our first time watching the rising sophomore. First of all, he plays hard and physical. Njie’s wide body and length are promising tools. He showed flashes of a skilled mid- to high-post game with graceful over-the-shoulder shots. Smooth shooting release knocking down stand-still mid-range jumpers and one 3-pointer coming off a flare screen. Makes the simple pass. Moved his feet well and should become a very versatile defender.