Posted On: 08/9/19 7:39 PM
MVP- Jabari Smith/Matt Cleveland
Both Smith and Cleveland could have been given the stock riser award as well; they both burst onto the national scene this travel season with Smith being a consensus Top 10 prospect nationally and Cleveland ascending into 247’s Top 25 in 2021. I’ve watched Smith play well so many times that I found myself waiting to see him have a bad game this summer just so that I would have observed in that type of situation- it never happened. Smith is a legit 6’8” and can terrorize forwards on the perimeter with his textbook shot and ability to put the ball on the floor. He is an exceptional shooter both from 3 and in the mid-post, which is his best quality, but Smith is more than that. His feel and IQ are impressive; Smith makes good decisions with the ball and has shown great anticipation when rebounding and contesting shots.
After a productive high school season, Cleveland quickly started to gain national attention about mid-way through the travel season. Things really got going in June once schools could freely contact 2021 prospects, and it continued during Georgia’s June Live Period events. While there was talk within the state about Cleveland being worthy of a national ranking earlier in the spring, he just hadn’t been seen on that stage yet. Once the opportunity presented itself, he took advantage, fully displaying his value as a hard-playing, energetic wing who is a difficult matchup for most. Cleveland is a quick-twitch athlete who gives consistent effort and has the skill to contribute in a variety of roles. Playing a national schedule at Pace this year will only continue to help him.
Stock Riser- Jusaun Holt
It’s no secret where Holt stands in my eyes. I’ve long been a fan of his active, versatile game and others took notice this summer also. While his rise hasn’t quite been on the national level that we saw with Smith and Cleveland, Holt has quickly proven himself as one of the top 2021 players in Georgia. In-state programs UGA and Georgia Tech have extended offers, he has interest from many others, and he appeared in the Top 100 for 2021 on 247 recently. Holt was arguably the most consistent player I saw during the travel season with steady productivity all spring and summer long. He is going to hit shots, grab rebounds, display his ball skills, and play with a great motor against any type of competition. If you watched St. Francis in June, it is apparent that Holt, Dwon Odom, and their multitude of other weapons are going to be hard to take down in A-Private this winter.
Most Upside- Kaleb Washington
Washington continued to show why he is one of the best long-term prospects in the state this summer. While he had shown signs of good things to come previously, I felt like he really started to tap into his potential over the last few months. A tall shot-maker who can put the ball on the floor, Washington has started to impact the game in other areas also. He is using his length and mobility to cause problems on defense with deflections and blocks, along with asserting himself more as a rebounder. Washington also seems to have tightened up his shot-selection a bit. He ended the summer with a strong showing at the NCAA Academy in Houston, which resulted in new offers from Clemson, Xavier, and Missouri during and following the event.
Mr. Cool- Peyton Daniels
Don’t be fooled by Daniels’ calm, laid-back demeanor, he is looking to kill anyone that is front of him on the court. Daniels plays with supreme confidence when the ball in his hands and doesn’t seem to be bother by defenders even when they are hounding him. One second it may not seem like he’s going to do anything, and then he’ll change speeds and blow right by you. Daniels shoots very well from the perimeter and lives for big moments. His poised approach helps him in such situations and his team follows his example. The way Daniels is able to control the game and manufacture points is fun to watch and has HM programs knocking on his door. He’ll be looking to lead Tri-Cities to another deep playoff run in 2019-2020.
The Sleeper- Will Richard
I find it shocking that North Alabama is the lone offer for Richard coming out of the summer. He consistently produced against high-level competition this year and has ascended into the Top 15 of our 2021 state rankings. Richard impressed with his exceptional shooting ability all summer, but I’ve always liked what he brings in other areas. He is a really active rebounder on both ends and has proven to be a double-double threat almost every game. His long arms help him in the rebounding department and on the defensive side of the ball. He can guard multiple positions and commits to stopping opponents. Richard will be more visible now with his move to Woodward and should benefit greatly from the transfer.
The Enforcer- Robbie Armbrester
From the start of the spring until the end of the summer, no one was more of a physical presence than Armbrester. He throws his body around in the paint with reckless abandon and looks to initiate contact every possession. The thing about Armbrester is that he doesn’t stop; he’s going to come at you with the same aggression for the full length of the game. Armbrester is a powerful athlete who can explode to the rim off of two feet at almost any time and doesn’t mind absorbing hits on his way there. He has also continued to expand his game, adding to his perimeter game throughout the travel season. I’m interested to see how far developed he is in that area come November.