Tyler Simpson | Editor
6’1” 2018 PG Jaylen Jones
Booker High School (Sarasota, FL)
Jones entered the event as virtually an unknown until he began lighting up teams in the scrimmages. Jones dropped 26 on IMG Academy earlier in the year and he showed that he deserves recognition. Jones, the breakout player of the camp and the MVP made himself well known at the camp. A guard with a nice handle and range that extends beyond the 3 point line can do it all. Opposing defenses were on their heels all day as the guard was getting in the lane and finishing with ease. The crafty guard can score at all 3 levels. Jones had a scoring barrage during the Top 20 game while connecting on 4 three pointers in a row. Jones also played the passing lanes well on defense, showing he could be a ball hawking guard on defense.
5’10” 2018 PG Rahsaan Lewis
Windermere Prep (Windermere, FL)
Lewis, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis was as good as it gets. Lewis, who could have been co-mvp with Jaylen Jones was just as impressive. He takes great pride on the defensive side of the ball and it shows. Lewis was tasked with locking up Jones after he made four straight three’s and did just that. Lewis was the best defender of all the players. Lewis showed his ability to drive to the hoop and find the open man when the defense collapsed as well. The outside shot for Lewis wasn’t falling as much but he still showed his ability to hit it.
6’2” 2019 G James Lee
Vanguard High School (Lake Wales, FL)
James Lee took home the #1 prospect ranking after his stellar play during the weekend. Lee is an athletic guard who can jump out of the gym. Even though he didn’t take home MVP honors he was easily the most impressive prospect in the gym. Aside from his elite athleticism, Lee showed his ability to shoot from outside and added an impressive mid-range game. Lee also showed that he could get to the rim with ease while driving through the lane. Only a sophomore, Lee still has a lot of time to get incredibly better. With some strong performances during the summer Lee can move up in the rankings of the 2019 class and garner more offers.
5’9” 2018 PG Devon Knaub
Oviedo High School (Oviedo, FL)
Knaub was one of the smallest guards in attendance but that didn’t slow him down. Knaub quickly impressed all of the coaches and staff with his handles and his fearlessness against the bigger guards. Knaub can hit the 3 and drive to the rim and finish through contact as well. He compares his game to Isaiah Thomas and it shows. He’s not scared of anyone he goes against and his confidence is through the roof. His height will certainly be a question mark, but he showed that it should be overlooked. He will be a big time playmaker.
6’5” SG Alec Sherman
Mitchell High School (New Port Richey, FL)
One of the unknowns coming into TRS Orlando, Sherman had a productive day and found himself playing his way into the Top 20 game. Despite being ranked as #11 on the prospect rankings, Sherman was a standout player due to doing just a little bit of everything. Sherman played great defense, finished well at the rim, and shot the ball from outside consistently. Sherman will be a steal for any college that starts to show interest as he knows how to get it done on both sides of the ball and does the little things.
Tyler Simpson | Editor
The Top Rank National Showcase in Orlando, Florida has come and gone, and after carefully evaluating the prospects over the entire weekend, the staff all put their heads together in order to create a list of top ranked prospects from the event. After careful deliberation, here is how the kids stacked up against one another...
#TRSORL TOP RANK TOP 50
Tyler Simpson | Editor
The Best are Coming to Orlando
The second event for Top Rank Showcase will be held this weekend in Orlando, Florida at the facility called The Big House. With the Top Rank Showcase Orlando event looming, there will be an influx of talent on hand, including several high major, mid-major, and future NBA pros on hand, all hailing from several states, with the southeastern states being well represented. Some of the best prospects in the country in different classes will be going toe to toe against each other.
The intensity will begin as soon as the first game kicks off between the teams, with every player having their sights set on the Top 20 and 40 games, and even the showcase MVP. This is easily the most talented group between the two showcase events, and will have a lot to offer in regards to great games and big time talent playing against each other. With such great talent on hand, it’s going to be extremely hard to distinguish who’s the best, and who deserves the Top 40 and Top 20 game recognition.
Aside from the intense games between teams on saturday morning, there will be several other things to look forward to such as the 3 point contest that will be held, with the likes of Braxton Bartlett, Chase Johnston, Joshua Colon, Kennith Rolle, Rodwens Albert, and Ryan Black all competing for the title of 3 point champion.
“I’m looking forward to the 3 point contest the most, because I was a guard,” said Ashton West, founder and president of Top Rank Showcase, “The kids we have participating are the ones that I’ve been told and after watching film, can really shoot the ball well, they’re predominantly great shooters, one of them will have a breakout performance in front of national media and blow up and earn big time offers because their name is going to get out there that they’re one of the best shooters in the country.”
As for who will win, Ashton couldn’t quite pick who he thought would win, seeing as all 6 of them are great shooters and it will be tough to call. “Braxton Bartlett and Chase Johnston as the two who could possibly win. Chase is 6’2” 6’3” with one of the quickest releases. Braxton, 6’5” plays on Nike South Beach, good handle, high major, mid-major guard, your prototypical 2 guard who can shoot.”
“I’m excited to see everybody, I can’t name one single player that I’m excited to watch, I’m really excited to evaluate and review every single kid and show them to the nation.” West added. “The roster is filled top to bottom with high division two kids, to future mid-major, high major, and eventual future NBA all-stars.”
With such a talented roster filling out the showcase top to bottom there will be several household names to watch, all who will catch the eyes of everyone in attendance. One name that will be brought up all day on Saturday will be Elijah Weaver, who is one of the best point guards in the class of 2018, he displays a killer instinct in his game, and isn’t afraid to match-up against anyone in the country. Weaver displays a great skill set, he gets in the lane with ease, and can provide scoring from the perimeter as well.
“If Elijah isn’t a 5 star prospect when it’s all said and done, then nobody in the country is a 5 star. He has all of the tools to be a future star in the NBA. Elijah has a chip on his shoulder, he knows who he is, he’s confident, but he’s still hungry. He’s one of the best point guards in the UA Association.” West added with high praise.
Antwann Jones will be another guard who attracts major attention, another 5 star who will end up at a blue-blood program. Jones is a great scorer from all levels with incredible vision on the court. Jones, like Weaver, has a killer instinct in him that separates him from other guards in the nation.
Like Weaver and Jones, Luguentz Dort will be a player to keep an eye on. Dort impressed scouts and media during NBA All-Star Weekend when the Basketball Without Borders Camp was being held as he made the camp’s all-star team. Dort is a strong guard who gets to the rim but can also step out and hit his outside shots. This weekend will be another test for the young man going up against elite talent. Dort will certainly look to continue on from his impressive showing at the BWB Camp.
While the 2018 guards attract a lot of attention, there are two 2020 kids who are as talented as they come and will certainly be 5 stars when it’s time for them to get rated. Dudley Blackwell and Scottie Barnes, two of the premiere 2020 kids in the nation will be in attendance. Blackwell, a 6’5” small forward with freakish athleticism. Blackwell can get to the rim with ease but can also dish the ball to the open man when drawing attention on the drive. Blackwell will be an intriguing kid to watch this weekend being one of the more younger kids in attendance. Scottie Barnes, another small forward standing at 6’7” is another younger kid who has unbelievable potential. Barnes is not afraid to put the ball on the floor and challenge defenders at the rim, he can also knock down shots from outside. Barnes will be another name to keep an eye on come Saturday.
A common theme throughout the roster for the Orlando event is undersized guards, there’s a handful of undersized guards who play like they are 6’5”, have a great basketball IQ and are straight killers who all offer something different.
“These undersized guards are going to be a joy to watch. I’m excited to see Ray Lewis’ son Rahsaan play. Shaka Smith, 5’11” guard who can out jump anyone in the gym, Tai Strickland, Rod Strickland’s son, and Treyvon Reiser. Reiser will match up against any guard that he goes up against,” West said.
“Sylvain Francisco is another smaller guard with a chip on his shoulder going into our event. He’s proved it before and he’s going to prove it again on the 18th against the high level kids.” Francisco, one of the few unsigned seniors in the 2017 class, who has interest from several high major schools, will be looking to put on a show for everyone in attendance. Francisco, an explosive point guard with a great shooting touch from outside will be looking to put it on display in front of every media member in attendance.
There will also be talented big men in abundance on Saturday. Including Vernon Carey, Jr., Rifen Miguel, Kentrevious Jones a Xavier commit, and Stefon Fisher a Stephen F. Austin commit. All 4 of the prominent big men bring a different skill set to the table that separates them from one another. While Vernon Carey, Jr. will garner the most attention out of them all the 3 others will be ready to go to war when they are all matched up together. There was a roster change to specifically get the matchup of Vernon Carey, Jr. pitted against Rifen Miguel. “I gave Rifen the opportunity to tell me who he wanted to go up against and he told me he wanted Vernon.” West said. “I made the roster change so the very last game of the day would be Rifen against Vernon.”
There are kids flying under the radar who will come in and compete and shock a lot of people with their performance on Saturday. Jon Brown, Keyshawn Bryant, TJ Bickerstaff, Angel Smith, Trevon Reiser, Quincy Affo, and Yves Fleuranvil are some of those players. Jon Brown is a 6’7” Point Guard who committed to the first event and will be back for the Orlando event. Keyshawn Bryant is a 6’7” guard who can jump out of the gym. Plays for Showtime Ballers and Huntington Prep, another intriguing player to watch. “TJ Bickerstaff will be a stud. Will be a future high major player, he’s still young but all of these mid-majors are trying to get him early because he would be a steal for them.” West said.
“Quincy Affo is another kid that I’m really excited to watch. Montverde kid, doesn’t play on the national team for them. He hasn’t been playing basketball for a while so this will be a great opportunity for him to come in and run against some high level guys. Very raw, but has great potential due to his size and the program he plays for.”
Saturday will be one for the ages, with this entire group full of elite players battling it out for their spot in the top 40 and top 20 games. “Nobody is a lock for any game, they have to come out and play and show that they want it. This entire group is so good, the one question is ‘How do you separate yourself?’ All of these kids are killers. They’re all hungry, all very humble as well. I won’t be disappointed.” West added.
West wanted to give a big shoutout to the facility, without it the event wouldn’t be what it is. “The Big House is a beautiful facility. The facility is a huge part of what makes our events special. They’re providing the balls for the 3 point competition, huge shoutout to them for doing everything they’ve done for us,” said West. “We’re going to workout on 4 courts, games on 3 of them. The 3 courts are in its own space, it’s going to be an intimate environment, and it’s going to be loud.”
“Everything matters as soon as you enter the facility.”
Team Kansas vs Team Missouri - 10:00 AM
Elijah Weaver vs Blake Harris (Washington Commit)
Braxton Bartlett vs Chase Johnston
Team Florida vs Team Kentucky - 10:00 AM
Tai Strickland vs Shaka Smith
Team UCLA vs Team Georgia - 10:35 AM
Vernon Carey, Jr. vs Kentrevious Jones (Xavier Commit)
J’Michael Plummer vs Kennith Rolle
Dudley Blackwell vs Scottie Barnes
Team Marquette vs Team Michigan State - 11:10 AM
Luguentz Dort/Zack Dawson vs Keyshawn Bryant
Team Syracuse vs Team Missouri - 11:10 AM
TJ Bickerstaff vs Quincy Affo
Team Kansas vs Team Duke - 11:10 AM
Entire roster of both teams will be fun to watch play each other. Highlighted by
the matchup between two elite guards in Elijah Weaver vs Antwann Jones.
Team Syracuse vs Team Michigan State - 11:45 AM
TJ Bickerstaff vs Keyshawn Bryant
Brent Davis vs Sylvain Francisco
Team Kentucky vs Team Notre Dame - 11:45 AM
Shaka Smith vs Tyrieke Blakeney
Team Georgia vs Team Wisconsin - 1:05 PM
Kennith Rolle vs Rahsaan Lewis
Kentrevious Jones vs Rifen Miguel
Team UCLA vs Team Villanova - 1:05 PM
J’Michael Plummer vs Jon Brown
Team Wake Forest vs Team Maryland - 1:05 PM
Angel Smith vs Yves Fleuranvil
Team Duke vs Team Florida - 1:40 PM
Zack Bryant vs Tai Strickland
Team Marquette vs Team Missouri - 1:40 PM
Will be a great matchup between both rosters with every player
Team Wisconsin vs Team UCLA - 2:50 PM
Rahsaan Lewis vs J’Michael Plummer
Rifen Miguel vs Vernon Carey, Jr.
Tyler Simpson | Lead Writer
Rifen Miguel, a native from Angola, a country in Southern Africa has only been stateside for over a year now, but has quickly drawn the attention of several top tier division one programs due to his size and innate ability to pass for a big man with his stature. Miguel takes great pride in his vision and passing ability as he labels it one of his strengths of his game.Miguel has been labeled as a space eater in the post who gets great positioning while there also. Miguel who currently plays for West Oaks Academy in Florida was recruited to come to America in 2014 when he was playing for the African National Team in the 16 and under championships. While he said the the play style between the two countries was different, the transition wasn’t that tough to overcome.
Miguel will be attending our event in Orlando ready to go up against all the talented big men and other competition. Miguel will definitely be someone to watch during the event as he has his eyes set on destroying the competition and separating himself from everyone else. How he handles himself against Vernon Carey, Jr., Kentrevious Jones,and several other talented big men will be something to keep an eye on. Rifen and I touched on a variety of topics recently.
How’s your season been going this year?
Very great. My season will be over in two weeks, we just have a couple of games left.
Do you guys have a good shot at making the state tournament?
Yes we do.
Awesome. I believe I read somewhere that you’ve only been stateside for a year now, can you just give me a little brief insight on where you’re from and how you ended up in the United States?
Yeah, of course. I am from Angola, I was recruited to play high school in America in 2014 when I was playing for my national team in the African under 16 championships.
So you’ve been playing basketball for a while now? I know a lot of kids who come over to the United States from different countries usually have only been playing since they’ve come over.
Yeah, I’ve been playing for a while.
What was the transition like coming over from Africa? Is the style of play in America different than Africa?
Yeah, it’s real different.
For people who have never seen you play, how would you describe yourself as a player?
I’m always aggressive in the paint and can score over anyone, I can also shoot 3’s.
Think I read somewhere that you’re a pretty good passer as well, do you enjoy getting your teammates involved?
Yeah, I like to play with vision.
That’s awesome and always a great trait to have. A big man with an exceptional passing ability from the post and all-around is great for any team. You play high school ball down in Florida, you guys definitely face a ton of competition, who’s the hardest player you have guarded or had to play against this year?
The hardest player I have had to guard this year was Bruno Fernando, he plays center for IMG.
Fernando is a big guy. Really good. IMG is really good as well. How’d you do against him?
Bruno is like my brother, he plays on my national team. I did pretty good against him.
At least you held your own, have you been hearing from any colleges yet?
James Madison, Chattanooga, FGCU, with interest from Louisville, Memphis, and Samford.
You graduate in 2019, right? So you have some time to pick up some more offers. Obviously the Louisville interest is big time, they’re a prestigious program. Have they talked to you at all, or mainly through your coaches?
Yeah, they talk to my AAU coach.
Is it just a timing thing before they offer?
Yeah, it is.
I hope you get that offer, that’s a highly regarded offer. You’re coming to our event in Orlando, are you excited about that?
Yeah, of course.
Lots of big names will be there, do you have any goals for the event?
I’m coming to kill every big man in the camp.
Love the tenacity and mentality that you’re going to bring. Do you play with that same mentality every game?
I can show you better than I can tell you.
I love that! Now you’ve got me excited to see what you bring in Orlando. What excites you the most about the event?
Being able to match up against other top players.
Awesome, who do you like to compare/model your game after?
Boogie. (Demarcus Cousins)
Boogie does have that killer mentality, not a bad one to model your game after. What’s one of your weaknesses that you’re really trying to improve before the AAU season?
Improving my body.
Trying to improve your conditioning?
Yeah, conditioning as well.
That’s a huge part to anything. Anything you’d like to tell our readers or attendees before our event in Orlando?
I don’t want to talk too much, I just want to wait for the day and ball.
I like it. Awesome, thanks for taking the time out of your day to talk to me! Can’t wait to watch you in Orlando!
Gotcha, boss. Thanks!
Tyler Simpson | Lead Writer
Angel Smith a Top Rank Showcase Orlando invitee and a 6’6” guard out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida is having a spectacular season for Cardinal Gibbons. Smith who is coming back from a concussion and back sprain is still playing at a high level while his team is competing for a spot in the state tournament come this week. Smith and the Cardinal Gibbons team are looking for some revenge against Dillard, who beat them in the district championship game last week. Dillard, the reigning state champions are one of the best teams in the state, as well as Cardinal Gibbons. Smith expects to have a different outcome than the last time they met and said it all falls on executing the game plan. Dillard, who has Florida State commit RaiQuan Gray, will be the main focus of who to stop for Smith and Cardinal Gibbons. Smith spoke in detail with me about how they plan to stop Dillard, contain Gray, his goals for the AAU season and the Orlando event, and even his all-time starting five!
Angel, how’s it going?
Everything’s going good, about to hit the gym in a few.
Great. How’s the season going for you? It’s district season, correct?
Yeah, we just lost by two yesterday in the district championship. It has been going good since I came back from an injury, had a great game last night.
Who’d you guys lose to? What type of injury are you coming back from?
Dillard, and a concussion and back sprain.
Tough injuries to come back from, Dillard must be a pretty good team then?
Yeah, they won states last year. We have another shot at them next week though.
Nice. Are they just a super strong team or do they have a player that really stands out?
One standout player, the rest are bigs and role players.
Who’s the player?
RaiQuan Gray, committed to Florida State.
Just saw that, so it’s normally a pretty good game against Dillard I’m assuming?
Yep, but they are always the favorite to win.
I can see why. When playing Dillard what’s your normal thoughts going into the game? How you can get the win and stop Gray? You said they have some bigs too, do you guys have anyone with size to combat that?
My thoughts are usually just to come in and dominate and stay in attack mode, be the leader on the court. Stopping Gray we just have to buy in with our defense and force him to put the ball on the floor. That’s our downside and upside, we are a smaller team and have no natural bigs, but we are quicker and faster than them so we try and push the ball every chance we get.
An up tempo team that likes to run in transition can do wonders. Hopefully you guys can get your revenge against them. What AAU team do you play for?
We will and Team Breakdown.
You run on the UAA, correct?
How do you like the UAA?
It’s good, the traveling, great experience, and the facilities we play in are great too.
I just looked at your guys’ roster from last season of the UAA, didn’t realize you played with Elijah Weaver, Tai Strickland, and Anfernee Simmons. How is it playing with those guys? Elijah and Tai will be at our Orlando event, that will be fun as well.
It’s great playing with those guys. They compete every game and in practice we are always pushing each other. This event should be fun!
Yes it should, I’m excited for it. Lots of talent coming in! What are your goals for the event?
I’m a competitor so really just to come in and compete at a high level, play hard, and have fun.
Always a good thing to do. Have you been hearing from any schools?
Yes, a few have been keeping in contact with me.
Tennessee, VMI, Georgia Southern, and Stetson. Some others keep in contact with my coach as well.
Awesome. Out of those schools who have contacted you, what has been their message to you before they offer you?
Keep doing what I’m doing, they are coming down to see me play.
Any upcoming trips planned or just waiting on that?
Just waiting on that.
Nothing wrong with that at all. If you could go to any school in the country, where would you go and why?
It’s between UCLA and Kentucky. They have put a lot of guys in the league in the last couple of years and I’m a big fan of Calipari. My goal is to go pro one day and I think going there would help out a lot.
Both great schools, especially with Cal’s track record of putting kids in the league. Do you have a favorite player to watch both NBA and College?
Yeah, Markelle Fultz and James Harden. My favorite player is Kevin Durant though.
Fultz is unbelievable, wish he wasn’t on Washington. Do you try to model your game after them as well?
Yeah, I watch a lot of film on Fultz. How he’s always in attack mode and can score at every level, also his creativity and passing.
He’s got a real good shot at going number one in the draft. There is some amazing freshman talent this year.
Yup, Malik Monk is a guy I like to watch too. The freshmen are really good this year.
Who’s your pick to win it all?
I still got faith in Kentucky but probably Kansas.
I like Duke to get to the Final Four.
What’s been the best words of advice you’ve received regarding basketball or anything in general?
To be successful in life it’s going to take a lot of sacrifices and hard work, and I always remember that my mom works hard for me so one day she won’t have to work anymore.
So awesome to hear. Last one, if you had to build an all-time starting five, who would it be?
Magic or Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Tim Duncan, and Shaq.
Always include AI! Pretty insane starting five right there! Thanks for your time Angel! Can’t wait to see you next month in Orlando!
No problem man, appreciate you taking the time to talk!