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.