With three July evaluation periods in the books, we’ll be looking back over the next several weeks on players who made an impact or stood out in various ways during that stretch. We’ll start today with July’s most improved players.…
With three July evaluation periods in the books, we’ll be looking back over the next several weeks on players who made an impact or stood out in various ways during that stretch.
We’ll start today with July’s most improved players. These are players who made major strides in one or more aspect of their games and turned some heads in the process.
As always, not being on the list doesn’t mean you didn’t improve. We base this as best we can on players we’ve seen as well as getting evaluations from coaches, players and others.
Colbey Ross, Colorado Chaos/Eaglecrest, 2017 guard: Sure, Ross was already a Division I prospect when July began, having already received offers from three such schools. Still, Ross raised his game to a different kind of level on the road this month, showing that he can be an absolute impact player by taking the game on his shoulders and guiding his offense – all this while playing up a level.
Will Becker, Colorado Hawks/Smoky Hill, 2018 forward: Becker was one of the best big men in his class playing the final two periods in Las Vegas. The growing 6-foot-6 post has the potential to be a top-caliber shot blocker. His ability to alter shots in the lane was a game changer for the Hawks this summer, and his agility, stamina and athleticism have all seen major improvement.
Justinian Jessup, Colorado Titans/Longmont, 2016 guard: Jessup is one of the top five players in the state regardless of class, having nearly led Longmont to an undefeated season as a junior. Still, Jessup continues to grow, both in stature – he’s added strength to a lengthy frame – and with his feel for the game. He has taken big leaps in his ability to create angles offensively and attack the lane with a variety of off-the-dribble moves. He’s very economical with his ball-handling, able to get into attack mode without excess movement slowing him down.
Troy Brady, Colorado Chaos/ThunderRidge, 2016 guard: Yes, Brady can shoot. He is without question one of the state’s best in that regard. But his dedication to turn into a well-rounded guard has been evident this summer in his ability to handle the ball under pressure. He has taken great strides in his ability to create the space necessary with his dribble to create space for himself and others to create offense, a skill paramount at the next level when open shots can be more difficult to come by.
Tyrei Randall, Colorado Hawks/Rangeview, 2016 wing: Along with top-flight players Alpha Diallo and De’Ron Davis, Randall was one of the most consistent players in the Hawks stable this summer. Randall started off strong during the Hawks’ first tournament in Atlanta and never cooled off, showing no ill effects of a hand injury that forced him to miss some time in June.
Malik Salley, Colorado Miners/Rampart, 2017 F: If this lanky, 6-foot-3 forward can sprout a couple more inches, look out. Salley’s motor was instrumental for the Miners throughout the summer, and he was a defensive stopper in the post despite being vastly undersized at times against larger teams with the Miners playing up a division. Salley is a solid finisher at the basket and is the type of player that will create extra possessions with his hustle.
Jared Small, Next Level/Legend, 2016 guard: Small, a lanky, athletic guard with a similar build as Kevin Durant (minus about 5 inches) has really refined his play this summer, particularly on offense. Most notably, Small demonstrated an impressive pull-up jumper that he needs very little time or space to get off. If he can get bigger and more adept at finishing through contact, he could be a dangerous force for Legend this year.
Sekou Cisse, Colorado Connect, 2016 guard: The Connect staff loves the toughness of Cisse, who isn’t afraid to score or defend against bigger stronger defenders. But Cisse’s game became further polished this summer, and if he can continue to develop an array of moves off the dribble, having already established himself as a fantastic perimeter defender, schools will come calling.
Some other names that were noted from improved play this month: Clay Verk (2016 forward), Kris Hollins (2016 guard), Danny Garrick (2016 guard), Monroe Porter (2016 guard), Breon Harper (2018 guard), Sam Grad (2017 forward), Joe Abiakam (2017 guard), Ryan Blodgett (2016 forward), Antonio Capley (2016 center), Walker Korrell (2016 guard), Khameron Davis (2016 guard), Riley Matticks (2016 guard), Matthew Johnson (2017 guard), Jacob Pfaffinger (2017 forward).
As I mentioned above, we’ll have a lot more analysis of the summer coming over the next couple weeks.