Deerfield Beach, Fla. — The 2021 version of Balling On The Beach provided an excellent platform for many of the nation’s best teams and players to showcase their abilities. Not surprisingly, a number of prospects logged brilliant performances, but the…
Deerfield Beach, Fla. — The 2021 version of Balling On The Beach provided an excellent platform for many of the nation’s best teams and players to showcase their abilities. Not surprisingly, a number of prospects logged brilliant performances, but the logjam of talent at the lead guard position was especially significant. Following a memorable weekend in South Florida, here are my picks when it comes to the top point guards at the event…
Jalen Atkins | Portland, OR | Class of 2025
A stocky scorer with a mature frame, some will question why Atkins name appears on the point guard list from the 2021 Balling On The Beach event. While it’s true the six-footer is capable, and feasibly at his best when putting the ball in the basket at this level, Atkins’ pace, poise, and ball-handling skills are his most promising tools in that they allow him to facilitate in halfcourt settings. When strictly considering upside, the Oregon native’s transition to a primary guard role will be paramount, as additional (substantial) physical growth appears unlikely. His lateral quickness must improve but Atkins is as polished of a player as you’ll find prior to high school.
Myles Herro | Greenfield, WI | Class of 2025
As eldest brother and current NBA guard, Tyler Herro, sat courtside and sibling Austin Herro competed on adjacent courts, the youngest Herro more than held his own at the 2021 Balling On The Beach tournament. He’s a 5-foot-10 combo guard consisting of all arms and legs at this juncture but showcased immense upside due to his array of skills. Not short on confidence, Herro was unfazed by any perceived pressure that came with donning his family name on both sides of his jersey for the Team Herro/Phenom U (WI) program, all the while displaying deft touch and a quick trigger along with a knack for finding passing seams in opposing defenses.
Arael Jones | Charlotte, NC | Class of 2025
Jones has been a mainstay for Grind Academy (NC) in recent years on the youth hoops circuit and was once again back in action with his hometown club during the 2021 Balling On The Beach event. A 6-foot-1 backcourt prospect in the mold of a true combo guard, Jones can unquestionably put the ball in the basket, but his ability to consistently beat opponents off the dribble and make plays in the lane are skills that translate well to the next level as he begins to discern his persona as a floor general. Jones applies constant pressure on opponents with his attacking style and could evolve into a tenacious defender due to his length and quickness.
Jason ‘JJ’ Mandaquit | Hilo, HI | Class of 2025
A gritty lead guard with an advanced understanding of how to run a team, Mandaquit fit right in with his new teammates on the Rose City Rebels (OR), and helped guide the club to a championship game appearance at the 2021 Balling On The Beach tournament. A clever ball-handler and passer, the six-foot native Hawaiian is also expected to take the reins for prestigious ‘Iolani School as a freshman this fall, and should contribute immediately as an anchor for their starting line-up. It’s clear that Mandaquit possesses a unique set of intangibles and it will be fun to watch his game develop and flourish at the next level.
Darius Washington III | Orlando, FL | Class of 2025
I couldn’t help but reminisce when Washington III popped onto my radar with his stellar play during the weekend. For those unaware, Darius Washington, Jr. was a member of one of the all-time great McDonald’s All-American Game rosters in 2004, and has since had a professional playing career spanning three decades and counting. As an incoming freshman at his father’s alma mater, Orlando Edgewater (FL) High School, Washington III is an intriguing 6-foot-1 lead guard who caught my eye at the 2021 Balling On The Beach tournament thanks largely to his promising measurables, crafty handle, and noteworthy vision as a passer.
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