John Lucas has done it all. He’s had successes and failures. He’s been a player and a coach. He’s been helped and now he is helping others. The former #1 pick in the NBA Draft does everything from training guys still playing in the playoffs to teaching the game to those who haven’t even entered the middle school ranks because for him, it’s all about giving back the knowledge of the game that he has received throughout his basketball career. One of these instances is at his International Middle School Combine.
Proving as the springboard for Thon Maker, the ISMC is considered by some to be the premier middle school basketball camp. Held annually in Houston, the event blends some serious instruction with the opportunity to then use what you learned in the games. This isn’t just one of those camps in which coaches roll the balls out and say ‘go to work’. In fact, the players spent just as much time going through the drills as they did in live action, picking up invaluable things to take with them in the process. However, once the games got going, plenty of scouts were watching.
USA Basketball’s Don Showalter and BJ Johnson were in the building evaluating ballers for future USA developmental teams. Vince Baldwin, Chad Babel, and John Stovall of Nike all made appearances to see the next guys who will be coming up in the EYBL. Reggie Rankin of ESPN and Nike grassroots head Carlton Dubose spoke to the campers about what they look for. Guys like Clark Francis, Van Coleman, Spencer Pulliam, and Tate Johnson were pacing from court to court to make sure that they got a glimpse of everyone for their evaluations. To top it off, there were more than a half dozen McDonald’s All-American Game voters in the building looking to get a glimpse of the future.
Here are a few of the top guys who caught our eye at the 2015 John Lucas International Middle School Combine:
Scottie Lewis, 6-5, SF, Colts Neck (NJ) 2019
A straight up video game type athlete, Scottie Lewis received a lot of buzz when he threw down a 360 during a middle school game and lived up to his rep in Houston. He was a monster in transition, killed a number of dunks on the break, and had a number of creative finishes that you don’t see out of most wings at any level. Lewis’ performance at the ISMC only further cemented his case for top dog amongst the rising freshman class.
Chandler Lawson, 6-6, SF, Memphis (TN), 2019
Donned by some as the top player in the class, Chandler Lawson has all of the tools to reach the success of his older brothers, if not surpass them. With KJ and Dedric set to play for their pops (Keelon, an assistant coach) at Memphis next season, Chandler has already developed a rep of his own and lived up to it at the ISMC. Standing 6’6 with a ridiculous 7’4 wingspan, the ‘baby KD’ comparisons were thrown out quite a bit throughout the camp. There were many times in which Chandler got the rebound, started the break, and then finished things off with a dime or two points for himself. It is considered to only be a matter of time before Chandler is the next Lawson set to play for the Tigers.
Trendon Watford, 6-7, PF, 2019
The little bro of former IU and current overseas pro Christian Watford has the chance to follow his bro’s footsteps to the next level. Already skilled facing up at 6’7, he took slower posts off of the bounce, yet also had the moves on the block to post smaller ones. Trendon’s inside/out game for a young big is why he is considered a consensus top-25 player in the class.
Shemar Morrow, 6-4, SG/SF, Sacramento (CA), 2020
A product of Cleveland, Shemar Morrow made national headlines when he was dunking in games as a sixth grader. Having relocated to Sacramento, he is running with the Oakland Soldiers and lived up to the hype surrounding him. The lefty is a simply special athlete, can bomb NBA threes, and is an elite finisher in transition. Expectations are incredibly high for Morrow, who will now have a target on his back whenever he steps foot on the court.
Zach Harvey, 6-3, SG, Topeka (KS), 2019
Topeka isn’t exactly known as a high school hoops hotbed, but Zach Harvey is doing his best to help put the city on the map. The super smooth swingman made the game look effortless with his slick handle, pinpoint vision, and deadly J off of the bounce. Looking like he’s still got a few inches of growth left in him based on his length, expect it to only be a matter of time before Big 12 schools come calling.
Isaiah Eric Mobley, 6-7, PF, Murietta (CA), 2019
One of the higher upside players in the camp, the guy with two first names repped Cali hard throughout the ISMC. Mobley moved with the fluidity of a guard, had some slick moves in the post, and changed the game on both ends of the hardwood. Isaiah looks like a cat who is nowhere done growing and with the upside he has, is definitely a name to remember.
Thomas Bruner, 6-0, PG, Hammond School (SC), 2019
Given the fact that his older bro Jordan is 6’9 and one of the best seniors in the state, it’s looking like Jordan will be the next to live up to the family rep. He locked down on D, showed off super quick hands, and used his strong frame to finish through contact at the rack. With a year of varsity ball under his belt already, Bruner is ready to to show why he is one of South Carolina’s next in line.
Montavious Murphy, 6-4, SG/SF, Spring (TX)
A local kid from the Houston suburb that held the camp, Montavious showed that he could hold his own with the nation’s finest. Murphy has great size, could shoot the lights out of the pill from deep, and has the length to lock down multiple positions on D. Murphy isn’t a name that is well known on the national level quite yet, but that will change quickly.