The Nike EYBL has revolutionized the grassroots game to where it is today. Instead of playing eight or more games in a weekend, Nike set up a system in which not only are players competing for something, but are also saving their bodies. Playing four games per weekend in the spring, the EYBL’s 40 teams are competing for the playoffs in mid-July, coming in the form of the Nike Peach Jam. As one can imagine, competition is legit, rivalries are born, and new names emerge on each stop of the tour.
Session two brought the EYBL to Lexington, home of one of Nike’s flagship programs in the Kentucky Wildcats. Former EYBL standouts Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, and Dakari Johnson all made their way through the Kentucky Basketball Academy to show love to their former grassroots teams before they make their way to the league. Being an open period in which college coaches can attend games, guys like John Calipari, Coach K, Roy Williams, Thad Matta, and Co. were all supplanted courtside for what was an amazing weekend of hoops.
Here are a few of the top seniors that caught our eye in session two of the EYBL:
Jayson Tatum, 6-9, SF, St. Louis Eagles
Our #1 senior in the Fresh 25 for 2016 held it down in Louisville. He had hyped matchups with Malik Monk (Arkansas Wings) and Michael Porter (MOKAN Elite) respectively and did not disappoint. Playing the game at his own speed, Tatum used his size rebound the ball, see over the top of the D, and post smaller guys with his nasty footwork on the blocks. There were a number of times in which he got rebounds and immediately started the break himself, exhibiting the versatility that has every major program in the country vying for his services.
Udoka Azubuike, 6-10, C, Georgia Stars
An absolute monster on the court, Azubuike was easily the most dominant big man throughout the second session. He showed off nimble footwork on the blocks, was virtually unstoppable with his drop step, and looked to rip the rim off every time that he could. In fact, there were a number of times that Udoka almost brought the entire rim down in front of college coaches, making it easy to see why he is one of the most sought after big men in the class of 2016.
Cassius Winston, 6-1, PG, The Family (above)
The leading scorer in the EYBL made the game look so easy that you’d think he just cracked double figures, but would find out he hit 20+ when the box scores came around. He controlled the tempo of the game, got in the lane at will, and still managed to get his teammates the rock in scoring situations. Cassius has been hyped since he entered high school and going into his senior year, continues to back it up.
Xavier Sneed, 6-6, SF, St Louis Eagles
A straight pogo stick, Xavier Sneed was the beneficiary of Jayson Tatum’s ability to break down the D. He was a strong slasher to the rack, exhibited an explosive first step, and looked to rip the rim off anytime he could. Owning offers from from most of the Big 12, Sneed is a dude definitely bound to blow up this summer.
Brandon Robinson, 6-5, SG, Georgia Stars
A lanky and slithery swingman, Brandon Robinson is a guy who has had a lot of buzz surrounding him in the Peach State. He was an efficient scorer who got to the rim with ease, hit open threes, and got defended all three perimeter positions at times. Once considered a sleeper, Robinson is now a well known name amongst high major coaching staffs.
Xavier Simpson, 5-11, PG, King James Shooting Stars
A guy with a blend of style and productivity, Xavier Simpson was exactly the type of catalyst that a loaded King James squad needed. He played the role of a pass-first guard, got his talented scorers the pill, and put crazy ball pressure on opposing point guards with his lockdown D. Living up to his rep as a coach’s son (his Pops is the head coach at Lima Senior), Simpson has made himself one of the most sought after playmakers in the midwest.
Dainan Swoope, 6-1, PG, MOKAN Elite
Playing next to elite juniors Trae Young and Michael Porter, scoring wasn’t a priority for Dainan Swoope. However, he still made a major impact by being one of the very best defenders that we saw all weekend. Locking down on 6’9 Jayson Tatum, Swoope used his hands and quickness to make sure that the nation’s top junior did not get too hot. He also hit a number of timely jumpshots throughout the weekend and led by example on the defensive end, making him the type of guy that would you’d love to have on any team at the college level.