Jim Couch National Training Showcase Top Performers (PHOTOS)


by Franklyn Calle / @FrankieC7

During the weekend, some of the nation’s youngest and most talented prospects converged in New York City for the third annual Super 16 freshmen and sophomore all-star games. In addition to the games, this year’s event featured an eight-station combine-style training session that was composed of basketball and cross-fit challenges the previous day. Below are ten of the top performers from this weekend’s action. Honorable mentions include Jordan Tucker and Ira Lee. All photos credited to Steven Counts / stevencounts.com

Cody Riley, 6-7, Forward, Sierra Canyon (CA), 2017: He’s already been hailed as the top incoming 9th grader in the nation by various scouting services. The one characteristic that’s quickly noticeable about him on first glance is his man among boys physique. At 6-7, 225, the California native already possesses the body frame to play at the next level. Thus, he was able to overpower his way to the rim at will. A facet of his game that stood out the most is his consistency from midrange. At this young stage, players tend to either be good at shooting it from the perimeter or working in the paint, but those midrange and short jumpers tend to not be a priority, and in many cases are nonexistent. Riley, though, hit at least three right elbow jumpers in the 9th grade game. He also showed his versatility by stepping out and sinking a couple of shots from behind the arc. He can put the ball on the floor and pull-up own his own. Based on Sunday’ performance, the hype surrounding his name is justified. He finished with 15 points.

Jalek Felton, 6-2, Guard, Mullins HS (SC), 2017: Nephew of New York Knicks guard Raymond Felton, this rising freshman showed that he has the intangibles to become a premier guard over the next few years. Although right around the same height as his uncle, the younger Felton looks much more athletic and explosive than Raymond, finishing above the rim on numerous occasions and being on the receiving end of three alley-oop attempts. He did great job cutting baseline and catching the defense off-guard by going backdoor a few times. Along with his impressive off-the-ball movement, although assists were not officially counted, he dished out at least five dimes by stepping into the paint and distributing a bounce pass to a teammate around the rim. He’s very crafty off the dribble and fairly agile, and plays with the same feistiness that Raymond has become known for. Felton finished with 18 points.

Thon Maker, 7-0, Center, Carlisle School (VA), 2016: The seven-footer took a page off Shaq’s all-star games strategy and decided he was going to try out his guard skills this afternoon. At one point in the second half, Maker dribbled down the floor before blowing by Bryce Aiken after catching him with an expected spin-move, and ultimately stepping in to hit a three-pointer from the left wing. He would hit another three-pointer a couple of minutes later. Relatively speaking to other seven-footers at this level of basketball, he demonstrated a nice stroke from the free throw line. It was on the defensive end that Maker made the biggest impact. Because of his size, it would obviously be expected that his presence alone would make a difference in the paint, but the kid actually showed great intensity, constantly contesting shots as far as out on the perimeter, while attempting to give his team second shot opportunities on the other end of the floor. The hustle and effort was admirable. We don’t expect him to be shooting three-pointers or handling the ball like that  in a regular season HS game, but at least we found out he has it in his repertoire.

Hasahn French, 6-6, Forward, Commonwealth Academy (MA), 2017: He’s one of those guys who deserved his own stat line for the amount of put-back dunks and tip-ins he had throughout the day. On at least three different occasions, French dunked the ball off a teammate’s missed shot, while tipping it in on a couple of other possessions. He also showed that he can put the ball on the floor and create his own shot or simply finish strong at the rim. It would have been interesting to see how his jump shot looked but nonetheless finished with 15 points.

Deondre Bourne, 6-2, Guard, Leman Manhattan Prep School, Class of 2017: In the second quarter, Bourne hit three consecutive three-pointers in a matter of minutes, showing off the deadly stroke. He also demonstrated on a couple of possessions that he can take his man off the dribble, yet was able to keep his head up and read the floor well, finding open teammates on the corners. Bourne finished with 18 points.

Temple Gibbs, 6-0, Guard, Seton Hall Prep (NJ), 2016: Younger brother of Ashton Gibbs (former PITT) and Sterling Gibbs (Seton Hall), Temple showed that he has the potential to be just as good, or maybe even better, than his predecessors. He showcased a lightning quick spin move on various occasions, while also exhibiting his deep range out on the perimeter. He looked to be at his best off the dribble, but knew when to hit the breaks and slow the down the pace.

Unique McLean, 6-1, Guard, Hoosac School (NY), 2016: He was among the most versatile prospects on display, showing off an arsenal of offensive moves, ranging from a step-back jumper to explosive drives to the rim. He gets off the ground in a hurry and that explosive first step leaves defenders frozen. His athleticism alone can take him a long way.

Bryce Aiken, 5-10, Guard, The Patrick School (NJ), 2016: He’s an impressive floor leader that plays under control, while still looking to push the ball at all times. His change of pace, where he shifts gears at any given moment, keeps defenders on their toes. Aiken holds a respectable jumper with range, and despite his size, he proved that he can finish at the rim, even on bigger defenders, much due to his great body control in mid-air. Overall, he’s just a fun player to watch run an offense.

Payton Pritchard, 6-0, Guard, West Linn (OR), 2016: A very patient shooter that carefully selects his shots, Pritchard was particularly effective from distance this past Sunday. There was also a couple of times when he showed that he could beat his defenders off the dribble and then ultimately found an open man once he got in the lane.

Trevon Duval, 6-2, Guard, Sanford School (DE), 2017: Very athletic and bouncy, Duvial got to the rim off the dribble in a hurry. He didn’t seem to waste a single step, covering ground with every step.