I attended the City of Palms this week, from Tuesday through Thursday, allowing me to see every prospect at least once. Here were my notes that I took of each player I closely watched:
Cam Holmes (Millenium against Mariner) was active on d. Impacts plays with length. Shot looks untrustworthy, but made back to back 3s early in the 3Q. Off the dribble is still a work in progress. Good athlete. Made a couple of smart cuts and can explode out of corners to the rim off-ball, making him an aerial threat. Struggled to really get to the rim away from cuts, post-ups, and transition. Need to see him develop a half-court game that adapts to his tools more practically. This starts with advancing his handle and being comfortable in winning as a slasher in more creative ways.
Dante Allen (Riviera Prep vs Victory Christian)
Needs to lose some baby fat. Good runner that’s been used running forward and sideways from the basket in the first half. Good motor and has mastered the no-look/look away pass. Shot is clearly undergoing change because release has been inconsistent. Acrobatic finisher that can glide midair and finish on either side regardless of which side his original jump leads him towards. Has had active hands all game defensively. Tons of give and go’s in the third quarter got him going. Allowed him to easily relocate into the holes of the defense and find open shots. Intelligent with and without the ball. Made several dump offs at the rim. Extremely vocal. Coaches guys on the floor. Sees all the options in P&R passing: roll, secondary cut, And corners.
Jeremy Jenkins (Rivieria Prep)
Hit his first shot, a 3. Kind of awkward release. Needs to tighten handle, but incredible upside at the 4. Does well near the rim. Has good post footwork already as a freshman. Still learning how to use his body but his upside is incredible. Recently went all in on basketball after being an offensive lineman as well. At this stage he’s an ideal power forward, but unclear what his future position is, whether he grows more and can play center/at the rim full-time.!
Gustavo Guimarees (Riviera Prep)
Touch has been off all day. Been easy to score over for Victory. Seems soft and lost, and able to dominate at times only because of size and length. Doesn’t have a single standout skill. Often makes elementary mistakes, takes too long to do something, and plays smaller than his size + doesn’t intimidate offensive players.
Thok Gol (Victory Christian)
Hit a 3 first shot. Hit a tough jumper early 2Q over Jenkins. Upon film review, the shot looks very real and projectable, also in warmups he looked confident with repeatable mechanics. At 6’8 as a sophomore, this is a projectable skill. In the loss against Riviera Prep, turnovers (3 turnovers to 0 assists) were an issue, but he still was impactful, albeit in flashes rather than consistently through the game. Against Windermere in the second game, he had his fingerprints all over the game, playing both on the perimeter and inside, while having 4 assists to 0 turnovers. His stat line Thursday was phenomenal in the third place victory: 6 points 7 rebounds 4 assists 3 steals and 1 block in 26 minutes. He is still learning the game and it shows, but if the work ethic and proper coaching is there, we could see a big rise on the 2026 recruiting rankings for Thok Gol.
Windermere vs Mater Dei
Brandon Bass Jr (Windermere)
Hesitates to drive right despite defense giving it to him. Doesn’t handle contact while dribbling well. Must develop his right hand in order to hit his upside. Shot needs work as well with a slightly low release. Has obvious open court talent, but needs to turn that into production.
Sinan Huan (Windermere)
Airballed first shot, a 3. Next time getting the ball he got stripped on a post spin move. 536 1Q got a great putback dunk. Got pushed and into an altercation and while he didn’t seem fazed he didn’t play with a purpose after.. also set a bad screen and didn’t roll or pop. Pedestrian outing where he was easily the best player but right now his tools are theoretical as he develops his skill + decision-making combination. Acted first, thought second too often resulting in 4 turnovers against Mater Dei.
Westminister vs Long Island Lutheran
Quick twitch near the rim. Decision making and overall game is strong near the rim. Had a play he screened but never moved after. Didn’t run back often vs Long Island. Jumps wrong time at rim too often. He ws fearless playing Ace Bailey in the second day; went right at him for runner and pull-up jumper in first quarter. Doesn’t hold his follow through every time. Played so much harder in this game. Motor will have to improve in terms of going hard at every play while being disciplined. Sometimes sat and watched plays in front of him too often. I trust this comes around given how surrounded by the game he always has been and how seriously he takes his own development and strives to make teammates better.
Beautiful jumper but has had iffy decision making. Sulked most of the second half and body language went to shit. Game 2: Body language still looks poor but might just be how he generally is. Had a flash of explosion in the first quarter. Has played bigger than his size near the rim. Hard worker. Biggest pitfall is he isn’t a PG, but has PG size. Quick with the ball in his hands and can get downhill easily. A faster tempo will help a lot, as well as more organization among the roster in role assignment and play-calling.
Explosive and good decision maker. Needs to improve jumper. Plays hounding defense (whole team does). Talks a lot and is the clear leader of the team. Awkward size may hold him back, given he’s no more than 6’5 but ideally is a 2/3. Regardless, he plays bigger than his size but that is a hurdle for him in reaching his upside as a true all-around wing. Intangibles are strong by all accounts- if there’s one player in this group that beats the odds against size the easy bet is VJ.
Can make some crazy plays on defense. Shot looks optimistic. Decision making at times near the rim can be wacky. Had a great sequence in the first game I saw, blocking a shot at the rim then hitting a 3 on the other end. A rim protecting stretch big at a listed 6’11 is one of the most valuable roles in the league, and almost fits the unicorn archetype. If he can continue to make quicker and better decisions, Maluk could be a riser in college. He’s going to FSU, which could help him even take a Kabengele role, which resulted in a first round pick.
Feel for the game is poor. Airballed a shot, contested a shot at rim from other side of the basket which resulted in an east make, then turnover all consecutively. Shot consistency and overall mechanics are poor. Shades of Ricky Council with a tier less explosion. Part of it was that plays kept getting drawn up for him so the problem was inflated unintentionally, but he struggled to shine in a spotlighted role against highest levels of competition.
Hounding defender that gives 94 feet of harassing defense. Has a bit of offense too with a jumper and touch near the rim. Jumper sometimes dips too low and will need to reduce that dip to speed up his shot. Struggles to create separation on drives with minimal burst and sometimes slow strides. Still, his defense alone makes him a D1 prospect. Undersized at 6’0, which could be a big hurdle for him.
Don Bisco vs McEachern
Immediate catch and shoot curl behind screen. Playing center. Has incredible shot versatility. Wide range on off the dribble and turnaround jumpers. Great at running off screens. Great motor. Follows every shot. Can pull up and shoot over anyone. Has the handle, needs to grow it slightly. High release on his shot. If he Jumps on d he’s immediately recovering and back in his spot. Shooting out of traps is incredible because of passing vision. Keeps handle alive. Always playing with his head up. Clearly playing through knee pain or injury. Had an explosive transition dunk to break free from his man off the steal. Lots of shades of MPJ pre injury. Extremely skinny right now and needs to get stronger. Always playing under control in everything he does.
Fantastic at getting to the rim. Explodes off the catch both from a standstill and drive. Jump shooting both off the dribble and spot up are too dangerous to give an ounce of breathing room. Extremely smart shots. Low release on jumper. Can over dribble into open shots; takes 2 dribbles instead of 1. Stronger than he looks; ripped a ball away from Maluk (center on LuHi). Can he shoot coming off of screens? Soft touch on drives with advanced setups. Controls the tempo well. Not a true point guard but with his size he can get away with lacking some true PG skills by his size and overall intelligence.
Columbus vs Archbishop Ryan
Good steal in the passing lane early. Sees the floor well. Shot doesn’t look clean. Weird mechanics. Has good touch though and a reliable floater. Second game (vs Link) his shot has been money, holding his follow through and overall being more consistent in his mechanics. Showcased his highest upside against Link with over 20 points, and a lot of damage from 10-20 feet. Feel for the game is off the chart, and players like Cayden Boozer almost always overcome shot weaknesses to at least find a path to the league, which seems like a no-brainer for Cayden.
Shoots over closeouts with ease. Functional athlete but not overly explosive. Defends well in space. Defensive playmaker upside and his two-way appeal is a big reason he’s so highly ranked. Can make live dribble passes with both hands. Gets to his spots easily and seems to constantly make right plays. Played out of flashes a lot, which was a unique role compared to how he’s been used in the past in games I’ve seen. Somewhat struggled to create his own look against Link on Thursday.
Had a nice dunk in traffic. Blocked Cam Boozer’s step through shot. Not afraid to take jumpers. Times contests well. Beautiful post navigation offensively and utilizes good footwork to dance through defenses.
IMG vs Richmond Heights
Great court vision. Constant look away and no look passes. Alpha mentality. Extremely selfless but knows how to get his. Slashes and passes. Shot is a bit slow but touch is there. Second game (Paul VI) he started slow. Passed out of an open shot, botched a 3 on 1). Finishes with both hands. Takes over when needed. Not fazed by the moment at all and clearly operates like an old-school guard with a modern game.
Beautiful jumper with quick release. Has had some impressive flashes of defense on-ball. Ideal modern wing albeit a tad undersized for what NBA teams want on the wings nowadays. High floor caliber player, who lacks much off the dribble and doesn’t explode much towards the rim.
Lyon vs Lexington
Beautiful jump shot. Not a great athlete (stumped himself on dunks in warmups). Needs to get in better shape maybe (hindsight note: this was the only time shape seemed like an apparent issue, he overcame this). 4 minutes in and he’s huffing and puffing and didn’t get back on d. Outstanding feel for the game. Orchestrates the offense and his scoring is never unnatural or out of the flow of offense. Knows when to shoot, when to fake and score, or when to keep the ball flowing. Been on varsity since 7th grade and is the all time leading scorer in Kentucky high school history. His elite decision-making and feel for the game, combined with scoring ability/intelligence make up for his defensive woes.
Needs to develop his body. Extremely skinny upper body. Jump shot form looks good. Strong putback ability since he follows shots. Relies on jumpers too much when he could explode on a smaller team to the rim. Got stuffed. Despite being the biggest and most athletic player in the game he barely got to the rim and was completely fine shooting jumpers even though that was the defensive gameplan. Functional athleticism wasn’t shown in this game.
Charlotte vs Buckhorn
Insanely athletic. Unreal body control with athleticism. Can lean forward but fall back without bad motion. Pokes lots of dribbles away. Strong motor. Crashes the glass hard. Powerful in transition with unstoppable moves including a spin. Fantastic body control with functional use in-game makes him extremely appealing. Interested to see him in a toned down role where he doesn’t have to do everything. He was impactful without the ball but as the star the show runs through him.
North Mecklenburg vs Richmond Heights
Versatile jumper. Doesn’t need an advanced handle to get what he wants as a shot creator (right now). Shoots over defenders easily. Needs to tighten his handle though to hit his ultimate ceiling. Long arms. Doesn’t force things offensively. Quick in setting his feet on pull-up jumpers.
Shooter. Hand placement starts very high on the hall which he uses to go fully under the ball. Shot probably gets sped up if his hand starts where he needs to release from. Long arms. 3:28 2Q Spent whole possession not moving despite several open cutting opportunities, leading to an airball. Base/footwork on 3s a couple times went out the door, but when it’s right it’s beautiful. Has made some impressive defensive plays.
Montverde vs Archbishop Stepinac
Quick to his spots. Gifted patience and IQ under the rim. Knows how, when, where, and if to pass under the rim. Doesn’t force anything. Good jumper with quick release and high arc. Was able to iso and get his shot off against Cooper Flagg but missed. Has perimeter space creation along with a quick first step to get to the rim with either hand. Makes him a potential lethal 3 level scorer. NBA level shiftiness. Had an and-1 in transition mid 2Q that many NBA defenders would struggle to defend. Can create east and west as easily as north and south with a tight handle. End of 3Q he made the ball handler pay for one mistake dribble and turned it into a steal + points.
Great use of both hands as a finisher and floater. Feel for the game is off the charts with constant non-box score impact decisions on both ends. Not a great athlete, but did have an explosive dunk. Can play any role any given night, and might be one of the best examples of “work smarter, not harder” in high school right now. Very efficient in getting his stats, and makes his teammates better on both ends with and without the ball.
Right away upon entering has great defense on a drive. Superb defensive instincts and fundamentals. Jump shot is pure and can play any degree of off-ball offense. Feel for the game pops at all times. Never forces plays, and is patient in favorable matchups (had an assist in transition when he could have forced a 2-on-1 pass but waited for a trailing Derik Queen for a dunk). Turned his back a couple times defensively to the ball on drives, which got him out of position and away from the play more easily for the offense.
Nothing we don’t know: instincts are phenomenal on both ends. Rebounding has become a maybe overlooked element to his game because of how he follows his shot. He’s a great player already but his nonstop motor is what separates him. Can’t take him out of a play no matter what teams draw up at this level. Will thrive in the P&R offensively as the roll man with NBA spacing. Can stop n pop off the dribble with quick footwork to get set. Ran a couple of P&R and executed well in making intermediate level passes.
High arcing controlled shot. Can play inside and out. Versatile defensively too. Can be a rim runner or stretch big as needed. Ideal 4/5 at the next levels.
Made a ridiculous pass to open the second half. Sees extremely tight windows and makes it work. Got into foul trouble but his fourth foul was good defense wrongfully whistled against him.
Link vs Columbus
Great shooter, making him a lethal off-ball threat. Quick off of screens to get set and can attack closeouts hard. Not an ‘explosive’ athlete but still a good athlete. Underrated handle and space creator at this stage, despite it once being a huge weapon of his game. He’s simplified his game but can channel the shot creator as needed and it works well.
Great athlete. First play of the game was an athletic block. Jumper is lagging behind so he is currently relying a lot on tools and will need to add a reliable jumper while also becoming a decision-maker off the dribble. Didn’t get a chance to showcase his athleticism offensively in this game like he was able to do in surrounding games. Was mostly used off-ball, which is his biggest area of improvement. Was a tad slow on finding the next play defensively, which he will need to improve to be a year-one impact player in college.
Extremely shifty with great wiggle. Top tier shot creator. Has a funky shot release but the touch is clear. Still unclear if he is a high-level decision-maker. If not, he becomes a toolsy PG that has upside in the right spot. If he is, he’s a top prospect with a dynamic combination of shot creation, scoring, and playmaking.
Makes the most of his minutes. Had a clean drive early in the game; great 5th starter. Plays an ideal off-ball role and maximizes playing out of the corner, which is his likely role in college given the talent next to him.
Amazing finisher, with tons of evidence and sample size. Needs to make quicker decisions more consistently though. Sometimes sits on the dribble before driving or shooting too long which gives the defense time to recover and reset. Jumper was rough against Link. Rushed into shots, didn’t seem to control his release or base well.
IMG vs Paul VI
Telegraphed first pass of the game on a drive by not looking towards the rim, allowing him to be stripped. Had a play mid 2Q he missed the opposite side pass against the zone which led to an eventual near turnover. Had a steal then dunk in the end of the 2Q. Has done a good job of getting to the middle offensively then using soft touch on little footers 5-10 feet out. Good athlete and made some impressive heroic defensive plays at the rim with the athleticism.
Jordan Smith Jr
Athletic player who finishes above the rim and can hit stepback jumpers. High upside sophomore that made a lot happen offensively. Crashed the glass well and was comfortable playing bigger than his height. Tries to dunk everything. Easy to run off of screens and draw off-ball plays for. If he grows he will make a great dunker spot finisher for when he is not on the perimeter. Used active hands to force 5 steals.
Attacks well off 1-2 dribbles from the corner, in addition to his lethal shot. Primed to be a prototypical off-ball wing. Really struggled shooting in the lone game I saw but you don’t win the 3 point contest by accident, plus his track record is strong. Luckily, he was still efficient away from 3 point shooting, finishing 6-13 from the field