Friday night lights are what Texas high school sports are known for. But this Friday night, I checked out some local high school basketball in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which has become a premium hub for high school basketball talent. I went to my alma mater in Plano to see Plano East take on Plano Senior High School.
While I originally went to this game for Justin McBride, I was intrigued by a couple other players that I can see making a notable basketball path: Nikk Williams, DJ Hall, and Jordan Mazell, totalling four potential division one prospects.
The star of the game from the tip was Justin McBride, a 6’7 forward committed to Oklahoma State. With modern wing size and athleticism, his guard skills popped immediately. He tried some aggressive passes, albeit a few amounted to turnovers, but his vision was an obvious positive tool. He was able to pass on the move out of drives with accuracy, which some wings struggle to do even in college. Defensively, his tools are overwhelming for high school opponents, both at the rim and on the perimeter. Every time he contested a jump shot, the shot was off-center due to his long closeouts.
The one area for improvement that stood out to me for McBride was his off-ball attentiveness on both ends. Defensively, he was slow to react off-ball a few times, leading to costly open shots. Offensively, after a first quarter of three level scoring dominance, he resorted to almost exclusively living at the mid-post. He didn’t command the ball like a lot of high school stars do, which is part of the egalitarian Plano offense. In the final minutes he should’ve been more assertive, demanding he, the best player in the game, get touches almost every time down.
This is somewhat of a function of Plano as a whole’s team, so Oklahoma State’s coaching staff will have to be patient with him in his freshman year on some minor learning curves, but those growing pains will likely be worth it in the future.
Staying with Plano Senior, Nikk Williams was someone I was loosely familiar with ahead of this game, known for his defense and athleticism. These exact traits popped, not allowing anyone to get past him at the point of attack, while also being an anchor defensively at the rim. I would have liked to see him use his athleticism more as a scorer offensively, but with an often packed paint he had trouble blowing by guys to the rim.
Nikk Williams already has an offer from North Texas, so Williams should be going to play division one basketball. As he becomes a more consistent shooter and learns to play off-ball as a perimeter scorer, along with gaining more confidence as a scorer, his stock will improve as a senior. Teams should be intrigued by his defensive upside with great size at 6’7 with long arms and explosive athleticism, being able to guard multiple positions already. Any offense on top of that is a major bonus, and if his offense takes off, he becomes an NBA prospect.
For Plano East, two players stood out to me: DJ Hall & Jordan Mizell.
DJ Hall was mostly used as the center despite being just 6’6, but what stands out with Hall is that he’s only a sophomore (the youngest player on the court Friday night), and was one of the top scorers in the game. Right now on offense he is just a finisher, but that statement undersells him. Being a sophomore, he was the toughest guard down low outside of McBride, and his footwork on driving moves is already advanced for his age. He had multiple side steps and Euro steps in traffic with crafty finishing around contests. He also has great touch at the rim in traffic, which is advanced given the fact that he is an underclassman playing with upperclassmen. Look for Hall’s name to start appearing on 2025 recruiting boards.
Lastly, Jordan Mizell of Plano East was someone I thoroughly enjoyed watching in this game. I had seen Mizell play back in May during The Circuit, which is a massive collection of local and national AAU teams. I happened to stop at his court because I saw a power forward that could handle the ball & shoot, which seemed intriguing. I stayed for the duration of the game, and came away impressed with Jordan Mizell, when I learned he had just finished his sophomore year, being the youngest player on the court and being a floor general. His motor, intangibles and fearlessness in the paint stood out, and I promised myself I’d see him during the high school season.
Against Plano, Mizell played all but maybe two minutes due to a rough hit to the face that he had to get taped up. Yet again, his motor and fearlessness in the paint stood out despite his 6’2 size. He plays much bigger than his size, and Plano East capitalizes on that. He was often a P&R roll man and was the power forward on free throws. While I don’t have the official stat line from this game due to the general nature of unavailable box scores in high school, I do know that Mizell flirted with a triple double in the overtime loss. He was confident in rebounding against Nikk Williams & Justin McBride, and he dominated the Plano guards on the glass.
On top of his motor and inside-the-paint skills, Mizell is the floor general for Plano East. Every play in the second half, his teammates were looking his way for him to direct the offense, both with the ball in his hands and off-ball against traps. He constantly moves off-ball, he knows where to be, and does the dirty work to keep the offense flowing. These skills may not translate 1:1 to college, but they do display his overall intelligence and toughness that will translate to the next level.
The two areas of improvement I want to see from Mizell as he progresses and matures is to see more scoring from the perimeter, taking advantage of defenders going under screens, and also to become more confident and comfortable in using his right hand against pressure. Becoming ambidextrous will be massively beneficial to his long term upside. Regardless of these two areas, I see Mizell as a division one prospect that will win coaches over with his intangibles on top of his team-first approach.
Overall, I was impressed with the talent in this game. Even if not all four prospects touched on make it to the NBA or close to it, there is an easy path to division one basketball. Look for all three players outside of Justin McBride to appear on recruiting rankings as they each get closer to graduation. If you live in the DFW area, and can catch a game of either team, I highly recommend doing so as Plano East has sleepers for non-seniors, and Plano has already established senior division one prospects.