– BY SAM DUREN & ORLANDO WILLIAMS
For 14 years, the Elite 14 Showcase has become a must watch for many Divsion One College Coaches in November. It’s the first opportunity for coaches to watch players since July. And it has routinely featured the best talent in not only Texas, but Oklahoma as well. OKPreps will be in attendance on Saturday and we’ll have plenty of content coming out of the huge event.
Many future State Championship winners and Division One players have tipped off their season in Wichita Falls. This year is no different as Oklahoma will bring some of its top prospects. State championship contenders Putnam City West (6A), Booker T Washington (6A), Putnam City North (6A), Sapulpa (6A), Memorial (5A), Northwest Classen (5A), Lawton Eisenhower (5A), Heritage Hall (4A), Millwood (3A) are among some of the top programs in the state. With Norman, Norman North and Newcastle also rounding out the field, Oklahoma’s high schools will be well represented on Saturday.
The term “D1” is often thrown around very loosely. “That play was D1!” “My guy is a D1 athlete”. “He shoots better than any D1 guard!” And on and on it continues, as players who’s traits, who don’t meet the lofty standards need to play at the Division One level. Those requirements can be hard to understand, as Oklahoma usually only produces around 10 D1 players a year.
That’s what makes the Elite 14 Showcase such a great event, is it’s a chance to see more D1 players up close. Allowing a better understanding of just what is need to make the cut. For example last year, the slow recruitment of Mason Harrell was proven to be even crazier after he stood out in the talented field.
While some Oklahomans in this field have already secured places at the Division One Level from the Boone twins and their Oklahoma State commitment to Micah Thomas’ Southern Illinois pledge. There are still many more hoping to earn offers and continuing to progress.
Tale of the Tape will highlight if a player has the physical ability and skill-set to play at one of the division one levels.
Some players stand out because they have the size or athleticism required. While others wow with high skill levels. This list will break what’s got them, and hint at what’s needed.
(In Alphabetical Order)
Trey Alexander, 6 foot 4 2021 Guard, Heritage Hall
Alexander is one of a handful of elite players in the state. Pedigree and skill have been the foundation for this hard working prospect. Alexander has the “It” factor that high major D1 prospects have. As a freshman, the smooth guard led his team to a 4A title. Much of that was due to gritty play down the stretch of the state title game against a tough Kingfisher squad.
Alexander still hasn’t grown to his full potential athletically. That shouldn’t detract college programs. The savvy guard is a must watch for Power 5 schools.
Athleticism/Size: Mid to High major – He’s tall enough to play a high major backcourt, but given his youth, he still seems to be coming into his body and has the occasion awkward feel.
Skill/feel for the game: High Major Plus – Outstanding feel for a game, with a dynamic scoring ability. Has shades of Shake Milton, who graduated Owasso 2015 and now is on a two way contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Jalen Breath 6 foot 8 2020 Forward Booker T Washington
Breath is a younger player in his class and has a ton of potential. But with only 18 months left as a high school student, the time to reach that potential is now. The raw big man moves well on both ends, speaking to potential role as a scrappy high energy player.
Too often in the past, Breath has played with a lower energy level and disappeared. His best skill trait is a consistent jumper out to 15 to 18 feet.
Size/Athleticism: Low to Mid Major – Size is a premium. Being over 6 foot 6 and moving well will get any prospect’s foot in the door for D1 coaches. The next question though, is what that player does with his size.
Skill/Feel for game: Small College – The soft touch on his jumper hints at a much higher ceiling. But right now an inconsistent motor and lack of feel around the basket is hindering. If the switch is flipped, Breath’s skill level could soon start to match his god given abilities.
Cam Dennis, 6 foot 2 2019 guard Sapulpa
Dennis, who is an electric player at both guard position, is an one on one nightmare. An above the rim finisher, the new Chieftain excels in a free flowing transition game. Having a feel for game situation and not disappearing for stretches at a time are areas where the bouncy guard can show improvement.
Athleticism/Size: Mid Major plus – a big wingspan really benefits Dennis on both ends of the court. He’s blessed with a strong first step as well. His bounce could best be described by sneaky, as it seems to explode when least expecting. Which allows him to punch in slams on defenders, or make opportunistic plays defensively.
Skill/feel for the game: Low Major – Scoring is Dennis’ biggest gift, it’s continuing to fine tune that iso scoring into fitting into a half court offense that will benefit him. Some of the demerits for Dennis is that he’s unlikely to ever be a true point guard, while doesn’t have ideal size for off the ball guards. Still, he’s a bucket getter, and teams always have rooms for players that can score.
Antonio Gordon, 6 foot 7 2019 Forward, Lawton Eisenhower
One of the best players in Oklahoma, Gordon should be in for a big weekend on a Eagle squad with some new faces. After a trip up I-35 to Kansas City to play with MoKan this summer, Gordon has solidified himself among the elite players in Oklahoma and has college interests to match his skill level.
Athleticism/Size: High Major – With power forwards now being shorter and more versatile, Gordon is an ideal versatile threat for even high major programs. Early on, strength could be a concern at the highest levels. He does have a good frame, and with physical maturity and a college level weight room, it’s easy to see a future where Gordon a 20-30 minute a night player as upperclassmen.
Skill/feel for the game: Mid Major – In Oklahoma, Gordon is able to score in ways that won’t fly consistently against bigger foes. Because of that there are time he looks like he’s going through the motions, which could lead to bad habits down the road.
Tobias Roland, 6 foot 2 2021 Guard, Putnam City North
After putting up good numbers a freshman, the strong body wing is transition from the post to the perimeter. That transition is always difficult as players can lose the aspects of their previous identity that made them stand out. Finding that balance is difficult but a worthwhile endeavor.
Roland is a bruiser and is stronger than most players he faces. The burly guard does a lot of his damage from around the basket. Roland does have the ability to make shots from beyond the arc. There has been some good progression in that area. However there is a lot more to being a guard than the ability to knock down open jumpers and handle the ball in certain spots.
Athleticism/Size: Mid Major – Strong and imposing, Roland plays bigger than his height thanks to that. In past, he’s also flashed above the rim potential. But it can difficult to judge final explosiveness on younger players when they’re still growing.
Skill/feel for the game: Low Major – Roland has a strong basketball IQ, and his jumper is steadily improving. But his actions can still look unnatural on the ball. Perhaps it’s fitting he transferred to PCN, as last year’s Adoiyke Iyaye could be a good model in how his game progresses.
Julian Smith, 5 foot 10 2019 Guard, Sapulpa
Smith is coming off a major knee injury, and will look to show this weekend he still has some of his past electricity in his game. A dazzling one on one player with the ability to score from distance, the compact guard can get buckets. The lost step kept him from getting in the lane this summer like he has in the past.
Athleticism/Size: Low Major – Being under 6 foot often makes it hard for guards, especially from Oklahoma to get good looks. Combined with him looking a step slow this summer following a quick return from injury and Smith is starting his senior year in a hole. Still in his favor is his strong frame and burly shoulders.
Skill/feel for game: Mid Major – Smith might be the best scorer in Oklahoma this winter. He’s strong, compact and crafty when attacking the hoop, while also being a potential game changer from beyond the arc. A benefit to modern basketball for Smith is that there is less reliance on lead guards to be old fashion table setters. Still, better decision making could help his college stock, as he is prone to lean on shooting threes when he could keep the ball moving and teammates involved.
Bryce Thompson, 6 foot 4 2020 Guard, Booker T Washington
The sharpshooting guard is on the verge of reaching the next level as a prospect. And the next level for him is becoming an elite all around scorer. If Thompson is to become that, it will be credited to improved athleticism and on the ball ability.
With the nationally regarded prospect, it’s about being productive when he’s not white hot from distant. Being strong and quick enough to score at the rim or draw fouls. This will define how he’s regarded these next two years.
Athleticism/Size: Mid to High Major – Thompson checks the required height and wingspan needed to play in High Major conferences. But he’s never been that athletic, with him reaching his final height, could he be in line to see an athleticism boost like Allonzo Trier did?
Skill/feel for game: High Major Plus – With improved passing and handle this summer, it’s clear Thompson is becoming an all around offensive threat. When looking at the college and NBA ranks, players with fathers that played at high level do have a developmental advantage. But a competitive nature is still needed and Thompson has that.
Rondel Walker, 6 foot 3 2020 Guard, Putnam City West
Walker has always been a player that checks all the boxes when it comes to IQ, skill and savviness. It’s been his undefined position at the guard spot which has made him a tough evaluation. In the past, the smooth guard has lacked the explosion and quickness for the point guard position and the height and athleticism for the two guard position.
Walker now teetering around the 6 foot 3 plus range has the size to be a legitimate combo guard.
Athleticism/Size: Low to mid major. Injuries have hampered Walker in the last year, and as such has looked a step slow at times. A healthy season and the chance to add explosiveness could do wonders for his stock.
Skill/feel for the game: Mid Major – Walker plays best when the game is loose, when he can thrive on chaos. His hands are quick in passing lanes and picking pockets. While offensively his game has good improvisational skills, from making highlight reel worthy passes or hitting tough shots. Finding ways to translate that to the halfcourt is the next step for this talented guard.
Marques Warrior, 6 foot 2 2020 Guard, Putnam City West
A jack of all trades, but a master of done, Warrior is great balanced player for West. He’ll bring intensity on defense, but so far isn’t an one on one dynamo. It’s similar on offense, he’s a good shooter and an improved finisher at the rim. And while good at scoring in bursts, he’s not a pure bucket getter like others. Similarly, he’s been more of an up tempo point guard than a true floor general.
These next six months will be critical in writing the scouting report and college level of Warrior.
Athleticism Size: Low Major – He’s grown into a guard with ideal size and ever improving athletic ability. When he plays on the ball he could eventually be a bigger power point guard, but also with the ability to match up bigger off the ball guards.
Skill/feel for game: Small College – The problem is that currently, Warrior doesn’t have one single trait to stand out and grab the attention of college coaches. He’s good across the board, with the question being if he will reach great in any traits.
Isaiah Williams, 6 foot 5 2020, Guard/Wing Millwood
Williams, an unpolished prospect has a ton of potential to go along with raw length and athleticism. The lanky wing has to make up a lot in regards to skill over the next two years. There are times Williams flashed the ability to play on the ball, but there’s a stark difference between bringing it up in Oklahoma and being the floor general for a college offense.
Right now Williams is a D2/Juco prospect. However history has shown that players like Williams will often surprise by landing at D1 schools after big jump in play between junior and senior years. Or even after some time in the JuCo ranks.
Athleticism/Size: Low to Mid Major – He’s not the most explosive athlete, but he moves well for a player his size. With a natural movement fitting of a player on the perimeter, and his long wingspan could lead to versatile defending potential down the road.
Skill/feel for the game: Small College – There’s a lack of polish to his game, which as he’s not always had exposure to playing in bigger settings. While he received some help with that this summer, scenarios like the Elite 14 will be crucial in judging if the skill level will start to match his potential.