by Sam Duren:
Welcome to The Scout, a periodically and detailed look at some of the recent boy’s basketball prospects that have stood out. While many players are impactful at the high school level, this feature will give a nuanced look at some of the top prospects from High Majors targets, to possibly undervalued prospects for regional smaller colleges.
The Scout is an attempt to describe what makes a player a good target, and what they need to do to continue to grow as prospects. Because no high school player is the finished article, even the best players have room for growth. It’s important to paint the full picture of each prospect, not just the eye popping highlights. With the right of spotlighting success and constructive criticism.
Players are listed in alphabetical order
Class of 2019
Kalib Boone, 6’8 Forward, Tulsa Memorial
The Oklahoma State signee has not rested on his laurels in his final year as a Charger. Always a high level shot blocker, he has continued to refine his defensive craft. While also becoming a well rounded offensive player. He’s still at his best in pick and roll, crashing the boards, and running the floor. His back to the basket game has improved, and perhaps more importantly his jumper is more consistent.
Boone had shown flashes off a soft touch on his jumper in the past. But now it’s true option instead of the occasional shot. He also remains a great passer out of the high post, especially hitting cutters. Also in the high post, he’s good at taking one dribble and attacking the rim, where his combination of height and length make him a high level finisher.
Many seniors that sign early go into coast mode for portions of their high school swan song. Perhaps it’s due to a challenging early schedule, but Boone is playing with more of a sense of urgency and hunger. That is shown in his more mature approach to the game. Even as recent as the summer, Boone could be see visibly frustrated by whistles against him or other types of adversity, which would throw him off his game. Now he still plays with strong emotion, but it’s more positive and doesn’t get as down when calls or the opposition try to frustrate him.
Kalib has strong competition for top 2019 prospect in the state from his twin brother Keylan and Lawton Eisenhower’s Antonio Gordon (Kansas State). Early returns though, have Kalib taking home that honor.
Corey Coleman, 6’4 Guard, John Marshall
An off guard with ideal size, shooting touch and feel as a scorer, Coleman should be a priority for regional junior colleges looking for a scoring punch in their backcourt. He’s got a good wingspan, as well. For the Bears, he can operate in the high post/mid rage against zone, where he can knock jumpers or attack off the bounce. After only one viewing it’s difficult to get a true gauge of his true potential, but Coleman has the look of a quality junior college scorer who could blossom at the next level.
Seth Hurd, 6’6 Forward, Booker T Washington
The bruising forward is one of the higher floor players in the state. This year he has been a vacuum on the glass for the Hornets, especially on the offensive end. During his time at Booker T, eyes are often drawn to flashier teammates, which allows Hurd to go work as blue collar and consistent presence in the paint.
While he may never be a high flying finisher, or an automatic bucket if passed to downlow, Hurd will crash the glass, clean up garbage points, and be a physical presence on the defensive end. Division II programs needing post depth to provide minutes right away should have this Hornet as a primary target.
Shelby Sampleton, 6’3 Wing, Putnam City West
Similar to Hurd, Sampleton is a player that knows and excels at his role. The Patriot is a dead-eye shooter, that can quickly get into rhythm and change games. His ball handling has improved over the course his career but he’ll likely won’t ever be a dynamic player off the dribble. For junior colleges looking for rotation players that can spread the floor, Sampleton should be an interesting recruit this spring.
Jett Sternberger, 6’2 Guard, Kingfisher
Football could come calling as Sternberger is a notable QB with good bloodlines (older brother Jace at Texas A&M is arguably the best tight end in the country). The football factor and the small school competition level makes it hard to judge Sternberger as prospect. If the small town sharpshooter does choose the round ball, he’ll have his choice of seemingly every Division II program in Oklahoma.
Right now he’s a Blue Chip Division II recruit, as he’s an outstanding shooter that could be an All Conference type talent down the road for many D2s. But he likely lacks the well rounded traits of Division One prospects. He’s not overly explosive or tricky with the ball in his hands, but does play with a smoothness and confidence that works at the high school level. A little bit taller, and he’s be an ideal off the ball shooter. As is, he’s kinda stuck between the guard positions at the next level, similar to Caleb Nero (Tulsa Memorial 2017).
This week at Tournament of Champions will be a big test to see how the rest of his game has developed. As even though he’s established himself as a strong producer and player at the high school level, there still could be a late chapter to write on his potential as a college prospect.
Jaylen Thomas, 6’6 Forward, Tulsa Central
While productive as a junior, there’s more polish and physically stronger qualities to Thomas’ game as a senior. He might never be fluid enough to be a true wing at the next level, but at 6 foot 6 and an even bigger wingspan he’s an ideal modern “4” for current basketball. With a strong jumper from beyond the arc, he’s able to space the floor as a pick and pop or spot up option. And he’s also to attack slower bigs off the dribble.
Thomas’ big wingspan also gives him the ability to battle downlow effectively with taller players. The long forward, could prove to be a long term steal for D2 programs in the region. Or a JuCo could be the ideal destination to continue his development and turn him into a potential Low Major prospect in a few years.
Class of 2020
Brayshawn Finch, 6’4 Wing, Tulsa Memorial
At many other programs, Finch would have a bigger role. As is, he’s still often able to jam in high impact production off the bench for Memorial. He’s a versatile athlete, capable of covering guards, while also able to crash the boards and bang with bigs. While not the smoothest handle, he’s currently capable of bringing the ball up the court, and running some pick and roll. Where he’s a sneaky good passer and smart decision maker. Right now, Finch is a strong utility player, who should be able to bring versatility and production to regional small colleges, of the two year and four varieties.
B.J. Jefferson, 6’4 Guard, Tulsa Central
From a pure talent standpoint, Jefferson is a top 5 prospect in his class. A plus athlete, he’s an above the rim finisher, with the potential to be an elite three point shooter. His big wingspan, gives him the potential to be a notable defender down the road. Jefferson has a good skill level, but some of his dribble moves are currently slow, which means the space he’s able to create now won’t be there against better and bigger athletes at the next level. Repetition of these moves, especially in game like scenarios could be crucial in speeding them up.
Against Tulsa Memorial, Jefferson put it all together for one night as he scored in a variety ways against elite competition. The next step for a good prospect to become a great prospect is for consistent high level play. As a sophomore, Jefferson ran hot and cold, with his attitude often being a good judge early into a game if he was going to be impactful or struggle. Consistent motivation no matter the level of competition, is one of the things that separate good players from elite players.
The ceiling for Jefferson is quite high, as he mets a lot of Division One qualities. But the floor to his game is volatile. Consistency and maturity will be the biggest thing to track with the Central Brave guard in the upcoming months.
Bryce Thompson, 6’4 Guard, Booker T Washington
Thompson has been one of the names to know in Oklahoma for what has felt like years now. That has placed a spotlight on his game, leading to a lot of nitpicking about what he can and can not do. One of the long term concerns when projecting the Hornet’s college potential was his lack of explosive ability, especially off the dribble. If the start of his junior campaign is any indication, that’s a concern that could soon be put to rest.
The long guard now attacks with more confidence, as he’s quicker and able to create space for mid range jumpers. Or is able to finish easier in traffic as he has improved hangtime and strength. The jump in his athletic ability has also manifested in better defensive play, as Thompson is now able to be a good rim protector for the high school level. And while that is something that might not fully translate, it’s a good sign for his potential as a “3 and D” player, which could be his ticket to early playing time at the high major level.
With potentially elite players it’s always about what’s next for them to maintain and improve. For Thompson his handle against quicker guards and traps could still continue be fine tuned. Along with an eye on how he ends up as an one on one scorer.
Thompson excels right now when running the court to spot up, or running off screens to catch and shoot. Both are valued skills, but elite players are often able to take over games on their own, without the need for specific plays drawn up to get them going. Thompson has shown flashes of doing this, in the third quarter of last year’s 5A semifinals against Northwest Classen specifically. Doing that on a more consistent basis with the right kind of initiative in the right moments is the next step for the 918 standout.
Rondel Walker, 6’4 Guard, Putnam City West
Walker is noticeably taller and quicker this year and that has enhanced his scoring and chaos making abilities. Defensively he’s a gambler with good instincts. Which does make it somewhat difficult to judge, as a lot of the tricks that work against non college level guards will disappear against experienced Division One players. Still his willingness to work on defense now, speaks to the potential to fit in and mold his gambling tendencies into an impactful college defender down the road.
Offensively, Walker is among the better shooters in Oklahoma. As a momentum and rhythm player, once one three has been hit, the potential for old school NBA Jam “He’s on fire” shooting binge is always on the table if left open. A combo guard type, Walker is at his best as passer in transition and free flowing opportunities, and less so as a traditional bring the ball up and set up the offense point guard. Right now he’s very adept at drawing fouls to head to the line, which offsets some of his flaws as a finisher.
Walker’s made one big jump in the last six months of his development, now it’s time to see if there’s another leap in his game over the next six.
Isaiah Williams, 6’4 Guard, Millwood
The improved ability to play on the ball, has one of the biggest boons to Williams’ long term potential as a prospect. While he might never be a true point guard, versatility at the guard positions is especially prized now. He’s not overly quick, but his long strides and good body control often allow him to knife through the opposition to finish or find open teammates. Defense eventually could be his calling card, as he checks a lot of the traits (size, wingspan, frame and instincts) to excel in the right environment down the road.
Williams is the type of prospect that currently hits in flashes. Similar to Jefferson, he lacks the defined basketball pedigree during development years, which puts them in contrast to players like Thompson and Walker who are already refined players. As a quickly emerging prospect, Williams could soon be on the radars of Low to Mid Majors.
Class of 2021
Colby Onyekuru, 6’4 Wing, Edmond Santa Fe
With quality three point shooting and a long frame, Onyekuru is one of the more intriguing prospects in the rising sophomore class. Against Norman, he was a deadeye shooter in the first half before having cold second half. Which is a common outcome for young players as they start to play their first varsity minutes. How he adjusts as the season progress will be a big indicator, and if he adds any more diversity, of his long term ceiling. Which at first glance, does seem to be relatively high.
Anthony Pritchard, 6’0 Point Guard, Webster
With the big shoes to fill following the departure of David Ward, Pritchard has emerged as a consistent scorer for the Warriors. He’s a competitive guard, who is becoming one of the better off the dribble shooters in Oklahoma. As he blends the ability to stop and pop from midrange, or hit from beyond the arc. His main duty right now is that of a scorer, but he does have good vision, which could be showcased more this summer. Pritchard appears to have the right mentality and moxey to be a potential Division One lead guard recruit as he continues to progress.
Long term, quickness and explosion will be the biggest questions for his college potential. Both will be needed as a slasher and creator. But perhaps more importantly as a defender. For smaller guards, defensive deficiencies are often make or break for their potential to be successful at the Division One level. Right now Pritchard falls into category of an successful gambler, which does work with schedule Webster plays. But when projecting his future, a more well rounded and fundamentally sound approach would be beneficial.
Matthew Stone, 6’3 Guard, Kingfisher
Sometimes it’s obvious the Division One potential of a player by just how they move. Not only off their athletic ability (which is quite important) but the purpose of their moves. “Stoney” is one of those players, because he’s a fluid athlete. He also plays the game intelligently; from his cuts off the ball, good handles, to rebounding and defensive rotation. Odds are, Stoney should end the school year with a few Division One offers from regional low to mid majors.
Over the summer, Stoney’s three point shooting was a bit hot and cold. With the makes coming in bunches, surrounded by shooting droughts on either end. In the only viewing so far this year, he started on fire and didn’t hit the drought in later quarters which is a good sign. As being an elite shooter could be the key for bigger schools to give this well rounded guard a shot.
Jaylon “JJ” White, 6’1 Guard, Norman North
A growth spurt since this summer has done wonders for White. Now with good size and movement, White is able to put his good feel to to the game to use. His older brother Juwan, now a standout at Butler Community College in Kansas, was one of the most dynamic and athletic guards in Oklahoma over the last two years.
It remains to be seen if the younger White, who moves well but isn’t currently an explosive athlete will become similar to his brother as he matures. But there is a chance that Jaylon could be a better decision making, natural playmaker than Juwan was in high school.