HAMPTON, Va. -- The second round of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League is in the books. After skipping the first round, the EYBL Hampton was my initial foray into Nike’s treasure chest of talent. Half of the top-10 players from the ESPN 60 were in attendance. Elite talents Jabari Parker (Chicago/Simeon) and Aaron Gordon (San Jose, Calif./Bishop Mitty) missed it because of commitments or injury. Their absence was ominous.
In their stead, we saw brand names like PF Julius Randle (Dallas/Prestonwood), 2014 C Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young) and 2014 SF Andrew Wiggins (Toronto/Huntington Prep) turn in standout performances. Okafor even broke a backboard, and that sent a buzz through the Boo Williams Sportsplex.
Wiggins, in particular, was the best overall player at the event and that’s not anything worth debating. His talent, production and purposeful approach put him on strong ground in his class. If he continues to play with this hunger and unselfish dominance, his name will creep into the conversation for top overall prospect in the country. He’s that talented.
I’ve gotten into the habit of referencing 2014 PG Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley) as the best point guard in the country. The more accurate way of phrasing that is “best pure point guard” in the nation, which he is. Jones has few weapons, other than shooters on his travel team, but is contending for a Peach Jam berth. Kasey Hill (Montverde, Fla./Montverde) will challenge for the top spot in 2013 with Andrew Harrison (Houston/Travis). They are terrific in their own right, maybe better talents. However, neither has the command of a team that Jones has. Hill is charging fast and he’s a top-5 player, in my opinion, who blends scoring with a revamped approach to the point. Jones, well, he’s vanilla, but it’s a flavor that works for everyone.
After Jones, the other point guard who had me captivated was Joel Berry (Orlando, Fla./Lake Highland Prep), who is also a 2014 member. He’s taken a page from the Kasey Hill manual and his biggest improvement is his approach to the game. Through last spring and summer, the concern was that Berry was a score-first lead guard. That’s not true. He’s a complete point guard who is relentless as an on-the-ball defender. Each1Teach1 is one of the EYBL’s best and Berry was fantastic at the helm.
Anthony Barber (Hampton, Va./Hampton) set his guys up but his teammates weren’t making shots, otherwise his assist numbers would have been bigger. Now, he’s got to take command of his team and help get BWSL heading in a better direction. The only kid who might be quicker is 2014 speed demon Lourawls Nairn (Wichita, Kan./Sunrise).