Last week’s Les Schwab Invitational once again featured a loaded cast of promising basketball prospects. The field of 16 teams took to the court in Hillsboro, Oregon in hopes of emerging victorious in one of the most prestigious prep tournaments in the country. Ridiculous Upside contributor Steve Dewald attended the four-day event to get an early look at the players who could garner serious interest from NBA teams in the future.
It is important to note that these evaluations are being made on players that are still developing. This is more of a first-look style projection, as each player will continue to grow as they advance in their careers. That being said, the players discussed below have been separated into two groups.
The first group is labeled as ‘can’t miss’ prospects, and the second group is categorized as ‘wait and see’. The first group is already considered to be on the NBA’s radar, while the second group could easily achieve that status if they continue to progress.
Can’t Miss Prospects
Vernon Carey Jr. | C | University School | Class: Sr. | HT: 6’10” | WT: 275
Carey is currently listed as the No. 3 prospect in ESPN’s 2019 rankings, and it is easy to see why. He already possesses a NBA-ready frame, and is able to leverage his size when he receives the ball in the post. Offensively, Carey has a soft touch and handles the ball well for a player his size. With a little polish, he will fit the criteria to become a modern face-up five in the NBA.
When he gets the ball close to the rim, Carey is an explosive finisher. Here are a few of his dunks from his 27-point explosion on the second day of the tournament (via Overtime).
Despite his modern skill set on offense, Carey will have to work on defending in space. Smaller defenders were able to successfully get past him on the perimeter. Along with a few defensive lapses, Carey took awhile to establish himself in games. Once engaged, he was a handful for even the most skilled opponents in the tournament.
Interested Colleges: Duke (committed)
Cassius Stanley | G | Sierra Canyon | Class: Sr. | HT: 6’5” | WT: 185
Stanley’s overall offense needs tuning, but there is no denying his athletic ability. He is a threat to score anytime he is given space in transition. Along with pushing the pace, Stanley is an above average rebounder for his position. Once he corrals a loose ball, he quickly reloads to finish with a dunk on the offensive end. Stanley finished with 21 points and seven rebounds in Sierra Canyon’s title-winning performance against University School.
Interested Colleges: Kansas, Oregon, and UCLA
Scottie Barnes | F | University School | Class: Jr. | HT: 6’8” | WT: 210
Barnes’ relentless style is tough to miss from the moment he steps on the floor. He is pesky on defense, explosive with the ball in his hands, and does an efficient job of getting his teammates involved. Armed with a frame that NBA teams covet in hybrid forwards, it is easy to see Barnes guarding multiple positions at the next level. On offense, Barnes’ shot form is fairly smooth, but it will need re-tooling if he is going to be considered an outside threat.
Interested Colleges: Oregon, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Kentucky, and Miami
Wait & See
Christian Koloko | F/C | Sierra Canyon | Class: Sr. | HT: 7’0” | WT: 195
At a glance, it easy to see that Koloko will need to add weight in college. Once you look past his slender frame, Koloko’s athleticism shines in space. As a defender, he effortlessly slides between the perimeter and paint to alter shots. Offensively, Koloko runs the floor superbly for a player his size. If Koloko can prove he can hold his own against larger opponents during his college career, he should draw interest from professional organizations.
Interested Colleges: Arizona (signed)
Anton Watson | F | Gonzaga Prep | Class: Sr. | HT: 6’8” | WT: 210
Watson’s strongest performance came against University School. He produced 19 points by going 9-14 from the field. Watson went toe-to-toe with Carey and Barnes, and successfully imposed his will against both players. It was a strong showing for Watson during the tournament, as he was tasked with guarding several of the top players in the field. He has an excellent frame, and is versatile on both ends of the court. Offensively, Watson efficiently created for himself and others. With a little seasoning under coach Mark Few’s staff at Gonzaga, it won’t be a shock to see Watson receive attention from the NBA in the future.
Interested Colleges: Gonzaga (signed)
Kenyon Martin Jr. | F | Sierra Canyon | Class: Sr. | HT: 6’7” | WT: 195
Martin is slightly undersized to be considered a power forward, but he makes up for his size disadvantage with his unbelievable instincts in the paint. He recorded 10 blocks in four games, and was a fierce rebounder on both ends of the court. Martin’s relentless motor should win over any coach he plays for, and he can bolster his future stock by developing his arsenal on offense.
Interested Colleges: Cincinnati, Georgetown, Memphis, Oklahoma, and Oregon State
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com