The 2017 NY2LA Sports Swish N’ Dish came to a close on Sunday in what was yet another eventful weekend of hoops action. Getting a look at some of the top talent in the Midwest, a number of players got their springs started on the right foot and built some big momentum going into the evaluation period. Part of a loaded group of prospects, here are 10 players who elevated their stock to begin the spring…
D.J. Carton – 2019 – PG – Quad City Elite
Look for Carton to be one of the top players in the NY2LA Association this year. A lefty with good burst and athletic ability, Carton can beat teams in many different ways. He’s a strong shooter from beyond the arc and can score off the dribble or running off screens. Carton is very crafty and knows how to operate in traffic. Perhaps the most exciting part of his game is his deceptive athletic ability. Carton showed some ability to play above the rim at 6-foot-1 and also impressed as a chase-down shot blocker in transition.
Jonathan Davis – 2020 – SG – Playground Warriors
Davis’ defensive ability is very advanced for his age. The 6-foot-2 freshman does an excellent job timing shots and is one of the best shot blocking guards out there. Not only does Davis take points off the board, he does it with authority. Davis gets after it on the ball as well and created a number of turnovers. A slasher with plus length, Davis thrives at getting to the rim. The son of former Old Dominion star Mark Davis, Jonathan could make some big leaps physically within the next few years. Along with that, if he expands his game away from the rim, Davis has plenty of ceiling left to reach.
Chris Grubbs – 2020 – SF – G3 Grind
Grubbs has a tremendous feel for the game for such a young prospect. A high-energy player, Grubbs is active on both ends of the floor. Already a three-level scorer, Grubbs had success slashing from the high post and knocking down mid-range shots. He also showed the ability to take smaller defenders into the post and create. Hitting a lot of check marks, Grubbs has pretty good size at 6-foot-4 and stuffs the stat sheet. He was active on defense and on the glass, doing a little bit of everything for his team throughout the weekend.
Jericole Hellems – 2018 – SF – Bradley Beal Elite
This is a kid that has a chance to blow up this spring/summer. Hellems has terrific size at 6-foot-6 with plus length and some bounce. But the way Hellems shoots the basketball was very impressive. He makes defenders very uncomfortable with his ability to pull people off the paint and score off the dribble. A knock down shooter, Hellems has a terrific pull-up game from mid and 3-point range. Hellems contributes in a variety different areas as well. He’s a solid defender, works the glass, and can make plays with the pass as he’s a strong drive and dish wing.
Lamond Johnson – 2019 – G – Mac Irvin Fire
Johnson’s will to put the ball in the basket was often too much for opposing teams. The sophomore guard just doesn’t stop coming at you and if defenders don’t bring it each possession, they could get torched. Johnson is a creative scorer that can attack the basket, but more so impressed with his off-balance mid-range game. He’s also an underrated defender that’s always looking to pick passes off or come from the weak-side and get steals from unsuspecting ball handlers. A player you want with the ball in his hands late, Johnson seemed to get better down the stretch.
Deontay Long – 2019 – SF – Milwaukee Rebels
Long has some into the spring faster and more athletic. His frame has definitely improved and the 6-foot-4 sophomore showcased some exciting athleticism. A relentless scorer, Long has a lot of offensive tools. He’s not afraid of contact, and in fact, welcomes it at the rim. Long is so tough to defend because he can consistently score from all three levels and defenders never know what’s coming. In addition to his body, Long appears more unselfish. Knowing defenses are geared up to stop him, Long has improved his drive and kick ability and did a nice job of putting his teammates in positions to succeed.
Jackson Molstead – 2019 – PG – Martin Brothers
Really enjoyed the all-around playmaking and high-IQ guard play of Molstead. He can put up big numbers scoring without comprising the balance and chemistry of the offense. A quick, strong guard, Molstead is an outstanding ball handler that puts pressure on the defense, even if he’s not looking to score. He makes the defense constantly work, never stagnant on the offensive end of the floor. Again, even when Molstead has it going offensively, you don’t see him taking selfish shots. His teammates still come first.
Xavier Pinson – 2018 – PG – Mac Irvin Fire Elite
Pinson was outstanding all weekend and helped his team win some big games. The 6-foot-3 point guard was breaking defenders off the dribble and making some difficult jumpers look too easy. Pinson is a smooth guard with a quick trigger and doesn’t need much space to fire off his shot. Always keeping his head up on the dribble, Pinson knows how to draw defenders and kick to open teammates. Pinson made quick, simple passes up the floor that put his teammates in scoring opportunities. Even though he was hot, Pinson never tried to do too much and stayed within himself throughout the weekend.
Jalen Shaw – 2018 – F/C – Kessel Heat Black
Division 1 programs are going to constantly check in here. Shaw has a big upside as a long, athletic post with a high motor. A disruptive defender, Shaw racks up blocks and protects the rim throughout the game. He plays bigger than his size at 6-foot-7 and his intensity on the glass usually goes unmatched. Offensively, Shaw makes his mark working for second chance opportunities. He’s very raw and needs a lot of skill work, but Shaw can do some things off the dribble and slash from the high post.
Mason Steffen – 2018 – SG – Wisconsin Swing
Putting together a consistent weekend, Steffen shot the ball very well. A catch-and-shoot guard, Steffen excels at finding the soft spots in the defense and making himself available for his teammates. Steffen is a terrific mid-range shooter. He plays off the momentum of defenders very well and gets into the teeth of the defense where he can pull-up and knock down open buckets. Steffen can be a hard-nosed defender as well. The 6-foot-3 guard is always making hustle plays and isn’t afraid to get on the floor for loose balls.