The Tip-Off Classic hit the hardwood in Georgia this past weekend and a talented group of prospects across the divisions made their presence felt.  Here’s a quick look at a handful of underclassmen who stepped up during the annual grassroots platform…

6’5” W Chandler Watts (2024/Southeast Elite 16U)
Watts was one of the most explosive prospects in attendance at the Tip-Off Classic, regardless of class. He went to the rim with force all weekend and had some big games for Southeast Elite. Watts is really powerful off of 1 foot; if you give him space and allow him to gain a head of steam, it probably won’t end well. Absorbing contact isn’t an issue for him as he possesses a strong frame and has pretty good body control. Watts brought a competitive, intense approach to the tournament as well that helped his team. As he keeps becoming more consistent as a shooter and improving his feel for when to attack downhill, he could be a real problem to defend. Florida International jumped in with an offer recently, he's sure to garner more attention soon

7’0” C Peyton Marshall (2024/Game Elite 16U)
There are only a handful of guys in high school who are able to matchup with Marshall physically; his dominant size is even more of a problem for opponents at the 16U level. After picking up numerous offers following the Indianapolis 3SSB session, he continued to assert himself on the block last weekend. Marshall is able to carve out space and get deep positioning inside; he is hard to move and can bury you under the basket. Even if he doesn’t convert initially, he consistently gets offensive rebounds for 2nd & 3rd chances. Defensively, he swats away shots with frequency and has become more disciplined as a rim-protector. Most notable in Marshall’s development is how he has gotten in better shape. Significant weight loss has allowed him to keep his motor going for longer periods and play extended minutes. You just don’t come across his type of size too often, he’ll continue to be a closely tracked prospect.

6’5” SF Chase McCarty (2024/Atlanta Xpress 16U)
I heard some buzz about McCarty following the 1st April Live Period and he left a nice first impression this past weekend in Atlanta. In 16U games, you can seemingly place him at any position and he’ll make a noticeable impact. McCarty has good size with his physically mature 6’5” frame and he is not shy in embracing contact. He’s agile enough to guard smaller guys and uses that size to bother them, along with being tough enough to defend forwards on the interior. I liked how alert and committed he was to the defensive side of things during the weekend. Offensively, he can barrel his way to the basket but is also a very good 3-point shooter with a consistent outside stroke that has good form, a quick release, and rotation after coming out of his hand. Sunday’s matchups saw him go for 28 and 21 points against some quality opponents. He’s already a versatile prospect who plays with a high motor, continuing to enhance each of his tools will take him to an even higher level. Houston and Cincinnati pulled the trigger to start the month. 

6’6” W Jahki Howard (2024/Georgia Stars 16U)
After leaving Norcross for Donda Academy this high school season, Howard is now with the Georgia Stars and was in the Peach State for the Tip-Off Classic last weekend. In a big matchup on the final day of the tournament, he came through with a big performance to help the Stars defeat Game Elite. He is known for his elite athleticism and highlight dunks, but Howard’s impact was made in different ways in this game. He showed an improved jumper, hitting 4 3’s and some difficult pull-ups, including a few clutch shots down the stretch. He gets good elevation when in the mid-range area, which allows him to raise up over defenders and knock down contested looks. His quick leaping ability was still evident with a few emphatic blocks and traffic rebounds. 

6’3” G Zane Restelli (2025/Game Elite 15U)
I’ve hardly watched any 15U games so far this spring but the 2025 groups for Game Elite and Georgia Stars squared off on Saturday night so I figured it would be a good one to take in. Although it was a matchup between 2 Georgia teams, Restelli is a Tennessee product who is a big piece for Game Elite. He’s already 6’3” with competent guard skills and a good amount of natural talent. In their blowout win over the Stars, Restelli made a bunch of slick passes to Amir Taylor for inside buckets while also shooting well from the outside with 4 3’s in the game. He’s creative with the ball and has a flair to his game in the open court that is fun to watch. I’m interested to see how his game matures over the next 2 years because the traits he has give signs to some long-term promise.

Isaac Celiscar & Jamie Phillips
With both Karter Knox and Jayden Williams not suiting up on Sunday for the Rebels’ 2024 group, someone needed to step up and these two more than answered the call. They combined for 46 total points with 23 coming from each and brought different dynamics to this team the same way they do at Winter Haven HS during the winter. Phillips is a big-bodied wing shooter who scored the Rebels’ first 9 points of the game with 3 3’s in rapid succession. In the 2nd half, he was more closely guarded and cooled off from deep, but that didn’t stop his production. He can connect on mid-range attempts and showed some touch in the post area, using his size to get where he wanted. For Celiscar, he showed that he was capable of handling the ball and operating on the outside, but his best work was done down in traffic with a great motor and toughness. He was constantly racing in for offensive rebounds with good timing and battled through contact to secure them. The same type of mentality was shown when it came time to score, as he converted on multiple and-ones during the course of the game. He has good length, is pretty athletic, and also showed some defensive versatility. Their production will continue to be important for the Rebels in E16 contests.