HoopGroup Jam Fest - Atlantic City
Elijah Gertrude || C/O 2022 || NJ Legacy Elijah is an explosive guard that has terrific leaping ability. His ability to accelerate off the dribble in the half court was throwing the defense off the entire game. Watching him here and playing for his high school in the NJ Live last month, he could be a really tough cover when he develops his outside game a little bit. His shot blocking ability for a guard stands out. He made a really athletic play where he followed up his own miss for a putback 2 that proved he has the athleticism to play at the D1 level. Elijah will be able to gain some more buzz as he proves to college coaches he is much more than just an athletic slasher at the rim.
Rasheer Flemming || C/O 2022 || NJ Scholars This guy has the motor that reminds me of Montrezl Harrell. He attacked the glass on every rebound on the offensive and defensive glass. Rasheer seemed to have a knack of where the ball was going to be on any miss. He showed that he is going to develop into a stretch forward. Flemming put his catch and shoot ability on display with 2 straight catch and shoot 3s on back to back possessions. If he can develop a righty jump hook and a few interior post moves, Rasheer has the potential to be a complete offensive player at his 6’8 frame. This event should generate some national buzz for him and get Flemming some Power 5 offers. He is capable of playing at this level. He took a recent visit to St. Joes and picked up an offer on the visit. I expect him to play out the EYBL circuit and pick up some major offers.
Dajuan Wagner Jr. || C/O 2023 || NJ Scholars There’s a reason this guy is the number 1 player in the 2023 class. The main thing that impressed me was his smooth mechanics on the jumper. He started the game with a deep catch and shoot 3, showing his range. He has the ability to put the ball on the floor and play point guard as well to generate offense for his teammates. He finishes with either hand, and is comfortable driving the ball either way. His improvement will come on the defensive end, but he showed an ability to be active in passing lanes and deflect passes. He can pretty much go wherever he wants, but many expect him to be a Kentucky Wildcat.
Saleem Payne Jr. || C/O 2023 || NJ Scholars Payne is what I think of when I want a true point guard. He plays at his own pace and knows how to generate the offense to have his teammates in the right place. One major sequence stood out that will have D1 coaches buzzing. He made a pindown block and then came back
down with the ball to set up his teammate for a layup. The main thing that makes him so dangerous is his playmaking ability. Defenders were not able to throw multiple bodies at him because of his vision and ability to dictate whether he should look for his own or setup teammates. Another thing that stood out was Payne understood when to push in transition and when to bring it out. This is such an underrated trait for a PG that I think D1 coaches will appreciate. Payne attacked all game in transition, scoring on different layup packages (Euro step layup, hesitation into a cross). His elite dribbling ability helped to ice the game at the end as the defense had no choice but to foul him. Saleem showed the ability to hit clutch free throws to seal a close game. Payne is a pest on the defensive end that could pick up full court and make it tough on the opposing point guard. Payne does not have much D1 attention right now, but I expect him to gain offers throughout this Summer.
Cameron Whitmore || C/O 2022 || Team Melo Cam really impressed with his ability to play inside and out. At 6’7, he has the handle to play point guard for his team. He has the ability to hit catch and shoot 3s from deep. Then, he was able to muscle down in the paint to get extra possessions for his team. Cam was grabbing offensive boards with multiple defenders around him and finishing through contact. His most dangerous ability is when he is the top of the key. He is such an underrated passer that knows what to kick it to a shooter or dump it to a big as he gets deep into the paint. He can pull up and hit top of the key 3s too. Cam had a couple hustle plays that led to a pindown block and another one fouling an opposing player to prevent an easy layup. Cam has the upside to guard 1 to 5 as I saw him moving very well laterally to stay in front of guards. Cam is currently a 4 star prospect and seeing Power 5 D1 interest. I expect the offers to keep piling in as D1 schools see the versality from the 6’7 wing that can play the 1. Some of Cam’s current offers include: UNC, Maryland, Villanova, Florida, Louisville, LSU, and a few other Power 5 schools.
Trey Thomas || C/O 2022 || Team Melo Trey is an athletic specimen at the guard position. I was impressed with his open court ability in transition. He was constantly going coast to coast with the ball and has the upper body strength to finish through defenders in the paint. He showed he can create his own shot as he drew a 2 shot foul on a pump fake and fade that we see NBA players use all the time. He was comfortable going to his right or left on the drive. He is super-fast in transition, but the way he is under control is something that caught my attention. He is a terrific defender that could guard either guard position. I think he is better suited at the 2 but he has the ability to set up the offense for his team. He currently holds a couple mid-major offers but should continue to gain more attention on the circuit this Summer.
Mouhamed Dioubate || C/O 2022 || PSA Cardinals Dioubate is a board machine that is an explosive leaper. He was grabbing boards at the apex all game, making it so tough on defenders to keep him off the glass. Dioubate runs the floor very well, knowing what lines to fill in transition. This led to a couple easy layups for Dioubate. He could put the ball on the ground at 6’7 and loves getting to his left hand as he gets close to the rim. With a little more upper body strength, Dioubate has the upside to be an elite rebounder at the forward position. He must have had close to 10 offensive rebounds for the game, constantly creating extra possessions or easy putback 2s for himself. Towards the end of the game, he hit this 1 dribble pull-up from mid-range. I saw a more polished player than the last time I saw him in a New York event the month before. If he can hit this shot consistently and develop a 3 pointer, he can skyrocket up recruiting rankings. He currently has numerous mid- major offers but should get some power 5 looks as he develops the outside game.
Spencer Mahoney || C/O 2023 || PSA Cardinals Spencer has such a smooth game for an oversized 2 guard. This was my 2nd time watching him play and think his ceiling is off the charts. His jump shot is just so smooth and at 6’8 he has the ability to get it off at almost any time. He can hit 3s off the catch or off the dribble. He did not force the issue on 3 point attempts as he only took clean looks. This led him to hitting 4/4 3 pointers. An 100% 3 point percentage is not seen very often at this level. He can hit mid-range jumpers as well. He needs improvement as a ball handler and driving it to the rim. This will develop easy for him because he is such a deadeye shooter. Defenders have no choice but to play right up on him. He could use improvement on the defense end, but he was always finding a body to box out on the defensive glass. His soft touch on his jumper will help him generate some national buzz. As he gets a little more athletic, D1 coaches will start to give Spencer their attention. He has 1 offer from Siena right now, but that will change this Summer.
Zion Cruz || C/O 2022 || PSA Cardinals Zion has an elite handle at the point guard position. He is super comfortable using both hands and driving either way. Zion is what you picture when you think of a 3 level scorer. Throughout the game, I saw him use change of pace hesitation and crossover moves to get all the way to the rim for easy layups. He was drilling mid-range jumpers off of the dribble. He hit a spin fade after stopping on a dime from about 10 feet. This was a college ready move that the defense had no chance of stopping. Cruz has terrific 3 point range that forces the defense to play close on him. Cruz is at his best when he can create off the dribble, which makes me think he will be best suited at the point guard position. He is more of a scoring point guard but will still need to improve as a passer as he starts to draw double teams. Zion is a 5 star prospect that has yet to commit, but a decision should be coming soon before he finishes out his high school senior season.
Written by: Zachary Hoffman