The athletes just keep getting better and better and often younger too, and that was seen at the Southwest Kickoff in the level of defense that is both taught to these youngsters as well as those who utilize their exceptional athleticism, here are a few (in no particular order):
Dylan Bynum-Jones | NeNe Elite Gold | 2027 – Speed, hands and positional understanding, strength, athletic ability, all combined for a tough package to get past any time down the floor against this talented PG.
Marwane Fadika | NeNe Elite Gold | 2027 – Long and skilled, uses exceptional feet and speed to block pathways, extremely well-schooled with terrific hands blocking off passing lanes, among the best of the weekend in the division.
Andrew East | NeNe Elite Gold | 2027 – Heady, smart, sneaky fast and clever on the ball and off it, gets in the way and makes life difficult, not overly big or physical but is sly in how he goes about troubling the opposition.
Ashaz Ilyas | North Houston Hustle | 2027 – Size didn’t prevent him from getting in the face of bigger guards, uses speed and high IQ to cut off drives and passing lanes, good hands.
Aiden Clark | RA Elite | 2027 – Best team defense in the division and Clark was at forefront, incredible hands without fouling, pocket-picker, understanding of position to stop progress so impressive, a 1st-team defensive stalwart across the board.
Kendric Mitchell | RA Elite | 2027 – Right there with Clark for IQ and understanding, such speed for recovery and cutoffs, also terrific hands and just so well-schooled in all aspects of perimeter and pressure D.
Reece Alston | RA Elite | 2027 – Slightly taller than his other backcourt mates and one of the weekend’s most versatile talents, uses extra length to pester smaller players, another pocket-picker who doesn’t over-foul, smart, sound and a big-time in your face defender.
Darius Steverson | JB White Elite | 2027 – Long and lean and uses that length to make things difficult, smooth mover, quick feet for recovery, sees passing lanes and has nice innate skill on the help side.
Caden Miller | JB White Elite | 2027 – Right with RA Elite guys for top honors in on-ball defending, relentless push without fouling, slides feet so well, athletic frame and fast on their recovery, pesters the heck out of whomever is near him but doesn’t give away the work by fouling.
Madden Hill | HHBC | 2028 – Going to make a lot of lists with this much overall ability, not the biggest or strongest but just knows how to play at the defensive end, will get in front of you and will pick your pocket if you get sloppy.
Drake Jones | HHBC | 2028 – Great frame and so strong, a big-time athlete who will body you up, so hard to get around with length and timing and an understanding of spacing and lanes.
Bryson Campbell | HHBC | 2028 – Versatility again shines for this impressive player, stout frame but plenty of quickness to guard 1 thru 5, a tireless worker and sees the passing lanes like the rest of his talented teammates.
Jacob Anene | HHBC | 2028 – Like Campbell guards across the spectrum, quick, sound, strong and with great hands, they see plays early and all pressure full court so well.
Wayd Bailey | HHBC | 2028 – Joins his deep cast of teammates on the defensive list, like Hill undersized but covers a lot of ground with smarts and a well-schooled feel for the floor, bothersome with the hands and will battle you all the way up the floor.
Rayden Peroni | Hoops Heirs | 2027 – A lots like NeNe’s East and HHBC’s Bailey above in style and skill set, one of those heady players who sees it before it happens and steps into lanes, not afraid to guard bigger players and give them fits on their dribble.