I dropped day one standouts; now, let’s take a look at day two standouts. I was able to catch a couple of the younger guys’ games, and here are standouts from day two…
Kaden Irwin (5’10/SG/2028)
Team: Alabama Fusion 2028
Kaden was one of the most versatile players in the ’28 class; he has good size and length at the guard spot and was a pleasant surprise. He has a nice overall game and showed production across the stat sheet. A lot comes with Kaden, as he does so many things on the court well. He is really at his best when he is attacking off the bounce and being a playmaker. I saw some hesitancy in his game at moments as he seemed to try and process how to attack when the paint was clogged up. It can be a catch-22 for a young player when playing with such a dominant true legit center as he does. However, as he continues to figure it out and understand spacing, it will only improve his understanding of the game and how to play.
Make no mistake about it; when he was in the open court in transition, you really got a glimpse of just how good he is with the ball in his hands as he put pressure on the rim.
In the 41-53 loss to D5 Global, he finished with 15pts.
Jonathan Johnson (5’11/CG/2027)
Team: FAST FIVE 2027
JJ was a defender’s nightmare. Very few got downhill as quickly and as aggressively as he did. He kept defenders on their heels and at his mercy. He has a combination of power and strength and uses both to finish plays in the paint. He has a go-to spin move that was leaving defenders stuck in their tracks, and it is one of the things that made him difficult to defend. JJ is a gifted scorer and does it at all levels. He is very skilled as he plays off jump stops and off pivots.
He is physically strong for his age and has learned to use his body to hold off defenders when he is attacking.
He seemed to get worn down as the game against the Steel City Gators went on, but he put on an offensive show throughout the contest. I have seen JJ several times in the past, and he is starting to scratch the surface of his potential.
Braylon Williams (5’8/PG/2028)
Team: P7 Memphis Elite 2028
Braylon had his entire toolbox open against Woodz Elite and made a case as the best player in the entire ’28 class at #DownByTheRiver. He is a competitive, tough, and aggressive guard that is a scoring machine. He is tough off the bounce, and when he gets going downhill, he is looking to get to the cup and finish. He is a skilled scoring guard who can make tough shots and knock it down from behind the arc.
He was a source of consistent production and was a significant contributor on both ends of the floor.
His iso game was impressive, and the scary part about it all is he hasn’t even scratched the surface of the caliber player he can become. In the 48-28 win over Woodz Elite, he finished with 12pts.
Damonte Manion (5’0/SG/2028)
Team: Hoyas Elite 2028
Damonte barely is making the 5’0 mark but showed that size does not matter as he put on a scoring show in the match-up against Chattanooga Elite. He got it done at all levels and did it in a variety of ways. He is a smooth lefty with handles and can stroke the rock from deep, and if he gets hot as he did against Chattanooga Elite, opposing teams need to watch out. When defenders ran him off the line, he showed his ability to get in the paint and convert in the lane with a soft floater.
He is also an excellent passer for his age and has good court vision.
He has already developed a nice scoring arsenal, and I look forward to tracking his continued progress and what he can add to his toolbox. He has immense potential as long as he continues to work and improve. He finished the contest against Chattanooga Elite with 15pts.
Darius Kieffer (5’6/PG/2028)
Team: D5 Global 2028
One of the best pure PGs in the 2028 class was Darius. Darius played a phenomenal game in what many considered an upset win over Alabama Fusion. He controlled the game from the tip, as he controlled the pace of the game that kept the Fusion off-balance. He kept the ball going to the right people at the right times. Simply put, he was the key to the D5 winning the game. He did not put up a lot of points but made timely shots when needed.
I have put ink on him before, and his maturation from then to now was really evident.
I loved his poise and IQ as he seemed to always be a step ahead of the Fusion’s guards. He is reliable with the ball in his hands and has the potential to develop into one of the top PGs in the SE region.
Eric Williams (5’6/CG/2027)
Team: Steel City Gators 2027
Eric is a small guard that came out ready to play against Fast Five. His scoring prowess was second to none. He was absolutely amazing off the bounce, as he could get into his pull-up jumper from behind the arc and knock it down from deep. He has shot-making ability from both inside and outside the arc. He was aggressive in his attacks and constantly found himself in the lane creating for himself and his teammates.
He is a competitor on both ends of the floor and really increased his stock this weekend.
His long-term upside is impressive, and some may look at the 5’6 and shy away, but he is definitely a player who will make noise on the high school level in the state of AL really soon. Sources say that there is a possibility that he could be pulled up to play varsity as an 8th grader, and the school and coach in which he would be going will definitely benefit him even if he does not get a lot of playing time right away. What he will get from the experience and competition in practice with the caliber guards at the school will only push him to be a better player.
Jayden Anthony Diaz (5’6/CG/2028)
Team: Chattanooga Elite 2028
Jayden was a smooth combo guard that played both on-ball and off. He was a factor in both positions and produced equally throughout the match-up against Hoyas Elite. He is a swingman that can attack inside and out. He balances having to be a primary scorer and primary ballhandler extremely well. He is a crafty ballhandler and a crafty finisher at the cup. He handled defensive pressure well and was reliable with the ball as he kept the turnovers limited against the Hoyas’ ball pressure.
Jayden was a calming force for his squad and never allowed his team to get too rattled, which helped them stay close throughout the contest.
He has a knack for scoring the rock, but he also reads the floor well and knows where the ball should be at any given time. He is a heady player for his age, and his trajectory is headed in the right direction. In the 46-52 loss to Hoyas Elite, he finished with 14pts.
Stay locked in as more is coming from #DownByTheRiver.