WASHINGTON, DC - The inaugural Pro Skills Basketball High Academic Showcase was held this past Saturday at St. John’s College High School, giving 40 players an opportunity to display their talents in front of college coaches.
To take part in the event, players needed to have at least a 3.0 grade point average, as well as a genuine interest in playing college basketball.
Camp Director Patrick O’Connor - a Richmond, Va. native who played collegiately at Division 3 Washington & Lee (Va.) - said he felt the showcase provided an opportunity for players who are often overshadowed by the DMV’s wealth of Division I talent.
“I felt like if I grew up in this area I may not have gotten the notoriety or even the chance to play in college,” he said. “So it's kind of been two years in the making of me thinking of an event like this, to just have like-minded individuals compete, and to be able to be evaluated without having to guard a 5-Star guy from DeMatha or something like that. You’re really going against guys who are all the same level.”
Here’s a look at some of the players who stood out to me on Saturday:
LOGAN LEWIS, DEMATHA (MD) 2023 WING
I first saw Lewis this spring and summer with The City Elite 16U on the DMVelite Super Circuit, and came away impressed with his versatility on both ends of the floor. He’s highly active and has a good frame, with his strength and long arms allowing him to guard multiple positions.
Lewis said he’s been pleased with how his game has developed this spring and summer.
“It was pretty good,” he said. “I had my off days, but I had a lot more on days. I’ve played well this whole spring and summer; I’ve been getting a lot more looks than I expected.”
Offensively, the 6-foot-3 Lewis displayed a quick first step and the ability to turn the corner and get downhill; he finished in a variety of ways, including a nice mid-range floater.
“Getting to the rim and passing, and I play good defense,” Lewis said when asked what he considered his strengths. “That’s really key in my game. My IQ, the way I get to the basket, and when I spot up I can shoot the ball.”
PEYTON MASON, ST. MARY’S ANNAPOLIS (MD) 2022 GUARD
Mason is another player I saw on the DMVelite Super Circuit, as he ran with Team Pennsylvania 17U.
“I thought it went pretty well,” he said of his summer. “It was a lot of basketball, but it’s good to have that back between AAU and school. It was a lot but I thought I had pretty good exposure and I played fairly well and I found a good fit with a good team, so it was good for me.”
The 5-foot-11 Mason stood out Saturday with his vision, IQ and toughness - he didn’t mind contact when he got into the paint - as well as his willingness to be a vocal leader on both ends of the floor.
“[My strengths are] Definitely being a second coach out there on the floor,” he said. “Not turning the ball over often, and I really think I can shoot the ball at a high level. So yeah, those are my strengths.”
Mason’s skillset - as well as his impressive 4.45 GPA and 1370 SAT score - should earn him plenty of attention from D-3 programs in need of a floor general.
JACKSON PUGH, GLENELG COUNTRY (MD) 2023 GUARD
The 5-foot-9 Pugh is lightning-quick with a nice handle and good vision, and used his speed to his advantage on both ends of the floor all afternoon.
“My spring and summer went really well,” he said. “Me and my Dad worked out in the gym almost every day, just strength and conditioning and lifting weights and getting up a lot of shots - at least 500 makes a day - so it’s been really productive.”
Pugh transferred from Bishop O’Connell (Va.) to Glenelg Country this summer, and is eager to make an impact on his new team.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “I’m ready to bring a winning culture over there and I’m ready to make my teammates better.”
JOSH CHAMBERS, INDIAN CREEK (MD) 2022 GUARD
Chambers was a DMVelite Super Circuit standout with Runnin Mavs 17U - leading the Division in assists and his team in steals - and he had all of those skills on display at St. John’s on Saturday.
Chambers is 5-foot-10 but plays much bigger, and isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body for the team. Even late in the afternoon - long after fatigue and muscle cramps had set in for other players - he was diving on the floor for loose balls and competing hard.
Offensively, Chambers changes speeds efficiently with the ball in his hands, and has a nice lefty stroke from the mid-range out to 3-point territory. On defense he has quick hands and reads passing lanes well. In addition, he sports a 4.25 GPA and a 1370 SAT - numbers that should make him even more attractive to the college coaches who attended.
AJ PEREZ JR, ST. JOHN’S CATHOLIC PREP (MD)
Perez impressed with his aggressiveness and efficiency on the offensive end, knocking down an assortment of jumpers off the dribble and off the catch - both in the halfcourt and transition. He was also vocal and energetic on both ends of the floor.
“I try to make everybody around me stronger,” Perez said, “and I try to work best to my teammates’ attributes and whatnot. So if I see somebody that’s being down on themselves, I just try to pick them up - that might be all he needs. But I just try to stick to my game in the mid-range. I’m working on the 3 still - I’m not afraid to say that, but I’m working on it.”
Perez played his travel ball with PSB DMV this summer, and said he felt he was able to expand his overall game.
“I think it went really well for me,” he said. “It was a different aspect; I feel like I was more of an offensive player. I feel like coaches usually look at me for my defense and IQ, but I definitely feel like I unlocked a little potential for my game.”
The 6-foot Perez is eager to make an impact under new St. John’s Catholic Prep coach Devin Williams, who was hired in June.
“It's like a family and I love it,” Perez said. “Coach Devin’s bringing a new energy, you know? Social media, he’s got it poppin’, and it's great. It is what it is and I love it.”
DARIUS VANCE, DEMATHA (MD) 2023 GUARD
The 5-foot-11 Vance is a quick lead guard with good vision and finishing ability. Perhaps most impressive, though, was his willingness to do the dirty work. He competed hard defensively and gave up his body to take charges on multiple occasions - something that players aren’t always rushing to do in a showcase camp environment.
“It was great, honestly. I came out really strong, competing and getting my teammates open,” he said. “It was really great to perform in front of all these college coaches.”
Offensively, Vance looked good attacking the basket and showed nice touch from the perimeter. He’s hoping to carry a strong summer into a role as a varsity contributor this upcoming season.
“[I’m looking to] Definitely turn up,” he said. “Get buckets and be a great point guard, that’s the main part because I go to DeMatha and they really stress being a great point guard and a great floor general.”
SIMEON WALLER, MCKINLEY TECH (DC) 2023 WING
The 6-foot-2 Waller has a nice frame and plays with toughness and physicality. He spent a lot of his time on the interior Saturday, using his strength to his advantage on both the offensive and defensive ends.
“I’m a rising junior so I’m just trying to get ready for the next level for varsity,” Waller said. “Since COVID happened I wasn’t able to get my 10th grade year, so I’m really looking forward to shining this rising junior year and then once it hits December I’m going to be ready to rock and roll.”
Waller showed a nice shooting touch in the paint, and said he felt like he played well overall on Saturday.
“It was a great experience; definitely nerve-wracking,” he said. “I loved the intensity - I mean, it was a great staff here, so I enjoyed every minute of it.”
BRIAN MCNEIL JR., POTOMAC SCHOOL (VA) 2023 GUARD
McNeil ran with Virginia Elite MD 17U on the DMVelite Super Circuit, so I was familiar with him but got to see a little bit more of his all-around skillset on Saturday.
In an environment where players often look to get their own shots first, McNeil stood out with his vision and unselfishness. He’s very quick in the open court and makes good decisions with the ball. His jumper wasn’t falling consistently in the two games I watched but he contributed in a variety of ways and showed very good finishing ability with either hand when he got to the rim.
MILES HICKS, ST ALBANS (DC) 2022 GUARD
The 6-foot-1 Hicks has had a productive spring and summer with The District Basketball Club, as well as some big scoring performances in the DMVelite Summer League with St. Albans.
Hicks showed nice vision and ball handling ability in the open court, finding open teammates with regularity.
JAYLEN MARBLEY, CHAPELGATE CHRISTIAN (MD) 2023 GUARD
I first saw Marbley when he played with Team MD Stars in the DMVelite Varsity League last winter. He’s since transferred from Meade (Md.) to Chapelgate, and looks to have honed his all-around game.
Marbley is a physical 5-foot-9 guard who doesn’t shy away from contact on either end of the floor, whether it's attacking the rim or taking charges. He can fill it up from 3-point range when he gets rolling, and showed some nice mid-range touch as well.
Tim Barton, St. John’s (DC) 2023 Forward
Logan Blair, St. John's (DC) 2022 Forward
Jack Cadin, Gonzaga (DC) 2023 Guard
Aiden Grine, Herndon (VA) 2022 Guard
Will Hurst, Episcopal (VA) 2023 Guard
Christian Jackson, St. John’s (DC) 2023 Guard
Ben Kobil, Wilson (DC) 2023 Guard
Madison Tatom, Upper Merion (PA) 2023 Guard