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  • Jared Exler

2020 16u AAU Season Previews: WE R1

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

We R1

6’6 Louis Hutchinson, who will be attending IMG Academy (FL) next year after playing this past season at Episcopal (VA), brings this squad outstanding size as a combo guard. Hutchinson has proven to be a consistent threat from three-point range both spotting up and on the move. He finishes at the rim efficiently with his athleticism and soft touch on his layups. Also is a good enough ball handler and passer to play the point guard spot in certain situations where he can act as a jumbo playmaker. Because of his height he can see over defenses where he finds teammates cutting for lay-ups or spotting up for three-pointers in both the halfcourt and in transition. Defensively, he uses his 6’10 wingspan to make a significant impact in this area by blocking off passing angles and creating deflections. Has good lateral quickness and size that allows him to guard the 1-3 positions well. Will need to focus on getting stronger for the next level and, with IMG’s top-notch strength program, he will have every opportunity to make that happen. Hutchinson is a high major talent and Memphis has recognized that by offering him recently. Expect more high major offers to be coming in the near future for him as he plays with WE R1 and IMG.

This squad has multiple big playmakers, including 6’6 point guard Jeremiah Bembry, who played at Hudson Catholic (NJ) this past year but hasn’t decided where he will play this coming year. Bembry brings elite size at the point guard position and is also a solid athlete. He has the vision to see plays before they happen to make others around him better. It’s evident that players enjoy playing with him. He gets into the paint at will with his superb ball handling ability which helps him to create shots for teammates both on three-pointers and layups. Also loves to throw alley-oops in transition to teammates when the opportunity arises. Always looking to make the extra pass to get the best shot possible on offense. Finishes at the rim consistently where he can play above the rim and score with reverse layups. Defensively, uses his size and length to take away passing angles to disrupt opponents from running their offense. Has natural instincts which allow him to get steals and deflections at a good rate. As he understands defensive rotations better he will only continue to make more of an impact on this end. While he has shown flashes as a three-point shooter, he will need to continue to develop in this area before he gets to college to be a legitimate floor spacer for his team. Holds three high major offers from Ole Miss, LSU, and Mississippi State. Expect many more offers like these to be coming in once AAU resumes.

Coming off a standout season at St. Augustine Prep (NJ), 6’3 point guard Elmarko Jackson will look to continue that momentum with WE R1. Jackson brings great size and athleticism at the point guard spot which he uses regularly to get into the lane to get to his mid-range pull-up. Has a strong body to go along with his size and athleticism which allow him to finish through contact at the rim and get and-1s. Also enjoys using finger-rolls and reverse layups to score at the rim. As a playmaker, Jackson does a good job finding teammates, particularly on drop-offs and drive and kicks as he demands a substantial amount of attention because of his ability to get into the lane. Defensively, he’s very difficult to shoot over because of his athleticism and his ability to block opponents’ shots when he rotates over from the help side. Already makes an impact rebounding with his leaping ability and has even more potential in this area if he improves on getting position when boxing out. A player who schools in the A-10 and AAC should be tracking closely. Has the potential to get high major schools to show stronger interest if he can take his three-pointer to another level by showing he can make them at a higher volume.

6’7 small forward Justin Hawkins from Life Center Academy (NJ) brings this squad another playmaker with size. Very impressive as a ball handler for his height. He is a player who makes his teammates better in various ways. He does this by hitting the roll man in pick and roll, finding cutting teammates for easy layups, and kicking out to open shooters off of dribble penetration. Has the ability to make pinpoint passes in tight windows. With his strength and athleticism, thrives on getting points when driving to the rim where he consistently finishes above the rim and through contact on layups to score efficiently. Also does a nice job of maneuvering his body to get better angles to finish when getting to the rim. Defensively, he uses his leaping ability to block opponents’ shots at the rim both in the halfcourt and in transition. Times his blocks well to avoid picking up cheap fouls. Also is a quality rebounder who embraces physicality to get position which helped him to average six rebounds per game this past high school season. A player who schools in the A-10 and AAC should be checking out right now. Has the potential to get high major schools to show interest if he can prove on the Under Armour circuit he can thrive in a point-forward role in addition to becoming more of a legitimate threat from three-point range.

A player on this squad who will be taking on a much larger role next season at Philadelphia Catholic League powerhouse Neumann Goretti is 6’1 combo guard Masud Stewart. Played limited minutes this year on a veteran team, but in the minutes he got showed why he will be among the top PCL guards in short order. Stewart has a smooth stroke from long-range, especially when spotting up. Uses his quick first step and athleticism to finish at the rim at a high rate. Has a good understanding of cutting which helps him get easy layups in certain situations. Solid playmaker who has proven to be more than capable as a secondary playmaker, finding his teammates both in the halfcourt and in transition for open three-pointers. Defensively, he has quick feet which causes opponents extreme difficulties when trying to get dribble penetration against him. Also has a knack for choosing the correct times to go for steals which leads to easy points for his team. Recently picked up his first offers from St. Peter’s and Rider and expect many more to come in from the MAAC. Could play his way into getting A-10 schools to show more interest if he can show he has the ability to run an offense and lead a team full time at the point guard position.

Bringing high level shooting ability to this squad is 6’5 shooting guard Ethan Pires from The Pennington School (NJ). Pires is a southpaw who can make three-pointers from deep range whether spotting up, on the move, or off the dribble. He’s much more than just a shooter and shows that with his ability to score with his floater and ability to finish at the rim creatively. Also a solid playmaker who finds his teammates cutting for easy layups or spotting up for three-pointers. Defensively, he uses his size to make it difficult for his opponent to shoot over him and knows when to jump into passing lanes to go for steals. Is also a very good student and, with his game, Ivy and Patriot League schools should be getting more familiar with Pires.

6’7 power forward Elijah Jones is a player who has recently decided he will be reclassifying to 2022 and attending Mt. Zion Prep (MD) this fall after playing this past year at Pleasantville HS (NJ). What stands out immediately when watching Jones play is his athleticism, which he uses this to be a menace on the defensive side of the ball where he protects the rim with his shot blocking ability. Is a tremendous rebounder who effectively uses his leaping ability and physicality to create position. Also uses his length to jump into passing lanes to create transition opportunities. Offensively, both in the halfcourt on drop-offs and in transition, Jones can throw down ferocious dunks. Is a high level offensive rebounder who gets easy putbacks. A player who low D1s in the NEC and MEAC should be checking out. Could gain stronger interest from schools in the CAA and MAAC if he can diversify his offensive game by making spot up threes at a higher volume, in addition to improving his ball handling to create more off the bounce to allow him to play on the wing full time.

Proving to be one of the top players in the Lehigh Valley already as just a sophomore is 5’9 point guard Nate Ellis from William Allen (PA). Ellis is a scoring point guard who has textbook form on the three-pointer to go with a quick release which helped him make 63 threes on 41% shooting this past high school season. Using his slick ball handling, he’s just as effective shooting threes off the dribble as he is spotting up. Complements his potent three-point ability with his ability to get to the rim and, despite his small stature, has a creative layup package using different angles off the backboard to finish against taller opponents. Ellis is a pesky defender who gives just as much effort on that side of the ball. Defensively, he averaged close to 2 steals per game by plucking the ball away from opponents when they were loose with their handle, in addition to being in the right spots on his rotations to pick off passes. Also understands the situations when he should be more content to just play straight up defense. A player who should be a priority in a D2 league like the PSAC.

Copyright © 2020 Jared Exler, All rights reserved.

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