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  • Jared Exler

Hoop Group Pitt Jam Fest Report Part Two

Levi Lawal 6’7 Forward 2022 (District Basketball Club-HGSL/River Hill HS): Lawal excels on the break. Uses his ball skills, explosiveness, and long strides to create high percentage finishing opportunities for himself around the rim. He has some wiggle in his handle in the half-court to get to the basket with a quick crossover move. Lawal also can put the ball on the floor when attacking closeouts. Has a good feel for making sharp cuts at the right times when playing off the ball. Finishes well near the hoop from having soft touch off the glass with either hand. While getting to the rim is his forte, he has shown the ability to hit mid-range pull-ups in spurts. Defensively, Lawal is active on the defensive glass. Uses his high motor and leaping ability to rebound at a solid rate. Also creates steals well. Has long arms to constantly get his hands on balls in passing lanes.

Dylan Blair 5’10 Point Guard 2023 (East Coast Cyclones/Downingtown West HS): Blair is a good playmaker. Gets into the lane consistently in the half-court with his quick first step and sharp crossover move. When opponents collapse on him in the paint, he finds teammates for dump-off layups or open spot-up treys. Rewards teammates for running the floor hard in transition. Hits them with push-ahead passes in stride for high percentage finishes. While Blair is adept at creating shots for others, he is also a capable scorer. Opponents cannot go under ball screens against him as he makes three-pointers at a solid rate when pulling up. Also has a soft floater as part of his in-between game to score over bigger defenders in the paint. Defensively, Blair moves his feet well laterally. Makes it difficult for opposing point guards to get dribble penetration against him.

Saleem Payne 5’11 Combo Guard 2023 (Gibbs Elite/Phelps School): Payne is an impressive three-point shooter. Needs very little time and space to get his shot off. Makes treys off the dribble with a step-back move or when pulling up off ball screens. Gets to his smooth mid-range pull-up with a quick first step and sharp the legs move. Despite his size, Payne finishes well around the rim against bigger opponents using good body control and touch off the glass with either hand. When opponents take away his mid-range pull-up or driving lanes to the basket, he can make plays for others. Does a nice job kicking the ball out to teammates for open spot-up threes. Defensively, Payne generates steals using active hands to pluck the ball away from opponents when they are weak with their handle.

Peter Kramer 6’4 Wing 2024 (Mason Elite/Shady Side Academy): Kramer has a smooth stroke from beyond the arc with a high release point on his shot. Makes treys at a good rate off the catch or when pulling up off one dribble. If an opponent closes out hard on him to take away his long-range shot, he can put the ball on the floor to get to his soft mid-range pull-up. When defenders hug up on Kramer beyond the arc, he understands the right times to make quick cuts to the basket for high percentage finishing opportunities. Has solid vision as a passer. Finds teammates for layups in the half-court rolling to the basket out of ball screens or on the break running the floor with pinpoint push-ahead passes. Kramer rebounds well on the defensive end for his position. He has good instincts being around the ball when it comes off the rim.

Todd Brogna 6’6 Center/Power Forward 2023 (Middlesex Magic-HGSL/Worcester Academy): Brogna is a skilled scorer around the basket. Uses his well-built frame to regularly get deep post position on opponents. He can finish at the rim with either hand. Has a nice spin move on the block and can take one or two dribbles when backing an opponent down to give himself a better scoring angle. Brogna is also an effective scorer when rolling hard off ball screens or finishing drop-off layups through contact. Is a good passer out of the post. Finds teammates for cutting layups or open spot-up three-pointers. While his bread and butter offensively is inside, he has shown comfort making open standstill treys at a low volume. Defensively, Brogna is terrific on the glass. Uses his intense desire for the ball and strength when boxing out to be a volume rebounder.

Nate Townsend 6’2 Shooting Guard 2024 (Mt. Pleasant Bulldogs/Neshaminy HS): Townsend uses his quick spin move to create better scoring angles for himself near the hoop. His soft touch off the glass and ability to play through contact allows him to finish proficiently around the rim. Is a capable threat from long range. Makes three-pointers at a solid rate when spotting up. Shows glimpses of making treys off the dribble when pulling up. Townsend gets into the lane best when attacking closeouts. If an opponent collapses on him in the paint, he makes good reads finding teammates for drop-off layups. Also hits teammates on the break with precise hit-ahead passes for high percentage finishing opportunities.

Nate Bledsoe 6’4 Wing 2023 (Team New England-HGSL/Cushing Academy): Bledsoe is a consistent floor spacer from deep. Plays well within the flow of his team’s offense, rarely taking ill-advised attempts. He has compact form on his shot with a quick release. Makes treys at a good rate on the move or when spotting up. Bledsoe is more than just a shooter. Gets to his smooth mid-range pull-up when attacking closeouts or getting by defenders with a crossover move. Defensively, he draws charges at a solid rate. Makes quick movements coming over from the weak side, beating opponents to the spot when they drive recklessly down the lane.

Raja Coleman 5’9 Point Guard 2023 (Jersey Force Select-Griffin/The Peddie School): Coleman gets into the lane regularly with his quick first step and sharp crossover or through the legs moves. He is a good passer. Finds teammates for open three-pointers on drive and kicks or pick and pops. While Coleman looks to make plays for others first, he needs to be accounted for as a scorer. When opponents take away his passing lanes on penetration, he has a soft mid-range pull-up near the foul line. Also is a consistent threat from beyond the arc. Makes treys at a solid rate on standstill attempts. Defensively, Coleman uses his size as an advantage. He gets under opponents and swipes the ball away when they are not strong with their handle.

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