basketball Edit

McDonald's takeaways from GHSA camp in Atlanta

College coaches were finally back on the road to evaluate prospects in person for the first time in over 15 months at high school team camps all over the country. One of the hot spots for college coaches was in Georgia, where top teams in the Peach State, along with a few coming up from Florida, took the stage. Rivals analyst Dan McDonald was in the building at the LakePoint Champions Center to take in all the action.

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MORE: Shaw's takeaways from North Carolina and Virginia events

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2022 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2023 Rankings: Top 30

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Ernest Udeh
Ernest Udeh (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

One of the teams drawing the most college coaches all weekend was Dr. Phillips out of Florida. Ernest Udeh had started to see his recruitment take off this month, but coaches wanted to see him in person to validate what they saw on film. And that’s what happened as the 6-foot-10 center showed off his explosive, great hands and his ability to dominate in the paint on both ends. Before the weekend, Udeh held scholarship offers from Creighton, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Miami, Ole Miss, Seton Hall and Stanford. During the weekend, he added Alabama, Illinois and Tennessee to that list.

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With so many coaches coming to watch Udeh, his teammates, Riley Kugel and Denzel Aberdeen, stepped up and took advantage of the opportunity to earn scholarships for themselves. Kugel, at 6-foot-7, showed his explosive athleticism going to the rim and a reliable jump shot from three-point range. His performance this weekend convinced Auburn and Houston to extend offers. Aberdeen also performed at a high level all weekend in the backcourt, knocking down shots and displaying his quick first step getting to the bucket and finishing. He scored an offer from Illinois on Sunday night, along with a few mid-major offers.

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Milton’s backcourt of Bruce Thornton and Kanaan Carlyle is among the best in the country, and each had moments of greatness this weekend. Thornton, an Ohio State commit, saved his best performance for last with a really impressive 28 points and eight assists in a tough loss to Dr. Phillips. Carlyle, who played much of the weekend with a back injury, pumped in over 20 points against Orlando Christian Prep, including five three-pointers. He’s one of the most explosive scorers in the country, which is why Tom Crean (Georgia), Josh Pastner (Georgia Tech), Bruce Pearl (Auburn) and many other coaches were courtside at all of his games.

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Josh Reed of Pace Academy was one of the prospects college coaches came to see this weekend as he’s been a popular target for high-major schools in the Southeast lately. The versatile 6-foot-7 forward showed exactly why he’s worthy of the new offers and his lofty ranking. He also did a great job of helping his teammates show off their abilities as well. KJ Greene, a point guard in the 2024 class, just moved in from South Carolina and is a gifted playmaker and crafty scorer. Bryson Tiller, playing in his first games of the summer with Pace Academy, put himself on the map as one of the elite class of 2025 prospects in the class. Already around 6-foot-8, Tiller has a strong, athletic body and can play inside and out on the perimeter. He’ll be racking up scholarship offers before long.

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Isaiah Collier drew a lot of eyeballs this weekend and didn’t disappoint. Up to around 6-foot-4 now, he’s one of the best passers in the country and is equally impressive scoring the ball. He’s another prospect who had Crean, Pastner and Pearl following him closely throughout the weekend, along with a number of high-major assistants.

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Anthony Brown from Orlando Christian Prep had a productive weekend in Atlanta. The 6-foot-4 wing showed off a nice perimeter stroke and a knack for finding his way to basket to finish. He’s already taken an official visit to Penn State and had the Nittany Lions staff in town to see him. The big surprise for OCP was freshman point guard Mikel Carter. Despite being small in stature, the class of 2025 star showed that he was comfortable on this stage and confidently knocked down shots and made plays all weekend. As his body physically catches up, he’s going to be one of the more highly recruited guards in his class. Auburn jumped in with the first scholarship offer this weekend.

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Aidan Hadaway was one of the prospects coaches were really hoping to get a look at this weekend as he just recently added his first high-major scholarship off from Georgia and jumped into the most recent Rivals150. His weekend was cut short with an ankle injury, but he made his first game count with over 30 points and 20 rebounds in front of Crean and Pastner.

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There has been a lot of buzz lately about Braden Pierce, a 7-foot center in the 2022 class. He’s been one of the most improved prospects in the class over the past year and impressed all weekend with his ability to score on the block and make his presence felt in the paint. Kennesaw State is his lone scholarship offer, but he has an unofficial visit set up with Georgia.

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The backcourt of Jakai Newton, Stephon Castle, Marcus Whitlock and TJ Clark for Newton (Ga.) was one of the best in the building this weekend. Castle, a 6-foot-6 point guard, is the table setter for the whole operation who can also get his own points. Newton, Whitlock and Clark are all talented wings, ranging anywhere from 6-foot-2 to 6-4, that score it at all three levels and have athleticism to create some highlights at the rim. Castle added an offer from Georgia Tech and UConn this weekend to go along with recent offers from Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Miami, Ole Miss, Seton Hall and Vanderbilt. Newton just recently added offers from Auburn, Georgia and Vanderbilt. Clark added a scholarship from Coastal Carolina this weekend.

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Sean Stewart, who just recently made an appearance in Rivals 2023 rankings at No. 57 overall, was one of the top prospects in the building this weekend. With offers from Arizona State, Florida, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Stanford and Texas A&M already in, Stewart didn’t disappoint. The 6-foot-8 forward’s activity level was terrific, and his productivity matched it. He has the mobility and skill set coaches love at his position. Mike White (Florida), Juwan Howard (Michigan) and many others watched him this weekend.

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Last but certainly not least, the very last time slot of the weekend was light on top matchups but was a great opportunity to discover an up-and-comer like class of 2024 wing John McQueen. At about 6-foot-5 already, McQueen is a really good athlete with a smooth jump shot, particularly on pull-ups in the mid-range, and he can really finish inside. He defends and rebounds at a high level as well. Crean was the lone head coach to stick around to see him on Sunday afternoon.