CAMBELLSVILLE, Ky. -- The first annual Next Up Recruits Middle School camp took in top kids from KY in the classes of 2021-2024 and they were eager to compete. In addition to the state of KY there were 4 other states represented at the camp this year and there were players from IN, OH, WV, and TN that brought their best to make a name for themselves. After going through two hours of station/individual training with Brandon Johnson (Morehead State), Matt Turner (A.I.B. Training), Jesse Sizemore (C3Hoops), Brandon Shingles (Morehead State/Overseas Pro), and Anthony Epps (University of Kentucky/96’Nat’l Champion) the players were ready to showcase their talents against one another and they did.
KJ Crump: 2021 Clarksville, TN/Will attend University Heights (KY)
At 5’6 with an advanced skill set, KJ was able to do anything he wanted at camp. Having the ball on a string he was able to penetrate the defense and get in the lane at will. He had an array of finishing move’s that allowed him to score at the rim, pull-up at the mid-range or knock down the triple. Not only was he the MVP of the top 20 All-Star game, but he was the consensus overall top player at this year’s camp.
Top 20 All-Stars:
22’ G Zamareon McCown, 21’ W Dionta Johnson, 21’ F Mason Moore, 21’ G Spencer Baird, 21’ G Jeremiah Belton, 22’ G Brady Dingess, 21’ G Chivion Ashby, 21’ G Alijah Watts, 22’ G Kobe Stoudemire, 22’ G Aden Slone, 21’ G Christian Spalding, 21’ G Kilon Williams, 21’ G Cory Vanhoose, 21’ G Jaylen Fairman, 22’ G Devin Hatfield, 21’ W Sam Conley, 21’ G KJ Crump, 21’ G Kale Gaither, 21’ W Carson Watson, 21’ W Isaiah Farrior.
Chivion Ashby: 2022 Louisville, KY
A high motored slasher, Ashby played as hard as anyone at camp and was a well-deserved top 20 All Star game selection. Ashby has long arms and the quickness to defend smaller guards but is not afraid to mix it up in the paint. If his ball handling and outside shot continues to improve, Ashby will become one of the top 8th graders in Louisville.
Zamareon McCown: 2022 Louisville, KY
An undersized PG, McCown is fearless when going against bigger guards. He does a good job creating space and is a consistent 3 pt. shooter with deep range. McCown excels in pick and roll situations and utilizes a quick 1st step to blow by defenders. If you underestimate this young man because of his size he will make you pay on both ends of the court.
Kobe Stoudemire: 2022 Jeffersonville, IN
A high IQ PG with court vision, Stoudemire loves to create open shots for teammates. He changes speeds effortlessly in the open floor and was one of the top ball handlers at camp. We would like to see Kobe become more aggressive offensively and not pass up open shots. Stoudemire is a part of the loaded Louisville United AAU program which has been winning events all over the region.
Christian Spalding: 2022 Louisville, KY
A smooth PG who was one of the top 3 pt. shooters at camp, Spalding is constantly being vocal and motivating his teammates. While he needs to do a better job finishing around the basket, Spalding does show a consistent floater and mid-range shot. Playing PG for the defending Louisville city champion Crosby Middle, Spalding will have an opportunity to take his game to the next level
Alijah Watts: 2021 Hopkinsville, KY
A powerful wing who is skilled offensively, Watts is at his best attacking the basket and finishing with contact. He also shows the ability to step out and knock down the three. A good on ball defender, Watts took a couple one on one matchups at camp personally and got stops against some the top performers. If his ball handling improves, Watts could be next in line of great Hopkinsville HS players.
Spencer Baird: Stanford, KY
A creative guard that can get by defenders, and score points in bunches. Baird can stop in traffic and pull up, or get to the cup to finish. He’s a threat from 3 once he sees one go in. If he tightens up his handle, and adds strength, Baird will be a name you’ll hear climbing the scoring columns this season.
Jeremiah Belton: Hodgenville, KY
A heady PG that lives to make plays for his teammates. With savvy ball handling, and shifty moves Jeremiah gets in and out of the lane making plays setting up players for lay-ups and open looks. He has a floater, and can shoot the ball from mid-range and from deep but he doesn’t look to score often. Once he adds his own offense to his game he will be a difficult match-up for teams to prepare for.
Aden Slone: Danville, KY
A sturdy built PG that dances with the ball, Slone has an advanced skill set for his age, and he knows how to use it to put the ball in the basket. With good vision, he makes the advance pass, and creates to make the right play in the half-court game. Adding lateral quickness and more energy on the defensive side of the ball will make him a complete player.
Cory VanHoose: Paintsville, KY
A strong bodied guard that makes his living bouncing off defenders and getting to the rim to score. Cory loves to play in attack mode and uses a lot of energy on the offensive side of the ball. He’s a willing defender that needs to add a consistent jump shot to his, game and that will make him a very tough scoring guard.
Jaylen Fairman: Jeffersonville, IN
At 5’11 Jaylen has good size for an incoming freshman PG. He was one of the camp favorites breaking down his man off the bounce, and reading ball screens. Fairman is really smooth with the ball in his hands, and knows how to play the game. He sees plays before they happen. He likes to pass more than shoot, but he did his share of scoring as well. Fairman will fill up the stat sheet with assists this season. Getting stronger and playing with more energy on the defensive side of the ball will make him a great prospect in the near future.
Carson Watson: Campbellsville, KY
A long wing that can play off the bounce and consistently knock down shots from behind the arc, Watson plays with a lot of energy on both ends of the floor getting to the basket and grabbing rebounds. A willing defender, he stills needs to work on quickness guarding the ball, and he needs to add strength.
Kale Gaither: Henderson, KY
A very poised PG that always seems to be under control, Gaither plays the game like nothing bothers him. He just handles the rock and the pressure and makes plays. He comes off ball screens looking to create, but if the defense doesn’t help he will get to the rim to score. If the defender goes under screens he will knock down the open look. Getting in the paint against stronger players he sometimes gets knocked off the ball, so adding weight and strength will take his game to the next level.
Devin Hatfield: Charleston, WV
A guard with a good handle and good feel for the game, Hatfield can make shots from the mid-range and hit the 3. He has the ability to create for his teammates, and get by defenders to score. Once he gets stronger he will be able to absorb contact and finish plays more consistently. He has the potential to develop into a nice guard that will be a tough match up.
Deonta Johnson: Evansville, IN
Deonta was one of the more physically advanced kids at camp; with his size, he was a dominant guard that could score inside and out. Johnson rebounds very well and has the skillset to lead a break from end to end. Has a decently consistent jump shot from the perimeter now, but if he can improve that and be able to knock it down off the dribble, he will be a big time mismatch during his HS career.
Mason Moore: Paintsville, KY
Moore averaged 16.2 PPG in Varsity as an 8th grader and it was easy to see why when we watched him at camp. This lengthy SG can score from all 3 levels and likes to mix it up. His ability to shoot the 3 over his defender with little to no room and a quick release makes him an intriguing college prospect. He showed that he can score off the dribble as well, but he could tighten up his handles some to be more effective in that area. Once he does that then watch out, he will be even tougher to guard.
Sam Conley: Shelbyville, KY
Conley was one of the best overall players in the event and is a sure Division 1 prospect. A rising freshman that will tear the rim off if given the opportunity. He is quick with the ball and handles the ball well. Best when in attack mode because he scores it comfortably with either hand in traffic. Lately he has been shooting the lights out from 3 and his confidence is soaring offensively. With that being said, he is definitely one of the toughest kids to guard in the 2021 KY class.
Brady Dingess: Tomahawk, KY
Brady was one of the best kids overall in the ball handling drills. He clearly works on his craft and it showed in camp when working with his off hand. The 2022 PG is experienced with Varsity play and he plays the game with a lot of poise. With great vision and smart decision making, he excels when using ball screens. Being a knockdown shooter makes him a tough matchup because you cannot give him too much space, yet his handles and change of speed make him tough to guard close on the ball. This kid can play and we look forward to seeing how his body and his game progresses over the years to come.
Kilon Williams: Gallatin, TN
Kilon played well at camp showing that he has the ability to get to the rack and finish in traffic at a high rate. The lefty guard is strong and has a quick first step. Has the ability and confidence to use his mid- range game to score, but is most comfortable when attacking the basket. Williams is always drawing defenders and make some good plays for his teammates during camp, proving that he is an unselfish team player as well.
Isaiah Farrior: Clarksville, TN
Farrior is a good sized guard with length. Handles are tight and he doesn’t get bothered with pressure. His head stays up and he made a ton of plays for others. When he wants to score he can with ease and can score in bunches. Great in transition, seems to always make a play that ends in a bucket for his team. A lockdown defender and his active hands gave kids problems all day at camp. Plays hard and gives a lot of effort on both ends of the floor.
Top 40 All-Stars listed below:
5’9 G Kenyon Goodin, 5’2 G Kirk Lemons, Jr, 5’10 G Hunter Castleberry, 5’8 G Wes Oliver, 5’6 G Dominique Smiley, 6’1 G Nasir Scaife, 5’8 G Gage Mabry, 6’0 Ashton Gains, 5’10 Cruise Wilson, 5’6 Eli Wilkes, 5’1 Jaylen Dunn, 5’2 Casey Martin, Jr, 5’10 Collin Hawkins, 5’3 Levi White, 5’2 Hayden Bailey, 5’10 AJ Doctor, 5’5 G Jackson Wise, 5’3 G Jacob Prewitt
William Robinson, Jr: Louisville, KY
A long forward that plays with high energy, Robinson, Jr was really good around the basket in the top 40 game. He ran the floor, altered shots, and rebounded out of his area all game. He knocked down a couple 15 footers, and played with great energy on defense. Robinson, Jr needs to continue working on his footwork but he’s on a great track for a 7th grader. He was named the top 40 game MVP.
Kenyon Goodin: Louisville, KY
A long athletic guard that makes the right play, Goodin has a solid handle and can get by his man to finish at the basket. He also has the ability to step back out of a drive and knock down the mid-range jump shot. Shooting the 3 ball isn’t something he does often, but he can make them. With long arms Goodin has potential to be a good defender, and continuing to work on his handle will elevate his game nicely.
Kirk Lemons, Jr: Louisville, KY
A tough guard that plays hard all the time, Lemons, Jr has the ability to put the ball on the floor but he is lethal when he can catch-n-shoot. You cannot let him get his feet set because he will make you pay. With a high IQ Lemons, Jr knows how to get open to find his shot too. Adding a consistent pull-up to his game will make him a tough guard for opponents.
Wes Oliver: Campbellsville, KY
A super high energy PG, Oliver could get in the paint at will. He was always around the ball finding rebounds and making plays on defense. While he did score the ball some he needs to work on finishing around the basket, and add a mid-range jumper. If he can do that he has potential of being ungradable.
Eli Wilkes: Morganfield, KY
Playing mostly on the wing as a shooting guard, Wilkes is capable of making several shots from behind the arc in a row. He has the ability to be a really good shooter, but he can also create his own shot so he’s not only a catch-n-shoot guy. Not being very physical he sometimes gets pushed around by stronger guards. Adding strength and physicality would help him be able to take the bumps and play through contact against the more physical players.
Hunter Castleberry: Charleston, WV
A long hard working wing/forward that can put it on the floor and finish around the rim, Castleberry also rebounds well, has a nose for the ball, and plays with good energy. He needs to continue working on his handle, and sure up his mid-range game to reach the next step in his development.
Collin Hawkins: Manchester, KY
Collin is big time a shot maker. This kid has the uncanny ability to score from anywhere and he has good touch on his shot with range. A long lefty that will just be a 7th grader next year, but understands the game, and has a high IQ. A playmaker that has a bright future on the court. As he gets older his body will get stronger and Collin Hawkins will be a player to keep a good eye on in Kentucky for the future.
Nasir Scaife: Decherd, TN
A good size wing that dominates his opponents a combination of strength and quickness. Excels in transition and plays at the rim. Defensively he was outstanding and seemed to give his man trouble consistently throughout the day. Offensively, he can get to the basket off the dribble and goes hard while doing it. Once he can add the perimeter jump shot to his game he will be a much tougher matchup for opponents.
Honorable Mention: 5’6 G Dominique Smiley, 5’8 G Gage Mabry, 6’0 G Ashton Gains, 5’10 F Cruise Wilson, 5’1 G Jaylen Dunn, 5’2 G Casey Martin, Jr, 5’2 Hayden Bailey, 5’3 G Levi White, 5’10 W AJ Doctor, 5’5 G Jackson Wise, 5’3 G Jacob Prewitt, 5’10 F Ben Vaughn, 5’0 G Chase Hord, 5’0 G Laykn Lyons