LEXINGTON, Ky. -- This weekend in Lexington, the Grind Session kept on rolling with their star studded lineup, producing some amazing matchups including: Thon Maker vs. DeAndre Ayton, Wenyel Gabriel vs. Thon Maker, and Jarred Vanderbilt vs. Rawle Alkins. This event was short but sweet and housed no less than 4 future pros and a ton of future division one players.
Coaches from Kentucky, Indiana, Arizona State, and Louisville attended the event, all hoping to add some studs to their recruiting classes.
Note: these games were played with two 20-minute halves, different than traditional high school games.
Jarred Vanderbilt – 2017 F – Victory Prep (TX)
While he did score 33 points on Saturday, he did so not playing great at all, a testament just how good he really is. He turned it on Sunday in a high profile-matchup with a loaded Word of God team scoring 33 points, grabbing 23 rebounds, and adding 5 assists (it easily could’ve been 15) while keeping his team in a game they did not belong in. He is a do-it-all forward that should remain amount the best the 2017 class has to offer.
Wenyen Gabriel – 2016 F – Wilbraham and Monson (MA) – Kentucky Signee
He had to have slept good on Saturday night. In one of the most physical games we have ever seen, Wenyen got off to a slow start but man did he finish strong. After scoring only 9 points in the first half, he erupted for 11 straight points to put his team in the lead for good and finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds. The UK signee does a ton of things well for a 6’9 forward, including mid-range and handling the ball. He has tons of potential and should make an immediate impact at Kentucky next fall.
Thon Maker – 2016 C – Athlete Institute (CAN)
Saturday was one of the best outing during HS play that we have seen from Thon in a long, long time. He scored 24 points in a variety of ways: at the rim, crazy dunks, jumpshots, and on the offensive glass. And on Sunday he took it up a notch in a high profile matchup with DeAndre Ayton, scoring 29 points and grabbing 15 boards. Thon literally looks like a created player on a video game. He is easily the best player still left on the board for the class of 2016 and it seems as if he is down to Arizona State, Indiana, Kansas, and Notre Dame.
Nicola Djogo – 2016 SG – Athlete Institute (CAN) – Notre Dame Signee
One of the only players in the entire event that we had never seen prior to walking in the gym, Nicola showed why he’s taking his talents to Notre Dame in the fall. He is an extremely versatile off-guard and displayed a really good passing game throughout the weekend. He will be a glue guy for Notre Dame that should really make a difference down the road.
Brenden Vessichio – 2016 G – Wilbraham & Monson (MA)
While Wenyen Gabriel didn’t have it going in the first half of his matchup with Thon Maker, this guard made a huge impact in the game, knocking down shots from all over and showing toughness that was hard to stop in an extremely physical game. An extremely solid unsigned senior, this guard should get D1 looks as his senior season goes on.
DeAndre Ayton – 2017 PF/C – Hillcrest Prep (AZ)
There’s not a doubt in our minds that the number 1 player in the class of 2017 player is DeAndre Ayton after this weekend. He has now expanded his offensive game to include 3s, face up mid-range jumpers, and full beast mode in the paint. His team doesn’t do a great job getting the ball to him in spots where he can succeed but he still makes the most of every touch and his coordination is off the charts.
Channel Banks – 2016 PG – Hillcrest Prep (AZ)
The most unheralded unsigned senior we saw in the gym this weekend was Channel. He’s a tough scoring lead guard that can finish through contact and distribute the ball really well and is not afraid of anyone. He is someone that low-major programs should take a look at with serious consideration.
Rawle Alkins – 2016 SG – Word of God (NC)
On Sunday, Rawle looked like the killer Rawle we saw in July. He was engaged throughout, constantly attacking the defense, and was nailing shots from the outside. He scored 51 points like it was nothing. He is just too strong at the HS level and when his jumpshot is going, he is unstoppable. Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, N.C. State, North Carolina, UNLV and St. John’s make up his final 8 schools and whoever gets him will be getting one hell of a player.