LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Last Saturday, we held our 4th annual Next Up Recruits Preseason Jamboree. It has grown to become one of the top preseason events in the state of Kentucky and has featured multiple division 1 basketball players and even the 2016 state champions, Paul Laurence Dunbar. This past Saturday was no different, as some very talented teams took the court for a fun day of scrimmaging.
As follows are some of the top performers we saw:
Richard Ninamou - 2019 SG - Louisville Seneca HS
A physically imposing guard who is a lockdown defender, Ninamou took over the game with his defense and rebounding. Ninamou is built like an NFL strong safety and uses his strength to bully his way to the basket where he is athletic enough to finish above the rim. If Ninamou’s outside shot continues to improve he will have a chance to be one of the top 2019 players in the 7th region.
Carl Parker - 2019 PF - Louisville Seneca HS
A skilled post player Parker has great touch around the basket and range out to the 3pt. line. Also, a good passer out of the post Seneca’s offense often goes through Parker and he will be a matchup problem for most schools in the region. If his conditioning improves Parker will soon be on the radar of D2/NAIA schools that recruit the area.
Chris Rawlings - 2018 SG - Louisville Central HS
Rawlings is one of the few returnees for a young but talented Central squad. He showed the ability to score the ball at all 3 levels and knocked down a couple deep threes. While he is at his best in transition, Rawlings must improve his decision making in the half court and continue to work on his ball handling in order to play guard at the next level.
Stephon Franklin - 2018 PG - Louisville Doss HS
A strong bodied point guard with Sweet 16 experience Franklin has been on our radar since he was a sophomore. After an up and down junior season Franklin is poised to take over this Doss team and reach his full potential. Franklin is at his best when driving the basketball using his strength to finish at the rim or get to the FT line. While his outside shot has improved his bread and butter is still attacking the basket and over powering smaller guards. If Doss wants to continue to be a contender in the 6th region after the loss of Jaylon Hall then Franklin will need to bring energy and be consistent every night.
Taye Calloway - 2018 SG - Louisville Doss HS
The Henderson County (KY) transfer may be just enough to keep Doss in contention in the loaded 6th region. An absolute sniper, Calloway has range that extends past the NBA 3 pt. line and has a consistent mid-range game. While his effort defensively must improve, no one can deny the fact that Calloway immediately becomes one of the top players in Louisville.
Dekeyvan Tandy – 2019 PG – University Heights Academy
Everyone knows that Tandy can go out and drop 30+ points whenever he wants. He has shown it at the HS level and on the national AAU circuit. Dekeyvan was much different at this years’ jamboree, he showed that he can be a PG that gets teammates involved. Getting by his man is no issue as Tandy may have the quickest first step in the country, along with some of the tightest handles. His game has evolved and he showed that by dropping dimes and finding open teammates time after time when pushing in transition or driving to the basket. This kid is a very special talent that is the top PG prospect in the state of Kentucky and one of the top PG’s in the country.
TaQuan Hollowell – 2019 SF – University Heights Academy
Hollowell is a very athletic forward with a college ready frame. He is working hard to polish up his guard skills. At 6’4, he is a physical specimen that plays hard, defends, rebounds, and gets a lot of the dirty work done. His energy and effort are second to none and when he gets his handles and jump shot improved he will be a prospect that Division 1 schools are going to inquire about.
Matthew Jones - 2018 SG - Louisville Southern HS
Lights out shooter from 3, Jones has transformed his body and gotten himself into great shape heading into his senior season. On a young but talented Louisville Southern team Jones will be counted on to be a leader and should have the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Jones ball handling will need to continue to improve in order to transition from high school shooting guard to college combo guard.
Michael Burns - 2018 PF - Louisville Butler HS
Standing a legit 6’8 Burns is one of the tallest players in the state and has the wingspan and athleticism to dominate games defensively. While we love his upside, we want to see Burns show a passion for rebounding and willingness to block or alter every shot in his area. Offensively Burns will absolutely tear the rim off and has very good touch around the basket and has become a consistent shooter out to 18ft.
Jaquay Wales - 2018 PG - Louisville Butler HS
The floor leader for a much-improved Butler team, Wales has become a more aggressive penetrator and is no longer deferring to others. Showing a strong handle and the ability to get into the paint Wales loves to create open shots for teammates but is now showing the ability to score it himself. A strong on ball defender Wales will draw the assignment of guarding some of the top guards in the city.
Kevion Hudson - 2019 CG - Louisville Waggener HS
An athletic combo guard Hudson is playing with a lot more confidence then when we have evaluated him in the past. Hudson and fellow 2019 stud JJ Kalakon will be counted on to replace the production of last years star guards Jacquess Hobbs(EKU) and Devon Cooper (Morehead St.) While an improved outside shooter, we want to see Hudson use his length and athleticism to get to the rim more often.
JJ Trainor - 2020 WF - Bardstown HS
This was our first time evaluating the 6’6 Trainor and our staff believes he is one of the few players in KY with true high-major potential. A skilled offensive player, Trainor hit multiple mid-range jumpers and showed off a good perimeter skill set. With a wingspan that looks close to 6’10 Trainor was all over the court defensively blocking shots and getting deflections. The son of former UL great Jason Osborne, we believe that Trainor should be in the discussion for the 2nd best player in the 2020 class behind Trinity PG Justin Powell.
Mickey Pearson – 2018 Wing – John Hardin - St. Louis commit
Mickey has been at Next Up Recruits events since he was a rising Sophomore. His game has improved and continues to improve every time we see him. The St. Louis commit is as long and skilled from the wing position. Pearson can kill you inside and out, which make him such an offensive mismatch. He is a rebound machine and will lead a break with his head up and make a play. His jump shot looks good and consistent with range. Look for Pearson to have a big senior and put up crazy numbers this season at John Hardin.
Malik Wright – 2018 G – John Hardin
Wright is a transfer from Mississippi that we had been anxiously waiting to see. His athleticism was impressive and he is most comfortable running in transition. He can defend multiple positions and plays hard on both ends. For Wright’s recruitment to pick up, he will need to improve his jump shot, which is very capable.
Devin Pendergrass – 6’4 Wing – Louisville Butler HS
One of the biggest sleepers in the state or even in the region. A long athlete that plays on the wing. Has a good handle and a much improved jump shot off the dribble. Pendergrass gives a lot of length and is an elite defender that can guard multiple positions. His active hands and high motor gets him multiple steals and deflections each game. Pendergrass is an absolute no brainer Division 1 basketball player. We are curious to see who will come in and be the first school to pull the trigger and offer him a scholarship. Has a lot of upside, is good now, will get MUCH better.
Marcellus Vail - 2020 SG – Collins
Vail’s body has matured a great deal from last season and he has become an aggressive guard that can get by his man and get a bucket when he wants, while finishing at the rim. The Collins guard has a nice jump shot and is becoming a big-time athlete with a nice frame. The young man is skilled and has a great work ethic. When it is all said and done, Vail will be one of the top 2020 prospect in the state of Kentucky.
Davion McKnight - 2020 PG - Collins
This young lead guard is a bully with good speed and a tight handle. His body is strong, he finishes in traffic with contact like it is nothing, and his IQ is off the charts. Has a great feel for the game. McKnight has excellent court vision and loves to find an open teammate. At times, he is too unselfish, would love to see him attack a little more because he can get to the basket whenever he wants. McKnight and Vail will be a deadly duo for the next 3 years at Collins HS.
Lez Means – 2018 G – Marion County
Means will be a good prospect for a small college to come and check out. His handles are much improved and he was running the show at times for Marion. His shot is deadly and he fills it up from deep with no issue. From last year to this year he has improved his ability to create off the dribble, rather than being labeled as just a shooter. Means has talent and hopefully the right coaching staff gets to see him and someone will find a gem.
Trevon Smith – 2019 G – Taylor County
Trevon is a pure scorer that can score in bunches when he gets on a roll. He has in the gym range from 3 and has a smooth mid-range game off the bounce. Smith can score in traffic and has a soft touch off the glass when driving. At this point in time, everything is to the left. He will have to tighten his ball handling so that ball pressure does not bother him as much and right hand needs some work as well. Once this is done, he will be a serious problem and his game will be more dimensional. With his drive and work ethic, the right hand will be there before we know it.