Sometimes your first impressions are correct, and sometimes you’ll find you need a second look.
I went to observe in person what I’d seen on video. At the Nike Elite 100 camp, hosted by the Bradley Beal Elite at Saint Louis University and put on by Nike, I was able to get in and see some of Missouri’s prime 2020 targets as they faced off against other elite talent from around the country. There was a smattering of 2019 and 2021 athletes, but in large part, it was the show put on by rising juniors.
Missouri had several targets, offers, and potential recruits in competition. But those we’re going to spend any time discussing are the following:
- Josh Christopher, 2020 5-star wing
- Cam’Ron Fletcher, 2020 4-star wing
- Jaden Hardy, 2021 4-star combo guard
- Caleb Love, 2020 4-star combo guard
- Luke Kasubke, 2020 3-star wing
- Moses Moody, 2020 5-star wing
- Jordan Nesbitt, 2020 3-star combo guard
What I knew, because it was easy to see
So, it looks like Nicodemus Christopher linked up to see his cousin, Josh Christopher, who is in St. Louis for the the Elite 100 camp. pic.twitter.com/XfUfQtfR5l— Matt Harris (@MattJHarris85) June 10, 2018
Josh Christopher is elite. You may remember reading about the wing out of California. Above you can he’s a familial relation to Mizzou strength and conditioning coach Nicodemus Christopher. In person, you only need to see Josh to understand the attraction for recruiters.
Christopher’s body is college ready right now. He has strength through his base and uses it against defenders to get separation around the rim. His footwork is largely solid and his shooting form is very good as well. He has all the makings of a guy who could potentially play a year in college and bolt if the rules stay the way they are today. Seeing guys like Christopher play is obvious they’re elite, and it’s easy to see why.
Only slightly behind Christopher in the rankings is Moses Moody. Almost the polar opposite of Christopher on the wing. Where Christopher is magnetic and flashy and exciting, you almost forget Moody is playing. He’s smooth and efficient in his energy. His game requires the bare minimum of movement and its results are nearly identical in production to any other wing in the camp.
Moody might be a little deceptive because he’s fairly unassuming on the court. But his ability to move the ball and still get his shots makes him an intriguing and coveted talent.
I didn’t get a chance to get an in-person look at Cam’Ron Fletcher, who injured his ankle in a team camp the week prior to Elite 100 and was held out of activities. The Vashon product later published on his Instagram account that he would be sitting out when Brad Beal Elite’s 16U group travels south for Peach Jam next month.
One of the tougher things to be in a camp like this is anyone who isn’t the primary ball handler.
Which is why Caleb Love’s breakout was amazing.
Eric Bossi noticed, Brian Snow noticed, NEP noticed, and I did as well. Love showed out and he did so against some of the best guards in the country. He wasn’t the primary ball handler for much of the time I saw him in live play, but he still impacted the game with his defense, getting into passing lanes and deflecting the ball left and right.
Love hasn’t been the most consistent shooter but he has all the tools to become one. He’s shown the kind of vision you want in a point guard and an ability to create for himself and others.
As long as I’ve been watching Love (which, admittedly isn’t all that long) I’ve loved his ability and his ceiling. When initial rankings for the class came out Love was outside the top 100 and he’s ascended into the bottom half of the top 100. Wherever he’s been, it’s always been too low. Missouri is in good shape with Love, but I expect things to get a lot tougher in the next few months.
Luke Kasubke shows he’s not far off
Luke Kasubke of Chaminade finished the second game of the afternoon session making four of seven from 3-point range— Prep Hoops Missouri (@PrepHoopsMO) June 9, 2018
Kasubke picked up a Missouri offer recently, and there are many who haven’t yet viewed Kasubke as a high major level player.
After watching him compete this weekend I don’t think Kasubke is an elite star in the making, but I do think he’s a high major player with a very high basketball IQ, elite shooting ability, and underrated athleticism. Sometimes you just watch a guy who finds ways to defend more explosive players and stay in front on defense without giving up space for them to get off a good jump shot.
I wouldn’t say Kasubke stood out, but I do think he acquitted himself about as well as you could hope as a guy who was probably a borderline player to be at an event like that.
Sub D1 out for HM and I think I can agree… but there is a difference between a HM player and a D1 player, even though they overlap https://t.co/YPAP2MS9ZV— Sam Snelling (@SamTSnelling) June 10, 2018
Scott Burgess of PrepHoopsIL deleted his tweet, but he was pointing out how many players in Illinois who think they’re a Division 1 talent need to see the players at this event. But the players at this event are, by and large, elite players. Kasubke is a really really good player and a high-major prospect who is planning on visiting Mizzou, Xavier, Creighton and Kansas State this month. He may not land at Mizzou, and maybe finds a home at a mid-major plus type place, but it won’t be because he can’t compete at the high major level. It’ll be because he likes the situation there better.
For those who don’t know about the difference, typically high major schools are the Power Conferences (SEC, Big East, ACC, Big 10, Pac 12, Big 12) and a few outliers who spend at a high major level (Think Cincinnati, UConn, Gonzaga). Mid-major plus are schools who compete regularly against the power schools and don’t lose much but don’t quite compete financially. The A-10 is a premier MM+ league as an example.
Jordan Nesbitt looks the part
He’s a big physical guard who can defend and seemed a little out of sorts through most of the live play because he’s accustomed to playing with the ball in his hands far more than he was allowed due to playing with some very ball dominant guards.
Nesbitt adjusted more as play went along and found a way into a role. He worked defensively and looked to get the ball into touch-starved post players.
He’s got some work ahead of him, and Nesbitt hasn’t received a Missouri offer yet despite making it down for an unofficial visit. His versatility is something that could come in handy as he managed to find a way to impact play by doing something he hasn’t had to do... be a complimentary player.
Getting in early on Jaden Hardy can’t hurt.
Looking back at what I liked at the #Elite100. I wanted to discuss players myself and @coreyevans_10 had not yet discussed in other coverage from the event. Jaden Hardy's scoring leads the way https://t.co/nGgd5BIwiD pic.twitter.com/76r8cxQZHJ— Eric Bossi (@ebosshoops) June 11, 2018
My favorite moment of the camp was when Caleb Love got Jaden Hardy during a full-court zig-zag drill. This was our name for a common one-on-one defensive drill where the defender is responsible for ‘turning’ the offensive ball handler. Once you get to a certain point on the court, you’re usually cut loose to go all out. In this case, Love got a step on Hardy and sprung off one foot for a dunk as Hardy attempted the block.
Love won that round.
That was one of the few times I saw Hardy bested. He looks comfortable in his skin for being as young as he is. He’s a natural lead guard who is just as comfortable initiating offense as he is taking the ball off the bounce and attacking the rim or pulling up for a soft 15 footer. Hardy was a year behind most of the participants but he didn’t seem behind in anything but age.
Overall these types of events are always interesting. I found the drill work far more interesting than the live play, yet all of the scouts turned up once live play started up. It’s true you get to see players head to head in live five-on-five action and some guys might be more willing to turn it on for the games versus the drills. But the drills show you who really wants to be there to get better.
This is why I liked what Love accomplished. He worked doing the drills and got better. I’ve seen him step up to challenges time and time again. What I saw over the weekend solidified what I’d already known about Caleb Love and why he would be my top target in the 2020 class.
I love Cam’Ron Fletcher, Moses Moody is so fun to watch, and Josh Christopher can be lightning in a bottle. I just think Caleb Love is a guy who can lead you to a Final Four.