HYPE Sports #WinterJam2k18: Saturday Recap
January 6 2018
DALLAS, TX – The HYPE Sports Winter Jam continued on Saturday as pool play concluded and bracket play began. I spent my time in the gym focused on the Classes of 2022 and 2023 as several prospects from the Southwest and West Coast regions made their presence known.
SMITH SHOWS MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS
Colin Smith first caught my eye nearly a year ago and his progression during the last 10 months is remarkable. The 6-foot-6 swingman is not only growing physically, but his confidence is developing rapidly, and his two-way abilities are among the best in the Class of 2022 at the forward position.
On Saturday, Smith helped his Texas Hardwork squad to a 3-0 record, and they’ll enter #WinterJam2k18 bracket play on Sunday with a top seed. Ironically, their first round match-up will be against the program’s other eighth-grade team, Texas Hardwork Black.
UZAN HAS ELITE INTANGIBLES
There are big differences in players that primarily handle the ball and those that truly understand the point guard position. Vegas Elite has a number of impressive backcourt prospects in their program at the moment and Milos Uzan may be near the top of the list in terms of long-term projection.
The Class of 2022 floor general spent Saturday at #WinterJam2k18 slicing up opposing defenses with his crafty handle and pristine court vision. Uzan has the pedigree to be an impact recruit on the West Coast and his physical development will be closely monitored.
NEW NAME, SAME LOOK FOR F.O.E. SQUAD
The F.O.E. (Family Over Everything) organization has competed under a number of various monikers in the last year. Formerly RM5 Elite, as well as D1 Premier, this Class of 2023 group has several familiar faces for those that follow youth hoops in the DFW.
Seventh-grade wing Ty Cox flashed excellent potential on Saturday at #WinterJam2k18, while Drew Steffe demonstrated shot-making ability, as well as improved ball-handling skills. Class of 2024 guard Deontrell Barrett, the younger brother of UT-Arlington sophomore Deon Barrett, also played a big role in F.O.E.’s impressive pair of pool wins against in-state opponents TexasHardwork and TJ Ford Basketball.
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA TALENT IMPRESSES
When I watched them in the winter of 2013, MVP Flight Elite head coach Chris Whirlow had two future high-major signees from the Class of 2018 manning his seventh-grade backcourt in Naseem Gaskin (Utah) and Elijah Hardy (Washington).
Fast-forward five years and history is repeating itself. Class of 2022 prospects Christopher Bunch and Jeremiah Dargan are easily bigger, and in many ways more advanced, than Gaskin and Hardy at the same stage. While both prospects certainly have improvements to make, it’s difficult to imagine any eighth-grade prospects in Northern California currently tracking ahead of the Flight Elite duo.
SLEEPER PROSPECT OF THE DAY
The honor of being Saturday’s sleeper pick at #WinterJam2k18 belongs to 6-foot-5 forward Kendrick DeLuna. Playing with San Antonio Fire, the seventh-grade prospect is a skilled stretch four-man and impressed with his versatility on both ends of the floor.
DeLuna was competitive and composed in leading his team to a pair of wins, as they advanced with the top seed in their pool, and will be back on the floor for the start of tomorrow’s championship bracket play.