St. John's was busy hosting transfer targets Justin Simon and Marvin Clark Jr. this past weekend, but in Brooklyn, their 2017 targets dominated the first session of the Nike EYBL summer circuit.
The loaded PSA Cardinals, featuring Mohamed Bamba, Cole Anthony, Hasahn French and Brandon Randolph, finished off an undefeated weekend with a victory over The Rens, 63-55. The All-New York battle was Sunday's showcase game and it certainly lived up to the hype. It was a well-played, physical battle in front of a number of high major head coaches, including Kevin Ollie, John Beilein, Shaka Smart and Archie Miller.
With The Rens also featuring numerous prospects that Chris Mullin and company have their eye on - Jordan Tucker, Jose Alvarado and Hamidou Diallo - this was a perfect chance to get an up-close, extended view of the top talent in the class of 2017.
Mohamed Bamba (PSA Cardinals)
Bamba had such a dominant weekend that he put himself in the conversation to be the number one recruit in 2017. The 6'11" big man from Harlem scored 13 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked two shots in a win over Cal Supreme, who have big man Deandre Ayton, who was considered to be the top recruit of next season. He followed that performance up with an impressive 17 point, 16 rebound, four block outing versus the Oakland Soldiers on Sunday morning.
He finished with 46 points and 47 rebounds on the weekend.
Bamba has freakish length, and his ability to alter shots at the rim was especially evident against The Rens. His shot blocking instincts kept the opposing team from mustering anything in the interior.
He not only had the game winning swat against the Soldiers but he also snatched (not blocked, snatched) a Alvarado floater out of the air.
Bamba gets most of his points on offensive rebounds, so there is no doubt the center will have to work on his offensive game. He also will need to bulk up his frame, but there is no doubt he is an NBA prospect.
Unfortunately, the Red Storm are going to have major competition for his services. Duke had three coaches in attendance this weekend to take a peak at an excellent rebounder and a defensive force.
Hamidou Diallo (The Rens)
Bamba was excellent, but Diallo may have been the most impressive player in the entire tournament. The 2017 shooting guard from Queens (originally) glides with the ball in his hands due to his excellent dribbling ability, quickness, speed and burst. He is lethal in transition and has crazy athleticism that helped him pull off two poster dunks in two days.
Hamidou Diallo with the dunk of the weekend at EYBL. @Diallo1Hamidou @RENShoops @AdamZagoria pic.twitter.com/qNNtCmyf3F— Overtime (@overtime) April 17, 2016
Diallo is an elite offensive player with great range, a smooth shooting stroke and the confidence and swagger to break down defenders off the dribble. He can sometimes lose focus on the defensive end of the floor and needs to improve his consistency from beyond the three point line, but he is going to be a force at the college level.
The 6'6" guard is clearly coveted by UConn (who had Ollie and two other coaches in attendance) Syracuse (Jim Boeheim and Gerry McNamara were also courtside) and Kentucky (John Calipari was in Brooklyn). He wowed scouts on Saturday against the New York Lightning when he dropped 26 points.
Once again, the Red Storm may have difficulty remaining in the mix, though a hometown wing with range and power would be an excellent addition for the year the Johnnies should make a leap toward the NCAA Tournament and national relevance.
Cole Anthony (PSA Cardinals)
Due to the amount of talent surrounding him, Anthony wasn't able to display his full arsenal to coaches. He showed his sold range, strong ball handling skills and good vision, but he also struggling at the free throw line and made poor decisions at critical stretches.
Point guard Cole Anthony is only a freshman, so the St. John's staff is very smart for getting involved early. He is projected to develop into a high-level recruit and with the Red Storm reaching out from day one, he could feel develop a strong relationship with the program.
Anthony, who plays at Archbishop Molloy in Queens, scored nineteen points in his three games and went two for five from beyond the arc.
Jordan Tucker (The Rens)
Tucker is noticeably strong and has an excellent size at 6'7". He is another knock down three-point shooter (he had three long balls in the second half versus PSA) with the potential to improve off the dribble. The White Plains native also comes off screens with a scorer's mentality.
Because of his frame, Tucker has the ability to make plays in the interior. At this point in his career though, he would prefer to score from the perimeter. He drew only three free throw attempts in the three games the Rens played this weekend, while going 12 for 29 from the field.
The willing defender is a high priority for the Red Storm in 2017; they could use another powerful wing player in addition to Bashir Ahmed.
Brandon Randolph (PSA Cardinals)
Randolph is a knock down shooter. He can put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim, but he is much more effective spotting up from the perimeter and drilling a long range jumper.
Randolph combined for eight threes (on 8/16 shooting from beyond the arc) and 33 total points in the Cardinals' three games of the weekend.
While the Johnnies have an offer pending, the shooting guard's stock exploded after his monster high school season. Louisville, Vanderbilt, VCU and Seton Hall are just some of the offers that have came his way in the past few months.
Jose Alvarado (The Rens)
The pesky point guard is a really effective on ball defender, has great confidence and can run the show offensively with his passing skills and vision. Alvarado can get a little toojordan t confident with the ball in his hands though and doesn't have much of a jump shot.
He had to leave The Rens game versus the PSA Cardinals after injuring his calf.
Alvarado attends high school at nearby Christ The King and attended multiple St. John's games this season. He is realistic possibility if the Red Storm still have any spots in the backcourt remaining.
Aundre Hyatt (NY Lightning)
The 2018 wing from the Bronx faced off against high school teammate and fellow wing Jordan Tucker for the New York Lightning, but didn't come away with the victory. Both Tucker and Hyatt struggled shooting the ball that day, though Hyatt had six rebounds.
Hyatt shot only 14/36 from the field but he shot 7/20 from outside the arc - 7/14 if the game against the NY Rens is eliminated from his stat sheet. He will pay the Red Storm an unofficial visit this week.