Run-N-Slam Recap

3 May

Reed Sheppard

When you haven’t evaluated prospects at a grassroots event since the middle of last July, an event such as the Run-N-Slam can be intimidating. One of the only weekends of the travel season where top teams from multiple shoe circuits compete against each other, we at Triple Double Prospects tried to simplify the evaluation process by focusing on the top 17u and 16u action in Fort Wayne. As they do every year, Ohio teams fared well in the tournament, with several standout individual performances taking place….

Sean Jones – ’22 PG Gahanna Lincoln: No stranger to this website or the top levels of the travel circuit, Jones has been one of Ohio’s most well known 2022 prospects since he entered high school. That being said, the 5’10 point guard has taken his name to new heights this spring, having already stirred up quite a buzz heading into Fort Wayne. At the Run-N-Slam the Columbus area junior again played a high level, showcasing elite speed and shiftiness with the basketball, as Jones was consistently and at times effortlessly able to get by his primary defender and into the lane for his All-Ohio Red team. A creative scorer who has excellent touch in the in-between game, Jones is a fierce competitor who dominated competition with his understanding of how to use that top-end athleticism to create offense for himself or teammates. Several high major NCAA D1 schools tracked Jones via the live-stream, as Penn State and Virginia Tech have been the latest to join an offer list which also includes Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Kansas State, Mississippi State, SMU, Xavier and more.

Jagger Landers – ’22 SF/PF Antwerp: One of the great things about attending grassroots events in Fort Wayne is that scouts always get to checkout a couple of under the radar prospects from small towns in Northwest Ohio. The star of that group this weekend was Landers, a versatile and skilled forward from the Indy Heat-Red team. The heart and soul of his squad, Landers was called upon to handle primary ballhandling duties, play out of the post, shoot it from the perimeter and rebound the ball, as the 6’7 forward showcased a mature all-around game. Both strong and explosive off of two-feet around the rim, Landers has all of the tools to be an impact college player, and should see his recruitment continue to pickup as college coaches become familiar with where Antwerp sits on the map. Currently, Landers holds NCAA D2 offers from Findlay and Northwood.

Reed Sheppard – ’23 SG North Laurel/KY: We often get criticized for the lack of coverage of Kentucky prospects on this site; fortunately for us, in events we attend in which Sheppard participates that shouldn’t be a future problem, as the guard out of Central Kentucky is going to be one of the most talked about 2023 prospects in the region from now until graduation. The son of former University of Kentucky star Jeff Sheppard, the 6’2 current sophomore is a high level athlete, scorer and competitor who led his Midwest Basketball Club 17u (Sheppard plays up a grade level) to the Platinum Semifinals before falling to an extremely talented Meanstreets EYBL team. Known at the high school levels for scoring around 40 points per night, Sheppard can fill it up on the grassroots level as an explosively athletic and strong guard who can stop on a dime and knockdown the jumper or attack and finish through or above contact at the rim. While his offensive prowess will get the majority of the buzz, Sheppard’s abilities as an on-ball defender have also garnered praise from college coaches; part of the reason why the guard holds early scholarship offers from Texas A&M, Iowa, Iona and more.

Gabe Cupps – ’23 PG Centerville: The other underclass member of the esteemed Midwest Basketball Club 17u backcourt, Cupps compliments Sheppard almost perfectly as a facilitating guard and leader. Having suffered just one loss on the season, winning on the circuit comes naturally to Cupps, who just led his Centerville HS team to the Ohio D1 State Championship in March. At 6’1, Cupps has started to develop physically both with his strength and athleticism, adding versatility to his game which already included a high skill-level and IQ. A top ballhandler and perimeter shooter, Cupps is quickly becoming known in college coaching circles as a prospect who will be highly recruited at the NCAA D1 level due to his combination of skill, intangibles and knack for winning big games; Cupps currently does not have any public college offers, but we’re guessing that will change by the end of the summer season.

Austin Parks – ’23 C St. Mary’s Memorial: He might not have any reported scholarship offers yet, but the time will come soon where Parks will be one of the most sought after big men in the region in the 2023 class; that’s how talented the rising junior post from small-town Northwest Ohio is! First of all, Parks is a big, big boy at a wide-shouldered 6’10. Second, Parks moves pretty well for that size. Third, he’s skilled and tough enough to be very productive at a young age; including leading his Ohio Buckets-Turf team to a huge win over All-Ohio Red on Saturday, in which Parks quickly became the talk of the tournament in Fort Wayne. Parks is only starting to scratch the surface of his exposure, and even though it might be easy for college coaches to overlook him in the age of perimeter-based positionless basketball, Parks is in our eyes a no-brainer for the NCAA D1 level where his size and productiveness makes him a niche player in the modern game.

James Okonkwo – ’23 PF/C Beckley Prep/WV: While he’s neither an Ohio or Kentucky prospect, in fact he’s actually a native of Ireland, the talent and production of Okonkwo for the All-Ohio Red 16u team is without question worthy of mention on this site. An animal on the interior at 6’8, Okonkwo goes for every rebound as if it is the last ball that will ever come off of the rim, showcasing both athleticism and physicality that is elite for his age. While he isn’t the most skilled player on the circuit, Oknokwo’s physical tools make him a man-child to deal with in the paint, as he led All-Ohio Red in rebounds and blocks, while also scoring plenty of points, on the weekend. Already at a prep school where he’ll receive a good deal of recruiting exposure, Okonkwo presently holds scholarship offers from Rutgers and West Virginia on a list which is sure to grow very soon.

Jacob Meyer – ’23 PG Covington Holy Cross/KY: Both another Kentucky high school prospect and another guard from the Midwest Basketball Club, albeit their 16u team, Meyer made a name for himself in a major way this weekend. A big time athlete who can attack you in transition and get to the rim at will, Meyer is explosive and skilled as a finisher who likes to play one way, fast. A more than capable shooter who put up huge scoring numbers this high school season, Meyer made shots from mid-range and at the foul line this weekend, playing the role of primary ballhandler, scorer and distributor for Midwest, on a team that features some elite shooters on the wing. He might not hold any NCAA D1 offers yet, but an argument can easily be made that Meyer is the best guard in Greater Cincinnati in the 2023 class, and college coaches won’t be too far behind in realizing this.

Lawrent Rice – ’23 PG Huber Heights Wayne: Another well known guard for the All-Ohio Red program, Rice is the offensive catalyst of the EYBL team’s 16u group, and, after a slow start in our viewing on Saturday morning against Ohio Buckets, the 6’2 lead guard put on a show against EYBL rival The Family out of Detroit on Sunday. A flashy passer in transition with next level vision, Rice racked up assist after assist, including a high level behind-the-back pass to Okonkwo for a transition dunk, leading Red to a blowout win over one of their rivals. With is mobility and ballhandling, Rice is an attractive prospect for college coaches in the 2023 class, and, as he adds consistency to his game, should see his offer list grow. Currently, Rice holds offers from two high major NCAA D1’s in Purdue and Kansas State.

Sonny Styles – ’23 SF/PF Pickerington Central: Sure, Styles might be a five-star football prospect who will be recruited by who’s who of NFL talent factories; but, for now at least, he still plays basketball and is very good at it! The 6’4 athlete took the court with All-Ohio Red this weekend and was dominant against The Family, showing the ability to do a little bit of everything while physically controlling the game. Styles isn’t just a good athlete, he’s a great athlete with a strong frame, speed, agility and leaping ability; however, what makes him special is his motor, as the rising junior plays the game a little mean, physically defending and hitting the glass for his team. Styles is also a capable scorer who is a matchup nightmare with his size and mobility, as he scored via transition, rebounds, drives and with two jumpers against The Family.

Honorable Mention: Paul McMillan IV (’22 Cincinnati Woodward), Kebba Njie (’22 La Lumiere School/IL), Jared Frey (’22 Hilliard Davidson), Tom House (’22 Centerville), Elmore James (’22 Cleveland Brush), Keyshawn Hall (’22 Cleveland Heights), Caleb Allen (’22 Edgewood), Robbie Cass (’22 Cincinnati Aiken), John Effertz (’22 Cleveland St. Ignatius), Dailyn Swain (’23 Columbus Africentric), Chico Johnson (’23 Toledo Central Catholic), LA Hayes (’23 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s), Jack Kronauge (’23 Lakota East), Nate Dudukovich (’23 Lakota West), Carson Browne (’23 Cincinnati Elder)

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