The 2016 Under Armour NEXT Combine Series made DC it's first stop in a six city tour across the country, highlighting the top 40 8th graders (2020 class) in that particular region. The DC combine, brought talent from the DC area, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey and Canada. The talent on hand was eye opening as the players were put through detailed, intense drills, conditioning and games throughout the event in front of media,UA trainers and UA coaches. As deeply talented as this event was, there were a few who rose to the occasion and separated themselves from the pack, while emerging as players that could be program changers at the next level and beyond.
Cameron Byers - 6'6/240/Post/Baltimore, Maryland -
Beast on the block scoring, Byers was unstoppable when defended one on one. He used his size to get to his spot in the paint and finished at will displaying a soft touch beyond his years.
Che Evans Jr - 6'6/195/ Wing/ Baltimore, Maryland -
If there was a player you could point to and project high major college and professional basketball success in his future, it would've been Che Evans Jr. Simply put he was the best all around player at the combine in a deep field. He can score inside and out, good handle, solid passer, athletic, and an outstanding rim protector. If he stay's focused and continues to work, he will become a household name down the road.
Noah Farrakhan - 6'0/160/Point Guard/ Union, New Jersey -
Athletic all around point guard. Farrakhan is scary in transition and driving to the basket due to his athleticism and deadly handle, yet, showed the know how to run the team and play off the ball which speaks to a high level of understanding the game. He also accepts the challenge defensively using his length and quickness to give opposing guards fits. A unique blend of talent at such a young age.
Trey Hall - 6'7/190/Wing/ Glastonbury, Connecticut -
Versatile forward who can score at all three levels while also being able to be a force inside. Has all the tools to be a highly impactful stretch four as he continues to develops.
Keyshawn Johnson - 6'0/140/Point Guard/ Capitol Heights, Maryland -
Johnson stood out due to his on ball defense right away. He from the moment he stepped on the court took pride in defending the opposing point guard full court, which is rare for any level let alone as a youngster in 8th grade. However, he also proved he could make an impact offensively as well, finishing at the basket and knocking down mid range jumpers.
Justin Lewis - 6'7/200/ Post/ Baltimore, Maryland -
A versatile wing, a 3,4 blend. Lewis played efficient basketball, posting up smaller players inside while taking bigger defenders to the perimeter and breaking them down off the dribble. Lewis should easily be a double double machine at the next level and beyond.
Kekoa McArdle - 6'8/220/ Center/ Pittsfield, Massachusetts -
McArdle would make Tim Duncan proud with his fundamentally sound post game. He was simply a technician on the block, up & under's, right hook, left hook, bank shot, shot over both shoulders on both blocks, he went to work throughout the combine. To top it off he's also a good rebounder and shot blocker. Definitely a player to watch grow in the coming years.
Amir Spears - 6'1/165/ Combo Guard/ Hartford, Connecticut -
It was close between Spears and Johnson, yet, Spears got the nod as the best defensive guard at the combine. He has the motor, intensity, and instincts to be an exceptional defender throughout his development as a player. reminded me of Avery Bradley from the Boston Celtics a lot in watching him play. A couple of guards were scared to dribble when he defended them.
Abilash Surendran - 6'6/ 180/ Big/ Ontario, Canada -
A athletic blue collar big with length that knows how to use it. Surendran is a work horse who crashes the boards relentlessly and finishes any and everything near the basket. He was the best offensive rebounder at the combine by far.
Elijah Taylor - 6'8/210/Center/ Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -
The best defensive big at the combine and it wasn't close. Taylor is a coaches dream due to him being a defensive minded big who can literally guard all five positions, play above the rim, rebound ferociously and sticks to his role. Reminded me of Serge Ibaka with seeing everything he could bring to the floor.
Trevon Thomas - 5'9/145/ Point Guard/ Ontario, Canada -
Prototypical point guard. Looks to make the players around him better first, yet, can score with the best of them. Displayed a consistent jumper with range and is deadly in the pick & roll. Thomas also is a good on ball defender, obviously he isn't the biggest and strongest so he uses his quickness to beat the offensive player to the spot which resulted in countless charges drawn and steals.
Jordan Toles - 6'2/180/ Combo Guard/ Baltimore, Maryland -
Hands down the best athlete at the combine. His athleticism had us in the media and the UA trainers shaking our head. While Toles is blessed with elite athleticism, he can also play basketball and isn't afraid of any challenge. In the first game against Team Passion and facing a 15 point second half deficit, Toles took over late doing a little bit of everything which included scoring the game winning lay-up, stuffing the stat sheet with 13 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assist and 2 steals on 50% shooting. Has all the tools to be among the best in the 2020 class moving forward.
John Vrdoljak - 6'9/ 165/Center/ Ontario,Canada -
Skilled post that despite still growing into his already 6'9 frame, showed good athleticism and mobility.