|Khalea Turner: Class of 2016|
Written by: Prospect-Central
In this day and age because of the use of technology, there are more young basketball players exposed to the world than ever before. This can be a "double-edged sword" if you will. On one side, basketball fans and scouts alike get to see some great young basketball players in the early stages of their development. For true basketball fans, this can be very interesting as well as educational. Just imagine if you could watch a 13 year old "Michael Jordan" develop his basketball skills throughout his entire adolescent years. I personally would find that very fascinating. By NO means am I saying that any of these ballers are the next MJ. I am just saying that even though they are still VERY young, and in the 8th grade, that shouldn't take away from the fact that they are still very skilled and some of them might even be names heard about for years to come.
While this may be considered one "positive" to come from the tremendous exposure that youth basketball players are starting to receive, there are many "negatives" that come from it as well. Without going into all of the negatives (there's allot IMO) I will just touch on my biggest concern.... The KIDS!!! While some of them may look like men and are physically developed beyond their years (all of the players on this list are well over 6 feet) they are still just children. Even though basketball is a big business now (especially the world of middle school basketball) parents and scouts alike have to realize that the most important thing is the well being of these children. Sometimes $$$ clouds the judgement of these adults and leads them to making irrational decisions as far as what to do with these talented young kids. I am not here to debate all the positives and negatives that come from the exposure of young basketball players however. That shall be a topic for another day.
I am a fan of the game of basketball, first and foremost. As a passionate fan and a evaluator of young talent, I just wanted to bring some positive attention to the casual basketball viewer about ten players I feel have a chance to possibly do some big things in the game of basketball. Since it is still so early in the basketball careers of these players, please do not put too much stock into this list, rather just take a mental note of some names to possibly keep in mind for the future. These are by no means the only talented 8th grader's in the country. They are just ten players that have the size and skill that warranted this article. I am not proclaiming these players the "next" anything. All I ask of you is to take this for what it's worth...some talented 8th grade basketball players in the high school graduating class of 2016. * Names are in NO specific order and some videos are outdated and do not do these players justice as their games and bodies are rapidly developing.
KHALEA TURNER pf/c / 6'9'' 230 / Marrero, LA
If you were ever skeptical as to whether 8th grade basketball players deserve the recognition they get or not, Khalea Turner may change your mind. What can I say about this 6'9'' 230lb fourteen year old that could possibly sway your opinion on the subject??? How about the fact that he is a 6'9'' 230lb fourteen year old...lol. All kidding aside, Khalea Turner is much more than just a physical specimen. He possess a basketball skill set that someone his size and age shouldn't have. If you watch some of his game film on my YouTube channel, you can see how well he moves despite being so large at such a young age. While his footwork and handles are good enough to where he is able to play on the perimeter quite efficiently, he does most of his damage from the elbow and closer. Khalea also has a very nice back to the basket game to go along with his excellent athleticism (YES...he can dunk very easily). He seems more than capable of playing against older competition, but as of right now he can only play against the competition that's in front of him. Since that's the case, Khalea is a dominating force in the world of middle school basketball. He recently led his AAU team LA Select to a 13U AAU National Championship back in July and was named M.V.P of the tournament. He averaged a double double throughout the tournament and was an unstoppable force down low. It's obvious that Khalea already has the size to be a great player, but he also seems to have a solid work ethic as well. His athleticism and basketball skills are also very good and should only get better with time. If he is able to stay focused and avoid the pitfalls that life will undoubtedly bring him, he has a chance to be one of those players that you remember the first time you ever saw them play.
HARRY GILES III sf / 6'6'' 180 / Flat Rock, NC
Harry Giles III is considered by many to be one of the more intriguing prospects from the class of 2016. Already standing nearly 6'6'' and clearly still growing ( judging by his frame ) Harry is a player that appears to be oozing with potential. I am not alone in this assumption, as he was recently named the "most promising player" from the prestigious Five Star Basketball Camp. He is young, long and athletic...a recruiters dream. Add this to his rapidly developing skill set and there is no wonder why he is considered by coaches and scouts alike, to be one of the top five 8th grader's in the country. Back in March, he led his AAU team...Team Felton ( Yes...named after NBA player Raymond Felton ) to a 13U AAU championship victory at the Basketball Spotlight Atlantic City Showcase. This is an annual tournament that features the best middle school players from up and down the east coast. He led all scores in that game with 24 points (18 in second half), while also displaying a dominating presence on the defensive side of the ball. He seemed to block every shot in his vicinity. Even though he is obviously taller than most of his competition, he really has very nice timing when it comes to blocking shots and can be a lock down defender at times. He also ran the floor extremely well, showed some decent handles and displayed some nice post moves. When the game was close in the 4th quarter, he did not shy away from the moment...on the contrary...he demanded the ball!!! You love to see that competitive spirit from anyone, regardless of age. After all of the spring & summer's Basketball Spotlight AAU tournaments were concluded (there were allot) Harry took home the award for "Most Dominant Force". Pretty impressive feat considering all of the stiff competition he faced. Even though Harry Giles III is only thirteen years old and in the 8th grade, his potential as a wing player is down right scary. It will be very interesting to watch this young prospect develop over the years because he has a chance to be a very good player.
While the state of Colorado has produced some nice basketball players over the years, it is not known for producing many skilled "Big-Men". At 13 years old and already standing 6'8''...Deron Davis might change all that. Even though Davis is relatively unknown by people outside of Colorado, he recently had a stellar performance at Mike Anderson's Elite Basketball Camp in Arkansas. This is an "invitation" only camp that features some of the young up and coming talent from the southern mid-west region. Deron was easily the youngest player at the camp by over 2 years, but this is nothing new to 8th grader. He has been playing up two grades since he was six years old...I guess he was tired of hearing "Why don't you pick on someone your own size"...lol. Deron currently attends Smiley Middle School in Denver and competes on the AAU circuit with the Colorado Hawks. George Williams...Deron's AAU coach has nothing but outstanding things to say about the talented 13 year old. “They call him the Big Ticket back in Denver,” Williams said “Every time he shows up to play the gym is packed.” Though Davis plays inside, Williams says he has very nice skills for his age “For a big man, he handles the ball well for his size. A lot of tall kids you think they're uncoordinated and get up and down the floor pretty slow. He's coordinated and has always played with older players. That kind of helps speed up his progress. He shoots the ball well from the outside. He can shoot the three and a lot of little guys kind of play off of him and he will knock the jumper down. His game probably resembles Kevin Garnett more so of the NBA players.” Deron appears to have a great work ethic and always shows an excellent demeanor despite the hardships he has endured. Deron's father passed away 3 years ago and he lives in one of the tougher neighborhoods in Denver. Basketball keeps him off the streets and that's a good thing, unless of course you are his opponent. I don't know if Deron Davis can fulfill his enormous amount of potential or not, but I truly hope this young man can use basketball as a platform for a happy and productive life.
ADRIAN MOORE sg / 6'3'' 170 / Conway, AR
Well...it appears that 13 year old Adrian Moore is officially on the radar of at least one big time college basketball program...Baylor University. A year ago, Coach Drew and the Baylor staff started sending Adrian recruiting letters. This was during his 7th grade year(SMH). Apparently the Baylor coaching staff were thoroughly impressed when they saw Moore play at the AAU National's a few years ago. During that tournament, Adrian was clearly the best athlete on the floor and was throwing down jams as a 6th grader!!! Adrian is more than an elite athlete however. This southpaw has shown some nice play making ability as well. His superb ball handling, excellent court vision and proficient mid-range jumper has made him a very tough player to guard for anyone his age. So tough in fact, he helped lead his AAU team LA Select to a 13U AAU National Championship back in July. If the name of that team sounds familiar, it should. Khalea Turner, the first player mentioned on this list, is also part of that stellar squad. There is also a player by the name of Malik Crowfield, a 6'3'' talented wing out of St. John, Louisiana who is on the team and definitely a player to keep an eye on for the future. Together these three are a dominating trio and have been dubbed the middle school version of "The Big 3" (by me). The only difference is, they appear to deliver in the 4th quarter...lol. I look forward to following Adrian Moore's development as a basketball player. His athleticism is well ahead of the curve and he has a solid work ethic which is beginning to pay dividends with his all around skills. It should be very interesting to see how the future of this talented young 8th grader unfolds.
RAEKWON LONG c / 6'10'' 240 / Davidson, NC
When you are a 6'10'' 240lb thirteen year old and there is an article about some up and coming 8th grade basketball players, you better believe there will be a mention of your name. The name to mention...Raekwon Long!!! Can I get a Wu-Tang Wu-Tang...lol. Being such a gigantic 13 year old, there is no question that Raekwon Long is "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx!!!" When I first heard about this enormous teenager I was naturally very intrigued. I mean...how often is it that you hear about a 6'10'' 240lb eighth grader??? I am guessing not very often. Raekwon is far from done growing also. Doctors have said he has the potential to reach 7'5'' or 7'6''...YIKES!!! Since an adolescent "Big Man's" body is usually growing at a faster rate than that of an average developing player's body, they usually take a little longer to hone their basketball skills. Because of this, you have to mainly concentrate on how well they move and not so much on their overall skill set. When I watched Raekwon play ball for the first time, I was expecting to see a slow, awkward giant. What I saw instead was a strong, nimble "Big Man". Despite his enormous frame, Raekwon seems to run the floor pretty well and his body appears to be in good basketball shape. He shows active hands and feet on both sides of the ball and seems to have a nice, soft touch around the basket. Raekwon currently attends Davidson Day Middle School in Davidson, NC and he plays his AAU ball for CC1st. He clearly has raw offensive skills right now, but has shown steady improvement throughout the year. No matter what he does offensively however, he is always a defensive force in nearly every game he plays in. While Raekwon still has a very "Long" (no pun intended) way to go as far as his basketball skill set is concerned...you can't teach height...and there's no question that Raekwon Long has all the size in the world to potentially become a serious basketball prospect for the next level.
When describing Joshua Langford's game, you can basically sum it up in one word....WOW!!! Langford is an extremely long, athletic shooting guard, who still looks to be growing since he is only 13 years old with a wiry frame. He is very explosive off the dribble and has shown the ability to be a consistent finisher at the rim. He is rated as the #1 prospect in the class of 2016 from the state of Alabama and if you watch his game, it's easy to see why. His talents have been on display throughout the spring and summer as he has been putting up some fabulous performances at various basketball camps and tournaments across the country. Some of the camps and tournaments include; The Junior Elite Showcase, The Sixth Annual Wallace Prather Memorial Classic and The John Lucas International Combine. His game was on point in all three of these exhibitions. Langford displayed a combination of basketball attributes that you love to see from young prospects. Besides his elite athleticism, Joshua showed he is more than capable of creating easy offensive opportunities for himself or his teammates because of his excellent court vision and tight ball handling abilities. He also displayed a consistent mid-range jumper of the bounce and the catch and shoot. Maybe his most impressive feat however was when he was paired up against one of the best players in the class of 2015...Kejuan Johnson. Kejuan is a monster at 6'6'' 220 and was recently featured in my article,"Class of 2015: 10 Fresh Faces". Langford and Kejuan played against each other at the prestigious John Lucas International Combine back in May. Langford really showed his competitive spirit when faced with the daunting task of guarding the older, stronger Johnson. He did not shy away from the challenge for one second and more than held his own against the talented ninth grader. By all indications, it appears Joshua Langford is another skilled young 8th grader on the verge of becoming a household name in the world of high school basketball.
Even though Thon Maker doesn't live in the United States, this list would be a sham if he wasn't included. How could I possibly leave a 6'11'' eighth grader with skills off this squad??? Exactly....I can't!!! When you watch Thon Maker play basketball, it's hard not to get excited over the amount of potential that is displayed every time he touches the ball. I will not even begin to speculate what this 6'11'' fourteen year old's game will look like by the time he is ready to enter the collegiate ranks...but...does a Manute Bol / Kevin Garnett hybrid sound reasonable???...lol. Even though Thon resides in Earlwood, Australia...he is actually a native of Sudan, so he and Manute Bol share the same ethnicity at least. Thon recently became a hot topic among coaches and scouts back in May, when he was one of only a hundred players from three countries and twenty-six states to be invited to the prestigious John Lucas International Combine. That alone is an accomplishment, but Thon did not settle for just being "invited" to play with some of the best 8th and 9th graders in the world. He wanted to make a name for himself, and that's exactly what he did. After the combine concluded, Thon Maker was considered the best future prospect out of everyone that participated...at least that was the opinion from coaches and staff that attended the camp. Besides his incredible physical attributes, what impressed coaches the most about this fourteen year old was his excellent ball handling abilities, soft touch around the rim, nice stroke and overall high energy level he displayed throughout the entire camp. He showed everyone in attendance that he was not just another tall kid; he was in fact a very skilled basketball player. Thon also showed a great demeanor throughout the camp. Something that will be duly noted by all coaches and scouts in attendance. Thon has also been putting up some nice statistics in Australia as well. He recently just finished playing in an Australian basketball league where despite playing 1 year up in competition, he was second in the league in rebounds with 11.5 rpg and averaged a respectable 9.1 ppg on 50 % shooting from the field. He also averaged an impressive 3 blocks per game. What ever the future holds for Thon Maker...I am not completely certain, but I will not be surprised if he winds up getting paid to play the game of basketball for a living one day.
ERON GORDON pg/sg / 6'2'' 175 / Indianapolis, IN
When you watch Eron Gordon play basketball, it's hard not to think about the New Orleans Hornets shooting guard and emerging NBA star Eric Gordon. Maybe it has to do with the fact the two are brothers!!! I am familiar with the expression "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree"...but...I don't think I have ever heard the expression "The apple doesn't fall far from the apple"...lol...although it does make sense obviously. The two brothers share more than a last name, striking resemblance and similar build however. Eron Gordon has some serious "swagger" to his game and at times can almost emulate his older brother Eric. Obviously Eron still has a long way to go before he can draw any fair comparisons to his brother, but as an athletic 6'2'' eighth grader with an advanced skill set and solid frame, it appears he is headed in the right direction. Eron Gordon plays for the talented Indy Hoosiers AAU team and is very well known throughout the AAU circuit. Even though his team finished 4th at the 13U AAU National Championship back in July (Khalea Turner & his LA Select team won the tittle) Eron was still a 1st Team All-Tournament selection and one of the top scorer's throughout the event. He really does seem like one of those players that is "wired" to score. He shows an uncanny ability to create buckets for himself or his teammates. While the mechanics and release on his jumper appear to be a bit unorthodox, there is no question he can fill it up in a heartbeat. Eron also has an excellent work ethic and does not appear to take anything for granted just because his brother plays in the NBA. By all indications, it seems the young Eron Gordon is ready to start making a name for himself.
EDRICE ADEBAYO sf/pf / 6'7'' 190 / Washington, NC
If you were every wondering what "basketball potential" really looks like, why don't you check out this 2 minute clip of 8th grader Edrice Adebayo!!! (HERE) How nice did that turn around jumper look at the two minute mark??? These games were held during the Under Armour North Carolina Pro-Am Camp and featured some pretty big names in high school basketball. Some notable players that attended the camp were Rodney Purvis (#6 player in class of 2012 by Rivals) as well as Josh Newkirk and Terry Henderson who are both highly sought after college recruits. This was the first time Edrice ever played against competition older than 15 and he not only held his own, he actually performed quite well. Adebayo showed that he is a long, athletic big man with a tremendous defensive presence and a rapidly developing skill set. He also showed some nice post moves and the ability to create his own offense. His game is obviously a work in progress, but it seems to be off to a good start. Besides the NC Pro-Am, Edrice also had a very nice outing at the Jr. All-American Camp last month. He really impressed allot of coaches and scouts that were in attendance by showing his fluid ability to move with a basketball despite his enormous size at such a young age. By all accounts, it appears that Adrice Adebayo is an incredibly talented young prospect whose basketball potential might have no ceiling.
Court is always in session...whenever this King is around!!! V.J. King is yet another talented 8th grader coming out of the state of North Carolina. Already standing a legitimate 6'5'', V.J. has some nice skills to back up his tremendous size. From following this 8th grader's game from various sources, it appears V.J. has terrific ball handling abilities, excellent athleticism and a nice mid-range game. His incredible length allows him to get his shot off against almost anyone he faces as well as helps him on the defensive side of the ball. Because of his length, V.J. is able to play the passing lanes very well and create some serious problems for his opponents. While V.J. may not be a regular on the AAU circuit like some of the previous mentioned names, that shouldn't take away from the fact that he is an incredibly talented basketball player. In June, he earned the "Future Prospect Award" at the well renown Five Star Basketball Camp that took place in Virginia. In July, he attended the Fab Frosh All-American Camp which features some of the best incoming high school freshmen from across the country. Did I just say high school freshmen??? That's right...V.J. King is only the second 8th grader ever to receive an invitation and play at the prestigious camp. The first was Justin Anderson, a University of Virginia commit and currently rated as one of the top 50 players in the class of 2012. Even though V.J. was the youngest player at the camp, you couldn't tell from watching him play. He showed some nice skills for an 8th grader and it landed him in the Top 20 Game. Despite his age, he was far from passive in that All-Star game, scoring a solid 10 points and doing it in a variety of ways. The high school ranks will have to wait a year before it sees the likes of V.J. King. Until then, the King will have to take his throne in the world of middle school basketball. * V.J. King is actually playing high school varsity basketball this year for United Faith Christian Academy...as an 8th grader!!!