Big Shots Basketball was on hand to cover the first two sessions of the Commonwealth Basketball Group (CBG) Fall Series held at the U-Turn Sports Academy in Richmond VA. Here are some of the events top performers broken down by classification. Lets take a look at some of the events top juniors!
Curtis Blair III 6’5 2023 Steward School
Curtis is a skilled and athletic guard who can flat out shoot it! He is a versatile shot maker with repeatable mechanics, a disciplined stroke. He attacks the basket with a vengeance and is an explosive leaper. Does a great job driving hard and with fluidity pulling up into the jumper with such abruptness defenders are often caught back tracking unable to contest. Curtis plays on balance, is shifty attacking space and demonstrates excellent footwork and touch around the rim. He can back you down and beat you with the turnaround jumper and he can just go over the top of most defenders with vicious slams. The son of veteran NBA referee and former University of Richmond star Curtis Blair, Jr Curtis’ physical profile is impressive. Good length at 6’5 190 with broad shoulders and a size 16 shoe, he still may have more vertical growth in his strong and athletic frame. He has a great feel and is silky smooth in his execution. Curtis holds offers from Virginia Tech, VCU, Richmond, Liberty, and Florida.
Will Bonde 6’5 2023 Miller School
I’ve watched Will for just over two years from his sophomore season at (Virginia Beach) Cox HS and I’m impressed with his physical development in addition to the versatility he has added to his game. His once lanky frame now filling out nicely and his broad shoulders bulking up he has always been a highly regarded spot up shooter but the advances in his development are very impressive. Will has textbook shot mechanics from his footwork into a high fluid release. He has a quick release and has become very efficient in a variety of shooting situations be it on spot ups, off the dribble, his masterful use of screens, and his ability to put it on the floor and score off dribble pull-ups and endure contact to finish around the rim. He protects the basketball nicely and has the ability to hang in the air, change his shot and finish. Will has also become very good at creating for others and has the toughness and willingness to contribute on the glass as well. Will carry’s a 3.5 GPA.
Timayahs Bracey 5’10 2023 Hargrave Military Academy
Timayahs can flat out fill it up with range that extends to the concession stands! He can erupt and go on scoring binges that can turn a game around in a hurry hitting both contested and ridiculously long jumpers well beyond the arc. He prefers to shoot off the hop and generates a lot of uplift and energy right up through his high release. He has become very good over the last two seasons becoming more of a playmaker capitalizing on his quick handle and quickness off the bounce. He can score over length with runners showing a deft touch and he has become very good at creating for teammates as well. Timayahs has a 3.4 GPA.
Aaron Brown 6’2 2023 Carmel School
Aaron wasn’t one of the bigger names coming into the event but he sure took advantage of the opportunity to put his name on the map. He has a strong, compact frame and good speed in the open floor. He uses quick rips and a solid burst attacking seams and does a great job finding cutters and finishing around the rim. He shot it well off the dribble. Likes to get downhill and really attacks the rim with authority. Explosive leaper, fearless! I liked his energy and awareness defensively, he talks, guards all perimeter positions very well and also doesn’t mind battling for rebounds or getting on the floor for lose balls. He did what he had to do to make people take note not only of his energy but of his talent and athleticism. Expect to see his name pop up more often as a player to watch going forward.
Anthony “AJ” Clark 6’3 2023 Menchville
Anthony’s athleticism and explosive leaping ability is off the page! He can hit the jumper at a good rate from all levels and is very fluid and efficient pulling up off the dribble but he’s at his most dangerous attacking off the dribble where he uses his solid handle, a quick blow by burst and quickness and fearlessness attacking the rim. He demonstrates great balance and finishing footwork to score around and over length and he won’t hesitate to rise up and throw it down on a defender at the rim. He has a nice touch to finish even from difficult angles on non dunk finishes and displays great instincts as a scorer. He is a high motor defender whose length and athleticism allows him to guard multiple positions effectively and also present a rebounding presence. Anthony is a high academic student athlete sporting a 4.0 GPA. He has interest from William and Mary, Mount St. Mary, Western Carolina and Longwood.
Isaiah Coleman 6’5 2023 Capital Christian
My first look at the athletically gifted and explosive four star Junior forward and its easy to see why he is receiving major D1 offers! He is a threat from all levels but is at his best putting it on the floor and creating off the bounce. Isaiah takes advantage of his quickness and length on the drive and really eats up a lot of real estate in a hurry as he glides through the air with ease for emphatic dunks. Isaiah has plenty of shiftiness as he slices through traffic and an assortment of finishing moves and solid footwork around the rim. Coach Vito Buckle who coaches one of the teams at National Christian Academy tells me he believes Isaiah has limitless potential and could be a blue blood recruit! He spoke highly of Isaiah’s obvious skill and athleticism saying he’s still getting better in so many ways. “Isaiah can take over a game. He’s very respectful and coachable. Will run through a wall If you ask him.” Glowing words speaking to Isaiah’s work ethic and character. Coleman started his high school career at Chancellor High School in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Now with a National schedule and a bigger stage at National Christian he’s seeing a quick spike in recruiting. He currently holds offers from Georgetown, Ohio State, Louisville, Marquette, Seton Hall, and Pittsburgh among others.
Leland Coleman 6’6 2023 Trinity Episcopal
Leland continues to demonstrate solid playmaking skills to compliment his ability to score from anywhere on the floor. He uses his length nicely attacking space showing plenty of creativity as a finisher. He hits the jumper at a good rate from all levels and his pull-up jumper is impressive and efficient. I’m seeing more and more his ability to see the floor and create for teammates as well as for himself. The brother of former Duke forward and current Texas A&M forward Henry Coleman, Leland is continuing the tradition of high level athletes in the family. His Dad Hank played college football for the legendary Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech and his Mom Cynthia was a record breaking track star in high school before attending college at both UVA and the University of Richmond. Leland experienced a 9” growth spurt over the last year and his doctor says he isn't finished in his vertical growth. We’re already seeing his body filling out nicely and with that a more assertive style of play attacking the rim. A solid rebounder he can grab a rebound high off the glass and go coast to coast with great quickness and lead the break with competency in his decision making and proficiency in creating for himself and for teammates. Leland is a high academic student athlete currently holding offers from Robert Morris and Radford.
Davin Cosby, Jr 6’4 2023 Benedictine
Davin really blew up last summer in terms of his recruitment. A long and explosive guard he employs his length and quickness effectively attacking the rim. He can maneuver his way through traffic with plenty of shiftiness and attacks with aggression and touch. A high flyer with explosive leaping ability and length! As dazzling as he can be off the dribble he is probably most highly regarded for his perimeter shot making skills and range. He makes great cuts and gets to his spots. Has excellent footwork and a quick release. He has great anticipation in passing lanes and his length and athleticism allows him to guard multiple positions effectively. Davin holds offers from Howard, Robert Morris, Radford, Canisius, Fairfield, UNCG and NJIT. Since he reclassed interest has really picked up and he’s hearing from the likes of ODU, Richmond, JMU and Elon.
Daryl “DJ” Holloway Jr 6’0 2023 Hayfield
Daryl is a dunkfest waiting to break out whether jumping in passing lanes showing excellent anticipation skills and quickness off the ball to collect steals and turn them into quick breakaway slams or playing off hesitations and using a blow by burst and long strides to rock the rim with vicious slams. Dunking ain't all he does although he does have a flair for the spectacular and will try to dunk at every opportunity. Daryl shows a great touch on floaters and runners, protects the basketball nicely in traffic and can contort his body and score off the glass. He is a threat on catch and shoot jumpers from all levels, moves off the ball nicely to get open and he can drop the occasional dime to a cutting teammate. Daryl is a high motor and solid defender both off the ball, getting on the glass and defending the dribble in space. A game changer on both ends! He carries a 3.6 GPA and after a couple strong performances at CBG live watch for his recruitment to pick up!
Greg Jones 6’6 2023 Hayfield
Greg is a certain mid major talent who remains a bit under the radar despite having led Hayfied HS to the Group 6A state semifinals a year ago. A skilled wing with size and elite level athleticism showed not only his scoring prowess but his ability to find cutters and distribute the ball. Greg finished one game with 20 points and 6 assists. He has the ability to score with the jumper at all levels and off the bounce with dribble pull-ups and with touch at the rim. A lob target he can also beat you with jumpers and is an excellent passer on the move. Greg picked up his first of what is sure to be many offers in May courtesy of Radford.
Yuri Manns 6’2 2023 LC Bird
Yuri is one of VA’s best guards playing both the point guard and the shooting guard position and excelling at each. He has a solid handle and has become more explosive off the bounce as he continues to add bulk to his lengthy frame highlighted by a long wingspan and long legs. A threat to hit the jumper from anywhere he demonstrates versatility as a shot maker and employs his length and a nice burst attacking defenses. Very good hitting the dribble pull-up! Impeccable feel. Uses his long wingspan and technique effectively as a solid on ball defender. Yuri is the son of LC Bird Head Coach Troy Manns who also enjoyed success at the guard position playing his college basketball at George Mason and then Virginia Tech where he helped lead the Hokies to the 1995 NIT title. Yuri currently holds offers from NC A&T, Radford.
Tyler Mason 6’10 2023 John Marshall
We first watched Tyler back in 2020 while with Bishop O’Connell when the then 14 year old at 6’9 210 pounds and a 7’ wingspan provided plenty of intrigue. He really looks good now both facing up and hitting 15 footers at an good rate and showing range out beyond the arc. A smooth shooting lefty he demonstrates sound mechanics, he is putting it on the floor and creating his shot off the bounce and he can post you and score with un-blockable jump hooks and turnaround jumpers. He is amazingly agile, gets off his feet quickly and is a very good repeat jumper. Tyler is a strong rebounding presence on both ends of the floor as he not only gets off the floor quickly and rebounds the ball at its highest point but he has very good mobility and a nose for the basketball. Tyler is a very good shot blocker. His mobility allows him to react quickly defensively on drives to the rim and he’s very good on second movement be it help and recover, contest and recover to rebounding posture. Tyler boats a 3.4 GPA and carries offers from Xavier, DePaul, Seton Hall, Wichita St and Radford.
Rueben McEachern 5’11 2023 Carmel School
With cat like quickness and plenty of shiftiness Rueben got the rim with good regulatory all afternoon long. He has a quick handle and really accelerates nicely. He changes speeds effectively and with his low center of gravity and powerful legs was able to stop and start and change directions with abruptness and great quickness upon acceleration. Solid floor general! He knows the game, leads by example but also talks and controls tempo. Another player who should see a bump coming out of this event in terms of his exposure.
Dennis Parker Jr 6’6 2023 John Marshall
We’ve been following Dennis since 2018 when the then 6’4 guard with a 6’7 wingspan was dominating AAU foes. He hit the ground running in his first varsity season as a freshman averaging just shy of 14 points per game on a loaded John Marshall team he helped lead the a VHSL Group 2 state title. Very skilled and fluid athlete who’s imposing frame continues to add bulk. He can score if from anywhere on the floor and has the ability to carry a team for long stretches. His advanced skill level even at such a young age can be largely attributed to his basketball and academic upbringing. His Dad, Dennis Parker, Jr was the program director and coach of a successful AAU basketball program in Richmond called the Runnin Rebels sand he played college football at Virginia Union where he was also an Academic All American. His Mother attended UNC, his older sister is a highly regarded volleyball player and his Godfather is former Parade and McDonalds All America Milton Bell who played his college basketball at Georgetown University before an 11 year pro career that took him to 20 countries! His Dad credits Bell for much of Dennis III‘s basketball development.
Luke Smith 6’9 2023 Collegiate School (VA)
Luke is one of the more versatile and more skilled players I watched during the two sessions. At 6’9 he can stretch the floor with a very good jumper and fluid mechanics and can also keep defenders on their heels with change of pace and all the physicality his 215 pound frame can produce as he bully’s many defenders off the bounce. His footwork is textbook! He can back you down or post you and has an assortment of scoring moves around the rim and a great touch. A high academic wing, Luke sports a 3.91 GPA and currently holds offers from UMASS-Lowell, Radford and Bryant. Another player with strong athletic roots! Luke’s brother Burke is playing his college basketball at Boise State. His Dad Scott Smith played his college basketball at William and Mary graduating in 1992 and his Mom, Heather starred on the William and Mary Volleyball team and graduated in 1995. His grandfather played at Louisville!
John St Germain 6’2 2023 St Anne’s Belfield
John combines physicality and plenty of shiftiness when attacking off the dribble. He changes speeds nicely, plays off hesitations effectively and generates a nice burst attacking space. Quick and crafty handle and demonstrates great poise and court awareness. John can knock down shots at all levels both in catch and shoot scenarios and off the bounce. Great vision and the ability to find cutters with excellent passing skills. Finishes through contact nicely and In fact is a punishing finisher with a powerful frame. Quick feet and a relentless motor allows him to impact the defensive end of the floor as well. NJIT, Bryant, Coastal Carolina, Georgetown and San Jose State have offered.
Steven Stinson 6’5 2023 John Marshall
Steven is a super athletic, high motor guard who can impact the game in many ways as a scorer, a distributor, and an opportunistic scorer pounding the offensive glass relentlessly for stickbacks and gathering in lose balls giving his team extra possessions. He makes winning plays! Steven likes to get downhill and uses his powerful, quick and rangy strides to launch an assault on the rim scoring with rim rocking slams or showing some creativity and touch and the ability to score from various angles. He has a strong upper body and uses that nicely on drives to the rim. Steven is most effective in the mid range although he is a threat from all levels and his superior athleticism and a solid handle allows him to get where he wants with the dribble. A versatile defender with a relentless motor he can guard the perimeter and also impact the paint with his strength, athleticism and grit. Steven holds offers from VCU, Virginia Tech, ETSU and Ohio, Hampton and Robert Morris.
Etienne Strothers 6’3 2023 Menchville
We first saw Etienne as a 7th grader and the excitement over his potential was already apparent. He handled the basketball surprisingly well and he was knocking down shots off the dribble and hitting long jumpers. His long limbs and wiry frame only added to the intrigue and of course he comes from a family and extended family of elite level athletes. Etienne’s frame is filling in nicely, perhaps at an earlier stage than his brother Allen who now plays for ETSU. He changes speeds nicely and demonstrates a blow by burst attacking space and really asserts himself at the rim with creativity and more upper body strength than you might expect. He really endures contact nicely and in fact uses contact to his advantage. He won’t hesitate to throw it down on you and man can he shoot it! One of the better shooters in Virginia regardless of class and he can knock it down from anywhere. He creates separation with step backs and again playing off contact. Etienne can run the offense or be your go to scorer. Has the ability to go get a bucket without benefit of screens or set plays and he makes it look so routine. He currently holds offers from ETSU, Hampton, Radford and Mount St Mary’s. Etienne plays for his Dad and former NBAer Lamont Strothers at Menchville HS. His athletic roots run strong! In addition to his Dad, a D3 All America Selection and Basketball Times DIII player of the year while at CNU. Lamont was chosen in the 2nd round of the 1991 NBA Draft by Golden State. He also spent time with Portland and Dallas in a brief NBA career that was part of a successful 12 year pro career in Turkey and in the Philippines mostly where he enjoyed great success and had a decorated career. Etienne’s older sister Synquis was a late bloomer to the game of basketball yet earned a scholarship offer to North Carolina Wesleyan after a solid high school career. Another sister, Adria scored over 1200 points in high school and earned a basketball scholarship to Hampton University and as mentioned earlier his brother Allen is now at ETSU. Quite the history of basketball success at the highest levels!
Follow Frank Bennett on Twitter @NorfolkKnights