The USA U18 training camp offered a great glimpse at some top future players coming through the American basketball pipeline. The event featured 32 players as the team was eventually cut to 12 who made the final roster.
Here’s a look at some of the top performers during the early part of training camp as the FIBA Americas U18 championships begin this Sunday in Canada.
Cole Anthony — The son of former UNLV/NBA point guard Greg Anthony, Cole is making a name for himself as one of the elite Class of 2019 national prospects. Also a lead guard, the 6-foot-2 Cole is an explosive scorer who also has a solid feel for getting others involved.
With an ability to score from all three levels, Anthony already has an advanced feel for the game, including a sound ability to read ball screens while changing paces. When he’s not getting himself going as a scorer, Anthony can make simple reads to find open shooters while occasionally making tougher reads and tighter passes. Sometimes, Anthony can get a little too shot-happy, but as he gets adjusted to playing with more talented teammates, he’s smart enough to make the necessary adjustments. Expect Anthony to be one of the leaders of the USA U18 team, especially if the ball is placed in his hands as the team’s primary ball handler.
Ayo Dosunmu — Illinois fans should be thrilled that the Chicago native is staying in the Land of Lincoln as the 6-foot-3 guard can play on and off the ball at a high level. Armed with an improved jumper that looks significantly better than his senior season at Morgan Park, Dosunmu is still gaining consistency with it. But with a legitimate follow through and a higher release, it looks far more workable than the streaky, low release he had before.
Also able to play some point, Dosunmu is tough in ball screen scenarios because he gets low to the ground for his size, finishing many plays with a nifty wraparound pass with his right hand. Defensively, Dosunmu also shows a Chicago toughness and grit in which he isn’t afraid to pick up defenders the length of the floor using his length and quickness. Overall, Dosunmu has improved a lot since the end of his senior season in March, as he’s clearly put in significant work on his game the last several months.
Tyrese Maxey — The Kentucky pledge is one of the top Class of 2019 national prospects as he could wind up playing in Lexington as early as next season. Whenever he winds up with the Wildcats, the talented 6-foot-2 guard lead guard is a dynamic scorer who is capable of taking over a game.
An effortless shooter with solid strength for his size, Maxey can take opponents off the dribble and finish creatively around the basket while also getting hot and burying contested jumpers. Improving as a point guard, Maxey has a lot of natural talent and charisma that gives him an ability to be a team leader at almost every level. Playing with a solid motor, Maxey could also become a very good defender at the next levels as he continues to mature on the defensive end.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl — A sturdy 6-foot-8 combo forward from the Kansas City area, Robinson-Earl was one of the most impressive frontcourt players during the early portion of training camp. Particularly effective on the glass thanks to his natural timing and solid first and secondary jumping ability, it seemed like Robinson-Earl was always in the mix on the glass while rebounding over larger players.
Although a bit on the smaller side defensively against bigger centers, Robinson-Earl makes up for it with a very strong upper body that can wall up and hold ground in the post. Offensively, Robinson-Earl is very effective on putbacks, and around the rim because of his leaping ability and he also has decent touch. Perimeter shooting is still an issue that Robinson-Earl will have to address, but he practices intelligent shot selection and he’s very effective from 15 feet and in.
Coby White — The North Carolina pledge was one of the stronger performers in training camp as he scored at a high level while also showing more playmaking capabilities with the ball in his hands. The 6-foot-4 White is a natural scorer who can put up points in a hurry as he knocked down three-pointers off the catch and off the dribble while also scoring off the bounce.
Very bouncy off of two feet, White isn’t particularly big but he’s still able to out-jump frontcourt players for offensive rebounds, flying in and making plays on putbacks that not many guards are capable of. Improving with the ball in his hands, White made basic reads off of ball screens, including some nifty one-handed passes to open corner shooters. It’ll be fascinating to see if White plays on the ball for the Tar Heels next season as he’ll be one of the team’s main scorers for FIBA Americas.
Five More to Watch
Armando Bacot — More of a traditional big man, the 6-foot-9 Bacot was one of the more effective players during training camp. Already sound at gaining deep post position to seal and score, Bacot stood out early in camp as one of the more physical big men who wasn’t afraid of contact.
Cleaning up the glass thanks in-part to this physicality, Bacot isn’t an elite athlete. But the two-footed leaper makes up for it by winning the ground game and keeping other big men shielded away from the ball. Offensively, Bacot also showed a workable mid-range jumper that could eventually expand to deeper ranges. Shooting a soft ball with good arc, Bacot’s shot isn’t picturesque, but he has some pick-and-pop capabilities going forward. Not much about Bacot’s game is flashy, but he’s one of the most productive bigs in the class.
DJ Carton — Although the Class of 2019 lead guard didn’t end up making the final roster for the U18 team, Carton had a strong showing in Colorado Springs, particularly for a player who isn’t on a major shoe-company circuit. The 6-foot-3 Carton hasn’t played a ton of high-level competition but he proved he belonged in the elite point guard discussion with his playmaking abilities and athleticism.
The lefty has a workable perimeter jumper and some moves to create his own shot while also displaying a surprising burst around the rim — punching numerous dunks off of one foot. Also a communicator who is effective on the defensive end, Carton is an intriguing late-blooming guard who might vault up national rankings after the summer.
Quentin Grimes — The future Kansas Jayhawk vaulted up national rankings after a strong spring on the all-star circuit as many now view him as a top-ten national prospect in the freshman class. The 6-foot-4 Grimes displayed a lot of strong abilities during training camp for the USA.
Although he needs to improve as a catch-and-shoot perimeter option, Grimes is at his best attacking with the ball in his hands. With gliding athleticism going towards the rim, Grimes is a quality finisher around the hoop as he’s able to make plays at the rim that few others in the class are capable of. Able to play on or off the ball, Grimes also has some versatility that should be on full display during his freshman season at Kansas.
Kamaka Hepa — The Texas commit showed tremendous ability on both ends of the floor in making the final roster. An offensive threat at 6-foot-8, Hepa can put the ball on the floor, knock down open jumpers and displays good passing ability for a big man.
Defensively, Hepa showed more than ever before as he was able to hedge screens, recover and also defend bigger post players with his added strength. A good communicator as a back-line defender, Hepa also made a solid impression as a help defender by knowing the places he needed to be when he sagged off his man. Hepa will be one of the more fascinating players to track at the U18 thanks to his vast array of skills. He should be a good fit in Shaka Smart’s system as well.
Mark Watts — A high-level scoring guard from the Class of 2019, this Michigan native will be counted on to provide microwave scoring and some perimeter pop for the U18 team.
Putting up points in bunches at times during camp, "Rocket" Watts is an effective perimeter shooter who can also make plays off the bounce. Even with a defender crowding him, the 6-foot-3 Watts has the confidence and scoring savvy to make defenders pay as he’s one of the toughest covers in the class. Capable of going for 40 points if he gets rolling, it’ll be interesting to see if Watts can develop more playmaking ability with the ball in his hands since he’s a bit on the smaller side for the top levels.