In efforts to start highlighting players not just for their status and their stats (which obviously sometimes determines who’s the best at that category), but also to try take note of players who maybe don’t always get attention because they don’t fill up the stat sheet, but still make an impact to the game. I hope to highlight players who may not always get the recognition, however at the end of the day you still have to standout among the rest. When it comes to the BASKETBALL world, I believe everyone is treated fair, but not everyone is treated equal.
The “6 Man Rotation” series will feature the best players I saw over the weekend in these 6 categories: Best Shot Maker; Best Defender; Best Passer; Highest Motor; Best Feel/IQ; and “Mr. Play the Right Way”
Best Shot Maker: DJ Richards, 2021 Cy Creek HS
From what I saw this weekend, 6’5 DJ Richards had something on his mind. Huge chip on his shoulder, and plays with insane confidence. His presence was felt all weekend. DJ did a very good job of creating space to get to his shot. Once 1 shot goes in, the rest are probably going to drop. DJ plays with a good flow, and can be deceptive off the bounce to get to his shot or will give a hesitation to keep you off balanced and go by… and once he gets to his patented stepback you can just go ahead and count it. Coming off a hot summer, he wants to continue to redefine the narrative that he’s NOT just a spot-up shooter!
Best Defender: Kemo Millender, 2022 Clear Brook HS
Probably sound like a broken record talking about 6’0 Kemo Millender. But you literally cannot deny his defensive impact. We know him for his pressure, but what I noticed this weekend was his defensive IQ. On one defensive possession, I watched go from on-ball, to help-side, sprinted over to help, rotated back to his man on time with the catch, stunted at the next pass, back to help, back to his man. I think you get it. It was impressive. Point guards set the tone, and Kemo never takes a night off and that’s why his team follows his lead with energy. They went 3-0 on the weekend for a reason.
Best Passer: Jaland Lowe, 2023 Kinkaid HS
Granted, the Kinkaid squad may have a had a tough weekend. We know they have a bright spot in 6’1 Jaland Lowe. Outside looking in it may have been tough to watch, BUT I found real amazement in how Jaland was able to handle double/triple teams and find his teammates. They may not have always finished or completed the play, but I watched Lowe make read after read after read. He would blow by his defender, then often times make the grossly underused skip/diagonal pass. Countless paint touches, and never once lost confidence in his teammates and setting them up with a perfect opportunity to score it. Vision and feel is superb.
Highest Motor: Jaleen Goodman, 2022 Summer Creek HS
This might be the best I’ve really seen 5’10 Jaleen Goodman play. For me it was more so how locked in to the game plan he was, especially defensively. When Coach Coleman is in the building and has a hold of his guys they are always locked in, he doesn’t let them off the hook. Goodman was his usual electric uptempo self, but without any the side noise. He always pushes the pace and puts pressure on the defense, gets in the paint relentlessly; and after a score he would be right there picking up full court or denying the inbound. When the ball settled in the halfcourt he was still trying to cause havoc by pressuring the ball looking for steals. I saw him getting deflections, diving on the floor for loose balls, playing physical getting “and-1s.” You don’t have to worry about him offensively, but if he stays playing that hard and that locked in he’s going to have a great season for Summer Creek.
Best Feel/IQ: Gaston Elie, 2021 Spring Memorial HS
I think we are seeing 6’2 Gaston Elie hit his stride right now. He’s been stacking up several elite performances on top each other. He was REALLY good in the OTR Exposure ’21 Experience. And he followed it right back up in the shootout even with a 28pt outing in the first game of the shootout. He never makes a mistake, misses a read, he never looks rushed. Plays at his pace. His pick and roll decision making is A1. Whatever the situation is he always seem to make the right play in the moment. I envision that he will only continue to get better.
“Mr. Play the Right Way”: Rhett Evans, 2021 Cinco Ranch HS
Most may not be familiar, but as we sat on the baseline and watched 6’3 Rhett Evans we became impressed play after play. Playing the right way is not always just making the right pass – it’s sprinting the floor in transition, moving without the ball, helpside defense, committing to rebounding, pace, shot selection, communication. All of the above Evans did this weekend. He played with flow, took the shot that was given to him, rebounded extremely well, utilized his size and speed to cut backdoor and keep the defense guessing. He has the look.. it will be interesting to see how this season pans out for him, because if he always plays like what we saw this weekend he could garner a little more respect and attention.