We attended the NEO Youth Elite event hosted by Sonny Johnson at Garfield Heights High School. This event was limited to players in the 3rd through 8th grades in Northeastern Ohio. This was a very well-run event, especially considering it was the inaugural event. There were well over 260 kids present so it was hard to evaluate everyone. However, below are some players who clearly stood out to us:
Class of 2019
Andre Harris – Harris is a big, long guard who can do it all. Not only is his length great- he as a great body too. He has a very nice shot, can handle the ball, defend and get to the hoop. In our opinion, Harris was the top-prospect in terms of having the potential to play at a high level in college.
Brandon Rush – Rush is extremely quick and is an excellent lead guard. His shot has improved since the last time we saw him play. If he stays at Warrensville and plays for Coach Swift, he will certainly continue to develop.
Darius Oliver – A very skilled big man. Has good height and great size, as well as very good footwork. Has the potential to be a very good high school player.
Taveon-Pierre Louis – Another long wing player who seems to have a ton of potential.
Kaleb Martin – A very skilled and quick point guard. Martin, along with Rush were the best point guards in our view.
Class of 2020
Grant Huffman – It’s hard to talk about 2020 without mentioning Huffman. He is simply a great basketball player on both ends of the court. He moves effortlessly and can do whatever he wants on offense. If he keeps growing, as it appears from looking at him, he has the potential to play high-level college basketball. Huffman comes from a great basketball pedigree, as his father is in the hall of fame at John Carroll University and was an outstanding player in both high school and college.
Devontae Blanton – The younger brother of Michigan State star Delvon Roe, Blanton continues to get longer and thinner. Blanton is another young player who we believe has the potential to play at a high level in college if he continues to work hard and grow. He has improved in every aspect of his game, and seems to have unlimited potential.
Andy Barba – Barba is another young player who is long, and looks like he will continue to grow. His older brother is 6’6″ Columbia recruit Peter Barba, so we have reason to believe the younger Barba will continue to grow. His ball handling is improving, and so is his athleticism. He is evolving from a spot up shooter to a wing with the ability to create off the dribble.
Kenny McElrath – McElrath is in a word – TOUGH – He battled against Blanton in the All-Star game and is a very strong, athletic forward. McElrath seems to be transitioning into a wing, and this should serve him well as he moves towards high school. He is a force on the boards, on defense and in the paint.
Class of 2021
Mechie Johnson – Johnson was clearly the best all-around player in his class at this event. He is an extremely high-IQ and skilled player. He can do it all on offense. He comes from a basketball family and lives in the gym, so expect Johnson to continue to dominate.
Noah Peoples – Peoples is another highly skilled player and was able to have his way with his defenders at this event. He moves like a guard, which is what makes him so un-guardable at his position
Ramelle Arnold – Arnold stood out due to his size and physicality. He is big and strong, and this provides him with the opportunity to dominate at this level.
Sirr Huges – Hughes continues to improve and has the potential to be a great lead guard.
Class of 2022
Sonny Johnson – Like his younger cousin, Johnson was clearly the best player in his class. He is extremely skilled and seems to have no weakness. He is fearless and has a “killers” mentality on offense. The son of Garfield Heights Head Coach Sonny Johnson, and another gym rat who is certain to show continued improvement.
Josiah Harris – A very skilled post player. It’s difficult to evaluate players this young, but Harris clearly stood out at the best and most skilled taller kid at this event.