Next weekend (April 20-22), the Nike EYBL season officially gets underway. For those who are still relatively new to basketball recruiting, the EYBL is one of multiple AAU leagues run by the big sneaker brands. As you no doubt guessed, EYBL is Nike’s youth basketball league.
There’s also an Adidas circuit and an Under Armour circuit, and while Syracuse is recruiting players who compete in both (Quincy Guerrier, for example, recently switched to the Adidas circuit from EYBL), most of the 2019 (and beyond) targets for the Orange play in EYBL.
And next weekend, as it happens, the first leg of this year’s EYBL circuit just happens to be in Dallas. I live near Dallas. So, while I’ll miss the first two days of the event (my son’s birthday is on 4/20 and his party is 4/21), I plan on driving down to Dallas (Irving, technically) to check out as many Syracuse targets – and potential targets – as I can.
Here are a few of the players I’ll be trying to check out, broken down by their EYBL squads…
City Rocks: Joseph Girard III, Isaiah Stewart, Symir Torrence, Mika Adams-Woods, Andre Jackson
This is the most obvious team for me to check out, and fortunately they’ll be getting after it against another team on this list at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. I’m anxious to see Girard, to see just how great a shooter he really is, and this game will offer a pretty interesting matchup. Again, I’ll get to that later.
Isaiah Stewart is another player I’m obviously excited to see. The 2019 post player is quite possibly the best rebounder in the nation, and while many consider Duke to be the frontrunner for his services, Syracuse is his “hometown” team. Landing either Girard or Stewart could help with the other, as the two are pretty tight.
The City Rocks also feature Syracuse native Symir Torrence, a dynamic point guard prospect in the class of 2020 who, at 6-foot-3, offers size and athleticism. He doesn’t have a Syracuse offer but, as a borderline top 100 recruit (247 has him at 93 overall, while he’s 115 in their composite rankings) with length and the hometown factor, one could be coming.
Mika Adams-Woods is another player I’ll be watching, though the Syracuse native is another player who doesn’t have an offer from the Orange, and given the fact Syracuse already has Brycen Goodine locked up for the class of 2019, I’d be surprised if he gets one. Still, I’ve heard a lot about Adams-Woods for awhile, so I’m excited to see him in person.
Finally, one of the players I’m most excited to check out at the event is Andre Jackson, the 6-foot-7 class of 2020 prospect from Albany Academy. He’s a big-time prospect who already holds an offer from Syracuse, and many seem to think it’s a foregone conclusion that he’ll wind up playing for the Orange.
NY Rens: Kofi Cockburn, Jalen Lecque, Tyler Bertram
First things first: I don’t expect to see any of these three players wind up in orange. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to see them, though, and since they’re playing City Rocks on the day I’ll be at the event, it works out nicely. While Lecque is one of the most exciting players in the nation, regardless of class, and one of the elite guards in 2019, it’s Bertram I’m most anxious to see.
That’s because this game will feature both Bertram and Girard, making it a meeting of perhaps the two best shooters in the class of 2019. If both players are feeling it, that could make this one hell of an exciting game (which it likely will be anyway, but it’s always a lot of fun when two players are just going back and forth drilling threes).
Team Final: Khalif Battle, John Bol Ajak
Depending on how early I want to get to the facility on Sunday, I might be able to check out Team Final, featuring a couple Syracuse targets in Khalif Battle and John Bol Ajak. You may be familiar with Khalif’s older brother, Tyus. Khalif is a 6-foot-4 guard in the class of 2019 who, right now, I’m not sure has a fit in Syracuse’s recruiting class given Brycen Goodine is already committed and is a similar player, and the Orange also want to add Girard.
Still, he’s a really good player who I’m excited to see play in person, because if Girard goes elsewhere, Battle may well be the next big priority at guard for the Orange. John Bol Ajak is an interesting prospect who, at 6-foot-10 and 205 pounds, is pretty much the prototype post player for the Orange.
Now, here’s the rub: Team Final plays at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, and I live about an hour (and change) away from the facility. So the odds of me being there in time for this game are pretty slim. If I can catch the end, though, I’ll be watching both of these players.
BABC: Brycen Goodine
I mean, I couldn’t go to an EYBL event and not check out the guard who is already committed to the Orange in the class of 2019, could I? Brycen Goodine, the 6-foot-4 prospect who could wind up playing either guard spot, will be taking on Seattle Rotary at 11:00 a.m., which is definitely a time I’ll be able to be awake and to the facility by.
I’m excited to get my first real look at Goodine, who was Rhode Island’s Gatorade Player of the Year this past season, beating out his teammate and former Syracuse target Cole Swider for that honor.
Mac Irvin Fire: Kahlil Whitney
Syracuse’s coaches are going to be visiting Kahlil Whitney very soon, and he’s clearly one of the coaching staff’s top priorities in 2019. The 6-foot-6 wing is uber-athletic and fits the bill as a typical Syracuse swingman. His squad takes the court at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, so chances are he’ll be the first Orange target I get a good, extended look at on April 22. They play again in the afternoon at 2:00 p.m., so I’ll also be able to close out my day watching Whitney again, as I bounce back and forth between that game and the City Rocks/NY Rens showdown.
CIA Bounce: Addison Patterson
Addison Patterson who hasn’t really popped onto Syracuse’s radar yet, but I’m hopeful that will change. The 6-foot-7 guard from Canada plays for the same program (Athlete Institute) that sent Howard Washington and Oshae Brissett to the Orange, with the Tyler Ennis connection there as well (Tony McIntyre, Tyler’s dad, is the Director of Basketball Operations at AI Prep and coaches CIA Bounce).
Patterson is a dynamic young player in the class of 2020, with size, skill, and athleticism that should make him one of the most intriguing wing players in his class. Chances are he will, at a minimum, be the top Canadian prospect in 2020, and already holds offers from the likes of Florida and Oregon. He and CIA Bounce will be hitting the floor at 11:00 a.m.
UPlay Canada: Tyrese Samuel
Sticking in Canada for one final team and prospect, Tyrese Samuel is a kid I’ve talked about as a potential addition to the Syracuse class of 2018. It looks like that’s unlikely to happen at this point, especially given the fact that the Orange seem to be in good position to add Bryce Golden to this year’s class, but Samuel could still be a target in 2019.
Samuel is a 6-foot-8, 215 pound forward who is long and athletic, and has a burgeoning skillset. He just looks the part of a Syracuse forward, and I’m excited to see him in action at 11:00 a.m. – which is turning out to be a pretty busy time, given that BABC (Goodine) and CIA Bounce (Patterson) play at that same time.
Be sure to check back in the days following the event, as I’ll be breaking down what I see out of these players, and what Syracuse could potentially be getting if any of these guys winds up balling for the Orange.