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T.J.’s TAKES: Day 2 scouting reports, get to know N’Faly Dante

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.– Day two of the Nike EYBL Finals at Peach Jam wasn’t as action packed as day one, but we still learned plenty about UK’s top targets and how they perform on the big stage.

Today’s quick-hitting scouting report will feature on N’Faly Dante, Vernon Carey Jr., Keion Brooks, James Wiseman, D.J. Jeffries, Cole Anthony and Jaden McDaniels.

N’Faly Dante: Holy smokes, folks, he’s the next big thing in college basketball. Yesterday I was blown away by Scottie Barnes (class of 2020), but Dante seems like the better prospect and that’s not a knock on Barnes. Dante has a college ready body and at 6-foot-11, 225-pounds it’s not crazy to think that he could grow a couple more inches while putting on another 15-20 pounds of muscle.

Dante is an elite rim protector and I was blown away by his rebounding. Often, big young players struggle rebounding against older players, but Dante read rebounds well and was physical crashing the glass. Dante gave off an Anthony Davis vibe when protecting the paint and opponents were scared to shoot in the interior, even if Dante wasn’t directly in on the play.

Offensively Dante was solid on the block but didn’t get too much post feeds. He hit a couple 15-foot shots and did most of his work on rebounds and oops. I like his offensive game but I will need to see more before saying his offense matches his elite defense.

The 2020-2021 season is a long ways off, but I’m guessing Dante is one of the best players in college basketball when that season rolls around.

USA Today

Vernon Carey Jr.: In his first two games Carey Jr. is averaging 24 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, and it could be even better. Carey Jr. has been flipping the switch late in games and has been completely dominate. That’s what you want to see out of a bruising big, a need for the ball on the block when the game is coming down to the wire

We know about Carey Jr. the bruiser, and we talked about that yesterday, but I have still be very impressed with his offensive game over the last two days. Carey Jr. can spread the floor and has a pretty stroke. Again, it’s going to be another 16 months before he plays college basketball. It’s scary to think where he could be at that time.

(Photo: Lopez/Nike)

Keion Brooks: Brooks was better on Thursday than he was Wednesday, especially in the evening, but still not any jaw-dropping performances. All the tools and pieces are there for Brooks, and the thing I liked most about his game was his energy and effort. Things didn’t always go his team’s way, but Brooks never gave up and he was aggressive despite not having the biggest or strongest frame.

Brooks was at his best against James Wiseman and D.J. Jeffries in the evening game on Thursday. Brooks looked more engaged and was able to make some nice offensive moves. He still needs to be stronger with the ball, both when attacked the rim and rebound, but I can see why UK is so intrigued.

However, I didn’t see enough from Brooks in the last two days for him to warrant the only wing scholarship in the class of 2019.

Photo by 247 Sports

James Wiseman: More of the same from Wiseman on Thursday. He’s a great offensive player and on Thursday he continued to showcase his strength. He was tossed from the early game on Thursday after receiving two technicals. I didn’t see all of his early game, but I’m told that the ejection wasn’t warranted. Wiseman doesn’t have any attitude problems and he doesn’t seem to be a bad apple, but after questions about his commitment and energy, the ejection show he has an edge to him. That’s a good thing.

An underrated part of Wiseman’s game is his court awareness and passing. It’s so important to have a big that can pass out of double-teams and Wiseman did plenty of that over the last two days. It didn’t always lead to an assist, but it would start the breakdown of the opposing defense that would eventually lead to an easy shot.

Photo: Kelly Kline | Under Armour

D.J. Jeffries: Thursday night wasn’t his best game but only because he couldn’t hit his shots. I’m incredibly impressed with Jeffries effort and the way he runs the floor. He’s a bigger wing and he uses his strength to his advantage. Some players have that in high school but most learn it in college, the idea you can throw your body around and be OK. The fact Jeffries is already doing that in college despite not being the biggest guy on the floor, he’s going to be a pest in college.

Jeffries handles were solid on Thursday but he just couldn’t make most of his shots. He’ll get better in that area and could possibly be a candidate to start for UK.

USA Today

Cole Anthony: You can’t teach Tyrese Maxey’s heart, and that will take him a long way in college especially with his skill set, but Anthony is the better guard at this point.

He’s such a smart player with the ball in his hands, he communicates with teammates and the best passer in high school basketball. He put his scoring on display Thursday and it showcased how versatile he is as a player. He can get out of double and triple teams with ease and has so many layers to his game.

Maxey will be a dominant player for Calipari and UK fans will continue to fall in love, but if Anthony picks UK (not deciding until spring 2019) then that will be in the conversation for Calipari’s best backcourt duo.

I wish we could see more of his defense. He was solid in Canada last month but the US also got up 41-0 on a team. This was much better competition over the last few days but we didn’t get to see much of Anthony in man-to-man.

Jaden McDaniels: McDaniels was much better in the late game on Thursday. I was having a tough time describing what I didn’t love about McDaniels game, but I think I have it pegged. McDaniels had all the tools and would have a few burst, but they were few and far between in his first two games. During Thursday night’s game there was a point the opponent switched a smaller defender on McDaniels. The UK target lit up and went into attack mode. After scoring a few baskets the opponents switched defenders on McDaniels, but he remained in killer mentality.

No player has had a bigger rise in the rankings and quite frankly after the first two games I didn’t understand why. The national analysts have watched a lot more of McDaniels than I have, but on Thursday night I was able to see what makes McDaniels so appealing When he gets that twinkle in his eye he feels like he can score anywhere on the floor, and when he’s able to have that mindset it helped his defense and overall game.

I don’t think he ends up at Kentucky, but he would be a fun piece for Calipari and the gang.



Article written by TJ Walker