After going through the 2019 stock risers earlier in the week, here’s a look at the 2020 prospects who have helpe themselves most at the beginning of the ‘18-‘19 season....
Enoch Cheeks, 6’4” PG/Wing, Kimball Union – 8 games into KUA’s season, Mr. Cheeks is averaging 30.8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. Let that settle in…..The ultra-athletic junior has taken all of his promising potential and turned it into elite-level production this year. Cheeks mixes a ton of fast twitch ability with an understanding of how/when to switch speeds and use it. That alone would make him a tough cover but Cheeks has also become a deadly scorer at all three levels, turning himself into a pick-your-poison proposition for opposing defenders. While the scoring numbers might suggest that he’s only trying to get his, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Cheeks is a creative passer who has always shown a willingness to get his teammates involved offensively. He’s comfortable as a primary ball-handler but is equally adept when he’s asked to slide off the ball and operate from the wing. Expressions program director Todd Quarles predicted this type of future for Cheeks almost two years ago. He was on point!
Mr. Cheeks (@MeeksCheeks36) showed off a skillset that is helping him become one of New England’s most sought-after 2020 prospects. Cheeks dropped 28 Pts and dished out a handful of assists in a @kuahoops win over Williston at the @NERRHoops Scholar Roundball Classic... pic.twitter.com/xlFV2LMlIy— The Hustle (@TheHoopHustle) December 8, 2018
Bas Leyte, 6’10” Big, New Hampton – New Hampton’s 2020 crop is loaded and they’ve all played big roles in the program’s strong start to the season. While a few of his classmates have already garnered attention from high-major programs, Leyte may have the highest ceiling in the crew and is on the verge of becoming a well-known name on a national level. His rise started this summer when he chose to play for Expressions in the Nike EYBL instead of returning home to the Netherlands to play solely with the national team. When teammate Tre Mitchell went down during Peach Jam, Leyte began to show real signs of improvement and quickly proved he belonged at that level. Fast forward a couple months and Leyte was giving Mitchell everything he could handle during New Hampton’s matchup with Woodstock this past weekend. Leyte’s work ethic, passion for the game and desire to be great will help him separate from the pack. The young man will never become a YouTube sensation but, over time, he’s going to become one of the most productive and polished prospects in New England’s 2020 class.
Matteo Whelton, 6’4” PG/Wing, Phillips Andover – After impressing throughout the grassroots season with The BABC last fall, I didn’t catch too much of Whelton during the prep season. I’ve always been a fan of his game but the evolution of his skillset has now made him one of 2020's most entertaining players. Whelton’s stroke is pure, he’s a crafty athlete, his size allows him to see over smaller perimeter defenders and he’s always had a knack for delivering pinpoint passes. As the season moves along, Whelton is bound to catch the attention of Ivy League programs looking for a versatile gamer.
Hassan Diarra, 6’4” PG/Wing, Putnam Science – I could go on and on about Diarra’s value to the nation’s #1 prep program but I’d rather just show you what type of young pitbull a high-major program will add to their kennel in 2020...
Jalen Leach, 6’4” PG/Wing, Tilton – It took about two minutes into Tilton’s matchup against Blair at the National Prep Showcase to recognize that Leach was the real deal. His actions are smooth, his skillset is sharp, he’s got a mature poise and a calm presence that allow him to slow the game down when things get dicey. There are some glaring Kellan Grady tendencies within his game, from the way he shoots to the way he probes the defense for weaknesses before ultimately committing to penetrate. I’m not claiming that the young man is destined to achieve Grady’s level of success, that’s not my style and it creates unreasonable expectations. Leach’s skillset is uniquely his own and will allow him to develop into a high-demand D1 prospect. Holy Cross became his first offer last week, while East Carolina and a host of others have begun showing interest.
Cairo McCrory, 6’6” Wing, Master’s – These are McCrory’s numbers against three of the nation’s top-8 prep teams so far this season...
vs NMH – 35 points and 11 rebounds
vs Brewster – 21 points and 9 rebounds
vs Putnam Science – 31 points and 9 rebounds
…The young man has always been far more than just a track athlete and his explosive start to his junior season is proving that. McCrory also has a ton of room left on his frame to put muscle on, making him one of the more projectable prospects in his class. His improved skillset is allowing him to pose a threat whenever he catches the ball over halfcourt and his athleticism makes every defender in the paint a possible victim. McCrory will continue to see his recruitment expand anywhere from a high-academic to a high-major in the next 12 months.