8th Finale: Sweet 16 & Elite 8 Takeaways

8th Finale is well underway, as the next wave of elite prospects meet in Augusta. Here, I'll dial in on Saturday's standouts.

Perhaps the performance of Finale thus far from All Ohio Sumner’s Kameron Mercer to clinch an Elite 8 berth. Ultra-versatile with poise beyond his years. Adding to his game at a promising rate after a full year playing up against national competition in a  on-ball role. Defends up and down the line on one end, cleans the glass as well as any young guard around and has begun to turn a corner in his shooting development. Long ways to go, but he'll be a familiar name before long.

- Explosive outing in Sweet 16 play from 2027 G Cayden Daughtry, who has put together a massive week in Augusta. 33 PTS coming in a variety of ways — FTs, pull-up shot-making and a crafty float game. Hyper-competitive creator with playmaking chops.

2027 G Jason Gardner Jr has emerged in a big way this week for Unity. Slick creator with mature pace and glimpses of three-level scoring ability. Son of former 4-time NCAA All-American and 2003’s NPOY. Tracking at a high level early on.

- There's been buzz on Florida Rebels' 2027 F Jeremy Jenkins, and it's well-founded. At 6-7+ with a sturdy, solid build, he's a load attacking in the low-post but plays light enough on his feet to generate mismatches at a high level. Owns the glass, carves up space in deep and has real creation ability when a side is cleared out. Plenty of new names to arise this week, but this is one that'll make his presence heavily felt in the debut of 2027 rankings.

 Impressed by the progression of All Ohio Sumner’s Griffin Starks. Fluid-moving 6-7 F with feel around the rim. Always brings high level activity & switchability defensively. While still young for the class and polishing up his overall skill level, there's a deep bag of tools to build upon.

- It's been a high level few days for Team United's King Gibson. After a spring playing at the E15 level and scoring double figures per game, he's playing with the swagger of a guy who thinks he's the best player on the floor each time out. Big time athlete who pressures the rim consistently, and has done so all year, but has newfound confidence as a spot up shooter. Making shots on an efficient basis is the next step in his development, so he's left a strong impression.

 - Strong outings this morning from AZ Unity’s two-headed monster of Paul Osaruyi and Mayom Mayom. Both spacing the floor well at 6-9 and 6-7 respectively, while protecting the rim at a high level on the other end. Headliners in a promising 2027 crop out West.

- Touch on it yesterday, but have to once again after another big day. Team Takeover's NaVorro Bowman has been exceptional here in Augusta. Always loaded with pop in his step and overall energetic approach, he connected on big shots when they mattered most and seems to have a knack to make a play in the key moments when he needs it most. Toughness and aggression are in his DNA, and while he's still in the early stages physically while being young for the class, they're beginning to shine through with his fearlessness attacking the cup and approach as a whole.
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