NIBC La Porte Invitational Takeaways

La Porte's historic Civic Auditorium once again served host to a loaded NIBC weekend. Last year's action brought forward stock-rising weekend's for Kansas' Gradey Dick, Syracuse's Judah Mintz and Houston's Jarace Walker among others. 2023's opener was no disappointment.



It wasn't quite the same type of scoring weekend from VJ Edgecombe as we've seen in the last month, yet another impressive one nonetheless. First live viewing of the Bahamian wing, and the blend of fluidity and power at 6-5 proved very real. In the runaway win over Bishop Walsh, Edgecombe finished with just 9 points but added 6 assists and 7 stocks, outlining two budding pieces of his skillset that further the intrigue. The LuHi wing routinely created easy offense exploding off the catch, forcing and dropping it off to the dunkers spot. Smooth, yet simple playmaking feel to go with impressive pace to slow up after creating an advantage to scan the rotating defense and make them pay in a variety of ways. Defensively, Edgecombe flies around and while there are lapses on-ball given his tendency to hunt steals, it's driven plenty of early offense for a group that's shown to be dynamic in transition. Edgecombe is squarely in the mix for a top 25 spot in the class of 2024.

It's been an impressive stretch for LuHi's Jayden Ross, who's beginning to look like quite the early get for Dan Hurley and UConn. Saw the flashes early last fall prior to a big summer with Team Melo, but it's been a story of the continued skill development and added polish on top of a fluid-moving, explosive 6-7 frame. Between the two games in La Porte, Ross put up 19 points per game on 65% from the field and 57% from three (8/14), per Cerebro. The UConn signee is playing with plenty of confidence at the moment and steadily turning potential to production in his last season before heading to Storrs. After reeling in three high major offers and being tabbed outside of top 100 rankings, the Huskies made a timely push to land the fast-rising swingman in November.



Flagg’s defensive playmaking has been a calling card for sometime now, but it never fails to impress more each time up close. The ultra skilled 6-8 wing has such an innate feel for generating deflections, disrupting shots and muddying up the flow of an opposing offense. The instincts, awareness and savvy lead to plays in the margins that largely don't find their way into box scores that very few high school prospects make, let alone a 16-year-old. While the measurables or athletic ability of most young prospects are the reason for high rankings or early buzz, it's Cooper Flagg's intangibles, basketball acumen and aptitude for seeing things happen before they do that makes him such a high level prospect early on. 



In Compass' win over Legacy, Trent Pierce went for 25 points on 9-12 shooting in just 17 minutes. It's been a relatively quiet campaign thus far for the Oklahoma native on a deep roster, but the outburst in La Porte certainly seemed like a peek into what he could evolve into down the line. At a wiry 6-9 with fluid movement skills and high level shot prep, Pierce excels firing off movement and over the top off defenses within the flow of offense. After getting off to a hot start to the summer with Team Griffin and then cooling, it's a positive sign to see the Missouri bound wing find his rhythm and regain assertiveness. Dennis Gates, Cy Young and the Tigers landed one of the more enticing long-term bets outside the top 50 nationally.


Derik Queen's dominance was undoubtedly one of the headlines coming out of La Porte. The 6-9 big began the trip going for 34 points on 14-20 from the field, leading MVA in a comeback win over Sunrise Christian. Queen backed it a day later with another 24 points in a win over Wasatch. It was an interior exhibition from the jump, and notably the most dialed in and engaged he's shown in sometime.  Loaded with high level footwork, patience and craft on the interior, the 2024 big gave opposing bigs just about all they could handle through the weekend. Foul grifting, passing out of doubles and dislodging shot blockers, the 18 year old finished 24 of 37 from from the field across two games. The energy was infectious, as he stifled drivers at the rim and sparked the break off the glass, put the ball on the floor and created easy offense with throw aheads. There's been no shortage of flashes, but playing with similar assertiveness and confidence through the rest of the season would certainly be a game-changer for Montverde. Indiana, Maryland and Auburn are entrenched in the skilled big's recruitment. 



It's never been a question of pure talent with Buzelis, but more so efficiency, consistency and overall impact. While he's a ways away in terms of answering all questions, it seems as though the Chicago native is beginning to sharpen the edges and put the pieces together at Sunrise. The 6-10 wing put up big numbers in La Porte, but it was the growing trend for providing more when less is asked on the offensive end. After a choppy start to the weekend in a down half against Montverde, it was all up from there for the G-League bound wing. Catch and shoot production, quick rim attacks off the catch along with further decisiveness to get North and South became themes. Now and perhaps looking ahead, the creative 6-10 athlete appears to be at his best as a second-side creator and generating offense coming off movement given his steady development as a shooter. It's clear that Buzelis appears more fluid and free in the simplified role, and while things can still get choppy when the ball slows up, it's leading to greater efficiency and eliminating some of the extra usage that led to turnovers. As the season ratchets up down the stretch, Buzelis' shot diet and continued growth as a decision-maker will be key to monitor before joining Ignite next season.



Mikel Brown Jr

Sunrise's young guard put together a big one to close the weekend against IMG. While the physical play has been a deterrent early on at times this season, the 6-1 guard settled in nicely and showed some of what made him one of the hottest prospects in the nation coming off a big summer playing up with Southeast Elite. A natural flair to his approach to go with a dynamic handle, advanced vision and a smooth stroke from well beyond the arc, Brown Jr popped as a high velocity playmaker leveraging his gravity to get downhill. Bumps in the road are to be assumed for a young guard whose not loaded with measurables, but the productive 13 point and 7 assist outing could be a sign of what's to come for the five-star 2025 guard.

Miro Little

The Finnish national closed the weekend with a modest 9 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds per game, but it was all he does that doesn't find it's way into the box score that was the most glaring. In his first season since coming over, there was certainly an adjustment period early but the 6-4 guard has steadily settled for Sunrise. Came away highly impressed by Little's feel as a connector on the offensive end, ability to guard up on the defensive end given his strength and overall acumen for when to pick his spots versus when to get into the flow of offense. Tough schedule on the weekend led to a pair of contested games, and it was the Baylor bound guard calling out plays and asking Barnwell and co. to run specific sets down the stretch. At 6-4 with a pass, dribble, shoot skillset to go with a high basketball IQ and noteworthy intangibles, it's no secret as to why Little was so highly touted at the next level prior to playing a single game in the United States.

Jacob Ross 

Younger brother of UConn bound Jayden Ross, Jacob strung together a pair of impressive days with LuHi. The 6-5 2025 brings forward a demeanor beyond his years, and while the youthfulness shows at times, it certainly appears as though he's steadily sliding into a larger role and providing two-way value. Dynamic in the open floor with potent end to end speed, Ross' vision and versatility early on stood out. Defends multiple spots, leads the break and consistently the right play for himself or for the wings flanking him. Full of physical upside, highly engaged on both ends and has a natural playmaking feel at 6-5, the younger Ross is certainly one to keep tabs on.

Zaide Lowery

Impactful weekend for the Missouri native, who's quickly becoming the head of the snake for La Lumiere. An ultra fluid mover at 6-5 with a nose for the rim, productivity on the glass and a compact stroke from beyond the arc. Lowery fits the bill of the type of prospects that Shaka Smart has continued to bring in over the last few seasons: long, athletic and hard-nosed with apparent areas for development. As Lowery sharpens his handle and steadily speeds up his release, he has the tools to wind up vastly undervalued within the class a few years down the line.  

Collin Murray-Boyles

It's come to be no surprise after the first half of the season, but yet another productive showing in La Porte for Wasatch's Collin Murray-Boyles. Loaded with high level instincts and timing, the South Carolina signee plays much bigger yet than he is showed the ability to slide and disrupt wings on the defensive end. Defends the 3 through 5, dominant on the glass, has feel as an interior playmaker and steadily showing more willingness to fire from three off the catch (3/6 3PT on the weekend, per Cerebro). Lamont Paris and the Gamecocks did a fantastic job locking down the homegrown product in early August, as his recruitment would surely look a whole lot different now.

Jamari Phillips

Positive debut weekend for Jamari Phillips with AZ Compass. In just 15 minutes in the opener against Legacy, the 6-3 guard connected on four triples and dished out four assists. Leveraging his shooting gravity to make plays for others, making quick decisions off the catch and firing off movement from range. Adding one of the nation's most potent floor spacers to a roster loaded with athletes should prove ultra valuable down the stretch as Phillips continues to get his footing in the new setting. I'll get another look at the future Wildcat this coming weekend in Dayton.

Malick Diallo

While relatively quiet in the box scores, it was the most impactful showing since the big summer with Malian U18's and the Utah Stars for Wasatch's Malick Diallo. The high-wired 6-10 big played looser and showed to be more engaged, covering ground defending the pick & roll and playing with assertiveness on the glass. The 6-10 rim runner strung together multiple big stretches, flashing his offensive feel and stifling rim attempts with his activity and length. There's been an adjustment period for the 2024 big, but La Porte showed glimpses of what we saw through the summer.

Amari Allen

The 6-8 2025 wing impressed late-summer at the UAA Finals while playing up with B Maze Elite and showed more flashes in La Porte when given opportunity with IMG. Long, fluid-mover with secondary creation, an elevated release off the catch and intriguing upside defensively. Generates deflections, slides his feet very well given his size and provided energy out in transition. A development to monitor with IMG and one to keep close tabs on in the class of 2025.


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