UA Next Elite 24 hosted 24 of the top prospects nationally regardless of circuit affiliation. An array of NBA teams were in attendance for the unique evaluation setting. Dialed in a variety of my standouts from the highly competitive lead up action including two practices and a scrimmage in Chicago. The full roster can be found here.
Among upperclassmen nationally, Tre Johnson remains my favorite long-term bet by a strong margin. Dominant pair of days as a shot creator and multi-level scorer — getting to his trademark intermediate leaner and generating rim attempts by leveraging his shooting gravity, wingspan, stride length and first step. Getting skinny and meandering through traffic to finish with extreme versatility at the rim. The Texas native requires little breathing room to fire with fluidity from deep, filling it up off the catch and keeps defenders on their heels with his rapid decision-making when the ball hits his hands. Johnson displayed intriguing passing chops throughout the action, fitting passes in windows that didn’t seem feasible against the level of length and athleticism in the gym. Johnson still looks young in the face and there's plenty of physical upside to build upon over the coming years.
Two big themes stuck out with the New York guard — fluidity and relentlessly winning in the margins. First fluidity-wise, Fland’s smooth shot prep, quick trigger off the catch and crafty finishing avenues leapt out. A fluid mover who floats to his spots and attacks the rack with quick burst and fluidity. In terms of dominating the margins, Fland is not your ordinary advantage creator but more often than not, he seemed a step ahead of everyone else on the floor. Defensively, the 6-3 guard served as the aggressor as a pick and roll defender, plucking steals with timing and hand speed as well as manipulating ball handlers as the odd-man defender in fast break situations. Perhaps the most encapsulating sequences took place in half-court no dribble drills. Fland’s feel as a cutter and ability to create space as an off-ball scorer stole the show. A nuanced, highly skilled ball handler with quick change of direction. During the tail end of action in the lead up scrimmage, Fland exploded to punch one home over the top of 6-7 length at the rim. While he’s not your average high usage creator, the micro-advantages come in bunches and Fland’s grip on owning the margins on either end were profound. He may not have the traditional makeup as a top tier five-star prospect, but I'm betting on Fland to impact winning for a long time like one should.
Naturally, we’ve seen less live of Bryson Tucker in comparison to other national recruits, but the 6-8 wing dazzled as an off-ball scorer for me. The incoming IMG Academy wing’s approach and effort set himself apart from others rather quickly. A true worker on both ends of the floor with noticeably strong conditioning, consistently producing easy buckets by sprinting in semi-transition. In the half-court, Tucker served as an off-ball technician making a variety of impressive reads coming off screens and maintaining a revved up motor without the ball. Crafty, calculated and in control as a mid-range scorer, primarily unfazed by contests and manipulating trailing on-ball defenders to generate pockets of space. Tucker’s processing, maturity and awareness separated himself from his counterparts.
- Isaiah Collier came alive down the ladder end of the two days of action. Outside of the time sidelined by injury, the 6-4 guard has been surging since the spring and showed why on the second day of action. The Georgia native wins at a high volume at the point of attack and continues to evolve as a downhill decision-maker. Creates easy looks in the open floor and consistently beats rotating defenders to the rim with his potent end-to-end speed. The length of the bigs and wings on tap was bothersome in the passing lanes on day one, but Collier adjusted down the stretch. Manipulating rim protectors, bumping guards to create lanes and passing the ball with velocity to string out advantages as a pick and roll initiator. The top of 2023 is open and to me, it looks like Isaiah Collier has the inside track.
- Vyctorius Miller’s defense and pace translated at a high level. After a strong weekend at the UAA Finals in Chicago in July, Miller settled in well over the course of Elite 24 action. In a more unexpected manner, Miller left a very positive impression defensively. The 6-5 guard was disruptive off the ball, producing steals with timely digs and closing quickly on balls in the passing lane. Defending on-ball, Miller walled off strong, more physically mature guards with strong positioning and lateral quickness. On the offensive end, Miller's pace, snappy handle and rim pressure translated rather seamlessly against the heightened competition. As he progresses physically at AZ Compass, the two-way outlook has a chance to turn up another notch.
- From UAA session one, to the finals and now as the lone 2025 at the UA Next Elite 24, Bryson Tiller has gradually put more pieces together. A lively athlete with ground coverage and ample mobility, but what’s impressed has been the skill development and sped up decision-making. While his tools and movement skills can drive production against others in his class, it appears the summer full of playing up a level has positively impacted his feel as a playmaker and shooter.
- To no surprise, Dennis Evans’ rim protection translated at a very high level. The 7-1 big closes gaps in a hurry and has impressive instincts tracking slashers and meeting second chance looks with his 7-8 wingspan. As Evans racked up blocks, the deterrence came into play as drivers grew more hesitant to challenge the big man out of California. At least two years of development at the collegiate should go a very long way, as Evans is too young to be a one and done.