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Prime Time Top 40 Showcase Recap & Rankings

Nolan Bertain of Beaverton (Ore.) High School is a marksman of the highest caliber. He was the top outside shooter at the Prime Time Top 40 Showcase. Photo: Ronnie Flores

Nolan Bertain of Beaverton (Ore.) High School is a marksman of the highest caliber. He was the top outside shooter at the Prime Time Top 40 Showcase. Photo: Ronnie Flores

Forty talented players from the Pacific Northwest gathered at Jefferson (Portland, Ore.) on Sunday for the Prime Time Top 40 showcase, a fall event designed to promote high school basketball in the region. There was a nice blend of talented guards, sleeper big men and young wings who could eventually develop into big-time college prospects. We evaluated all the games and broke down our notes to rank the Top 15 players in attendance.

Recruiters have long known the Pacific Northwest is an excellent region to unearth hidden gems on the recruiting trail. The region, especially the city of Seattle, has produced a plethora of high major talent in recent years, even though some college and high school basketball fans typically don’t think of it as a hotbed of talent. In addition, there is plenty of low D1 type talent often overlooked by recruiters and fans outside of the region.

From a team perspective, Garfield and Rainier Beach of Seattle have put the region on the map. Garfield, which opens the season No. 6 in the FAB 50 Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com, might develop into one of Washington’s best teams ever. Reggie Walker of Prime Time Sports and the program director of the I-5 Elite travel ball club wants to do on a national level for the individuals what those two Seattle powers did team wise.

As a way to showcase the Pacific Northwest’s talent, Walker put together the one-day Prime Time Top 40 Showcase at Jefferson High School in Portland. So it was only fitting the state of Oregon’s top player closed the show with a game-winning layup in the showcase’s final game reserved for the event’s top players.

That player was 6-foot-1 point guard Payton Pritchard, whose West Linn (Ore.) team is gunning for its fourth consecutive Class 6A state title and opened No. 44 in the preseason FAB 50. Pritchard had his usual arsenal of deep range shots and hesitation blow-bys on full display Sunday afternoon. Pritchard, bound for Oregon, has an undeniable presence among his local peers. He knows few defenders in the region can stay in front of him or stop him from getting in the key and he carries that swagger with him every time he touches the ball. In the showcase’s final game, Pritchard hit a variety of deep range jumpers, tough angled lay-ups and converted a reverse lay-up as time expired to give his team a 71-69 victory.

The Buzz 150Pritchard is already set for the next level, but he wasn’t the only standout backcourt performer by any means, as some underclass perimeter players showed the region’s talent well won’t run dry after Pritchard matriculates to Eugene. The best overall shooter at the event was Nolan Bertain, a 6-foot-3 junior (2017) from Beaverton (Ore.) High School. Bertain hit approximately 75 percent of his shots from 3-point land with a quick square up and nice release point to boot. Every time the ball left Bertain’s fingertips, it looked good. He has to continue to work on shooting off the dribble, but his feel for getting to the open spot is excellent. Bertain also showed he’s no slouch on the other end.

“I wanted to come out here and show I could compete with these guys,” Bertain said. “I wanted to show I’ve been working on my defense this summer. I feel I’ve improved quite a bit defensively and did a good job on defense today.”

Bertain reports he’s been hearing from Portland, Air Force, Boise State and Gonzaga and with continued development, will be an excellent mid-major shooting guard recruit.

Another guard who put on a good shooting display was 6-foot-4 Erik Stevenson of Timberline (Lacey, Wash.). The sophomore didn’t shoot it quite like Bertain, but did hit at a high percentage and showed a bit more wiggle and explosiveness than Bertain. Stevenson has a strong frame for a sophomore and his stop and starts were excellent, which is an unrefined skill we often evaluate in tenth-graders. Stevenson has a nice ability to get where he wants on the hardwood under control.

Stevenson stood out among 2018 prospects along with 6-foot-3 Immanuel Allen of Lakeridge (Lake Oswego, Ore.). Allen has a confident disposition and a nice multitude of offensive skills. He was attacking the rim with a vengeance and knows how to make the simple, fundamental pass. A good all-around athlete, Allen is light on his feet and moves well without the ball. He’s also humble and not content with his current stage of development.

“I don’t feel I’m the best tenth-grader in Oregon; I got a lot to work on,” Allen said. “I still have room to grow and I not going to plateau. I have to improve my outside shooting and get my handle up. I’m not going to be playing the 3-4 as I get older.”

Other wing or “slasher” types who stood out besides Allen were Lucas Wilson, a 6-foot-5 junior from Churchill (Eugene, Ore.), Wilfried Likayi, a 6-foot-7 junior from Parkrose (Portland, Ore.), Isaac Mbuyamba, a 6-foot-6 senior and Likayi’s teammate at Parkrose, and Roberto Gittens, a 6-foot-5 junior at Henry Foss (Tacoma, Wash.).

Lucas was one of the event’s best rebounders, and along with Gittens, had one of the most impressive physiques among the 40 participants. Both could shore up their ball skills, but Gittens did make some excellent post entry passes and a couple of good decisions in the open court while handling it. Likayi can handle the ball well for his side and is solid off the drive. He’s also yet to fill out physically and if Likayi continues to improve and grows a few more inches, mid to high majors are going to take a serious look. Mbuyamba gets things done around the rim and is a good athlete.

There weren’t too many true post players of note, but there was a future D1 player and a few sleepers who could develop into low-major or D2 college prospects with a bit more seasoning. Joseph Smoyer, a 6-foot-10 senior at Franklin (Portland, Ore.) showed why he’s already committed to Portland. He moves well and was able to beat the other big men to the spot. As he continues to gain confidence in his offensive ability, Smoyer will be a solid contributor to the Pilots’ program.

Spencer Hoffman, a 6-foot-8 junior at Marist Catholic (Eugene, Ore.), picked up his aggressiveness as the showcase went on and could be a sleeper D1 recruit down the line. Matthew O’Brien, a 6-foot-9 junior at Clackamas (Ore.), displayed some shot-blocking ability but must continue to develop strength in order to play at the next level.

The young player mentioned by his peers as the breakout performer at the Prime Time Top 40 Showcase was 6-foot-3 freshman (2019) guard Marcus Tsohonis of Jefferson (Portland, Ore.). He’s long and has a multitude of skills with the ball. He’s not an elite athlete (yet), but he’s just starching the surface of his potential and knows how to play the game. Tsohonis will take it to the next level when he learns how to change speeds and get a higher release point on his jumper.

Below is our evaluation of the top 15 performers at the event:

The following rankings are based on evaluations of the 40 participants at the one day event where players went through a skills workout and participated in three camp games. The following rankings are based on performance during the camp games only, not on performance combined with previous honors, national or state player rankings. They are also ranked with actual performance in mind, not a player’s potential as a college prospect.

1Payton Pritchard20166'1PGWest Linn
2Nolan Bertain20176'3SGBeaverton
3Immanuel Allen20186'3SFLakeridge
4Lucas Wilson20176'5SFChurchill
5Roberto Gittens20176'5SFHenry Foss (WA)
6Erik Stevenson20186'4PGTimberline (WA)
7Wilfried Likayi20176'7SFParkrose
8Joseph Smoyer20166'10CFranklin
9Isaac Bonton20176'2PGParkrose
10Marcus Tsohonis20196'3PGJefferson
11Charles Jones20166'2SGDavid Douglas
12Isaac Mbuyamba20166'6SFParkrose
13Myles Fitzgerald-Warren20176'2PGMadison
14Zach Reichle20176'4SFWilsonville
15Jaden Nielsen20195'9PGSouth Salem

Ronnie Flores is the publisher of GrassrootsHoops.net and the national Grassroots editor of Ballislife.com. He can be reached at ronlocc1977@yahoo.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

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