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Hidden Gems Showcase: Top Performers

By Connor Harr, 03/24/19, 10:30PM EDT


Breaking down the top performers from the Hidden Gems Showcase

WORTHINGTON, Ohio -- The Hidden Gems Showcase took place at Thomas Worthington on Sunday. It was a great event that featured some of the premier collegiate prospects in the Central Ohio area.

With a majority of these participants being covered this year in high school at 270 Hoops, we have a solid feel for who these players are as prospects. So in order to make this more interesting, I’ll be profiling the top performers at the Hidden Gems showcase, but breaking them down into three categories. Those being Pleasant surprises, Unscouted Prospects, and We Know Who They Are.   

Pleasant Surprises

Ben James (6’5 WF / Independence / 2019): The Independence senior wing recently committed to West Virginia State. Standing at 6-foot-5 James is built like a NFL defensive end. He uses that frame combined with his handle, leaping, and top north/south speed as a finisher in open court situations. James was Independence’s primary and secondary creator within their offense. Religiously playing on the ball working out of high usage actions like high ball screens and isolations which forced him to frequently take tough shots since he does not excel creating separation as a high usage handler.

However, James worked more off the ball today and put on a shooting clinic. The senior knocked down three after three, both off the catch and off significant movement. If he can continue to build on this performance, James’ range of outcomes for success on the offensive end of the floor become much greater. He goes from a prospect that needs specific actions set in the halfcourt for him to finish off movement, to a prospect that can utilize almost any off ball action.

West Virginia plays a pace and system that an athlete like James should thrive in. He’s going to be an immediate grab and go threat on the glass and a dynamic above the rim transition finisher. His shooting stroke will be a major swing skill in his halfcourt offensive success, but I would anticipate the senior to have a two way impact somewhere down the road for West Virginia State especially if he continues to improve as an off ball defender and passer once he gets into the lane.

Kaveon Ross (6’5 PF / Walnut Ridge / 2020): After playing in a complimentary role alongside the City League's top scorer Von Cameron Davis during the high school season, Ross showed us something different on Sunday as a primary scorer. The former 14 point per game scorer at Hamilton Township plays the very simplified role of a play finisher that will rarely step out from the free throw line. Cleaning up on the glass and occasionally finishing with his back to the basket in the low post.  Ross is another prospect who thrives off his fantastic frame and athletic ability. He possesses wing like fluidity as a mover at his size and has the potential to be a tremendous rim runner at the next level that can space a floor vertically with his finishing gravity.

Today, we saw much more from Ross as he rarely posted his matchup up outside of a mismatch and spent most of his time on the perimeter. He showcased a significantly larger amount of handling coordination that I ever anticipated him having. While he was not creating a larger amount of separation and pulling up, he was using his handle to get to the rim and finish above the rim. His jumpshot will definitely need to be developed, but I do not see a reason why Ross cannot mold into an all around ball screen threat that can also pop and eventually knock down a three off the catch and attack of spot ups in order to finish at the rim.

On the defensive end of the floor, Ross is a rim protector where he can apply his length and athletic tools. His movement skills should likely translate out on the perimeter as a forward that can contain on switches. Ross just received his first football offer earlier in the week, but if you’re a program that likes to implement a lot of spread ball screen action and ball screen continuity, Ross is a big that you are going to want to take a good look at in his senior season.

Rob Dorsey (5’9 G / Northland / 2022): Dorsey either started for Northland or came off the bench as their sixth man all season, but with a backcourt comprised of Makhale Massey, Devan White, and N’Keeley Elmore, Dorsey was thrust into spending a majority of his time off the ball offensively. That was not the case today as Dorsey was one of the only reliable ball handler on his team until Kalil Camara showed up. So it was refreshing to evaluate him in a primary creation role.

Standing at 5-foot-9, Dorsey is a deliberate change of pace handler. He does a great job creating driving angles on his defender, and got to the rim at all today with exceptional burst out of his dribble moves. While he did not finish at the rim at a high level today, he has proven more than capable as a finisher welcoming contact and finishing with great body control throughout the high school season. He did some solid work out of ball screen game as well today. The freshman was able to punish switches with his mid range pull up and executed some simple strong side reads to shooters and his screeners.

Defensively, Dorsey did an outstanding job early on of communicating off the ball, which is something you will see rarely at an event like this, but always sticks out. Hopefully that awareness off the ball will translate into team defensive success in the future. With decent lateral speed, Dorsey does a better job opening up his hips and containing his matchup on drives rather than being a point of attack defender.

The freshman is definitely a name that you will want to get familiar with in the future. An obvious talent, I would like to see Dorsey improve his outside shooting consistency and stop predetermining his passes in order to develop on the offensive end of the floor.

Unscouted Prospects

Kalil Camara (6’3 CG / Westland / 2020): While there was a tremendous amount of talent at the event with prospects like Von Cameron Davis, Makhale Massey, and Trevell Adams, Camara stuck out in my opinion as the most talented player at the Showcase. The Westland junior, was not extensively covered this season since he had to sit out the back half of the season due to the transfer rule.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Camara has an outstanding handle. With elite speed off the dribble, the scoring guard excels changing directions off the dribble and can get to the rim whenever he pleases. With his phenomenal leaping ability, I would anticipate the junior is already an above the finisher in the open court and applies his leaping explosion in the halfcourt in order to finish at the rim. He also uses his handle to get to his pull up jumpshot which he knocked down consistently today from the midrange area. As a passer, Camara is capable of making any read as a transition handler and flashed a feel for the weakside of the floor once attacking the defense and getting into the lane off the dribble.

Defensively, Camara applies his athletic tools well with his lateral speed. Which should allow him to blossom into an irritating point of attack defender on the defensive end of the floor. Unfortunately, we did not get an opportunity to evaluate him off the ball which will be a major skill to look for in the spring, since he has all the tools to be successful in that crucial area of his game.

Camara is a high level talent and he unquestionably proved that today by scoring wherever and whenever he pleased. He is definitely a name to know immediately and it will be interesting to watch him develop in the spring and in his senior year at Westland to see if he continues to flash his primary creation potential. Along with seeing how and if he applies his IQ on both ends of the court and if he has a potential pathway to off ball success.

Christian Gillian (6’7 PF / Hilliard Davidson / 2019): This was my first viewing of Hilliard Davidson’s unsigned stretch four. Unfortunately, I was unable to get out to see the Wildcats play this season. So I spent a good amount of time on him attempting to get a feel for the stretch four prospect at the event.

Standing at a lengthy 6-foot-7, Gillian showcased his spot up shooting stroke from the outside throughout the day. Proving that he is more than capable of spacing the floor as a perimeter oriented forward. He showed some prowess working in transition too. He was able to flash his handling coordination in the open court on grab and go’s, made smart decisions advancing the ball up the floor with outlets, and finished above the rim as a trailer in transition. Outside of his spot up shooting, Gillian showed off his touch on a few turnarounds in the low post with his back to the basket as well.    

On the defensive side of the ball, Gillian was able to make correct rotations at the rim and apply his length to contest shots. He rebounded the ball well with a major height advantage, and fought well to get rebounds against stronger players. I would have liked to see him get out on the perimeter more to try and get a feel for his ability to switch on ball screens.

Michael Knoll (6’7 WF / Buckeye / 2019): The senior four man from Buckeye was easily the most surprising player at the Hidden Gems Showcase. Coming all the way from Northeast Ohio specifically Medina, Knoll made his presence felt today with one of the better overall performances of the day.

Standing at 6-foot-7, Knoll plays a perimeter oriented game as a four man as well. His value in the halfcourt stems from his shooting gravity where he has a picture perfect release and he consistently knocked down shots off the catch, off movement, and well beyond the high school three point line. He showed off a functional handle as well, which makes me feel confident about him attacking off the dribble on spot ups or off ball screens. The unsigned senior also moved well without the ball, taking advantage of lackadaisical off ball defense that you will see at an event like this with several well timed backdoor cuts.

Defensively, Knoll did a great job defending on the perimeter. He was forced to guard some of the better upperclassmen wings that Central Ohio has to offer in Ben James and Von Cameron Davis, and while his slight frame did not do him much justice, he was able to contain them on the perimeter and challenging their shots with his length despite being bumped off his spot. His continued defensive success on the perimeter should make it easy for him to guard much less dynamic handling wings, but will still need to add on to his frame in order to effectively guard larger statured bigs.

Travaughn McConnell (6’5 WF / Beechroft / 2020): I actually have seen McConnell before catching the end of a Beechcroft JV game earlier in the season. On a team filled with seniors, the junior wing was really unable to get onto the floor for any real varsity run this season. However, he should be able to play his senior season with the Cougars graduating seven varsity players.

Standing at 6-foot-5, McConnell is long but with a severely underdeveloped frame. He’s a solid athlete that moves very well for his size as he had success in the up and down tempo that exposure events will bring. Already finishing above the rim in the open court with little leg strength, McConnell has the potential to finish above the rim in the halfcourt as he continues to get more explosive by developing his lower body. However, he does need to significantly improve his handle in order to get into the lane in the halfcourt outside of attacking off a spot up.

Defensively, the junior has the potential to be a multipositional on ball defender with solid lateral speed and length. His motor and athletic prowess are applied in transition as a defender where he can challenging shots at the rim with the open court speed to get back into the play.

McConnell is still a major work in progress, but you’d be lying to yourself if you said there wasn’t something there. I do firmly believe he has to shoot it much more consistently in order to be a marketable prospect and that is something that you should look for in his senior season at Beechcroft. Along with how he develops his IQ off the ball and can apply his athletic traits in a functional manner off the ball defensively.

We Know Who They Are

Trevell Adams (5’10 G / South / 2020): Just one day after losing in the State Championship in a valiant effort, Trevell Adams was right back in the gym. That speaks volumes about the kid's maturity and drive to continue to improve. Of course, Adams did not miss a beat as one of, if not the best guard prospect in the gym tonight. The South guard is poised for a major spring, and if you’re a D2 school you are going to want get on him immediately. For more info on Trevell’s game click here.

Makhale Massey (6’3 WG / Northland / 2021)" Man I really love Massey’s game. Typically these events can cause players to be a little selfish, force shots, and ignore how they can make an impact without the ball in their hands on both ends of the floor. Massey just played his game, and was the most efficient scorer all day. That type of poise to be aware of his environment is rare from a prospect that young.

Standing at 6-foot-3 Massey really thrives working off the ball as a smaller wing. He’s a fantastic shooter off the catch, off slight movement, and pulling up off the dribble. He has a tight handle and applies it best in the halfcourt knocking down his pull up jumpers off his shooting gravity. The sophomore is a fantastic athlete as well which we saw in transition when he threw down a monster one handed dunk. Massey is the type of effective and efficient low usage scorer that can elevate a teams offense. I’d like to see him further develop his low usage passing where I think he has the IQ to start consistently making weakside passing reads in order to shift a defense and create open looks for his teammates. Along with seeing how his on ball offense continues to develop which we will likely see as his career progresses at Northland.

Defensively, Massey is a solid defender both on and off the ball. He is capable of making correct rotations within his teams defensive system in order to come up with steals and blocks. The sophomore is also a solid on ball defender too, but definitely is a much more promising team defender.

Massey’s game will only continue to develop and he should be poised for a huge spring as well. He is really a name that mid majors should be getting very familiar with in the near future. The high IQ wing still has potential to round out his on ball offensive game as well which would essentially make him a complete offensive combo guard prospect.

Von Cameron Davis (6’5 WF / Walnut Ridge / 2020): The junior was really far too talented compared to a majority of his competition and it really showed. Davis is a legitimate mid major wing prospect that is a phenomenal athlete. He thrived in the up tempo setting as a transition handler and finisher, trying to dunk on anyone and everyone in his way. Davis’ downhill finishing ability is one of his most marketable offensive traits as a prospect. An efficient scoring spring would be huge from the wing as he continues to develop his game on both sides of the ball on the perimeter.

N’Keeley Elmore (5’10 G / Northland / 2019): Elmore really struggled scoring the basketball today. However, I would read nothing into that as the senior scored 20.6 points per game this season at Northland. Elmore did make his presence felt as a passer throughout the event. Consistently making great reaction passes taking advantage of lazy helpside defense, hitting cutters with well timed improvised looks, and regularly displaying his passing vision to the weakside of the floor. Elmore is a lightning quick, smart ball handler that is currently unsigned with only one JUCO offer to show for it. A player covered extensively on 270 Hoops, you can find several scouting reports on the senior. He is a capable D2/D3 guard and NAIA’s should be chomping at the bit to offer him.

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