With over 300 teams playing over a span of four days, Big Shots Myrtle Beach was a major attraction for Division I coaches the other weekend.
North Carolina teams were scattered throughout the 17U-12U age groups, and with over 100 coaches in attendance, a number of NC prospects played their way to a scholarship offer.
With some of the top AAU programs in the region facing off against each other, Big Shots provided insight into the progression of top prospects, and created several storylines to watch over the upcoming live periods.
Below is a breakdown of the biggest storylines and most significant developments from Big Shots Myrtle Beach:
Kentrell Barkley: The Ultimate Glue Guy
Aside from 2015 wing Rayjon Tucker, Barkley has been the fastest rising prospect in the state this spring, and his breakout continued in Myrtle Beach. Barkley teamed with five-star junior Thon Maker to win both sessions, and took home the MVP award after session two.
Barkley did a little bit of everything to help Team Loaded Virginia go undefeated, including guarding every position, frequently matching up with the opposing team's best player, and capitalizing on his opportunities around the rim. Never the No. 1 option offensively, Barkley made his mark in transition, and settled into the mid-range area in Loaded's half-court offense.
His high-effort level is the staple of his game, and it showed against Team Loaded NC in the championship game of session one. Barkley had the duty of guarding Dennis Smith, the top point guard in the 2016 class. He kept Smith under wraps for most of the finale, forcing the crowd favorite into one of his worst performances of the weekend.
To date, Barkley holds offers from a variety of mid-majors, and has just recently picked up interest from high-majors. His non-stop motor and tenacity on both ends will make him a popular attraction over the next two weeks, and will likely lead to his first big-time offer.
What is Dennis Smith's ceiling?
Just 12 months ago, Smith wasn't even considered to be the best player on his own AAU team, the Karolina Diamonds. That honor went to fellow Fayetteville native Kwe Parker. His surge from unknown hooper to nationally renowned recruit started at last year's Big Shots event in Myrtle Beach, and it's ended with Smith holding the No. 5 spot in the 2016 rankings.
Smith's game is a unique blend of explosiveness, uncanny vision, and perimeter marksmanship, all of which has solidified his standing among the elite prospects in the country.
During Big Shots Myrtle Beach, Smith's game tapered off over the course of the week, but he was at his best during session one. He scored a combined 42 points in two games heading into the primetime matchup with Loaded VA. Kentrell Barkley made life tough for Smith, but the guard was able to grind his way to 15 points, and 4 assists.
The strength of the 2016 class is in the versatility of the forwards at the top, including North Carolina's own Harry Giles, newly crowned No. 1 prospect Jayson Tatum, and a remarkably skilled 7-footer in Maker. Smith is the only point guard slotted among the top ten recruits, and his unique skill-set (especially given the lack of pure point guard prospects) could push him into the top three.
Giles is still recovering from knee surgery, and the lengthy rehab process has already cost him the No. 1 overall spot in his class. The title of best player in the state could be next to go.
Graves Continues to Establish Himself
2016 point guard Ty Graves is a heavy Virginia lean, and UVA made him its top priority in Myrtle Beach. UVA assistant Jason Williford tracked Graves all weekend long and head coach Tony Bennett was on the sidelines Saturday to get a first-hand look at the sharpshooting guard.
Graves took full advantage of the attention by draining deep jumpers, and showcasing his effortless stroke time and time again. He's accurate shooting off the dribble, but he's most effective off the catch, and uses a jab-fake to create the shred of daylight he needs to get his shot off.
It's high praise, but his shot is Steph Currey-esque, complete with a fluid load, a quick release, and a high-arc. Graves drained at least four threes in every game during session one, and scored 19 points or more in three of the Diamonds' six games.
Graves will be taking another unofficial to Charlottesville when he travels to UVA's elite camp later this summer. The Cavaliers are recruiting another 2016 point in Curtis Jones (who Tony Bennett saw in Chicago last week).
In front of UVA's decision makers, Graves demonstrated his skills by excelling in a combo role, and connecting on contested looks from deep. His performance could go a long way to cementing his place in the Cavaliers' backcourt of the future.
Parker Puts his Complete Arsenal on Display
Known for the dunks that have landed him on Sportscenter on two separate occasions, Kwe Parker struggled to make his mark in session one, but ended up turning in one of the best performances of the entire event during session two, a 36-point outburst against Garner Road.
Parker's ability to get into the paint and finish with authority is his biggest strength, but the progression of his pull-up jumper is a vital component of his development. He shied away from open looks early in the tournament, and Garner Road played him accordingly by sagging off and cutting off driving lanes.
He made the proper adjustment and began knocking down pull-ups shots from the mid-range area. After hitting a total of 10 field goals in session one, Parker made 11 against Garner Road, and converted 10 of his 11 attempts at the free-throw line.
Parker's release point can be shaky at times, but his leaping ability provides excellent lift and often gives him the separation he needs to pull the trigger. His progression as an all-around scorer and a shot-maker from the perimeter will be aided by his transfer to Wesleyan.
With Giles asserting himself in the paint, and Brandon Childress firing from beyond the arc, Parker will be counted on to get out in transition, make plays off the dribble, and get to the FT line.
Parker has dropped out of the Rivals rankings, but his name could be back on the list in a matter of months. If he can keep his shooting hand hot and hit mid-range Js at a healthy rate, he'll re-establish himself as one of the best guards on the east coast.
Regional Mid-Majors Should Get to Know WCBA-Blue
The most impressive performance by an NC program came from WCBA-Blue in its Saturday night game against Team Loaded Virginia. WCBA has been featured on this site multiple times over the past two months, as it's been a frequent standout in regional events.
This time, the local kids gave it their all against a Team Loaded VA roster with a couple future pros. In what proved to be Team Loaded VA's closest game of the entire weekend, WCBA refused to go away, and held a lead with less than two minutes to play.
Andrew Evans and Chris Clemons introduced themselves to college coaches by pacing WCBA's scoring attack and hitting shots from all over the floor. Evans was automatic from the mid-range area, while Clemons provided a steady barrage of threes. They also steered the suffocating press that resulted in numerous turnovers and ended up being one of the keys to the game.
Down low, WCBA used the frontcourt combo of Robert Brown, and Bobby Stenborg. Facing their toughest test of the summer, Brown and Stenborg adjusted to the size and length of both Maker and Karim Ezzidine, and used a variety of moves to create clean looks at the rim.
Clemons, Evans, Stenborg and Brown all finished with 10 points or more, including a pair of treys from each guard. Clemons, who led all players in the Slam Orange bracket with 20.3 points per game during session two, also tallied five rebounds and five assists.
Clemons and Stenborg both received offers at the event, with Clemons earning offers from Campbell, Gardner Webb, and UNCG, and Stenborg picking up his first from Lenoir Rhyne. It'll be interesting to see which colleges begin tracking this squad as the AAU season comes to a close.
Jalen Seegars: Mr. Versatility
The Diamonds were the most exciting team in the 17U age group, and Seegars was a major reason why. The 6-foot-4 wing's natural athleticism extends into every area of his game, and he has the explosiveness to turn every sequence into a highlight-worthy play.
A lot of what Seegars does won't show up in the box score, which is what makes him so valuable. He's the type of player that is satisfied with a 2-point, 5-rebound performance as long as he plays his role offensively, and never yields an inch on D.
His frame and aggressiveness make him a tough mark on the perimeter, but Seegars' true value lies in his skills as an interior defender. He's got major hops for a player his size, and is always a threat to range over from the weak side and pin a layup on the backboard.
Seegars didn't get the chance to handle the rock, and was rarely counted upon to hit a shot, however, as a 2016 prospect, his raw athleticism really stood out, and it's likely the college coaches took notice.
Austin Burnette is Adding Pieces to his Game
In the past six months, the future Scarlet Knight has taken a major step, becoming a more well-rounded two-way player and expanding his arsenal on the perimeter. His 6-foot-6 frame makes him undersized for the four at the next level, but he's ideal for the role of small-ball power forward due to his face-up game and vision out of the high-post.
He's always been a solid mid-range shooter, but Burnette's decision making and vision has improved dramatically since the beginning of his junior year. His motor is a strong point, and is part of what makes him a potential weapon on the defensive end.
Burnette's size and length allow him to body-up bigs in the paint and range out to the perimeter to guard wings. An additional 15-20 pounds of muscle would make the rising senior a viable force on the boards and improve his chances when matching up with bigger fours.
NC Natives Racking Up Offers
Between WCBA-Blue pushing Team Loaded VA to the brink, Team Loaded NC's impressive showing in session one, and the Carolina Hawks performing at the lower levels, the state of North Carolina showed off its depth this past weekend.
Check out the complete list of NC prospects that turned productive weekends into offers at Big Shots Myrtle Beach:
2015 SG Christian Adams: Abilene Christian
2016 PF Edrice Adebayo: Oklahoma State
2015 PG Chris Clemons: Campbell, Gardner Webb, UNCG
2015 SF Kentrell Barkley: Kent State
2015 PF James Dickey: VMI
2015 SG Caleb Holmesley: Abilene Christian, Appalachian State, Gardner Webb, High Point, Kent State
2016 PF Sacha Killeya-Jones: Wake Forest
2015 PF Isaiah Maurice: Ohio University
2016 PG Juan Munoz: Mount St. Mary's
2015 PF Bobby Stenborg: Lenoir Rhyne
2015 PG Demetrius Troy: VMI
2015 PF Alonzo Tyson: Appalachian State, Georgia Southern