The annual Run-N-Slam in Fort Wayne is typically one of the better events in the Midwest, filled with elite teams from multiple circuits. This past weekend did not disappoint, as several prospects shined bright in high-level matchups. Hit the jump for a rundown of notable performances from the Spiece Run-N-Slam.
Best Overall Performance: Jerome Hunter (2018/6’7/OH Nova)
Weekend Wrap-Up: Hunter was absolutely dominant all weekend long at Spiece. On the perimeter, he displayed an elite shot with range out to 26 feet and a very quick release. He was stellar knocking down threes off pick and pop action and off the dribble. Hunter had multiple games where he knocked down 4+ triples. Jerome played large portions of the weekend on the wing as a playmaker as well, and his vision was a real asset. He broke defenders down off the dribble and found teammates for easy lay-ups and dunks on several occasions. In the post, Jerome was great with his back to the basket. He consistently showed advanced footwork and use of his pivot to get defenders off their feet before scoring with soft touch at the basket. Hunter is certainly a legitimate back to the basket threat that can get buckets as a post-up iso option on the block. Jerome also showed great grab and go ability, there were multiple instances where he obtained defensive rebounds and pushed the ball up the court where he either knocked down threes off the dribble, went coast to coast and finished, or found teammates for lobs. Hunter’s versatility is what makes him truly special, he has the potential to play the 2, 3, or 4 spots at the next level with a great shot, advanced footwork, above average ballhandling and plus athleticism.
Stock Prediction: Most national publications have Hunter ranked in the 80-120 range, we think that is a bit low. Jerome has the skill, athleticism, size and versatility of a top 50 player in the country. He will certainly be slotted at that range when the initial Endless Motor Sports rankings are released in June.
Recruitment: Current offers from Pitt, Xavier, Michigan, West Virginia, Butler, Ohio State, Illinois, NC State, Dayton, Purdue, Rutgers, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Toledo, Stony Brook, and Wright State among others. Many outlets have Jerome with tentative top group of Xavier, Pitt, Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue, and West Virginia, but Hunter claims no leaders at this point and is wide open.
Breakout Performer: Gabe Brown (2018/6’7/The Family)
Weekend Wrap-Up: Brown was outstanding in the opening game versus OH Nova, knocking down 6 triples and finishing with 25+ points. His shot off the catch is very quick with consistent mechanics. Gabe also displayed very good athleticism, as he finished above the rim on several occasions and nearly put one defender on a poster on what would’ve been a Sports Center Top 10 type dunk. At 6’7 with outstanding length and a frame that can add 20-25 pounds without losing mobility, Gabe has all the physical tools of an impact two-way wing at the next level. The best thing about Brown at this point is his upside, as he’s just now scratching the surface of what he will ultimately become on the court. With continued development on his ballhandling and playmaking skills, Gabe looks to be a high-major player without doubt.
Stock Prediction: Unranked to most national publications at this point, that should change very soon. Gabe has a great looking stroke, very good athleticism, good physical tools and the upside that make him a top 100ish player in the country the way we see it.
Recruitment: Brown holds offers from DePaul, Central Michigan, Oakland University, Loyola (IL), Milwaukee, Toledo, Kent State, Southern Utah, Buffalo, Cleveland State, University of Detroit, and Loyola Marymount. Gabe’s recruitment is just now heating up, as he is fielding high major interest from the likes of Michigan State, Michigan, Xavier and others. It’s only a matter of time before he lands his first high-major offer. It will be interesting to watch his recruitment develop.
Bringing a Hardhat: Brandon Johns (2018/6’8/Indy Heat)
Weekend Wrap-Up: Really liked what I saw over the weekend from Brandon. He has an improved motor that is noticeable on the boards and he displayed much more aggression on the offensive end of the court. He had a few highlight reel dunks in transition, including a windmill that was dunk contest worthy. In the halfcourt Johns buried catch and shoot threes, and showed some really nice vision finding teammates for dunks after breaking defenders down off the dribble. Talent has never been in question for the talented junior, but it appears his motor has caught up to his skill level if this weekend was any indication, and that is a scary thought. At a legit 6’8 and 220 pounds, with very good ball skills and good athleticism, Brandon has all the tools to be an elite level player.
Stock Prediction: Johns has taken a slight dip in the rankings over the past year, and currently ranges anywhere from the mid 40s to just outside the top 100 depending on the publication. We look for Brandon to solidify a spot in the top 50 after this Spring, as his motor has greatly improved during the first 2 sessions of EYBL and the Run-N-Slam. He’s no longer just a catch and shoot player that many claimed after last summer, he’s impacting the game in other ways besides the scoring department.
Recruitment: Current offers from Alabama, Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue, Michigan, Texas, Pitt, University of Detroit and Memphis, Missouri, Creighton within the past week. While most pundits expect Brandon to ultimately pick the hometown Spartans, he doesn’t appear to be in any hurry and claims no leaders at this point. While we wouldn’t be surprised to see Johns end up at MSU, it’s not the foregone conclusion that most think.
Most Intriguing: Eric Hunter (2018/6’3/Indiana Pros)
Weekend Wrap-Up: The southpaw from Indy showed off ballhandling and creating skills that not many give him enough credit for. Known for being a knockdown shooter, Eric’s ability to create space with change of direction and speed dribbles really stood out on Saturday in pool play. Hunter did that in isolation sets consistently, and converted on a plethora of perimeter shots from both midrange and distance. He also used that handle to get to the rim and finish on a few occasions as well. While his scoring prowess is never in doubt, his vision is what really caught our attention. He found teammates with no look dimes for easy buckets after the helpside defense committed to cutting off his driving lane. If he can continue to display point guard like ability, he is an intriguing prospect that is going to be a major steal for whatever school he ends up at.
Stock Prediction: Sitting somewhere between 80-130 by most national rankings services, we like Eric to move up a bit to the 65-75 range by the end of Summer. Hunter’s shooting and scoring ability is well known, but the development of his ballhandling and vision is what takes him to another level. He’s also a better athlete than given credit for.
Recruitment: Eric holds offers from Xavier, Purdue, IUPUI, Minnesota, Kent Sate, Butler, East Carolina, Nebraska, Ball State, Creighton and Fort Wayne. Several other Big Ten schools are also showing interest and we expect Hunter to collect more offers this summer as his play has been impressive.