Rivals.com analyst Russ Wood was at the Next Up Recruits Panhandle Exposure Showcase in Marianna, Florida and offers these nuggets of news:
Chipley High School guard Trent Forrest put on a show. The No. 57 ranked player in the Rivals150 for the class of 2016 was able to get to any spot on the court he wanted to, including past his defender to finish at the rim with several thunderous dunks. Forrest used his elite athleticism on defense to create turnovers. Forrest also set up teammates well. He had easily the best performance of the day. Miami, Florida State, UCF and Providence are the schools Forrest told us he's hearing from the most lately.
Antwain Johnson is a cold blooded shooter. The 2015 Malone High School guard showed great form, range beyond the arc and will get after it on defense. He has good bounce and if he gets loose Johnson will throw one down. He has a college ready body and that strength allows him to defend multiple positions. Johnson told us that he's getting interest from Alabama State and Troy University.
Reclassified 2016 PF Sammy Buzik of West Oaks (Orlando) has good footwork and handles for his 6-foot-8 size. He's an above average on-ball defender thanks to good footwork which allowed him to keep smaller players in front of him. Buzik scored mainly around the basket but showed that he can knock down the 15-footer off the catch.
Kalin Lovett 2016 Choctawatchee (Ft. Walton Beach) HS is a ferocious defender with a non-stop motor. He has good lateral quickness and very good footwork. He gets a hand in his man's face to disrupt his vision and is vocal. Lovett showed good range on him jumper and proved he can knock down a fade away jump shot over a hand.
Zach Varnum is one of those players that has WG size, at 6-foot-5, but PF skills. Which probably means the 2017 prospect is used down low on his Paxton High School team. He used good footwork on defense, is a crafty offensive player that utilizes ball fakes very well. He has big hands and can score in a variety of ways. Varnum has decent bounce and a very good frame to build on with broad shoulders. He's not flashy but he is effective and he gets the job done. He needs to improve his speed and quickness.
One of the more intriguing underclassmen was Chipley's Adrian Sims. He has deep range on his jumper, but his shot has a low arc and his release isn't the quickest. He'll need to improve on those two things to get his shot off before the close out arrives. Sims has a strong lower body and doesn't shy away from contact. If Sims improves his shot mechanics and athleticism he may attract low major D1 offers.
The "discovery" of the day was Ibrahim Doumbia. An import from the Republic of Mali in West Africa, Doumbia will be a sophomore at Arlington Country Day when the school year begins after transferring from Houston Trent Internationale . Listing his size at 6-foot-8, 190-pounds, he runs the court smoothly and has a great motor. Doumbia can grab a defensive rebound and push the ball up court against pressure and finish. A long and lean athlete, he doesn't shy away from contact but he does need to add strength. Doumbia is a good passer even throwing a behind the back pass during drills. He holds offers from Baylor and UTEP.
Marianna SG Herman Williams is a "do it all" guard. He's a run-jump athlete capable of being your floor leader or playing off the ball. Williams can be a complementary ball handler against pressure. He has shooting range beyond the arc and has good strength that he uses that to finish through contact and to rebound better than someone that's 6-foot-2 should probably be able to. Williams also has plenty of bounce. When the class of 2016 rankings expand from the Top100 to the Top150, Williams will be a candidate for inclusion. Williams said he's hearing the most from Tennessee, UCF, Mississippi State, Clemson and USF.
Devon Patterson, 2015 Bay HS (Panama City), is an efficient WG that doesn't force things. He has good court vision and IQ which led to good decisions with the ball. His shot looks good when it leaves his hands but it needs to become more consistent. Patterson showed a willingness to penetrate and showed some toughness on defense.
Neeko Gainey, 2016 Gainesville HS, seems to be playing with even more confidence than before. Not that he previously lacked any, there just seems to be more. On this day he made good passes to teammates in transition, knocked down shots when he was given the opportunity and defended well.
We never got the impression that 2015 Chipley HS guard Tyrome Sharpe was fully dialed in on this day, but he's a capable point guard with good size and quickness for the position. He likes to get to the basket, but at the next level he'll need a more reliable jump shot to keep defenders honest so that he can get in the lane to score or drive-n-dish.
Godby (Tallahassee) SF Londell King was used in the post, due to a lack of true centers at the event, and the rising senior showed the toughness to mix it up on the glass. He likes to get out on the break and finish in transition and is physical enough to score in the paint. He left us wanting to see more.
Ozark, AL (Carroll HS) guard Deric Patton has off the chart explosiveness in fact explosiveness might be an understatement. The 2016 prospect has crazy bounce, and while that's good we really wanted to see his basketball skills. At 6-foot-1, Patton needs to showcase his point guard skills for scouts but on this day we saw little indication that he's working on the skills needed for that position. If that changes, Patton has a chance to go to college for free.
Amaru Bryant continues to impress us with his decision making and shot making skills. Even while playing through the pain of an ankle sprain, Bryant still showed that he can score at all three levels. This season the 2016 guard will play at East Gadsden High School. With the skill set he currently has, adding strength will help his recruitment.
Finally, two other Alabama players caught our attention: 2018 guard LaDarius Knight out of Ashford HS has big time athleticism and 2016 combo guard Reginald Todd of Leflore HS is a slasher that made good passes and showed a high basketball IQ. He currently he holds offers from Illinois State and Middle Tennessee State.
Next Up Recruits Panhandle Exposure Showcase was open to players in grades 9-12.
Russ Wood is a basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com and Inside The Gators. You can follow him on Twitter - @RussHoops