October 23, 2021

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Who are the top players to watch in this week’s GEICO Nationals high school basketball event?

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With the GEICO Nationals set to kick off on Wednesday at Suncoast Arena on the campus of Florida SouthWestern State College, here are the top 15 recruits playing in the tournament, with 11 on the boys’ side, and four on the girls’ side. The tournament is not allowing in fans but follow the action on news-press.com, naplesnews.com or on Twitter at @nphssports.  

Here are this year’s players to watch:

Emma Calvert

School: Fremont High (Utah)

Position: Forward

Grade: Senior

Height: 6-foot-4

Ranking: No. 74 in espnW/HoopGurlz Top 100

Commitment: BYU

Skinny: Calvert asserted her presence on the floor all season, averaging 17.3 points per game with 7.4 rebounds as well. In the 6A State Championship, Calvert scored a game-high 30 points, while adding 12 rebounds and going 16-for-17 from the charity stripe.

More: GEICO Nationals: Field is set for high school boys and girls hoops showdown in Fort Myers

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Moussa Diabate

School: IMG

Position: Power Forward

Grade: Senior

Height: 6-foot-10

Ranking: No. 8 in ESPN 100, No. 18 in 247Sports Composite, No. 26 on Rivals

Commitment: Michigan

Skinny: Diabate is arguably the most athletic big man in this tournament. With a wingspan of 7-foot-1, he is a true rim protector. Diabate’s ability to run in transition and protect the perimeter on the defensive side stands out.

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More: GEICO Nationals moved to Fort Myers, will crown boys and girls high school hoops national champions

Jaden Bradley

School: IMG

Position: Point Guard

Grade: Junior

Height: 6-foot-2

Ranking: No. 8 in ESPN Junior 60, No. 8 in 247Sports Composite, No. 7 on Rivals

Commitment: None, possesses notable offers from Kentucky, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Kansas, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas Tech, UCLA

Skinny: Bradley is one of the better game managers at the point, and likes to get the other players on the floor involved. The 6-2 guard is one of the better rebounding guards in the country and can pressure the ball effectively.

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Jarace Walker

School: IMG

Position: Power Forward

Grade: Junior

Height: 6-foot-8

Ranking: No. 9 in ESPN Junior 60, No. 7 on 247Sports Composite, No. 11 on Rivals

Commitment: None, possesses notable offers from Auburn, Maryland, Michigan, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, Syracuse

Skinny: Walker is considered to be a hybrid between a three and a four, who is able to insert his physicality on both ends of the floor. Expect to see Walker score, rebound, and notch assists.

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Nyla Harris

School: Orlando Lake Highland Prep

Position: Forward

Grade: Junior

Height: 6-foot-2

Ranking: No. 11 in espnW/HoopGurlz Super 60

Commitment: Louisville

Skinny: The forward averaged 11.9 points and 7.2 rebounds and played a key role in the Highlanders going 19-0, winning the FHSAA Class 4A Championship game. Lake Highland Prep hasn’t lost since Dec. 28, 2019.

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Caleb Houstan

School: Montverde

Position: Small Forward

Grade: Senior

Height: 6-foot-8

Ranking: No. 7 in ESPN 100, No. 8 on 247Sports Composite, No. 8 on Rivals

Commitment: Michigan

Skinny: The Michigan signee does not have to have the ball in his hands at all times. Houstan is capable of playing at the three or the four. Houstan is able to hit from virtually anywhere on the court, although consistency is a minor issue that Juwan Howard and company should be able to fix in Ann Arbor.

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Jalen Duren 

School: Montverde

Position: Center

Grade: Junior

Height: 6-foot-10

Ranking: No. 2 in ESPN Junior 60, No. 2 on 247Sports Composite, No. 2 on Rivals

Commitment: None, possesses notable offers from Alabama, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, UCLA, Villanova

Skinny: Viewed similarly to Bam Adebayo, Duren is quick to the ball on defense and is one of the most physical players in the junior class on both ends of the floor. His low post game is very promising and can translate to the NBA level quite easily. Duren won the 2020-21 MaxPreps Florida Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

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Langston Love

School: Montverde

Position: Shooting Guard

Grade: Senior

Height: 6-foot-4

Ranking: No. 23 in ESPN 100, No. 34 in 247Sports Composite, No. 53 on Rivals

Commitment: Baylor

Skinny: Love simply does not make mistakes when he is on the floor. One of the more efficient scoring guards in the 2021 class, Love makes smart decisions when the basketball is in his hands and can create opportunities for others on the floor as well.

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M.J. Rice

School: Oak Hill (Virginia)

Position: Small Forward

Grade: Junior

Height: 6-foot-5

Ranking: No. 10 on ESPN Junior 60, No. 22 on 247Sports Composite, No. 27 on Rivals

Commitment: None, notable offers from NC State, Louisville, Boston College, Ole Miss, and Pittsburgh

Skinny: Rice has made strides as a shooter since entering high school. The junior has ball skills that are top-notch, and brings the versatility needed at either the three or the four.

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Nate Bittle

School: Prolific Prep (Calif.)

Position: Center

Grade: Senior

Height: 6-foot-11

Ranking: No. 9 on ESPN 100, No. 16 on 247Sports Composite, No. 18 on Rivals

Commitment: Oregon

Skinny: Bittle can knock down the 3-pointer at a very efficient clip for a big man, and has the size needed to play in the NBA, including a 7-foot-5 wingspan. The mid-range game is there for Bittle, as he can find a way to get a clean look or fade away when need be.

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Kendall Brown

School: Sunrise Christian (Kansas)

Position: Small Forward

Grade: Senior

Height: 6-foot-8

Ranking: No. 20 on ESPN 100, No. 15 on 247Sports Composite, No. 16 on Rivals

Commitment: Baylor

Skinny: Three things are clear about Brown: he’s a standout defender, an emerging offensive talent, and excels in transition. He isn’t necessarily the best shooter from 3-point land, but his ability to finish tough shots close to the rim is what makes him lethal.

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Kennedy Chandler

School: Sunrise Christian (Kansas)

Position: Point Guard

Grade: Senior

Height: 6-foot-1

Ranking: No. 10 on ESPN 100, No. 13 on 247Sports Composite, No. 11 on Rivals

Commitment: Tennessee

Skinny: Chandler would be an effective running back in the NFL because he loves to run downhill when he’s on the floor. His passing and decision making is among the best in the nation. He might not be the biggest scorer for Rick Barnes and Tennessee, but his ability to be the leader on the floor should have Volunteer fans excited for next season.

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Nolan Hickman

School: Wasatch Academy (Utah)

Position: Point Guard

Grade: Senior

Height: 6-foot-2

Ranking: No. 28 on ESPN 100, No. 31 on 247Sports Composite, No. 39 on Rivals

Commitment: Kentucky

Skinny: Hickman can guard the perimeter really well for a point guard, and will be one of the better outside shooters John Calipari has had during his time in Lexington, despite being ranked lower than previous recruits at the one. Hickman is very smooth and has dribbling skills that should be able to create separation with some open looks.

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Raven Johnson

School: Westlake (Ga.)

Position: Point Guard

Grade: Senior

Height: 5-foot-8

Ranking: No. 2 on espnW/HoopGurlz Top 100

Commitment: South Carolina

Skinny: The Naismith High School Player of the Year averaged 15.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game this season. Johnson can get to the rim, pull up when need be or nail a decisive trey. Her ability to do it all puts Dawn Staley and South Carolina in an excellent position next season to reload.

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Ta’Niya Latson

School: Westlake (Ga.)

Position: Guard

Grade: Junior

Height: 5-foot-8

Ranking: No. 39 on espnW/HoopGurlz Super 60

Commitment: None

Skinny: Latson led Westlake this season, averaging 23.2 points per game, and has been an excellent compliment to Johnson and Virginia Tech commit Brianna Turnage, who averaged 10.2 points and seven rebounds per game. Latson is explosive and elusive off the dribble.

Follow The News-Press and Naples Daily News Sports Writer Alex Martin on Twitter: @NP_AlexMartin. For the best sports coverage in Southwest Florida, follow @newspresssports and @ndnprepzone on Instagram.

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