Opening night of the GNBA Championships tipped off in Waukegan, Illinois Friday evening and we saw some of the top middle school prospects and teams in the Midwest on full display.  With teams coming from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, and Michigan there were high level games going on all night.  With the GNBA championship crown on the line this weekend the young rising prospects were playing with some high-level energy.  Here are some of the players that stood out to me.


Leon Bond III – 2022 (WI Shooters 14u) – It didn't take long for Bond to make his presence felt in the sessions first round of games. The long athletic forward was all over the place on both sides of the floor. He proved that he can score from all three levels but got most of his buckets by attacking and finishing above the rim. He was setting his teammates up for easy buckets all game long. Bond was disrupting passing lanes all game long and getting easy steals which led to fast break opportunists for him and his teammates. He finished with 14 points in Wisconsin Shooters win over the Milwaukee Rebels.

Dahiya Griffen – 2023 (Man up 13u) – Griffen has proven himself as one of the more physical and dominant 2023 players in the whole league during sessions 1 and 2, and Friday evening was no different. He always finds a way to the rim and it usually ends in a bucket or free throw shots. The 6-1 wing got off to a quick start scoring 7 quick points in a row helping his Man Up team get off to an early double figure lead. He finished with 11 points.

Reggie Thomas – 2022 (Martin Bros Select 14u) – Thomas was impressive for the Martin Bros all game long. The young guard has a very solid feel for the game and can take advantage of his opponents with his ball handling and quickness. He did a very good job attacking the lane where he finished around the rim or dumped it off to his teammates for easy buckets.  He plays with good control and was able to easily break the full court press using good ball fakes and nice timely passes.  His high motor allows him to win almost every 50-50 ball as he was consistently the first player on the floor diving for loose balls.  Thomas finished with 12 points.

Donald Ferguson – 2022 (Team Getshook 14u) – Ferguson has been one of the most consistent floor generals in the GNBA and he continued his high level of play Friday.  He has a very high basketball IQ and plays well beyond his years.  He keeps the ball on a string and can make defenders look silly at times with the different crossovers he uses.  He proved that he is a deep ball threat from virtually anywhere beyond the arc.  Ferguson is the type of point guard that every coach would love to have on their team because he carries the ideal leadership skills that you want in your point guard.  He finished with 16 points in a come from behind win over Kessel Heat.

Jeff Brazziel – 2022 (Ray Allen Select 14u) - Brazziel showed why he is regarded as one of the top 2022 prospects in the GNBA.  He is extremely long for his age and knows how to use it to his advantage.  When he is locked in defensively he blocks shots, jumps the passing lanes for easy steals, and disrupts almost anything that comes near him.  He is a match up problem because not many players have the combination of his height, length, athleticism, and overall skill set.  He showed some very solid court vision as he was dropping dimes all game long.  The rising 2022 prospect erupted for 12 first half points and finished with 17 in Ray Allen Selects win.

Tyler Fawcett – 2022 (Mercury Elite 14u) - Fawcett has been one of the most consistent players all spring long.  The 6-4 forward can score in a variety of different ways but is at his best in the paint.  He was finishing above the rim and looked like he was going to throw down a dunk but decided to drop it in at the last second.  Although down low is where he gets most of his buckets he proved that he can step outside and knock down midrange jumpers.  He was all over the boards on both ends of the floor for Mercury Elite. 

Calvin Marshall – 2022 (REACH Legends 14u) - Marshall has some of the highest upside in the GNBA and has potential to make some serious noise in the coming years once he puts it all together.  The young prospect can play and defend multiple positions making him hard to match up against because he can take advantage of bigger players that try and stay in front of him.  When he is completely locked in there's not many players who are as productive as him on both ends of the floor.   

Ethan Kizer – 2023 (Illinois Irish 13u) - One of the bigger names in the 13u age group continues to play at a high level.  The most impressive part of Kizer’s game is his overall skill set for a big man at this stage.  The 6-3 forward is comfortable with bringing the ball up in transition all while dribbling low to the ground with his eyes up as he as excellent vision and is always finding the open man.  He has nice foot work in the post and can get what he wants around the rim.  He is very athletic and has bounce that allows him to play well above the rim.  He is the best rim protector I've seen at this level as he affected almost every shot that was in the paint.

Chrishon McCray – 2022 (EG10 14u) - McCray put on a show in EG10s big win over All in Athletics.  He came out hot scoring 16 first half points and was doing it from all three levels.  His three-point shot is lethal and will make defenders pay for leaving him any kind of space.  He finishes around the rim through contact at a very high rate too.  The most impressive part of his game is his ball handling as he has proved himself this spring as one of the most creative and skilled guards in the GNBA.  McCray finished with 21 points.

Stephen Kesti – 2022 (Gain Elite 14u) - He has great size, good hands, and keeps the ball high on the catch which is very impressive at this level.  He finished through contact and was able to get his shots off no matter how crowded it was around him.  He has a nice soft touch from the outside and showed that he can be a midrange threat.  He effects a ton of shots and gets nice easy blocks using his height and length on defense.  The rising young big man finished with 14 points in Gain Elites late Friday night win.