Monday, May 20, 2024

USA Basketball: Recapping the top 2026 prospects from Final Four minicamp

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One of the best parts of Final Four weekend is the high school minicamp that USA Basketball has run during the weekend. It was no different as many of the top players from the classes of 2025, 2026 and 2027 made their way to the desert to compete in this year’s edition of the camp. After taking a few days to digest what we were able to watch, we wanted to take a class by class look at some of the standouts.

We’ve already taken a look at the class of 2025, it’s time to move on to 2026.

When it comes to the class of 2026, the California takeover was real as guys like No. 1 Brandon McCoy, Jason Crowe Jr. and Tajh Ariza represented for a loaded class from the Golden State

MCCOY, CROWE AND ARIZA REPPED CALIFORNIA WELL

Tajh Ariza (Photo: USA Basketball/Alexi Shigio)

Currently, five of the Top-10 ranked players in the class of 2026 hail from the state of California. Four of them were on hand in Phoenix. While No. 4 Alijah Arenas was sideline with an ankle injury, No. 1 Brandon McCoy, No. 5 Jason Crowe Jr. and No. 10 Tajh Ariza were all on the floor and repping their home state in a big way.

Since he’s ranked tops overall, let’s go ahead and start with McCoy who has everything that you could want in a floor general. 6-foot-4 size? Check. Elite athleticism? Check. Feel for the game? Check. Makes others around him better? Check. This kid is just so naturally gifted and moves differently than any other playmaker. His explosion, his change of directions, his ability to mix up speeds are all incredible gifts. While he can certainly score, McCoy seemed much more content to set up others throughout camp and made one eye-popping pass after another. There’s still some work to do with his jump shot but as good as McCoy is, what makes him the top-ranked prospect in the class right now is his incredible ceiling for growth. Arizona, Oregon and UCLA are among the West Coast powers that will be looking to keep him in the region but Kansas has jumped in and we would expect every other blue blood program to do the same before it’s all said and done.

As good as McCoy is, a valid case could be made that Crowe actually played better during the USAB camp. What was most notable is that he appears to have grown and is now pushing 6-foot-4 and that’s a scary thought when you combine that with his off-the-charts skill level and ability to process the game at an elite level. A big-time scorer who can shoot with range or get anywhere he wants off the dribble, there’s not a defense he hasn’t seen at this point and the way he plays fast but under control is always impressive. He won’t even turn 16 until later on this summer and it’s pretty wild that UCLA is still his only reported high major offer. Technically, Louisville did offer as well but that was with Kenny Payne as the head coach.

Then there’s Ariza. The son of longtime NBA player Trevor Ariza, Tajh had the full attention of everybody in attendance. Every bit of 6-foot-7 and maybe pushing 6-foot-8, Ariza simply moves different than any other wing in his class. Perhaps different than any wing in any class. He played a ton of point guard as a sophomore and that shows with his ability to read pick and rolls and split double teams. He’s so dang fluid and bouncy that when he wants to get somewhere, it’s tough to stop him. His jump shot looks like a real weapon and he’s another who is just barely scratching at the surface of his potential. In terms of feedback from NBA scouts, we at 247Sports heard the most about Ariza and he looks to be primed for a monster grassroots season. Of course, UCLA is involved as one would expect.

MORE 2026 NOTABLES

Davion Adkins (Photo: USA Basketball/Alexi Shigio)

Jalen Montonati, SF, No. 11- There were some times where the 6-foot-7 wing from Oklahoma had some troubles finding driving lanes and getting better creating space for his shot will be a focus moving forward. But and this is a big but, he remains one of the truly elite shooters in the class and has a gorgeous jumper with deep range that he can get off in a hurry. That jumper is why he’s a priority for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to keep home while others like Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas and many more are giving chase.

Elijah Williams, SF, No. 12- The son of Detroit Pistons head coach Monty Williams, it was a solid weekend for Williams. He’s perhaps more of a natural small ball four at this point than a true wing, but it’s easy to appreciate the toughness he played with and his all-around versatility. He was on the glass, made some open jumpers and just seemed to be in the mix when good things happened.

Marcus Johnson, PG, No. 24- The first addition to the Ohio State 2026 recruiting class, Johnson is a high scoring point guard who is crafty and skilled. He can get on heaters with the jump shot, plays in attack mode and isn’t scared. He does need to add a lot of strength, but given that he’s not even finished his sophomore year in high school there is plenty of time for that.

JJ Andrews, SG, No. 26- One of the most physically impressive wings in attendance, Andrews looks more like a college sophomore than he does a 16-year-old. He was all over the rims, getting out in transition and showed some shot creating ability.

Brandon Bass Jr, SG, No. 30- Another son of a former NBA player, Bass didn’t exactly have any eye-popping moments but if anybody was watching closely, they saw so much to like. He moves extremely well, has a great frame to grow into, wields a solid jump shot and has all the tools that you like to see in a young shooting guard prospect. Not surprisingly LSU has offered as have others like Houston, Illinois, St. John’s, UCF and USF to name a few.

Jayden Hodge, SF, No. 33- It was a really good weekend for Hodge. Really good. In the midst of a growth spurt and much stronger than he was even six months ago, Hodge looked so confident getting to the rim, hitting open shots and making the right pass. His fundamentals are on point and he already has a firm command on how to use his size/strength to his benefit.

Steven Reynolds, SG, No. 49- Reynolds has room to get a little tighter with his ball handling but is an outstanding two-guard prospect. He can shoot it from deep, he can create off the dribble for himself and others and he plays with some real creativity on the offensive end. It is easy to see why the in state programs like Indiana, Notre Dame and Purdue – along with many others – have made him an early priority.

Jacob Lanier, SF, No. 67- Another physically impressive wing, Lanier had some really nice moments in camp. He played with tremendous energy, slashed to the rim, filled lanes in transition and showed some defensive versatility. He’s going to be fun to watch throughout the summer.

Davion Adkins, PF, No. 77- An argument can be made that Adkins played with the most energy of any big man in attendance. The wiry strong lefty from Dallas was all over the floor making hustle plays and soaring above the rim for dunks and lob finishes. He is a speedy rim runner, has a great frame to build on and his energy is infectious. He’s still rough around the edges, but he looks like he would be an awful lot of fun to coach.

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