Kentucky Hoopfest: Day 1

I’m here in Louisville, KY, where the Hoopfest is in full force. Many of the teams I saw in Indianapolis made the trip across the Ohio River, but I got to see some players today that I missed there. The setup is much nicer than at the Invitational. There’s one huge building with 12 courts set up, making it easier to get around and see more games. I got here at midday, so I didn’t get to see as many players as I would have liked, but here are some of the players I got to see yesterday and what I thought of them.

Coaches Watch I was going to these games according to a preordained schedule, but just happened to run into Michigan assistant Jeff Meyer nearly everywhere I went. He was clearly keeping an eye on Jalen Reynolds, Matt Costello and Ray Lee, and also watched the Mustangs 17’s game. Coach Izzo also took in a Pride 16’s game.

Ray Lee Very good day for Lee. The first game I saw him play was for the Pride 16’s, and he willed them to a victory after being down at half. Pride was playing so bad I actually texted Dylan during the first half that I had never seen them play worse. Then in the second half, Ray turned it on and from there it was a Ray Lee highlight film. One thing is clear: though he can pass, he is primarily a scorer. That’s undoubtedly where he does the most damage. He was getting to the basket whenever he wanted and showed impressive touch on some tough floaters. He simply took over the game and turned some heads in the process, I’m sure.

Matt Costello Costello picked up right where he left off in Indy. It’s shocking how far along his game is at such a young age. He already has a 3-point shot, a midrange shot and an impressive array of post moves. It would be easy for him to be a finesse post player, but he still goes after every rebound and blocks any shot that comes his way. He showed off his offense yesterday, particularly his midrange shot, which I hadn’t seen much of to that point. He also got some baskets off a lightning-quick drop-step. Love his game.

LaDontae Henton I saw Henton play for the Mustangs 17’s yesterday for the first time all year, and he looked pretty good. At Michigan’s Elite camp he claimed he was 100 percent recovered from his knee injury, but he looked to me like he’s still recovering a bit. He’s running well, but gets a little gassed too easily, which is understandable. He still does his thing: score. He shot the ball well from beyond the arc and got to the basket easily, but needs to finish more consistently. One underrated aspect of his game is his passing ability–he was dropping dimes all game. He has an impressive all-around game. He handles the ball and shoots very well for a guy his size.

Jalen Reynolds This was the first time in a while I got to see Reynolds play, and this was better competition than he went against at the Great Lakes Classic. Offensively, he had flashes but took some bad shots and didn’t shoot the ball very well. What I was impressed with was how he continued to be aggressive and played even harder on defense and on the glass when his shots weren’t falling. With so many players, it’s the opposite. He rebounded really well and played great defense all game. It’s clear he likes to focus on being a versatile player–he made a point of getting out on picks and staying in front of guards on switches, and on offense he used his quickness on players much smaller. I know he can be better offensively, but I was impressed with what I saw yesterday.

Notes I spoke with Jalen after his game and he said he’s been in contact with Michigan as well as Michigan State, Syracuse, Oakland, USC, Xavier, Cincinatti and Purdue. He’s been offered by Xavier, Oakland and USC.

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