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KSR's takeaways from day one of the Indianapolis Nike EYBL session

Zack Geogheganby:Zack Geoghegan05/18/24

ZGeogheganKSR

Day one of the third Nike EYBL session — hosted in Indianapolis — of the 2024 season is officially in the books, and KSR had boots on the ground for all of it.

Even though there were only four sets of games (a small amount compared to the rest of the weekend), there was still plenty for us to learn. College coaches were allowed to watch live and in person. Several of Kentucky’s top targets showed out for them, too. We’ve already dropped a couple of interviews from these performances with more on the way. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony even made appearances at the Pacers Athletic Center. It was a big crowd with plenty of high-level basketball.

And it’s only going to get crazier on Saturday, with games beginning at 8:00 a.m. EST and ending at 6:30 p.m. EST. There’s a lot more basketball in store and we’ll be covering it all on the website and over on KSBoard. While you wait, dive into our top takeaways from Friday’s opening session.

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Mark Pope was in the building

And he wasn’t the only one. When KSR traveled to the first Nike EYBL session last month in Memphis, there were no college coaches. Due to NCAA rules, they are only allowed to attend AAU events during certain days throughout the spring/summer. This weekend in Indy marks the first stretch of days that coaches can sit baseline and watch their top targets in person.

Joining Mark Pope in Indy was assistant Jason Hart. We arrived just in time for the start of Friday’s games and we quickly spotted Pope and Hart roaming the crowds. Pope was — as you might have guessed — constantly being stopped by his fellow coaches and plenty of fans (not limited to Kentucky ones, either). But he was front and center to check out the likes of Caleb Wilson, Jasper Johnson, AJ Dybantsa, Jerry Easter, and more. Hart also made the rounds, sometimes joining Pope and sometimes going off on his own to watch other prospects.

Admittedly, having Pope and Hart to follow around made life much easier for us — we had a clearer idea of who the Kentucky staff was focusing on. But it was also quite strange to see some of the coaches across the country now representing different colors. We saw Orlando Antigua in an Illinois hat, Kenny Payne and Chin Coleman rocking Arkansas gear, and Eric Musselman in a red shirt with a giant USC logo on the front.

It was… weird (No, John Calipari did not make the trip). But it does make for a more exciting atmosphere. Not to say the players didn’t take the games as seriously in the first two sessions, but there is certainly an added sense of competition with the likes of Kentucky, Kansas, and North Carolina watching the action unfold.

— Zack Geoghegan

Will Riley dropped FORTY-TWO points

In what might have been the most impressive individual performance I’ve ever seen on the AAU circuit, Kentucky target Will Riley exploded during his first game in Indy. I had the chance to watch him impress in Memphis a few weeks ago, but this was another level of elite shot-making.

Riley, a 6-foot-8 wing ranked No. 9 overall in the 2025 class by On3, dropped 42 points in a dominant 100-60 win for UPlay over Team Durant. He missed just one shot, going 15-16 from the field. The lone look he missed came with roughly two minutes left in the game and the outcome already decided. Riley canned all five of his three-point attempts and went a perfect 7-7 from the line. He also chipped in five assists and two rebounds with just one turnover.

It didn’t matter how he got his points either. Whether it was spinning his way into the lane, pulling up from deep, or finishing tough shots at the rim, Riley was giving out buckets to the rotation of defenders that Team Durant unsuccessfully tossed his way. He dared the opposition to bite on his pump fakes (which he sometimes pulled from near-halfcourt — that’s how hot he was) and then left them in the dust when he darted into the paint.

I’m really not sure how else to describe his performance. My vocabulary doesn’t contain the words that would do it justice. Kentucky is high on his list and a visit to Lexington will happen at some point. A reclass to 2024 remains on the table, too. He’s a name to keep a close eye on.

— Zack Geoghegan

Jasper Johnson caught fire and refused to cool off

The five-star guard has found himself at a unique intersection of blue-chip status and local legacy standout as a Lexington native and son of a former Kentucky football star. That’s a beautiful situation for Mark Pope, who has made it clear he is looking to keep the best high school talent in the state while also recruiting Burger Boys capable of playing anywhere. Jasper Johnson is both — or will be when the selection committee names him a McDonald’s All-American next cycle, rather.

He proved that yet again in Indianapolis, exploding for 20 points while adding three rebounds, one assist and one block in 31 minutes to open the event. It was among the best performances for Johnson in recent memory, knocking down tough, pro-level shots over and over again at all three levels and doing so with ridiculous efficiency. He caught fire and refused to cool off, looking the part as the No. 10 overall prospect and No. 1 combo guard in the 2025 On3 Industry Ranking.

Pope can’t take the best player in Kentucky every single year just because — the scholarship numbers add up quickly, certainly after a few seasons. Johnson doesn’t fit that token in-state category, though, but rather the “one-and-done, Burger Boy” category Pope said he’d continue to recruit at his introductory press conference. He’s a top priority in the rising senior class, and for good reason.

Jack Pilgrim

AJ Dybantsa and Tyran Stokes combine for 52

The Oakland Soldiers have formed a juggernaut on the EYBL circuit, the No. 1 prospects in both 2025 and 2026 teaming up to create the most dominant two-man duo in the country, a continuation of their time together at Prolific Prep this past season in high school.

AJ Dybantsa is the top rising senior in the nation, a long, athletic and skilled wing with generational upside. Between his shot-making, control, pace and feel beyond his otherwordly physical tools, there’s really not much more you could ever want in a recruit. He went for an impressive 21 points on 6-9 shooting, 1-3 from three and 8-10 at the line while adding four assists, two rebounds, two steals and a block in 26 minutes in a blowout win.

Yet somehow, he wasn’t even the most impressive player on the floor. That honor goes to Louisville native Tyran Stokes, a physically imposing forward with guard skills. He went for an absurd 31 points on 12-17 shooting and 4-4 from three while adding eight rebounds, five assists, one steal and zero turnovers in 27 minutes. It was about as close to a perfect performance you could draw up, the 6-7, 225-pound forward bulldozing his way to the rack with ease while knocking down shots from deep. He’s got a combination of size and raw skill you just don’t come across often, making him a walking mismatch for poor souls hoping to slow him down.

Pope and Jason Hart were in attendance oohing and ahhing each play the duo made on the floor together, drooling over the idea of having the five-stars go back-to-back with each other in Lexington.

Jack Pilgrim

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2024-06-12