Butler Basketball: Standouts at 2021 College Practice Camp

With the live period now underway, recruiting is about to boom across the nation. This includes being able to ramp up reaching out to 2022 prospects as well as getting more eyes on players at AAU events. With COVID-19 pushing back much of the normal recruiting timeline, this summer is a massive one for players and coaches alike. Prospects now have limited opportunities to prove themselves while staff also need to make quick evaluations and build strong relationships over the course of the coming months.

For Butler, in particular, the program held its 2021 college practice camp over this past weekend, with high school players from around the country gathering in Hinkle Fieldhouse. The event centered around showcasing what a college basketball practice entails from drills, to the weight room, to shortened games. About ~50 players were in attendance for the event, some of whom have already been linked as potential targets for the Dawgs while others could be burgeoning stars of the future.

I was able to take in the four-hour event and noted several standout performers along the way. I was unable to garner a huge sample size of everyone at the camp, so some possible standouts might be missing, but here are some of those that stood out most from my viewing (sorted by class):

Class of 2022 (seniors to be)

Cade Hornecker is among the most notable as he was issued a scholarship offer after the day. He is a versatile 6-foot-11 big man with tremendous touch and good length. He ran the floor well during 5-on-5 runs and is a fairly loud communicator. While he did not stretch the floor much in games, he did showcase his touch in shooting drills with the ability to hit from mid-range and show 3-point potential. He was quite vocal defensively as well. Hornecker plays for Team Griffin on the Nike EYBL circuit and also holds offers from Oklahoma, Wichita State, TCU, Creighton, and Kansas State - among others. Butler has expressed interest dating back to at least last July.

Hornecker’s high school and AAU teammate, Brendan Hausen, was also in attendance, has been a Butler target for a long time, and received an offer after the event. I already knew of his reputation as a shooter coming into the day and he did not disappoint, hitting from mid-range and showcasing deep range. I was more impressed by his passing ability, though, as he did an excellent job keeping his head up in transition and making the right play. His handle can still improve but his shooting and playmaking at 6-foot-5 are impressive. Hausen is regarded as a Top 200 player in the class by 247Sports and holds offers from high-majors; Minnesota and Nevada were the most recent to offer before BU jumped in. He did suffer an injury near the end of camp but was impressive up to that point.

Damonze Woods also fills out the “Amarillo Trio” that also includes Hornecker and Hausen. A 6-foot-7 forward with impressive physical attributes, he plays with an excellent motor and rebounds very well. He holds one offer from UT-Arlington right now but that list should continue to grow. Butler has been in contact with him dating back to at least last fall. All three of these Amarillo prospects are worth noting as targets for the Dawgs as the summer progresses.

Not that there were any awards at camp, but Brenden Moss looked dominant in the 5v5 run that I saw him in. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard got to his spots and was pretty much unstoppable as a scorer. I’ve watched him play multiple times this spring and he can be a tad streaky, but is deadly when on form. The smooth-shooting lefty hit some pull-up mid-range faders on Hinkle’s floor that gave me some flashbacks. One of the top scorers I saw all day, Moss is simply a bucket. He also pushed his teammates consistently to remain active and get back on defense; his voice on D is not something that came across during my spring streams but is worth noting. Butler reached out at least in April and Iowa is also involved from a high-major standpoint.

With a now much-improved jumper, Tayshawn Comer has really taken a big leap. The 6-foot lead guard is a collected playmaker that gets downhill and finishes through contract while also being able to distribute at a high level. He went into takeover mode a couple of times on Sunday. His off-the-dribble shooting has developed singiifcnalty and that has allowed him to get to the rim and finish with more regularity as well. Comer has received mid-major offers from Belmont and Toledo recently, but I’d expect high-majors to join the mix soon. The Cathedral HS product is worth monitoring as a potential point guard option. I’ve been very impressed. He will be visiting campus later this week.

The lone Georgia product at the event, Aidan Hadaway showed off his ability to be a double-double machine. A 6-foot-8 wing with excellent rebounding instincts, Hadaway was another highly-regarded player at camp. The first thing that popped this weekend was his athleticism and he combines that with a strong motor. Attacking the basket and finishing around the rim is his biggest attribute offensively. Hadaway is a walking mismatch of a lefty that is developing his shot. He was recently included in the Rivals150. Hadaway has already taken unofficial visits to Ohio and Dayton (in addition to BU camp) and is also planning trips to Lipscomb and Belmont. He holds offers from Ohio and Georgia, but that list should skyrocket this summer. Hadaway plays for the Atlanta Timberwolves.

I had watched Maximus Nelson play at a few events already this spring prior to seeing him at camp. Therefore, I already knew his reputation as a pick-and-pop forward that can really shoot it from deep. He once again showed that ability in Hinkle, hitting face-up threes and some mid-range fadeaways. What impressed me most about the 6-foot-8 forward was his activity on the court, though. He was often the loudest person on the floor, communicating switches and calling out passing reads. The coaches stressed being a communicator in their introduction and during drills, and Nelson was the one that stood out most in that area to me. He seemed to be a great teammate, which was nice to see coupling with his tangible skills. You aren’t going to find many better face-up shooters at 6-8 in this class, I don’t think. He holds only mid-major offers to date.

This was my first time noting NJ Benson and he intrigued me. Though listed at 6-foot-7, he plays bigger than that. He is already impressively well-built and feels like the type of guy that could dominate on the glass with his motor. He is the type of under-the-radar ⅘ man that will go too far under-the-radar. Benson plays extremely hard and has a knack for securing loose balls. When coaches talk about “winning games on the margins”, he is the type of forward that creates/eliminates possessions with his glass-cleaning and energy. He can play above-the-rim and his shooting mechanics weren’t all that bad, either. He only has a Radford offer so far and mostly mid-major interest, but I’d like to see him more.

“Connor Turnbull blocks everything in sight.” That’s my note from the weekend when referring to the 6-foot-10 big man. A machine underneath this weekend, he swatted shots in one-on-one post defense, as a rotating help man, and while chasing down fastbreaks. He shot the ball alright and rebounded pretty well, but more importantly had his hand in a ton of defensive plays. His rim-protection was one of the single most impressive attributes of anyone at the event. I have since read that he averaged five blocks per game during his junior high school season and that doesn’t surprise me. Turnbull was the lone Missouri player at the event. As far as I’m aware, he does not hold any offers yet and that blows my mind. Maybe it was just a good day of showcasing his shot-blocking timing and mobility, but I’ll want to see him play a few more times.

Jack Rose is teammates with Max Nelson in AAU, so I have also seen him play several times already this spring. A strong 3-point shooter with improved self-creating ability, he is the type of big guard that should succeed at the high-major level. He already earned an offer from Maryland earlier this year and is garnering interest from Butler, Loyola Chicago, and Wisconsin as well. Rose showed much of the same that I’ve seen already this spring; he is a high-level shooter with good size. He can curl off screens, spot-up, or connect off the dribble; his footwork was pristine in shooting drills. Rose and Nelson were also joined by fellow teammates Chevalier Emery and Andrew Alia from Wisconsin PGC 2022 this weekend.

David Tubek came to camp fresh off an unofficial visit to Pittsburgh and it makes sense that high-majors are showing interest. He is an athletic 6-foot-7 forward that runs the floor well and displays plenty of skill. For someone going into their senior year of high school, Tubek is impressively well-built and boasts the necessary frame to thrive in a high-major conference. He has solid mechanics as a shooter, played hard on D, and can finish above-the-rim in transition. Tubek recently picked up an offer from Loyola Chicago in early May. The South Sudan native was the only prospect to travel from Pennsylvania for the event. He only started playing basketball in the mid-2010s but is blossoming in a hurry. Butler’s coaches have preached versatility and Tubek can bring that.

Top shooting prospects are always worth noting and Kyler Vanderjagt is that. He moves without the ball well, has crisp footwork, and gets his shot up quickly. The 6-foot-4 guard also showed some bounce on takes to the basket on Sunday. A Michigan product, he has picked up offers from Belmont, Wofford, and Loyola Chicago all since the start of April - his playing style would fit really well at all three schools, too. Vanderjagt appears to be garnering more high-major interest of late and could experience a breakout summer.

Danny Wolf was another solid big man in attendance. The 6-foot-10 center displayed a high level of skill, particularly in transition. He runs the floor very well, has a crisp handle for his size, and exhibits quality playmaking ability. It’s not often that a center takes a rebound, dribbles coast-to-coast and finishes with a Rondo-fake layup. He recently picked up his first high-major offer from Minnesota but the likes of Illinois, Boston College, and Georgia Tech - among others - are interested. The No. 1 skill of his seems to be his playmaking. Considering how much Butler uses its bigs as playmakers, I wouldn’t be surprised to see continued interest here.

Class of 2023 (juniors to be)

Owen Freeman was offered a scholarship on the same day as camp. I think that speaks to how impressive the 6-foot-10 big man was and has been since Butler expressed interest. One of the top 2023 bigs in the Midwest, Freeman is going to collect offers from the Big Ten and Big East; he already holds them from Illinois, Iowa, and Wake Forest. He is a very fluid big man with his ability to run the floor, can stretch the floor out to the 3-point line, and earned some “oohs” on a few post moves in 3v3 drills. Freeman is the prototype mold of what every coach wants out of their big man and his interest will only continue to grow. Unranked by 247Sports now, but that will not last.

Dailyn Swain was one of my favorite prospects to watch on Sunday. An outstanding athlete at 6-foot-6 with three-level scoring ability, he feels like someone that could blow up this summer. Swain needs to add some muscle to his frame but he is young for his class and already boasts a ton of projectable skills. In addition to his offensive game, he was tenacious on defense and took the challenge of switches. Swain is the kind of multi-positional threat that every coach is looking for on the recruiting trail and his stock should rise in the coming months. He is rightfully receiving high-major interest and a big summer with All Ohio Red (U16) could leap him into national rankings. This is a good 2023 to have already gotten on campus. His offers to date have come from Toledo and Ohio.

Jermaine Coleman is someone that I’ve already seen a bunch of times this spring and spoken highly of. This weekend was no different. While he does force things from time to time, he is a fluid 6-foot-7 lefty sharpshooter that is very difficult to stop. He plays alongside Coach O’s nephew (Ashton Williamson) on Indy Heat’s U16 team and that is a duo to monitor over the next year; both are going to be high-major players. As far as Coleman in particular goes, I think he is simply one of the best shooters in this class; he is very smooth with replicable mechanics, confidence, and deep range. Combine that shooting with an extremely long wingspan and he has 3-and-D written all over him. Improved driving will be a key for him but I really like what I’ve seen out of the Park Tudor prospect.

Logan Imes showed a lot of good things on Sunday. His perimeter shooting was good, he displayed speed in the open floor, and his playmaking chops were particularly impressive. A 6-foot-4 in-state 2023 guard, he never really overwhelmed with highlight plays but was consistent throughout the day; the word I used in my notes was simply “solid”. He should play a bigger role for Zionsville as an upperclassman and I’m intrigued to see how his recruitment develops. He is playing for Indiana Elite this summer.

Ty Pence already holds an Illinois offer and played nicely at Butler’s elite camp. The 6-foot-6 wing is a strong shooter from both mid-range and distance while displaying good athleticism as well. His range as a shooter was particularly impressive, though he did not create for himself all that often. He plays alongside Butler offeree and fellow camp attendee Owen Freeman for Mid Pro Academy. There are other high-majors tracking him in addition to his home state team.

Class of 2024 (sophomores to be)

Note that these are all players that just finished their freshmen seasons. There is still a long way to go in the development of all of them. These were some of the top players from the class that I noted throughout the day, though.

Merritt Alderink impressed in 5v5, something that should not go unnoticed given that he is only entering his sophomore year in the fall. Already a sharpshooting forward at 6-foot-6, he knocked down his open looks and also attacked closeouts with the pump fake. He played with a great motor, blocked a couple of shots, and showed himself capable of scoring in post-up situations in addition to catch-and-shoot from distance.

Chas Lewless showcased deep range as a shooter and created for himself off the bounce well during Sunday’s event. Still only entering his sophomore year, he has to grow into his frame a bit more but is quick off the bounce and stands at 6-foot-1. His ability to create from the perimeter was impressive.

Durral Brooks made some excellent high-IQ plays this weekend while displaying quality body control and change-of-pace. He was perhaps the most impressive defender of the 2024 group from the bit that I was able to take in. The 6-foot-2 guard did a little bit of everything.

Josh Pickett was a pretty consistent shot-maker at the event, making him one of my top 2024 performers. He has good size at 6-foot-4, can stretch the floor out to 3-point range, and didn’t force the issue much. He picked up an offer from Northern Illinois back in September and could continue to blossom into a high-major guy as his high school career continues.

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