Best Players in North LA

Daniel Ortiz 5’10” (G) Sr. (2021) CALVARY

Hybrid Pro Comp: Jamal Murray + Kawhi Leonard

UPDATE: With Ortiz transferring to Calvary to play under coach Victor Morris for his senior season, look for his game to open up even more.

Morris has a knack for getting outstanding production from his best players, building teams around perennial talents each year like last season with D’Marcus Hall.

Ortiz will have plenty of shooters around him, a high-quality big like Labree Williams and experienced basketball junkies like Ben Ponder. Anything less than a state title and MOP for Ortiz will be a letdown. He has the chance to get some real D-1 offers.

SCOUT: Plays like a pro. The comparison mostly comes from how he keeps the ball high on his jumper, much like Leonard, and tough to defend or for defenders to get a good contest on his jumper.

Excellent at reacting to defense, especially defenders who reach. Has a quick go-to behind the back dribble for anyone reaching.

Sweet stroke, a little flat on his free throws but still can hit all types of deep shots. Strange how his FTs seem to have much less arch than his long shots, though that may just have been in the time I saw him.

Great ball handling. Nice size and build. Finishes well with left hand, especially in traffic. Off the catch, he likes to do a quick size up and blow by his defender by attacking closeouts to the left and pull up or get to the basket. Pretty good off the dribble 15-ft. pull-up game. Also excels going left into a step-back three or long-two.

Quick, but doesn’t seem extraordinarily fast. Uses body, positioning and really good footwork to blow by opponents. Has a very good feel for his own rhythm as a player. Knows when to speed up, slow down, uses great footwork to get down the floor quickly.

I love his long jump-stops and euro-steps. The ball is attached to his hand so firmly, he must dribble all the time outside the gym or have huge hands.

Excellent ball-handling, especially when working for a shot. Next-level step-back game, doesn’t struggle to shoot on step-back threes. Great form.

Sometimes wants to take a dribble into his shot when he’s wide open, that tells me he’s a little more comfortable shooting off the dribble.

Decent knack for getting other players to right spots. Good vision, but not known as a passer.

Plays hard on defense. Good team defender.

I’d like to see him more in pick-and roll, but Southwood has a pretty methodical offense.

It’s hard to speed him up, and he doesn’t force the issue much in the games I’ve seen. He seems to fit more as a two, but he has been the offensive initiator in most games I’ve seen.

Delatrion Moton 6’4″ (G), Sr. (2021) Woodlawn

Hybrid Pro Comp: Jimmy Butler + Jrue Holiday

Moton was one of the most impressive juniors last year and has been highly underrated. There is so much that sets this kid apart.

First, he is an excellent young man, student and teammate. He works his tail off.

On the court, he’s immovable. Strong as an ox. Combined with his exquisite vision, Woodlawn should be in the running for another state title this year with Moton as the clear focal point of the offense.

He likes to get touches at the elbow or in the post and then facilitate through cutters or backing defenders down.

He will also initiate the offense and get his teammates going first. But, once the game gets going, he’s likely to take over.

Great, pro-skill set with off-the-dribble pull-ups and the like. Excellent finisher at the cup.

Problems arise when his shot isn’t falling. Struggled against Bossier on the road last season to start the game and never really recovered. I’d imagine he will be much more poised this season.

His vision is probably his best asset. He picks out passes most players couldn’t dream up.

Shammah “Cinco” Bryant, 6’6″ (F), Sr. (2021) Bossier

Hybrid Pro Comp: Aaron Gordon + Jonathan Isaac

UPDATE: This video above shows what Cinco was able to do against some of the best players in the state.

Heading into this season, he has bulked up and made major improvements to his game.

He’s now making a claim to be Bossier’s number one this year, and it’s clear why. He’s a proven winner. Now he’s added an outside shot and the ability to put the ball on the deck and make plays for other guys. The sky is the limit for this kid. Check out the video from Mal Mundy’s statement session (courtesy of Josh Preston’s fantastic, quintessential Louisiana b-ball YouTube channel). I was pretty blown away.

Bryant stepped in for injured Dante Bell at the end of Bossier’s season last year and went on to win the state title. Bryant has that typical Bossier motor, but is developing a feel for the game that will take him far again this year.

Looks to be developing more of an outside shot. That will do wonders for Bryant, who struggled with inconsistency last season from outside. This year, Bryant will see a lot more of the ball. That should lead to more consistent scoring from Cinco.

The best part of his game is his defense. This kid is EVERYWHERE. Flies out of nowhere for chase-down blocks a la LeBron, gets in passing lanes every possession, but is careful not to go for too many steals and put his team at a disadvantage.

This kid is special on the defensive end. If he can put it all together, he may be one of the most dynamic players in the area this season and get Bossier back to a state title game.

Javion Richard (G) Sr. (2021) West Monroe

https://www.hudl.com/video/3/10404405/5e8f60d6b3c8a016dcdb5314

Rollin Belton 6’8″ (C) Sr. (2021) Ruston

https://www.hudl.com/video/3/12024506/5e43c0a40c53f40520ec9771

Labree Williams 6’5″ (F), Jr. (2022) Calvary

Hybrid Pro Comp: Paul Millsap + Chris Boucher

Williams flew under the radar for Calvary for a short period last season before opposing teams started to realize he wasn’t just another big body for Calvary. Williams was just as crucial to Calvary’s state runner-up run as D’Marcus Hall or anyone on the roster.

He can really pass the ball, which surprised me. He has a quick jump, quick burst, and is extremely long and agile.

Runs the floor well and hard. I saw great skill passing out of dangerous situations in the post to find shooters.

His game has improved exponentially each time I saw him. Where he may have begun last season rather raw, he’s developing into a true contender for best player in the area.

Picking up a player like Dan Ortiz to play with this season is going to do Williams wonders. So much focus will be on Ortiz and the shooters surrounding him that Williams will get great looks just by sharing the floor with such talented playmakers.

Rayshun McCullar 5’11” (G), Jr. (2022) HUNTINGTON

Hybrid Pro Comp: John Wall + Dejounte Murray

Already excellent going left and finishing with off-hand. 

Great vision, good passer, especially getting in the teeth of defense and finding bounce passes or wrap arounds in congested areas to bigs.

Thin frame, but is already about 6’ and should fill out soon.

Very good handle. Gets sped up too easily and makes too many unforced errors.

Young, turns ball over a bit but has an excellent feel for the moment and wants to be the one with ball in his hands. 

Coachable. Coach Mack clearly likes him and trusts him despite mistakes from time to time. Always “yessir” to coaching. High-level IQ, but a bit too trigger-happy on long twos (though he can make them)

Very nice bag of tricks around the rim. Soft touch, great floater game, and can really finish in traffic. Creates space with ball-handling bag.

Jumper is fine, shoots on the way down sometimes. Would like to see him spot up more on threes. Will develop, very young.

Quick feet on defense. Knows where the ball is going. Good team defender. Blocks out.

Lights up in the big moment. 

John Mitchell 6’3″ (G) Sr. (2021) CAPTAIN SHREVE

Hybrid Pro Comp: Ben Simmons + Marcus Smart

Plays point for the Gators and has great size if that’s where he’s going to play. All the attention has been on Coleman, who signed at NSU, is massive, and it should be. But Mitchell, a junior,  might have even more upside. Funky looking shot, spins sideways a bit, but he didn’t miss when I watched him. Strong as hell. Pounds the ball into the ground with his dribble, immovable, uses his body to protect the ball well.  Has a nice 10-foot floater game that came in handy against Bossier. Wasn’t bothered by Bossier’s swarming defense, though did make a few head-scratching plays. He’s going to be a top-five player in Shreveport next year, no doubt. 

Joseph Manning, 6’2″ (G/F), Jr. (2022) Bossier

Hybrid Pro Comp: Jayson Tatum / Shawn Marion

Manning has gone under the radar for long enough. After helping an injury-depleted Bossier team to a state title, his time is coming this season to be a real star.

Manning makes heady plays. Combine that with his insane athleticism and long frame, and he becomes a mismatch all over the court for opposing players.

He has a great touch in the paint with floaters. Goes right off close-outs and can get to the cup quickly.

Keeps a low dribble, hard to rattle with the ball. Will improve his composure with experience.

Defensively and in transition is where he really shines. High motor/high-IQ player.

Jamaria “Juicy” Clark, 6’1″ (G), So. (2023) Doyline

Hybrid Pro Comp: Damian Lillard + Lou Williams

A state title winner as a freshman, Juicy has been exploding on the scene in the past year. He has great size already, but he just keeps getting better.

His shot and his handle really shine for him. He’s great off the dribble, makes you guard him out around 30 feet which opens up driving lanes for him.

In the paint, he has a great touch and doesn’t make mistakes or poor decisions.

His length causes problems for opposing teams and he loves getting into the passing lanes or reaching without fouling for a steal.

Most impressive was his showing in the state tournament last year, where he tore up opposing teams and eventually dismantled two-time defending champs Simsboro to capture Doyline’s first state title in over half a century.

Juicy is ahead of the pack in terms of potential. Barring injury, he will be the name on everyone’s lips for 2023. Clear D-1 potential.

Jamari Markray, 6’1″ (G), So (2023) Doyline

Hybrid Pro Comp: Lonnie Walker Jr. + Mike Conley

Markray hit the game winning shot to win a state title for Doyline last season, setting his sights on reaching the same heights as his cousin, Decari Markray, who just won the Class B MOP award. Jamari is different than his cousin, smooth, and left-handed, but definitely sees the game in a similar way.

Markray and Clark form a tandem that will keep Doyline at the top of Class B for the next few years. He can get to the rim with ease, has excellent ball-handling skills and can knock down shots.

His potential as a wing defender is devastating. He already has it in him to cause chaos for opposing teams.

The next level of his progression will be him making his teammates around him better and becoming a leader on the level of Decari. The Panthers lose a lot of scoring from the state title team, as well as leadership.

It’s on Markray and Clark to step into that role to keep the Panthers at the top of their game.

Javari Williams, 6’1″ (G), Sr. (2021) Huntington

Hybrid Pro Comp: Kyle Lowry + JJ Redick

One of the deadliest shooters on this list, Williams will have a much larger scoring role this season with the loss of Kenny Hunter to LA Tech. He truly has the best form on his shot in the area at the moment. Gorgeous stroke.

He is very, very tough. That’s one of the best compliments I can give. You can tell he loves the game and wants to win at all costs.

He can handle the ball in the pick-and-roll, usually looking to pull up for an open three. Knows how to find the open man, but is usually looking to make plays. Nice feel for pocket passes off the dribble. Did a great job last year of finding Hunter in the teeth of the D with quick hip passes in the weeds.

Slightly concerned about his size, he will need to be a point guard at the next level for sure. But he already plays like one.

Williams is a heady player, posting a near 4.0 GPA off the court while finding the right lanes and spots on the court. But, in the few games I saw him last season, he had issues staying on the floor. I think it came down to being hyper-competitive.

Those habits will need to become a thing of the past as he and McCullar will lead another explosive Huntington this season. Needs to channel his emotion into steady play, not let the moment get the best of him.

Williams put up 13 per game his junior season on a loaded team, making extra passes and hitting threes with gorgeous form. Gets into the teeth of defenses, fearless.

He’s already been an All-District performer three years in a row. He’s been around.

I love when he lulls a zone defense to sleep at the wing, then, off the catch, explodes to the basket before you know what hit you. He has a great feel for stop and start, change of speed plays with the ball. These skills are crucial at the next level, playing against better defenders.

Also has a little step back, fadeaway mid-range game off the bounce.

He has a strong frame, but is still very quick and athletic. His defense was inconsistent last season, but when he locked in, he was a monster on that end. If he can put it all together, he has a chance to become one of the most complete players in the area.

Combine that with an excellent GPA, raves from coaches about his spirit, and his pure athletic ability, Williams can rack up offers once the season gets going.

Darrien Perry, 6’1″ (G), Sr. (2021) Plain Dealing

Hybrid Pro Comp: Colin Sexton / Reggie Jackson

Excellent handle and rhythm to his game.

Big-time scorer, shoots from all over. Nice vision when defense collapses.

Young, but leads his team nonetheless. Does it all for Plain Dealing. Averaging 25,7,7 and consistently makes big shots and free throws.

Dribbles through traffic and full-court pressure, especially at end of games.

Shot is a little slow, but has a good, high arch on it. Brings it from below waist on left side to get into form, should fix this, but still nice rotation and consistently only misses long or short.

His best trait is his handle. Against pressure, zone, man: you name it. Very good Euro step, and very good vision. He has a great feel for the game.

Can in-and-out with either hand as well as crossover with ease with both hands.

Pick-and-roll initiator and willing passer. Attacks defenders, uses body well against defenders. Keeps dribble alive.

Good rebounder for his size. Attacker. Flat-out scorer.

*********

To-be-added:

Rollin Belton, Ruston

Javion Richard, West Monroe

Lance Waddles, Loyola

Lakavin Thomas, Bossier

Travion Sanders, Lakeside

Bryce Roberts, Parkway

AC Bryant, Captain Shreve

Martin McDowell, Calvary

Ben Ponder, Calvary

Ke’avien McKeever, Logansport

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