1 on 1 with Jeron Artest

2020 top point guard prospect Jeron Artest is one of the best two way point guards in the country and he's an NBA legacy prospect as well. His father, former NBA all-star Ron Artest, was one of the best two-way players to ever play in the NBA.

Jeron is a combo guard who has excellent handles and good speed up and down the court, which allows him to be a problem in transition. He continues to improve his game and become a more complete basketball player.

Playing for Bella Vista high school in Scottsdale, Arizona, Artest saved his best for the big stage. He led Bella Vista to the Grind Session tournament championship in a face-off against Spire Academy (led by 5-star point guard Lamelo Ball).

In that game Artest compiled 20 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks while shooting 5 for 7 from long range. And he gave LaMelo Ball more than he could handle. Artest was named best defensive player and the MVP of the Grind Session. We talked about his NBA potential and more.

LJ: Very impressive this past season with Bella Vista. Explain what happened with Hillcrest prep?
Jeron: Bella Vista Prep really prepares you for college and treats the student-athlete process professionally with NCAA eligibility and development; my coach started the program there. Hillcrest is under investigation.

LJ: You have evolved to an elite defensive player. How much work do you put in to being a defensive prospect? Your father was former NBA defensive player of the year. What has he taught you?
Jeron: I put in a lot of work defensively. A large portion of it is mental though, thinking ahead and studying the game. My dad is a huge fan of learning by doing so whenever we’d go to pick up runs he’d force me to pick up full on some really tough players. He gives me tons of pointers all the time but he definitely taught me to keep trying and experimenting.

LJ: I talked with you a couple years ago and you were involved in helping the community. Are you still involved as much as you were?
Jeron: Playing a national schedule keeps me on the road and in the gym a lot more but I am still involved with helping the community. I go to nonprofit meetings, stay informed, and lend a hand wherever I can.

LJ: What were the stats of your best game this season?
Jeron: 21 points in the championship game.

LJ: Big game vs Spire. You proved you can play elite defensive against an elite offensive prospect in Lamelo Ball. How was it playing against Lamelo Ball?
Jeron: I found playing against Lamelo to be fun. He has an interesting, yet highly effective style of play, so I had to make sure I was on my A-game. I owe a lot to my team trusting me.

LJ: What makes you the perfect point guard?
Jeron: Running the offense and strong on-ball defense at my position helps me to be the perfect point guard. I can score the ball and execute plays for my teammates as well as stop the other team and make their game difficult.

LJ: What about your skill-set would help you impact an NBA team?
Jeron: People like how much energy and experience I bring to the game. I think my ability to learn quickly and lead would impact an NBA team. Knowing how to make my team better always makes an impact too.

LJ: What NBA player do you model your game after?
Jeron: I like different things from different players so my game is not modeled after just one specifically. The court vision of legends like Jason Kidd and Steve Nash; the leadership of Chris Paul; scoring moves and shooting of Kyrie Irving, D Booker; Hustle, tenacity, and defense of players like Marcus Smart and Patrick Beverly. I learn from watching all the NBA point guards.

LJ: If you could pick an NBA team to play for what team would you play for?
Jeron: I was at Staples a lot so the Lakers

LJ: What about your character would an NBA team like about you?
Jeron: NBA teams would like my work ethic, will to win, team mentality.

LJ: What do you need to improve on?
Jeron: I’m working on using my body more and being more vocal on the court.

LJ: What has improved about your game?
Jeron: Decision making, shot, defense, and athleticism.

Thanks Jeron for the great interview!

Follow LJ on Twitter
And check out the Follow the Leader podcast.

Prospect Corner: Kai Jones

2019 4-star center Kai Jones is a very gifted prospect. At 6’10 205 he has god given athleticism that allows him to be a match up problem. He can guard multiple positions and score from anywhere on the court. He plays for one of the most talented high schools in the country in Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

Jones is ranked 53rd by 247 Sports, 63rd by Rivals, 49th by ESPN in the 2019 basketball recruiting class and the 18th pick in 2021 by NBA Draft Room. Jones has the potential to not only be a first round draft pick but he is a lottery talent. I talked with Jones about his commitment to Texas and his NBA potential.

LJ: You are with a great class that includes players like Jamal Mashburn Jr, Jalen Lecque, and Terrance Clarke. How fun is it to play with that team?
Kai: I love playing with guys that force me to improve, it’s the best feeling in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed playing with those guys throughout the year.

LJ: Explain from your perspective the meaning of a true team player.
Kai: Someone who does whatever it takes to win at all costs. From being the loudest person on the bench to the person who is playing the hardest on the court. That is the meaning of a true team player in my eyes.

LJ: What were your averages this past season?
Kai: I averaged 10 points 6 rebounds 2 blocks 1 assists. Playing on such a good team comes with sacrifices but it’s all worth it when you’re holding up the National Championship trophy.

LJ: What made you commit to Texas? What makes them a perfect match for your style of play?
Kai: The relationship I had with the coach and the chance to come in and play right away and make an impact. They allow their forwards to go to work a lot in terms of their usage rate.

LJ: What about your character would an NBA team like?
Kai: My work ethic speaks volumes to my character. I’ve always been a worker and through this is how I have seen such great improvements. This is also what contributes to my consistency as a player.

LJ: You have the potential to be an elite defender at the NBA level. What about your skills would help you impact an NBA team?
Kai: My ability to switch onto multiple positions because of my mobility. As well as me always improving my offensive game I can take bigger / slower guys off the dribble. I feel that my speed and quickness can be a major advantage for me at that level.

LJ: What have you improved on and what do you need to work on more?
Kai: My strength and conditioning definitely is something that I could work to improve on. However, I feel like I have definitely improved on my three point shooting this year. I shot 41% from three; we also shoot from the college line so it’s something that I have been working on a lot.

LJ: Brewster had some exciting games. What were the stats of your best game?
Kai: My best game was probably in the Bahamas against Crestwood prep. I had 20 points 9 rebounds 5 blocks 4 AST 3 STLS.

LJ: Where did you grow up? Describe how it was for you growing up before getting to this point of achievement?
Kai: I grew up in the Bahamas. I had an amazing childhood, like any kid I did multiple sports. I was always very active and energetic. I loved athletics.

LJ: What NBA player resembles your skills? Which NBA player would you like to play against the most?
Kai: I feel that Giannis is someone that I am a lot like just in terms of length and athleticism. I’m looking forward to playing against a lot of NBA players but the one who I would say I’d look forward to the most is Kevin Durant.

LJ: What type of player is Texas getting?
Kai: Texas is getting a guy that’s going to play his heart out every time he steps between those lines.

LJ: Why would an NBA team be lucky to have you?
Kai: I feel that I’d be lucky to be on an NBA team honestly, it’s a blessing to play in that organization. So I’d feel blessed just to be selected.

LJ: Why are you coach-able?
Kai: Because of my humility and deep yearning to become the best version of my self makes me very open to criticism and coaching.

Thanks Kai for the awesome interview!
Follow Kai Jones on Twitter
Follow LJ on Twitter

And check out the Follow the Leader podcast.


5-Star Corner: Tre Mann

2019 5-star Florida Gators commit Tre Mann is one of those players you just know it’s going to be a long game. At 6-3 185 The Villages Charter high school star point guard is explosive and tough as nails. He doesn’t back down from any challenge and can impact the entire game on both sides of the floor.

He is one of those players you go to war with. He makes sure you feel the focus and drive he brings every game. He is ranked as the 26th prospect by 247 sports, 24th prospect by Rivals, and 32nd prospect in the 2019 basketball recruiting class by ESPN.

Mann was chosen to play in the McDonalds All-American Game and the Allen Iverson Round ball Classic. We spoke about his commitment to Florida and NBA potential on 5-star Corner.

LJ: You have shown NBA and college scouts a ton this year. What do you think has improved the most about your game?
Tre: My feel for the game and my IQ at the point guard position.

LJ: This is an impressive recruiting class. How close have you and this class got?
Tre: I and Scottie are the closest right now then Omar. I haven’t talked to Alex (Klatsky) that much but him and Scottie (Lewis) are best friends.

LJ: It's a guards game even more now. What do you think you bring to an NBA team?
Tre: My ability to score from the outside and getting teammates involved.

LJ: What player do you feel you model your game after the most. Who do you feel is the best all-around guard in the NBA?
Tre: Steph curry and D-lo (DeAngelo Russell)

LJ: What is the player you want to play against head-up the most in the NBA?
Tre: Stephen Curry

LJ: What do you feel you have to work on the most?
Tre: Getting stronger and more knowledge of the point guard spot.

LJ: What made you commit to Florida? What coach was recruiting you from that program?
Tre: I think Florida has the best system for me to go in and play my game and I was recruited by Coach White, Coach Nichols, and coach Mincy.

LJ: The Florida basketball scene has always been talented. How competitive is it?
Tre: It’s very competitive and I think that just comes from the individual competitive nature.

LJ: How was your experience playing in the McDonald's All-American game? I see you were getting your Steph Curry on.
Tre: It was fun; I think I showed the NBA scouts the more passive part of my game.

LJ: What about your character will NBA teams like in the locker room plus on and off the court?
Tre: I’m a relationship and people’s person so I love being around people and people love being around me because of my personality.

LJ: What has Florida said about your future with the program? What will be your role next season?
Tre: They said they need me to come in and just be Tre. They know what I can do and how I play so they told me to come in and do that.

LJ: What makes you hard to deal with on the court?
Tre: I think it’s my range and my craftiness and also my ability to play out of ball screens.

LJ: What does family mean to you? What is your family support system like? Who supports Tre Mann?
Tre: Family means everything to me and it’s a big reason with why I stayed home. I think everyone I’ve been around for a long time supports me because of who I am off the court.

LJ: What are you looking to show NBA scouts when you impact in college basketball?
Tre: I want to show them that I’m a leader and a winner and also that I can play at the NBA level.

LJ: What does basketball mean to you?
Tre: It’s everything to me. It has taken me and my family places we never imagined.
 
Thanks Tre for the awesome interview!
Follow Tre Mann on Twitter
Follow LJ on Twitter

And check out the Follow the Leader podcast.


Late Season Dynasty Sleepers (2019)

3/30/19

A few guys you should add to your roster now with an eye towards next season.

Get Them While You Can

With the fantasy season winding down it's time for dynasty owners to scan the waiver wire one last time with an eye towards next season and beyond. Here in no particular order are some under the radar prospects who might be available in your league.

Even in deep dynasty leagues, say 20 teams or more, some of these players will still be stranded on the waiver wire just waiting for you to make the call:

Shake Milton

A late second round pick for the Sixers, Milton is a big guard with a pure three point stroke and a crafty game. He's been putting up nice numbers with the G League Blue Coats and could emerge as a bench contributor for the parent squad in year two.

Gary Trent Jr.

First off, can you imagine how perfect of a fit he'd be on this current Duke team, if he had stayed one more year? They'd be unbeatable. As for dynasty value for next season it's tough to say. But the talent is there and so if the playing time comes then Trent Jr. could be a breakout player for the 2019/20 Blazers. His three point shooting, mid range game and overall scoring prowess should earn him a spot in the rotation.

Anferee Simons

Like his teammate above, Simons is a real talent who just hasn't yet earned NBA minutes. His second season in the League may be too soon to expect big things from him but for a rebuilding dynasty team with an eye on the long run he could be worth a pick up. And with Seth Curry and Rodney Hood's salaries coming off the books next season, the two youngsters, Trent Jr. and Simons could be getting more run.

Isaac Bonga

Take a flyer on Bonga who is a raw and talented 6-10 point/forward. The playing time might not be there in year two but once it comes he could produce nice numbers. I'd rather use an off-season roster spot on Bonga than on some washed up old vet.

Grayson Allen

Allen is always a lightening rod, but whether you love him or hate him, he could be looking at a bigger role next season and a chance to put up decent numbers. Three point shooting and pesky defense will be his calling cards.

Hamidou Diallo

Diallo is a world class athlete with a very unrefined game. He might be one year away from being one year away but once it starts clicking for him he could be an exciting player to own. He's worth a flyer now if you have an extra roster spot.