Standouts from the 2021 Queensland U18 State Championships

A couple of weeks ago, some of the brightest young talent in Queensland faced off in the U18 State Championships. Film from the tournament was rather limited but it was sufficient to identify some interesting prospects. With a lack of recent tournaments, being able to compete against each other is important for development. The tournament showed off many 2004 born players and some impressive players born in 2005 who were playing up a year. A lot of these players will fly under the radar due to a lack of exposure, but many have the ability to play at higher levels.

Rory Hawke

Guard – Townsville

It was announced recently that Hawke would be joining the Basketball Centre of Excellence in Canberra. Hawke led the tournament in scoring with 29 points per game, leading Townsville to an unbeaten record and tournament victory. He has now been identified and will get to develop under an experienced coaching staff alongside other talented players.

Hawke made 45 free throws, an astonishing 6.4 per game, and 20 more than anyone else at the seven game tournament. It’s easy to understand the high amount of free throws as he is constantly putting pressure on the rim. The touch he possesses is clear with his free throws and touch around the rim.

Hawke is an under control point guard. He does a great job of driving to the paint where he can overpower other players or distribute against a scrambling defense. His touch around the rim is impressive as he shoots quick shots in the paint once he creates separation. His size at the guard spot is useful on the interior as other guards lack the size to contest his shots.

Hawke is already comfortable operating screens on offense. He is patient using the screen to get downhill where he is at his best attacking. When going to the rim he can just glide by defenders before extending and finishing layups around the help.

The shooting potential for Hawke is interesting. He has shown the ability to make shots from the perimeter but he’s more selective with the shots he takes. He prefers to drive and get to the rim rather than launching from three. At this tournament, he didn’t really need to shoot a lot from the perimeter as he could get basically any shot he wanted. Going forward, his outside shot will determine a lot about the level of prospect he becomes. The potential is there given the variety of shots he currently takes, along with the form and touch he possesses.

Now that Hawke is with the Basketball CoE, he will certainly be a prospect to watch in the future. The development that he will get in that program will help his overall game as he competes against the best prospects in Australia. As a 2004 born prospect, now is the time for division 1 coaches to look in to Hawke before he truly blows up.

Luca Yates

Big – Townsville

A big man with nice touch, Luca Yates played a key part in Townsville’s unbeaten run in the tournament. He was effective around the basket, spending a lot of time in post up situations. At the moment, he lacks some strength but at his height he was able to turn around and shoot small hooks and floaters near the rim with ease thanks to his nice touch.

Yates has the potential to be effective as a shooter. During the tournament he only made 1 three but showed nice touch and knocked down his free throws. Attempts aren’t tracked but he made 23 free throws in 7 games. While these aren’t definite indicators of success, they do indicate shooting potential. Going forward it is likely he will be able to stretch the floor as a big man.

Defensively, Yates is able to deter shots using his length. He lacks strength against stronger post players and can get bumped around at times. Even though he gets bumped around, he can meet the stronger players at the top to block shots. He is usually in position as a help defender to contest all shots at the rim. He rotates with nice timing to contests shots.

Yates is an interesting prospect going forward thanks to his touch at his size. He is going to get stronger which will help him in the post where he has been relying on his touch and reach. He should be able to space the floor which is useful as a big. Being able to contest shots on defense is always valuable and necessary from your big man. He may take some more time to develop given that he is quite thin and raw at the moment but the talent is definitely there for Luca Yates.

Amarco Doyle

Forward – Gold Coast

Coming in to the tournament, Doyle was not a player that I was familiar with. He quickly took my interest with a mix of physical tools and skills at his size. Gold Coast used him as a big man. There were flashes of guard skills offensively that he didn’t get to show all the time.

Doyle showed flashes putting the ball on the floor, he has a nice ability to handle the ball and attack the rim from the perimeter. As he was usually playing either the 4 or 5, he showed impressive playmaking against other bigs. One play specifically stood out as he drove past his man and then pulled off a look away drop off pass as the help defense rotated over.

Defensively, Doyle was generating multiple steals and blocks each game. His physical tools helped him to make plays defensively. His athleticism looked to be a level above the competition he was facing. He was blocking jump shots, performing chase down blocks and intercepting full court passes.

Going forward Doyle is definitely a player to watch. He was playing up a year as he is a 2005 born player. Even though he was one of the youngest players, he was still productive while flashing very intriguing talent. On the wing being able to create both offensively and defensively will be valuable in the future. He will need to improve as a shooter to reach his peak. Doyle is definitely a player Division 1 schools should be looking at as he is currently flying under the radar at the moment.

Kobe McDowell-White

Guard – RedCity

Entering the tournament, most people would have considered McDowell-White to be the best player in the tournament. While there were other players putting up great claims, McDowell-White did nothing to hurt his own stock. He is a talented player who can do a bit of everything on the offensive end. It only takes a few possessions to see him getting denied the ball on the offensive end. He will just get picked up full court with his man not even paying attention to the ball, just focusing on denying the ball to McDowell-White.

McDowell-White looks like a high level shooting prospect at this stage. He made 29 threes over the tournament, 9 more than second place. He took a lot of tough shots, he would still shoot the ball even with defenders right in his face or off balance. As a shooter, he is a clear threat from beyond three point range and extends the defense.

When handling the ball, McDowell-White is aggressive putting pressure on the rim. He is quite strong at his size which helps him finish shots around the rim. While he gets knocked around a bit he is still strong enough and has great touch to finish tough shots.

After McDowell-White breaks down defenses he can then distribute the ball to open teammates. He is quite deceptive as a passer and can manipulate defenses with his eyes. You often see him look away the defense before making behind the back and drop off passes.

His size might be a bit of a problem as he isn’t especially tall for a point guard. There is still time for him to grow as he is born in 2004, meaning he is turning 17 this year. If he doesn’t grow very much then he could face some problems against higher level competition. However, he is very skilled and his skillset will allow him to be a very good college player if he decides to go that route.

Jalen Blanchard

Wing – Gold Coast

Jalen Blanchard finds his way on to this list mainly due to his 42 point explosion against Mackay. He is a scorer and his displayed it in that game, which was even more impressive considering he was playing off the bench. In this game, 7 of his 13 makes were from three. A lot of the looks he was getting were open as he was used to break down a zone defense.

As he hit 7 threes in one game the most obvious appeal becomes how good he is as a shooter. He gets his shot off extremely quick which helps as he doesn’t get much lift on his jump shot. Blanchard can come off of movement to shoot, he has a quick trigger and isn’t afraid of shooting with a defender in his face.

Blanchard looks to go to the rim when forced off the three-point line. He usually prefers to opt for a floater instead of fully attacking the rim. While he made some passes he definitely prefers to shoot the ball.

He did struggle for minutes in some games but the shooting ability makes him an interesting prospect going forward. It must be noted that Blanchard is another 2005 born prospect. The ability to change a game with his scoring will always be useful for teams.

Nazar Angallo

Guard – Logan

Angallo had a successful tournament even though his Logan team finished sixth overall. He averaged just under 23 points per game throughout the tournament. Against eventual runners up Gold Coast, Angallo put up 39 points, including 6 threes. He is a physical force with a nice big frame for a guard. The size and athleticism while handling the ball allowed him to attack the rim and finish inside.

Angallo is relentless attacking the rim as a slasher. He shows impressive burst to beat his man or split a hedge and then gets going downhill. When getting to the rim he is crafty to get around the help defense. He likes to go to euro steps and shows a nice ability to decelerate and navigate his way through defenders. His strong build allows him to absorb contract and then look to finish. While he may be off balance at times Angallo does a good job of putting the ball up with soft touch to finish tough shots around the rim.

While Angallo is better as a slasher he still shows some promise as a shooter. He has a quick trigger off the catch against a close-out. He has shown flashes of creation off the dribble. When a defender goes under a screen, he is quick to pull up to shoot. When he needs to create he has been able to create separation with smooth stepbacks. Right now he is streaky as a shooter but the potential is there.

Mason Amos

Big – Southern Districts

A dominant big man down low, Mason Amos was productive all tournament long. Averaging just over 23 points per game, Amos made the most of his size on offensive rebounds and post ups. This was seen especially in the 5th place game as he made 21 2-point field goals on his way to a 46 point performance. While he scored well inside, he also showed that he can step out and stretch the floor, making 10 threes at the tournament.

Amos has a broad frame and is strong which helps him in the paint. His wide frame allows him to bump defenders off balance. At a young age the ability to overpower other players has shown to be an effective way for him to score.

The touch Amos shows as a shooter makes him promising at his size. He often threatens from mid range as a catch and shoot shooter. From mid range he has shown the ability to pull up off the dribble. Like I said, he can stretch out to beyond the three point line as well. His form looks smooth and he is comfortable taking semi-contested shots. The threat he poses from the perimeter as a shooter allows him to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim.

Amos is an intriguing player going forward as he mixes post scoring with outside shooting. He is incredibly strong for his age so he is able to get basically any shot he wants. The shooting ability he possesses will help to open up the inside for himself as he plays against better competition. He will definitely be a player to watch going forward if he improves his athleticism and continues to grow.

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