OPS’ Josh Codinera (Basketball Analyst – US Area) was in attendance for the Tarkanian Classic – Prep division from December 15 to 17 in Las Vegas, NV. He compiled some notes while scouting some of the standout players from the event.

Tarkanian Classic brought forth Scouts from all levels – NBA, College, High School and Prep School scouting services. It was the first of 3 events credentialed by the NBA this year with up next, the on-going Naismith Spalding HoopHall Classic (Jan 12-17, 2023) in Springfield, OH. For many NBA scouts, this is amongst the first events to start tracking NBA prospects and gather data on them. 

“Tark” was my first look at the NBA Academy teams and many of the other National Prep teams from all over North America. Here’s a reminder of what I look for at this level: 

  • Raw physical tools and any areas of improvement
  • Skillset at their current level and comparing it to the ideal NCAA/NBA prospect development curve

It should always be noted that it is very easy for a future high major or NBA prospect to dominate physically at this level.

Below are the standouts from the National Prep portion of the event.


Alex Toohey (6’7 Connective Wing, NBA Academy Global – Class of 2023 Gonzaga Commit)

Standout Traits: Quick processing and passing feel 

Projected Roles: Connective Forward, Floor Spacer

  • Toohey makes quick reads on the catch and he can maintain advantages or finish plays in the half-court (via spot-up shooting and cutting off the ball). He made connective reads on the move while slashing from the 45 slots or in transition finding open teammates. He hit spot-up corner threes and showed the ability to initiate (grab-n-go) in transition. 
  • At 6’7 with a wiry long frame, he is a versatile forward and his skillset will be useful to Coach Few and Gonzaga next year. Adding a bit more strength and size to his frame will help him play through contact on both ends.
  • He already displays great use of his length and touch at the rim as he ikes to use close range pull-ups. However, adding strength will allow him to create a bit more space when he initiates contact to finish.

Baye Ndongo (6’10 Scoring Forward, Colorado Prep – Class of 2023 Rutgers Commit)

Standout Traits: Slashing flashes and multi-jump quickness

Projected Roles: Vertical Spacer, Slashing play finisher 

  • Ndongo has very intriguing athletic tools and movement skills for his size. He flashed the ability to slash from the wings, especially when he was attacking a hard closeout. He was very hard to stop when he got downhill – drawing fouls and even showcasing a decent handle out to the perimeter. 
  • His most notable athletic tool is his quick bounce and 2nd jump. He doesn’t need much ground contact to finish strong above the rim. He had one play where he slashed from the 45, missed a layup trying to finish around a rim protector, and quickly jumped back up for a put-back two-hander. Ndongo has the potential to be a solid slasher from the weak side attacking closeouts if he continues to develop his handle and shooting consistency on the perimeter.

JJ Mandaquit (6’1 Guard, Real Salt Lake – Class of 2025)

Standout Traits: PNR pace and control, Multi-Level Pass Manipulation

Projected Roles: PNR Playmaker, Point of Attack Defender

  • Mandaquit is a high-level playmaker out of the PNR. He has a great feel for pace and set-up crosses prior to attacking screens. He had several amazing passes when he attacked the roll defender – in a couple of possessions, he used a jump pass after he got past the roll defender, manipulated the corner rotation with his eyes and ball fakes before kicking it to a teammate for an open 3 at the left 45 slot. 
  • Defensively, Manaquit has a good frame for absorbing contact and great timing for swiping down at the ball when he receives a bump from a ball-handler. One of his best qualities is when he anticipates a drive and quickly shuffles diagonally to cut off a drive with his body. 
  • Improving his pull-up shooting, especially out to the 3-pt line will add another dimension to his already elite PNR playmaking.

Khaman Maluach (7’0 Stretch Big, NBA Academy Africa – Class of 2025)

Standout Traits: Perimeter shooting touch, Plus length

Projected Roles: PNP threat, Floor spacer, Drop defender 

  • Maluach hit three catch and shoot 3s in the game against Prolific Prep. He has fluid mechanics for a 7-footer and great touch on the perimeter. He has the potential to be a huge PnP threat and floor spacer while being gifted the size and length to protect the rim.
  • Improving his overall strength over the next couple of years will help him finish better through contact around the basket. He is only a sophomore so his strength should come naturally as his body and athleticism develop. He sometimes struggled to hold his ground on post-seals and hooks over his left shoulder.

Christian Hammond (6’3 Combo Guard, Dream City Christian – Class of 2023 Santa Clara Commit)

Standout Traits: Perimeter shooting consistency and quick processing 

Projected Roles: Floor spacer and Secondary playmaker

  • Hammond’s shooting – spot-up 3s and floaters off attacking hard closeouts kept Dream City Christian within striking distance against a strong NBA Global team. He has great shot preparation on catch-and-shoot attempts, is always on balance and is ready to let it fly when given space. His compact mechanics allow him to get shot off quickly and shoot a little further behind the 3. He has a good feel for when to drive and make a play on the second side.
  • Adding some more strength to his frame should allow him to improve his finishing around the rim as bigger defenders sometimes deterred his driving attempts. 

Notable Canadians

Chris Tadjo (6’8 Power Forward, NBA Academy Latin America – Class of 2024) *Montreal Native

Standout Traits: Explosive movement and athletic bounce

Projected Roles: Slasher, Roll finisher, Dunker spot vertical spacer

  • Tadjo showcased explosive finishing through contact above the rim. He also has the ability to hang and adjust mid-air. There was a sequence where he had back-to-back poster dunks. In one of the dunks, he caught the ball in the high post, executed a “ripped-through reverse pivoted” one dribble, used a shoulder bump to get a sliver of space and rose up for a two-foot shoulder-to-body slam. 
  • He has coordinated gathers, especially off of two feet, that allow him to explode in tight spaces. Addtionatlly, he is quite functional as a one-foot leaper. He continues to develop his outside shooting and off-hand handle, which will help him add another dimension to his powerful slashes to the basket. 

Mike Nwoko (6’8 Power Forward, Prolific Prep – Class of 2023 Miami Commit) 

  • Nwoko continued to flash his dominant offensive rebounding tools. He has strength to either maintain his position or swim around box-outs. He is at his best finishing above the rim via dump-offs to the dunker and rolling hard on side PnRs. He is explosive in space and has shown flashes popping out to the 3. Continuing to develop his outside shot and flexibility on lateral movements will help his progress to the next level at the University of Miami.

Jaiden Cole (6’5 Combo Guard, NBA Academy Latin America – Class of 2023 Towson Commit) 

  • Cole has great height and length for a guard. At 6’5 with plus length, he showed that he can utilize his length to finish above the rim. He had a play where he cut behind his defender from the top of the key, took one dribble, and rose over two defenders for a highlight jam. He is at his best getting out in transition using his length at the rim. He has good shooting mechanics and this his ability will be key at Towson next year. 

Hudson Ward (6’7 Forward, Western Canada Prep – Class of 2024)

  • Ward showed flashes as a versatile play finisher – he has powerful long strides that he can use on offense as a cutter and slasher. On defense, his physical tools – great frame, length, and strong strides make him a useful defensive playmaker off the ball. WCP used a full-court press to weaponize their athleticism and Ward was able to utilize his athletic tools to pick off long passes as wel as protect the rim. 

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