BOUNCE: Player takeaways from Gym Rats 2020 Summer Tune-Up Day 1

bounceinset_21Summer basketball is back right in time for actual summer. It will be a strange scheduled AAU slate with games running now through September. After a short training period, teams got back into the gym this weekend at various locations as part of the Gym Rats’ 2020 Summer Tune-Up and Bounce checked out the games on Saturday.

Things were certainly different in the gym: coaches wearing masks, referees wearing rubber gloves and sparse crowds amidst spread out courts. It was certainly odd pulling up to SportONE Parkview Fieldhouse on Saturday morning to a half empty parking lot. But kudos to the events’ organizers; in a weird time of pandemic unrest, the event was well executed for both those who wanted their space and those who wanted to get back to business as normal.

So without further ado, lets get into some player takeaways I had from the event on Saturday. If you know me, I lean into opening weekend of summer ball with this caveat: nobody is at 100 percent right now and if you know the game, you know that. Probably more so than normal, it will take teams and players time to get into their comfort zones. But these are some of the players that caught my eye for one reason or another.

Gavin Huelsenbeck

Club1 2024 – Churubusco

Gavin Huelsenbeck on June 20 at SportOne Parkview Fieldhouse as part of the Gym Rats 2020 Summer Tune-Up.

Catching some freshmen-to-be meant getting some first time exposure to some of the 2024 class and there were bound to be some diamonds in the rough. The physicality of Huelsenbeck was an immediate eye catcher on a team that really moved the needle in their comeback win on Saturday morning. Huelsenbeck was physical in the post rebounding the ball, but more importantly on bullying his way to the rim, using his upper body and shoulders so strong. He maintained a really nice temperament when things got chippy from the other team, staying straight faced and assertive. He even stepped out and hit an important three midway through Club1’s comeback win.

Jackson McGee

Club1 2024 – Leo

McGee is a solid guard who is still trying to figure out his identity as a scorer or supplier. He reads the court higher than age level and communicates well with his teammates. To be a next level point guard, he will certainly need to make some headier plays and meet the ball better but he has a strong foundation. As a scorer, his moves to the rim are better than his finish but that isn’t to say he lacks too much. He has all the tools to be a really solid player on the high school level with continued development and has a good pedigree. With Leo’s depth, he isn’t going to have to take on a high role early in their program and that will work to his benefit on the lower levels as he figures out how to harness his many pieces offensively.

Jackson McGee brings the ball up the court during a June 20 game at SportOne Parkview Fieldhouse as part of the Gym Rats 2020 Summer Tune-Up.

Isaiah Robinson

Indy Heat Red 2022 – Concordia Lutheran

Robinson was on a nonstop grind on Saturday. He moved well offensively without the ball in his hands and really got his confidence rolling. This is something we saw later in the school season once the calendar turned to 2020 but is good to see in the summer on a pretty competitive level with this strong 16U group. By moving the way he does, he really gets to pick and choose where he can be most successful. Defensively, he has a lot of energy and is a big part of an aggressive group that just seemed to outwork the Grand Rapids Storm when it came to 50/50 balls on Saturday. Robinson’s stock will continue to rise because of that grind and his high motor. He is a combo guard that will fidget around inside when it’s too his benefit and isn’t afraid to battle for rebounds.

Jalen Jackson

Indy Heat Red 2022 – Carroll

Jalen Jackson watches a play develop during a June 20 game at SportOne Parkview Fieldhouse as part of the Gym Rats 2020 Summer Tune-Up.

Added muscle mass was something that has pushed Indy Heat Red 2022 into being so much stronger this summer and Jackson and Woodlan’s Joe Reidy are at the forefront of that. Jackson flew up and down the court in his team’s two wins on Saturday and is everything that you want from a dual threat point guard except his finishing against contact at times on Saturday. Like everyone else, week one is a work in progress week and the consistency will come with time and motion. But his aggression at getting to the rim and not being content with jump shots is something that set Jackson apart on Saturday and that will only get stronger too. His court vision has improved and will only make him better using all of his threats. He looks so solid right now.

Luke Goode

Indy Heat 2021 – Homestead

This is one of those no brainer entries but it isn’t fair to overlook Goode (main image) simply because we are used to his successes. There was an enhanced calmness to Goode’s game and it was evident when he strolled into the gym for pregame interviews in his University of Illinois t-shirt and into a dominant team game against the Grand Rapids Storm. Luke was able to hit his shots, get up for a dunk early and help establish a pace. Playing like that against a team you know is overmatched is a strength for Goode. He stayed humble, he worked efficiently and his motor didn’t waver. And again, we mark that calmness in the situation. Goode didn’t look like a thing in the world was weighing on him, he was just smooth.

Karson Jenkins

Club1 Prime 2022 – Snider

This is a role that Jenkins is needing to get familiar with: primary ball handler that needs to figure out how to incorporate his knock down shooting when he can’t just stand and shoot. Against Lakeshore Black on Saturday, he showed the pros and cons in that game for him right now. He was confident in bringing the ball up but often settled for a quick pass early and then a spot up role. When he didn’t do that and showed a will to drive to the basket, not only did he find some success, he opened up his shooting game much more. Jenkins did show and continues to show that he is strong when he doesn’t settle and even when his shots weren’t falling, he kept pushing leading to a very strong start to his second game of the day on Saturday scoring his team’s first 11 points. Now he will need to add consistency of mindset.

Mason Yoder

Club1 Prime 2022 – Westview

Active hands were the hallmark of Yoder on Saturday. He has a real zest for getting into the mix any way he can defensively. He was so active trying to get at least a finger on the ball, he was altering almost every pass, dribble or shot that was happening within 3-5 feet of him. An increased role lays ahead for him during the school season but you can already see an uptake in the grit and effort in his game on the defensive end. Much of that comes from a strong athleticism and a possibly unexpected lengthy vertical. Yoder has been working hard, by all accounts, in the barn of former Westview coach Rod Yoder this spring and it shows.

Spencer Denton defends a Grand Rapids Storm player during a June 20 game at SportOne Parkview Fieldhouse as part of the Gym Rats 2020 Summer Tune-Up.

Spencer Denton

Club1 Prime 2022 – East Noble

Once looking like the future for East Noble, Denton saw his complete sophomore season from the bench with a torn ACL so it was certainly interesting to see him back on the court. He hasn’t wavered in his ability to battle on the glass but his movement doesn’t seem as fluid as it once was before the left knee brace. Denton didn’t wow on Saturday but what stood out were the flashes of his old self after so much time on the shelf. Denton’s on-ball defense was solid and while he looked a step slow on some trips up and down the court, his footwork and lateral movement were much better off than expected. A solid moment with about 7 minutes to go saw Denton stave off a 3-on-1 break alone and then get the ball off a pass in transition on the other end to score through contact, something we certainly knew he’d be able do pre injury. It was great to see him back.

Khamani Smith

Indy Heat Red 2021 – Northrop

Khamani Smith backs down a Grand Rapids Storm defender during a June 20 game at SportOne Parkview Fieldhouse as part of the Gym Rats 2020 Summer Tune-Up.

I have to sound like a broken record at this point but there is something about Smith’s ability to score in forgotten ranges is impressive. He makes tough, seemingly well defended shots look easy on the summer circuit, hitting beautifully in the mid range with a bit of a fade to his shot. He beams with confidence each trip up the court on a talented and balanced Indy Heat Red team. None of these guys defer intentionally, each finding their own space to create and Smith was a leader in that at times Saturday. He no longer will need to defer for Northrop either, so I am fully expecting this Khamani Smith to look similar come school season. He stays smooth in that range, but also continues to see progression in his ball handling and at the rim prowess to bring his all around game together.

These opinions represent those of  Bounce and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Bounce on Twitter at Bounce_OTH

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