The Spring “AAU” season is now behind us as the basketball players of the area continue churning along as they have basically since November.
As the calendar turns to June and players return to their schools for various workouts and shootouts, there should be more attention on some of these guys based on how they played during the months of April and May.
Here are 8 players that Bounce saw in May that captured some of my attention and therefore should be on your radar for June shootouts, July club ball and into the 2023-24 season as well.
Matt Mulligan, Summit City Elite 2024
Mulligan spent the spring really showcasing what he can bring to the table for Columbia City this winter. He has been a high energy guy who just makes winning plays. Mulligan flies around the court and his rebounding effort leads to many second chance baskets. His length and athleticism lend themselves to being a game changer, something he was many times this Spring. Mulligan’s shooting is probably his most underrated asset as he can really light things up at times.
Aiden Denning, TPE 2024
Denning has been one of those guys labeled as “the shooter” in the past and for good reason. He became very efficient at spotting up and knocking down shots. His move to TPE this spring though has changed the book on Denning, who has shown tremendous progress in scoring at all three levels. Always a tenacious defender, he has used that same energy to get to the rim well on offense. TPE has also given him some lead guard duties and he has shown improved court vision with those chances.
Dallas Lawrence, OPS 2024
Lawrence will become a primary lynchpin for Northrop and his reps with OPS Blue 2024 are making him stronger for that role in the winter. Lawrence rebounded very well this spring but his improved shooting touch is what has made him stand out. We already knew he was tough on the inside, but Lawrence has moved out more and more and his midrange jumper from the elbow has become one of his biggest weapons.
Conner Slee, Summit City Elite 2024
Slee is one of the area’s best shooters and that is something that he continued to showcase this spring with over 53 percent shooting from long range while hitting over three triples per game on average. But while lights out shooter was his MO again, Slee has been able to create his own baskets inside the arc as well, leading to some breakout performances. He is getting to the rim well from all areas of the floor and showed proficiency this spring even in working with his back to the basket.
Tucker Day, Ohio Buckets 2024
Day has had a breakout spring because of the improvements and growth in both footwork and angles. Day is far from flat footed and it adds a real bounce to every move he made in and around the post. To add to that, he showed this Spring that he really understands how to break down a defender’s body and work his own angles around the defense. It made Day hard to guard this Spring because his game inside became more diverse and unpredictable.
Paxton Crane, OPS 2025
The 6-foot-5 junior-to-be has been physical in showing how much he can help Carroll in the future with how his is helping OPS right now. He has been a dangerous and disruptive rebounder who reads the ball and its angles well. His offensive rebounding in some games is among the best seen all Spring with area teams and his motor just didn’t stop this Spring. He certainly captivated many who didn’t know as much about his ability inside.
Ethan Zahn, Summit City Elite 2025
Perhaps nobody I saw this Spring is more primed for a major breakout school season then the Huntington North point guard. Zahn is a sensational ball handler with high end change of direction who can and tries to outwork every defender he comes up against. His ability to set tone and pace every game is impressive and he will likely see more freedom to do that at HN as he has in the Spring with SCE. On top of that, the kid can flat out shoot and that made him a very tough matchup this Spring for any defender.
Sam Essegian, Team Focus 2024
Essegian has shown enhanced aggression this Spring. He has become tougher to defender, tougher to rebound against and tougher to score against. Essegian has shown zero problem flying around and being the most active guy on the court when he can be. Like Tucker Day, Essegian isn’t exactly a breakout name in the area because everyone knows who he is, but also like Day he has done a good job of enhancing his game and really strengthening things about it that may have been considered weaknesses before this Spring.