Long Beach, CA – This past Saturday, October 29th, Dinos Trigonis hosted the Nothing But Net/Pangos Diamond in the Rough Showcase at McBride High School. The event featured approximately 70 players from states like Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Texas, as well as various states from the Western Region from the graduation classes of 2023 through 2026 (seniors to freshman). The players were placed on showcase teams, using NBA team names to make up a field of 8, and each team played in two games, played out over 2-sessions. There was a Best of the Best Top 25 Game played to wrap up the event, as Midwest players 2024 Merritt Alderink of Michigan and 2024 Jonathan Mekonnen of Minnesota were named co-MVPs of the event and the game. I was in person for the two rounds of showcase games and helped select the all-star rosters but had to hit the road and was not live for the Top 25 Game.
The article below takes a look at 15 of my top performers from the showcase and breaks them into two categories; Top 10 Performers and Next 5 Performers. Although this article is my top 15 players, players are listed in alphabetical order in their respective categories and not a rank order. The players in this write-up played in both rounds of the showcase sessions and I watched them for more than half of a game. Some players were not able to attend both sessions for legit reasons and deserved all-star selection, but did not meet the criteria for the purposes of this article. We begin with my event’s most outstanding performer, Merritt Alderink.
Top 10 Performers
2024 6’7 Merritt Alderink (Zeeland West/MI) – featured in picture
Alderink is a physical and skilled wing/forward that can create his own offense and scores it effectively from 3-levels. Alderink made the most of his trip from Michigan, as he would score 14 points and 16 points respectively in his team’s two showcase games before putting up 21 points in the Top 25 Best of the Best Game. Alderink earned co-MVP honors for the game and the event, and I had him as the overall top performer at the Diamond in the Rough Showcase. Alderink has great footwork in the post, nice moves to create space in the paint, has the strength to back his man down, and has nice touch on finishes around the basket. Alderink has solid handles, the moves off the dribble to create separation from his defender, makes good use of the hesitation move, and gets downhill with the physicality to finish through contact. What makes Alderink tough to defend is his accuracy from the mid-range to the 3-point line extended, as he is able to knock down shots off the bounce, which opens up lanes for him to attack. Alderink controls the boards, alters shots, and has the court vision to advance the ball off the glass. There is a lot to like about his overall skill set and hope to see him again over the next year.
2025 6’3 Damarion Clemons (Stony Point/Round Rock TX)
Clemons is a lengthy and crafty lead guard that makes his impact on both ends of the court and displays the versatility that could make him an elite two-way guard with continued development. Clemons showcased his ability to operate at the lead guard postion, make plays for teammates or create his own scoring opportunities, and played quality on-ball perimeter defense creating turnovers and easy points. Clemons earned a spot in the Top 25 Best of the Best Game and made the trip to this event because he was not able to attend the recent Pangos All-South Frosh/Soph Camp due to his high school team playing in an event that weekend. Clemons keeps the ball on a string, has shifty moves to create off the wing, gets downhill with the length and frame to take the contact at the basket, and has a smooth mid-range jump shot. Clemons has active hands on defense, uses his reach to get into passing lanes, and disrupts his opponent to create transition points. Clemons displayed good court vision and, with his ability to space the floor from the 3-point line, he is able to make plays and break a defense down. The guard I felt had the most long-term upside from the event.
2024 6’5 Rippen Gill (Centennial/Bakersfield CA)
Gill is a wing/guard that can play the guard spot as well as the forward position and can score from 3-levels. This was a good showing for one of the top prospects in the 2024 Class in the Central Section of California, as he had 12 points in both of his showcase games and had a number of assists, rebounds and blocked shots and earned a spot in the Top 25 Game. Gill has the handle and the moves to create off the perimeter, the frame to finish through traffic at the basket, nice touch on his perimeter shot where he can create his own or off the catch and shoot consistently, and has the court vision to make plays to open teammates when on the attack. Defensively, he can defend the 2 through 4 positions and is an underrated shot blocker, good rebounder with the handle to push the ball up the court, and plays with good pace and feel for the game. Can catch fire from the 3-point line, which really opens up his offensive skill set.
2024 6’3 Zander Jimenez (Salesian College Prep/Richmond CA)
Jimenez is a crafty and skilled combination guard that can make plays for others or create his own scoring opportunities. Jimenez had a solid showing in his team’s first showcase game, where he showed his ability to break down a defense off the dribble and the court vision to make plays when attacking the basket, as he finished with 8 points and numerous assists and rebounds. In his second showcase game, Jimenez found his groove offensively and went for 19 points, as he showed the ability to score at the basket and from the perimeter routinely and earned a spot in the Top 25 Best of the Best Game. Jimenez has solid handles, good moves to weave through the defense, the court vision to find open teammates when on the attack, and is a creative finisher around the basket. Jimenez gets good lift on his jump shot, is accurate off the catch and shoot or creating off the dribble, and rebounds well to be able to get out in the open court and make plays in transition.
2024 6’3 Aadi Malali (Doughtery Valley/San Ramon CA)
Malali is a lengthy guard/wing that can light it up from the perimeter and makes plays for open teammates. Malali was one of the better pure shooters at the Showcase, as was evident by his big 19-point showing in his first game, which was followed by a 10-point outing in his second showcase game and a spot in the Top 25 Best of the Best Game. Malali has nice handles, the moves to create off the perimeter, gets good lift on his jump shot, and is accurate from fifteen feet to the 3-point line. Malali does a solid job on the boards, gets out in the open court to initiate transition play, and has the court vision to make reads to open teammates. Malali has active hands on defense, generates turnovers, and has the length to defend the 1 through 3 positions effectively. Malali’s ability to knock down threes at a high clip force defenders to over-pursue, which opens up lanes he is able to attack and get into the defense. He has nice touch on the floater and could be a NorCal sleeper.
2023 6’7 Addrione Marcus (Rancho Dominguez/Long Beach CA)
Marcus is a lengthy wing/forward that impacts the game on both ends and can score in volume. Marcus arrived late but was able to play in both showcase games, where he scored 16 points and 17 points, before earning a spot in the Top 25 Best of the Best Game. Marcus has the length and agility to defend in the post or switch out and alter shots on the perimeter, controls the glass, has enough handle to get the ball up the court, and has nice touch around the basket. Marcus is effective from the perimeter with the handle to create off the dribble and finish at or above the rim. Marcus is an interesting prospect to keep an eye on and definitely a diamond in the rough from the event.
2024 6’7 Jonathan Mekonnen (Eastview/Apple Valley MN)
Mekonnen is a lengthy and athletic wing/forward that impacts both ends of the court in various ways and can space the floor from beyond the arc. Mekonnen, another player that made the flight from the Midwest, seemed to get better with each game, as he scored 10 points in his first game, 18 points in the second game, and capped the event off by scoring 25 points in the Top 25 Best of the Best Game. Mekonnen was named co-MVP of the game and event, and was my top overall prospect at the Diamond in the Rough Showcase. Mekonnen has a massive wingspan that allows him to be a high-level rim protector, is dominant on the glass, and has the versatility and agility to switch out and defend perimeter players with the reach to deflect passes and create turnovers. Mekonnen moves well off the ball, makes great use of the back cut to get open for baseline dunks and easy buckets at the basket, and has solid footwork and touch in the post. Mekonnen has good form on his perimeter shot and is efficient from the 3-point line, which pulls bigger defenders away from the basket and opens up lanes. He has enough handle to create off the perimeter.
2023 6’2 Elijah Nelson (Lakewood/CA)
Nelson is a combination guard that is a swiss army knife on the court and can score effectively from 3-levels. Nelson came out in his first game and scored a game-high 20 points and was deadly with the mid-range jumper. He followed that up with a 13-point showing in his team’s second showcase game and earned a Top 25 stop. Nelson uses his solid frame combined with a solid handle and moves to get downhill and attack the basket with authority. Nelson has a nice stop-and-pop mid-range jump shot he hits with regularity and can extend to the 3-point line off the dribble or the catch-and-shoot. Nelson rebounds well and is a quality defender with good instincts on the court. Sleeper prospect that can impact the game in a variety of ways.
2025 6’1 Elijah Wade (Garces Memorial/Bakersfield CA)
Wade is a physical and athletic lead guard that plays at a fast pace and is getting more comfortable at that pace and showing he can score as well as make plays. Wade is a top-10 sophomore in the Central Section and this was a good test for his level of play. Wade did not waste the opportunity, going for 11 points and 16 points in his combined two showcase games, showed his ability to impact various facets of the game, which landed him a spot in the Top 25 Game. Wade has a strong handle on the ball, the court vision to make plays when on the attack, and the strength to finish through contact at the basket. Wade is improving from the perimeter, is a lock-up on-ball defender, has active hands to create turnovers, and turns defense into offense routinely. He rebounds well for his position and likes to push the pace of play that favors his athleticism.
2025 6’1 Anthony Williams (Lakewood/CA)
Williams is a skilled lead guard that makes quality decisions with the ball in hand, as he can create for others or get his own buckets. Williams caught my attention early in the opening round of games, as he was on the attack often and showed the ability to score it in a variety of ways. Williams had 11 points in each of his two showcase games and was rewarded with his overall level of play being selected to the Top 25 game. Williams has shifty moves, keeps the ball on a string to weave through the defense, has nice touch on his floater over height in the paint, and is a creative finisher around the basket. Williams is an effective perimeter shooter, which opens up lanes for him to attack and break down a defense with the pass or the shot. Defensively, Williams is active, has good footspeed to stay in front of his opponent, and creates turnovers. I was impressed with his level of poise and pace of play with the ball in hand.
Next 5 Performers
2023 6’1 Steven Anderson (Artesia/Lakewood CA)
Shifty combination guard that creates his own offense and keeps pressure on the defense. Anderson can create off the dribble, has good range from the 3-point line, and the court vision to make some crafty passes to open teammates.
2024 6’ Cortney Caldwell (Weymouth/MA)
Caldwell is a lead guard that has quality handles and the moves to shake his opponent, gets downhill with the ball, and is a creative finisher at the basket with a nice floater. Moves well off the ball but has the moves to create off the dribble with good accuracy from the perimeter.
2025 6’3 Isaiah Cunningham (Lincoln/Tacoma WA)
Cunningham is a physical and high-energy guard that loves to push the tempo, excels in the open court, and gets to the basket with the ability to finish through contact at the basket. Cunningham is a lock-up perimeter defender, generates turnovers, rebounds well for his position, and that lets him get to his style of play.
2025 6’4 Joshua Garland (Leuzinger/Lawndale CA)
Garland is a forward that can make plays out of the high post or from the top of the key. Garland has good court vision, makes timely passes to cutting teammates, and is solid on the boards. Garland has good touch around the basket and can space the floor from the perimeter.
2024 5’11 Myles Harvey (Valley Christian/Cerritos CA)
Harvey is a crafty lead guard that has range from the 3-point line, the court vision to make plays when on the attack, and weaves through the defense to get to his shot spots. Harvey is a pesky on-ball defender, makes quality decisions with the basketball, and operates well in pick-and-roll situations.