The Nike Elite Youth Basketball League usually has a distinct City of Palms flavor, and this year was no exception. Cole Anthony of Archbishop Molloy (Queens, N.Y.) continued the strong play we highlighted last month to finish as the EYBL scoring champ with 26.9 points per game, winning MVP honors for the league's final regular session. McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) point guard Sharife Cooper led the EYBL in assists with 6.7 per game, while Orlando Christian Prep small forward C.J. Walker's 9.9 boards per game were good for third in the EYBL. All three will be back in action next month in the EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam.
More than a dozen former City of Palms players have a strong chance to hear their names called in next week's NBA Draft. DeAndre Ayton, who came to the City of Palms twice with two different schools, is well-positioned to become the fifth City of Palms alumnus since 2010 to go first overall, and half of the top 10 in ESPN's latest mock draft played in the City of Palms. Mohamed Bamba, another two-time City of Palms participant, set a draft combine record with a 7-foot-10 wingspan and is projected to go at No. 5. Much drama surrounds whether Duke star Grayson Allen, who played in the City of Palms in 2013 with Jacksonville Providence, will be taken in the first round and get the guaranteed money that goes with that or fall into the second. Click for our full list of City of Palms alumni to keep an eye on come draft night ( Thursday, June 21, 7 p.m. , ESPN). 
The road from the City of Palms to the NBA Finals is well-traveled. At least one City of Palms alum has played in every Finals this decade, and chances are that will continue well into the 2020s. The Warriors don't look like they're going away anytime soon, and Jordan Bell, who capped his rookie season by playing a key role off Golden State's bench against Cleveland, is a significant reason why. Bell played at the 2012 City of Palms with Long Beach Poly before heading off to college at Oregon. After three years with the Ducks, he became the 38th overall pick in the 2017 draft and showed flashes of brilliance that have some casting him as the prototype for the big man of the future. ( Between Bell and City of Palms alums Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown of the up-and-coming Celtics, familiar faces will likely be playing in June for years to come.
Director of Officiating Kevin Hetherington detailed some changes taking place in the NBA from an officials point of view. With the NBA playoffs in the rearview mirror we wanted to get his take on his philosophy on fouls and the prestige of being an NBA official.

Q. One of the questions that hangs over the start of just about any game is whether officials will "let them play" or call the game tightly with lots of fouls. What is your philosophy for the City of Palms?

A.  I want, in general, for players to know how these games are going to be called. I want the best players to be able to play, and not be fouled out. But then again, that doesn't mean that players aren't going to foul out - that's going to happen, because the players don't adjust. But if they have a decent idea how you're going to referee them, that you're going to referee these guys a little bit more like college basketball, and kind of stay out of their way, that's what I want.

Q. You mentioned last time that the NBA's Last Two Minute reports have created friction and an usually high level of scrutiny on NBA referees. We've seen City of Palms referees go on to work in the NBA, but are working conditions in the league now dissuading other refs from following their lead?

A.  Generally, that would not be the case, because referees in the NBA get paid pretty well. They get frustrated by everything else that goes on around it, but they love refereeing the games, and they certainly like the money. There are cases where guys have left the NBA, either voluntarily or being nudged, and go back to college basketball and get paid really well. But generally speaking, I don't believe that the friction that has happened is enough to chase people away.
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