AJ Dybantsa showed out at the 2023 EYBL Peach Jam.

AJ Dybantsa – 2026’s Best Hooper

        The Peach Jam is one of the main events hosted by the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, or EYBL. Events sanctioned by the EYBL occur during the summer and serve as a platform for young talents to showcase their skills to coaches and scouts. Only the most prestigious teams with the most talented players in the country will have a chance to play in the Peach Jam’s EYBL division. What if I told you the leading scorer in the 2023 EYBL Peach Jam just finished his freshman year of high school? Yes, rising sophomore AJ Dybantsa led the Peach Jam’s EYBL bracket in scoring while playing against some of the most talented players in the country.

        It doesn’t take a basketball expert to see that AJ Dybantsa is an exceptional talent. Most players at the EYBL level, officially a 17 & Under division, will enter their senior year of high school this fall. As a rising sophomore, AJ Dybantsa proved he was one of the best players on the EYBL circuit. If Dybantsa decides not to reclass, he still has three seasons of high school basketball to play, and two summers left to compete on the EYBL circuit. The wing prospect in the Class of 2026 averaged 25.8 points per game in the 2023 Nike EYBL Peach Jam. Though Dybantsa is old for his class (he turned 16 this past January), what this rising sophomore is doing at the EYBL level is unprecedented.

Background

        Anicet “AJ” Dybantsa Jr. was born in Brockton, Massachusetts, on January 29th, 2007. He does not come from a basketball family, which may be surprising considering how perfect his size and athletic ability are for the sport. It is rare to come across five-star hoopers that don’t have a family member who at least played basketball at the collegiate level. Though, what’s even rarer is how talented Dybantsa is at sixteen. As a kid, he fell in love with basketball and began doing everything possible to improve his skill set.

        He grew up attending Saint Sebastian’s, a Catholic school in Needham, Massachusetts. As a freshman in the 2022-23 season, AJ Dybantsa helped lead Saint Sebastian’s School to the NEPSAC (New England Preparatory School Athletic Council) Class A State Championship game. Heartbreakingly, they lost the state championship game 77-76 to Milton Academy after a late steal led to a go-ahead score. Nevertheless, that season, Dybantsa was the first freshman to be named Massachusetts Boys Basketball Gatorade Player of the Year. His per-game averages as a freshman were 19.1 points, 2.9 assists, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks.

2023 EYBL Circuit

        Prior to the Peach Jam, Dybantsa had already established himself on the EYBL circuit as one of the best basketball prospects in the country. When considering that he is only 16 years old, it makes what AJ Dybantsa accomplished even more impressive. Before the 2023 Peach Jam, he saw action in thirteen games for Expressions (EYBL). In 24.1 minutes per game, Dybantsa averaged 17.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. He shot 52.7% from the field, 32.7% from three, and 89.3% from the foul line. Dybantsa’s best game came against Paul George Elite on April 29th, where he recorded twenty-eight points, eight rebounds, and six assists in 32 minutes.

2023 peach jam

        Five weeks later, at the 2023 Peach Jam, it was clear that AJ Dybantsa’s game had evolved even further. He led the EYBL tournament in scoring with 25.8 points per game, 4.6 more than the second-leading scorer, Dylan Harper(LINK). He also averaged 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 30.8 minutes played per game. Dybantsa scored 32 points in a loss to Paul George Elite and, later in the week, scored 31 points in a win over Boo Williams. More than half of his points in Thursday’s matchup against Boo Williams came at the free throw line, where he shot 16-17. The 2026 prospect scored at will during the Peach Jam. AJ Dybantsa stood out just as much, if not more, than the top prospects in the Class of 2025, such as Cooper Flagg and Cameron Boozer.

Team USA

        AJ Dybantsa represented the United States this summer at the FIBA U16 Americas Championship. He would stand out on a loaded United States roster with five-star talent from top to bottom. The USA’s U16 team would win a gold medal for the eighth straight time, defeating Canada in the final 118-36. He was one of six Americans who scored double-digits in the final, finishing with twelve points. Dybantsa and new Prolific Prep teammate Tyran Stokes were two of the youngest players on the roster.

        Team USA will advance to the FIBA U17 World Cup in Turkey in 2024. They were drawn into Group A alongside Argentina, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. To our knowledge, AJ Dybantsa has yet to state whether or not he will compete at the U17 World Cup next year.

Skillset

        Dybantsa is very skilled and has impressive fluidity for his size. He stands 6’8″ and possesses excellent length. Over the summer, he made finishing over defenders at the rim look easy with his athleticism and smoothness. The top prospect in the Class of 2026 also has excellent touch around the basket with both hands. He gets to the rim easily and has developed a solid mid-range pull-up game to keep defenders honest. Dybantsa has a high basketball IQ, makes good reads, and has ideal court vision and passing ability. The 2026 prospect has elite explosiveness and is already beginning to add pro-style moves to his game. Moreover, he can create his own shot from any spot on the floor.

        AJ Dybantsa is just as impressive on the defensive end. On the EYBL circuit, he took on the challenge of defending some of the best players in the country. He is fundamentally sound and takes pride in his ability and willingness to play hard-nosed defense. His length combines well with his exceptional footwork and agility at his size. He can rapidly close the distance and block or alter opponents’ attempted shots from anywhere on the court. Furthermore, he plays hard from start to finish on both ends of the floor. In conclusion, AJ Dybantsa is an ideal player for any NCAA basketball program in the country.

Areas to Improve

        There is room for improvement on Dybantsa’s outside shooting. Despite leading the 2023 EYBL Peach Jam in scoring, he struggled from three-point range. He finished 7-for-23, or 30.4%, from three over five games. Before the Peach Jam, Dybantsa was shooting 32.7% (18-55) from three in EYBL competitions. There will undoubtedly be plenty of time for AJ Dybantsa to improve his outside jumper. His proficiency at the free-throw line shows that he has the potential to become an elite shooter.

What is Next for AJ Dybantsa?

        This fall, Dybantsa is transferring to Prolific Prep, a basketball powerhouse based in Napa, California. They will play against some of the best high school programs in the country, including IMG Academy, Word of God Christian Academy, and many more prep and high school teams famous for having alums in the NBA. Five-star and consensus top-three overall prospect in the Class of 2026, Tyran Stokes, will be joining him at Prolific Prep. Stokes played on Vegas Elite on the EYBL circuit alongside star guard John Mobley Jr. Many scouts and coaches believe that Dybantsa will eventually reclassify, but the timetable remains unclear. 

Offers

        AJ Dybantsa received his first athletic scholarship offer from Boston College during his freshman high school season. He also has offers from Alabama, UConn, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Ole Miss, Providence, and Washington. Recruiting will ramp up next summer for prospects in the Class of 2026. College coaches and scouts are primarily focused on the older players (Class of 2024 & 2025) who will be able to impact their programs sooner. If and when Dybantsa decides to reclassify, there will be a surge of new powerhouse programs in the mix.

Projection

        In July 2023, On3 named Dybantsa the top high school basketball player in the country regardless of class. That is a prestigious honor because Dylan HarperAirious “Ace” Bailey, Cooper Flagg, and Cameron Boozer are still in the mix. Aj Dybantsa will be a sophomore when he attends Prolific Prep this fall. Harper and Bailey are entering their senior year, while Flagg and Boozer are entering their junior year. Despite being behind one-year grade-wise, Dybantsa is six months older than Cameron Boozer (Rivals 150 #2 prospect in 2025) and only one month younger than Cooper Flagg (Rivals 150 #1 prospect in 2025). Though Dybantsa tops the 2026 basketball rankings for individual players, it is debatable whether or not he would be ranked ahead of Boozer and Flagg if he reclassified to 2025. 

        Rivals and 247Sports have yet to rank basketball prospects in the Class of 2026. As of July 28th, 2023, ESPN’s Top 25 is the only prospect ranking source available for the Class of 2026. AJ Dybantsa is the number one player on the 2026 ESPN Top 25. Watching his game grow over the next few years will be interesting. He is a unique player with a great work ethic that has the chance to become an exceptional talent. AJ Dybantsa, the reigning Massachusetts Boys Basketball Gatorade Player of the Year, will become one of the best prospects in the NBA Draft in a few years and an almost certain lottery pick.

References

Peach Jam Stats. Nike EYBL. (2023, July 25).

Shaw, J. (2023, July 10). Ranking the top ten prospects in high school basketball. On3.

2025 rivals150 Prospect Ranking. Rivals.com. (2023, July 23).  

2026 ESPN Top 25. ESPN Basketball Recruiting Database. (2023, July 28).

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