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Raptors Elite Showcase

By Rick Staudt, 07/10/17, 5:00PM CDT

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The Raptors Elite organization put together a very solid two-day event this past weekend in Altamonte Springs.  After a month off while individual went to play with various high school teams at team camps around the state, the event provided travel teams like the Raptors Elite a chance to shake off the rust and get ready for the upcoming live period which starts this coming Wednesday.

Team Parsons 17U, aka CP25, almost took one on the chin from Florida Press late Sunday afternoon.  Florida Press led by eight at the half, 34-26.  Team Parsons opened the second half with a highly effective full court defense that not only allowed them to tie the game just three minutes in but go on to win by score of 66-51.

Ladarius Knight, a 6’5 wing from Alabama, was quite impressive.  He stroked open shots from beyond the arc, was a terror in transition, and used his length and leap to alter or block numerous shots.  A high-level athlete, Knight looks more than ready to play in front of college coaches.

We hadn’t seen 6’7 Jack Jackson from Ponte Vedra until Sunday afternoon.  He was solid with his play inside, chasing after rebounds at both ends and scoring near the goal when given the opportunity.  Jackson is a bit on the thin side but has a frame that will fill out well and he should have plenty of opportunities to play at the next level.

While it may not have been a great offensive game from Jose Placer, it was a chance to see the 6’1 guard out of Oviedo Master’s Academy run a team and not worry about having to score.  He was solid with the ball and got teammates involved but the real eye-opener was his lateral quickness and ability to guard the basketball and it make difficult for the opponent to get where he wanted to go.

Florida Press had some players of intrigue.  One, 6’5 Noah Perez, has a bit of a wild streak but plays hard every possession and showed enough scoring tools to be productive in spurts.  A good athlete with a strong frame, Perez’s best days are ahead of him.

Poinciana’s 5’10 Jose Zavala plays with a chip on his shoulder and without fear.  He has deep range on his shot and isn’t afraid to pull up with a defender on him (and he makes them).  Zavala isn’t a point guard in the traditional sense put handles the ball well and likes to push the pace.

CP25 16s took on the host Raptors Elite 16s in the second game we took in late Sunday afternoon.  A low scoring game at the half at just 29-19 in favor of CP25, both teams got things rolling in the second half.  CP25 wasn’t able to pull away until they extended their defense late in the half to force turnovers and got some easy baskets as a result.  They would go on to win 68-49.

Marseilles Caston, a 6’2 guard out of Jacksonville Potter’s House, was impressive in his debut with the team.  A native of Canada, he did most of his damage in transition as he repeatedly finished above the rim.  He also had a couple of nice baseline drives and scores in traffic.  Caston’s shot is a bit flat and he didn’t make any other perimeter jumpers in the game we watched.  Still, with an attacking mentality and a solid dose of run/jump athleticism, he is a guy to watch this month.

Isaiah Palermo continues to be a jack-of-all trades for CP25.  The 6’5 wing out of Osceola is seemingly always in the right place at the right time to make a play.  His perimeter shooting, especially from beyond the arc, has become more consistent.  He continues to be a solid rebounder and did a great job in the press anticipating passes and producing steals. 

It was a good outing for Dakota Rivers, 6’7 combo forward who will be playing at the new Windermere High School this coming season.  He did a solid job of protecting the paint and was quick to get out and run the floor in transition.  Rivers is quick off of his feet to snatch rebounds and tip-dunks offensive putbacks with authority.

Despite the wide margin of the loss to CP25, Raptors Elite 16U still had players that made an impression. 

Joseph French, a 6’3 wing from The Master’s Academy, has as nice of a three point stroke as you will find on the high school level.  He’s improving his ability to drive the ball to the basket.  To our understanding, he had a 34 point outing earlier in the weekend.

We liked what we saw from the play of J.P. LaPrad, a 6’1 wing out of Bishop Moore in Orlando.  He’s got some bounce to his game, hit a couple of threes off the catch, and was solid on the defensive end.

Bryan Brooks, a 6’2 athletic wing from Sanford Seminole, also had good minutes for Raptors Elite 16U.  When given the opportunity he took the ball strong to the basket and either scored and earned a trip to the foul line.  Though undersized against CP25, he battled evenly on the glass.

A 6’6 post player out of Orange City University, Matt Cole may not be the most athletic player you’ll find but he didn’t hesitate to battle bigger players at either end inside.  He showed some basic scoring skills and a willingness to run the floor.

A couple of players from the Raptors Elite 15U program deserve mention.  Corey Sawyer, Jr., a 5’10 speedster from Master’s Academy averaged double figures for the weekend.  He’s athletic but also a solid shooter from deep.  On the interior, 6’4 Jalen Carter of Apopka showed some good footwork and scoring touch in the post.  He is also a football prospect.