More impressions of various players and teams from the Orlando Hoops Festival.
DC Blue Devils 16U
Our guests from the nation’s capital came in as arguably the top 16U team in the country after dominating the Under Armor Association this spring and summer and they didn’t disappoint in Orlando. We mentioned twins Makhel and Makhi Mitchell earlier but the team is so much more than those two. Marvin Price (featured pic), a 6’5 junior, was very active and athletic. He garnered a bunch of offensive rebounds, got to the basket on drives and in transition, and played with a lot of energy. Evan Buckley, a 6’0 junior, had one of the best shooting performances of the tournament as he went 5-7 from deep in the game we saw. He’s also a true point guard, vocal leader, and tough competitor. 6’5 junior Christian Depollar showed off a little bit of everything: three point shot, finishing ability, and defensive tenacity.
Louisiana Elite 17U
Hailing from the Bayou, Louisiana Elite 17s were solid all weekend long. Josh Leblanc and Kobe Julien gave the team a pair of high level scorers but they got a lot of help along the way. Jalen Brooks, a 6’4 wing, was a workhorse on the glass, made the most of his opportunities to score in the half-court, and was basically one of those glue guys that win games. Tyrece Radford got a lot accomplished inside the arc. The 6’2 guard continuously attacked the defense with the dribble and often scored thru contact and traffic at the basket. It was a strong weekend for Radford.
Louisiana Elite 16U
As evidence by the play of the two Louisiana Elite teams at the Orlando Hoops Festival, there is an abundance of talent in that state. 6’5 Tylan Pope had a pair of thunderous dunks in the game we watched. He also showed a nice shooting touch from fifteen feet and in as well as a nose for the ball coming off the offensive glass. Jordan Wright, a 6’5 wing, was swift up and down the floor, finished plays in transition, and was surprisingly effective on the defensive end with some steals and a pair of blocks. 6’7 Kamren Davis was tough to contain down on the blocks as he should off some solid footwork and post moves. He also did a good job of using his solid frame to carve out space to pursue rebounds at both ends. TraMichael Moton wasn’t list on the team’s roster, but the 6’1 guard was a blur with the basketball and excelled at pushing the pace and finding open teammates for easy shots in transition. Finally, Traci Wright put together a solid game in terms of putback points and hustle plays.
New York Lightning
We mentioned the perimeter combo of Anthony Nelsen and Jared Rhoden earlier. The Lightning also had some solid complementary pieces as well. Aiden Igiehon, a 6’11 rising junior, not only has height and length but also a solid dose of bounce. While still a bit under-developed offensively in the post, he can certainly score off of lobs and offensive rebounds. Igeihon is also a pretty good free throw shooter for a big guy. We really enjoyed watching 6’8 rising junior Eredelin de la Cruz play. A robo-rebounder, he pretty much grabs anything that comes in his area. We had him for double-digit rebounds in both games we observed. He didn’t get an opportunity to display much in the way of offensive skills but he makes a major impact in other ways. Jordan Dingle, a 6’3 combo guard, was solid. He proved difficult to guard on the offensive end: play too close and he blew by the defender and if played for the drive he showed he could rise up and knock down shots from distance.
It was a tough weekend for our friends from Alabama but 6’7 Anthony Fairley was solid in a game on Friday. He was an effective rim protector to the tune of five blocked shots and scored inside with a power drop step or on offensive rebounds.
One of the deeper and more athletic teams to play in the event, the Sons had a lot of guys worth mentioning. Trevin Wade, a 5’11 guard out of Georgia, played the role of point guard to keep the team flowing. He pushed the pace often, proved to be a tough on-ball defender, and a good enough jump shooter that defenders had to play up on him. Kuany Kuany, a 6’9 rising junior, is more of a perimeter player thanks to some solid ball-handling skills. He can make open three point shots and despite a thin frame complete tough shots around the basket. His length makes him a terror on the defensive end out along the perimeter. The leader of the band was 6’7 Madut Akec, a rising senior. His once suspect jump shot is now a weapon and he handles the ball well enough to grab defensive rebounds and start the break on his own. He plays with great tenacity at both ends and the team feeds off of his energy. Jonathan Dos Anjos, a 6’8 combo forward, is at his best when the game is up-tempo. He runs the floor well, scores around the basket, and will hit the occasional open three pointer. Finally, 6’9 rising senior Mbaye Dione may not have gotten a lot of touches or court time, but a strong body and a willingness to do the dirty work should give him an opportunity to play at some collegiate level.
Playing without four starters is tough. However, it does give other guys some extra floor time to show what they have. Bryce Beamer, a 6’5 wing who will be taking a prep year, was one of those guys. While taking and making three points shots is still very much his identity, Beamer proved to be a better scorer off the bounce than when last seen as well as a much better rebounder at both ends of the court. Antonio Day, a 6’0 rising junior playing up, had some ups and downs but mostly his play was positive. While he did have some turnover issues, he’s an aggressive rim attacker, defender, and very confident with the ball in his hands. Expect his turnover and shot vs. pass decision issues to lessen by next travel ball season.
Much of the roster was made up returning Miami Christian players and if the Orlando Hoops Festival was any indication, the Victors should have a great chance of repeating in Class 2A. We highlighted the play of Neftali Alvarez earlier but he got a lot of help. Jeffrey Hernandez, a 6’4 wing, showed off a solid stroke from deep as well as an ability use change of speed and/or pace with his dribble to get to the basket. He also was solid on the defensive end. Dropping threes from all angles was 6’4 Miguel Diaz. Best off the catch, he’s got a quick release and is uncannily accurate. He’ll also get inside and fight for rebounds as well. Jesus Desquene, a 6’7 rising senior at Mater Academy, gave size to the group but he too is a perimeter player. He’s a solid three point shooter but sometimes a bit over-eager to get up his shot. Desquene has some length and bounce and is just scratching the surface of what he can become if he will put in the work.
CP25 Gauntlet 17U
The CP25 (Team Parson) program was prominent at the Orlando Hoops Festival. The 17U Gauntlet program from the Adidas circuit made an impression on the vast variety of college coaches in attendance. Jose Placer, a 6’2 guard, is a tough cover. He can beat you with his outside shot, get to the basket and finish, and find open teammates for easy scores. Placer is also a gritty, grind-it-out defender, and isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body to get the basketball or draw a charge. Before an injury sidelined him, 6’7 Robert Allen was battling well against bigger players inside. From the foul line or short corners, he’s a threat to score with the drive or jumper. He’s also an avid runner and finisher on the break. Allen rebounds well outside of his area and has quick second and third leaps when going after missed shots. Will Erickson, a 6’5 wing, shot the ball well all weekend long. We think he’s better than he thinks he is as he’s good enough athletically to finish at the basket but often looks to pass before being challenged by the defense.
Q6 All Stars Elite
An undervalued unit, Q6 may have finally gotten its due when the team defeated Louisiana Elite 17U on the final day of the event. They played everybody tough and they faced a tough schedule over the course of the weekend. Jaxson Strates, a 6’8 forward, continued to show rapid improvement thanks to some newfound confidence. He’s looking to dunk the ball at every opportunity and seems more than willing to take and dish out contact at both ends of the court. 6’1 Ronderick Perry displayed an improved shooting touch from beyond the arc. He’s now more of an offensive weapon as he has always been solid when it comes to handling and passing the basketball. Christian St. Germain, a 6’5 wing, was a dangerous catch-and-shoot player all weekend long. He made some big shots over the course of the weekend. The just 6’4, Jeremy Johnson plays much bigger and gets a lot done around the basket. Surprisingly he showed a deft shooting touch along the perimeter but he’s at his best when using his strength and tenacity in the paint at both ends of the court. Finally, we’d be remiss not to mention #8 who wasn’t listed on the team’s roster, but used his speed, quickness, and lack of size, to give opponents fits each and every game.
Team Breakdown Black
Primarily a group of players from Northeast High School in Broward, the team’s style of play never fails to entertain. At the top of the list is 6’5 rising senior Angel Smith. On the opening day of play, he took a nasty fall, landing on his left arm. After leaving the game to get it taped, he came back in a resumed his effervescent play. The next day we asked him before his first game how the wrist was and he stated, “it might be broken, but I’ll just play through it.” And he did with his production hardly suffering. Smith may take a prep year, and that will help him in terms of honing his jumper and ball-handling skills. He’s got all of the physical tools and mental makeup to be a high level recruit. Also playing well for Breakdown Black was 6’3 Ricardo Jackson. A combo guard, he can score on his own but also deliver the ball to others for open shots. He has an impressive mid-range game and makes good decisions on the move with the basketball.