22 May 2023

Battle at the Beach: 17U Rpt I

The Battle at the Beach took place at the RADD Sports Complex in Wesley Chapel, just north of Tampa, this past weekend.  There was an abundance of quality talent across the age groups ranging from 14U-17U.  We will focus our first two reports on the 17U age group and work our way through the younger ones as the week progresses.

Asa Newell, 1 Family: The 6’9 junior from Montverde Academy was simply on an entirely different level this past weekend.  Whether he was posting up and scoring on the block, stepping out and knocking down perimeter shots on both sides of the arc, crashing the offensive glass or running the floor for easy points, Newell showed off a bottomless bag of scoring tricks.  Defensively, his length and defensive footwork made him a challenge to score against.  Newell will continue to see high-major coaching staffs attend his games during the July live period.

Elyjah Freeman, Wellington Wolves: A 6’6 junior at Wellington, Freeman has been THE revelation of the spring.  The athletic wing is very skilled as he has three-level scoring prowess, very good ball-handling and passing skills, and can play as well as defend multiple positions.  Hard to imagine Freeman only averaged five points a game this past season per Max Preps.  He’s as likely to slam one home after blowing by a defender on the perimeter as he is to locate open teammates for easy buckets when he drives to the basket.  Freeman is quick off the floor for putbacks, is swift and finishes well above the rim in transition and is a grab-and-go rebounder.

Ramone Seals, Born to Impact Elite: A 6’5 junior at Sports Leadership And Management (SLAM) Academy in Tampa, Seals is a physical specimen with a rapidly improving skill set.  With a solid frame and a large dose of strength, he is at his best when getting downhill to the hoop, overpowering defenders and finishing at the basket in traffic.  Seals keeps his head up on the drive and will get the ball to open teammates if his path to points is cut off.  He didn’t take many in the game we watched, but his perimeter shot looks more than acceptable and he has good shot selection.  His rebounding ability at both ends is high-level and he can be disruptive on defense, whether it is getting into the passing lanes or using his strength to keep opponents away from the rim.

Kameren Wright, 1 Family: The 6’5 junior out of The Rock School in Gainesville is a high-flying wing that should be on a LOT of D-I radars in July.  He has an over-abundance of athleticism, shoots the ball well from the perimeter out to the arc, and covers a lot of ground quickly on the defensive end.  Wright excels in transition, flying over the defense for scores.  He also gets easy and extra points on the offensive glass.  To his credit, he doesn’t hunt shots on a team as talented as 1 Family.  Wright is more than willing to play in the team concept and make the most of his opportunities. When he gets them, he takes full advantage.  Wright is very good now but his physical gifts give him a lot of upside for the future.

Josh Harris, Team Florida: A 6’7 junior at Pembroke Pines Charter, Harris showed no fear in taking the ball right at Newell in Team Florida’s game vs. 1 Family.  He scored quite well, either going over his left shoulder with short hooks or finding ways to use the rim to keep defenders away from his shot.  Harris also showed some perimeter scoring ability as he knocked down one perimeter shot each on either side of the arc.  That is an area that he will want to continue to work on as the July live period looms ahead.  Harris handles the ball acceptably on the perimeter and doesn’t try to do things out there that he isn’t comfortable with.  He rebounds well at both ends, has good defensive footwork when guarding on the perimeter and is strong enough to battle bigger foes inside.

Reggie Reinhardt, Wellington Wolves: A 6’1 guard from Wellington, Reinhardt is strong and powerful with the ball.  Defenders both large and small tend to bounce off him as he attacks the basket.  Reinhardt gets a surprising number of putbacks for a player his size.  He isn’t just a slasher as he showed consistent touch from the other side of the three-point line.  Reinhardt is effective at either guard spot at both ends of the court.  He has plenty of athleticism to go with his physicality.  Reinhardt can body up smaller guards to keep them out of the lane and/or use quick feet to bottle up bigger guards on the perimeter.  He creates and gets to a lot of 50/50 balls and if he gets there first, Reinhardt is quick to convert at the other end.

Chris Moliere, Born To Impact Elite: A 6’2 junior at Tampa Jesuit, Moliere was very impressive Sunday evening as the event was winding down.  A speedy and shifty guard, he found creative ways to break down the defense with the dribble and attack the basket or get teammates open shots.  He wasn’t always successful at scoring at the rim but none of those were bad or forced shots in traffic.  Moliere got hot late in the game when Born To Impact was making a comeback.  He drained a quartet of threes in succession, two off the bounce and two off the catch, showing that he is not one dimensional at the offensive end.  For as much as he handled the basketball in the game, Moliere had very few turnovers in the contest.  He uses his speed and quickness well on the defensive end, whether it be guarding the opposing ball-handler or anticipating passes and disrupting the passing lanes.

Lorenzo Cason, 1 Family Elite: A 6’2 guard from Victory Christian in Lakeland, Cason continues to show he can score in a wide variety of ways.  He does an excellent job of creating space with the dribble and/or footwork to get off his shot on either side of the arc and he is a reliable shooter from the perimeter.  Cason also has crafty ball-skills and creative finishing ability to get to and score at the basket in a crowd.  He is also more than willing to share the ball, keeping his head up on drives, reading the defense and usually making the right pass vs. shot decision.  An active, athletic, and aggressive defender, Cason seems to relish challenging opponents on that end of the floor.  He reacts quickly, has fast feet, and continually digs at the ball.

Julien Clark, Team Florida: A 6’2 guard at Lake Highland Prep in Orlando, if Clark wasn’t finishing forays to the hoop for scores, he was dropping in deep jumpers from the perimeter.  He is shifty with the ball, is adept at getting defenders off balance and then getting quickly into the lane.  Once there, Clark can score with a floater over the top of the defense or find a way to get a shot up and in when defenders converge on him.  He reads and reacts well to the defense in ball-screen situations, understanding when to pull up for the shot, drive to the rim, or find the screener rolling to the rim or popping out for the perimeter shot.  Clark may be more scorer than distributor at this stage, but he does take care of the ball and generally makes good decisions on the move.  He has the physical tools to create problems for opposing ball-handlers on the defensive end of the floor.

Matt Puodziukaitis, Wellington Wolves: A 6’8 junior at Palm Beach Central, if you think the name is hard to spell or pronounce, his game is even tougher.  We are somewhat tired of the term “grinder” and phrase “grinding it out” but it is very appropriate for his style of play.  He struggled early on at the offensive end in the contest we took in, but he just worked through it until points started to pile up.  A very mobile big guy, Puodziukaitis runs the floor, rebounds out of his area, and does a respectable job of switching off and guarding smaller players on the perimeter.  He is very active on the offensive glass and has a quick second, third and if needed, fourth leap to chase after missed shots.  He didn’t take a perimeter shot and was just 1-4 from the free throw line so that is an area for improvement.  However, the shot looks fine mechanically, so hopefully it is just a matter of gaining more repetition and confidence in that area of his game.

Isaiah Brown, 1 Family: The 6’5 junior at Orlando Christian Prep was somewhat of a celebrity at the event after his commitment to the Florida Gators.  With that decision out of the way, Brown seemed to play a bit looser and freer than we’ve seen in the past.  He seemed more comfortable with his outside shot as well as his ability to put the ball on the floor and score in a crowd around the basket.  The lefty has a smooth and reliable stroke from deep.  Brown also has the athleticism to finish off lobs at the basket on set plays and in transition.  A solid defender, he moves his feet well when guarding the ball, rotates quickly into help position, and gets his hands on many a lazy pass.

Chris Washington, Tre Mann Elite: A 6’7 freshman out of The Villages, Washington and his Tre Mann brethren are essentially the Florida Rebels EYBL 15U program playing outside that circuit.  Playing up on the 17U level, the group had a very successful weekend and Washington was a main part of it.  While we only got to see the second half of a contest, it was enough to confirm what we already knew about Washington.  Skinny but with a great motor, athleticism and the right mindset, Washington plays hard from the jump.  He pursues rebounds, gets out and runs the floor, defends aggressively on the perimeter and is an impactful shot blocker/changer.  Washington showed off a nice touch from deep this weekend.  There are still some rough edges to his offensive game that will get smoothed out in time, but it is easy to see the high ceiling that Washington has.

C.J. Ingram, Tre Mann Elite: A 6’5 freshman at Hawthorne, Ingram is a high-level dual-sport athlete. While the high school that he attends plays in the smallest classification, Ingram would thrive at any level. He displays a rare combination of size, skill, and smarts that allow him to play any position on the floor.  While Ingram may not be charged with bringing the ball up the floor and initiating the offense, there is no doubt that Ingram is a playmaker.  He does a good job of finding teammates for good looks at the basket, hits cutters in stride and pushes the ball ahead in transition.  Ingram takes and makes good shots from the perimeter, but he seems more comfortable facilitating or scoring closer to the basket.  He reads and reacts well on defense, disrupts the passing lanes, and is quick to push the pace after securing a defensive rebound.

(Due to an unnoticed schedule change late Saturday evening, we were unable to see such talented teams as SOH Elite, Southeast Elite Gold, God First, Team Speights, and Showtime Ballers.  The players on those rosters alone could easily fill another report of this depth)




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