Our friends at On The Radar Hoops put on their Battle at the Beach event this past weekend at the AdventHealth Fieldhouse in Winter Haven. The event featured not only some of the best Florida-based travel teams but also a few standouts from out of state. We took in the Saturday session and there was a lot of quality play throughout the day.
Sean Stewart, Florida Rebels EYBL 17U: The 6’8 Windermere High School product and Duke commit continued his strong play from the EYBL circuit. In a monster two-point win against in-state rival Team Breakdown, Stewart seemed to get better as the game got more intense. He amazed with his explosiveness off the floor when going after rebounds and blocks. Stewart has a good touch around the rim and scored most often on short drives, offensive rebounds, lobs, and in transition.
Reed Shepperd, Midwest Basketball Club 17U: Midwest Basketball Club is ranked #11 on the travel team circuit by one outlet. The Adidas-backed club put on an impressive show in Florida, going 3-1 against some of the better teams in the state, its only loss a one-point nailbiter to #10 ranked Florida Rebels (68-67) on Sunday. Sheppard, a 6’3 guard from North Laurel, Kentucky and a University of Kentucky commit, was unquestionably one of the highlight players of the weekend. He has a very high basketball IQ, is a dangerous three level scorer, and a surprisingly good passer. A solid athlete that has a great understanding of the game, Shepperd is able to drive the ball to the basket and score in a crowd through contact, knock down shots on either side of the arc off the dribble or catch, and quickly get the ball to open teammates for quality shots. He is no slouch on the defensive end either.
Dylan James, 1 Family 17U: The 6’8 forward from Winter Haven seems to have taken his game up a notch or two based on his play this weekend. 1 Family went 4-0 this past weekend against a tough slate that included New World out of DC from the Adidas 3SSB circuit and ranked #5 by one outlet’s travel team rankings. Long, rangy, and athletic, James can create his own shot on either side of the arc. He makes threes when able to get his feet set and has developed some crafty footwork in the mid-range area to get off shots. He has a knack for getting to offensive rebounds and quickly putting back shots. James also contributes defensively as a shot blocker and as a guy that can switch out and defend the perimeter on ball screens.
Alex Doyle, Showtime Ballers 17U: The 6’7 2022 forward from DME Academy has been impressive at other events this spring, thanks to a beautiful stroke that finds its target for more often than not. He continued that shooting success this past weekend but also debuted some other qualities. Doyle pursued rebounds out of his area and found some success, was a willing passer that got the ball to open teammates, and was able to come up with some tips, deflections, and blocks on defense. Still, it is his three-point shooting that makes him a coveted player. Doyle has good shot preparation and a quick release once the ball is in his hands. Some may question his overall athleticism or ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays, but those unfounded perceptions haven’t kept him from being successful on the court.
Shawn Cinneus, Wellington Wolves 17U: The 6’5 forward from Wellington was very productive all weekend long. We became enamored with how Cinneus ran the floor for scores, made open shots along the perimeter, finished well inside in traffic and actively pursued rebounds at both ends of the court. A good athlete with a solid frame, Cinneus often found himself match-up with smaller guards or bigger forwards on the defensive end and certainly held his own. Once he begins to make shots behind the arc on a consistent basis, his game and recruitment will certainly go up a level or two.
Gabe Cupps, Midwest Basketball Club 17U: A 6’0 point guard from Centerville, Ohio, Cupps committed to Indiana University this past fall. He embodies what a point guard should be as he has great floor vision and court awareness. A reliable open shooter, Cupps also is crafty with the ball and finds creative ways to finish in a crowd around the rim. He doesn’t waste his dribble trying to set up defenders; he simply makes a move and goes. Cupps makes perimeter shots off the dribble as well. Defensively he is solid as he moves his feet well, anticipates the passing lanes, and communicates well to teammates. Cupps gets the most out of his ability and should no doubt make Hoosier fans happy for as long as he stays in Bloomington.
Lance Hayes, Midwest Basketball Club 17U: A 6’4 wing from St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, Ohio (a/k/a “Lebron’s Alma Mater”), Hayes may not be as celebrated nationally as his two teammates mentioned previously but his play this past weekend was every bit as good. Hayes shot the ball extremely well from the perimeter, both off the catch and the bounce. He moves well without the basketball, getting to open spots and always prepared to make a play via shot, pass, or dribble. Hayes reads the defense well and takes advantage of defenders playing too close for the shot to get by them and score inside. He was also solid on the defensive end, often matched up against the opponent’s best and/or most athletic wing, and acquitted himself very well.
Markel Brown, Southeast Elite 17U: The 6’0 point guard from Orlando Christian Prep just finished his freshman season so his playing up two levels. He has zero problem doing so and was one of the more pleasant surprises this weekend. Brown plays like an upperclassman as he has great confidence and has earned the respect and trust of his older teammates. A solid ball-handler and passer, he gets the ball quickly to where and whom it needs to go. Despite a thin frame, he doesn’t shy away from contact when driving the ball to the basket. Brown has a quick release on his perimeter shot and this weekend it was falling from well past the high-school line. He is an adequate defender now but will get better as his body matures and he gains strength.
Asa Newell, 1 Family 17U: A 6’9 sophomore out of Fort Walton Beach Choctawhatchee, we admittedly have not seen as much of him as we have some other highly regarded underclassmen this season, but no doubt he must be considered one of the better ones based on his performance this weekend. He has a smooth lefty stroke from deep and connected on a high rate in the games we watched. Just when we started to get concerned that was the lone element of his game, Newell scored on a post-up then made a strong drive to the basket and attempted to dunk hard on the defender. He didn’t finish the play, but the fact that he was willing and able to give it a go made a lasting impression. Long and lanky, he runs the floor well in transition. Newell uses his length and leap well when it comes to corralling missed shots as well as challenging opponents’ shot attempts on the defensive end of the floor.