31 Jan 2024

Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament Notables – Rpt I

A.J. Dybansta, Prolific Prep: The 6’8 junior is not just an elite level athlete but also very highly skilled with a hoops IQ to match.  He scored from all three levels this past weekend.  His jump shot was consistently on target on either side of the arc, hit contested shots, and finished thru contact at the basket.  Despite his slight frame he rebounds well in a crowd thanks to long arms and a quick leap.  Dybansta covers a lot ground very quickly on defense, coming with steals and blocks as though he just appeared out of thin air.  It won’t surprise if he goes the G-League route but if he does go to college it won’t be for long.

Shon Abaev, Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian: A 6’8 junior, Abaev can often fascinate and sometimes frustrate.  He frequently hits contested shots on either side of the arc off the catch or dribble but sometimes his shot selection can questionable.  He is a very solid player when he doesn’t try to do too much, case in point his effort against Riviera Prep when he scored the game winner with one second remaining.  Abaev is a much better passer and rebounder than he is given credit for.

Elijah Crawford, Brewster Academy: A 6’2 senior and Stanford signee, Crawford was dynamic in the semi-finals, a narrow loss to Prolific Prep as he tallied 30 of his team’s 69 points.  The majority of his points came inside the arc after cutting to the basket, dropping in floaters and mid-range jumpers, and getting down the floor ahead of the defense in transition.  Crawford handles the ball well and is a good three-point shooter when he does take them.  Physically and mentally tough, he should thrive for the Cardinal.

Tyler Johnson, Oak Ridge: A 6’5 senior committed to Virginia Tech, Johnson excels in the mid-range and is physically tough at both ends of the floor.  He often outrebounds bigger opponents and has very quick and active hands and feet on defense.  Johnson is an accomplished lob-catcher and finisher around the basket in transition as well as half-court sets.  He does a good job of putting the ball on the floor, reading the defense, and either rising and knocking jumpers or taking the ball hard to the basket to earn his points.

Tyran Stokes, Prolific Prep: While not as explosive athletically as teammate Dybansta (very, very few are), Stokes still has plenty of bounce to go along with an abundance of strength and skills.  He is a tough matchup with his ability to grab rebounds and push the ball up the floor on his own, knock down shots from distance, and attack the basket off the dribble.  Stokes is also a very good passer as he finds open teammates quickly in transition and the half-court.  He is a solid defender both inside and on the perimeter.

Dante Allen, Riviera Prep: A 6’4 junior, Allen had a couple of tough shooting days from deep but as usual contributed in a host of other areas.  He is strong and relentless when taking the ball to the basket, makes tough finishes in a crowd, and finds open teammates for better shots when and if his path to points is cut off.  He rebounds well and is quick to push the ball up the floor when he secures it.  He is disruptive in the passing lanes on defense and gets his hands on a lot of wayward passes.

Ryan “R.J.” Jones, The Rock School: A 6’9 senior and Virginia Tech signee, it was great to see Jones healthy and playing well.  Jones clearly spent time honing his perimeter shot during his down time and was on target from deep all weekend.  Combine that with his strength, agility, and scoring touch down low and Jones should be able to help in Blacksburg sooner rather than later.  He is strong, rebounds well at both ends, and has an improving in-between game.

Montverde won the event with a victory over Prolific Prep, its second over PP in the last two weeks.  You can no doubt find a plethora of writeups on Montverde’s individual stars so we want to highlight a couple of other Eagles that impressed in the limited amount of run they got this past weekend.

Kayden Allen: The uber-athletic 6’5 sophomore wing is getting more time off the bench and producing.  He had a couple of dynamic finishes on the break, grabbed some rebounds, and was engaged on defense.  Allen will likely be a featured player on next season’s Eagles team.

Ace Flagg: The 6’7 junior is a D-I player in his own right. He has a solid game inside the arc as he shoots it well or can put the ball on the floor from the high post and short corners to score at the basket.  Flagg rebounds his area and plays hard at both ends of the floor.  Strong and physical, he got a lot done in a short amount of playing time.


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