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AAU Super Showcase 17U Gold Division – Rpt I

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We spent three days out at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando taking in the AAU Super Showcase.  While the entire event consisted of five divisions (17U Gold, 17U, 16U, 15U, and 14U) we focused our attention on the 17U divisions.  The Gold division contained elite teams from across shoe company lines and those contests were must see for college coaches and hoop heads alike.

Some thoughts on teams and players in the Gold Division:

Phenom University EYBL

Based out of Wisconsin, Phenom U won the Gold Division going undefeated over the course of seven games.  What makes their championship remarkable is that Phenom U is a 16U team playing up!  The team was second in the EYBL 16U division, but its performance against 17U EYBL teams at the Super Showcase suggests (1) Phenom U would have been successful and probably should have played up on the 17U EYBL circuit and (2) ought to be the 2019 Peach Jam favorite as of now.

Phenom University carried only eight players, but it was a very talented eight players.  At the top of list is Jalen Johnson, a 6’8 positionless player in the 2020 Class that had the attention of many a high-major college coach.  Multi-skilled, Johnson doesn’t need to score to greatly impact the game.  His ball-handling and passing skills, along with his size and court vision, allow him to run the offense.  Johnson didn’t come across as much of a perimeter shooter (he didn’t have to take such shots for the team to be effective) but when it came crunch time he tended to bury the shot.

Patrick Baldwin, a 6’9 forward in the Class of 2021 (yes, a rising sophomore), is considered one of the best players in the country in that class and rivals Johnson as the team’s top player and prospect.  The son of a college coach, he’s greatly skilled and plays on the perimeter.  A tremendous shooter with range, Baldwin shoots over most defenders.  He’s also able to put the ball on the floor to get by the defender and score at the rim.  While and excellent run/jump athlete, he didn’t exhibit an “explosiveness” like some of the other top recruits in the Showcase.  That doesn’t matter, as he is too skilled and talented not to be either a one-and-done or direct-to-draft out of high school, depending on the NBA’s time table to change the draft rules.

While those two players were arguably the top two talents in the Showcase Gold division, the backcourt of 6’2 Reece Beckman and 6’3 Desmond Polk was of great significance to Phenom U’s title run.  Beckman was simply a beast on both ends of the court.  Defensively, he put together a long rap sheet of steals, whether picking off wayward passes or outright taking the ball off the dribble. Offensively, he made excellent decisions with the basketball, found teammates for easy scores and knocked down open shots out to the three point line with regularity.  Polk was on the receiving end of many of Beckman’s assists.  Polk was outstanding off the catch from beyond the arc but also showed the ability to creatively finish at the basket when met with resistance.  Polk’s length and lateral quickness also provided dividends on the defensive end.

Rounding out the starting five was 6’7 Jamari Sibley.  He provided more of a punch in the rebounding, defense, and mid-range scoring areas, but the lefty showed he has range with a couple of threes over the course of the weekend.  The most athletic of the group in terms of speed, quickness, and leaping ability, Sibley was also the player called upon to defend the other team’s top perimeter player.

Phenom University got contributions on the bench from Isaac Lindsey, Carter Gilmore, and Terrance Thompson.  The 6’1 Lindsey was instant offense of the bench with his ability to bury threes from all angles with deep range.  He hit some big shots in the team’s overtime quarter-final win.  Gilmore, at 6’8,  came in and did the dirty work: post defense, rebounds, setting screens, and making other contributions to victory.  A true post player, the 6’8 Thompson, provided an offensive presence on the interior while defending the paint and protecting the rim on the defensive end of the court.

All-Ohio Red 17U

A traditional power in the EYBL, All-Ohio Red reached the finals before falling to Phenom University.  Admittedly, we didn’t see All-Ohio play but a half in the quarter-finals.  However, that was more than enough time to see why 6’9 Alonzo Gaffney is considered a top twenty player in the 2019 Class and that the Ohio State University is ecstatic to have a commitment from him.  We would love to throw out terms like “endless length” and “abundant athleticism” when discussing Gaffney,  However, those phrases would be understatements.  He reminds us of Darius Miles from over a decade ago.  However, Gaffney is far more skilled that Miles was at the same stage.  Gaffney proved he could dribble, pass, and shoot at a high level.  Gaffney can arguably play and defend four, if not five, of the positions on the court.

Expressions Elite Gold 17U

Falling to Phenom University in the semis, Expressions Elite Gold U out of New England featured a solid group of players.

Arguably the “main draw” for Expressions is 6’6 wing Terrence Clark, a member of the 2021 Class.  Extremely well-coordinated and skilled for a player his size and age, Clark is a slashing scorer that gets to the rim very quickly and is able to score through, around, or over defenders at the rim.  He passes well off the dribble and generally makes good shot vs. pass decisions with the ball.  In the games we watched his perimeter shot was not falling but the mechanics are fundamentally sound so it should only be a matter of continued work to get that issue resolved.  Thanks to his combination of physical gifts and skills, he is considered one of the elite in the Class of 2021.

If there had been a dunk contest at the Showcase, our money would have been on Preston Santos of Expressions.  A 6’5 wing, Santos was absolutely dynamic around the basket.  Whether sprinting up the floor in transition, cutting for lobs at the rim, or pursuing offensive rebounds, Santos got there quicker and at a much higher elevation than his opponents or teammates.  Can’t say we got to see much in the way of perimeter skills but his physical gifts are not coachable and a vast majority of D-I coaches certainly wouldn’t mind working with him to develop his offensive skills once he got into their program.

Noah Fernandez, a 6’0 point guard for Expressions, was very solid in his overall play.  He showed he could be both a distributor as well as a scorer while running the ball club.  Fernandez was quick to pass the ball to open shooters on the wings, both from the perimeter or when penetrating the defense with the dribble.  He’s got a floater in the lane and a mid-range jumper to complement his ability to score from three point range.  Fernandez was also solid on defense with an ability to react quickly to ball movement and anticipate passes into his area.

With good size at 6’9 and probably 230+ pounds, Vincent Mitchell anchored the inside for Expressions.  However, he also showed a consistent shot from the three point line when coming off of ball-screens.  This makes him “Omari Spellman 2.0” and a prototype player for the small ball wave that has taken over the NBA and helped Villanova to two titles in three years.

Team Knight Gold 17U

The final team in the Showcase Gold final four was Florida’s own Team Knight 17U Gold.  With no starter taller than 6’7, Team Knight used an aggressive, switching defense to force turnovers and create easy scoring opportunities until they ran into All-Ohio Red in the semis.

B.J. Greenlee, a 6’1 point guard, was solid in his ability to run the team and score when called upon.  He’s quick to advance the ball via the pass or dribble, finds teammates for easy baskets, and is quick and crafty with the ball to get past defenders and break down the defense.  Greenlee also did a nice job of reading ball-screens and make the right decision with the ball.

Byron Smith, a 6’4 wing, shot the ball from the perimeter as well as we’ve ever seen him do so the last couple of years.  He also played back-up point guard and looked comfortable running the offense in the half-court and pushed the tempo when given the opportunity.  Smith also was an active rebounder from the perimeter.

Toumani Camara, a 6’7 wing, was most effective when able to slash to the basket or get out in transition and beat his man down the court.  He had some quality finishes at the basket after short one or two dribble drives.  His perimeter shot wasn’t falling and coaches will want to see that improved over the course of his senior season.  Defensively he was active as he blocked shots coming over from the weak side and used his wing span and foot speed to cover ground quickly, earning a lot of tips and deflections in the process.

Ahren Freeman was often outsized against bigger opponents but the 6’6 forward is strong, smart, and simply knows how and where to gain advantages.  He scored mostly on opportunity baskets (putbacks, drop-offs from penetrating guards, in transition) but has a good touch when driving to the rim or shooting shots from inside the arc.  A reliable dribbler and passer, he is comfortable on the perimeter and is a mismatch if guarded by a bigger interior player.  Freeman actively rebounded at both ends and was a physical post defender in the games we saw.

Luke Anderson, a 6’7 forward, continued to have a solid July.  As expected, he shot the ball well from behind the three point line.  However, Anderson, put in additional work when it came to rebounding the ball as well as scoring at the basket in transition.

Cyrus Largie, a 6’4 guard, was solid in a reserve role for Team Knight.  He doesn’t look to score but he certainly can, particularly when taking the ball to the basket.  He’s a good ball-handler and passer that looks to keep teammates involved and does his best to get the ball quickly to guys with a better shot opportunity.  Defensively he can defend any position on the perimeter.

Yussif Basa-Ama, a 6’9 rising junior, was the one guy with size on Team Knight’s roster.  He did a nice job of providing rim protection when in the game and he’s coordinated and quick enough to move his feet and keep up with smaller perimeter players on defense.  Offensively he needs polish but it is his defensive abilities that make him valuable right now.

Marcus Montolva, a 6’3 wing, was instant offense for Team Knight off the bench.  He’s got a nice three point stroke but also plays within himself, doesn’t make mistakes, and plays hard every possession.

As a side note, both Anderson and Camara stayed in Los Angeles after the second “live” period to participated in Adidas’s Super Sixty Camp, bringing together the best of the best from the Adidas Gauntlet Circuit to participate in skills training and elite-level scrimmages.

Summer Hoops Festival: Final Notes

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Time to wrap up our coverage of an outstanding Summer Hoops Festival.

Dallas Graziani, a 5’7 rising junior for the Broward County Cougars, belied his size by scoring 20+ in most of his games.

Team Vecchio from Argentina brought four teams to compete.  They are staying around the compete in the Super Showcase out at Disney.

For Team Vecchio Black, 6’4 2020 wing Lazaro Tonato was consistently in double figures

Rising sophomore Leandro Barbera of Team Vecchio Red, a 5’11 point guard, was near double figures in most games as well given the responsibilities to run the offense.

Another member of the 2021 Class, 5’8 guard, Miguel Cartosio, had a team-high 18 points in a contest for Team Vecchio White.

Chance Dixon, a 5’11 rising junior out of Santaluces in Lake Worth, had games of 16 and 13 points for the Delray Blazers 16U squad.

Incoming 5’7 freshman A.J. Guardino was in double-figures and the leading scorer for DME Summer 16U.

DME Summer 17U’s Khari Smith and games of 28 and 14 points.

Michael James, a 6’5 wing from Wekiva, had games of 19 and 20 points for Each 1 Teach 1 2021.  The 19 point game featured five makes from beyond the arc.

Elliot York out of West Orange had games of 18 and 14 points for Florida Xclusive Elite.

Chris Cross had a pair of double-figure games (18 and 15 points) for Game Speed Elite 16U.

Keenan Blackshear, a 6’6 wing for Game Speed Elite 17U, averaged in the high teens with games of 21, 16, and 18 points.

Austin Geller, a 6’3 wing for the Jupiter Jaguars, had a game where high pumped in 27 points, one of the highest totals in the event.

Jacquan Lowman, a 6’0 rising sophomore from Apopka, had a pair of games in double figures for Raptors Elite 16U, scoring 12 and 24 points in the outings.

Raptors Elite 16U Gauntlet had a pair of double figure scorers in 6’4 Marshaun West of Sanford Seminole and 6’4 Jaylen Williams from Kissimmee Liberty.

J.J. Harris of Showtime Ballers 15U was consistently in double figures with games of 14, 17, and 21 points.

Jaylen Haynes of the South Florida Kings 16 was the top scorer for his team.  The 6’7 forward out of Dillard had a high game of 20 points during the week.

Tyler Miller, a wing out of Lake Worth, was high scorer for the South Florida Kings Gauntlet 17U with 21 an outing.

Kadeem Wilks, a 6’2 wing from Delray Beach Atlantic, was a consistent double-figure scorer for the South Florida Sharks 17U squad.

Antwan Walker, a 6’0 rising junior, a had a game of 18 points with four made threes for Taylored Athletes Polk Elite.

Walter Brown, a 5’11 guard out of North Carolina had games of 19 and 18 points for Team “R U Wasting Time?”

Joshua Blazquez, a 5’8 member of the Class of 2021 out of Kissimmee Osceola had games of 12, 17, and 22 points for Team Parsons (CP 25) 15U Select.

Both Tyreke McElwain, a 5’9 rising junior from Tally Godby and 6’5 rising senior Chosen Levarity from Tally St. John Paull II averaged double figures for Team TAB.

Meshach Maddox, a 6’4 forward out of Lake City Columbia, led Team Talent in scoring with 20 points.

Deion Gooden, a 6’0 guard out of Tampa Alonso averaged double figures for the two games Team Tampa played on Saturday.

DaQuan Gonzalez, a 5’10 rising sophomore out of Jensen Beach, had a game-high 24 points in one contest for the Treasure Coast Titans.  He also had the best hair of the event, hands down.

John Latimer, a 5’11 guard for Triple Double Basketball Academy, had games of 24 and 16 points.

Kentron Poitier, a 6’5 wing for Triple Threat Basketball, averaged double figures with games 13, 13 and 22 points.

Summer Hoops Festival: Underclassmen Uprising

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There was a lot of quality in the 16U division of the Summer Hoops Festival.  Let’s take a look.

Each 1 Teach 1 2020

We could not have been more impressed with the play of 6’7 forward Michael Phillips out of Creekside.  Combining his physical gifts of athleticism, size, and reach with a non-stop motor at both ends of the court, he gets a lot down without an overwhelming offensive skill set.  He’s solid around the basket but is not yet a consistent shooter.  A rarity and a major plus in his favor is that he is verbally engaged the entire contest, both on the court and on the bench, communicating on defense and encouraging teammates.  Kobe Knox, a 6’3 guard from Tampa Catholic, is always going to face comparisons to older brother Kevin, a recent NBA first round pick of the New York Knicks.  Judged simply on his own merit, the younger Knox is a solid player with college potential.  A very good perimeter shooter, he was quite effective this time around getting to and finishing at the basket, often with his off hand.  Though just a rising sophomore (Class of 2021), Dallan Coleman from West Nassau looks very comfortable competing up in age.  The 6’4 guard already has a solid offensive skill set and while his mindset is to score, he’s a more than willing and capable distributor.

NY Lightning 16U Select

The only out-of-state contingent to bring a 16U team, it certainly looks like the Lightning have the youngsters in place to keep up their status in the EYBL.  We really appreciated the play of 6’0 point guard Michael Caldero.  He completed difficult finishes at the rim, consistently attacked the defense with the dribble, and made good shot vs. pass decisions.  His stroke was reliable out to the arc.  Both 6’11 Maximo Garcia and 6’6 Carlos Rosario were solid around the basket.  Garcia was a better than anticipated scorer inside despite being on the thin side.  His length allowed him to protect the rim and control the glass.  Rosario did many of the same things, but he is springier off the floor, attacks the glass with more abandon, and swiftly gets out into transition.

Showtime Ballers 16U

On the wing, 6’4 Rasheed Durham from First Coast in Jacksonville got a lot done inside the arc.  His quick first step got him past defenders and to the basket within a dribble or two and he showed an ability to finish creatively in traffic.  Durham is also an excellent athlete and has no trouble finishing above the rim in transition.  On the inside, 6’6 Kobe Gibbs from Strawberry Crest outside of Tampa put in work.  He was all over the offensive glass, either putting back missed shots or keeping the possession alive until a teammate could come up with the ball.  He was quick up and down the floor in transition, challenged shots in the lane, and did a nice job of finding cutters when out on the perimeter.

Showtime Ballers Select 17U

Playing up a year, 6’2 Sebastian Astor out of Fleming Island was a nice surprise.  While he won’t impress athletically, he displayed a solid basketball IQ as he threw alert passes to cutters for scores, progressed the ball down the court quickly via either the dribble or the pass, and made open shots from the perimeter.

South Florida Elite 2020

Martin Mercedes, a 5’10 guard from Miami Ferguson, was the catalyst for this group.  His forte was getting out in transition and scoring before the defense could get organized.  His shot looked solid as he connected a couple of times from beyond the arc.  Mercedes was solid on the defensive end, using quick feet and active hands to harass the opposing ball-handler and making it difficult for the other team to get into an offensive flow.

Team Breakdown 16U

On a team loaded with quality perimeter players, 6’6 Amarachi Ujagbor out of Pembroke Pines Charter became the de facto interior “shop keeper”.  An active rebounder with long arms, he’s at his best on putbacks and quick shots as a cutter into the lane.  He sometimes rushes his shot on the offensive end but that should correct itself in the near future.   We don’t deny that 5’10 Sam Rolle of Suncoast has become one of our favorite players of the summer.  A true point guard with not just command of the ball but of the game, he gets the ball where it needs to go to make the right play at the right time.  He’s one of those players that just seems to be a play or two ahead of the opposition on every possession.

Team Parsons (CP 25) 17U Mix

This team was composed entirely of Class of 2020 players and competed well against older competition.  Joe Bamisille, a 6’4 wing from Montverde, seems to be recovering well from a knee injury that kept him out of competition with the Eagles this past season.  Lean and athletic, Bamisille had some solid moments scoring on drives to the basket.  Eric Butler, a 6’3 combo guard out of Alabama, spent most of his court time running the offense, either pushing the pace in transition, or getting teammates in the right position to attack a set defense.  While his jumper wasn’t falling in the game we watched, he was still able to make things happen offensively with drives to the basket and passing out for open shots by teammates.  Bradley Douglas, a 6’2 combo out of Eustis, did a nice job of reading ball screens and making the right decision.  He shoots the ball from the perimeter well and is a strong driver when heading toward the rim.  Michael Eads, a 6’4 wing from Orlando Edgewater, is seemingly always around the ball.  He doesn’t do anything one thing great but he’s productive and fills a stat sheet.

Thunderstruck Elite

We really enjoyed watching this team play and it will be interesting to see how the players grow between now and next season.  Gervon Dexter, a 6’8 forward from Lake Wales, has a built body and brings a football-type of toughness to the court.  He’s decently skilled, not just a bull in a china shop.  Dexter overpowers guys on the glass and when taking the ball strong to the basket from the short corner and high post areas of the court.  Kahlil Shaheed, a 6’2 guard out of Georgia, is one of the better transition finishers you will find.  He has great body control, elevation, creativity, and a soft touch with either hand around the rim.  Shaheed is also a very good on-ball defender.  Alec Oglesby, a 6’4 wing also from the Peach State, is a deadly shooter from deep.  He uses that skill to set up drives to the basket for easy scores.

Summer Hoops Festival: In-State Standouts – Rpt II

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Charlotte Swish

Primarily consisting of players from Charlotte HS in Punta Gorda as well as a few neighboring add-ins, the Swish competed well.  Their main player of note was 6’4 guard Ahmad Johnson.  He played a lot on the ball but seemed most comfortable when relived of ball-handling and offense-initiating duties.  After a slow start, his shot started falling from the perimeter, which opened up other scoring opportunities.  Johnson proved adept at coming off ball-screens, recognizing his options, and making the right play.  Also of note for the Swish was 6’4 Brandon Gainey out of Port Charlotte.  Exceptionally athletic, he excelled when able to get out in transition or get up for lobs and/or offensive rebounds.  Gainey’s jumper isn’t bad either, going 1-2 from distance in the game we watched.

Florida Gold Coast

The guard trio of Luis Pacheco, Jonathan Nunez, and Isaad Solano stood out for the program from Miami-Dade County.  At just 5’9, Pacheco is a mighty mite that shoots the ball well from deep, gets into the lane and breaks down the defense, and is fierce competitor at the defensive end.  Nunez was described by one coach as a “bulldog” and the tenacity of his play proves that.  While he struggled a bit shooting the ball from deep, it didn’t impact the rest of his approach to the game.  The 6’2 Nunez come away with plenty of offensive rebounds, was first to several loose balls and long rebounds, and took on the challenge of defending the other team’s best perimeter player.  Solano, 6’4, can be considered the top scorer of the group.  He shot the ball well from the perimeter and found ways to get past the defense and score at the basket.  He often beat out bigger defenders to offensive rebounds and was quick to beat the defense down the court in transition.

Jacksonville Magic 2019

A trio of players from University Christian School in Jacksonville caught our attention playing for the Magic.  Only a junior, rising 6’6 junior Linzy Hancock was effective as a passer from the high post.  He showed nice court vision and touch in delivering the ball to cutters.  He also knocked down fifteen footers when the defense played soft and then scored after a dribble or two to get to the basket when the defense challenged that shot.  G’Shan Aldridge, a 5’9 guard, pushed the pace, got others involved, and made the most of his scoring opportunities.  Athletic Denzel Wiggins, a 6’4 wing, benefitted most from the game being played at an up-tempo pace.  He finished with body control and touch in a crowded lane, helped at both ends in the rebounding department, and connected on perimeter shots when left open.

KT Kings 2019

A standout for the KT Kings out of South Florida was 6’7 forward Makerere Williams of Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale.  He’s got a nice offensive game from fifteen feet and in as he makes jumpers, scores after a couple of dribbles from inside the arc and has quick moves when he sets up on the block.  He’s a quick leaper than challenges shots and usually beats opponents to rebounds.

Raptors Elite 17U Gauntlet

Based out of Central Florida, Raptors Elite competed well against some of the more high-profile teams in the event.  A big surprise was 6’8 Deatrick Pashell from Cypress Creek.  While he did no one thing great, he was more than acceptable when it came to running the floor, protecting the basket, and using basic moves inside to score.  He’s far from a finished product and his best basketball is ahead of him.  We were caught off-guard by the shooting prowess of 6’2 Deomondre Rock from Edgewater HS.  He connected on 5-8 shots from beyond the arc in front of several college coaches that were watching the game more for the players on the opposition.  That kind of shooting will get a player noticed.

South Florida Elite 2019

We mentioned the play of Yves Fleuranvil during the event as one of our breakout players.  Another SFL Elite player of note was 6’4 wing Floyd Rideau.  He shot the ball well off the catch outside the three point line, finished above the rim and got some stickbacks over bigger players inside.  Rideau moves his well on the defensive end and anticipates in the passing lanes well.

Team Parsons (CP 25) 17U Select

This group got significant contributions from 6’4 Tyrus Jackson from Sarasota Riverview and 6’9 Simon Wilbar from Fort Myers Canterbury.  Jackson proved the be an energetic wing as he made hustle plays, snared offensive rebounds, and guarded people maniacally on defense.  He made open perimeter jumpers but didn’t hesitate to attack the basket if a lane opened up.  Wilbar made a few three point shots on his own which didn’t surprise us but to his credit he didn’t just float around on the perimeter.  He posted up and scored a couple of times with a jump hook in the lane.  Wilbar also played more physically on defense and was more aggressive in pursuing rebounds than we’ve seen in the past.

Wade Elite

Playing a pair of showcase games against teams from high profile shoe-sponsored circuits, Wade Elite competed well.  Emmanuel Onuama, a 6’10 center from Cardinal Newman in West Palm Beach, was a force in the middle.  He rebounded well at both ends, keeping the ball high away from opposing guards that looked to come in and strip.  Onuama was quick to get the ball back up and in when he grabbed misses from teammates.  A couple of basic post moves give him an ability to score when not played physically by the defense.  Johnnie Williams, a 6’4 wing from Sarasota Booker, had an outstanding game on Saturday against the NY Lightning.  Not regarded as a shooter, he connected on 6-8 from deep on his way to 22 points.  Always a top-shelf athlete and force when taking the ball to the basket, he’s ability to shoot the basket from the perimeter to keep the defense off balance is key to his basketball future.  Gabe Taylor, a 5’10 guard in the class of 2020 certainly deserves props for his play for Wade Elite.  A good outside shooter, he uses that weapon to force the defense to overplay him.  At that point, he can use his quickness to get to the basket, breakdown the defense, and get his teammates easy shot opportunities.

Team Hustle Adidas

To no one’s surprise, Taylor Trudeau, a 6’3 guard from Mount Dora Christian, shot the ball well from deep for Team Hustle Adidas.  His range extends well past the high school three point line and should the defense step off even the tiniest bit, Trudeau makes them pay.  He is improving as a driver and scorer at the basket but the three-ball will always be his calling card.  Also playing well for the team was 6’4 wing Devante Gilbert out of Timber Creek.  Athletically, he’s one of the better ones around.  A terror in transition, Gilbert finishes well above the rim.  He’s also an active rebounder at both ends and puts in work when defending the basketball.

Summer Hoops Festival: In-State Standouts – Rpt I

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More from the Summer Hoops Festival.

Each 1 Teach 1 2019

The EYBL powerhouse played a pair of games on Wednesday night before heading north for an event in the ATL.  A large contingent of coaches was on hand for each game, many to see C.J. Walker.  The 6’8 forward had a tremendous first live period and continued that level of play at the Summer Hoops Festival.  Long known as a dynamic athlete that thrives in transition and dominates in the rebounding department, Walker has made great strides on the offensive end.  His jump shot has improved to the point that he must be respected out to the arc while his ability to handle and protect the ball in traffic when going to the basket provides him many “and one” opportunities.  Combine all that with a high motor and his physical gifts and high major college coaches see a special player.  Marsei Caston, a 6’2 wing, has been one of the major surprises of the spring and summer.  Injured early in the second contest, he still showed what all the buzz was about earlier in the day.  Caston is an explosive athlete that is relentless in his assault on the basket.  He’s strong enough to overpower smaller guards and quick enough to get past bigger defenders.  And no matter the size of the bigs protecting the rim, Caston is inclined to put them on a poster at every opportunity.  His jump shot and free throw need honing but his shot is more inconsistent than broken.  Caston is also a solid defender and rebounder from the backcourt.

Florida Sons 17U

We highlighted the play of 6’9 Kuany Kuany of the Sons on the last day of play.  However, he got quite a bit of help from Anyia Makoi, a 6’5 combo guard.  He brought the ball up court and initiated the offense often, suggesting he has some point guard qualities.  Makoi also has the attacking mind-set of a “two” as he shoots the ball well with range and has a quick first step to get to the basket.  A sneaky offensive rebounder, he got plenty of points that way.  Makoi has the lateral footspeed and wing span to defend positions one thru three on the perimeter.  On the interior, the old adage is “you can’t teach size” and that’s what 7’0 center Ibrahima Diallo has.  Offensively there is still work to do but Diallo rebounds his area well, gets up and down the floor swiftly in transition, and is a shot blocker and shot changer when defending the paint.  His best basketball is certainly on the horizon.

Showtime Ballers 17U

Showtime was another team that played two games during the Summer Hoops Festival’s opening night before heading to Atlanta.  Tyrell Jones, a 6’2 guard for the team, earned our “Player of the Day” nod for his performance that evening against the Mobile (AL) Warriors.  However, we need to give a shout-out to 6’0 A.J. Neal, a member of the 2021 Class.  He torched the nets in the first live period and continued to do so on Wednesday night.  Neal has a quick release on his three point shot and his range extends past the three point line.  He’s also become adept at getting into the lane off the dribble, tucking the ball away from prying defenders, and getting tough shots to drop in traffic.  When he scores, his points seem to come in bunches.

Team AutoNation 17U

Hailing from South Florida, Team AutoNation has a solid group of players that college coaches from different levels were focused in on.  Sam Griffin, a 6’3 guard from Westminster Academy, showcased an ability to score from all three levels.  His pull-up jumper in the free throw circle area is a weapon that many players just don’t have.  Griffin is solid with the ball and generally makes good pass vs. shot decisions.  Chase Johnston, another 6’3 guard from Westminster Academy, has developed into far more than just a catch-and-shoot specialist, though he still does that very well.  He’s become quite adept and reading ball-screens and either pulling up for shots when given room or tossing a quick but catchable passes inside for scores.  Johnston is also a better athlete than given credit for and his defense has vastly improved.  Toru Dean, a 6’1 guard from South Miami, is the offensive catalyst for the squad.  Very quick and shifty with the basketball, he thrives when he can push the pace of the game.  His outside shot was a tad inconsistent in the two games we watched but when it mattered, Dean nailed a three off the dribble to get his team a win.  Dean looks first to get his teammates involved in the game but he has the talent and mindset to get his own when a bucket has to be had.  Lee Flenor, a 6’6 forward out of South Miami, does a little bit of everything for the team.  He’s a rabid rebounder and defender, an excellent athlete with length, and a guy that doesn’t have to score to impact the game.  Flenor scores best in transition, off of offensive rebounds, and various “opportunity” baskets.  Finally, forward Kwabena Opoku, a 6’8 rising senior from St. John Paul II Academy in Boca Raton, goes about his business scoring inside when he gets the chance, challenging shots in the paint, and pursuing rebounds both in and out of his area.  A bit raw on the offensive end, there is still a lot to work with that will produce results in the future.

Team Breakdown 17U

One of the featured teams in the Under Armor Association, Team Breakdown performed well at the Summer Hoops Festival.  Paced by Kai Jones (one of our players of the day from Friday) on the interior and Jamal Mashburn, Jr. (our young gun from day one) on the perimeter, the Pink and Black have a nice mixture of experience and youth.  Experience comes in the form of rising seniors D.J. Warren and Demari Monsanto.  Warren, a 6’8 forward, does a lot of the dirty work inside when Jones needs a breather on the bench.  He has a solid frame and uses it well to control his rebounding area.  Warren can also score inside with some basic post moves as well as connect from mid-range when facing the basket.  At 6’6, Monsanto is a wing with a “born to score” mindset.  While somewhat quick to pull the trigger from three, he did show that he can dribble into and make shots from mid-range as well as get all the way to the basket and score thru contact.  He’s also a decent defender and better than expected rebounder on that end of the floor.  What gets college coaches excited about Team Breakdown is their core of young players that show a lot of promise.  All have good size, play hard at both ends of the floor, and have an attacking yet unselfish approach at the offensive end.  Selton Miguel and Jadrian Tracey, both 6’4 wings in the 2020 Class, may already be physically able to handle the rigors of college basketball.  Jordan Shorter (6’5) and Wesley Cardet (6’6) have just finished their freshman year of high school and look to have a high ceiling.  Shorter impressed with his court vision and passing skills while Cardett’s length and ability to finish at the basket was striking.

Team Parsons (CP25) 17U Gauntlet

A marquee team on the Adidas Gold Gauntlet circuit, CP 25 fared well against a lot of top-flight challengers this past week.  Darrin Green, Jr was one of our players of the day from Friday while Xavier Johnson was a breakout player on that same day.  While the perimeter play was a big part of the team’s success, so to was the inside dominance of 6’9 Omar Payne.  A top forty member in the 2019 Class, there were a lot of college coaches watching his games this past weekend.  Currently, his greatest value comes as a rebounder, rim runner, and lane protector.  One of the buzzwords now is “switchability” and that is something that Payne does very well; stepping out on ball screens and defending smaller players until the opportunity comes to switch back.  Payne showed great improvement at the offensive end as he completed a smooth baseline drive on one play then later knocked down a left-handed jump hook, looking very comfortable doing so.  Also getting in on the action and making an impact was 6’5 wing K’mani Doughty.  A “glue guy” and “jack-of-all-trades” type of player, he can play and defend a variety of positions.  Doughty handles the ball well on the perimeter, finds and delivers the ball to open cutters, sneaks in for offensive rebounds, and makes open jumpers.  Defensively, he doesn’t mind playing physically in the post and moves his feet well along the perimeter.

Team Speights

While some pros simply lend their name to or fund a travel team, Mo Speights is getting down and dirty on the sideline.  His group was a pleasant surprise at the Summer Hoops Festival.  Isaiah Kirby, a 6’4 guard, was solid in the backcourt.  More scorer than shooter or distributor, he’s at his best when he can push the ball up the floor in transition and attack a scrambling defense.  Kirby completed plays in traffic at the basket and if sent to the line made his free throws.  He’s also a sly rebounder on the offensive end and defensively is alert for steals and tips in his area.  Chris Spenkuch is a 6’7 lanky and athletic forward that had some good moments this past week.  The lefty needs to continue to work on his perimeter shot but he does a fine job of getting to the basket and scoring after one or two dribbles from the high post and short corner areas of the court.  His long arms and quick leap allow him to overcome his slight frame to get things done in the rebounding department.  Dante Wilcox, a burly 6’6 forward, may be a bit under-sized from a height standpoint but he’s strong, is an excellent athlete, finishes above the rim in transition and from fifteen feet and in is an effective scoring option.

Summer Hoops Festival: Out-of-State Standouts

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One of the best things about the Summer Hoops Festival this past week was that the organizers brought in some top-flight teams from outside of the Sunshine State.  The ability to bring in teams from the various shoe-sponsored leagues to compete against each other is a real attraction for college coaches and fans. Here’s a look at just a small sampling of the talent that impressed.

TEAM LOADED NC

Before we begin, we want to congratulate Team Loaded NC for winning the AAU 17U Nationals in the same week that they participated in the Summer Hoops Festival.  In the title game, the Adidas Gauntlet Gold participant sent Kentucky-based M.A.T.T.S Mustangs to the glue factory by a whopping 42 points!  This is the second year in a row that the champion at the 17U Nationals also participated in the Summer Hoops Festival.

One of the more highly regarded players for Team Loaded NC is 6’7 wing Jaelyn Withers out of North Mecklenburg, NC.  A bouncy and active wing, Withers excelled at getting to the basket and finishing.  He also was quite active in rebounding the basketball at both ends of the court.  Justin McCoy, a 6’8 forward from Panther Creek, was a key factor inside for Loaded NC.  He scored well around the basket as well as out to the high post and short corner areas.  While not the gifted athlete that teammate Withers is, McCoy is good enough and pretty much dominates his rebounding area.  James Franklin, Jr., a 6’5 guard from Siegal, had some exciting, high-flying plays that got teammates off the bench in jubilation.  In a game we watched, he missed the only perimeter shot he took, but Franklin spent a lot of time at the free throw line as defenders simply could not keep him out of the paint.

ATLANTA XPRESS

One of the better programs in the Under Armor Association, the Atlanta Xpress is not just about Class of 2020 top ten standout Anthony Edwards, a player we spot-lighted earlier in the week.  Tyson Jackson, a 6’9 forward out of Creekside, was the perfect inside complement to Edwards’ perimeter brilliance.  On day one, he did a fine job of battling highly-regarded C.J. Walker, tallying 13 points and 8 rebounds in a big win.  In two games the following day, Jackson continued his stellar play in the paint by scoring near the basket, challenging shots in the paint and gathering rebounds at both ends.  He spent a lot of time at the foul line thanks to his ability to out-work opponents on the offensive glass.  On the perimeter, both Lance Terry, a 6’2 guard out of The Heritage School and 6’3 combo Chase Hunter from Westlake, made an impact.  There were times that it seemed like Terry couldn’t miss from beyond the arc.  A solid ball-handler and passer, Terry spent some time running the point and looked comfortable doing so.  He drove the ball and scored in the lane just enough to make opponents think twice about over-playing him for the outside shot.  Hunter scored well from all three levels during his time at the Hoops Festival.  He creates and makes his own shot regardless of the defense and those shots fall with a high success rate.  Hunter is solid in the other fundamentals of the game as well, but his ability to “get buckets” puts him at another level.

NIKE PRO SKILLS

Based out of Texas, this EYBL team came East and performed quite well.  We mentioned 6’3 guard Justin Webster earlier in the week and he had some help as well.  Tylan Pope, a 6’6 forward from Franklinton, was a potent force around the basket in a tough game against Team Breakdown.  He hustled his way to several inside baskets and offensive rebounds.  Pope ran the court swiftly for scores in transition and had no difficulty finishing over the rim.  It was Pope that converted a three-point play with just over thirty seconds left to break a tie game against Team Breakdown, ultimately winning by those three points.  Also making his presence felt for Pro Skills was 6’6 wing Jordan Wright from the Dunham School.  He stuffed the stat sheet in a variety of ways in the team’s win over the Florida Sons: rebounds at both ends, drives to the rim, floaters in the lane and jumpers from both inside and outside the arc.

NY LIGHTNING 17U

A mainstay in Nike’s EYBL, the Lightning have been a frequent participant in the Summer Hoops Festival.  We only got to see one game from Posh Alexander, considered one of the top guards in the 2020 Class.  He went down with an ankle injury early in his second game.  In game one, while he struggled with his outside shot, his quickness and speed with the ball, passing instincts, and tenacity on defense really stood out.  The scant silver lining to his injury was that some other players got the chance to stand out.  One of those was 6’2 guard Dashawn Davis from Our Savior Lutheran.  A quintessential “NYC” guard, he handles the ball well under pressure, finishes with flare at the basket, and gets after the ball on defense.  Davis has good form on his jumper but it just wasn’t falling this past week.  That wasn’t a problem for 6’3 Jordan Dingle out of Blair Academy.  Once he got familiar with the shooting background, he was dialed in from deep, knocking shots down off the bounce as well as off the catch.  He’s also physically strong with the ball and scores at the basket while absorbing contact.  Fredelin Castro, a 6’8 forward out of Redemption Academy was a solid interior complement to the Lightning’s perimeter group.  He was tough on the glass at both ends and ran the floor for scores.  Castro showed a nice touch around the basket and got his shot up and down quickly when receiving drop offs from the guards after breaking down the defense with the dribble.

TEAM LOADED VA

An Adidas Gauntlet Gold program, Team Loaded brought an impressive array of underclass talent to the Summer Hoops Festival.  We spot-lighted Henry Coleman III from the 2020 Class earlier in the event.  However, he’s got a couple of classmates that have a bright future as well.  Earl Timberlake, a 6’6 guard from famed DeMatha Catholic, was solid in his play.  The lefty spent a lot of time initiating offense, and could play some point at the collegiate level.  While he didn’t take many shots from the perimeter, those he did take went down a good percentage of the time.  Timberlake was most effective driving to the basket as he made good shot vs. pass decisions on the move.  He did a fine job of finding openings in the defense in which to score once he got to the basket.  Defensively, he’s active and uses his reach and quick feet to cause havoc on that end of the court.  Another defensive gem for the team is 7’0 center Mark Williams from Norfolk Academy.  The rising junior is a threat to block any shot originating from the lane and forces teams to adjust what they want to do offensively.  He’s long and quick off his feet which helps him at both ends of the court.  He doesn’t yet rebound out of his area due to a lack of strength but if the miss comes his way, it is usually his.  Williams also showed a nice touch inside if not played physically and he can beat a lot of centers down court in transition.  Levar Allen, a 6’1 guard in the 2019 Class, was the perfect leader for this young team.  He surprises with his speed and quickness as well as his ability to score inside against bigger players.  When it came crunch time, he was ready to make a play and came through far more often than not.

TEAM THRILL

Based out of the “DMV” (DC, Maryland, Virginia), Team Thrill plays in the Under Armor Association.  One of the most enjoyable players to watch from a “basketball purist” standpoint was 6’10 center Chase Paar from Gleneig Country School.  He’s got some old school and new school components to his game.  The lefty has excellent footwork on the post and understands when to use his jump hook, spin move, or up-and-under move based on how the defense plays him.  He knows where to pass the ball when the double-team comes and surveys the court as he backs his man down should he receive the ball of the block.  Paar has sure hands, sets a mean ball-screen, and dominates his rebound area.  The new school comes in as he can stretch the floor and make perimeter shots out to the arc.  While Paar was dominating on the inside, 6’3 guard James Bishop was “making it rain” on the perimeter.  The lefty has a quick release and deep range on his jump shot and despite the lack of back spin, knocks it down with frequency out to the NBA line.  Though thinly built, Bishop is able to slither his way to points in the paint and makes tough shots.  While more likely to pull up for a jumper than get all the way to the basket, he has the hops to embarrass bigs at the rim if left unchallenged.  We also appreciated the play of Siegfried Reid out of St. Paul’s School.  A 6’5 wing in the 2019 Class, Reid has the strength and physicality to play inside and the skills to produce points out on the perimeter.  In a traditional system, he can play either the ”2” or “3” spot and use his strength to over-power opponents on drives to the basket or when pursuing offensive rebounds.  Reid could also be the ideal “small ball four” with his ability to make shots from the outside but also switch out on the perimeter to defend as well as physically play against taller opponents in the paint.

Summer Hoops Festival – Day Four

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The Summer Hoops Festival wrapped up today and by any measure you want to use it was a tremendous success.  A large contingent of coaches stayed on to watch, looking to let the recruit they have been following since April know of their serious interest or to find a “diamond in the rough” that could help elevate their program.

GAME OF THE DAY

The EYBL’s New York Lightning played two contests today and their second one against the Florida Sons out of the Adidas Gauntlet circuit had the gym buzzing.  The Sons led 36-33 at the half and extended that lead to near double-digits in the second period.  The Lightning continued to play with that legendary NYC toughness and with just under two minutes to play had whittled the deficit down to a single point at 60-59.  The Sons could have attempted to hold the ball and force the Lightning to foul but that isn’t in their DNA to do so.  A Lightning player drove to the basket, hoping for points, a foul, or both.  Despite contact, he got none of those.  The Sons grabbed the rebound and went the other way, making it a three-point game with 1:20 to play.  The Lightning attempted to answer quickly but the Sons were ready.  They missed their shot attempt and the Sons rebounded.  The Lightning pressured the ball, trying to force a turnover, but the Sons were able to handle it and scored a basket inside, making it a two- possession game with around 45 seconds to play.  The Lightning backed off, realizing there was really no need to extend the contest and the Sons went on to win by the score of 64-59.

PLAYER OF THE DAY

While his point total didn’t crack double-digits (six for the game), 6’9 rising junior Kuany Kuany of the Florida Sons impacted the game in so many other ways.  Four of his points came early in the contest, sparking the team to an early lead.  Defensively he was active on the boards at both ends and used his length to challenge shots both on the inside and on the perimeter.  Midway thru the first half, it looked like he might be done after rolling an ankle.  Clearly limping and grimacing in pain, he continued to play on for the next couple of minutes until a stoppage in play.  He attempted to walk it off by the bench but the ankle was clearly bothering him.  Kuany continued to play in the second half, clearly not 100%.  Still, on back-to-back plays he dove on the floor to secure a loose ball and then took a charge.  That inspired his team as the Lightning made a run.  Kuany offsets his thin build with a solid skill set that allows him to use his size to an advantage on the perimeter.  No doubt many coaches from the mid-major level on up took interest in his play this week.

BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE DAY

The last session of the event (#35 if you count such things) would have been easy to cast aside.  However, we are very glad we didn’t as we got a chance to check out Gianfranco Garfolo of Showtime Ballers Select.  The 6’2 rising senior from Fleming Island outside of Jacksonville came to the states as a result of Hurricane Irma. He made us sit up and take notice after he put down a dunk in transition.  He followed that up with a couple of jumpers, some rebounds which he quickly outletted that turned into points, and some slick passes in the half-court.  By the half, he had sixteen points.  The second half was much the same and the opposing team took to face guarding him so that he couldn’t get the ball and make plays as easily as before.  He may not “wow” on the athletic charts, but Garfolo’s skill set and basketball savvy make up for it.

YOUNG GUN

Dominick Denny, a 5’10 point guard in the 2020 Class playing up a year for South Florida Elite, played well in the first game of the day at 9AM.  He proved to be solid with the ball, quick to get into the lane, and finished in traffic at the basket.  Denny only shot one jump shot on the day (off the dribble from mid-range), but he has good form on his shot and it certainly seems like he should be a capable shooter from three point distance.  Denny put in a solid effort on the defensive end and though a bit on the small side, he plays with tremendous heart and doesn’t back down from a challenge.

Summer Hoops Festival – Day Three

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Day three is in the books for the Summer Hoops Festival.  It was so good that today’s article will have two of everything.  Consider it a two for one happy hour special of hoops.

GAMES OF THE DAY

More often than not, the best games of the day come later in the afternoon or early evening. Today however both Team Breakdown and Team Loaded Virginia came ready to play in the 10:00 AM contest.  Breakdown led by three, 38-35, at the half and a tight battle continued throughout the second period.  With 1:15 to play, Kai Jones completed a three-point play to give Breakdown a two point lead at 65-63.  The Pink and Black forced a turnover, and Demari Monsanto scored in transition to make it a four-point game with fifty-five seconds to play.  Team Loaded responded quickly and Levar Allen scored in transition.  Breakdown then turned the ball over and after a miss by a teammate, Team Loaded’s Earl Timberlake was fouled on the put back with thirty seconds to play.  He knocked down both fouls shots to tie the game at 67.  Breakdown held for a last shot and with ten seconds left, Jamal Mashburn, Jr. was fouled on a drive to the basket.  He missed the first but made the second, given Breakdown a 68-67 lead.  After a time out, Team Loaded got a good shot inside.  However, Kai Jones came over and snuffed out that shot, as well as Team Loaded’s chances of winning.  Who needs coffee to wake up in the morning when you have a game like this to watch?

Later in the day, the New York Lightning out of the EYBL took on CP 25 from the Adidas Gauntlet circuit.  Playing without Omar Payne, CP 25 still looked like it would cruise to a win as they led 38-28 at the half.  The Lightning came out with a renewed passion in the second half to make a game of it.  With under one minute to play, CP 25 led by just two at 70-68 with possession of the ball.  They attempted to run out the clock but a steal by Dashawn Davis of the Lightning led to a score and a tie ball game with twenty seconds left to play.  After a timeout, CP 25 ran a set play that broke down and Darrin Green, Jr. was forced to improvise.  Green connected on a mid-range jumper off the dribble with just two seconds left on the clock.  The Lightning called timeout to set up a play but were unable to go the distance for a score in such a short amount of time.  CP 25 held on for a 72-70 victory.

PLAYERS OF THE DAY

Not surprisingly, our Players of the Day come from our Games of the Day.  Kai Jones of Team Breakdown may not have put up jaw-dropping numbers (13 points) but his six blocks were big time, especially his last one.  Also, its easy to see why coaches love his potential for what he could be in two to three years.  Jones has a solid jump shot out to fifteen feet and he also has proven this live period that he can put the ball on the floor and score after a dribble or two.  A big man that can shoot free throws, run the floor, protect the rim and cover a lot of ground defensively is highly desirable and that is just what Jones is.

Truth be told, Darrin Green, Jr. has been good all week long here at the Summer Hoops Festival.  However, in a high stakes game against the NY Lightning, his game seemed to elevate.  It is to the point now that if Green misses a three-point shot, it is a surprise.  He is particularly deadly from the corners off the catch and CP 25 does a great job of running plays that find him open to do just that.  In the night cap, he showed he can also score off the drive as well as take and make the big shot.  He tallied 24 points, going 6-12 from deep in the process.

BREAKOUT PLAYERS OF THE DAY

Xavier Johnson, a 6’2 guard for CP 25 has been quietly solid for the team this week.  However, late in the game against the Lightning, he came up big.  Johnson made a pair of threes and completed a tough finish in traffic to keep CP 25 in front as the Lightning threatened to tie or take a lead.  He seems very comfortable in the role of either scorer or setup man.  Johnson also isn’t afraid of a challenge on the defensive end.

We really liked what we saw from South Florida Elite’s 6’7 Yves Fleuranvil out of Royal Palm Beach.  Despite the 9:00AM tip time, he was bouncy and energetic from the opening tip.  He showed a good touch around the rim and pursued rebounds with a vengeance.  Fleuranvil gets up and down the floor quickly, challenges shots at the rim, and doesn’t mind playing physically on the defensive end.  No doubt he took home some additional offers based on today’s play.

YOUNG GUNS

Henry Coleman III of Team Loaded is a rising junior at Trinity Episcopal in Virginia but has no physical resemblance to your average rising junior.  Strong and well-built, Coleman gets a lot done in the paint and is extremely active in the rebounding department at both ends of the floor.  He showed the ability to step out and make plays from the perimeter and is explosive enough inside to power thru defenders and dunk on them from a stand-still.  He embraced the challenge of playing against the taller Jones early in the day and was impressive in his performance.

Taderrius Davis of the Florida Lightning just finished his freshman year at Miami Senior.  Playing up a year in competition, the 6’5 rail-thin wing was fierce in his efforts to attack the basket.  He knocked in just enough perimeter shots to keep the defense honest.  Despite his lack of heft, Davis didn’t shy away from competing on the glass at either end.

One more day of the Summer Hoops Festival awaits.  It should be a tremendous finale to a standout week!

Summer Hoops Festival – Day Two

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Day 2 of the Summer Hoops Festival set the bar very high.  A total of 36 games were played today in front of a large gathering of college coaches from all levels.  The vast majority of games were very competitive and some new players introduced themselves to the basketball cognoscenti.

GAME OF THE DAY

There were several games to choose from in this category.  The day got off to a great start with a highly competitive contest between Thunderstruck and E1T1 in the 16U division with E1T1 pulling out a two point win, 78-76.

Later in the day, Team AutoNation out of South Florida took on Team Thrill out of Maryland and the Under Armor Association.  The game was back and forth the entire time but AutoNation pulled out a 67-64 win.

Nike ProSkills, a Texas-based team in the EYBL had a pair of tight tussles today.  The first one found them up by just two with 1:30 left to play against the Florida Sons.  They were able to hold them off to win by the score of 66-60.  However, it was ProSkills’ second game of the day that turned out to be stellar.

Facing Team Breakdown, the contest was a back-and-forth affair the entire contest.  With 2:30 left to play, Breakdown led by one at 72-71.  Less than a minute later, the score was tied a 74.  With just under thirty seconds left, ProSkills’ 2019 guard Justin Webster nailed a three to break the tie.  Team Breakdown was unable to score in the closing moments and Nike ProSkills won their second big game of the day, 77-74.

PLAYER OF THE DAY

While it may not have been a high scoring day for Anthony Edwards of the Atlanta Express (19 and 13 points in his two games), it is abundantly clear that the 6’4 rising junior guard is deserving of his top ten status in the Class of 2020.  Physically he’ got the entire package: good size, strength, length, and athleticism.  Skill-wise it is all there as well.  He excels at quickly creating separation from the defense to either drive to the basket or get off his jumper.  Edwards has the court vision, ball skills, and passing ability to play the point guard spot at the high major level, and possibly beyond.  If one wanted to quibble about his play today, it was that he didn’t finish well in traffic at the basket.  In fairness, Edwards drew a lot of contact that wasn’t called and most likely he was trying more to earn a trip to the foul line than making the basket.  There is a possibility he could re-class up to the 2019 Class.  No matter what year he decides to leave high school, Edwards will be a desired commodity by the elite of college basketball.

BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE DAY

We head back to Nike ProSkills and their 2019 guard Justin Webster.  The 6’3 rising senior has a tremendous bloodline as his father, the Head Coach of ProSkills, was a standout at the University of Oklahoma a couple of decades ago.  Dad has taught his son well, as he is a knockdown shooter from just about anywhere on the court.  Webster surprised a bit with his ability to put the ball on the floor to score as well, finding seams in the defense where none appeared to be found.  Defensively, he anticipates well and while not a spectacular athlete, he is more than good enough.  In this day when knocking down the three is considered a paramount skill, Webster is one of the best at it.

YOUNG GUN

There are a lot of players to choose from in this category, but we continue to be amazed at the high skill level and productivity of Jamal Mashburn, Jr.  His ability to knock down shots inside the arc just isn’t found these days.  Against ProSkills, Mashburn’s deep jumper found its rhythm, going 4-8 from distance.  He’s also has improved his playmaking abilities and looks every bit the part of a high major point guard.  Some may knock his size at just over 6’0, but he consistently shows that he can score off the dribble against bigger defenders.

Day Three has a lot to live up to!!

Summer Hoops Festival – Day One

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Day One of the Summer Hoops Festival is in the books and by all means it was a great one.  Throngs of college coaches packed the Cooper Palms Sportsplex in Apopka to see some heavyweight matchups that crossed shoe company barriers.  What resulted were some tremendous games and standout individual performances.

GAME OF THE DAY

There were several candidates for this honor.  The first game of the day featuring Team Loaded out of Virginia from the Adidas Gauntlet and E1T1 from the Nike EYBL was a tight tussle the entire game.  E1T1 was able to pull out an 80-75 victory at the end.

Likewise, Showtime Ballers broke a 62-62 tie with Team Thrill from the Under Armor Association with one minute to play to win by four at 66-62.

However, the top game of the day turned out to be Texas Pro Skills from the EYBL taking on CP 25 from the Adidas Gauntlet.  The game went back and forth the entire time and with just under two minutes to play, Pro Skills hit a three to go up 57-52.  After an exchange of baskets, Xavier Johnson of CP 25 hit a three to get CP 25 to within two.  However, time was running out and CP 25 was forced to foul.  Pro Skills missed a pair of free throws, giving CP 25 a chance.  Johnson drove the lane and tied the game with thirty seconds left.  Pro Skills was unable to get a shot off so the game went into overtime tied at 59.

In the one minute overtime session, CP 25 got the tip.  An errant shot was rebounded by Omar Payne and after a tussle underneath, he was able to get the ball out to Darrin Green, Jr., who drained a three from the left corner.  With less than fifteen seconds to play, Pro Skills was unable to get a quality shot and CP 25 won a tough one by the final score of 62-59.

PLAYER OF THE DAY

There were a lot of standout performances on Day One.  However, we are casting our vote for Tyrell Jones from the Showtime Ballers.  In a close contest with Team Thrill, he led the team with 21 points.  In the team’s second game of the night against the Mobile Warriors, Jones caught fire from deep.  He connected on 5-7 shots from three point range on his way to tallying a total of 32 for the contest.  If his jumper is falling like that, he is tough to contain because he is quick enough to get by bigger guards and strong enough to overpower smaller ones.

BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE DAY

The state of Alabama doesn’t get a whole lot of love when it comes hoops; it definitely has a passion for the pigskin.  However, we couldn’t help but be impressed with the play of 6’5 Vincent Douglas of the Mobile Warriors.  The 6’5 senior wing tossed in 33 points against Showtime Ballers and he made them from a variety of distances and angles.  Douglas had no less than six three pointers in the second half of the contest.  Hopefully, more coaches will stop by and take a look at Douglas over the next couple of days.

YOUNG GUN

Playing for Thunderstruck 16U, 6’5 2020 wing Jacob Crews got things going in their first contest of the day.  He tallied 21 points in their win, connecting on five shots beyond the three point line.  He plays his high school ball in Hilliard, a Class 1A school northwest of Jacksonville.  This was a big step up in competition and to see him perform well in this type of environment was quite impressive.

Can’t wait for Day Two!!

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