We took in some of the action at the Team Parsons’ Pre-Live Shootout at The First Academy in Orlando this past Saturday. Several teams from around the state came in for one final tune-up before hitting the road for the first spring live period this coming weekend.
Ball4Lyfe 17U was solid in the first game of the day. Dante Moses, a 6’3 senior from Inlet Grove in Rivera Beach, had some dynamic moments in transition where he finished well above the rim. He was also quite active defensively both on and off the ball. His teammate, Rod Reaves, a 5’10 senior from Fort Pierce played with a heavily bandaged left hand, but was still extremely productive. The wrap didn’t limit his ability to handle the ball as much as one might think. He was the catalyst for the team was his ball-hawking on the defensive end and his ability to get teammate’s open looks on offense. A benefactor in Reaves’ success was 6’1 junior DeJuan Fripp from Palm Beach Lakes. The lefty knocked down some open perimeter looks, showed a quick first step in getting to the rim, finishing thru contact, and using active feet and hands to turn steals into scores.
Florida Reign 17U couldn’t reign in Ball4Lyfe put had a pair of forwards that show some promise due to their physical attributes. Jamal Bernard, a junior at University in Orange City, and Kaijuan Felton from Lake City Columbia, both in the 6’6 range, have solid frames, and are quite athletic. While each is more athlete than basketball player right now, their physical gifts allow them to get a lot done in the rebounding department at both ends of the floor, finish at the rim in transition, and help protect the lane on defense.
Chobee Nation, a/k/a Okeechobee High School, took part in the event and proved to be an entertaining group. Senior guards Ashoy Simmonds (5’11) and Roderick Brown (6’2) were solid performers in the backcourt. Simmonds used his strength, speed and quickness to push the tempo and was at his best creating havoc on the defensive end. Brown scored from all three levels and was also a solid passer and rebounder. However, we must admit to being enamored with Chobee Nation’s 6’6 pair of junior forwards, Jaquan Ferroll and Jamal Davis. Ferroll is the more polished of the two with a stronger frame and a bit more skill. He handled himself well on the perimeter but was at his best once he got the ball in the lane or on the move to the basket. Davis is a bit on the thin side but there is no denying his athleticism and upside. Skill-wise he’s a diamond in the rough but he plays hard and with energy.
We saw several games in the 16U age group. Team Parsons’ 2020 group looked solid in an early morning win. One of their key players, 6’3 Michael Eads of Edgewater in Orlando, stuffed the stat sheet quite a bit. He grabs a lot of rebounds for a guy his size and is a crafty scorer around the basket. Eads has a knack for drawing fouls and getting to the line. Eric Butler, a 6’2 combo from Alabama, spent some time at both the point and off guard positions. When running the club he was quick to move the ball, looking to get teammates open shots. Butler shot the ball well from outside the arc and was a big help on the glass for a team that sometimes lacks size. Brandon Douglas, a 6’1 guard out of Eustis, was picked up by the team and he paid big dividends. Combine his energy at the defensive end with his ability to attack the paint and you have a guy that puts enormous pressure on the opponent at both ends of the court.
E1T1 2020 participated in the event and it was good to get another look at this group of talented sophomores. We really like the perimeter combination of 6’3 Selton Miguel from West Oaks Academy in Orlando and 6’4 Jadrien Tracey from Fort Myers Riverdale. With their size, strength, and overall athleticism, they are tough to contain on the offensive end. While both have the ability to knock down open perimeter shots, each is much more productive when they can get downhill going to the rim. Both Miguel and Tracey finish well thru contact, maintaining concentration all the way thru the shot. Their physical traits allow them to play bigger than their size at both ends of the court.
Ball4Lyfe’s 16U program made the trip and had a good showing on Saturday. Jaylen Jones, a 5’9 sophomore out of Royal Palm Beach was solid at the point guard spot. He made enough open shots from the perimeter to be respected which opened up opportunities to attack, penetrate, and collapse the defense and get others open shot attempts. He did a nice job of making decisions with the ball on the move. Ladarien Variance, a 6’3 wing out of Delray Beach Atlantic, proved to have a knack for getting buckets and grabbing balls coming off the rim. While his jump shots didn’t fall, he got a lot of points by simply outworking the opponent. His strong frame and long arms, combined with a soft touch around the basket, make him a natural scorer.
Showtime Ballers 16U squad took part in the event. The name we took away after watching the team was Oliver Osier, a 6’2 guard from Middleburg. He shot the ball from the three point line but didn’t rely on it to score. Osier was solid when it came to grabbing rebounds, pushing the pace and either scoring or dishing. He pursues the ball relentlessly off the glass at both ends and appears to be a solid defender.
Team Parsons’ 16U Select group has a couple of guys from the Panhandle that we wanted to get a more in-depth look at. Love Bettis, a 5’11 guard from Tate near Pensacola scores a bunch for his high school team but with this group he plays both the role of scorer and distributor. Very fast with the ball, Bettis pushes the pace and does his best to punch holes in the defense. He might have even more impact as a defender as he has very good lateral foot speed and anticipates well. Manny Echeverry, a 6’4 wing out of Lynn Haven Mosely near Panama City, also proved quite productive. He did his best work on the offensive glass and in running the floor for scores. He had one rebound grab and go for a score that showed he has solid ball-handling skills in the open floor.
Ball4Lyfe 15U program made an appearance and looks to have potential. Carlos Francis, a 6’2 wing from Lake Worth shot the ball well from behind the three point line and was also an active rebounder on the defensive end. Art Freedom, a 6’5 post from West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy, showed off a nice touch around the basket and was consistently moving to set ball screens. As his body continues to mature he will become much quicker and more mobile.
Team Parsons’ 2021 group was solid and looked improved since we saw them at the Travel Team Jamboree a couple of weeks ago. Max Keebush, a 6’5 forward from Choctawhatchee, surprised with his confident play. He knocked down a three, put back a pair of misses and scored on a drive, looking very comfortable and natural doing each one. That is a vast improvement in a short time. Alex Fudge, a 6’4 wing from Jacksonville Lee, continues to make strides with his game. The lanky and lengthy wing seemingly made a living at the foul line as he either got ahead of the defense in transition or was able to get past his defender with a quick first step and attack the basket.