If you only follow the 17U level of grassroots basketball, then this program will be unfamiliar to you. However, those in the know understand that the Night Rydas Elite program has been around for a few years and done quite well for itself. Playing in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) this spring and summer will give this program national notoriety.
“Last year’s group made it to the Peach Jam Final Four in the 16U Division”, Night Rydas Elite Head Coach Edward Francis said. “That was without one of our leading ‘bigs’ who was playing with the French National Team. I have no doubt that this team can go farther than last year. I’m excited to get going!”
Scottie Barnes, a 6’8 junior from Fort Lauderdale University School, will be a key component in the frontcourt. Joining him will be 6’9 sophomore Moussa Diabate from Daytona Beach DME Academy, 6’9 junior Jalen Haynes from Fort Lauderdale Dillard, 6’6 junior Dudley Blackwell from Huntington (WV) Prep, and 6’5 junior Leonard Manuel from Ocala Vanguard.
“Barnes is a top five player nationally in the 2020 Class”, stated Edwards. “He can do everything on a basketball court and then some. His hoops IQ is off the charts, he’s skilled and a great leader. In short, Barnes is a coach’s dream. Diabate plays hard every possession and leaves it all on the court. While he’s an outstanding interior scorer, his perimeter game is rapidly improving. Haynes has greatly improved over the last year. He is lengthy, plays well around the basket, and scores well inside the three point line. Blackwell is a great passer and excels at setting up his teammates for scores. He also has a knack for scoring and simply finds ways to get the ball in the basket at big moments. Manuel brings a football-type of toughness to the game. He’s a good passer, great athlete and an energizer when in the game.”
The backcourt will have a load of talent. 6’4 junior Antwan Burnett from Montgomery (AL) Lanier was a key scorer on last year’s squad. He will be joined by 6’1 junior Nasseem Khalid from Jacksonville First Coast, 6’0 junior Kameron Woods from AL Pinson Valley, 6’2 junior Devin Carter from Doral Academy, and 6’4 junior Victor Brown from Orlando Lake Highland Prep.
“Burnett is a true ‘2’ guard”, Francis states. “He plays hard and is a knock down shooter. Khalid is a dynamic ball-handler that does a great job of running the team. He scores well within the flow of the offense but when called upon can get buckets. Woods can play either guard spot very well. He may be the best shooter on the team and is clever in finding ways to score. Carter is the son of an NBA player and has a great basketball IQ. He can score or run the team very effectively. We refer to Brown as a ‘quiet assassin’. He’s a slasher that gets to the rim, hits open shots, and simply understands the game.”
The Night Rydas will tackle a challenging schedule in addition to their EYBL slate of games.