Former NBA player and champion Marreese Speights continues to give back to the community with his Team Speights basketball program. We caught up with him and got some info on his program and this year’s 17U team.
“I’m doing what I can to give the future players an understanding of what it takes to be successful, not just in the game of basketball but also in life”, Speights said. “They need to understand that everyone has to make sacrifices of one type of another for the group to be successful. However, they can still enjoy the journey and have fun along the way to reaching their goals. One of those goals is to get our players into the right basketball program at the next level. I think every member of this year’s team has that chance.”
Heading up a solid group of interior players is 6’8 junior Michael Phillips from Creekside. He’ll get help from 6’8 junior Jakob Hester from Anclote, 6’7 junior Jacob Crews from Hilliard, and 6’6 junior Rodney Williams from Berkeley Prep in Tampa.
“Mike brings it 100% on every possession at both ends of the court”, stated Speights. “He scores well inside and actively pursues rebounds; its almost like the ball finds him. He’s also a great communicator both on and off the court. Hester is a vastly under-rated player. He finishes well around the rim with both hands, has an improving jumper on the perimeter and really understands the game. Crews is a shooter that can really stretch the floor. He’s also a very good athlete that doesn’t mind playing rough inside when necessary. Williams is another player with size that can really shoot the basketball from the perimeter. He also scores well when driving the ball to the rim and should open eyes this spring and summer.”
The Team Speights backcourt certainly won’t be lacking in size or firepower. Dionte Blatch, a 6’3 junior from East Lake looks to continue what was a breakout junior campaign this past high school season. He’ll be joined by 6’4 junior Eric Lee out of Clearwater Superior Collegiate, 6’4 junior Marquel Bryant from Sarasota Riverview, 6’4 junior Joe Stubbs from Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic, and 6’3 junior Carr Theim from Tampa Wharton.
“Blatch has a great basketball IQ”, says Speights. “He makes good decisions with the ball, is strong to the basket and can score in traffic. His shot is solid out to the arc and his recruitment should take a big jump after the first April live period. Lee is a great energy guy. He’s long and very active on the defensive end and offensively takes the ball strong to the basket. Bryant has the talent to play either guard position. He brings a lot of energy and aggression to both ends of the court and finds a way to get buckets. Stubbs is a strong and athletic guard that can finish above the rim as well as knock down shots to the arc. He’s got a good chance to have his recruitment “blow up” this coming live period. Thiem is smart, a solid shooter, and will see time at multiple positions for us. He is also able to defend multiple positions.”