By Marcus Shockley
Last year about this time we published the Right-Wrong Awards for the previous year, in which we admitted to some of our incorrect predictions from the past and gloated about some that we got right. I was planning to do another RW this year, but instead, as 2011 comes to a close, I wanted to spend some time reflecting on the year we had at Basketball Elite, some of the great events we’ve been involved with over the past year.
It’s been a great year, with, honestly, too many terrific experiences to detail at one time, but here are some of my favorite items from the past year.
During the winter, high school, college and pro basketball are in full swing so our focus is on catching players during game action. 2011 was a little different, as we began scouting players who would be candidates to participate in our first-ever showcase in the summer. We managed to find several players who ended up participating, including big man Tony Nunn (PF, 6’8″, 2013), who now has several D1 offers, and Zeb Richardson (PF, 6’8″, 2012), another post player we really like.
After attending multiple showcases and AAU events following the high school season, we dropped by the Jordan Brand Classic, scouting the international and regional games that take place before the nationally televised all star event. It’s no secret that James Micheal McAdoo and Anthony Davis are solid players, but it’s still great to see them on the big stage. We also spotted a few players that were under the radar, but weren’t for long, including Andrew Wiggins (SG/SF, 6’7″, 2014) a player who some now have as the #1 player in the 2014 class.
We talked to several of the big name recruits in attendance, several of whom are now making their mark on the college stage. Anthony Davis and McAdoo were the Co-MVPs of the game, and Davis showed that he was ready for prime time by handling the press conference like a pro.
The summer was incredibly busy, with our inaugural Southeast Summer Showcase taking place in between AAU, collegiate camps and other big time events like the Chris Paul elite guard camp. Our goal with the showcase was to offer one of the best mid-level showcases available to players, where they not only got a chance at college exposure but also walked away as better players. It was an incredible amount of work, and we made some missteps, but I was ecstatic with the event and the level of talent. We know that at least four players in attendance have been offered or are playing in college after our event, and we expect several more before the players finish their high school careers.
The highlight of the day was our dunk contest, which came down to a battle between Chase Ward-McEwan (PG/SG, 6’2″, 2012) and Craig Hinton (SF, 6’6″, 2013). Honestly, I’m glad I wasn’t a judge in the dunk contest, because I don’t know how you pick between Ward-McEwan’s dunk over three (yes, three) people and Hinton’s behind-the-bank slam that took home the trophy. Regardless, it was one of the best high school dunk contests I’ve ever seen, and Dime magazine featured the highlights on their High School Hoops website.
An event we love to cover every year is Chris Paul’s elite guard camp, partially because it’s great to see some of the nation’s best guards in high school and see how their games are progressing, and also because it’s a chance to see some of the college players during the summer and see what’s changed in their game. This past summer we spotted Jordan Taylor of Wisconsin and pegged him as our breakout player for the upcoming season, but we also noted that Harrison Barnes’ had an improved handle, which meant trouble for UNC foes. The camp also gave us a chance to speak with several of the top players about what they were working on to improve for the upcoming year.
The summer was all AAU, since the NBA decided to argue for several months, meaning we did not cover the NBA Summer League as we have in the past, but that didn’t mean there weren’t highlights, such as the Pro Am games featuring John Wall and Kyrie Irving, as well as the tour of Lebron James, Chris Paul and other stars as they waited to the lockout to end.
Despite the length of the lockout, players managed to stay in the public eye with these all star games, which weren’t really competitive but did give fans a chance to see their stars abusing a few rims around the country. We also talked with a few NBA players during the lockout to get their thoughts on the process, such as David West and #1 draft pick Kyrie Irving.
The fall was a chance to catch up on a few more showcases, such as the Adidas Phenom 150, but then it’s back to high school season again, with team like Oak Hill looking strong. Several players on Oak Hill are players we’ve watched grow and improve, like Jordan Adams and Tyler Lewis. It was also great getting to know players like A.J. Hammons, a 7-footer who has committed to Purdue and has a legitimate shot to make it to the NBA.
Of course, we love grassroots basketball, and we hit a ton of gyms to catch players everywhere we can, from JD Lewis Center in Raleigh, home of the Garner Road AAU program, to gyms in Atlanta and Florida, we are always looking to spot players who we should keep an eye on.
So, 2011 is winding down. It’s been a solid year. The new year is more packed than ever – we expect to cover the NBA summer league again as well as several new events, and we are already working in the 2012 Southeast Summer Showcase. I thank everyone who has worked with Basketball Elite this year, and look forward to what’s coming.
Josh Spainhour slashes to the hoop as West Stokes HS takes on Winston-Salem Prep
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