ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to air every game of the third annual Big 12/SEC Challenge Presented by Sonic – staged for the first time on a common bye date of Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, during the conference schedule. The field is headlined by four preseason top-10 teams – No. 3 Kentucky, No. 5 Kansas, No. 7 Iowa State and No. 8 Oklahoma – and matches all 10 of the Big 12 members against 10 teams from the Southeastern Conference.
Eight of the 10 games will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2 and two games will air on ESPNU with each conference hosting five games.
ESPN’s College GameDay Covered by State Farm – the Saturday morning and evening roadshow that discusses the top storylines of the college basketball season – will originate from one of the Challenge games, to be announced at a later date.
In addition to No. 3 Kentucky, No. 5 Kansas, No. 7 Iowa State and No. 8 Oklahoma, the field includes nine total teams ranked in the ESPN.com’s revised too-early top 25. No. 17 Baylor; No. 18 Vanderbilt, No. 20 West Virginia; No. 22 LSU and No. 25 Texas A&M.
Additional Challenge highlights:
All 10 games will also be available via WatchESPN, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 or Xbox One to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.
The 2014 Challenge, which saw the Big 12 winning six of the matchups, was held from December 3 to December 6. The inaugural event in 2013, won by the Big 12 with seven victories, was played across various dates in November and December.
2016 SEC/Big 12 Challenge Presented by Sonic schedule (schedule subject to change)
|Sat, Jan 30||Noon||No. 18 Vanderbilt at Texas||ESPN or ESPN2|
|No. 20 West Virginia at Florida||ESPN or ESPN2|
|2 p.m.||Tennessee at TCU||ESPN2|
|Ole Miss at Kansas State||ESPNU|
|4 p.m.||Texas Tech at Arkansas||ESPNU|
|6 p.m.||Georgia at No. 17 Baylor||ESPN2|
|8 p.m.||Oklahoma State at Auburn||ESPN2|
|No earlier than 2 p.m.; No later than 7 p.m.||No. 3 Kentucky at No. 5 Kansas||ESPN|
|No earlier than 2 p.m.; No later than 7 p.m.||No. 7 Iowa State at No. 25 Texas A&M||ESPN|
|No earlier than 2 p.m.; No later than 7 p.m.||No. 8 Oklahoma at No. 22 LSU||ESPN|
ESPNU will televise the 10th annual Under Armour Elite 24 featuring more than 20 elite college basketball recruits on Friday, August 21, and Saturday, August 22, from Pier 2 in Brooklyn with New York City’s iconic skyline as the backdrop. The two-night, outdoor event begins with the slam dunk contest (Friday at 7 p.m. ET) and concludes with the showcase game (Saturday at 7 p.m.). This year’s summer showcase is comprised of 16 recruits ranked in the ESPN 100 (Class of 2016), seven in the ESPN 60 (Class of 2017) and Thon Maker, one of the top international recruits from Canada. Only three of the participating players have committed to a college. Mike Couzens with call the action alongside ESPN recruiting analyst Paul Biancardi and college basketball analyst Jay Williams.
ESPN 100 (Class of 2016)
Elite 24 will feature four of the top 10 players in the ESPN 100 and nine in the top 20: No. 3 Josh Jackson (SF), No. 6 Kobi Simmons (PG), No. 8 Edrice Adebayo (PF), No. 9 T.J. Leaf (PF), No. 14 Terrance Ferguson (SG), No. 17 Jarrett Allen (C), No. 18 Dewan Huell (PF), No. 19 Udoka Azubuike (C) and No. 20 Frank Jackson (SG). Additionally, Class of 2016’s former No. 1 ranked player, Thon Maker, is also playing. Ferguson has committed to Alabama; however, the remaining top 20 recruits and Maker remain uncommitted.
ESPN 60 (Class of 2017)
Class of 2017’s No. 1 ranked player, Deandre Ayton, will play in the Elite 24, one of seven players ranked in the ESPN 60: No. 6 Troy Brown, Jr. (PG), No. 9 Jalek Felton (SG), No. 13 Trevon Duval (PG), No. 20 Billy Preston, No. 29 M.J. Walker and No. 30 Hamidou Diallo (SG). Felton has committed to North Carolina; the rest remain uncommitted.
A full roster of participants is listed below.
Elite 24 Alumni
Numerous NBA players have played in the event’s first nine years, including 84 current players. Furthermore, 55 alumni have been first round picks, including three former first round picks: Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, Washington’s John Wall and Minnesota’s Anthony Bennett.
Fans can participate via twitter by following @ESPNU and @UABasketball throughout the week and tagging the tweets with #E24X to help commemorate the 10th anniversary. Additionally, the event is free and open to the public.
Under Armour Elite 24 Participants
Team: EZ Pass
|ESPN 100/60 Rank||Player||Hometown|
|No. 1*||DeAndre Ayton||San Diego, Calif.|
|No. 3||Josh Jackson||Southfield, Mich.|
|No. 6*||Troy Brown, Jr.||Las Vegas, Nev.|
|No. 9||T.J. Leaf||El Cajon, Calif.|
|No. 13*||Trevon Duval||Wilmington, Del.|
|No. 14||Terrance Ferguson**||Dallas, Texas|
|No. 18||Dewan Huell||Miami, Fla.|
|No. 20||Frank Jackson||Alpine, Utah|
|No. 29||Justin Jackson***||Canada^|
|No. 30*||Hamidou Diallo||Jonesboro, Ga.|
|No. 31||Seventh Woods||Columbia, S.C.|
*ESPN 60 (Class of 2017)
**Has committed to Alabama
*** Has committed to UNLV
^Plays high school in the USA, making him eligible to be ranked
^^International designation makes him ineligible for ESPN 100 rank
Team: Doo Be Doo
|ESPN 100/60 Rank||Player||Hometown|
|No. 6||Kobi Simmons||Alpharetta, Ga.|
|No. 8||Edrice Adebayo||Pinetown, N.C.|
|No. 9*||Jalek Felton****||Mullins, S.C.|
|No. 17||Jarrett Allen||Austin, Texas|
|No. 19||Udoka Azubuike||Jacksonville, Fla.|
|No. 20*||Billy Preston||Dallas, Tex.|
|No. 21||Markelle Fultz||Upper Marlboro, Md.|
|No. 22||Rawle Alkins||Brooklyn, N.Y.|
|No. 29*||M.J. Walker||Jonesboro, Ga.|
|No. 35||Mario Kegler||Jackson, Miss.|
|No. 66||Shamorie Ponds||Brooklyn, N.Y.|
|No. 83||Wenyen Gabriel||Manchester, N.H.|
**** Has committed to North Carolina
*ESPN 60 (Class of 2017)
Please note: Location and television coverage could change due to weather]]>
As the start of the college school season approaches it’s always refreshing to see young men headed to college who have worked hard and persevered through difficult situations to finally live out their dream of playing college basketball. To understand Jabrie’s story we have to rewind back to the summer of 2013, word had spread around Fayetteville that he and his close friend Jahi Hughes would be transferring to Northwood Temple for their Senior Year which would be the 2013-2014 Season.
So of course these young men were excited to finally play on the same high school team, which was a team that was viewed as a contender for a state championship prior to the season. Well the season begins with a Tip Off Tournament at Village Christian Academy where Northwood would play against Forsyth Country Day, I watched closely as the team seemed to be very talented but was still looking to mesh together which isn’t out of the norm for a new squad. Both teams were getting after it, playing hard and really competing, then one of the most unusual injuries that I have seen to this day happened. Jabrie was playing defense on an opponent and stuck his foot out as a way of deflecting a pass, something that you will see hundreds of times a season, the ball struck his foot and Jabrie would limp to the sidelines.
Initially we all figured it was just a minor injury, however after being evaluated by doctors we learned that he suffered an injury that would take away his entire senior season and force him to be a spectator. This is where the character of this young man really showed, every Northwood Temple game that I scouted he would always be there behind the bench. He would be seen clapping and encouraging teammates, giving instruction, and doing just about everything that you love to see a teammate on the bench doing, while keeping a smile on his face. Prior to the injury Jabrie was receiving interest from numerous D2 and Low major D1 schools but of course missing his entire senior season would leave him with a question mark as to where he would play the following year.
Fast forward a few months and he is playing at a Prep school called Combine Academy in the Charlotte area, putting together some impressive performance and showing college coaches that he still has the talent from prior to his injury. After finishing up his year of Prep School he made the decision to Sign with Williston State College in North Dakota for the next two years of his college career. We look forward to tracking Jabrie over the next few year and college coaches looking for a gifted SG should do the same!!]]>
|Bobby Grubbs, Jacksonville H.S, Class of 2016, 6’3, Wing- Bobby has been battling different injuries throughout the summer, and even during this event he was not even close to being 100% healthy but you would not be able to tell by the way he played. He’s a knock down shooter that knows how to get his shot of very quickly as well as using the shot fake to free himself for open looks. Although is still improving ball handling wise he does a pretty good job of getting from Point A to Point B with minimal dribbling. Bobby is also a very unselfish player that loves to make the extra pass to his teammates just as much as he likes to score the ball, he is definitely the type of player that you love to have running an offense set on your squad because he’s not going to look for his own offense before the teams. On the defensive end he works very hard and does a good job of crashing the boards after the shot goes up, he also battles inside with taller opponents and goes for every loose ball with the attitude that each ball belongs to him. Overall Bobby was very impressive at ECI and showed many attributes that coaches at the next level love to see in a player.|
|Carter Collins, East Chapel Hill H.S, Class of 2017, 6’2, Guard- If you don’t know who Carter is, then you need to get to know him ASAP! This young man is a smooth player that can fill up a score sheet in a blink of an eye. He understands how to use step backs, euro-steps, etc. to score with ease from the perimeter, midrange and inside, he’s not afraid to take it right into the chest of a bigger opponent even though he has a somewhat slender frame. Carter also showed very impressive ball handling skills that he has uses to keep defenders guessing, he understands that the more the defender has to guess what coming next, the more vulnerable they are. He also is a gifted passer that doesn’t try to overdo it when making plays, he has some flair to his game but not much, instead he make the fundamentally sound play to teammates to complete plays for buckets. One attribute that really stuck out to me about Carter was his ability to change speeds quickly, he brings the ball up the floor at a slow pace at times but once he sees an opportunity to make a play he switches gears quickly, which is something you love to see from a Guard.|
|Shaft Parker, Farmville Central H.S, Class of 2016, 6’2, Guard- Shaft was very impressive throughout camp, he can score the ball in multiple ways and is a knock down shooter that can pull from deep at any moment. Whether it be a floater, up and under move or stopping on the dime for a pull-up he is crafty when it comes to finishing plays. Clearly he is a very gifted scorer, but shaft also knows how to be a floor general and run a squad, he has excellent court vision and is a gifted passer which was on full display during camp. On numerous occasions he hit teammates with passes in stride so that they could score easily as well timely lobs to teammates over the defense. Although he doesn’t have jaw dropping athleticism he makes it up for with solid frame and his outstanding IQ for the game, he knows what to play to make at what time and where his teammates need to be for things to be successful. His overall performance was very impressive and I looking forward to watching him again throughout the next year.|
Zach Hobbs, Northside H.S (Jax), Class of 2017, 5’10, Guard- Zach is a natural scoring guard, he can knock down shots from the perimeter at a very high rate once he gets it going and has nice lift on his shot so shooting over opponents is not an issue for him. He knows to create enough separation from his defender with different jab moves and shot fakes as well as initiating contact when he sees the opportunity to draw a foul. Throughout the game I watched he’s seemed to have very good upper body strength and embraced contact well, he has a quick first step that allows him to get by defenders and into the paint where he finished plays at a pretty high rate. One of the things that I really lied about Zach during this game was the upper body strength and foot speed he has, he picked up his man and applied constant pressure while using his strength to make his opponent as uncomfortable as possible. Using these methods he was able to force his opponent into turnovers and bad passes, he had a very successful summer thus far and will be a major piece for his H.S squad next season.
Michael Taylor, Farmville Central H.S, Class of 2016, 6’5, Forward- Michael had a very solid showing in the games that I watched him play, he has a very long wingspan and sneaky athleticism that he used on both end of the court. Offensively he finished plays above the rim and knocked down the elbow and perimeter shot, on the defensive end he blocked and contested shots as well as rebounding the ball and getting it to the guards quickly to get his teammates into transition quickly. Although I would love to see him add a little more muscle to his frame, he was very productive for his team and is versatile enough to guard forwards as well as some guards on the perimeter. Michael is a player that seems as if you don’t have to run plays for, he gets offensive boards and put backs at a high rate so he creates his own offense, he is definitely a player that we will be keeping an eye on.
Although I was unable to attend all days of the ECI Team Camp we must give a S/O to Northside (Jax) 2016 Guard Robert Colon, according to multiple sources he put on a tremendous scoring exhibition on the third day of camp, scoring 35 Points off the bench against 2A Powerhouse Kinston H.S. Robert has been tearing it up all summer and definitely turning the heads of coaches at the division 1 level.]]>
LeBron James is an enigma. LeBron and I are the same age and we grew up in the same area. NORTHEAST OHIO. We graduated the same year of high school, 2003. I went to Charles F. Brush High School in Lyndhurst, Ohio and LeBron attended St. Vincent St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. I have been following LeBron pretty close since we were probably in 7th or 8th grade. That’s when I first heard of James. I heard about him on the AAU circuit. He was actually dunking back then which is pretty crazy to think about. Think about a middle school kid coming down and dunking on everybody. Crazy to think about right? Well LeBron was doing it. When we got to 9th grade I ended up moving from Columbus, Ohio to Cleveland, Ohio because my mother ended up taking a job in HR with General Electric in Cleveland. I was still following LeBron pretty close and also playing myself. He ended up starting for St. Vincent St. Mary under Coach Keith Dambrot. Dambrot is now Akron University’s head coach. LeBron had an amazing high school career and I really don’t even need to get into that right now. Long story short we all knew LeBron was for sure going to the NBA as the #1 pick in 10th grade. To say LeBron would end up as arguably the best player of all-time. I can’t say that I would’ve thought that would happen. To say LeBron would have made this big of an impact on an entire region I would’ve never imagined. LeBron returning to Northeast Ohio has revitalized us in a way I have never seen anywhere else and I have been all over. I will talk about the resurrection of a Cavaliers franchise, the economic impact on the region, and the future of the Northeast Ohio and LeBron’s place in that.
When James announced that he was returning to Cleveland Cavaliers it instantly brought hope to Northeast Ohio. I have never seen anything like this in my 29 years on this planet. LeBron is ONE MAN and has this much power. Imagine how that just feel for him. Pretty crazy to think about huh? In an instant the Cleveland Cavaliers were considered a favorite to win the Finals this year. LeBron downplayed everything saying that it would take a lot of hard work in and time and it may not happen his first year. However it is now the month of June and the Cavaliers are here, in the NBA Finals. Let’s see if the Cavs and LeBron can get it done. They are only 4 wins away.
The economic impact on the region as a whole is going to be unlike we have ever seen. The businesses in downtown Cleveland are beginning to thrive again now that LeBron is back in town. With LeBron comes a sold out Quicken Loans Arena every night. And that creates a trickle down effect from there. There is now a casino downtown that Dan Gilbert owns which is doing pretty well might I add. All of the restaurants and bars are now thriving again as well with the return of The King. If he can bring a championship to the city then imagine what is going to happen. PANDEMONIUM.
Lastly, LeBron James has brought a sense of hope and pride to a region that I admit was dying before. A lot of people leave Northeast Ohio to pursue what they think are greener pastures elsewhere. LeBron James even did it himself when he decided to leave all he ever knew and explore a once in a lifetime opportunity to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and join the Miami Heat. He had a very successful run in South Florida. He went to four straight finals, winning two of them. He decided that he had a chance to do something really special not only for his own legacy but for Northeast Ohio as a region. And that’s to bring us our first championship. I truly believe that this is DESTINY and that it will happen this year. Let’s go CAVS. #AllInCle #AllForOne]]>
Names and places have been changed to protect anyone who thinks this might hit too close to home…but these examples are based on true events from the past few years. These are, obviously, not the real names of these coaches, players or schools.
If you haven’t read part 1 of this series click here to start at the beginning
Assistant Coach Steve McKite arrives at Full Court Elite Academy at 9 am on a Thursday morning, wearing his new Eastbury College polo shirt and color coordinated Nike shoes.
Calling it an ‘Academy’ is generous. Steve found the address of the school online and drove there after finally getting it into his GPS, but where it took him was a tiny building with a small sign on it and locked doors. Calling the coach, he was the directed to drive a couple of miles away to an old high school gym which looked like it was built just after gargoyles went out of fashion. Finally walking into the gym, he sees seven folding chairs set up beside the court and a short, stocky man is setting up two more.
It looks like McKite won’t be the only college coach in the gym today.
Three players walk into the gym from a door on the far side and one of them is 6’8″ Luka Felix, who already looks like a college power forward, with big shoulders and and a lanky build. Looking like a prototypical European style big man (and much closer to 6’10”), he drops in a couple of layups before moving out to the perimeter and drains a three. His release is effortless and near perfect – at least while he’s not being guarded, in an empty gym.
The man setting up folding chairs sidles over to McKite and introduces himself as Darius Hager, the head coach and the man who Steve talked to in order to set up this visit.
“Nice, huh?” asks Hager, waving his hand in a broad sweep, indicating Felix, who drains another three, barely touching the net.
“He passes the look test, that’s for sure,” replies McKite.
One of the other players looks like an African center, about 6’8″, but he’s not shooting threes – he seems to be tying and untying his shoes continuously, trying to get some perfect configuration.
Rebounding for Felix is a wing player who looks to be about 6’5″ and also has the build of a college player. McKite knows the deal Hager is trying – get coaches to come see Felix, and add in the other two players hoping to get interest.
‘Well‘, thinks McKite, ‘I do need players.‘
Two more coaches walk into the gym, one from conference rival Delhurst University, and another from Halverson College. McKite knows the Halverson coach and introduces himself to the Delhurst assistant. They make some small talk, laughing a bit about shared experiences across the country. The Delhurst coach tells McKite he used to coach at Eastbury, too, about ten years ago.
“You gotta try the little rib joint on Seventh Street, if it’s still there,” he tells Steve, “that was my spot, after every game.”
Steve is about to thank him when his heart sinks a little; another coach walks in, and this time it’s trouble.
Alexander Lambrau, an assistant coach at Smoak University, has arrived. Wearing a dark blue T-Shirt emblazoned with ‘Smoak U’ and a much smaller ‘Final Four’ logo underneath, he’s smiling widely, stretches his hand out and meets Hager in a handshake mid-stride, like he’s meeting an old drinking buddy from his college days.
“Am I too late, coach?” Lambrau asks loudly, his voice ringing off the walls of the tiny gym.
Smoak is by all definitions a high major college. They just ended their season in the Final Four this year, and two of their starters left early to the NBA in the draft only a few weeks ago. It’s no secret their boosters have deep pockets; if Smoak thinks Felix is the right guy for their team, there’s no chance McKite is going to be able to get him. He already knows Hagar wants a payoff; if it comes to that, Smoak is going to write a check and make it happen. The only thing that could stop them is another high major swooping in and starting some type of undercover bidding war.
Of course, that’s all dependent on whether Felix is really worth their time. Smoak can get most players without dropping a dime; they would only slide money for players who were really worth it. Most aren’t.
Lambrau shakes everyone’s hands, cracks jokes with ease and drops himself into a folding chair. Suddenly the morning events have gone from a quiet workout to the Smoak University show, where the players are going to try to impress one of the biggest schools in the country.
The workout gets under way, and with only three players it’s a mixture of drills, twenty-one and limited open run. Felix runs the floor well and has great hands, but the African player – Ufuoma Amadi – doesn’t have great hands, but he is a beast in the paint. He fumbles passes, loses the ball when attempting a two-handed dunk, but he is a powerfully built athlete. The wing player runs like a college wing but really just feeds the ball to the other two on drills.
As they finish up, McKite waits patiently as Lambrau talks with Felix and then moves to a corner to talk with Hagar. McKite takes the opportunity to get in a word.
“Hey, Luka, I’m Coach McKite, from Eastbury College. Do you remember talking with me last week?”
“Um, yeah” replies Felix, nonchalantly glancing around the gym.
“I like your game a lot…I know you can play. But I’m going to ask, is Smoak actively recruiting you?”
“Don’t know,” Felix mutters, “they never came before. Coach said I have a good jump shot.”
“I guess you saw them in the NCAAs this year, right?”
“Well,” says McKite, “I’m not going to jump in here but if Smoak decides they want to slow play you, we wouldn’t do that. Just letting you know. I’m asking you to just keep us in mind.”
“Okay,” replies Felix, and McKite shakes his hand and walks over to the other two players and introduces himself. The wing player is named Jeremy Hoyle.
“Hold up,” says McKite, “didn’t I see you play some AAU last week? In Maryland, I think? I tried to call your phone but your aunt said you weren’t home.”
“Ohhh” says Hoyle, “yeah, she said some coach called but she didn’t know who it was. I thought it was Coach Hagar.” Hoyle explains that he doesn’t play for Hagar but he might this year. McKite gets his mobile number so he can text him later. Then he remembers he forgot to get Felix’s mobile number, but now Felix is talking with the other coaches. He turns to Amadi.
“So what about you?” he asks, “big man like you must have a couple of colleges who have reached out? Anyone?”
“No, coach,” replies Amadi, but then, his stoic face suddenly breaks into a huge grin, “except you, coach!”
McKite laughes. “Yeah, well, yeah, I guess so! We’re talking right now!”
McKite thinks for a second, then asks “what do you think you need to work on to play the post in college?”
Amadi turns the quesition over in his mind for a beat, then responds, “I need to be able to score better. I can defend my man but my scoring is not there yet.”
“Okay. Good, good. Yeah, you need to work on your hands – you should be able to catch the ball, and once you have it in the post, never let anyone get it out of your hands.”
There is a slight pause and McKite can hear the other coaches approaching, having finished talking with Felix. “Okay. Do you have a mobile number? I want to talk to you some more, too, if you’re interested.”
Amadi gives coach a number and then McKite tries to catch back up with Felix, but Hagar is back. Lambrau is nowhere to be seen.
“Let’s talk, coach,” says Hagar.
They walk over into an alcove and Hagar leans against the wall. “What do you think? Are you guys going to offer Luka? He’d be a big time add to your program. Turn things around in a hurry.”
“Do we even have a chance?” asks McKite, “Smoak is going to get him if they want him.”
“Not if I tell him to go with you,” replies Hagar.
“Okay, what would convince him to go with us?”
Hagar glances around the corner to make sure the other coaches are still out of earshot.
“What?!? 20 grand?” McKite snaps, “he’s not worth that kind of money, even if we had it.”
“Smoak thinks he is.”
“Don’t bullshit me, coach. If Smoak had already offered you that money we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Hagar steps away from the wall and holds up both hands in mock defeat. “Look, I’m just saying there’s a way to get him, and someone is going to get him. You guys want to win, you can get him.”
McKite suddenly has a wild thought dash through his mind: what if Smoak isn’t interested in Felix at all, and Hagar is using their presence to demand money from the lower colleges? It’s too stupid to work that way, he thinks. Why would Lambrau even bother? Would they split the money? No, it seems too stupid. Surely Smoak knows his school doesn’t have money to pay for players. Nothing about this conversation makes McKite feel very good.
“Look, coach,” he tells Hagar, “we are interested in Luka. We would offer him right now. We would take him. But we can’t pay for players. We just don’t have the money.”
Hagar looks at McKite like there’s no chance that McKite is telling the truth. “Well, let’s just say this. It’s out there. You have my info. He’s not committed. He’s available. You guys tell me what you can do for his school.”
‘You mean you and your school‘, thinks McKite.
Back in his car, navigating back through corn fields and rural back roads, McKite calls Lonnie Maxwell, his head coach.
“What did you think?” asks Maxwell.
“He’s a legit big man. Probably too good for us. I would want to see him play against some elite bigs. I need to see him in AAU or during the high school season. But my thoughts are we wouldn’t be able to get him. He’s too good.”
“Did you want to offer?”
“I want to offer. But his coach wants money.”
“Damn it. Of course he does.”
“I know. And Smoak was there looking at him. I don’t think we can get in. But there is another kid there – an African kid – he’s a project but I think he’s might be a Division I big man. Maybe not right away, though.”
“Smoak…?” Maxwell trails off. “How much did coach want?”
“Oh, no freaking way. No way in Hell…none. I just wanted to know…I wish I hadn’t asked. If I ask that again, don’t tell me.”
McKite hangs up and looks back out onto the road. He’s about 15 minutes from the highway, where he needs to try and make it to the next state in an attempt to catch some AAU games, including watching Marquise Davids, a guard who he’s spoken to and watched but still isn’t their priority player.
As he turns onto the road to merge into the highway, he sees a sign which reads “Thanks for visiting Ardorville! Come back soon!”.
‘How does a tiny made up school in a town with a single Taco Bell as their only restaurant have three college level players on their team, anyway?‘ he wonders.
TO BE CONTINUED]]>
Names and places have been changed to protect anyone who thinks this might hit too close to home…but these examples are based on true events from the past few years. These are, obviously, not the real names of these coaches, players or schools.
Seated at a minuscule desk forced into a weary office, Steve McKite is searching through scattered piles of dog-eared papers and small notes. McKite was just hired as an assistant basketball coach at Eastbury College, a Division I basketball program, which is his latest stop after his last gig ended as the head coach of a Division II program in the midwest. He had a good thing going in Division II, but coaching changes are inevitable; despite two winning seasons in a row, the new Athletic Director decided the school wanted to go in a ‘different direction’, and McKite, along with his staff, was let go.
Eastbury’s head coach, Lonnie Maxwell, is in his second year on the job; last year was rough, winning only 3 games in front of empty gyms. Maxwell and McKite played together in college and when Steve was fired from his head coaching position, Maxwell asked him to come to Eastbury and try and help him turn things around. Being an assistant coach means more recruiting; Eastbury not only was beaten on the floor last season by teams with better athletes, most of their starting five graduated as well. They need players, and they need them as soon as they can get them. But they need the right players – hopefully good kids who are overlooked.
So McKite’s first job is to hit the recruiting trail and see if he can find some players who are talented enough to help Eastbury win, and then see if he can convince those players to come and play for him – or rather, for Coach Maxwell.
The facilities at Eastbury are less than desirable. The college campus is located in a small, pretty town, but the gym looks more like a high school gym than a Division I college program. Faded paint of the team mascot adorns the entryways and exposed pipes run the length of the hallway leading to the locker rooms. McKite’s office feels like a janitor’s utility closet and he’s pretty sure it was exactly that at some point, because sitting directly underneath the fraying splinters of his desk is a rusty drain.
In order to get players to come to Eastbury he’s going to have to find kids who are unassuming and aren’t expecting the glitz they see on television during March Madness. Fortunately, he already dealt with a loads of that while coaching Division II. Unfortunately, he knows if he had been a bit more successful he might still have that job. He hasn’t finished unpacking yet, with scattered awards and a few boxes sitting on top of what was already in the office when he arrived two weeks ago.
McKite’s left hand finds what he is looking for – a roster list from an AAU tournament he attended a couple of days prior during a jaunt across this unfamiliar recruiting area. He had crisscrossed five states trying to catch as many quality AAU tournaments as possible in a region he has never scouted before. Next to a few players’ names are small notes or marks – indications of players that looked like they might be worth pursuing. On this list he’s got twelve names of players he wants to contact – three of whom he’s already pretty convinced are better than any player Eastbury had last season.
He picks up the phone and starts down with the first on the list.
After a few rings, the automated operator voice jumps in: “You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.”
Oh, well, cross that name off for now, he thinks. The reality is that many players’ contact details are wrong on AAU rosters. Even though he’s not writing off the player, the reality is he’ll probably have recruits lined up before he ever would be able to track the kid down.
On to the next name.
This time a woman answers the phone on the second ring.
“Hi, I’m coach Steve McKite, calling from Eastbury College. I’m trying to reach a player named Jeremy Hoyle?”
“Oh, that’s my nephew,” the woman replies, then after short pause, “uh…who did you say you were again?”
“Steve McKite. I’m an assistant coach with the basketball program at Eastbury College. I’d like to talk to Jeremy a little bit about his college recruitment, if I could…or I could talk to a parent if I need to.”
McKite waits in silence and looks back at his list of names. Hoyle is a 6’5″ small forward who played really well in two games he saw; versatile and athletic, with college size as a wing. It’s likely he already has colleges talking to him, but McKite has to start somewhere.
“He’s not here.”
“Okay, I’m sorry to hear that. Do you know when he might be back? Or does he have a mobile phone?” McKite asks, hopefully. A mobile phone would make the player easier to reach – via text, which is a lot more consistent way to contact teenagers at the moment.
“Yes, but I don’t know his number.”
McKite leaves his number with Jeremy’s aunt and hangs up. Pretty much oh-for-two at this point, he thinks. Ten more players to try on the list. He picks up his phone again and starts punching in the next set of digits.
On the fifth player, he finally reaches the person he wants directly. Marquise Davids, a shooting guard who also was playing a lot of point guard when McKite saw him, answers the phone immediately.
“Hi, I’m coach Steve McKite, calling from Eastbury College. I’m trying to reach a player named Marquise Davids?”
“Yes sir, that’s me, coach. I’m Marquise.”
“Marquise, I caught a couple of your AAU games last weekend. I wanted to reach out and ask you about your college recruiting. I know you don’t know me but I’m going to just come out and ask you – are you being recruited by any other colleges?”
“Yes sir, I did speak to a coach from State a couple of weeks ago. But that’s the only coach. He called me and talked to me a little bit. But nobody has offered me or anything like that.”
They talked for a few more minutes; Davids has a 4.2 GPA and plays for a public school about six hours away. When McKite tells him, “I can’t offer you today but we are interested and want to keep up with your recruiting. Would you be interested, if it worked out, to play for us at Eastbury?”
“I’ll play wherever I can, coach. Wherever is the best place for me, I’ll be there.”
McKite thanks Davids and hangs up. He likes the kid – he’s smart, he’s polite and he sounds mature. But he’s not the first option that Eastbury wants at guard right now. However, the conversation has McKite thinking – a player that grounded and mature might be someone to pay more attention to.
Back to the phone and the next name.
It takes three more calls before McKite talks to a player he really wants – a 6’8″ post player named Luka Felix; McKite is expecting a heavy accent, but is surprised to hear an American voice on the other end.
McKite introduces himself and asks if Felix has other colleges recruiting him.
“Yeah, a few coaches have talked to me, ” he says, “my coach says North Ambrose and Eastern offered me last week…I don’t really know all of the schools.”
“How are your grades?” McKite asks after a few more questions.
“Um, I think they are OK. You would have to check with coach on it.” McKite has heard this before. He gets the coach’s name and number and asks Felix if he would consider playing at Eastbury if they were to offer.
“Where is it?” asks Felix, “Is it D1?”
McKite laughs and says “Yes, it’s D1, man, c’mon, you need to know these things if you are going to be a hooper!”
Next phone call is to Felix’s coach, at a school called Full Court Elite Academy, which sounds less like a school and more like a gym with an administrative office. The school’s website doesn’t even list an athletic program.
Felix’s coach is a man named Darius Hager, who tells McKite that several schools have offered Felix already.
“What’s the possibility we could get involved with his recruitment?” McKite asks.
“Well, I don’t know if Felix wants to play for Eastbury, coach, he’s not sure if he wants to play in your conference. But I might be able to talk to him about it. I can probably help swing him your way.”
“That would be a big help, coach, we do need a big man. I’d like to come by and watch some workouts sometime.”
“Yeah, we can do that. Our gym is pretty tiny, I’ve been working on getting some renovations in here. It really needs some upgrades.”
McKite knows what he’s hearing – the coach wants money. The problem is that if Eastbury had money to pay for players, they would have money to upgrade their own gym. He’s not sure if the coach actually knows what he’s doing or if he’s trying to make money off of a lower end Division I big man. McKite asks about grades.
“His grades are good. We have him qualified, we are good to go. Just let me know when you can come down and we can talk about it.”
McKite agrees on a date to come by the school and hangs up, looking back at the list. Five states of scouting, hundreds of miles driven, hotels, bad road food, ice cold gyms in summer heat…has resulted in talking to 3 potential players, only one of which sounds like a definite Division I player and only one other player which sounds like he can actually stay in college for four years.
It’s late, and it’s been a long day for McKite. Calling the recruits was the last thing he needed to get done before he leaves for the day, and it’s a tough way to finish up. He pulls up Google Maps and starts to try and figure out where Full Court Elite Academy actually is, but the search just shows him an intersection in the middle of some rural fields.
As he grabs his car keys and tries, fruitlessly, to straighten up the already embarrassing mess of papers on his desk, his phone chirps.
It’s an email from Marquise Davids:
Thanks so much for reaching out and talking with me today. I just wanted to let you know I appreciate your taking the time and I hope to talk to you again soon. I also wanted to let you know that I am playing in an AAU tournament next weekend and if you are nearby I hope you can drop by. I will send you the schedule when the tournament publishes it.
Thank you again,
The tournament dates listed on his email are the same as the date he’s already agreed to visit Luka Felix at his school.
He turns off his phone, turns out the lights and walks down the pipe-lined corridor that leads to the parking light.
Next, Read Part 2: Rubbing Elbows]]>
So this week I’m delving more into how I rate players in high school, and it starts with two components: where they are ‘today’ (meaning, the day I see them play) and what rating they might reach in an optimum environment. Yes, I know that sounds convoluted, so let me break it down a little bit. Let’s say I see a freshman high school player who I watch play a few times and he looks like he definitely is a college player, but possibly at the ‘low major’ level. That would mean that over the next 3-4 years if he just continues along without much change in his game other than getting stronger and older, he will probably be able to play at that level of college (more about ‘level of college’ later). However, a high school freshman has time on his side; over those 3-4 years he may work extremely hard on his weaknesses, may grow much taller, and may mentally mature a significant amount. So let’s say I see a player who is 6’4″ as a freshman and is playing as a power forward. The reality is that a 6’4″ power forward is common in high school but will be limited in college – most colleges at the Division I or Division II level are going to be looking for at least 6’7″ and 6’8″ post players if they can get them. In Division I, players who are 6’4″ or 6’5″ usually fall somewhere between shooting guard and small forward, and it’s not uncommon at all for high major schools to have 6’7″ small forwards and 6’4″ point guards.
The gap in time – and the amount of change that can occur in players from their freshman year in high school and the time the graduate – is the reason why it’s not very accurate to rate or rank players before their junior year. As I said, I don’t see rankings as much of a tool in scouting players, but even for ratings (which I do use) rating a freshman is risky. So let’s go back to our fictitious 6’4″ post player. Let’s say he’s athletic and has decent footwork in the post, good hands, and can score out to 15′, and as we said, he looks solid enough to actually play in college. In reality, he’s probably going to fall somewhere in the NAIA or possibly Division II range, but there’s just as much chance he would be a Division III player. But here’s where it gets tricky – let’s say he has great quickness and agility already, and there are several things he might be able to do to move to the perimeter – improve his dribble, extend his range, add moves and explosiveness to his first step. A hard working player who trains on these things and already has athletic ability may develop into a shooting guard or small forward in a couple of teenage years. If he already looks like a college player who is undersized, then either two things can happen that improve his rating: a growth spurt or he moves to a different position. If I look at the 6’4″ power forward who I already think is at least an NAIA or Division III player but is undersized, but I think he could move to the wing and have the same effectiveness, then I have to give him a higher ‘potential’ rating. So in this case, let’s say that if this player works like mad and does all of the things he needs to do on the court to improve, and I think he could end up as a mid major wing player, then his ‘potential’ rating – the second component of scouting a high school player – would fall into the ‘mid major’ range. So if I rated this player he might have a current rating of NAIA/4 or Division III/5 but a potential rating of MM/3. An important caveat to this is that players do not stop developing once they leave high school. The vast majority of players will not see significant minutes on their teams until their junior year of college, and will have added considerable muscle and strength during that time. While it does matter what the roster situation is (such as arriving at a college who has no starting PG and all underclassmen guards) as a general rule, the player who commits to college is still considered a developing project in almost all cases.
Now I know what you’re thinking – that’s a huge gap to make up, and you’re right. Normally the gap isn’t that wide. Most players end up pretty close to where they initially rate at, but since the player has several years of teenage growth ahead of them, it’s not out of the question. When rating players, their age/grade matters a lot in this gap. Obviously a senior player halfway through his season doesn’t have the years ahead of him to allow for this gap in ratings. If our player listed above was a senior, his current rating (NAIA/4) and his future rating are going to be very close. There also the fact that teenagers are usually still adjusting to their new height/size all of the time. A 6’9″ player as a freshman may be awkward and raw, but by the time he’s a senior he might have a killer drop step and hook shot. It’s rare this occurs, but that’s where the gap falls.
Okay, so with all of that said, I know I am skipping over the difference here of what a ‘2’ or ‘3’ rated player is and a ‘5’. I’ll have more on that this week. For now we have to stop and address what a ‘high major’, ‘mid major’ or ‘low major’ school is, the differences between Division I, II and III and the misunderstood aspect of NAIA basketball.
Mid Major, High Major and Super High Major
For purposes of record, there technically is no official designation of ‘high major’ or ‘mid major’ Division I colleges, and no college refers to themselves as ‘low major’. Only scouts do that, but there is a reason for that and I even take it a step further. I see a difference between high major colleges and ‘super high major’ colleges – these are the colleges that have multiple McDonald’s All-Americans on their roster, among other things. The designation between all of these Division I colleges can change – just because a school is winning today doesn’t mean they will still hold that ‘high major’ status in 10 years when they are perennial cellar dwellers.
Generally speaking a ‘super high major’ meets the following criteria:
Obviously, there are very few schools that would fall into the ‘Super High Major’ designation, but these include schools that are most obvious:
– North Carolina
– Michigan State
There are others, but there aren’t many. Don’t email me about how your school is ‘super high major’. However, once you leave the rarefied air of the super high majors, here’s where the designation can start to get fuzzy between ‘high major’ and ‘mid major’. A high major school, by my definition meets ALL of the following criteria:
So this list would be much, much longer – too long to list. But there are two problematic things with my ‘high major’ criteria above: schools who play in ‘high major’ conferences but rarely compete for the conference title, rarely make the NCAA tournament and rarely are ranked nationally. Are these schools really ‘high major’ schools? Not by my definition. And then, we have the schools who do win consistently, make the NCAA tournament, and even have players heading to the NBA; those are not technically ‘mid major’ schools just because they reside in a ‘mid major’ or ‘low major’ conference.
Examples of high major schools who do not play in high major conferences are pretty obvious: schools like Butler and Gonzaga would definitely meet that criteria. While I do think that these schools benefit by not playing in a high major conference, there’s no argument that even if they did, they would still be able to make the NCAA tournament and be in the upper tier of the conference standings, and both schools have multiple NBA players and deep NCAA runs over the last 10 years. Wichita State and VCU (under Shaka Smart) probably fall into this category, or are pretty close to it. San Diego State and SMU under their current coaches are definitely recruiting more like high majors than mid or low majors.
So, what are ‘mid majors’ and what are ‘low majors’?
My ‘Mid Major’ criteria:
By this designation, schools in the ACC, Big 10 or SEC who don’t consistently win are mid-majors. I know this sends people into a fury, but this is the reality of it for me- schools like that aren’t competing for the same recruits as the high majors, aren’t consistently winning and generally are destined for coaching turnover if things don’t improve. These schools are the ones who really need to find under-the-radar high major players who have slipped through the gaps of the high and super high majors so they can get back into those upper reaches. However, there are schools (like Davidson) who play in a conference many would designate as ‘low major’ but win so consistently that they would fall under my definition of ‘mid major’.
But, why do I need these definitions, anyway? It matters because I need some way of determining where a player might be able to compete and which schools could actually be a good fit at the current time. Over the years, despite what people really want to believe, teams that don’t make the NCAA tournament (and I’m ignoring any outside of the field of 64 – ‘play ins’ are irrelevant) are not competitive with teams that do make the tournament. The blunt truth is that the NCAA selection committee is very good at making their choices, and for those few mistakes, there are hundreds of selections that are proven correct. I have to rely on the years of documentation for this – this season Wichita State, which plays in the Missouri Valley Conference, knocked off Alabama during the regular season and then downed Indiana and Kansas in the NCAA tournament. By my definitions above, Alabama’s basketball program falls into the ‘Mid Major’ category and Wichita State is pushing up into ‘high major’ territory. I’m not trying to upset Tide fans here, but on the basketball side of things, their recruiting reach isn’t high major as it stands today. Alabama isn’t going to be competing with Kentucky for many recruits, and they might not be able to beat Wichita State out for some recruits right now – at least while Gregg Marshall is coaching for the Shockers. And here’s where it gets really tricky – if I rate a player as a ‘Mid Major’ talent, does that mean it’s more likely he’s a fit for the talent level at Wichita State or Alabama? Does it mean he can’t get minutes on either team because they are sort of both ‘high majors’. There are players on Duke that never get major minutes – are they all high major players? The answer is no. So just because a player is rated as a ‘mid major’ doesn’t automatically mean he’s not going to play (or ride the bench) at a high major. And just because a player is rated as a ‘high major’ does not that mean the ‘super high majors’ are going to come after him, either.
See why I scoff at the ‘five star’ system? Explain to me the difference between a 2 star player and a 4 star player. There are Division II players who are headed to pro careers overseas while there are Division I players who won’t play another game after college ends. In the ‘star rating’ system, the DII players would probably not even have stars. But a 6’7″ player rated at DII/5 and who reaches his full potential on a solid Division II program has a legitimate shot at professional ball on some level. How in the world is that ‘no stars’? And many of the players in the NBA were 2 or 3 star players in high school – how does that work, exactly?
If I rate a player as a MM/5 (mid-major/5) it means that by the time he is a college senior, he could start and be a significant impact player for any mid major in the country. Any player who can be an impact player at that level could also get minutes at most high major colleges, too, but probably wouldn’t be a starter. And we’re talking over four years of college. I hesitate to publicly rate a player as MM/3 or LM/2 because parents, high school coaches and players will fly off the handle but the reality is, most players aren’t even good enough for Division III basketball. Rating a player as an LM/5 means that he can go to a ton of Division I conferences, play and get minutes and likely be a major contributor on a team by the time he’s a senior. Rating player as a D2/5 technically means he’s so good he could play Division I but might be a better fit at the right DII program.
Now for the last item, let’s talk about the NAIA. The NAIA is often lumped into the same level as Division III, and although Division III basketball is far superior to what the majority of fans think, NAIA is a competing organization to the NCAA, not just Division III. There are some very good players and teams in NAIA and most fans have no idea that there is a whole different set of recruiting regulations and structure for NAIA.
I know this is a long read, but there’s a lot more I need to expound on – such as how the Impact Ratings are determined for players and why you should separate the lottery picks from the vast majority of players.]]>
As in past years when I’ve covered the EYBL, I’m always impressed by the format and organization – it’s a fantastic chance to scout many of the top recruits in a single location. This year the big draws were Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum, the #1 and #2 players in the 2016 class respectively. I didn’t get a chance to catch as many games as I wanted (this is always the case) but nonetheless, here are my notes from the 2015 event. Where applicable, I’m also including my actual ratings for players – as most people are aware, I am not a big fan of rankings, but rather I focus on ratings, and that means ratings beyond just ‘five stars’ or ‘three stars’. I’ll be posting much more about my rating system this week. For now, just know that ‘high major’, ‘mid major’ and ‘low major’ are the breakouts of Division I, and that I consider a player who is a ‘HM/5′ to be almost a lock for the NBA and the scale goes down from there. So players who are three or four year players at a high major school and may be NBA players tend to fall into the HM/4 or even HM/3 range. I also don’t consider every school in the ACC or SEC to be equal and I don’t consider every player on a high major roster to be HM rated players. As recent examples, I had Kyrie Irving rated as HM/5, Anthony Davis rated as HM/5 and James Michael McAdoo rated as HM/4, because I was less sure McAdoo was a pro prospect. Schools like Duke, Kentucky and UNC are generally only looking for HM/3, HM/4 or HM/5 level players. Some additional notes are: I never rate a player publicly unless I’ve seen him a minimum of 3 times; I rate players based on their actual age as well. I pay ZERO attention to who has offered a player.
Harry Giles (PF/C, 6’10”, 2016) CP3 All-Stars – Even though I’ve seen Giles many times over the years I haven’t written much publicly because he never needed the exposure. But Giles has become one of the best high school players I’ve ever seen. He’s fluid and quick with elite athleticism and size. Even as a freshman, he had a pro level slashing move and finish hook, but now he’s expanded that first step so it’s extremely difficult for big men to stay in front of him. His handle is more like a small forward and he has elite timing. It’s no secret he’s considered an NBA lottery pick. Areas for improvement might be continuing to add strength for the pro game and free throw consistency, but it should be noted how much work Giles has done after his injury to improve on his already solid skill set. Rating: HM/5.
Jayson Tatum (SF, 6’9, 2016) St. Louis Eagles – Tatum is explosive and has a light bounce and handles from the SF spot at an elite level. Shot elevates and releases in a flash and even though he can show incredibly dexterity getting to the bucket, it’s going to be off the charts once as he continues to add strength. Another player who is likely one-and-done, he and Giles are the only two players I see as locks for the NBA at this point in the 2016 class. Rating: HM/5
Travis Atson (SG, 6’5, 2016) PSA Cardinals – Atson is a dynamic playmaker from the wing who looks like he could play from the SG or SF spot effectively. Quick, active player who has excellent passing vision from the wing and good look-ahead passing. Can finish above the rim, shoot, and get himself to the line. Tough player who looks like he is mentally and physically ready for college.
Jordan Ford (PG, 6′, 2016) Oakland Soldiers – Elite speed guard, deadly end-to-end scorer who can and does blow by people. he can run the point but is so effective at getting inside or getting open for shots that he should be considered a score-first PG. Deadly floater and finisher.
Ira Lee (F, 6’9″, 2017) Oakland Soldiers – above the rim, active athlete and has a nice running floater that is hard to stop at his size. Plays facing the basket and probably should be considered a 3/4 type player depending on the size of the opposition. Excellent bounce and timing.
Cyril Langevine (C, 6’8″, 2016) NJ Playaz – still a bit raw but a lot to like in a post player with good strength already and a frame that looks like he will be a beast once he gets to college. Decent shot blocker but his timing needs a bit of work. Good hands.
Charles O’ Bannon (SG, 6’5″, 2017) Las Vegas Prospects – O’Bannon is a high level scoring guard who is a bucket getter, and in multiple ways. A solid scoring option no matter whether he’s in the half court or transition, has excellent pull up on the move, can easily create his own shot. Squares up well and is consistent even from mid range. Problem for defenses and is the type of player who can drive opposing coaches crazy even with good defense.
Lonnie Walker (SG, 6’5″, 2017) Team Final – Walker is a solid, big time scoring guard with high major size and ability. He can score both slashing to the basket and with the deep shot, and he can finish in traffic with his agility. As a 2017 player, I expect him to be a significant pick up for a high major school.
Samuel Japhet-Mathias (C, 6’11”, 2017) PSA Cardinals – Pure center with soft hands and big space-eating physique. Physically imposing and makes it very tough to score in the paint with his size. A half court style big man with potential.
Marques Bolden (C, 6’11, 2016) Pure center with decent poise and polish in the paint. Good hands and has a very good up-and-under move to finish. Does pass out of the double team when it comes but made multiple turnovers when doing so. Half court style player. Does box out very well. He is a solid big man at the Division I level but I will have to watch him a lot more to see if he’s worthy of the high rankings that have been given him – I just didn’t see enough during this tournament to accurately judge.
Paul Washington II (F, 6’7″, 2017) Team Penny – athletic forward who can be dominant around the rim at times with his explosiveness. Bigger, slower post players have trouble staying in front of him because of his athleticism, but he’s not really a pure post player at all.
Grant Williams (PF, 6’8″, 2016) CP3 – Williams is a guy I’ve written about before and I love the physical presence he brings to the game. He is a big player – about 250 lbs – but has bounce, nimbleness and shot blocking that allows him to play either at the 4 or 5 spot. His shot blocking is excellent and he has that coveted timing that translates to every level – he gets putback buckets by the handful and is one of the key guys that can clean up when a team’s shots aren’t falling from the perimeter. Not ready to make an assessment on Williams but he’s definitely a Division I big man.
Andrew Jones (SG, 6’4″, 2016) Pro Skills Elite – scorer who is a high motor, high octane wing and can run some point but is really effective as a passer or scorer from the wing. Made a lot of nice plays on the offensive end but was very effective and disruptive in the defensive passing lanes.
Alterique Gilbert (PG, 6’1″, 2016) CP3 – Gilbert is an excellent, poised guard with a deft handle and a true PG who runs the offense, I like where he is always looking to go with the pass and doesn’t over dribble. However, even with all of that, what really impressed me about Gilbert was his defense – he has elite lateral quickness on defense and he uses it.
Vaughn Covington (PG, 6′, 2016) Team Final – vocal point guard who is a gamer, gets into opponents’ heads and can drop big time deep shots. Has a toughness about him.
Derrick Funderburk (F, 6’9″, 2016) King James Shooting Stars – Thin but incredibly agile forward with great length. Really a prospect that should be watched – has a good handle from the PF spot and elite athleticism/size. Funderburk is committed to Ohio State and he’s going to be a big time get for them.
Lamar Stevens (PF, 6’7″, 2016) Team Final – Stevens is a physical, powerful and athletic post player who was a major factor in his team’s win over Harry Giles and CP3 during pool play. To be blunt, Stevens matched up defensively very well with Giles because he is one of the few players I’ve seen with the athleticism and size to deal with him. However, as good as Stevens looked against CP3, he was not a factor later in the day and I do wonder if he was dealing with fatigue. Stevens’ performances are exactly why I never rate guys until I’ve seen enough. I will definitely watch him multiple times this season, as his first performance looked incredible.
Henry Baddley (SF, 6’5″, 2016) King James Shooting Stars – I really love Baddley’s game because he’s a beast from the perimeter – did show an ability to drop the deep shot but he’s a physical bruiser who attacks from the wing with power.
Jordan Tucker (SF, 6’8″, 2017) NY Lightning – has a textbook jumper, and at 6’8″ his high release is extremely difficult to guard. Moves well without the ball but at least when I saw him in this tournament he seemed to struggle with consistency and wasn’t creating his own shot as much as moving to the open wing off of curls.
Carlos Johnson (G/F, 6’5″, 2016) Oakland Soldiers – power guard who bangs hard and is a bruiser at the rim. Goes up for putbacks or dunks and tries to two-hand slam everything he can. Versatile and strong.
Markus Howard (PG, 5’11”, 2017) Las Vegas Prospects – Howard fits the mold of the type of PG who rarely makes bad plays, but then as the game progresses, starts burning the defense with his deep shot and consistency. The type of guard who doesn’t miss transition layups and you can’t leave open on the perimeter.
Dylan Painter (C, 6’9″, 2016) Team Final – I had the opposite experience watching Painter as I did with his teammate Lamar Stevens. Where Stevens looked great in his early game but faded in the second, Painter struggled against CP3 but looked like a monster in his second game on the same day. Showed excellent rebounding timing and shot blocking, and one thing he did in every game I saw him was a a consistent two-hand tomahawk on the move or catch.
Elijah Pemberton (SG, 6’4″, 2016) NY Lightning – Good scorer and finisher and not the type of player to leave open on the perimeter – active on both ends and worked hard; at times when I watched the Lightning they seemed to go through periods of scoring difficulty and Pemberton was the only player who consistently attacked; can also create his own shot.
Schnider Herard (C, 6’10”, 2016) Proskills Elite – Excellent strength, size and awareness in the post. Looks like he could blow up with a good big man coach; can be sometimes taken out of the play and is a half court type center, but definitely not a big stiff and has great post size.
Michael Diggins (SF, 6’6″, 2016) Las Vegas Prospects – Diggins is slender and has eye-popping bounce and a fluid slashing ability. Needs to add strength but as he does I would expect him to rocket up in the ratings and he’s definitely the type of impact athlete for college.
Jayden Hardaway (G, 6′, 2017) Team Penny – excellent scorer and is the type of player who knows how to get his points within the team offense – kind of a silent killer, never looks like he’s forcing shots but will have 20+ points at the end of the game. Nice quick release on the move as well.
Nazeer Bostick (SG, 6’4″, 2016) Team Final – very fluid slashing wing with size and really knows how to play off of the ball in the backcourt. Collegiate size at the off guard spot and scoring.]]>
The 2015 Southeast Summer Showcase was once again loaded with high level Division I and Division II talent, including Kris Monroe (SF, 6’6″, 2018), JP Moorman (F, 6’6″, 2017) and Andrew Zauzama (PF, 6’7″, 2017). Here’s a rebroadcast of the championship game.
Home (White Jerseys)
17 Marquise Green
116 Andrew Tauzama
Away (Blue Jerseys)
53 Tay Davis
102 Kris Monroe
114 J.P. Moorman