Fab40 2017

Some scouting notes from the 2017 Fab 40 Eastern NC Regional, which invites 40 of the top unsigned players from a region to compete in front of college coaches. With over 20 college coaches in attendance and multiple media outlets, the event once again allowed those players a chance to be seen by schools who are looking to add to their rosters. With that said, here are some of my scouting notes from the event. I wasn’t able to fully scout every player since I was also involved with the game broadcasts, so I’ve only included the players I was able to make notes on in person. Video replay of the games and full rosters are also below. All schools listed by players are located in North Carolina.

Jarvez Ellis (G/F, 6’4, 2017)Village Christian – solid perimeter player with size who showed an ability to handle the ball and pass in traffic. Also showed solid deep release and good first step, able to beat defenders to the basket off of the dribble.

Emmanuel Izunabor (F/C, 6’9, 2019) Fayetteville Academy – really like the prospects of Izunabor, who has great timing on rebounds, putbacks and blocked shots. Great length and plays above the rim, and is a 2019 player who will no doubt add strength over the next two years. Izunabor is definitely a college prospect, so I’d say the next step for him is strength in order to establish rebounding position on the blocks as well as continue to improve his back-to-the-basket arsenal.

Omari Wilson (SG, 6’3, 2017) Village Christian – athletic slashing guard with an ability to play above the rim and has good timing. High level, active athlete. Showed some ability to hit from deep today as well.

China Jones (SG/SF, 6’5, 2017) Bull City Prep – big time scorer, deep shooter with high, quick, fluid release on the move. Great timing and definitely has college athleticism. Can play the 2 or 3 but looks to me to be a perfect big 2 for a college roster. Can blister teams from deep.

Liam Caswell (G, 6’4, 2018) Ocracoke HS – shifty scorer who showed an ability to finish inside repeatedly. Ability to move without the ball a plus but has good size at the guard position.

Eric Fox (F, 6’7, 2017) Apex HS – Great hands and control from Fox, who was playing at the 4 spot with Izanabor playing in the middle. Fox has good timing and can score effectively, and really took advantage of playing with another big in the lineup. Moves really well without the ball. Today looked like a stretch 4 but with continued work could fill in at the 5 and some 3 at the college level.

John Michael Wright (G, 6′, 2019) Fayetteville Academy – Quick guard who disrupted the passing lanes and showed great lateral quickness. Was able to score in transition or the halfcourt, but has a balanced game.

Samson Strickland (F, 6’6, 2017) Fike HS – Listed as a PF/C, where he would be undersized at the college level, but showed an ability to play facing the basket and really looks like he’s got the potential to be a 3. Decent footwork in the post led to several second chance points and moves well without the ball.

William Obeyni (F, 6’5, 2019) Fayetteville Academy – while I saw several forwards who showed an understanding of how to move without the ball, perhaps Obeyni was the player who I noticed the most. He did a good job of paying attention to the guards and moving to the righ spot to make himself a target and it paid off multiple times, scoring on dump offs and being in the right spot. Good hands and can finish above the rim.

Trevon Spencer (G/F, 6’3, 2019) Word of God – Despite being listed at only 6’3, Spencer had perhaps the most impressive rebounding game I saw during his first game. Extremely good timing and at times seemed to be everywhere. Athletic and active, with some good upside.

Josh Raiford (F/C 6’7, 2017) Smithfield-Selma HS – runs the pick and roll well and plays through contact in the post. Good strength.

Jimmy Sanders III (PG, 5’10, 2018) Wayne Country Day – solid ballhandler running the point and ability to get to the rim and finish against taller defenders in the lane. Puts a lot of pressure on the defense with the dribble and good end-to-end speed.

Trevor Thomas (PG, 5’10, 2019) Gray’s Creek HS – true point guard who plays heads-up and runs the offense. Good ballhandler and passer with some definite upside.

Game One Replay:

Game One Rosters:

Above The Rim (Blue)

#67 AJ Baldwin
#14 Montre Cash
#104 Jarvez Ellis
#112 Nassyr Daniels
#51 Omari Wilson
#52 Rashad Royster
#74 Shaiquan Moore
#94 Tavarus Peterson
#116 Josh Raiford
#97 China Jones

Born 2 Win (White)

#8 Devonte Petaway
#75 Cole Humphrey
#60 Liam Caswell
# 81 Deronquez Wynn
#98 John Bowen
#10 Jimmy Sanders
#92 Reggie Raynor
#80 Don Pigford
#38 Jahiri Guthrie
#89 Samson Strickland

Game Two Replay:

Game Two Rosters:

They Got Game (Blue)

#58 Jeremiah Pope
#82 D.J. Suggs
#76 Jahmari Harvey
#102 Tyree Wiggins
#103 Zaire Williams
#50 Justin Wright
#85 Xavier Boyd
#70 Jordan McNeil
#49 Messiah Barnes
#113 Marcus Richardson

Blue Chips (White)

#72 John Michael Wright
#66 Darius Spragley
#34 Malik Brooks
#64 Demetrius Jones
#115 Emmanuel Izunabor
#114 William Obeyni
#93 Eric Fox
#28 Trevor Thomas
#87 Johnathan Pearsall
#101 Trevon Spencer

Basketball Elite Salem City Slam

Salem City Slam

The Pro Team for 2016 is coming! Last year our pro team did a little jaunt through Europe and we decided to expand this year by jumping into The Basketball Tournament with a squad repping our home base in North Carolina. Although we cover national events and love basketball from coast to coast we do hail from the #HoopState. Thus, when the TBT modified the rules this year to eliminate some team names (like…’Elite’) we decided to use our headquarters in Winston-Salem as our base.

And thus – the Salem City Slam were born.

We have a strong roster – including former NBA All-Star and Wake Forest alum Josh Howard and Florida State star Mike Joyner – but we’ll need our fans’ help. And the best part? Fans get a cut of the prize money if they jump in and we do win it all.

So here’s what I need you to do: follow me on Twitter @m_shockley, to start. I am the GM of the Salem City Slam and I will be posting a lot of info as we near the time to vote and sign up as a fan. Definitely pay attention over the next two weeks!! I can’t stress this enough. We’ll be releasing our full roster soon and we really need our fans to help us by getting out on Twitter, Intagram, Facebook, Snapchat, everywhere you can to help get the word out.

Oh! And you should sign up for the Basketball Elite mailing list, so you can get updates when we send out more info, links, stuff like that:

Stay Tuned!

A quick roundup of some of our scouts Tweets this week!

Charles Clark

Charles is the point man for the Fab 40 Eastern NC Regional, which is coming up March 26!

Ian Taylor

Tony Bruton

James Blackburn

Marcus Shockley



It’s no secret that cable television is in trouble and things aren’t improving; millions of subscribers are bailing on the traditional, bundled cable television model in favor of streaming services. There’s little doubt as to why this is happening; bundled cable providers like Comcast and TimeWarner are behemoth corporations with infamously bad customer service. Their rates are continuing to rise at an exponential rate despite overall viewership and viewer satisfaction plummeting. Cable TV’s prices have grown at four times the rate of inflation, with cable subscribers getting an average of 189 channels but only watching 17 of them. Yikes.

The 17 channels-per-household number has been the same since at least 2008, when the average number of total channels was about 129. Which means exactly what it sounds like: over the past 8-10 years, Cable TV has added a whole lot of channels that most people don’t watch. So cable companies keep ratcheting up their prices at a pace that exceeds gasoline and gold (literally), their customers are getting basically the same product. If this sounds like business suicide, it is – but there’s a caveat to this, and it’s the lynch pin that makes the whole model work. Sports programming.

Most cable subscribers don’t know this, but each cable channel has a different wholesale cost – HGTV, CNN, ESPN, Al Jazeera – all charge a base per-month-per-subscriber rate. The argument that has raged for years is that consumers want to be able to buy their cable channels a-la-carte, but that option isn’t available, and it might not even work out to be cheaper in many cases. The power of cable television to networks is twofold: the monthly subscriber fees combined with the advertising revenue from the broadcasts themselves. This model has suffered as many broadcast networks have seen their advertising dollars sink as more people opt for on-demand programming or just stream other content in general, allowing them to avoid advertising, but that isn’t true for live sports.

Live sports still maintains high demand and viewer engagement; unlike a cop drama that isn’t unfolding in real time with real-life consequences, live sports has built-in viewer engagement, especially for close contests with consequences. Channel surfing during commercials is a way of life for us now, but most people aren’t going to change the channel during a commercial when their team needs a first down to stay in the playoff hunt and there’s 1 second left on the game clock. Major league sports, such as the NFL and NBA, have long ago left the days of only having some of their games broadcast. Now every single game is available to watch, somewhere. The structure of the games is actually modified based on the television broadcast, and it goes beyond media timeouts. For example, NFL games have a broadcast crew member who steps on the field during a commercial so that the referees are aware that the network feed isn’t back on the air yet. While you are at home watching a Buffalo Wild Wings or Budweiser ad pitch, the referee at the stadium is watching the broadcast rep to see when he can signal for play to get back underway. There’s nothing wrong with any of this, but it points to where the largest source of revenue for major sports comes from. Sports leagues claim that they get more revenue from ticket sales than broadcast revenue, but their actions speak otherwise. Losing teams who have trouble even getting a half-capacity crowd to their games are likely to be leaning the most heavily on the network deals, despite what they may say. TV broadcast deals are pretty much an arbitrage brokerage agreement. A broadcast network figures out how much it can sell advertising for during games, and pays the league less than that amount for the rights. The problem is, there are only so many viewers for games, and only so much decent content. Showing college football games at 10 am on a Tuesday really isn’t a viable option for several reasons, so ESPN fills this time with ‘SportsCenter’ type content.

This would all be fine, except in order to secure the broadcast rights for the most sought-after games, ESPN and other networks have had to pay higher and higher figures in an explosion of broadcast deals. A point of fact that is lost on many casual sports fans is that many lesser games aren’t profitable to broadcast (at least not with the current cable TV model and overhead), and benefits the teams more than the network. For example, broadcasting a Division III basketball game will give the competing programs some great exposure, but there’s a good chance the viewership will not be nearly high enough to justify the broadcast for a major network. So the competition for ‘high demand’ events is fierce and smaller cable networks cannot compete in any meaningful way.

This high-impact viewer engagement, combined with the steady rise of viewership for top sporting events, has created a golden goose for both sports broadcasters and cable television providers, but they don’t share the same benefits and they are not in complete collusion about profiting from it.

Cable providers love the fact that viewers can’t really get live sports – at least not the live sports they want – consistently from anywhere except cable TV. This includes online streaming, because viewers who can legally and easily stream games like the NBA playoffs are able to do so through ESPN, not a third party, and those viewers are already paying for that service. This means that viewers who want sports will buy the whole cable package…which is convenient for cable companies, because sports viewers may not have wanted to buy anything but sports and they have to pay for the rest of the channels as well. However, the real kicker is the viewers who don’t watch sports. They are subsidizing the sports fans because they get hit with the same package deal. Neither group of viewers wins…but the cable company sure does. I suppose it could be argued that viewers are getting a lower price overall with bundling, but it is a specious argument: those viewers would probably be willing to pay more per channel, for less channels, if their overall bill was much lower. The closest solution cable companies have offered for this is not a solution at all- adding another ‘package’ to your existing package for more localized sports, such as the Pac-10 or Big East. This has actually made it more difficult for new sports networks to get footing, even when backed by major players like NBC. Universal Sports Network was shuttered earlier this year after it struggled to climb off of the lower-tier sports cable packages. The fees for sports channels dwarfs the non-sports channels, but we’ll get into that in just a few minutes. For viewers who don’t want sports at all, there are no viable options other that just accepting fewer overall channels and dropping cable for Hulu, NetFlix and HBO Go (which they are doing, in droves).

The successful sports broadcasters – like ESPN – are the ones who benefit the most from bundling; millions of cable TV subscribers, combined with content that locks in many of those subscribers creates a scenario where the cable sports networks can ramp up their monthly per-subscriber fees. And, to no surprise, they have. The demand for the last bastion of engaged ad viewers has created a bidding war between ESPN, TNT and the other sports networks. In order to pay for those big deals, ESPN and the other networks have demanded bigger subscriber fees from the cable networks. Those fees get passed right down to the viewers. Let’s put this in perspective to explain how wide the gap is between sports programming and other cable programming fees.

In recent reports, ESPN charges between $6.04 and $6.50 per subscriber to cable companies; by comparison, HGTV only costs a mere $.17 cents per month. While it may seem we’re talking dollars and pennies here, it must be pointed out that those $6+ fees are not just coming from sports fans, but every single subscriber. Without the cable bundling packages, ESPN would have to charge significantly more per month to cover their broadcast deals and operating costs. Financial analyst Leo Hindery recently stated that sports programming packages could continue to balloon to the $40 per month range. Another key Wall Street analyst estimates that ESPN would have to charge $36 alone just to pay for the current costs. That’s not even remotely viable in a world where NetFlix costs $10 a month and NBA League Pass is about $200 per year.

It isn’t mere speculation about the potential of subscribers defecting en masse from cable companies, hitting ESPN right in their revenue projections. It was recently reported that 7 million subscribers have dropped in the past two years. At $6 per subscriber, that’s $420 million gone annually from the company that makes up 25% of Disney’s overall business. When this came to light, Disney’s stock took a major hit.

From a company that built its fortune in splash hires and press buzz, they immediately made some sweeping changes that would be deemed as “PR Kryptonite”, including wide scale layoffs and jettisoning some of their highly paid on-air talent. Despite all of the normal press release bingo that comes along with these changes, the real story is that ESPN is cutting expenses – hard. This, while at the same time claiming all is well in the world, and growth is going to continue unabated. Disney CEO Bob Iger stated that the company is “very bullish about ESPN” despite all of the behind-the-scenes scrambling to slash costs. It is likely that Disney and ESPN will show improved profitability in the 3rd or 4th quarters because of this, and this is entirely intended to bolster the stock price and soothe investor concerns. However, cutting costs in the short term is not the long term solution. The reality is that the deals for sports programming may be outpacing the market in a way that will create havoc in a few years; the massive deals that seem to have no ceiling may very well be finding their peak.

What would this mean for sports fans? Well, probably more options, but it would mean paying more attention to which networks or streaming services are carrying the games you want. There’s also the reality that the entire major league sports industry – from franchise fees to collective bargaining agreements – was built on the idea that sports would continue to see ever-increasing broadcast deals. If those deals suddenly are replaced by much smaller fiscal agreements, you’ll see much lower salaries for the players, lower ticket fees, and more broadcast partners all around. I don’t want to speculate too much, but such an event may well open the door for more than one pro league in the various major sports. However, that’s a topic for another day.

For now, it’s important to understand that cable sports – and the sports entertainment industry as it exists today – may be due for a radical shake up in the near future. ESPN continues to ink bigger and bigger deals, the most recent for $1.4 billion being about 3 times the size of their previous deal. So considering the fact that they lost a half-billion in annual revenue while at the same time adding another full billion in expenses means they might need for Disney to have more than pretend fairy-dust to make it all work. All of this explains why you’ve suddenly seen ESPN and other networks so eager to jump into ad deals with DraftKings and FanDuel, which are technically gambling and they wanted no part of prior to this year.

So that’s a truncated explanation with quite a bit left out for later. Coming this week, I’ll have more information on something else – a minor sports league that actually has a viable business model. I know, you guys are familiar with me ripping apart the financials of leagues like the Amerileague or the ABA, so you’ll want to drop in for this one.

Marcus Shockley is the creator, along with a band of talented (but possibly misguided) misfits, of, the Southeast Summer Showcase, NetCast Sports Network and has scouted and written about basketball for longer than any person should openly admit. You can follow his rantings on sports, life and acceptable flavors of ice cream on Twitter @m_shockley

Cape Fear Christian vs. Word of God 2016

Location: Gore Arena, Campbell University
Teams: Word of God (Raleigh, NC), Cape Fear Christian Academy (Erwin, NC)

Tonight’s game between CFCA and Word of God was really a tale of two halves (I know, I know, high school ball has periods, not halves), with Cape Fear’s zone and fast break causing havok and building a big lead over Word of God early on, but Word of God finding their shooting touch and blistering the nets after halftime to secure the win.

Cape Fear’s backcourt duo of Michael Melvin and Quentin Jackson, Jr. repeatedly broke the press and capitalized in transition, with guard Zach Boggs hitting several deep shots from the corner to help pile on, finishing the first period with a 10 point lead. However, Word of God chipped away at the lead in the second period, tying the game, and in the second half, they moved the ball much better, added better motion from the wings and cutters and started hitting their deep shot. Word of God was able to take control of the game early in the third period and never looked back. Below are some of my scouting notes from the game.

Word of God

Brandon Hoffman (C, 6’9″, 2017) – A developing big who showed good hands under the basket, catching close range drop off passes from the guards and getting two handed dunks as putbacks. Nimble feet and has some length, upside. Needs strength to bang for rebounds more effectively and allowed his post defender to front him far too much. However, definitely a college prospect and a mobile big man.

Jaylen Fornes (SG, 6’3″, 2016) A strong guard who moves very well off of the ball and finds gaps in the defense for half court sets. Plays with some understated swagger. I’ve seen Fornes multiple times and he seems to pick up his contribution as the game progresses, which leads me to think that he first takes time to figure out the other team’s patterns before he starts attacking. Fornes is committed to UNC Wilmington, who had two coaches in attendance tonight.

Jalen Harris (PG, 6’1″, 2016) I’ve been a fan of Harris for several years now and although he still has a slender frame, he has elite quickness and a deft handle. His crossover with the ball is one of, if not the best, in high school right now. He does have an ability to hit the mid range shot and floater, and can use his deadly first step to create space between himself and a defender for the shot. He will need to add strength at the college level, but I believe that will happen. My biggest concerns with Harris continue to be whether or not he is assertive enough when he needs to be.

Blake Harris (PG, 6’3″, 2017) Harris is a good passing guard with a nice floater he can use in traffic. I think he still shows the ball a bit too much with his dribble, but he does patiently pick though the defense in the half court, something I’ve seen him do on multiple occasions, and doesn’t make bad decisions with the ball. Plays well off the ball.

Rawle Alkins (SG/SF, 6’5″, 2016) First time I’ve gotten a chance to catch Alkins. Has good strength for the wing and versatility; showed an ability to weave into traffic and finish with contact.

Cape Fear

Michael Melvin (PG, 6′, 2016) Deft handle and excellent elusiveness with the ball; can beat the press or double team often with the dribble. Has an excellent scoop shot finish that he uses over taller players. He’s an extremely hard player to stay in front of as a defender. I’ve seen Melvin quite a bit and always have always been a fan of his sure handed ability to face pressure; the biggest concern I’ve seen with him is his ability to pass around/over taller defenders. He’s definitely a college prospect but it’s something he’ll have to account for at higher levels.

Quentin Jackson Jr. (SG, 6’4″, 2016) Athletic guard with a high octane motor and some good explosiveness. Offensively, he’s strongest when slashing or in transition; he does need to work a bit on shot selection and passing decisions. I like his timing (had a couple of excellent blocks) but I know his college coaches will expect more defensive consistency overall. Committed to Charlotte.

Ivor Baric (SF, 6’9″, 2016) Croation-born Baric has good hands and plays hard; a decent rebounder and has a nice release from the elbow. Got into foul trouble in the first half even with a couple of nice blocked shots.

Noah Cummings (C, 6’11”, 2016) Soft touch around the rim and good hands, Cummings is a pure post player but conditioning will be an issue. Does a good job of defending in the post without fouling; has a body frame that could pack on muscle and be a banger, but is much more of a half court-set player.

I could have titled this article “I don’t give a damn about your shoes”, because it would effectively have the same meaning, but I wanted to approach this subject more subjectively and how it relates to my philosophy for Basketball Elite, why we scout the way we do and how we go about attending events. And no, I’m not talking about Sneakerheads, I just don’t care which shoe company sponsors a kid’s AAU team.

I’m not a “Nike” guy or an “Adidas” guy or even an “Under Armour” guy. I honestly couldn’t care less. I don’t care if a guy plays for a big name private school live on ESPN or for a 1-A public high school in Arkansas. I am not enamoured by hype. I don’t care if a kid has been offered by UNC, Kentucky and Duke. I don’t care if a kid is a future NBA lock or if he’s ‘ranked’. I’m not looking for a meal ticket or payout (I make my own rain, thanks) and I sure don’t care if so-and-so knows so-and-so and that’s why this kid won’t play in this tournament or for that AAU team.

When I first started scouting players it wasn’t to help kids get into college or to help NBA teams find that underrated power forward they needed to make a playoff run. I was just fascinated with the idea of watching players and trying to figure out how good they might be, and then tracking those players throughout their careers. Long before Basketball Elite existed (or even the Internet), I travelled to watch guys like Jason Kidd in high school (he was only a year younger than I was) just because I heard he was a lock to be an NBA player and I wanted to see what guys who were that good in high school actually played like. I would scout players, make my estimates on their potential, and then being a technical guy I built a database to track them and track their ratings over time to see how accurate I could get.

I did that on my own for many years; I did work with the NBA for a time through a third party in the late 90’s and the league gave me (through the company, of course) some cushy seats right at half court, right behind the announcers for a ton of games and even gave me tickets to an All-Star game. I’ve watched thousands of games, scouted thousands of players – literally, thousands – from tiny high school gyms to huge NBA arenas, from a folding chair at courtside to blurry video online. I was sitting behind John Wooden and Morgan Wooten in Madison Square Garden for a McDonald’s All American game where J.J. Redick scorched the nets and I was sitting next to Tim Duncan in a small high school gym when he was an unknown college freshman at a secret pick up game between a bunch of ACC players (I remember Cherokee Parks being a killer deep shooter that day). When I was young I played street ball in the roughest, meanest courts in the nation – after all, that’s the best place to play if you are a hardcore hooper – and so going to hidden gyms in back alleys to scout players certainly never fazed me. Someone told me I was mentioned by name as a street hooper in a documentary about New York’s playground, and honestly, I don’t know if they were talking about me or not. It was a long time ago. But I did play on all of those courts at one time or another in my youth, before my busted knee told me to quit. I think I drove all over most of the East Coast, South and some of the Southwest with a basketball in my back seat. New York ballers are no joke, Chicago is brutal, L.A. guys get after it and Oklahoma was just too damn hot in the summer. But when kids tell me they sleep with a basketball under one arm, I know where they are coming from.

It wasn’t until some news I privately shared with a friend about a Kentucky recruit made it into a Lexington paper that I started posting my own reports, simply because I was worried that someone would attribute some rumour to me incorrectly, which in hindsight was probably not really a big concern. But the result was that once I was publishing, college coaches started seeking me out from time to time, and eventually that led to me to expand to, where I just write up a ton of the players I watch and scout.

Okay, so what’s the point of explaining all of this? Well, when I went to watch Jason Kidd in high school I was blown away with how good he was. Believe it or not, Kidd was an explosive guard in high school. The guy most people know now as a slow set shooter with gifted passing ability had a monster two handed breakaway dunk in the first game I ever saw him. I knew he could play, and soon he wrapped up his college career after two years at Cal and went on to be one of the best point guards of all time. But I never paid any attention to which brand of shoes he was wearing and I didn’t even know if he played AAU.

Today, the landscape has changed a lot; there are mixtapes of players that can get tens of thousands of views and hundreds, if not thousands, of websites dedicated to recruiting. I don’t knock that. But along with that has come money flooding into grassroots basketball, ‘agents’ who work to move players around (and get a cut of a paycheck somewhere) and NCAA that runs a pro sports league where the only people not getting paid are the players. Twitter is loaded with fans who follow high school kids and hang on their every word looking for clues as to where they will go to college. But most of those kids will never be more famous than they are in high school, because most of them will just become average to good college players and the fan base will be salivating over the next wave of ‘can’t miss’ recruits.

Social media is rife with self-aggrandizing talk, praise for players who haven’t played a single college game, rankings of middle schoolers, chest pounding of AAU coaches over who dominates a made up league. I call a lot of the noise surrounding recruiting ‘pretty bullets’ – ammunition that is designed to look good but does nothing. If you were in a war, would you care if the bullets you used looked slicker than your enemy’s but never worked? Pretty bullets are like a fashion model dressed up to look like an MMA fighter – photogenic but you wouldn’t want most fashion models to be your bodyguard in a dark alley at 2 am.

Over the years I’ve scouted players and gotten praise for some of my reports while also getting slammed. I’ve written that some players were Division II only to get nasty texts and emails about how I was an idiot because that player was getting Division I offers. Of course I, like anyone, can be wrong, but it’s rare that I don’t see that same player transferring a year later because he was never going to get court time at that Division I team. I am careful when writing about high school players, because I would never be as harsh writing about a 16 year old as I would be when scouting an adult college or pro player. But I also am not in the hype business. I don’t care about rankings, because rankings don’t get scholarships and hype never put anyone in the NBA. Nope. Anyone who tells you that is making money off of hype. Just check.

Some hard facts here:

– Even the best high school player on most teams isn’t good enough to play in college.

– Playing AAU will not automatically get you a scholarship.

– There is more scholarship money available to Division III players, on average, than Division I or Division II. More coming on this in another article, and yes, I am aware that Division III does not offer athletic scholarships. Did you not read my bio above? I’m pretty immersed in this life.

– Nobody ever got a scholarship because they were ranked. Don’t email me about this. I have seen players who have a dozen solid scouts who love their game, write about those players and tell coaches and still the player barely gets attention. Coaches aren’t looking at rankings and offering players blindly.

– Adults who advise players on their ‘player brand’ are only out for themselves.

– Some private schools are great. Many just put a bunch of Division I level athletes on one team and win a bunch of games with athleticism, then claim credit as though they took a bunch of talentless waterboys and turned them into all-stars. Again, there are some solid programs out there but that’s not always the case.

– College coaches aren’t looking at a players’ box score in the paper. And box scores rarely show things like assists or steals. And any local newspaper sports editor will tell you that some high school coaches only call in box scores when they win, not when they lose.

I get texts every single day from a few competing AAU coaches complaining about each other and calling each other ‘dirty’. Every. Single. Day. Yes, I have thought about just forwarding their texts to each other.

I don’t care about their politics. I will watch any player, anywhere. I’ve had players who wanted to come to my Summer Showcase but were then told not to come by their coach because I wrote something unflattering about one of their other players. I don’t care. I’m not in the ‘pretty bullet’ business, and you shouldn’t be either.

Don’t buy pretty bullets. We don’t sell them here, and if I write something about your game, it’s not because I am trying to promote my ‘own players’ because I don’t have my own players. I don’t have an AAU team and I am not getting grassroots money. I have NO REASON to write anything about anyone except that it is my observation.

AAU season, here I come. See you in the gym.

Mars Blackmon

“Yo, Mike, I got those shoes but I still never made an All-Star game. What gives?”

US Elite Hoops Showcase 2014

By Marcus Shockley

I had a chance to drop by the US Elite Hoops Showcase held at Gaston Day School last week and was able to see several solid prospects and catch up with a few players who I hadn’t seen in a few months. I recommend the events organized by US Elite Hoops and be sure to follow them on twitter @USELITEHOOPS so you can keep up with their future events.

Trevor Anderson (PG, 6’1″, 2015) Gaston Day School – Anderson is one of, if not the, fastest guard end-to-end with the ball in the state of NC, comparable only to Derek McKnight, another Gaston Day guard. Anderson is a strong, high motor player; one of the first things I noticed when watching him play a couple of years ago was his ability to play through contact. At last Spring’s NC Top 80, Anderson was one of only a handful of players who seemed to go harder and faster as the games wore on, while other players started feeling fatigue. The knock on Anderson is that coaches see him as a ‘score first’ guard, but he’s dedicating himself this year to work on every aspect of the point guard position; he knows he can score but he also understands he needs to get his team involved. I see Anderson as a definite Division I level guard who is under recruited at this point; he can break the press with the dribble, shoot from deep and already has the physical strength to play the college guard position. We’ll be broadcasting Gaston Day this season as they host powerful rival Northside Christian on January 16, so be sure to tune in to watch the matchups.

Michael Baez (G/F, 6’5, 2015) Charlotte United – Baez continues to show high-octane game and has an ability to take over any game he’s in. Quite frankly, Baez should be considered one of the top natural unsigned talents in the class; He has a high, quick, deep release that is extremely hard to defend; he can bring the ball up and slash to the hoop, with an array of quick moves to finish in traffic; he likes to play way, way above the rim and is an explosive dunker. The knock on Baez in the past has been his consistency, but in this event he got into the flow quickly and didn’t let up. As I’ve said before, when he’s locked in, he will flat-out light up the opposition. Baez continues to be one of my top sleepers for his class.

Chris Price (G, 6’3″, 2015) West Mecklenburg HS – Price is a versatile player who does a lot of things coaches like; most notably, he plays defense. Had at least 5 open court steals and has good length and foot speed to guard the 2 spot effectively. He also hit over 60% of the 3 pointers he shot while I was watching his games and had multiple assists. Good size and is now back 100% from an injury that had limited his play this past summer.

Aiden Richard (PF/C, 6’11”, 2015) Gaston Day School – Richard is a true big with excellent hands, nimble feet and an array of offensive post moves. It’s become a mantra that big men at every level would be more effective if they could just develop a go-to move and a counter-move. However, Richard has far more than two moves; during today’s event, he was pretty much impossible to guard as he got off shots in a dizzying array of deft moves. He also had several open court dunks off of alley-oops from breaking guards. Will need to add strength to move his game to college, and show consistent aggressive play, but he’s made huge strides in his game over the past year and he’s another player who I think coaches should be watching during the January 16 broadcast on NetCast Sports against Northside Christian.

Isaiah Lowe (PG, 5’11”, 2015) Kennedy Charter – Lowe is a guard who completely understands the game; he knows where he is supposed to be at all times. When the ball moves around the perimeter, he knows when to slide down into the deep corner or move out; he can run the team and plays eyes-up, and has the ability to break the press with the dribble. Passes players open in the half court and can push the ball on the break. Makes great decisions with the ball. Made several smart defensive plays where his angles and footwork made the difference.

CJ Miller (SF, 6’5″, 2015) Kennedy Charter – big time athlete with a great first step and explosive finisher. While many high flyers need the open court to show off their skills, Miller is extremely effective in the half court, and he can get explosive plays whether he’s slashing with the ball or moving without it. One of the best slashers I’ve seen in the half court this year, he has the ability to get a step on his man and finish so effortlessly and above the rim it’s hard for the big man to rotate over in time to defend him without fouling. He also knows that he doesn’t have to dunk everything to get the job done, but make no mistake, he’s a rim-rocker when he gets the chance.

Lucas Johnson (SF, 6’5, 2015) Kennedy Charter – great passer from the 3 spot, good size, excellent slasher. One of those rare players who have great ability to find teammates from the small forward position while also being a danger to slash and score at any time. Can shoot from deep as well, which makes defenders have to make tough choices on how to guard him.

Jordan Ruth (G/F, 6’5″, 2016) Comenius School – Ruth is another explosive above-the-rim player who has great strength and size for the wing spot. One thing I’ve liked about his game is he makes an impact all over the floor from the moment he steps into the game, whether it’s grabbing loose balls or finding open teammates with the pass. Definitely a versatile player who just ‘gets’ team basketball in a way that makes his team better. He can score, he can dunk, but he always looks for the best play for his team over his own highlight film. And the best part is, he gets his highlights anyway.

Cameron Holmes (G, 6’3″, 2016) Nations Ford HS – Excellent passer in the transition game; always seemed to make the right pass or play at full speed. Long guard who has good bounce and some upside. Quick first step and poise, definitely a player who looks like he could make big strides this year during the high school season.

Alex Van Dyke (SF/PF, 6’8″, 2015) Union Grove HS (WI) – Van Dyke has a great build and plays way above the rim – plays high school ball in Wisconsin but is looking to go to school in North Carolina. I love Van Dyke’s natural ability and his fluid game. He already has the look of a college small forward and has excellent size and athleticism. An inspiring person who was diagnosed with childhood cancer (leukemia acute lymphocytic), he beat the disease and made a full recovery and is now looking to make his mark on the court. I think the upside on Van Dyke is tremendous. Right now he is still working on being more proactive as opposed to reactionary, but there is so much natural ability to his game I can’t wait to see his progression. I’d really want to see him become really aggressive with the slash or shot when playing against bigger defenders because of his quickness and athleticism. I think he could be a real match up nightmare at the 3 in time. Definitely a player I want to see multiple times.

Ryder Mansfield (PF/C, 6’7″, 2015) Charlotte United – A hard working post player who doesn’t shy away from contact and showed a couple of nifty post moves. Good hands, seals in the post and defends. Runs the floor and makes himself a target for the guards, and boxes out for the rebound every time. Doesn’t get knocked off the blocks easily.

Josh Nork (G, 6′, 2016) York Prep – Hard nosed player with a high motor; good at finding space in transition and making himself a target. Had to play off of the ball due to the abundance of guards in the game but even slid down to the 3 when needed. Moves well without the ball and another solid player who understands how to play in the team concept.

Trevonte Diggs (G, 6’3″, 2015) Charlotte United – Diggs is a player I meant to add to my report from the CIBL fall league, and in this event I quickly remembered why. A high flying guard with great strength who can play with anybody in the state, Diggs gets the job done by moving without the ball, slashing with the dribble and can bring down the house with posterizing dunks when he gets a step on the defender. Plays above the rim and another under recruited player who should be getting looks; definitely has college athleticism but has a well rounded game on both ends. Really like how he plays off of the ball – so many guards need to have the ball in their hands to make something happen, but Diggs is a player who can make his impact even when cutting or setting picks.

Keeshon Phillips (PG, 5’9″, 2017) East Mecklenburg HS – A deft ballhandler with some flash, Phillips can work over a defense with the dribble or the pass. A crafty, elusive guard who rarely turns the ball over and has a rock solid handle.

Jonathon Paramoure (G, 5’10”, 2015) Charlotte United Christian Academy – Paramoure is a player who can scorch the deep shot and should be considered a combo guard at this point. He has good strength and speed and can create his own shot, whether with the dribble or moving without the ball.

Marcus Shockley is a member of the US Basketball Writers Association and scouts high school, college and pro players for multiple outlets. You can get latest scouting notes by following him on Twitter @M_Shockley