Monday, June 27, 2016

UA Next Combine Series Southwest Recap

Hampton, Peavy, Fatheree, Flores & Bush

The southwest edition of the UA Next Combine Series rolled into Houston, Texas on Saturday and as has been the case in the 4 previous sessions there was an abundance of talent.  This event was held at South Houston High School in South Houston and attracted 42 players from 6 states including: Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Iowa, Delaware and Arkansas.  The best player we saw all day was R.J. Hampton (6’3’/PG/2020/Little Elm, TX) who was clearly in a class by himself.  Hampton all ready has D-I size at the PG position, but what really sets him apart is his skill set, fluidity and athleticism.  Oh that’s not all, Hampton is a multi-level scorer who can create space for his own shot or make a play for a teammate.  Hampton is supremely confident and his game reflects that.  In fact, he was overheard several times proclaiming that scoring was “too easy,” and it was with his high IQ and ability to get to the rim at will.  If I’m a college coach, Hampton is on my recruiting board right now and an offer is not far away! We were also super impressed with Micah Peavy (6’4”/combo guard/2020/Cibolo, TX).  Peavy is an explosive athlete who excels at slashing to the basket. Although driving to the cup and a nifty spin move were his go to weapons, Peavy has the ability to create his own jump shot out to 19 feet. What’s most impressive is Peavy’s energy level, both offensively and defensively.  Peavy’s motor is elite and his on-ball defense is a problem for his opponents. We look for Peavy to be playing D-I basketball in a few years.

Although the UA Next Combines are designed for 8th graders, an occasional 7th grader will find their way into the events. Ruben Fatheree (6’8”/C/2021/Richmond, TX) is only a 7th grader (only 13), but you would not have known that based on his level of play on Saturday.  Fatheree, a big space eater, started slowly, but by the time the event concluded he had earned a lot of new fans. Besides his big frame, Fatheree does several nice things and displayed a lot of upside potential. The best part of his game right now is his willingness to set up on the low block, demand the ball and do the dirty work required by a big.  Fatheree also does not mind physical play; he has a soft touch and the ability and to finish with contact.  He’s also an excellent passer for a kid his size and does a great job with outleting the ball for easy transition buckets.  Also, we were most impressed with Fatheree’s ability to make bonce passes in the lane to cutting players. Once he develops his footwork and adds some post moves, Fateree is going to be a problem!  Look for Fatheree to get early D-I looks from local programs.  Braelon Bush (5’6”/PG/2020/TX) was one of the smallest players at the event, but he was also one of the best players at the event.  Despite his diminutive size, Bush is unafraid to attack the cup where he finishes more often than not. Bush is super quick, fast, and has an elite skill set that includes a tight and creative handle and the ability to change speeds and direction on a dime.  Despite his size, Bush is explosive and able to finish in traffic.  He can also knock down treys and he works well in screen and roll situations.  If Bush gets a few more inches, watch out! 

In terms of talented 7th graders at the event (there were 3 of them), Jakoby Flores (5’4”/PG/2021/Pasadena, TX) fits that description.  Flores is small and does not necessarily pass the look test, but his game passes the “baller” test.  Flores is a highly skilled floor general who is equally good at either scoring or play-making. He’s at his best delivering pinpoint passes that lead to open shots.  He’s smart, poised; takes good care of the rock, and is tough as nails.  We can’t tell where he projects right now, but college basketball at some level should be in his future. The other 7th grader at the event was Duncan Powell (6’5”/WF/2021/Murphy, TX), who we initial thought was an 8th grader, but once we figured he was only in the class of 2021, his stock went way up.  Powell showed us some flashes of talent. Specifically, Powell is big, but handles the rock well for his size. Powell is good in transition, is active defensively and can protect the rim. Bottom line, Powell’s size and strong frame are impressive for his age. Corey Smooth (6’0”/PG/2020/Slidell, LA) caught our eye with his elite motor and play-making ability. The dynamic lead guard is extremely active on both ends of the floor and he has a great feel for the game and nose for the ball.  Smooth always seemed to be in the right position to make a play.  In addition, he plays with good pace and confidence, is good at driving and dishing and he understands how to maintain his dribble as he probes the defense for seams.  Miles Goodman (6’1”/Combo guard/Sugarland, TX) has a chance to be real good. An elite skill set coupled with deceptive athleticism makes Goodman a serious threat to score the ball.  Not only can he get to and finish near the rim, Goodman can hit you with the 3-ball if left open.  He’s also poised, can finish with either hand and is super smooth.  Goodman is a definite college prospect going forward. 

Brent Royal Jr. (6’3”/combo guard/2020/Saint Rose, LA) was another good-looking prospect. With good size for his position as only an 8th grader, Royal has a chance.  Royal’s strength, athleticism and solid frame allows Royal to muscle his way to the cup.  A drive and dish threat, Royal’s ability to hit the one dribble pull-up is a nice contrast. Jacoby Brown (6’0/PG/2020/Pearland, TX) caught our attention early dribble moves and play-making ability.  Brown is crafty, shoots well off the bounce, has a nice floater game and understands how to work the pick and roll. In terms of long-term potential, Xavier Foster (6’8”/C/2020/Oskaloosa/ IA) has as much as any player at the event.  Foster is long, lean with long wingspan and already has high-major length.  Because he still needs to put a lot of weight on his frame, Foster is not a post up guy and struggles holding his spot. However, he runs the floor well and can put the rock on the floor and advance the ball in transition. We would not be surprised to see Foster playing in the Big Ten one day. Austin Lewis (6’8”/WF/2020/Frisco, TX) is one to watch going forward.  Already possessing great size for an 8th grader, Lewis is a big time prospect. Like most 8th graders he will need to add strength and fill out his thin frame, but Lewis should be tracked by college coaches. Derek Luna (6’0”/PG/2020/Mission, TX) did a few nice things as well with his ability to create his own shot off the bounce and to hit contested threes.  In fact, Lewis knocked down multiple treys in a game we watched. Some of the other standouts we saw included: Byron Joshua (5’7”/PG/2020/ New Orleans, LA), Rasheed Holmes (5’8”/PG/2020/Westwego, LA), Khalen Robinson (5’1“/PG/2020/Little Rock, AR), Elijah Tate (5’11”/PG/2020/Baton Rough, LA), Treylon Payne (6’0”/combo guard/2020/Little Rock, LA), Cameron Clardy (5’11”/PG/2020/Katy, TX) and Anthony Scott (5’9”/PG/2020/Waco, TX).

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Summer Showdown Crown Champions

NEO Shooting Stars-8th Grade Champions
Malcolm Walters’ 2nd ranked NEO Shooting Stars squad may have stumbled in pool play of the Buckeye Prep Summer Showdown on Saturday with an upset loss to the #8th ranked Ohio Bulldogs (58-52), but on Sunday, the Cleveland-based team went on a run that did not end until they had claimed the championship with a 49-41 win over the Rebels.  NEO’s trek to the title included wins over Miller Factory and a very scrappy and Mark Wise-led R4L in the semi-finals.  Playing well for Walters’ team was Grant Huffman who was tied as the leading scorer with 9 points. Isaiah Kennedy finished with 9 points followed by Darion Henry who added 8 points. It’s important to note that Darion Henry’s weekend-long performance garnered him MVP honors. For the weekend, Devontae Blanton was a monster starting with the opening game when dominated to the tune of 17 points.  The Rebels have had a fantastic spring and summer, which has included numerous tournament titles, many of which can be attributed to the outstanding play of Garvin Clarke and Nick Ferguson. This past weekend, the Rebels were rolling with a bolstered roster that included John Hugley and Montori Foster Jr., both of whom made big time contributions.  In the championship game, Garvin Clarke led all scores with a game-high 12 points, followed by Foster who finished with 10 markers.

The states of Ohio and Michigan have been fierce competitors for many years on the college gridiron; however, on Sunday, the 2 states battled it out for hardwood bragging rights.  Chalk this one up to “the state up north,” as Keon Henderson’s Detroit Doughboys claimed the 7th grade championship with a close 47-46 win over Marty Finta’s All-Ohio Red squad.  This game was close from the opening tip with both teams playing with depleted rosters.    At the end of the day, the dynamic duo of Pierre Brooks and Keon Henderson proved to be too much for All-Ohio, as the pair led their team in scoring with 15 and 13 points, respectively.  Leading the way for All-Ohio were Alex Williams and Isaiah May, both of whom finished with 11 points.  Behind them were Wil Sizer (10 points) and Brent Walker (9 points).
Scoring Leaders: Huffman, Clarke, Brooks, May, McMillan, Bridges & Roberts
We wish we could report that the 6th grade championship game was a nail bitter that took 3 over times to complete, but that was not the case, as Paul McMillian’s #3 ranked All-Ohio Red squad totally dominated the #8th ranked Lima Gators 52-16.  Although the Gators made a nice run and improved their reputation with their play this past weekend, they had no answer for Paul McMillian IV who exploded for a game-high 16 points.  The only player to finish in double digits, McMillian was unstoppable to the rim.  Too big, too strong and too crafty best described McMillian’s play on Sunday. 

The 5th grade championship game proved to be another blowout, as Drew Lavender’s #2 ranked All-Ohio team had little trouble getting by a scrappy and #7th ranked MVP Dynasty 58-25. In the end, All-Ohio’s defensive pressure was just too much for the Dayton-based Dynasty to handle. All-Ohio enjoyed balanced scoring, with 3 players finishing with double digits. Davion Bridges led all scorers with 13 points, followed by Bedi Lori and Jade Cunningham who both finished with 12 points.  The lone bright spot for MVP Dynasty was Dre’sean Roberts who finished with a game-high 15 points.  Although small in numbers, by most accounts, to 2016 Summer Showdown was a complete success, and will continue to grow over the next few years.  Also, based on what we saw this past weekend, a number of players raised their stock and will be able to take advantage of some upcoming opportunities to develop their games and increase their exposure!  Congratulations to all of the teams that participated in this year’s event.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sumer Showdown Day I Recap

Blanton, Clarke, Magwood, Wise & Yates
Although the numbers were low (by design), the talent level at the Buckeye Prep Summer Showdown was elite. With a majority of the field representing ranked teams and tournament champions, the anticipation for the event was at a high level. The story line of the day involved the upset of #2 ranked NEO Shooting Stars at the hands of the #8th ranked Ohio Bulldogs 58-52.  As they did in 2 earlier games, NEO dug themselves a hole.  This time NEO could not fight back, as the 1-1 Bulldogs, on the strength of excellent guard play from Quan Magwood (5’9”/PG/Columbus/2020) held on to claim the victory.  Magwood played with poise, broke down his defender and made plays for his teammates.  Basically, the dynamic guard was unguardable. Also logging in big time performances were Marcus Johnson (6’2”/WF/Columbus/2020) and Von Cameron Davis (6’2”/PF/Columbus/2020).  Johnson displayed athleticism and the ability to finish consistently at the rim, while Davis has good touch around the basket, finished well and showed signs of face up game.  Also putting in work for the Bulldogs was CJ Anthony (5’10”/SG/Columbus/2020) who excels at scoring the ball, played with poise and has a high motor and Basketball IQ.

In their opening game, NEO Shooting came back against the MVP Dynasty on the strength of a big time performance by Devante Blanton (6’5”/WF/2020/Nordonia) to the tune of 21 points.  Blanton has always been big, but now he’s big and skilled.  Blanton’s size, strength, athleticism and ball skills make him a huge match-up problem.  Because Blanton is a multi-level scorer, he can put up big numbers at any time, as evidenced by his 17-point outburst in the opening game.  Other standout performers for NEO were Grant Huffman (6’2”/SG/2020/Aurora) and Darion Henry (6’5”/PF/2020/Cincinnati). The Rebels finished 2-1 on Saturday and enjoyed solid play from Garvin Clarke (5’9”/PG/Euclid/2020) and Nick Ferguson (6’3”/C/2020/Shaker Heights).  Clarke’s motor and elite skill set at the PG spot makes this team a tough out.  Clarke was easily one of the top 2-3 floor generals in the gym.  Big Nick Ferguson doesn’t jump out of the gym, but he’s a force in the paint in terms of rebounding and finishing shots.  He’s not just a low post scorer; Ferguson consistently stepped out side and drained treys.  In fact, in one game we watched, Ferguson knocked down 4 3-balls. Perhaps his best quality is his IQ and ability to make played down the stretch. Montori Foster Jr. (6’0”/SG/2020/Cleveland) was a pick up for the weekend and paid immediate dividends with his toughness and ability to score the ball.  John Hugley (6’6”/C/2020/Cleveland) arrived to the event late, but went right to work when he got here. Hugley is a big body with good footwork, good hands and a soft touch around the basket.  As his skill level increases, Hugely's stock will soar.  

Walker, Pryor, Abuhamdeh, Henderson & Perie
We were also really impressed with Willieon Yates (5’7”/PG/2020/Dayton), whose quickness; handle, vision and passing skills solidified him as one of the top 3 PGs at the event.  Yates is a pass-first floor general who understands the game and how to create scoring opportunities for his teammates.  Larry Stephens III (5’11”/SG/2020/Springfield) attacks the basket, finishes at a high clip and can shoot it from the perimeter.  R4L was not really on our radar when they arrived, but by the end of day I the Cincinnati-based squad had gained our respect.  Mark Wise (6’1”/combo guard/2020/Cincinnati) is a big part of this team's success. Wise is strong to the basket and finishes at a high rate.  Although he’s at his best using his strong frame and athleticism slashing to the basket, he can knock perimeter shots when left open.  We plan to keep an eye on Nic Smith (6’5”/PF/C/2020/Cincinnati) and Jaheim Thomas (6’5”/PF/C/2020/Cincinnati).  We’ve seen Nic Smith play well in prior events, but Thomas is worth tracking going forward.

There was a lot of talent in the 7th grade division as well with guys like: Brent Walker (6’5”/C/2021/Huber Heights), Alex Williams (5’11”/PG/2021/Xenia), Isaiah May (6’1”/SG/Williamson, WVA), Tae Perie (5’6”/PG/2021/Akron), Randy Harris (6’2”/C/2021/Cleveland), Brian Ottrix (5’3”/PG/2021/Cleveland), Terrell Harvell (5’8”/PF/2021/Cleveland), Keon Henderson (5’6”/PG/2021/Detroit, MI), Sean Fulton (5’7”/SG/Detroit, MI), Jonah Lytle (5’8”/SG/2021/Canton), Darryl Peterson (6’0”/WF/2021/Akron), Omar Abuhamdeh (5’7”/PG/2021/North Royalton), Austin Speed (5’11”/WF/2021/Solon), Peyton Mele (5’11”/PF/2021/Hermitage), Todd Simons (5’10”/WF/Youngstown), Jonah Wilkerson (5’10”/PF/Williamsfield), Reuben Talley (5’2”/combo guard/2021/Youngstown), Aston (6’2”/C/Warren), Jonah Lytle (5’8”/2021/Canton), Jalen Wenger (5’8”/WF/2021/Dalton), Jonah Waag (5’8”/SG/2021/Lyndhurts) and Pierre Brooks (6’1”/PF/2021/ Detroit, MI).

McMillian, Luster, Henderson, Hayes & Campbell-Finch
In the young divisions were also loaded with talent.  The following players were standouts on day I: Paul McMillian (5’8”/PG/2022/Cincinnati), Khalil Luster (4’9”/PG/2022/Lima), Cecil Benton Jr. (5’6”/PG/2022/Lima), Ashton Henderson (5’4”/PG/2022, Detroit, MI), Joey Battista (6’1”/PF/2022/Youngstown), Robert Robinson (6’2”/C/Port Huron, MI), Robbie Cass (5’1”/PG/2022/Cincinnati), Isaiah Johnson (5’3”/PG/2022/Columbus), Devin Taborn (5’0”/SG/2022/Lima), Raymar Pryor (5’11”/WF/2022/Canton), Shhondo Green (6’1”/PF/2022/Cleveland), Daniel Farmer (5’3”PF/2023/Gahanna), Davion Bridges (5’1”/SG/2023/Columbus), LA Hayes (5’2”/PG/2023/Brook Park), Majad Cunningham (4’11”/PG/2023/Columbus), Conner Cravaack (5’5”/C/2023/Cincinnati), Elias Lis (5’2”/SG/2023/Wilmington), Brady Hardwig (4’11”/combo guard/2023/Cincinnati), Antone Allen (5’5”/C/Dayton), Marrmarr Blanton (5’2”/WF/2023/Dayton), Tyron Barnes (5’1”/SG/2022/Springfield), Akeilis Gordon (5’5”/PF/2023/Huber Heights), Dre’sean Roberts (5’4”/SG/2023/Piqua), Isaiah Campbell-Finch (4’9”/PG/2024) and John Mobley Jr.(4’10”/2024/Columbus).

Friday, June 17, 2016

Oakland Elite Takes Team Teague Title

2022 Oakland Elite-Jeff Teague Invitational Champions
Coach Keith Ford’s 6th grade Oakland Elite squad defeated nationally ranked Indiana Elite Gametime 57-51 in championship game of the Team Teague Invitational in Indianapolis, IN on Sunday to solidify their top ranking in the State of Michigan. Ty Rodgers (6’1”/WF/MI) was outstanding in the event as he led his team in every statistical category. Rodgers’ versatility makes him virtually unstoppable on either the perimeter or in the post.  Also playing well for Oakland were Michael Williams (5’11”/PF/MI), who averaged a double-double over the weekend; Julian Scott (5’3”/SG/MI) and Juwan Maxey (5’6”/SG/MI).  Oakland’s path to the championship included wins over Team Future, Indy Hoyas, Impact Basketball, Team Teague 2022 and Gametime. Gametime’s trek to the final game went through the Midwest All-Stars, Topp Dawgs, Michigan Prospectors and Indiana Rise. Congrats to Rolden, his players and parents for a big time win!

Monday, June 13, 2016

2016 Summer Showdown Schedule

Below is a link to the 2016 Summer Showdown schedule.  The numbers may be small, but there are some really good teams participating in this event.  The tournament will give us one last look at some players before we begin the selection process for the Ohio North vs South All-Star Games and the All-State Teams.  With this smaller event, we can sit down and really evaluate the players.  Look for a full event report early next week.

Summer Showdown Sunday Schedule