Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kentucky's Spencer is the Real Deal

Korbin Spencer-2019
Although talent is the number one factor in terms of playing basketball at the next level, playing hard is right behind that in importance. Korbin Spencer (6'0/WF/KY) possess both attributes.  Through his stelar play on the AAU circuit and at elite camps and showcases this past season, the Sandy Hook, Kentucky product has established himself as one of the top players in a loaded 2019 class.  In fact, the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL) has him ranked 46th overall and 12th among the top wing forwards in the nation.

Spencer is an elite scorer who can score at all three levels. He's most adept at slashing to cup and finishing, but he can also knock down midrange and 3 point shots. He does not have a lot of length at this point, but he's strong and aggressive. As good a score as he is, Spencer is an even better defender. Spencer is a defensive hawk, and his on ball defensive is as good as we've seen.  Not only can he score and defend, Spencer has a high motor, and he plays hard the entire game.  If there is a 50/50 ball, it's a good bet Spencer will get on the floor or dive in the stands to secure possession of the rock. Finally, Spencer has great vision and easily finds open teammates with his excellent passing skills.

This past season, Spencer was a standout on a very talented Team Teague squad. In May, Spencer's team served as a fill-in team for session #3 of the NYBL in Louisville, Ky, and he was a big reason for the team's surprising success. Spencer's toughness and workman-like approach drew raves from many in attendance. Spencer followed up a great travel season with standout performances at the Future Phenom Camp in Washington D.C., and a few weeks later at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase in Columbus, OH.  As further evidence of his work ethic on the court, at the showcase in Columbus, Spencer was selected as "Mr. Hustle." Spencer and his Indiana-based Team Teague will be a full-time member of the NYBL next season, where he will compete against the nation's best on a regular basis.

While we are talking Team Teague and Kentucky standouts, we would be remiss if we did not give a shout out to Michael Moreno (6'5/PF/KY). Like Spencer, Moreno can put up big numbers.  He does his damage a little closer to the bucket, but Moreno is a big time talent as well.  Moreno is ranked 52nd over all and 4th amongst power forwards.  With Spencer and Moreno, Team Teague has the talent to be a force in the NYBL next season.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The NGA Stars Look to Gain Respect

NGA Stars-2019
As far as 2019 west coast teams are concerned, the West Coast Stars (formally City Stars) and the i10 Celtics are the big dogs on the block.  With a star-studded roster that includes super guard Earnest “EJ” Jackson (5’7/PG/CA), Jaden McClanahan (5’8/WG/CA), Jovan McClanahan (5’8/WG/CA), the West Coast Stars are the undisputed kings of the west, while the i10 Celtics with Jovan Blackshire (5’8/PG/AZ) and Jalen House (5’8/WG/AZ) are right behind them in terms of national notoriety. With plans to participate in the 2015 season of the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL), Coach Rossi Valentine's NGA Stars, currently ranked as the third best team on the west coast by West Coast Elite 25 (WCE25), are preparing for their national debut when the NYBL tips off in March.

Unlike some of the top west coast teams that have picked up players from surrounding states, the NGA Star’s roster is composed of players that live in the Los Angeles area. This past season, the NGA Star’s biggest accomplishments included championships in the WCE25 Kick Off Tourney in April; a 1st place finish at WCE25’s Championship Series finale in July; a runner up finish at the WCE25 Phoenix Rising Tourney (lost to #12th ranked Roadrunner Dynasty); and an elite eight finish at the Coca Cola Nationals (lost to the i10 Celtics by 10 points).

Although some may question their lofty rankings, and plan to withhold respect until the Stars go head-to-head with some of the west coast’s other elite teams, the NGA Stars have, in fact, defeated a number of ranked teams (west coast). “We have not played the Stars, but we have beat a lot of teams on the list [WCE25 rankings],” noted Valentine.  We lost to the [i10] Celtics by 10 points, and they later beat the Stars by 10 points,” added Valentine. “We beat the RC Bulls and they beat Earl Watson Elite. We also beat Utah [Elite],” Valentine said.  The Star's resume against other ranked west coast teams is as follows: Beat #23rd ranked Earl Watson Black by 30 points; Beats #17th ranked Junior Hoops by 25 points; beat #13th ranked Utah Basketball Club by 20 points; beat #11 ranked San Diego Game Point by 30 points; beat #8th ranked Riverside Matrix 3 times in a row (the last game was by 20 points); and beat #6th ranked RC Bulls by 20 points. Based on the above resume, it would appear the Stars have played some very talented teams.

Amitai Afenjar Battles with Chandler Lawson
According to Coach Valentine  although his squad employs a total team approach towards the game, and is not dominated by 1 or 2 superstar players, he acknowledges his team is powered by his starting five of: Amital Afenjar (6’4/WF/CA); Jeremy Davis (5’7/PG/CA); L Simpson (6’0/F/CA); Nick Answorth (6’1/WF/CA); and Spencer Hubbard (5’1/PG/CA). According to Valentine, Afennjar is super athletic, fast and can jump, while Davis, the teams starting PG, is described as quick, can get in the lane, can handle, and can shoot. L Simpson is also athletic, can jump, handles the rock well and can shoot. “We are a super athletic team,” said Valentine. The rest of NGA Star’s roster includes: Michael Carter (5’9/SG/WF); Samuel Ingram (5’10/WF/CA); and Justin Korn (5’8/P/SG/CA).

Valentine describes his team as “up-tempo, very fast, athletic and a strong pressing team.” Moreover, Valentine is confident of his team’s ability to compete in the NYBL next season. “We can compete and we will compete [in the NYBL] at a high level,” said Valentine.  “Our guys are on the same level as those other guys; you guys [national media] just don’t know it,” continued Valentine.  “We aren’t running from nobody,” offered Valentine.   Valentine feels his players don’t get the respect they deserve on the west coast. “There’s a lot of politics out here,” opined Valentine  “Our guys go to theses camps and get at guys [ranked players] but don’t get recognized,” offered Valentine.  When the NYBL tips off in March 2015, the Stars will get their opportunity to show the nation what they can do. Valentine's  final text message illustrates his goals. "We ready! We want to play the top teams. Period!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Green Excels in High School Varsity Game

Michael Green
According to Middle School Hoops, South Carolina's Michael Green (5'11/SG/2019) recently knocked down 7 treys (33 points) in a high school varsity game. Many know Green as "the shooter" for Keyford Langley's Team CP3 squad that dominated the NYBL for 2 years.  Green has always been known as a knock down shooter that stretches the defense with his ability to score from beyond the arc, but his play last season reflected growth in his game that included the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rack.  For 2 seasons, Green was one of the best 3-point shooters in the NYBL.  In addition, at the NYBL All-star Weekend 2 years ago, Green shot his way to MVP honors.  Like several other notables (i.e., Tyger Campbell & Marquise Walker), Green has the skill and ability to play high school level basketball as an 8th grader.  In terms of his national ranking, the NYBL has him ranked 41st overall, and as the 11th best shooting guard in his class.  From what we can tell from this point, Green's talent will translate nicely at the next level.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Adidas Midwest Elite Camp – 2014 – Top Performers – Based on Skills Session, 1-on-1, 3-on-3, and 5-on-5

Below is a post event report highlighting some of the top players at the Adidas Midwest Elite Camp held in Cleveland, Ohio Last week.

Class of 2019 – Alphabetical Order

Mike Bekelja: Solon Middle school, fundamentally sound point guard with excellent
court vision. Shoots the ball very well.

CJ Charleston: St. Rita, an explosive athlete offensively. Is a defensive playmaker, plays with high energy around the basket. Tremendous athlete, and definitely a player to watch.

Ryan Cunningham: Middleburg Heights Junior High, good outside shooter with above average ball handling skills.

Demetrius Evans: Middleburg Heights Junior High, an explosive athlete that rebounds well for his size, an efficient scorer from 15ft in.

Kenny Ganley: Brecksville Middle School, long athletic player with great outside touch. Also finishes around the rim with consistence. Great feel for the game and a very high basketball IQ.

Robert Gray: Memorial School, great one on one player with excellent scoring ability. He can penetrate on the best competition.

Jiovanni Hutchingson: Middleburg Heights Junior High, a long athletic forward with a good mid-range game.

Shubh Khandhadia: St. Margret of York, great all around game with nice work ethic. Will be one of the players to watch in the future.

Greg McGee: Liberty Middle School, provides inside scoring along with being a skilled defender. Is a hustler that does the dirty work.

Devin Myers: Highland Middle School, finishes well around the rim with both hands with a soft touch. Can rebound the ball and has an above average jump shot.

Class of 2020 – Alphabetical Order

Andy Barba: Gilmore Academy, solid shooter with nice range. Gets to the rim with
ease. Was constantly getting deflections with his length.

Brad Colbert: Loveland Middle School, Good defender with great lateral quickness. Can shoot the ball up to 17ft, one of the hardest working kids at the camp.

Montorie Foster Jr.: St. Stanclaus, Crazy quickness with excellent ball handling skills. Unstoppable at getting to the basket. Has a nice shot as well.

Grant Huffman: Harmon Middle School, all around great basketball player. Exceptional ball handling skills, can take you both ways off the dribble. Sneaky and athletic guard with nice touch around the rim. One of the top 20 kids in the state, and the best 2020 player at the camp.

Tevin Jackson: Urban Middle School, short spark plug guard with excellent floor vision. Makes up with his lack of size with hard defensive play. Very intelligent point guard who can handle pressure.

Isaiah Jones: Chamberlin Middle School, athletic wing. Liked his game the more we saw of him.

Quentin Richardson: Milkovich Middle School, quick point guard with nice handles, great floor vision and able to pass with both hands. Can hit the set shot from long range.

Maison Ross: Stow Kimpton Middle School: Long wing who showed sound fundamentals in skills and played tremendously hard the entire day.

Nathan Snipes: long athletic forward who can shoot it from 15ft in. Tremendous upside could be one of the top 7th graders in the state. Has a great feel around the basket.

Josh Wanton: Chamberlin Twinsburg Middle School, Athletic lefty point guard who rebounds extremely well for his size. Nice ball handling skills with killer crossover.

Class of 2021 – In Alphabetical Order

Colin Albert: Woodbury Elementary, very athletic, exciting player to watch. Liked
his game more as he progressed from 3-on-3 into 5-on-5.

Justin Garrett: Woodbury Elementary handles the ball like a yo-yo with offensive play making skills to match.

Jaden Hameed: Lee Eaton Middle School, another long, athletic guard. Highly skilled player who along with Wilson, was at the top of their class at this event.

Sirr Hughs: Woodbury Elementary, great all around player with ball handling skills like Kyrie Irving. Nice athlete can finish with either hand.

Drew Lipowski: Kinsner Elementary, good point guard with straight-line quickness, has the ability get by most guards. Nice jumper with range up to 17ft.

Demari Martin: Pleasant Run Elementary, Another all around fantastic guard with great ball handling skills. Nice change of speed while getting to the rim. Solid shooter from 3 point line in.

Stephan Stanic: Hillside Middle School, big, crafty lefty who is utilizing his size well. Rebounds the ball and runs the floor. Finishes strong with his left hand.

Seth Wilson: Elyria, long, well-built, athletic guard. One of the top players in the camp at any age level. One of the top 5 players in the country for his class. Wilson can do it all, and had no problem scoring at will playing with players one and two years older at this event. An elite player and someone to watch. Has been since the 3rd grade, and he continues to work and improve.

Class of 2022- In Alphabetical Order

Rhece Deboard: Russel Elementary, high-energy player with lock down defense.
Has great floor vision for a kid his age.

Devin Johnson: Berea Midpark, nice player with exceptional ball handling skills. Gets to the basket easily, finishes strong with right hand.

Nathan Kuczmarski: St. Michaels, good player with overall skills to match. 

Mike Lipowski: Kinsner, Hard nose guard that plays the game with a heart like a
lion, lack of height does not interfere with his game.

Jack Wistrcill: Copley Fairlawn Middle School, Has a good all around game. Scores points in bunches. 

Highlight Video

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ohio Represented in National Rankings

Seth Wilson, Meechie Johnson & Travonne Jackson
According to Mike Melton and Basketball Spotlight, the state of Ohio has 3 players talented enough to make their list of the top 35 players in the nation in the class of 2021 (6th grade). Seth Wilson (5’8 WF), Meechie Johnson (5’7/PG) and Travonne Jackson (5’4/SG) are all represented in Melton’s rankings.  Wilson leads the way at #4, while Johnson checks in #21 and Jackson slides in at #25.  For Ohio basketball youth basketball fans there is little surprise that these 3 players are being recognized nationally. All three players have logged in standout performances at prior Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases and the national scouts have taken notice.  When Melton expands his list to 50 in April look for more Buckeyes to be recognized.  I would expect Noah Peeples (5’8/PF) to crack that list. If we are talking a top 100, there are a few more kids who are flying under the radar, but are talented enough to make a list.  We will keep you updated.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

DC Premier Upgrades for 2015 NYBL Season

DC Primer 2019
As most savvy youth basketball fans well know, the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area is loaded with elite basketball talent.  Obviously, where you find elite individual talent, you also find elite teams. Arguably the top 2019 team in the area is the Under Armour-sponsored D.C. Premiere (DCP). Although they flew a bit under the national radar this past season, with key returning players, plus the acquisition of some nice pieces, Coach John Perry is preparing his squad to win a NYBL National Championship. 

With little fan fair, DCP enjoyed decent success in 2014 with a big win at Boo Williams’ Nike Elite Tourney, and their AAU Regional title in April.  In addition, DCP demonstrated their potential last year at the King James Shooting Star Classic where they took a loaded All-Ohio Red team right down to the wire before allowing a close game to slip away late in the quarterfinals (39-45 final).  After their 9th place finish at the AAU Nationals this summer (defeated Texas Express Elite 53-50) it was clear DCP would be a team to be reckoned with going forward.  Most recently, DCP went undefeated in the Largo High School JV League playing up against older kids. During there run to the champioship, they took down a very competitive Team Takeover.

Makhi Mitchell, Marvin Price, Makhel Mitchell, Christian DePollar & Sharif Kenny
Fast forward to 2015 and DC Primer’s roster will include 6 players who are ranked among  the NYBL’s Top 100 payer rankings. DCP will again be anchored by twin towers Mekhi (6’7/WF/MD), and Mikhel Mitchell (6’7/C/MD). The Mitchell twins are a dynamic duo that will give DCP one of the biggest frontcourts in the class. Key returnees for DCP include: Casey Morsell (5’11/SG/MD), Tiger Simms (6’2/WF/MD), Evan Buckley (5’10/SG/VA), Anwar Gill 6'2/WF/DC), Preston Bacon (5'10/PG/VA) and Mike Sumner Jr. (5'9/PG/MD/2020)New to the team this upcoming season will be Marvin Price (6’4/WF/MD) and Christian DePollar (6’4/WF/MD). In terms of Sherif Kinney, according to Coach Perry, he (Kenny) will float between both the 2018 and 2019 teams. We had the opportunity watch DePollar, Price and Kenny this season and we were very impressed with their talent. 

As currently constructed, DC Premier is legitimately among the top 3-4 teams in the nation in 2019, and has a great opportunity at a NYBL National Championship.  Having been exposed to the NYBL late last season, Coach Perry is looking forward to his team participating in the elite league. "Every weekend we expect to face tough battles," said Perry.  "We will have to bring our A game every week. All those teams [in the NYBL] finished high at the [AAU] Nationals last year.  The league made them battled tested," continued Perry. Not only was Perry impressed with the competition the NYBL had to offer, he also recognized the camaraderie and relationships between the players, parents and coaches. "It was like a big family,"  offered Perry.  "The kids and teams were very close knit.  That's what I want for my kids," Perry said. The addition of DC Premier to an already competitive league will create some great match-ups and some very compelling games. Can't wait!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Three Buckeyes Make National 2022 List

Sonny Johnson Jr, Sean Jones & Derrick James
They are only 5th graders, but already, Sonny Johnson Jr, Sean Jones and Derrick James are recognized nationally for their talents.  Recently, Coast2Coastpreps.com released their list of the top 55 players in the class of 2022 and all 3 players made the cut.  Johnson was the highest ranked Ohio player at #19, while Jones was ranked #24th and James is considered the 31st best player in the class.  Whether you believe in rankings or not, there is no doubt that these three players have enormous talent and bright futures. Having watched these kids play on numerous occasions, we believe they are the top kids in Ohio and are more than deserving their national rankings.

Johnson is new to the class, and his standout performance at the recent Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase formally announced his arrival to the class of 2022.  Johnson dominated the competition on his way to all-star and Top 5 honors.  Highly skilled with a high basketball IQ best describes Johnson's game right now. An elite handle and ability to break down the defense are his calling cards.  Jones enjoyed similar success at the showcase in September where he also made the all-star team and was selected among the Top 5.  In reality, all 3 of these guards possess similar attributes. The all have elite handles, are smart, and are always in attack mode.  When we release our 2022 "Watch List" in a few weeks all 3 of these players will be represented as potential top 10 players.  Congratulations to all 3 players for representing the Buckeye State!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Johnson Belongs Among the Best in 2019

Evan Johnson
In terms elite of 2019 point guards, guys like Jeremiah Francis, Tyger Campbell, Marquis Walker and Keyshaun Langley are household names already.  However, despite putting up gaudy numbers in the competitive NYBL last year with the then Carolina Chaos, Evan Johnson (5’6/PG/NC) still has not garnered the respect and attention his game deserves. The Durham, North Carolina product is one of the most dynamic and skilled floor generals in the class, and has proven on numerous occasions he has the ability to put big numbers on the scoreboard (dropped 30 pts on Butler Elite in session # 3 of the NYBL) or create easy scoring opportunities for his teammates. Johnson is a wizard with the rock and has little difficulty getting by defenders for a score or dish.  He’s diminutive, put his quickness and elite handle allow him to avoid the double teams and traps. Johnson has a lot of tricks in his bag, and does most of his damage getting to the rack (see video).

He lit up the NYBL on his way to an NYBL Top 20 all-star game selection.  In addition, Johnson was selected to the prestigious NYBL Fabulous 50 team, is currently ranked 67th overall and is considered the 12th best PG in the nation according to the NYBL's national rankings. Johnson also  impressed a lot of people with his recent standout performance at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase in September, where he was pared with 6’10 Balsa Koprivicia. At the vent, Johnson proved that he was willing and able to get the big man the ball in scoring position (see video), which is always a sign of an elite PG. 

Johnson plays his middle school ball with Durham's RTA Academy, and already this year he's making a big impact  In fact, in a recent game, Johnson went for 27 points, 14 assists and 11 steals in only 3 quarters of actions. Based on his early sicces, Johnson is poised to have a huge year. You can catch Johnson and his Team Loaded squad in action when season 3 of the NYBL tips off in March.  You may not know his name right now, but Evan Johnson could take his place among the elite guards in the class very soon!

Friday, November 7, 2014

City Stars Join West Coast All-Stars-Readies for NYBL

2014 City Stars

According to Mike Morris, Founder of the West Coast All-Stars (WCAS) and coach of the 2020 team, Coach Jimmie Burton will merge his 2019 City Stars team with Morris’ organization to form the “West Coast Stars” for the 2015 season.  As most will recall, Burton’s City Stars squad shocked the nation with their 2nd place finish at the AAU Nationals this year. On their trek to the championship game, the City Stars upended the CP3 All-stars in pool play before losing the rematch to CP3 in the championship game. 

Burton’s roster will remain intact, and includes elite guys like Ernest “EJ” Jackson (5’4 /PG/CA), Jaden McClanahan (5’8/WG/CA) and Jovan McClanahan (5’8/WG/CA), all of whom are ranked in the NYBL’s Top 100 player rankings. When the NYBL season tips off in in March, Burton’s upgraded roster will include the addition of Kevin White (6’4/PF/C/CA), who balled with Surf City this season, and Ethan Anderson (6’1/P/SG/CA), who ran with OC Vision this year. Also returning are: Jordon Wilmore (5’8/WF/CA), Demarjae Gilmore (5'9/SG/WF/ CA), Dorian Stewart (5'6/SG/CA) and JR OLofton (6'2 W/PF/CA).

In an interview earlier this week, Morris indicated that he and Burton had discussed the partnership last year, but the talks did not get serious until several months ago. Morris feels the collaboration is a good fit for both partys, as both organization “are keen on helping kids develop, while providing opportunities for kids to compete,” said Morris. According to Burton, his primary motivation for joining forces with Morris’ organization is all about “representing the west coast.” “They [WCAS] did not have an 8th grade team and I wanted to bring the west coast to the east coast to show the east coast we [west coast] are on the same [talent] level,” said Burton. “A lot of coaches have pride and egos and don’t want to get together to build an elite west coast team,” continued Burton. "I don’t care about the name on the jersey, I want our [west coast] kids to get the experience of playing the best,” offered Burton. "I tried to do this a couple of years ago, but everybody wants to poke their chests out…to be the man,” Burton said.

E. Williams, J. Harris, P. Dawson, D. Dupenia, W. McClendon and N. Velnzia

With the addition of the City Stars, Morris is excited about the 3 teams that will represent his organization and will travel east to participate in the 3rd season of the NYBL.  With core of the 2019 roster still intact, plus a few additions, Morris expects his 2019 team to compete for a NYBL National Championship. “We’re coming to win it,” Morris said. “I expect us to win it. We will be loaded. We will able to leverage Jason [Harris] and Ben [Todd],” continued Morris.  Jason Harris, who has grown to 6’6 by the way, and Todd will see action on both the 2019 and 2020 teams.   In addition, now that Paris Dawson (5'10/SG/CA) has reclassed to 2021, he will split time with the 2020 and 2021 teams.  That will give Morris’ teams a lot of flexibility. “We expect all 3 of our teams to be competitive,” Morris continued.  Burton is equally optimistic about his team’s chances of winning a NYBL National Championship. “It [NYBL] offers a great opportunity. I was there last year and saw all of the teams and the level of competition.  I really think they [his team] they are going to play 150% better in the league.  My guys are looking forward to it [playing in the NYBL]. When the lights come on, my guys come to play. We are seeking to be #1,” Burton said.

In terms of his 2020 team, Morris returns all of his top guys including: Parris Dawson, William McClendon, Nicolas Velnzia, & Tyrone Washington Jr. Morri's team also adds size and depth with the additions of Benjamin Todd (6’7/C/CA) and Dillon Depina (6’1/PF/CA). Before committing to the WCAS, there had been rumors Todd would be running with WACG next season; however, his roster spot with WCAS appears to confirm his intentions to stay closer to home. Depina was a last minute addition to the Oakland Solders’ roster last year, so he brings NYBL experience to the table. With all of the returning players plus the new additions, the WCAS have an excellent chance  of claiming back-to-back NYBL National Championships.  With respect to 

Morris' 6th grade team, they are currently ranked as the #5 best team on the west coast, making them one of the favorites to collect another NYBL National Championship for the organization. Headlining that team ais a quartet of guards including: Dawson, Zaon Collins (5'7/G/NV), Brandon Perez (5'9/G/CA), Ricardo Samierto (5'5/PG AZ), and Mekhi Morrise (5'0 PG/CA). "Look out for for an uptempo style of run and gun play from the West Coast Stars," proclaimed Morris.

2020 West Coast All-Stars-2014 NYBL National Champions
Coming off their runner-up finish at the AAU nationals, plus the addition of some key pieces, the 2019 West Coast Stars can make a legitimate argument for the #1 spot in the nation.  Of course Team CP3 has that honor right now and it's doubtful they plan to relinquish the crown until it’s taken on the court.  However, in terms of the NYBL, Burton’s team has to be the favorite when the 2015 season tips off in March of next year. Get your popcorn folks, the West Coast is coming and they plan to prove a point!  

On a side note, Morris and Burton are not the only coaches planing to represent the west coast in the NYBL next season, as the NGA Stars are ready to flex some muscle as well.  According to West Coast Elite 25, the Stars are currently ranked as the #3 team on the west coast.  More on the Stars later as we plan to introduce that team.