Thursday, October 16, 2014

USA National Select 2022: Displaying Greatness in the Garden State

USA Basketball is working hard on developing their teams of the future at the High School level.  Through there is no direct affiliation with USA Basketball; Coach Francis’ USA National Select turned their recent visit to the NJ Hoop Group Fall Jam Fest into their very own Colorado Springs-East.  The nation’s top national showcase program continues to attract the top talent from across the country; and this event was no different as a plethora of the nations top players were in attendance.

The USA National Select programs alum have been invited and have competed just in 2014 alone in some of the nation’s premier events and showcases including but not limited to the CP3 Camp, Dunk Dog All- American Game, Basketball Spotlight Future Phenom Camp, Buckeye Prep Showcase & NYBL vs Nation game – needless to say, there are no gimmicks, no smoke and mirrors, simply high end basketball talent and players that are respected by the top analyst and evaluators in the industry nationwide.  “Anyone that would attempt to deny a child an opportunity to be amongst the very best at whatever they do well, must reevaluate who they are and what they represent” said a very excited Coach Francis after being awarded the championship trophy; “...without question there are future Olympic team members already in our program and by continuing to play at this elite level they will be prepared for the real deal when it comes – the pundit(s) that prefer(s) single monopolies cannot be considered trusted resources in basketball period and the success of the program participants will make laughing stocks of certain people in this industry; that's how good these kids are”.

Need proof? The 2022 group which arrived in NJ amid much fanfare and entered the facility with a humble air of confidence – this special group attracted fans from varying distances that came to New Jersey simply watch the stars of the future.

National Select didn’t disappoint again winning another tournament championship in dominating fashion; winning all games by an average of 35+ppg.  Along the way the 5th grade super squad defeated a group of much larger 7th graders; using their immense skill set to extend the lead to 45 points at one juncture.

The loaded roster not only showcased their individual talent but played as a unit looking like they had spent months in the gym together. 

These are the stars that had the Hoop Group Fall Jam Fest (aka Colorado Springs - East) under siege!

Jaden Johnson (MD) – The country’s current #1 player, who plays on the country’s #1 team and reigning national champion Maryland’s Finest made his first appearances with USA National Select and showed why he is they said he is.  Johnson played all five positions with lethal efficiency shooting a jaw dropping eye popping 82% from the field and over 90% from the line.  So unselfish he passed the ball even when he was asked to shoot; Johnson is addicted to making the right basketball play.  A high percentage 3-point shooter Johnson took only a few as he figured out early and often that until they stopped him from getting to the paint or working his mid-range there was no need to do anything else.  The solid multi-category contributor was the ultimate teammate and versatile piece showing how and why he has done it all on the national stage for several years prior and looks to for many years to come.

Antonio Sellers (NY) – Who better to combine with the #1 player but Mr. #2 – Sellers could hold the #1 spot without argument from anyone in the nation and continues to punish opponents without mercy.   To sum up Sellers weekend; he was told “we need 30 from you this game”; so he goes out and scores 34 in the victory.  The combination of unbelievable size and skill combined with IQ and phenomenal body control.  The skill set and pedigree will have Sellers on the wing exclusively at some point where his soft touch out beyond the 3-point stripe will simply be another aspect that must be stopped.  Currently he can pick the poison he feeds his opponents punishing them over 94-feet of court.  They isn’t an aspect of the game he doesn’t impact he boards, he scores from 3 levels, he passes, he fills the lanes, he blocks shots, he gets to the line and he cheers harder for his teammates than any fan in the stands.  Sellers is one of those few “kids” that you know now will get the most out of what this game has to offer.  One word description is very simple “special”.

Sammy Scott (MD) – Already a top 10 player, as last we saw Mr. Scott there – whereas all players at every level have areas of improvement; we noted the need to expand the range on the jump shot.  Well as if he read our mind Scott has clearly been spending time the gym making this happen.  One of the best in the country off the dribble and that’s passing and shooting displaying one of the quickest releases at any level, Scott showed expanded range and vastly improved efficiency.  When Sammy is hitting the trey ball is virtually unstoppable as he has moves on moves on space and very few can stay in front of him individually or with a double team.  The class has so many tough PG’s but Scott continues to make his claim as one of the best.  A pass first guy who can space the zone and score as needed; amongst those great attributes his court vision may be his strongest suit.  Even at the most elite level they sometimes don’t even see it coming.  The translation of this kids game makes sense in any basketball analysis meaning Scott will be in the conversation as one of the best for a long time to come; period. 

Kameron Rodriguez (NY) – As a super hero he would be Flash Gordon, as a teammate is everything you could ask for, and as a opponent he is the player you hate playing against the most.  The most kid hearted kid off the court on it he is a terror and menace to all of basketball society.  Ranked as the #4 player in the country he lets his defense dictate his offense to the highest level.  A straight perimeter stopper he never gives up on a play – NEVER, and if by chance he is beat his great feet and recovery skills put him right back into any play.  Let’s not for one second get it confused that Kam is a one dimensional player he is two way action all game long and he is becoming even more effective in the half court with a solid catch and shoot 3-ball and the ability to break his man down off the dribble.  With players this age there progression are well pronounced and Rodriguez is displaying a game with very few flaws and a ton of excitement!

Antonio Hamlin (DC) – New faces fresh faces are the name of the game is youth basketball and Hamlin has earned his spot and is quickly making a name for himself; start by winning the national championship and then parlay that into a spot on the national select team.  Hamlin is far from a system product; Hamlin is an inside/outside Phenom that plays a tough brand of basketball that puts pressure on the opponent each time he touches the ball.  Antonio displays a seasoned scorers game; showing a propensity to score in an array of different ways including keeping pressure on the paint and getting to the foul line where he is also very consistent.  Great size/skill mixture as he is able to operate 94-feet; taking the ball of the rim as a solid rebounder, push the rock as a lead guard on the break, and he can finish either with the pass game or as a lane filler.  Tough hardnosed defender with lots of upside Hamlin is a name to know and a name that must be remembered.

Jalen Lyn (NY) – Playing up a year the star of the national select 2023 stepped on the floor and showed his game translate up a level.  With top notch talent around him Lyn looked as if he had been there for years, he flowed well and operated as the consummate lead guard involving all teammates, spacing the floor, and knocking down the open jump shot at all levels including the 3.  Watching young players you always wonder where the IQ is or is it talent running the show; with Lyn there is no question – he thinks the game just as well as he plays it and he has again impressed this time playing a year up.  Also one of the top defensive guards at both levels he has excellent basketball tools, length, and approach, with confidence Lyn will continue to be a national staple at the top of the rankings.

Andrew Ruebottom (MD) – One of the biggest players in the class; he doesn’t float outside; he doesn’t try to cross you over.  He goes straight to the paint with the intention of dominating and that he does as a true old school post player’s game.  The concern is often will this player be this at the next level?  With this size operating in this capacity he will most certainly be a solid post presence.  A great shot blocker, he also runs the floor and keeps up with the guards which mean he beat most frontcourt players.  Becoming deftly adept at stepping to the open spot he is able to finish over and through opposition.  To operate will consistency that is improving each time we see him would be unfair at this juncture to anyone hoping to stop him yet it’s getting better and better.  As a rebounder he controls both boards and finds the outlet man like he has a homing device.  There are not many players like this across the country in any class which shows his value and worthiness as top post player in 2022 and with National Select. 

Franklin Ayissi-Etoh (MD) – Another young star playing up an age; his eyes were big against 7th graders as a 4th grader – but quickly found that his work in the gym and his skill set allowed him to compete.  Not as dominant at this level as his own Etoh used his IQ to become a vital part of the team’s success.  He operated well in transition and acted as a facilitator while taking advantage of his opportunities on the offensive end.  As his confidence grew he began to learn it’s the same game and showed why he is an elite talent in the country.  Not being the primary offensive force as he is in his age group we actually saw an expanded array of skills as he operated on both ends.  Not only were we impressed with the overall skill we were impressed by the IQ, decision making, and ability for him to play the game the right way at a high level looking all along like he belong on the floor with top 2022 guys and ultimately he did. 

Kamal Francis (MD) – Gap control, board work, loose balls, defense – every team needs someone to do the dirty work and impose their will on others.  Francis has the back of his teammates doing the little things to help the team win.  Excellent physical tools are beginning to translate to on court success, some of the best size in the class Francis is still adapting to the speed at the elite level.  Francis found himself in the right place and did the right thing with the ball in his hands which bodes well for the future.  A rebounder and lane filler at this point the best days are ahead but is contributions to the whole were respected by all in attendance and the experience will be invaluable as his national profile is further developed.

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