Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Super & Scintillating 7 of the NYBL Session II

Jason Harris – Harris dominates the game by simply being on the floor as he must always be accounted for both offensively and defensively.  Operating with a high octane he is much more than a back to the basket post.  Harris has expanded his game to beyond the 3-point stripe and has shown the ability to consistently knock down the trey ball as well as the perimeter 3-pointer.  Another facet that cannot be understated is that Jason is an excellent FT shooter – efforts to foul to prevent baskets are futile.  A high percentage shooter and shot taker we saw him hurt opponents in a variety of different ways.  Defensively he is one of the best shot blocker in the league, attacking the ball in the air opposed to it coming out of the hand – he works well on the ball and as a help side defender and does it with a great deal of zeal and passion.  As a 2020 players there is a real possibility that with a dedicated effort Harris can likely play some true 3 – as he is able to sit down well enough to guard the position.

Jordan Toles – Often touted for his scoring exploits; the evolution of Toles has begun to take shape.  One trick pony’s don’t go far as they rise the ranks and diversified skill sets are essential to long term productivity and success.  In session II Toles was seen playing pick & roll basketball both on and off the ball, relocating and lane cutting off post feeds, and analyzing match-ups where he would  use penetration, mid-range work, as well as back to the basket posting.  What was impressive was his identification of the match up and his high level skill set that allowed for the exploitation thereof – Toles can still get you a bucket when you need a bucket.  The difference between a star and a superstar and ultimately the ability to be a big time performer at the next level as Toles is expected to be; is the ability to make those around him better Jordan has begun to understand that quality and realize that he can carry a team in more way than one; this is a very scary proposition for the NYBL and the rest of the country. 

Vernon Casey – This Sam Perkins like big is quickly making a name for himself; he has size and touch, runs the floor tremendously well and is in the right place on the defensive side of the ball exhibiting a very solid IQ.  On a very talented team Casey doesn’t require plays being ran for him, he is happy to take the ball off the glass to make things happen and is a willing passer with exceptional vision ~and boy does he have some choices when it comes to throwing the ball out.  With such a talented team Casey is still able to standout by playing the game the right way and taking advantage of his opportunities.  He shoots a high percentage from the field and he is automatic from the FT stripe – this is player that continues to impress and one that may be one of those “under the rader” kids who become bigtime high school players as he is a non-reclass player with a high ceiling; everyone should have Vernon Casey on their watch as the 6’7 forwards future is looking very bright.

Trevor “Killer” Keels – After being name 1st Team All NYBL for session I; Trevor Keels arrived to Richmond with a target on his back – the coaches and players know who this kid is when he walks in the gym.  What they don’t know is how is he going to surgically slice them up during that particular game; hence the name “Killer” Keel; with him there is a million ways to die…choose one.   We watched over a 5 game period a basketball chameleon, some games he dominated the glass and impacted the game on the defensive end.  Others he was a primary ball-handler and facilitator setting the offense and making the play for someone else.  Then of course we saw him put the rock in the hole in the half-court and well as in the up and down game.  Unquestionably “Killer” Keels one of the most versatile players in the entire league and maybe the country another natural 2021 kid who hasn’t truly scratched the surface of what he will ultimately do in this game.

Qudair McNari – Intensity personified, every basketball team in the world would be lucky to have a player who played as hard and cared as much – McNari’s ENERGY is infectious and he actually carries the team simply by leading by example.  He plays the game downhill relentlessly attacking the paint without regard for who may be waiting there for him – finishes with strength and power.  He has a frame tailor made to absorb contact, take licking, and keep on ticking.  He has truly worked on his game and you are seeing improvements especially in his off the bounce game and his ball-handling.  He has always made an impact off the block but the development of these perimeter skills he is taking his game and his team to another level.  Big enough, strong enough, and quick enough to guard all 5 positions he is IZOD ultimate weapon - Team IZOD goes as far “Q” can take them, and that could be very far.

Tommy Anderson – Anderson has been identified as a special player for some time now; he has begun to travel the national circuit and has made an impression everywhere he has went.  After having a solid weekend in the first session, Anderson broke out with some very impressive scoring totals – showcasing a quick release trifecta that he launched from all over the court.  Loved him in the mid-range as he knocked down pull-ups and floaters as he constantly stayed in attack mode – you can see his confidence growing as he gets the job done against many of the nation’s best players.  Anderson is compact and tough and is able to play through contact making him a player who it tailor made to be there in the crucial later moments of the game a big time pure scorer who is setting the NYBL on fire – competitors may need to call 911.

Latrell Moore - Playing for the West Coast Stars this Texas native is already nationally ranked but he rising quickly.  Moore in session II proved his value against some of the top teams in the league and is emerging as the key piece to the 2021 WCA success.  Moore is a next level athlete who is big and powerful; think mini-Rodney Rogers. Latrell is explosive with very good body control, can make plays off the bounce, and is also a willing and surprising good passer with a both hands. He is a flat out beast in transition and is finishing at the rim evident by a follow-up dunk attempt in their victory of Team Takeover.  Moore plays with lots of energy and can be considered a defensive stopper as he can guard multiple positions; he is a student of the game, well-trained, and respects the process – Moore spoke about staying in the gym and becoming the best player he can be.  As good as he is today there will be much “Moore” for the NYBL and country to deal with real soon; Latrell should immediately be considered a certified problem.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

NYBL - Two One's Get It Done In Impressive Fashion

When you are talking middle school basketball and player rankings many concern themselves with the potential that skills sets will not be developed, that games and/or players do not translate to the next level, and finally that often the situation reflects a significant difference in athleticism or size.   The following two players amongst others stood out recently in Session II of the NYBL held in Richmond, Va. clearly showing they have the goods to be impact players at the next level and beyond.

Marquise Walker #12 Class of 2019
Marquise Walker (Team Florida):  Surprise America, in what may be one of the biggest surprises of the young season Team Florida led by Bryan Saunders and Balsa Koprivica where one piece away according to many pundits across the country – enter Marquise Walker.  Currently ranked #12 in the country and rated as the #3 PG in the class Walker gives Team Florida the ability to move Saunders off the ball and use him as a finisher and scorer.  Saunders can also lead the charge as Walker has no problem being the on the receiving end as he can finish with the best of them. 

Talk about making the game easier for the big Serbian, Walker’s passing is as elite as it comes nationwide – he is a player that must be honored the full 94 feet.  The attention Walker draws on the perimeter does nothing but open up the floor for the talented big and give him more room to operate, making him and team more efficient and effective in the up and down game as well as in the half court.  

The maturation of Marquise Walker may very well be the final piece to puzzle – Walker played varsity ball as an 8th grader this past season and the difference in his focus, pace, and IQ are very clear and apparent.  He most certainly still has the same flair and brilliance with the ball in his hands, it’s something he will never likely lose; but he has now honed the specific skills into the team concept.  His moves ae sharp and substantive, his reads are on time and he is delivering the ball to spots verses men exemplifying a firm understanding of the game and proving he can see two to three movements ahead.  Defensively he is remaining locked in the entire possession, dedicating himself to the team defensive concept, and using the defensive side of the ball to enhance his offensive production.

Now, Marquise has always been known for his ability to score the pill, this too remains his primary weapon of sorts – he can get you a bucket when you need a bucket period.  But now he has learned to impose his will on opponents in the flow of the offense; in sets, off screens/cuts, and reads.  He is actually become a better scorer as he learns the game as he is getting easier baskets and doesn’t have to work as hard for points, meaning that when he turns it up folks are in trouble.  Walker refuses to be denied access to the rim while having been born with the gift to make tough and difficult shots from the perimeter.  

In the past many viewed Marquise Walker’s primary value as scorer; those days are in the rear view and now when you speak the name Marquise “Lambo” Walker you must say complete basketball player, great lead guard, special.  The kid is flat out special.  With Walker at the helm and a 9-1 league record this addition may push Team Florida over the top in the quest for a NYBL Championship.

Alex Wade #52 Class of 2020
Standing 5’3 Alex Wade doesn’t look imposing, he doesn’t frighten anyone, and some may even say he doesn’t pass the eye test.  All that hogwash goes out the window once the ball is tipped as he put on displays that any basketball purest has to appreciate.

His IQ is apparent, knowing his diminutive size he actually plays the game exclusively outside of the trap zones on the court making sure to maximize his effectiveness – this is a skill that 95% of youth basketball not only possess; but have never heard or thought about.  Wade is a student of the game and each of this moves are calculated and each play he maximizes his own potential as well as that of his teammates.
This west coast PG shoots with range on his jumper out to about 25 feet off the catch and under contest; he can also score it off the dribble well enough to keep the defense honest as well. His heart is as big as two men as he will walk down a defender, shoot with defenders draped over him, and get a hoop for his team when it is most needed.

He is an excellent ball handler and passer who make solid decisions; he isn’t flashy – fundamentals rule the day, but you can count on Wade to make the right basketball play for him and his teammates.  He is the catalyst for the most prolific offense in the NYBL statistically at any age group and he is clearly the straw that stirs the drink for the 7-3 San Diego Select squad.

Wade has a humble and mature approach to the game, he is even keeled emotionally,  he possess the  personality of an elite level PG – no matter the time, score, or situation you can never tell what’s what by reading his face.  The son of a coach he understands the value of being coachable and being an extension of the coach on the floor.  The kid gets it – forget his pin-point passing ability, poise feel for the game etc. this kid will get opportunities that more athletic, better shooter, better defenders simply won’t because he approaches the game the right way and play it with the right attitude and for the right reasons for the brother next to him – he is an elite level teammate, and plays hard every single possession no matter if he’s scored, taken shots, or otherwise.  His person and his game should be applauded; Alex Wade is a very bright spot for the west coast and the NYBL.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Playing in Point Guard Paradise – Meet Top National Floor Generals

When you speak about top players in the country in the class of 2020; the name Jalen Suggs must be mentioned.  When you speak about top PG’s in the class of 2020 he is on the short list.  With a year of varsity ball under his beat as a 7th grader; where he not only started and logged heavy minutes but was extremely productive.  The only 6th grader in the country at the well-known CP3 camp Suggs resume is certified and includes back-to-back national championships at the AAU level.  He has done everything on the court to prove he is that guy; he has hit the big shot, he has won the big game, and he continues to show new aspects to his game which speaks to high level development.   

Some scouts like Suggs as a two guard; we like him with the rock in his hand – so the most accurate description of what you expect when you Suggs in action is a attacking combination guard that is long, wiry, athletic and welcomes contact.  He can score by getting to the rim, as well as shooting mid-range pull ups and knocks down threes, especially in crucial situations. Jalen has great offensive confidence and easily creates separation and his own shot and can get it done in transition as a finisher or facilitator.   

See his latest work below at the 17U level and realize the kid is next level special: 

Name the #1 player in the country earlier this summer after a stellar showing at the Basketball Spotlight Future Phenom Camp “Killer” Khoi Thurmon has quietly continued his meteoric rise claiming the converted duel title of top player and top pg.  Out of Chicago the 2023 class member falls into the category where many say they are two young to be evaluated.  Spend 5 minutes watching Khoi and you will feel like the child has been playing the game for a decade at the highest level.  Displaying great natural strength Khoi’s vision and feel is a gift that keeps on giving; to his teammates and to his opponents – highly confident he is able to get to anywhere he wants to on the floor. 

From a scoring perspective, he is able to put the ball in the hole and frankly could dominate the game from a scoring standpoint – but his instincts and training at this young age already have him respecting the game and making the right basketball play.  We have years to enjoy Khoi but for those that haven’t seen him take a look at the future below: 

2022 PG Sonny Johnson (Ohio) is quickly becoming one of the toughest covers in the class.  He is wired and built to score the rock, great size and length his is already built like your prototypical two guard.  The luxury with his scoring ability to play him as the DOT has him operating as the new age 21st century scoring lead.  He does it from distance and has some of the best mechanics you will see; nice release point, quick and consistent – hi is shooting the same shot every time.  Of course he has the advantage of being the son of one of the most prolific scorer in the history of Ohio; Sonny Johnson Sr. name by Sports Illustrated as the #7 best ever Mr. Ohio Basketball. 

A certified gym rat, Johnson’s game possesses the little things, the extra pass, holding the follow through, stepping on the sideline on a trap.  Sonny thinks the game and his knowledge and basketball IQ translates to the floor not just as a PG but as a basketball player.   He is just as likely to drop 30-points as he is to dish out 10 assist and will often do both in the same game.   The one point especially when you are referencing guard play at the younger age group; isn’t the actual scoring numbers but how those numbers are being accumulated.  The way Johnson scores translates period and is done situationally at the next levels.  We look for Sonny Johnson to remain in the conversation and potentially via for top national honors with continued hard work; national scout are holding their breath to see him on the national circuit as soon as possible giving validity to everything we believe he is.

What does it mean when you travel the country on the most elite camp circuit; Lucas, Spotlight, CP3, Buckeye Prep and at every stop your name and your game is recognized with accolades and all-star appearances.  Previously featured in the class of 2019 as a scoring two Jordan Hairston or of Virginia, the most difficult transition in basketball began last summer on the camp circuit – the move to the lead guard position.  With so many aspects to developing at this positions timing and spacing, pace and reads, push and pull Hairston has bought in while still maintaining his scoring prowess.  

Headed to play for one of the elite high school coaches in the country Joe Wooten at Bishop O’Connell the school that recently produced UMD star Melo Trimble; Hairston will benefit greatly from his toot ledge.  One of the toughest hardnosed defenders you will see; he plays the game baseline to baseline – great on the ball he also plays the passing lanes like a free safety and is able to covert and makes plays on the other end of the court.  We have seen immense improvement in the analytical approach to his point guard development but Hairston remains a terror when put into his natural scoring roll; he knows how to put the ball in the hole.  Recently Hairston played a solid floor game at the lead guard position while leading his team in scoring exemplifying his long term ability to get it done on multiple levels as a top combo guard.