Tuesday, May 3, 2016

UA Next Combine Series - Fires Crucial Shot in Sneaker War (Part I: Point Guards) - EAST

The chase for positioning for the Under Armour Elite 24 game held annually in New York City; got off to a resoundingly great start at St. Johns College/High School in the Nation’s Capital this past weekend.  The event featured the top 40 players from the Mid-Atlantic Region and Canada and started off with a skills and drills session led by NBA and Professionals Trainers.   
At the conclusion of the skills and drills; players were put into situational drills focusing on specific elements of the game.  Rowland Houston graced the event with his presence and spent time with the players providing them inspirational and detailed information as what it will take to make and excel at the next two levels up.
In many instances “camp” games can get a little sloppy and not resemble a true game – but due to the tremendously high stakes basketball was played the right way with players sharing the pill and making the right plays.  With multiple video media and print media, and national ranking services in attendance including formal live game statistic the stage was sent for players to make a name or solidify one that has already been established.


Noah Farrakhan (6’1/PG/NJ) squarely put himself into the conversation as a top national point guard - he has a very efficient stroke with little to no wasted motion, had enough of a high IQ to run to his sweet spots in transition situations, and showed he is more than capable of pulling up off the dribble at virtually anytime. He also showed off a surprising explosiveness, finishing a number of plays acrobatically at or above the rim and consistently creating with his dribble.  He was impossible to deal with in space and was equally comfortable driving right or left, had a quick first step, and sought out contact while cradling the ball in order to get himself to the free-throw line. He also passed the ball tremendously well, showing excellent court vision and good versatility in terms of the various types of passes he is capable of throwing.        
Anthony “AJ” Hoggard (6’2/PG/PA) came to the table with a big reputation and did nothing to derail the train which has got him to the title of best in class; smooth as silk and a multi-faceted scoring point guard. He is an elite level scorer, works tremendously off the bounce where he can use his skillful ball-handling to create space for himself and others. He is a very good shooter with range to 22+ feet. He is a next level finisher, who absorbs contact and finishes through it on the other end of the floor he is a decent defender when motivated or challenged by the guy in front of him. He has a solid build with nice length and solid athletic ability. In time he should be more than solid on the defensive end as he has all the requisite tools. 
Tyler  Brelsford (5’10/PG/MD) there is no question that Brelsford  is an elite point guard with his advanced skill, confidence and high basketball I.Q. He runs a team with poise, excellent peripheral vision and an ability to score the rock with the jumper to distance and in the middle pull up game.  He exhibited a beautiful retreat, cross-over-attack dribble to create space and when he saw the double team coming at him or when his defender is really applying strong ball pressure he was able to adjust. On his penetration he demonstrates the adept ability to read defenses, see the assist and deliver the correct pass on time and on target. In the transition game when Tyler receives the outlet pass he has his eyes and head up as he looks to throw ahead or push the ball with the speed dribble. 
Rahim Ali                         John Wilson                         Keyshawn Johnson

We analyzed Rahim Ali (5’11/PG/MD) as a lead guard but is truly more of a combination guard in term of style and dominant skill set; Ali is a good athlete with sneaky athletic ability in transition. He is finishing near the rim when he is ahead of the pack serving more than adequately he is a point guard first that can slide over and play the shooting guard because his has the ability to knock down the open three. He doesn’t use a ton of lift on his shot and isn’t always on balance but his shot, release and follow through is excellent. He pushes the ball in transition with great pace; he has a strong handle and does a pretty good job of dribbling through contact. He is a terrific passer especially in the open court where he has great touch and feel for where to place the ball.  John Wilson (5’10/PG/NY) is a true point that has a pass first mentality. He plays under control and makes excellent decisions with the ball. He pushes the ball in transition and does a great job of always looking to advance the ball down the floor. He can also finish in the open court with excellent touch and body control. Wilson has a good basketball IQ and feel for the game as well. He is a good ball handler and passer and in the half court he is one of the few guards we saw that regularly looked to feed the post.  Keyshawn Johnson (6’0/PG/DC) is a scoring point guard. He is one of the  best player in the  class at creating scoring opportunities for himself. He is great off the dribble getting to the basket with his exceptional quickness and craftiness. He can also create jump shots off the bounce out to 20 feet. Sometimes he can lose focus of the team concept and look too much for his own offense but that his natural gift and he is a true weapon. He can create for others very effectively when motivated as he is a solid passer and decision maker when he is creating for his teammates. He was in selfish mode a little in his first game but there is no denying the talent as he turned that around to lead the event in assist by a substantial margin over the next player. He is an average on the ball defender but his quickness allows him to be very effective at playing the passing lanes.
Hakim Boyd (DE)
Hakim Byrd (5’6/PG/DE) is a explosive, lighting quick point guard who is clever with the ball in his hands. He does a good job of handling the break as he pushes the ball coast to coast with a speed dribble or will look up an advance the ball with the pass. This scoring point guard can take it all the way to the paint and score or make the pass from his penetration to an open teammate. He is in control of the game when the ball is in his hands.  Ahmad Fair (6’0/PG/PA) a deceptively quick point guard attacks his opponent in transition and in the half court with great athletic ability and cleverness. He is a pass first guard that can finish with great body control and hang time which allows him to draw fouls. He can get anywhere he wants on the floor due to his great ball handling ability. Fair is a great 'penetrate and kick' guard when the defense collapses.  Trevon Thomas (5’9/PG/Canada) His game is reminiscent of your smaller elite scoring guards (ie. AI, Tiny,) as he can score in a variety of ways. His explosiveness and speed are peerless in the open court as well as in the half-court set. He can blow by defenders utilizing his extremely quick 1st step and he usually scores with an acrobatic finish amongst the bigs. He isn't a true 1 for the next level and he needs to work on his decision-making because his shot selection can be troublesome at times. His jump shot is streaky but he makes more than enough of them where you have to honor it. Thomas is a bit of a 'tweener’ because he doesn't possess great size for the 2 and he is much more of a scorer at this stage rather than a playmaker, but none-the-less he is a major talent that should be monitored moving forward. 
UA Next Combine Series next stop May 14, 2016 Columbus, OH.
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