Monday, September 24, 2018

New Game, New Role for Choate's Peek

More prone to attacking the rim and having developed a knack for dunking it with either hand, Choate Academy's Hayden Peek is sneaky explosive.

 He's added strength and know how to his game, which should catapult him to a meaningful role at Choate Academy this season.

A high academic prospect, Peek prides himself on always winning the plus/minus component of the stat sheet. With a vastly improved pull up jumper and having finely tuned both his mid-range game and outside shooting, the Class of 2020 prospect's style aligns with a perimeter-oriented offense and uptempo attack.

"At Choate, we are guard heavy and we'll have to run the floor fast," said Peek, now at 6-foot-5 and 185 pounds.

"We plan on running a four out and one in offense."

After establishing himself as a multi-dimensional scorer who can guard multiple positions at Trinity Pawling (N.Y.), Peek finds himself flanked by more talent at Choate. The team will feature a high-rising wing in Chuma Azinge and a stretch four type who can really dial in from deep with consistency in Andrew Kenny. Peek will also have the luxury of playing alongside a dish-first facilitator in point guard Aaron Gao, a cerebral game manager who knows how to get his teammates involved and make good reads.

Preparing Peek for the rigors of high level New England prep basketball was his experience playing for Team Rio, with an ensemble of Division-I talent and one of the nation's premiere molders of talent in fiery head coach Mike Rice.

"Playing for Team Rio was an amazing experience," Peek recalled. "Practicing and playing with the best players in the country really helped my game. It allowed me to learn from the best. Being coached by Mike Rice was unbelievable. The knowledge he has for the game is rare to find. His intensity rubs off on the guys he is coaching, which is awesome to be a part of."

With his unique blend of high academics and still evolving game, Peek has the potential to be a quintessential "safe bet" prospect. With his attention to detail and how well he takes to new concepts and his work ethic, his upside is appealing as he heads into his junior season. By becoming more adept at putting the ball on the floor and creating space for his shot, he's got the tools to really manufacture offense in a variety of ways this season. With his newly discovered bounce and knack for knifing to the rim, he'll be able to manufacture points in a variety of ways.

Choate Academy has plenty of depth in the backcourt. They will get quality minutes out of Hunter Jameson and Noah Delorme. Jameson is a sharpshooting guard with the potential to get hot in a hurry, who additionally brings a natural feel for the game. Delorme, a sophomore, has displayed good two-way tenacity and all around athleticism.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Stellar Point Guard Play A Livelihood For The Nation

One year after putting forth a marquee and memorable performance in which he neutralized Anfernee Simons of then-IMG Academy, The Nation Christian Academy's Class of 2019 point guard Idrissa Bivens is flushed into a prominent role.

The veteran, battle tested point guard brings a multi-dimensional layer of talent which dispels the stereotype that New York City guys have never been too thrilled about playing pesky defense.

Beyond the performance against Simons (who was held to a meager six points and never really got going), now with the Portland Trail Blazers after circumventing the collegiate process with a post-graduate season, Bivens authored multiple performances in which he kicked out 10+ assists as a junior.

Attacking the rim with full throttle explosion, soaring by unsuspected defenders, and thriving by creating space off the dribble, Bivens has become a real arduous chore to guard this season. His shot and his shot speed have become bedrock attributes for the senior.

With Bivens flanked by Class of 2020 Khyree Taylor in the backcourt and with Class of 2021 Jaden Levine arriving at the doorstep with an advanced skill set and a certifiable toughness, point guard has rapidly evolved into a bellwether position in the upstart second year program. The Nation also features an under the radar Class of 2019 point guard in Toronto native Josiah Tynes, who has shown an ability to quarterback a team and simultaneously established a dependable knockdown game.

"Every point guard we have is forced to get better everyday," said The Nation's assistant coach/Director of Basketball Operations Nate Alexander.

"The level of competition within that group is higher than likely anyone else's backcourt in Florida if not the country. Idrissa does everything smoothly--he's hardly ever rushed. When he gets to his spots, he's nearly impossible to stop. His length also makes him a huge factor on defense, in the passing lanes, and at the rim."

Out of Westchester County, N.Y., a basketball hotbed which has lost a considerable share of public school guards to the prep route these past few years, Taylor has displayed the tightest handle out of the core. He's able to pile up points in a hurry and has showcased a lost art in today's game with a consistent mid-range pull up.

Running hand in hand with the maturation process has been Taylor's increase in work ethic and vocal presence throughout practice. He's the type of kid who expects himself to win every in-house competition and set the gold standard in every drill.

A raw and wildly undiscovered 2021 talent, Levine has shown nary a trace of trepidation in gauging his grit against bigger, stronger players. With his willingness to apply wall to wall blanketing defense and surge to the rim against rim protectors. Levine's restlessness has translated to a deliberate, heady guard who knows how to distribute that fireball pass and get his teammates involved.

As a post graduate, the 6-foot-3 Tynes has been consistent in imposing his will and being active in all categories of his game. Boasting a heady game and picking up on detail rapidly, the Class of 2019 should carve out his niche as a reliable two-way guard on the program's post-graduate team. Alexander envisions mid to high major potential in the sleeper.

"All four excel in finding the open man and can create offense for themselves," Alexander said. "All, in my opinion, are high major talents."

Player development, a major component in the Nation's ascension from an obscure first year program (one which didn't kick off until December of 2017) to a 60-player program rife with blossoming young talent in year two, has mirrored the ascension of all three.

"We've had a target on our backs since the IMG game last year but it has all intensified now because of the stage we are on and playing in the SIAA conference," said Bivens, who rattled off Florida International, Ole Miss, and Northeastern as the programs in heaviest pursuit of him currently.

"Everybody is just trying to be successful. With the point guards, we just devote so much to ball handling stuff. We will do drills where we dribble with two basketballs at once, everything we go through consists of putting the ball on the floor and being comfortable making decisions with the ball."

With matchups against the likes of West Oaks' Tyrell Jones ( 35+ Division-I offers including Florida and Louisville), Bryan Greenlee of The Rock School (1st team All-State selection, recently pulled in an offer from Boston University), and uber-talented point guards throughout the SIAA conference, Bivens is cognizant all three will soon have a fight on their hands.

"This year it has all intensified because kids know the stage we're on now, everybody is just trying to be successful," Bivens explained.

"We do ball handling stuff, dribbling with two basketballs, we go through everything consists of putting the ball on the floor and being comfortable and being able to make decisions with the ball.

Bivens said part of inheriting a leadership role demands that he hold the underclassmen to a high standard. This mentality has resulted in constant battles with Taylor in practice, each and every last one of them being heated.

"With me being a senior and me being a leader, I understand you have to bring it everyday," Bivens explained. "You have to go full throttle in practice because the younger guys are gunning for your spot. With myself and Khyree, everyday is a battle. Everything becomes a competition. Coach never wants us on the same team in practice and is constantly matching us up together. Oh, it gets heated at times. We're making each other better."

The sleeper out of the trio is the Class of 2021 Levine, who has already generated SEC and ACC interest.

"Jaden could go down as the best player to ever play in my program," head coach Mike Woodbury said. "He never gets sped up, he dictates tempo, he shoots the lights out from three, he facilitates. He's the best quarterback out of all of them."

With the emergence of Taylor, the program has a rare case of a guard who thrives at creating space, creating separation, and an instinctive style of scoring the ball and eluding defenders. He's shown an adeptness at getting into the teeth of the defense and adjusting his shot accordingly. He finishes with either hand in unique, crafty fashion.

 Becoming a more consistent shooter from beyond the arc has earned him offers from St. Bonaventure and McNeese State while tuning up his Division-I interest. Florida Hoops head honcho Eric Wallace, a longtime recruiting guru, has him projected as one of the state's best guards in the Class of 2020. Playing national competition this season will ramp up his status on the recruiting market.

The loaded backcourt equates to a legitimate matchup headache.

"We have the advantage of getting those guys to go head to head to head everyday," as Woodbury explained. "That allows us the freedom to play. In our style, we're going to be able to put two of those guys on the floor at the same time. Khyree will probably be the lead guard and Idrissa will likely play off the ball. Both of them playing lead guard roles creates a real advantage for us."

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Uno En Uno With: Adam Sanders, SCS Baseball

ZS: As a multi-sport athlete who played all three seasons, you were able to author a significant impact in basketball, baseball, and golf throughout your high school career. Which aspects factored into your decision to play baseball at the next level?

AS: With baseball, I had more offers and more opportunity out of it. I figured I was best suited to play baseball at the next level and saw more promise in the game with my skill-set and what I can offer through the test of time. It ultimately seemed like the right route for me.

ZS: How would you describe the experience of forging a team of guys from tremendously different backgrounds and different countries into a team with camaraderie and a team that’s collectively bought in thus far?

AS: This summer, I had the opportunity to go to Ecuador. In visiting a third world country, I really got to experience something new and also realize how great I have it here in the United States. I was able to establish important bonds with people from different countries and that’s transferred to what we’ve done here which is work collectively and sacrifice individual wants for what’s best for the team.

ZS: As the old saying goes, ‘there’s nothing like the original. You guys are the first-ever prep program here at Scotland Campus Sports. If you could pick and choose it, how would you want this team to be memorable and special and what would you want to ultimately cement this team’s legacy?

AS: First and foremost above all would to be have a winning season. I would also want all of us to get what we want at the next level. Whether that’s an offer or the chance to get what we want as we continue our careers academically and athletically.

ZS: How would you sum up some of the key principles coach (Todd) Weldon preaches and ingrains in you guys?

AS: He preaches a hard work ethic and makes sure we’re constantly ahead of the curve with what we need to work on. That means getting into the weight room with (strength and conditioning coach) coach Travis (Scott) and getting the work in early.

ZS: How would you describe the experience playing travel ball this summer and what did you take from that level of play?

AS: It was a great experience playing against guys that were either current or former college players. A lot of guys can still pump up there. It was different. There were guys who could spot their off speed and fastball, which makes them really effective. So it was different. It prepared me a lot. 

ZS: Which components of your game have grown the past season and what do you feel are your bedrock attributes as a multi-tooled guy who can catch, pitch, and display some pop? 

AS: I've got a pretty good arm. Hand and eye coordination helps me a lot with that and my playmaking. I take pride in my work in the weight room and that, along with hand-eye coordination, forms a lot of pop. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Grind Florida Brings Highest Level Talent the Country Has To Offer

Florida's vaunted SIAA conference has an issue every other high school conference in America would love to one day be confronted with. It's hard to decide who will be selected as Pre-season Player of the Year. With several significant recruiting coups this summer, the SIAA has restored credibility as one of the country's traditional breeding grounds for high major talent.

 Playing on The Grind Session, which will host a slew of highly anticipated events featuring a "who's who" of Division-I prospects, the talent-rich conference will stack up similar to an old school BIg East.

Never before has the SIAA been this evenly matched. Known for routinely churning out guards, never before has the conference possessed this many sky-rising and multi-dimensional forwards with upside. Never before has there been a youth movement dripping with this caliber of potential, with a gaggle of callow freshmen and sophomores  already inundated with a drawer load of high major offers.

The SIAA's involvement with The Grind Session is instantly traced back to the Corey Sanders-led West Oaks Academy team from four years ago. A hyper athletic and flashy guard who perhaps brought as much entertainment value as any guard in the country in the last five years, Sanders had a real wow factor to him.

In piloting West Oaks to a 32-5 record, the Lakeland, Fla.-bred Sanders' potent handle and wowing above the rim finishing ability circulated throughout the internet. As he developed a reliable outside shot and added new facets to his game, Sanders grew in stature and national name recognition. This memorable team had significant guard depth with bullish point guard Andres Feliz (now at Illinois) and Richardson Maitre (Florida Atlantic).

Fitting, as West Oaks once again has the firepower and backcourt depth. Tyrell Jones, with his bullish and hard attacking style along with the elevation on his shot and ambidextrous finishing ability, is one of the first names which surfaces in the Player of the Year conversation. A two way threat who thrives with the manipulative one on one game capable of dissecting defenses, Jones has pulled in 35+ offers. Auburn, Louisville, Florida, TCU, Iowa State, and countless others have been in heavy pursuit of Jones.

He creates a unique backcourt tandem with catch-and-stick threat A.J. Neal, a poised and seasoned guard who holds offers from Florida State, UCF, Florida Atlantic, UMass, and others.

Over at The Rock School in Gainesville, Fla., Class of 2021 stretch four/five Lynn Kidd tipped the high major scales this summer, garnering offers from Florida, Georgia Tech and Xavier. He's shown scoring and rebounding capabilities in the post, incorporating a reliable mid range and outside shot this summer. With the way he blocks and influences shots as a rim protector, he's got an the instinctive style that's transferable to the next level.

 This off-season, The Rock stabilized its lineup by acquiring Florida State-commit Zimife Nwokeji. Nwokeji will form a radiant inside-outside threat with deftly skilled and muscle-bound Class of 2019 point guard Bryan Greenlee (15.7 PPG, 5.7 APG en route to All SIAA first team honors in 2017-18).

"He has great athletic ability and can attack from the perimeter," said the reigning state champions head coach Justin Hardin of Nwojeki.

"He has a skill set that allows him to be successful regardless of who he plays with."

Over in Daytona Beach, Fla., DME Academy bolstered its lineup with Florida Prep transfer Moussa Diabate. The 6-foot-9 forward is lethal for his versatility.

DME head coach Dan Mondragon tried to shy away from going into a hyperbole when assessing the Class of 2021 prospect’s game. He did say, however, that he envisions the freakishly athletic 6-foot-9 behemoth as a potential draft pick.

“I think he’s going to blossom for us,” said Mondragon, who had a menacing frontcourt of 6-foot-9 and 7-foot-1 bigs en route to the SIAA Final Four berth last season.

“We will use him as a point forward and give him a lot of freedom to push the break. Our biggest focus is developing his perimeter and faceup game and not limiting his potential. He’s very comfortable down low and has already established tremendous footwork. In the half court, we will have an inside/outside threat who will operate out of the high post as a playmaker for our other guards and as a scoring mismatch to slower bigs or smaller wings.”

Following a topsy turvy year that featured a nauseating rate of transfers and uncertainty, Oldsmar Christian has the integral pieces to return to prominence. They feature a dazzlingly athletic 6-foot-6 forward in Jadrian Tracey, who has opened up a 3-point shot and refined the skill components of his game. After averaging 19.6 points, 6.6 boards, and 3.3 assists at Riverdale, the Class of 2020 prospect transferred to Oldsmar in effort to appease his insatiable thirst for competition with a national schedule. Tracey recently earned an offer from Michael Fly and Florida Gulf Coast University.

Potter's House has the potential to ascend the national mountaintops with a core of reputable, highly-lauded guards. They've ramped up the roster with Taelon Martin, a tough two-way threat from Massachusetts. They've also bolstered the backcourt with one of the conference's most well rounded prospects in Keano Calderon and the athletically gifted Mayoum Mayoum, both transfers via DME Academy. With his high scoring aptitude and knack for taking over games, Class of 2019 guard Marsei Caston returns as the focal point.

New to the Grind Session South is Downey Christian, known for a veritable scoring machine in wunderkind Class of 2020 guard Julian Newman. Having played meaningful varsity minutes since he was a fifth grader, the state's all time leading scorer will gauge his grit against a number of college ready prospects. Newman averaged 31.4 PPG last season and added considerable range on his 3-point shot, firing in from NBA territory.

The team also added upfront depth and recruited several surrounding pieces to supplement the electrifying Newman. Inspire brings a high-scoring point guard in Khalyl Simmons, who has evolved into a real game changer with his production rate this off-season. Victory Rock continues to boast plenty of Division-I and international talent.

New programs such as Superior Collegiate Academy will add to the numerous freak athletes and high major caliber prospects in the conference. The program has under the radar talent such as 6-foot-7 sharpshooter Jacob Crews and crafty 6-foot-3 point guard Khalil Shaheed.

 Over in Port St. Lucie, a torrent of talent at the multi-team program, The Nation Christian Academy, will play in both the SIAA and The Grind Session in its second year. As he prepares a number of unheralded recruits for their first ever Grind Session experience, coach Mike Woodbury is cognizant of just how unforgiving the schedule is in the SIAA.

"Every night is going to be a battle in this conference," Woodbury explained. "The SIAA is loaded with talent. The kids have to understand it cannot be a faucet plug. You can't just turn it off and turn it on. You have to bring it every night in this conference or you get exposed."

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Florida's The Nation Christian Academy Now One Of Country's Largest Growing Programs

An uptick in numbers has resulted in an infusion of scalding new talent at The Nation Christian Academy in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Boasting numerous intriguing, multi-positional forwards and a gaggle of highly touted recruits, the second year program has the potential to break into the national conversation this season.

 The timing also makes sense, as the program joins Florida's prestigious and traditionally powerful SIAA conference this season.

Following a topsy turvy year marred by 11th hour transfers, the SIAA conference has restored national credibility as one of the country's toughest and most unforgiving conferences. With The Nation jumping into the conversation of "who's who" and featuring a number of hotly pursued talent, the program could potentially ascend the national mountaintops.

Head coach Mike Woodbury said having a standard program that preaches accountability and the basic principles of basketball and operates the correct way has directly impacted the buildup. With a brick and mortar school and an academically enriched program, they pride themselves on doing things the right way and holding each student athlete to a high standard in day to day activity.

 The Nation Christian Academy now holds 60+ student athletes in the basketball program alone.

"We're rich with talent, both old and young, 2019 guys and underclassmen," said Woodbury.

"Coaches are not only excited about our upperclassmen. I truly believe our sophomore class is one of the best in the country right now. I've already got wings and elite guards who are garnering national attention. The reality of it is we say we are going to do it, and we follow through with it. We teach skills conceptually that are transferable to the next level."

 Woodbury continued, "The work is tireless, but getting to know the right people and the right guys nationally and internationally have really boosted our program. I've been fortunate to be surrounded by unbelievable people in my coaching staff and my supporting staff."

Exactly when The Nation fled obscurity and earned national visibility is traced to January of 2018, when they cultivated a unique and multi-dimensional talent in Abdou N'Diaye. A long 6-foot-10 forward who guards nearly every position on the floor and possesses a guard's skill set, N'Diaye blossomed as a stretch four in a short period time.

After a less than memorable stay at now defunct CGM Academy in Arizona, N'Diaye transferred to The Nation. He averaged  a team-best 27 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks and ultimately chose Illinois State over Wichita State, UNLV, Ole Miss, and a barrage of others.

"That took us from nobody to somebody really quick," said Woodbury.

"I got a call from a friend who needed to place a young man who had just witnessed his prep school close down in one of those tragedy stories you hear about. Abdou flourished, he evolved as a mega recruit very quickly. Gregg Marshall was here. Georgetown and UNLV came here, the list goes on and on. With the recruiting class we were able to put together this year, in a relatively quick period of time, that speaks for itself."

Headlining the program is a versatile returning piece in 6-foot-7 Marvens Petion, a hyper-athletic wing. With his open court finishing and defensive tenacity and instinctive style, Petion has the potential to author a breakout year in the aforementioned SIAA.

"The kid is a freak," Woodbury explained.

 "He's grown to 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot, a 7-foot-1 wingspan. He defends like an absolute maniac. He defends the 1-3, rebounds the heck out of the ball and his outside game is gradually improving. What's noteworthy about Marvens is he plays above the rim at all times. The most unique part about his game is that he's still new to basketball. He was a soccer player before he came into this country. The game is still new to him and that's where he's got upside, because he's a sponge. He accepts responsibility. He comes in with his hard hat every day."

Woodbury may have actually found N'Diaye's understudy in the 7-foot Mamadou Gueye. Though raw and still grasping the nuances of the post game, Gueye has displayed a deft outside touch and an ability to knock down shots from 15-18 feet out with consistency.

 The program now has 11 players who are 6-foot-7 or above, including 6-foot-11 Center Justin Johannesen. With his toughness and ability to thrive in the pick and pop game, Johannesen has the opportunity to be breakout prospect on the mid major market.

 One year after going eyeball to eyeball with 2018 NBA draft pick Anfernee Simons and IMG Academy and turning in a marquee and memorable performance, Class of 2019 guard Idressa Bivens has garnered offers from Ole Miss, Florida International, Northeastern, and FGCU.

 With his shot creation and knack for creating space, Bivens has the look of a prolific scoring off guard. He's capable of guarding either guard slot and will handle the chore of clamping down on a number of high-scoring guards in the SIAA and beyond.

Class of 2021 prospect Mohamed Sow's ability to shoot it from deep, mid range game, and explosive off the dribble attacking at 6-foot-8 recently earned him a scholarship offer from Ole Miss.

 His fleet of foot and how well he spaces the floor and rebounds at his position have been eye-widening thus far. Woodbury is equally psyched about the stock risers he's got, citing the rapidly improved and hot shooting 6-foot-7 guard/wing Indrek Sunelik.

"He's a lanky wing who came in a little bit under weight," Woodbury assessed.

 "He shoots the absolute snot out of the ball. Every time he shoots the ball it looks like it is going in. He's going to be the most impactful and underrated player to come out of the SIAA this year. He'll have the high and mid major guys checking in on him by the end of the month. He came in under the radar and hungry. He's in speed and strength class every day, he's got the desire and want and will to be one of our better players."

With a 7-foot sophomore in Chidera Nsude and a 6-foot-9 freshman in Yves Noah, it's fair to say the youth movement is promising in Port St. Lucie.

Florida has traditionally been a veritable breeding ground for top-shelf talent. It's no secret, flop house programs and shady post-graduate institutions that tend to pop up and shut down at the 11th hour have not exactly given the state a pristine prep image. Woodbury said the goal and initiative is for his program to ultimately help alter that perception.

"What differentiates us is that we have college placement for every kid," Woodbury explained.

"We can assure them not only the opportunity to get better and play but the opportunity to get recruited. It's not easy to get Division-III guys recruited. Hey, it's easy to get Georgetown there. It's not easy to get Babson here. That's a Division-III national power."

Coaches from Georgetown, Jacksonville, Florida Atlantic, Maine, and countless other programs have already been in to see the steady crop of Division-I talent the multi-team Academy has to offer.

While registering its presence nationally, Woodbury has increased the strength of schedule with opponents such as Putnam Science (CT), who they'll play during the National Prep Invitational in Rhode Island during late November. Woodbury said every SIAA game is equal in importance.

"Here is the one thing you can always expect to see from us," said Woodbury. "Beyond being very good and talented, we're going to play defense. We will compete day in and day out. Every night is going to be a battle in this conference. The SIAA is loaded with talent. The kids have to understand it cannot be a faucet plug. You can't just turn it off and turn it on. You have to bring it every night in this conference or you get exposed."

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Grind is Real For SCS Baseball During Inaugural Campaign

Scotland Campus Sports' Arturo Nunez approached head coach Todd Weldon and immediately dug into his left pocket.

This was several weeks ago, following an in-practice performance which the well-built 5-foot-11 Class of 2019 shortstop wasn't particularly thrilled about.

What would appear to be a simple gesture morphed into a telling a moment, emblematic of the leadership and sacrifice invested in a secluded prep environment.

"He felt that didn't perform very well in the last 60 that he ran, so he came up to me after his hitting practice and said, 'I've got something for you,'" recalled Weldon, who previously coached at Wayland Baptist University, the school at which the former flame thrower cemented his legacy with single-season records in wins (11) and strikeouts (120). 

"He gave me his cell phone, just handed it over. He said, 'I feel like this is a distraction that is keeping me from doing what I came here to do. I want you to keep it, until further notice.' I thought that showed a level of maturity and a level of how much he wants it. To be able to hand over something that unfortunately, in this generation of student-athletes, is a pretty big distraction."

Nunez can't afford to be distracted. 

Not after a whirlwind month that began with a 7 1/2 hour flight from Santo Domingo to the United States.


Not after the 18-year-old received a crash course in college level English and quickly applied this new grasp of the language to various courses.

Not while while devoting himself to an arduous and demanding around the clock workout schedule.

 And so Snapchat and Twitter and Instagram are essentially forced to play a diminished role during Nunez' time here in Scotland, Pa., where the prep institution has now launched a blossoming baseball culture with several intriguing prospects.

No distractions. Just results.

 Both player and coach are cognizant of this. 

An emergent prospect with the reputation of speed and arm strength and consistency, Nunez says he takes most pride in his defense. 

The stoic and unrivaled team leader recalls the memorable ovation he received when he parked a two-run homer into the seats past center field at a showcase event in Fort Meyers, Fla. a few years back.

His aspirations, however, are to hit the ball with consistency and to deliver with runners in scoring position while sustaining a sound defensive skill set. 

"Conditioning is very important to me," said Nunez, whose pro potential gives the program rife with raw international flavor an empowering locker room presence.

"Growing up in Santo Domingo, I watched guys like Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, and Manny Machado online. I read all about them, all about the training and how regimented they are. I watched instructional videos and learned just how hard you have to work to have success here. To be honest, yes, I would like to get drafted this year. That has been my goal. I think that's every kid's goal. I realize it is going to take a workload and right now I have the chance to better myself, day to day. Being here at Scotland, we have the chance to be very special this year."

Nunez' blurrish quickness have the potential to augment his draft stock in this lone prep season.

"I've heard from a few different people that the best 60 he ran is 6.1," said Weldon, who spent time in the New York Mets organization and garnered a berth in the New York-Penn League All-Star game while throwing a scalding 97 MPH fastball as a rookie. 

"Now I know (6.1) is flying. I think the consistency with that is a big thing. He knows the base paths well. He runs bases really well. From what I've seen, how he really moves, he's probably a consistent 6.4 or 6.5 runner. I do think the potential to be a 6.1 or a 6.2 is consistently in there. I think he will match up really well against the competition."

Weldon has made a high-order commitment to skill development a livelihood for student-athletes from seven countries this fall. By orchestrating team activities, he's gotten to know each and every player in the program.

The 31-year-old coach's ties to Nunez, however, go beyond that.

"He coached my brother (at Wesleyan Baptist)," said Nunez, cracking a brief half-smile.

It was Nunez' older brother, Brian Nunez, who ingrained this insatiable desire to win in him, cultivating a skill-set in the promising shortstop since he was 12. 

"He's basically kept me grounded, kept me working," Nunez recalls.

"If I have a bad game or I don't perform up to his standards, he will let me know about it. He's only four years older than me, but at times he's like a parent and a coach. It is pressure sometimes, but that's what you need in order to get better. When I was younger, he was always getting on me to get to the park and play and making sure I was investing the right amount of effort into the game and not getting complacent or anything like that. Without him, none of this is really possible."

Without Chambersburg-based agent Brian McGinn, none of this upstart Scotland Campus Sports program is really possible. The former pro prospect turned scout turned agent, McGinn's list of clientele includes Shippensburg native Travis Ott (Tampa Bay Rays), Mount St. Mary's grad Brady Feigl (Atlanta Braves), and another local product in Josh Edgin (Washington Nationals).

While nagging injuries ultimately cut McGinn's playing career short, he was able to utilize a unique blend of know-how and scouting expertise to the player representation game.

McGinn has criss-crossed the world throughout his time as a certified MLBPA agent. The journey has opened up a valuable rolodex, enabling the program's Athletic Director to cast the net wide and high while building up the first-year program from scratch.

Student-athletes from Australia and Canada and Mexico have come to the sprawling, 40-acre Scotland Campus to refine components of their game while garnering collegiate exposure. Some are looking to better their academics, others are taking the additional year to develop and put scouting eyes on them. 

"The camaraderie and brotherhood established by this team has been great," said Weldon. "These guys have really progressed and bought into teamwork and been instrumental in helping each other adapt and improve."

SCS has lofty expectations for a burgeoning Division-I and professional prospect in center fielder Bernard Shivers, out of New Jersey.

"His defense is probably his best attribute," McGinn said. "He's got the ability to track down balls. He makes tough plays look easy. He's got a strong arm and speed. He clocks around a 6.5, 6.6 in the 60-yard dash."

Built like a manchild, Shivers is a multi-sport athlete who additionally starred as a running back in high school. The post graduate will invest more focus to the skill development aspects which he wasn't privy to before arriving at the doorstep in August. He's got the potential to ramp up his stock incrementally during this lone season under Weldon.

"He plays MLB defense," McGinn deadpanned. "He has a ton of upside at the plate, with significant bat speed."

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Uncle Harsh's Reality

The man they call "uncle Harsh" had grand illusions of becoming a well to do rapper. Thus, after putting together a number of albums and selling them from the trunk of his pickup truck, he moved his business to a video production studio.

At this location in South Florida, before it became the go-to location for standing sets and video location services, a legend grew from relative obscurity.

Initially, the studio was solely for his music development and promotion. For "uncle Harsh," the entire focus was to better hone his craft and spend more quality time, an aspect he figured would propel day to day improvement. With business quickly becoming slow and lackluster, however, Chet Harshman realized it was in his best interest financially to pursue an additional craft.

 With the same video production studio location, he developed a personal training business which helped cultivate a high level fitness mindset in women of all ages. He employed cross fit themed, endurance-gauging workouts and implemented laborious workouts involving kettle balls and an array of other tools he routinely applied.

Chet actually utilized the film production studio by taping these workouts and blasting them all over social media at a furious pace.

It was all in effort to promote his business, "Harsh Reality.". Realistically, this is essentially how his business took off. The social media following he developed was wild, with Chet eclipsing a whopping 30K followers on Twitter within his first month alone.

He scoured the local area for video shoot locations, applying an innovative and creative mindset to his trade. For much of his adult life, he struggled to find his niche and bounced out of different jobs and part time hustles which never evolved.

He languished around the Vapor industry for years, trying to sell CBD oil. After encountering trouble finding consistent work and sustainable wages, he eventually tried his hand at rapping.

 Part of his trouble in attaining sustainable work was his inability to confront the fact that high school ended. In actuality, that was Harshman's own "harsh reality." He was unrivaled as "that guy" in high school, albeit he never experienced the same credibility and love beyond his golden teen days.

Chet eventually maximized his own celebrity status through his innovative videos, growing from a local product to a nationally renowned "workout guy." He began mapping out music video locations in Miami and other locations in South Florida, including the dazzling Fountainbleu Motel. He even did one video in the less glamorous parts of Hialeah to prove he wasn't going to buy into the Hollywood theme of being "above people." He felt, in his eyes, he didn't want to show anyone he's changed or view anyone as beneath him.

While gaining more and more fanfare, he began teaching classes on how to grow your social media following and benefit your business through the valuable online resources. He developed a quick enough following on his Facebook to begin his own TV show, which aired five days a week.

Chet's high-octane, sustained relentlessness and hyper-aggressive nature during the workouts was what really made the show go. While Harshman was often known for his self-proclaimed greatness and spoke about his stout reputation as a multi-sport athlete, an unpredictable reality came to life.

There was a classroom set, one in which he berated well to do school kids and told them they were entitled and soft. There was another episode in which he's in a hospital room set, speaking on the value of nutrition and the pivotal role it plays in one's everlasting health.

There is an additional webisode in a police station set where he sets bribes for everyone he arrests as a cop. Harshman's wild success allowed him to kick-start his own clothing brand and start a charity for at-risk youth. Few could have ever envisioned this kind of international celebrity status from a guy who battled a drug addled childhood and did not take the normal route to Hollywood.