Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bruijnzeels Brings Shooting Touch, Poise From Amsterdam

Amsterdam is widely known for its scintillating nightlife.

Given the popping city's scenic environment, breath-taking canals, museums, wild Red Light District rife with scantily-clad females, the city is both vibrant and vivacious. With Amsterdam's fabled coffee shops, which attract cannibas-crazed tourists across the world, the freedoms of Amsterdam have made it a reputable party pad.

And so sports tends to take a backseat in Amsterdam, which is more bent on glorifying marijuana and thriving with an assortment of posh, smoke-friendly restaurants. Soccer is the country's favorite pastime, with the basketball culture lacking.

Josh Bruijnzeels, now a senior off guard at The Conrad Academy in Orlando, Fla., trekked to the United States to maximize his potential and opportunity on the hardwood. In Orlando and in a structured environment with day-to-day emphasis on improvement, Bruijnzeels, is finally in the environment he desires.

He's also laser-focused on leaving here with a full, four-year scholarship.

The teenager swears that he's never smoked the substance on which his city raises a flag proudly for. He's also never had a sip of alcohol.

For Bruijnzeels, who was born in Aruba, distractions have never been an issue. His unflappable mentalityis sustainable, as the hot-shooting 6-foot-5, 195-pound guard will fight for meaningful playing time on talented veteran roster.

Bruijnzeels registered his presence as a catch-and-stick presence during the Dodge Florida shootout this weekend, hitting a feathery mid to 20-foot jumper with consistency. He also showcased an ability to hit the boards and use his wingspan defensively.

During several occasions, he went eyeball to eyeball with Jacob Tracey, the flashy guard and Division-1 prospect from Fort Myers. It was indicative of his hyper competitive engine, one he hopes to display in Shaun Wiseman's souped up offense at Conrad Academy this winter.

In Amsterdam, Bruijnzeels bouncy athleticism and steady stroke catapulted him into the elite of his age group. He saw more opportunity to prolong his playing career after high school in the United States.

So, he became a staple on Florida's ever-evolving prep basketball scene.

At MMG as a junior, he averaged 16 points on a steady diet of 3-pointers, medium-range jumpers, and baseline drives.

He eventually transferred to Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, where a leg injury would relegate him to the role of spectator.

Now healthy and working on adding both bulk and instinct to his game, Bruijnzeels is flushed into a prominent role as a supplementary piece.

With the quick-paced offensive attack predicated on the inside-outside tandem of hotly pursued guard Luguentz Dort and 6-11 Auburn-commit Austin Wiley, Bruijnzeels is cognizant of his role.

That role entails being a dependable kickout shooter and secondary scorer, one capable of delivering should Dort and Wiley catch intensified defensive coverage.

Bruijnzeels, who speaks a number of languages fluently, is also among The Conrad Academy's top student-athletes.

Uno En Uno With: Mel Esso and Nicolas Elame

ZS: What were some of the positive draws of the American game and which factors were influential in coming to the U.S. from France and prolonging your career as a student-athlete?

ME: I came to the United States to become a better athlete and utilize my athleticism and my aggression more. The American game is faster and more physical, so I think I'm in the right place as far as improvement.

NE: I watched guys like Tony Parker thrive in the NBA, that basically showed me that the American game was the most competitive in all of the world. You don't see this type of basketball in the NBA just everywhere.

So, I wanted to go for my dream of getting a scholarship. I know every kid dreams of going to the NBA but I'm realistic that I want to get close to that dream so I have to keep working.

ZS: Which aspects sold you on the prep program, The Conrad Academy, and the level of basketball we've got going out here in Central Florida?

ME: coach Johann (Mpongo) his brother was my coach in France and he basically told me which aspects of my game could improve. From assessing it all, he basically told me that the United States would be the perfect place for me to expand my game.

NE: I pride myself on being a tough-nosed guard who can shoot and get to the rim. I also play tight defense and try to cause disruption for opposing backcourts. So, watching how the game is played through guys like Tony Parker and Boris Diaw and Nando de Colo, I figured this would be the best place. I also learned about the SIAA and realized it was a tough conference with West Oaks and ACD and Potter's House, so I liked the idea of having a big challenge every night.

ZS: Speaking of the increased level of competition, in which ways have you been raising your level of play to meet the brutal nature of this unforgiving SIAA league?

ME: From the very beginning, coach Brad Traina has helped me get a better shot. He's shown me the different style of defenses that we will face this season. So because of that, the elevation on my shot has increased. Coach Brad is like a, how do you say it in the United States? A basketball wizard. He knows everything and he makes sure I apply all of these details to my game.

Coach Johann helps me with ball handling and being aggressive and not being soft. He was a big, bruising forward back when so he knows the game.

NE: The two areas that both Brad and Johann have been consistently helping me with are my dribbling, my tighter handle, and how to knock down the medium range shot and be a dependable threat with this.

ZS: What did you learn about your game from the recent Dodge Florida Shootout this weekend?

ME: I learned that I need to use my length and drive the ball more. When I attack, I have the option of either scoring or finding a cutter or going up hard and drawing the foul. So, being more willing to put the ball on the deck and attack is major in my development. At 6-foot-7 and 200 pounds, I've got to use my body to my advantage.

NE: It showed how the whole pace of the game is different. I learned that I have to be more aggressive in the American game and am really going to have to work to get my shots and score. It is a challenge and it's a unique challenge which I am ready for.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Former Florida Big, Ex-NBA Player Chris Richard Now Committed To Training

By Chris Richard

My true love for basketball took root mid-way through my sophomore year at Kathleen High School in Lakeland, Fla.

We had a stacked squad with thorough depth and athletes, cats who could play multiple positions and thrive off athleticism and toughness. 

We were predicated on gritty team basketball and a desire to make each other better.

 The team was entirely ego-free, we all had each other's backs through everything. On the court and off it. 

We practiced as hard as we played, though of course we turned it up a few notches when those bright lights flickered on and fans piled into the gym. 

Our squad started with Rashad Anderson, that's big bro right there. 

You might remember him as he was a lights out shooter for UConn with Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor. Rashad was a knock down shooter and could flat out score the rock.

At Kathleen, we leaned on Rashad and TJ Walden, who was eventually the Florida 4A Championship MVP. Rashad, TJ, and a number of other guys were our poster boys at the time. 

I was a sophomore and there for my post game and energy. I don't want to do a disservice to anyone by not mentioning them, so I will just say we were stacked and the seniors led us through the wars. 

We went 28-6 that season, 2001, culminating the year with the Florida 4A state title. No feeling even compares to the natural high of winning a state title. I was fortunate enough to win two more at the University of Florida under Billy Donovan. Make no mistake about it, it's a special feeling. The next 24 hours, you are just elated. You are a rock star and a wunderkind and it's just hard to come back down to earth from that feeling. 

During my junior year at Kathleen, I took scoring matters into my own hands. After being a secondary option, I had a major green light to get to the basket and score in a variety of ways. I could go run the floor and play rim to rim and I also added on a number of post moves. Rashad had graduated and he basically passed the torch down to me.

Even though he was in Storrs playing for coach Calhoun, he still kept in contact with me one way or another. 

And so I became the focal point of the offense. Much of my game was based on being tough around the basket, so the grind was just never ending. I locked myself in the gym and subscribed to that grind life, never really being distracted. 

My senior year at Lakeland, I was a double double just waiting to erupt! That killer instinct had finally grown in me and I used it to my advantage. I became more of a presence as a rim protector, developing that hunger to swat away shots. 

All the grinding paid off as I was named Florida's Mr. Basketball. Just thinking about the moment I learned I had won the award throws me into chills.

I had all around game. I was pushed and pushed and pushed and I met the challenge and tried to topple it every day.

I owe a great amount to my older brother Tim Jones and my Mom. Tim was a beast of a football player so he gave me constant support and inspiration and made sure I was tough at all times.

My Mom, she was just my rock. What's really great is that my Mom understood the game and knew what was going on out there, so she could push me and help me. Y'all read it right. Wasn't a misprint. It was a woman who helped me get better at basketball and take my craft more seriously.

I was dealt a great hand as far as my family being supportive of me and I thank God for that.

The reason I chose University of Florida was because I was a local kid. I wanted to stay true to my roots and be loyal to those who had confidence in me. So, it wasn't much of a sales pitch for coach Donovan and them. I was ready.

My freshman year, man was that a transitional period! I go from being a massive interior presence and manhandling the competition on a regular basis to going up against dieseled up, grown, and established athletes. Let's just say I had to adapt. I had to go through the trials and tribulations en route to getting up to speed.

At a high level and high major program, especially what we had at the time, nothing is given to you...You can be the best HS basketball player to ever roam the planet, yet when you cross that bridge into high Division 1....the respect has to be earned. 

There is simply no where to hide. With a frontcourt that featured David Lee, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Matt Walsh, and others, there were no light practices.

I had to always be in tune with what coach Donovan preached and create my own niche in the paint. 

My junior year, we were written off. Everyone envisioned us having a down year. Everyone saw us as a middle of the pack team and we used that as motivation.

We pulled off a signature win and then another at the start of the season, riding that wave of momentum. My guy Jo, he really does not care what you think of him. People hated him so much on the road and I think he really thrived off the hostility. 

When we won the chip that year , you saw my man get wild and you saw how much all of us soaked in the wild atmosphere. Truthfully, it was our accountability and commitment to playing for each other that propelled us. 

Playing against Mike Conley and Greg Oden, it was a monstrous task but one we were readily prepared for. Our preparation and shooting, plus the play of my brothers Corey Brewer and company made it back to back NCAA championships. If there was a basketball Cloud 9, I was on it. 

With guys like Joakim and Al in the trenches with me, my job was to be a cleanup man and get point blank range buckets and play sturdy defense off the bench. 

In the NBA, I learned from some great mentors in coach Wittman in Minnesota and coaches Scott Skiles and Thibs. My experience in the league also showed me that basketball really is a business and not all business decisions require your approval.

When I played professionally in China, it was a guard-oriented league. I learned my size gave me an advantage and renewed my thirst for just getting buckets. 

Now, in my "retirement years" so to speak, I've been back in my true sanctuary: the gym. I train kids and professionals of all ages, with a number of innovative workouts I've incorporated over my years working at the professional level.

I had the opportunity to work the 2016 Dodge Florida Shootout. It is special to me because the event coordinator, Conrad Foss, was my coach growing up and was a big advocate of me and my people. I also worked the Orlando Magic D-League camp and training session.

To learn more about my clinics, individual workouts, team workouts, and skill development work, kindly email me at chrisrichardnos@gmail.com.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tracey Displays New Tools In Florida Shootout

A variety of people have played a significant role in shaping the driven mindset of Fort Myers' Jacob Tracey.

The well-built 6-foot-4 guard, buoyed by natural scoring ability, is now at Southwest Florida Christian HS.

 He's become a more evolved threat, as a quicker release from 20 feet and beyond and more reliance on his shooting would indicate.

 And, while a number of people have nurtured his progression, Tracey now describes his support system as tight-knit.

"My older brother Jared, Coach Catto, Coach Chris, Caleb (Catto), my younger brother, they are pretty much my people. My inner circle is small, those are the guys around me the most. Those are the guys I trust."

Trust is a critical quality for Tracey, who enters his third high school in as many years.

As a third team all-state guard at Riverside as a sophomore, Tracey averaged 18 points, six assists, and five boards.

The junior now forms a vaunted 1-2 punch with a veritable knockdown specialist in Caleb Catto.

Both players put their skill-set on display before a handful of scouts and coaches at the annual Dodge Florida Shootout at Eckerd College on Saturday.

"When Caleb (Catto) gets hot, he's just a game-changer," said Tracey of his teammate.

"He's not one of those one-dimensional threats either. He could put the ball on the floor, he can make plays and score. Getting to states, obviously, that's our biggest goal. Right now were trying to get our identity."

It didn't take Tracey, once a Division -1 prospect in football at Wide Receiver, long to register his identity yesterday.

At an athletic 205 pounds, the junior showed an adeptness in getting to the rim and fending off augmented defensive pressure with ball handling and playmaking.

While a tad wild at times, he showed a propensity for getting himself into difficult situations and quickly getting himself out of them. It's a trait few players at this level possess.

"He's just a scorer, a guy who can get off the busy ready to put up points," said one scout in attendance.

"He's got a mature body for this age level so it makes it easier for him to get to the rim. He is pretty fearless."

Catto, also a built guard who can play off the ball or orchestrate the offensive flow, has an offer from North Florida.

Also a football player, Catto brings size and ability to stretch out defenses with considerable range.

Catto's 16.5 points, seven assists, and six boards per game were instrumental in spearheading Southwest Florida Christian to a 25-4 campaign last season.

Tracey has interest from Florida International, Florida Gulf Coast University, UCF, and most recently Butler.

While Jacob Tracey didn't always have the best people around him the past two years (he cited two incidents where he was almost guilty by association in school) , Tracey said the presence of his new coaches and most notably his older brother have kept him distractions-free.

"Jared just tells me surround myself with positive people and be a leader," Tracey said.

 "He tells me to make the most out of life and make it out of Fort Myers'."

While he has guidance and life principles instilled in him from his older brother, he has a promising teammate in younger brother Bam Tracey.

Bam Tracey has worked at tuning up all facets of his game. He's also trained with the legendary Teddy Dupay, the former Florida guard and deft long range shooting clinician.

"Training with Teddy is basically a pro workout," Bam Tracey said. "He makes sure I'm doing everything as hard as I can and correctly."

Now the young tandem hope to leave their mark with a tight entourage that will stick together through turbulence and glory.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Uno En Uno With: Cameron Corcoran, Arkansas Little Rock commit

ZS: Which aspects helped sell you on Arkansas Little Rock and what ultimately factored into your decision?

CC: I would say their guard play was a major draw for me. Coach (Wes) Flanigan likes to play three guards, he really depends on his guards and puts a lot of trust and responsibility into their guards.

 I felt like I could get it done for him and was confident I could help carry on their tradition of gritty guards.

ZS: In which ways is your game cut for the system they employ at Arkansas Little Rock?

CC: With Coach Flanigan being a great point guard at Auburn, I think he can help me establish myself as a better leader and a very heady and solid point guard at that level.

I think coach recruited me because of my natural ability to shoot the ball. He just wants me to become an all around threat at guard.

 I'll do whatever it is that's needed to lead the team to a victory.

ZS: How do you adjust your game from being a score-first guy at Orlando Christian Prep to being more of a quarterback and leader at The Conrad Academy this year?

CC: The transition has allowed me to be more realistic about my role. Being a smaller guard at 6-feet at the college level, I'm going to be more of a leader and a playmaker who gets everyone involved.

So, it has allowed me to create more and become more passionate about passing the ball and making my teammates better.

ZS: Which components of your game are you working to refine this season?

What played into your decision to spend a year at The Conrad Academy?

CC: I've been working a lot on my handle and less dribbles. I'm working on taking more high percentage shots.

I opted to come here for a year because of the opportunity to work with coach Brad Traina, who has really prepared me for college and developing my game so that there is no transition at all when I get to college.

I look up to coach Brad because of his knowledge of the game and because he played the game at a high level professionally.

 He pushes me a lot. Not in a negative way, he stays on me and makes sure I'm constantly working.

He makes me see the game different by breaking it down in various ways. So it gives me a whole new, more advanced perspective of it all.

 From training with him, my elevation on my shot has gotten better.

 My legs are feeling stronger and my handle is more precise.

He's just making me a better and mature player and it will help me to contribute right away in college I feel.

ZS: How did you benefit from having another diminutive and high-caliber guard in (top class of 2018 target) Damon Harge Jr. in the backcourt with you last year?

Obviously, nothing compares to the euphoria of winning a state title...

CC: At Orlando Christian Prep, Damon was great with the ball  and he was such a solid point guard, it helped me score the ball and get more opportunities to get my shot off.

Our chemistry was key in leading our teams to wins. He's in North Carolina now and I think he's got a chance to be a special player there.

ZS: Which schools recruited you throughout the process and how did you narrow it down?

CC: It was Acorn State, Florida International, and Stetson.

 UCF was showing a lot of interest but they never offered.

Arkansas Little Rock, I feel as if they just had everything that could take me to the next level. Watching them make it to the NCAA tournament and get that upset impacted me a lot. Josh Hagins, incredible guy.

He made it to the NBA summer league and now he's playing overseas.

ZS: What mentality did Showtime Ballers ingrain in you and how have you reaped the rewards of that experience?

CC: Playing with Showtime and coach Diane really got my confidence and helped me become a gritty guard who plays tough.

They've had a number of big time recruits come through the system so I of course tried to make the best out of the opportunity.

Without playing with Showtime, I wouldn't be at the level I'm at now.

Monday, September 19, 2016

LIU'S Parisi Exemplifies Student-Athlete

A fearless 3-point assailant and maniacal, devoted gym rat under the late and legendary Jack Curran at Molloy, Mark Parisi should be a role model for the city's youth and basketball community. He has the presence and the know-how to become a community pillar-type in New York, where basketball is akin to bloodsport.

 Beyond his play on the court, beyond the fact that Parisi overcame staggering odds to ultimately discover his path to a Division-I scholarship at LIU-Brooklyn, Parisi exemplifies excellence in the classroom.

 Undersized as a 5-foot-11 combo guard, Parisi has long been laser-focused on outworking everyone in the gym. He's packed muscle onto a once spindly frame and evolved into a scorer at all three levels, enhancing each category of his game through time and becoming a sturdy, ball-hawing defender in the process.

Parisi shouldered a high-order commitment to constantly bettering himself at his craft on the court while simultaneously pouring sustained relentlessness into his classwork. His no non-sense attitude and approach to life is commendable, an act that others should be willing to ultimately simulate.

Why Parisi?

What makes him any different than other high-academic kids who have prolonged their careers at Ivy League schools and highly competitive Universities?

 Parisi is quiet by nature, albeit he possesses a fearless confidence and charisma about himself and an ability to connect with people.

Due to these particular attributes, which register high on the RIchter Scale which gauges the real world, we should envision him as someone who sets the bar high for others.
His image should be that of a role model for the city's youth.

He has the unparalleled maturity to become a leader in the basketball community, a presence one on whom the city's youth will lean for constant advice and motivation.

Long range shooting ability is Parisi's calling card and what enabled him to ascend the ranks to the Division-I level.

 You will be hard-pressed to find any sharpshooter capable of outdueling him in a 3-point contest, NBA 3-point contest, or a free throw contest. His vertical has increased rapidly.

He's now throwing down authoritative, ferocious dunks with two hands and finishing through traffic with regularity. He's also not your prototype "groupie" basketball player, who keeps tabs on other players throughout the city and aspires to earn a spot on rankings systems and player evaluations. Composed and never enamored with personal statistics or individual accolades, one could best describe Parisi as a basketball old soul.

 He rarely played at age-appropriate levels and doesn't have the same distractions that our technology and social media crazed world creates these days. Plus this kid actually looks you eyeball to eyeball when he shakes your hand, very much a throwback caliber kid.

After interning with the Brooklyn Nets this past season, Parisi gained first hand insight and knowledge on the requirements of the NBA front office lifestyle. Parisi is a role model because he is cognizant that preparation and commitment are two vital tools in life. Whether he goes on to play professionally or not, he is able to envision a life beyond basketball.

 He has mapped out goals and life aspirations beyond basketball, which is what many of today's youth need to do in order to prepare themselves for the demanding rigors of the real world. Parisi is a classic case of a student-athlete who understands his responsibilities.

Again, every professional is faced with the harsh and unforgiving reality that their career will likely be over before they know it. It is more than likely that their career will be over on someone else's terms.

It is an honor and perhaps an unrivaled privilege to be a professional athlete, but very few are capable of sustaining the test of time beyond 12-15 years (at most) in the pro ranks. What separates Parisi from other athletes of his type is he acknowledges the challenges that come with assimilating to the real world.

He's well aware of the challenges both he and his peers will face one day, even if they do go on to pursue a professional basketball career. It is a reality not all of our kids are prepared for one day. As parents and coaches and mentors, we need to do a better job of preparing kids for the inevitable rude awakening that is life.

At LIU, he garnered a 3.9 GPA as an accounting and finance major.

All signs point to him attending Syracuse should he continue his education past undergraduate.
A high school All American and Max Preps Player of the Year as a hot-shooting, deft-passing 5-foot-10 combination guard in Virginia, Parisi has had nothing handed to him. Everything he has attained in his athletic and academic career he has had to go out and take the old fashioned way: through a gritty and infallible work ethic.

In today's age, too many of the city's youth see basketball and only basketball as the be-all, end-all of human existence. They are consumed by this whole notion of going to college and becoming a hotly pursued NBA draft prospect, eventually following the long green paper trail to the professional career. They seem to be under the impression cash will just fall from the sky and spending and managing their money won't be a concern.

Parisi, who has a major interest in finance and is already well-versed on the challenges that come with money management, likely won't entertain any issues with this.

Because he understands money and because his academics are predicated on numbers and how they relate to business, he is ahead of his class in this particular department.

These kids today do not take academics seriously enough and do not take into consideration the value of an education or a free education. They see college as merely a stop on their way to the league or a prosperous career in the NBA or over the waters. Too often, young players fail to acknowledge the power of education and most importantly the potency in using basketball as a major tool in garnering a free (or tremendously cheap) education.

Parisi is a different breed because he understands how ton commit himself to all of the important, fate-dictating components of life. He has a certain maturity and business-like professionalism at his age, a type of approach that others should emulate.

While entertaining lofty aspirations to play professionally are ambitious and admirable, student-athletes must be better schooled on just how well they prepare for this route.

Ultimately, student-athletes must be more in tune with the reality that you can't play professional basketball forever. Sooner or later, the ball will deflate on you and you will be tasked with finding another path to pursue.

There's no escaping this reality. Because of this, aspects such as money management and storing your money are critical.

The reason Parisi sets an example for others to follow is because he holds himself to a high standard.

He is already preparing to take on the unforgiving rigors of life in the real world. He has no illusions regarding life after basketball.

The hot-shooting guard realizes basketball is not the be-all, end-all of human existence as some of these kids are trained to believe.

In making a sound decision about future possibilities, you must be smart and alert. You cannot become too enamored with the prospect of playing professionally in a far and away country where you are a potential target.

Because Parisi is adept at understanding the business world, because he has this aforementioned 3.9 GPA, he can potentially guide others who may be misled.

Currently, Long Island University is starting the 2016-17 campaign with an entirely new backcourt. One guard even bolted for the professional ranks overseas, reneging on his commitment to a scholarship and the educational component.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Dort Returns Favor In Recruiting Friend To Conrad

Growing up in Montreal, basketball once had little appeal to Luguentz Dort.

Though he had seen a torrent of talent in the area, witnessing guys such as Tristan Thompson and Joel Anthony and Kris Joseph thrive, soccer was his initial labor of love.

By the time he reached middle school, Dort was head and shoulders taller than his classmates.

He also developed rarified athleticism. This was the attribute that led to both his friends and coaches urging him to ditch soccer and play hoops with a full throttle approach and 12-month commitment.

"It was almost as if they were recruiting me," said Dort, who now holds offers from Baylor, Oklahoma, Florida, Louisville, Oregon, Missouri, and a bevy of other high-major suitors.

"They basically told me I was wasting my time by not playing. Really, the one who I followed around was Shawn (Barthelemy). He was that guy in Canada. He was a playmaker and a scorer. I learned a lot of his moves and picked up the game from him."

Dort and Barthelemy created a vaunted backcourt tandem from ages 12-16.

As effectively as Dort could barrel through defenses and get to the rim with ease, Barthelemy had capabilities in picking apart a defense and pulling off deft no-look passes.

"He was just ahead of his time," Dort said of Barthelemy.

"He's the one who really showed me the ropes. Through him, I met my coach Nelson Osse. From there, Nelson showed me how to become a scorer and really showed me the skill component of the game.

Five years after Barthelemy implored Dort to convert his focus to basketball, Dort returned the favor.

When he learned that head coach Shaun Wiseman was installing his basketball program at The Conrad Academy in Orlando, Barthelemy was the first person he contacted.

It didn't take a whole lot of innate hustling tactics or powers of persuasion to sell him on a national schedule and a chance to garner a scholarship here in the United States.

"He got me into basketball so I wanted to take him with me and basically renew our basketball brotherhood."

Barthelemy remembers a kid who was built like a running back and could get to the basket and finish with contact.

"We had a great team in middle school, probably one of the best teams ever assembled in Canada at that level," recalls Barthelemy.

"When we got to high school, we played on Park X both our freshman and sophomore seasons."

Now the two Class of 2018 guards will hope to replicate that success in the United States, where basketball will never take a backseat to soccer.

Dort's mental fortitude was tested on January 21st of last season.

During that fateful night, Dort suffered a season-ending wrist injury.

The timing could not have been worse.

It was against heated rival West Oaks, a backcourt featuring one-time South Florida-signee Andres Feliz and Dort's cousin and close friend Richardson Maître.

Prior to the game, a 72-70 ACD overtime victory in which the two went at each other with a furious pace, the two exchanged friendly trash talk in French during layup lines.

Then, during the third quarter, Dort fell hard on a layup and had to be carried out of ACD's gym on a stretcher.

Nobody in the gym looked more concerned than Maître, who finished with 20 points.

While being sidelined and watching West Oaks avenge the loss during the post-season (en route to a SIAA championship), it reminded Dort of how much he loves the game.

Dort bounced back and displayed a new, adroit long range shooting touch. Playing for Brookwood Elite in Vegas, Dort averaged 20.6 points, seven boards, and 2.7 assists.

His quicker shot release and tweaked form was evident, as he canned 13-of-23 from beyond the arc.

He plans on taking unofficial visits to Florida in October and scheduling a visit to Oklahoma and Oregon.

He's quick to admit he's a long ways away from arriving at a decision.

"Right now my focus is on getting better every day and helping the team win anyway I can with my game," Dort said.

The same game that he once neglected, before his teammates and coaches implored him to get serious about it.

"I think last year showed me a lot because even though I was the youngest kid on the team as a sophomore, coach Wiseman showed me how to communicate like a leader. He put a lot of confidence in my game and helped me lead by example and create with the ball in my hands.

Other coaches, such as the aforementioned Osse and Conrad Academy assistant coach Antarr Crowley, had a hand in his development.

"Just like coach Wiseman, coach Nelson shows me how to lead the team and play like a true point guard. Coach Antarr, he helped get me stronger and constantly emphasized work in the weight room."

On Monday, after watching Dort carve up defenses during a two hour open gym session at The Conrad Academy gym in Orlando, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino offered him a scholarship on the spot.

"He is a legendary head coach, so it was special," said Dort.

Now, everyone seems to want a piece of the 6-foot-4 and bullish 215-pound guard. Coaches from Baylor, Oklahoma, Missouri and Florida were on hand to see him this week.

Yet the first person to effectively recruit Luguentz Dort now shares a room and a backcourt with him.

"He was really the one who showed me the game and showed me the moves and all of that," Dort said.

"I had to take him here to Orlando with me."