Wednesday, January 31, 2018

TLAP Features Plenty Late Blooming Prospects, International and Local Flavor

Train Like A Pro Academy  (TLAP) is quickly evolving into a national brand in Port St. Lucie.

Bolstered by an exposure-heavy national schedule on the Grind Session circuit, a rigorous training schedule, and an academically enriched program, TLAP has increased its enrollment in 2017-18.

In yielding the prep basketball seed in football crazed South Florida, the program has attracted student-athletes  criss crossing the globe to quench an insatiable thirst for superior competition.

With the buy in process coming along, TLAP suddenly boasts an array of young prospects now beginning to blossom.

The program also has a number of upside heavy underclassmen waiting in the wings.

"The focus is always to broaden opportunities for these young men and make sure they have the visibility aspect in terms of playing against the best and being seen by college coaches," explained head coach and West Palm Beach native Louis Graham, who averaged 17 PPG at Georgia Southern in his heyday.

"I don't sugar coat it for them. We're a program that gets after it and is constantly held to a high standard."

The emergence of diamond in the rough  recruits such as Mohammed Youssef, a heady 6-foot-3 point guard who plays for the FIBA Egypt national team, has keyed the program's incremental improvement .

"He's a very crafty point guard who has exceptional on court awareness," Graham said of Youssef, who has garnered the interest of programs such as Western Kentucky and Winthrop.

A player who has generated similar significant Division-I interest is Eddie Davis.

At 6-feet-6 and having developed prolific scoring capabilities at the wing, Davis is piecing together a breakout season.

Davis torched Impact (Sarasota, Fla.) to the tune of 35 points. He followed this performance up with an identical 35-point game against DME Academy of Daytona Beach.

Davis dissected several junk defenses applied to him with a collection of hard drives, 3-pointers, stepbacks, and feathery 15-18 footers. With augmented strength and physicality, Davis has bulldozed several smaller defenders to the rim and finished with either hand.

TLAP has also tapped into the international market with a 6-foot-10 Center in Mohammed Abed-Hantous, a native of Tanzania.

"He's a giant kid at 16 years old I'll tell you that," explained Graham, who played against myriad behemoths during a career in both the NBA D-League and overseas.

"He likes contact and he's physical. He's about 210 pounds. He's got a good body on him and he has plenty of potential. If he invests his time the right way and continues to work at it, he has the attributes to be a very special player down the road. His upside is very high and coaches really recruit on potential now."

Graham also sees potential in Chris King, a knockdown shooter who has earned credibility as your quintessential glue guy.

"He is one of those kids that will do whatever is asked and just wants to win, without getting enamored with his individual performance," Graham said. He's a glue guy, similar to (Miami Heat forward) Udonis Haslem."

Poised guard play has been a pivotal factor mirroring the ascension of TLAP, which increased its strength of schedule this season.

The deft handle and active hands defensively from 6-foot-3 guard Mikail Woods has been pivotal.

"He's quick, fast, a feisty defender," Graham said of Woods, who has inherited some on-court ownership of the program this winter.

"They call him 'The General.' He's one of those kids that just has natural leadership capabilities and plays smart, composed, in your jersey defense at all times. He's an energizer and he's got a great handle on him."

Another backcourt player with similar high level defensive tactics, a motor, and immeasurable toughness is Brenlee Jansey.

"He's a very rugged little guard and an all around tough minded kid who has the potential to be a steal on the Division-II market," Graham said.

Jamal Ellick, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard with a knack for barreling into the rim and scoring, has been a consistent 20 PPG scorer.

"He's real crafty in transition," said Graham of the local Broward County native.

"He's a physical attacker with the way he gets to the rim and finishes through contact," Graham said.

American University and USC Upstate, among others, have expressed interest in Ellick.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Atlantic Upsets Lake Worth In Thriller

Kadeem Wilks took a deep breath and mentally shut out a raucous crowd at Lake Worth High School Friday.

With the pressure mounting and the crowd volume ratcheted up to eardrum-shattering crescendo, Wilks calmly knocked back the game-winning free throw with 6.8 seconds remaining.

Previously undefeated Lake Worth (17-1) misfired on their final shot attempt at the buzzer, as Atlantic survived in a pulsating 41-40 victory.

Rodwens Albert, a well-built Class of 2018 point guard, scored a team-best 16 points to propel Atlantic (8-6).

Albert reeled off a personal 7-0 run during an 11-3 third quarter spurt that gave Atlantic a 29-23 lead.

Atlantic erupted following a stagnant first half, one underscored by a five minute first quarter scoring drought.

Whether it was a key steal, assist, or a transition finish, Albert constantly had his hand in a pivotal play.

Albert's defensive energy was the factor which ultimately earned plaudits from Atlantic's coaching staff.

Atlantic forced Lake Worth into some tough shots, resulting in an irregular shooting performance for the Trojans.

No longer the unsung backup to Trent Frazier at Wellington, senior guard Jay Medor catalyzed the Trojans with 17 points.

Medor bucketed a stepback jumper and then fed a cutting Willie Razz to slice Atlantic's lead to 38-37 with 3:53 remaining.

It was Medor who knotted the game up at 40-40 on a pair of free throws with 17.1 ticks remaining.

On the ensuing possession, Wilks snaked along the baseline and drew a foul at the rim.

By hitting on the second free throw Wilks sealed it for Atlantic, which returns a key piece in 6-foot-8 forward R.J. Duhart next week.

Duhart was forced to serve a six-week suspension following back to back technical fouls during the Kreul Classic last month.

The decision to suspend Duhart was heavily scrutinized by Atlantic, as the athletic department has tried to appeal it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

TPA'S Collum Is Starting To Garner Attention

As a 6-foot-8, 215-pound point guard, Tennessee Prep Academy's Antavion Collum possesses the integral ingredients to create significant matchup issues.

Through the first string of games and following a commendable performance at The Memphis Classic, Collum is averaging 31 points and 15 boards. With his ability to permeate the teeth of defenses, deliver deft dishes and rebound as effectively as a true big, the Class of 2019 Collum is a constant double-double threat. Don't be surprised to see him pile up a few triple doubles either.

He's deadly for his multi-faceted capabilities.

Memphis, Maryland, Florida, Kansas State, Iowa State, Murray State, UT-Martin and a handful of others have plunked down an offer for the big guard.

Collum visited Murray State last week. The true draw of Collum's trade is his ability to hit difficult, heavily contested shots in traffic and simultaneously finish in crafty fashion.

 He's developed a knack for angle bank shots. With the build of a wide receiver, he embraces the contact from rim protectors and can reel off points in a hurry at point-blank.

Should Collum develop into a knockdown threat, there could be limitless potential in his high-major stock.

In Tennessee Prep's loss to Believe Academy (TN) in the aforementioned Memphis Classic, the game's intriguing plot was an eyeball to eyeball duel between Collum and high-rising 6-foot-6 Believe guard Devan Cambridge.

Collum (27 points) and the hyper-athletic Cambridge (30 points) each turned in timely buckets in crunch time. With both players entrenched in a heated matchup, the level of play was amplified.

Freshmen transitioning to the rigors of college basketball often struggle with the physical demands required.

 Given Collum's advanced strength and  physicality applied in his confrontational defense, he'll likely circumvent the high school to NCAA growing pains prospects inevitably face.

As a sophomore, Collum played for former NBA player Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway at Memphis East. He spent time at Hardaway's house and even watched him as "Butch McCray" in the 1994 drama film Blue Chips, starring Nick Nolte and Shaq.

Collum has his own 1990s NBA ties. He is the cousin of legendary New York Knicks guard John Starks, a Madison Square Garden favorite lauded for his rugged style.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ozier Propels Scotland In IMG Victory at National Prep Showcase

During Scotland Campus Sports' signature 82-70 win over No.2 IMG Academy, 6-foot-1 point guard Koreem Ozier pieced together an efficient account of himself.

The Class of 2018 post grad and Racine, WI native scored 26 points, tore down 13 rebounds, and doled out four assists (game-highs in all three categories).

One-time Louisville commit Anfernee Simons paced IMG with 21 points. Simons, a Florida native who decommitted from Louisville following Rick Pitino's firing and the program's involvement in the tumultuous FBI scandal that's hampered the NCAA, is currently 2018 NBA draft eligible.

 With Simons on the post grad team and 7-foot-3 Center Chol Marial on the high school team, IMG boasts two potential preps-to-pros prospects.

Ozier, who scored 1,405 career points at Racine Case (WI) High and averaged 30.4 PPG as a senior, was one of the less acclaimed recruits entering the National Prep Showcase.

With coaches from UConn, Pitt, Louisville, St. John's, Tennessee, Georgia Tech and a bevy of others in attendance for this game alone, Ozier's recruitment should rapidly pick up.

Ozier shot 7-for-12 from the floor and knocked back a scalding 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Chris Whitaker and outside shooting threat Barry Brown scored 15 and 14, respectively. Scotland Campus' Ari Boya, a 7-foot-1 rim protector who committed to Bradley this past summer, added eight points and seven boards.

Ozier said a game of this magnitude in such a reputable tournament elicited a hunger to make statement from his team.

"We had to just play with heart and confidence," Ozier said.

 "Coach (Chris) Chaney expressed that the team which has less turnovers and gives up less easy baskets and wanted it more would be the most successful. We definitely came out with more more intensity."

During his high school career, Ozier authored a memorable 50-point game. Against IMG, he was anything but star struck.

"I just played within the offense but stayed aggressive throughout the whole game and looked for all opportunities to score and find different ways to dissect the defense," said Ozier, who has heard from Grambling and Iona lately.

"(IMG) switched from zone to man back and forth. When they were in zone, we attacked the middle and made outside shots. So, they eventually had to get out of it. When they went man, we moved the ball well and used our bigs to set good ball screens to either stop and pop or find an open teammate or draw a foul."

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Uno En Uno With: Remy Robert

ZS: How would you describe your focus during a post-graduate year and in which ways do you look to capitalize on an additional year to develop? 

RR: My main aspirations are to play to the best of my abilities and contribute to help the team win in any way I can. I'd like to get multiple Division-1 offers and choose a school that best fits my style of play and where I can be successful.

ZS: As a shooter, how do you go about polishing your craft and keeping your shot ready? How would you describe your daily regimen?

RR: I get in the gym every day. I fire up shots every day. Not only individually, I work with all my teammates. They all want the same thing as me which is to get better and attain a Division-1 scholarship. Personally, I am striving to be the best shooter in the program. So, I'm spending countless hours getting shots up. That helps a lot and keeps me in rythm and ready.

ZS: How would you describe the depth and talent on this particular post-grad team? With Coty (Jude) getting ready to pen his letter of intent with UNC-Asheville and several others piling up a steady wave of offers, there are plenty of unheralded prospects spread across the roster. What do you guys feel you have to prove in this PG season, as a team and as a group being overlooked on the recruiting market?

RR: The talent is the best I've ever played with, point blank period. We have about 12 D1 players on this team and we all want to make it. Everything we do is ultra-competitive because we are all pushing each other to be great and get better throughout this experience. As a team we have one goal and that's to win a national championship. Everything myself and the team does, is for my best friend Malcolm (Nicholas). We have to fill out our dreams for ourselves and him. 

ZS: Being from Baton Rouge, you learned under a pioneer for the game in  (current Detroit Pistons guard) Langston Galloway. How would you describe your relationship and what type of impact has he authored to the hoops community in Baton Rouge?

RR: Langston is like an older brother. He gives me a lot of advice on what I need to do in order to make it where I want to be. We text a lot and he is a role model. He's been quite inspirational to the community as well. 

He puts on free camps during the off-season just to help the local kids. He's truly an inspiration to everyone.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Uno En Uno With: Jared Grubb, Believe Prep Academy

ZS: How would you describe your career at South Laurel? Being the program's all-time leading scorer and the first-ever 2000-point scorer and having the wealth of experience that comes with being a five-year varsity player, how would you sum it up?

JG: It was definitely a unique experience. I think what stands out the most is having the trust of coach (Jeff) Davis. He gave me a lot of freedom to play my game and lead and I owe him for that.

In my first-ever game as a starter, I was a freshman. I wound up scoring 34 points. That moment really propelled me for the remainder of my career. During the next few years, since I had the experience factor I was able to be a leader. Beyond scoring, I looked to make my teammates better and facilitate. 

ZS: You initially committed to play football at Pikeville (KY) as a defensive back. What led you to change your decision and focus on basketball instead?

JG: I actually signed with Pikeville early. I was not opposed to playing two sports in college originally. Coach (Randy) Casey reached out to me about playing a post-grad year and attaining a Division-1 scholarship.

He actually told me his own story, how he arrived at Fork Union Military Academy with no offers and had eight offers by the time his post-graduate season ended. 

I was intrigued. I felt I was being overlooked by a lot of programs in Kentucky. 

ZS: How would you describe your role on this year's post-graduate team?

JG: We've got a lot of talent I feel. As a lead guard, I've got to do whatever is best for us to get the win. Whether it is scoring, dishing, or getting a key defensive stop.

Winning is always translatable to gaining scholarship offers and the more you win, the better your chances are.

ZS: Which aspects sold you on the program at Believe? 

JG: Knowing that I would be able to play on a highly-competitive team and surrounded by Division-1 talent. Also understanding the vision coach Casey and coach Tyson (Waterman) had for me here. You have to go where the system best fits you and of course where you will have the opportunity to be seen.

Tobler Thrives With Old School Mentality

Bullish, multi-dimensional, and barreling to the rim with nary a tinge of trepidation, 6-foot-5 guard/forward Damon Tobler showed sustainable relentlessness this weekend.

The underrated Tobler, now at Believe Prep Academy (TN) following a brief and forgettable stay at Montverde Academy (FL), scored 20 points on 11 shots during the post-grad program's 89-75 loss to Walters State on Friday.

While Tobler may be a relatively unknown on the recruiting market, several immeasurable intangibles make him appealing at the next level.

The physicality of his game was a necessity, especially as BPA buckled under early first half jitters. Stoked with confidence and initiating offense during critical junctures, Tobler put his versatile tool-set on display.

He knocked down deep jumpers. He knifed to the rim. He punched home one extravagant dunk through traffic, supplying energy and jolting the team into focus.

Tobler's advanced physical play and ability to snatch boards upfront was indicative of the toughness that parallels his game. While many of today's players are bone-thin, quick, and ferociously athletic, Tobler is very much a throwback with his football-basketball build and mentality.

In a game filled with heavy trash talk, staredowns and extra-curricular activity, Tobler was not afraid to talk trash or provide confrontational defense.

Believe Prep will certainly need this type of swagger this weekend. Tyson Waterman's team will play plenty-tough Mount Zion Academy in the hoops hotbed of Baltimore.

A major advocate of Tobler and the leadership qualities he has to offer is BPA coach Jason Moxley. Moxley, who coached at Pfeiffer, is the younger brother of former N.C. State assistant Rob Moxley.

Rob Moxley has long been recognized as one of the nation's elite recruiters, having secured high-end talent such as Greivis Vazquez (Maryland) and T.J. Warren.

Jason Moxley's son, BPA alum Andrew Moxley, is a deft shooting 5-foot-10 guard now at Georgetown College (KY) of the NAIA. So, it's fair to conclude he's got an eye for discovering and developing talent.

Tobler's BPA team will gauge their grit amongst a number of the nation's heavy hitters this winter.

 They will compete on the now expanded Grind Session and play in the Tark Classic in Las Vegas next month.