Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Nebraska Native Is Pleasant Surprise At Believe Academy





Most prep newcomers thrust into their first-ever meaningful minutes on an elevated stage are prone to jitters. Mistakes which tend to reveal their lack of experience at this ramped up level tend to rear their head. Yet for Believe Prep Academy's (TN) Jimma Gatwech, an unheralded recruit out of Nebraska, the transition came with little adjustment.



While the bone-thin guard has a ways to go physically, he showed poise and a prodigious above-the-rim game. Jimma stuck timely three-pointers, leaked out in transition, and showed nary a trace of trepidation going up against behemoth 7-foot rim protectors. Given his 6-foot-2, 155-pound frame, few would expect the dazzling displays of athleticism he's able to inject into head coach Randy Casey's lineup.






While the team is still establishing its identity and forging the pieces into a functional unit, the Class of 2019 Gatwech's pre-season impact has been felt throughout the program. He's a kid who can deliver a ferocious, momentum-swinging dunk.

Yet he's also displayed a "want it" factor in initiating and seizing what the defense gives him. These attributes should make the hyper-athletic source a key component on this year's Believe team, which will criss cross the country while entertaining a rigorous national schedule. This includes appearances in various Grind Session events.



Believe spent this past weekend at Scott Golden's Hoop Exchange All American Jamboree in Apopka, Fla. The poised play of Gatwech, combined with the end-to-end straitjacket defense provided by high-major prospect Devin Cambridge (Auburn, Florida, Georgia Tech), were components propelling the program to a 64-63 upset of defending SIAA (FL) state champion Oldsmar Christian. Led by one of the nation's best point guards in left-handed playmaker Elijah Weaver (USC, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Villanova), Oldsmar has oceanic backcourt depth with mid-major prospect D.J. Mitchell as well as IPFW commit Tione Rollins, Jose Romero, and Braxton Bartlett.

The team features an experienced, proven frontcourt in South Florida-bound Michael Durr and 6-foot-11 Marcus Hopkins, who was recently offered by San Jose State and Alabama A & M. So, beating a team of this caliber on a pre-season stage of this magnitude pumps promise into an under the radar program. Oldsmar had many opportunities in this heated battle, but costly mistakes such as a blown dunk and several other missed shots resulted in an irregular performance.



Coachability, interchangeability, and wowing open court finishing are immeasurable intangibles that make Jimma an appealing Division-I prospect. His desire for a year round basketball focus and a rapid increase in training are what led him to Believe, which has a core of veteran coaches and an around the clock devotion to skill development. And while he may not pass the eye test just yet, the quality is there and the upside is certainly there.

If this weekend's performance is a portent of what is to come, Gatwech likely will not be an unknown for long. Assimilating to the physical demands and rigors of the NCAA level is a focus he must pay special devotion to. Yet the demure kid's focus, work rate, and flair for the big play have registered his presence leading into the 2017-18 campaign.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Uno En Uno With: Coulter Dotson, Believe Prep Academy





ZS: What would you describe as the primary differences between prep basketball and high school basketball?

CD: The major difference is there is more competition at the prep level. There is an around the clock focus to the game and the skill development aspects. All of us are striving to be the best everyday and pushing ourselves to help each other out. Believe's focus on hoops is what I love. Everyday we are always working out and getting better. I'm a gym rat, so I love it.

ZS: What role do you envision for yourself on this year's high school team?

CD: I feel my role really is to be an all around player and contribute both offensively and defensively. I'm also going to rebound, hit shots and essentially do whatever is required to help the team win.

ZS: What is the identity this team is looking to establish? What are some of the key tenets of the system the team will employ?

CD: We're still developing our identity. A few more practices and we will be straight. Coach Randy (Casey), Brad (Traina) and Coach Tyson  (Waterman) have really been preaching defense and rebounding. They are always on us about defense. I think it paid off in our win against Oldsmar Christian  (during the Hoop Exchange All American Jamboree). We beat a very gifted offensive team with a lot of different weapons. It showed just how important defense is especially against a big time opponent. 

ZS: Being a local product out of Tennessee, you've got some familiar faces around you in Nashville product Devan Cambridge and Mike Parker, who you won a state championship with in soccer. What's it like to be reunited with them?

CD: It is definitely a real advantage, because the chemistry is already there with them. Those guys are easy to talk to and the familiarity helps us push each other every time we are out there. 

ZS: Having scored 1,000+ points in three years at Creek Wood (TN), you come in with the identity of a scorer. What other attributes of your game have grown these past few months? 

CD: Being multi-dimensional and adjusting to different roles. I played five different positions (at Creek Wood) so it is not much of an adjustment. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Uno En Uno With: Ronaldo Segu, Orlando Christian Prep




ZS: Which aspects ultimately led you to commit to Buffalo? What would you pinpoint as the vital aspects which sold you on the program?

RS: It was their loyalty. They were there from the very start, from day one. They kept showing up to all my games throughout the process. They were the most consistent through it all.

ZS: Which other programs did you whittle your list down to and which programs were in the heaviest pursuit througout?

RS: USF, VCU, New Mexico, and Towson. 

ZS: As a facilitator who takes a sense of pride in getting his teammates involved, how would you describe your traditional point guard role at OCP?

RS: Pass first point guard, I'm looking to make my teammates better. Doing what I do best, which is just being a winner above all out there. Being aggressive on the defensive side as well. 

ZS: Given the emergence of yourself, (UNC commit) Nassir Little, and a versatile high major prospect in Class of 2019 CJ Walker, the OCP program now has a target on its back. As the program gains national visibility and defends a state title, how do you guys prepare for the lofty expectations ahead?

RS: We asked coach for a harder schedule. Last year, nobody knew we would be there. Now we get it, we know we're gonna be the hunted. We're going to be prepared. We're going to work out best in practice. We're looking forward to (the increase in strength of schedule). We asked for it and we're gonna be ready to play the best. 

ZS: You've formed a radiant tandem with Nassir Little. Playing alongside each other year round and being able to accelerate his scoring all across the floor, how would you describe the connection? How do you reap the rewards of it as you quarterback the team?

RS: Our chemistry is really good. It makes the game easier and opens up the court. 

We have other talented guys too that make the game easier like C.J. Walker and Dejuan Lockett. The whole OCP roster. It makes it easier playing with Nas. He's so athletic and he can do certain moves that people can't guard. It's definitely a plus. 

ZS: How do you envision yourself impacting the program at Buffalo?

RS: I see myself getting better there. It's a fast paced system. So I'm going to go in there and do what I have to do to get the job done.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Top Unsigned Post Grads Pump Promise Into Believe







Since relocating to Athens, Tenn. from South Carolina, Believe has stocked up on talent while simultaneously ramping up its national exposure. The program looks to make a loud, resonating statement this weekend while registering its presence amongst prep heavy hitters.


While known recruiting ace Tyson Waterman will coach the high school team, Believe also features a no-nonsense tactician in legendary New York coach Kevin Jackson. Jackson helped cultivate the talent of Kenny Anderson and Lamar Odom during the 1990s period of prosperity for New York City hoops.


The program will kick off the pre-season at the prestigious All-American Jamboree in Apopka,Fla. this weekend. 
On this elevated stage, before a sea of Division-I coaches, Believe will gauge its grit against traditional powers such as Montverde Academy, defending SIAA state champion Oldsmar Christian, Mississauga Prep of Canada, to name a few.

 The highly anticipated tournament will also include IMG Academy (FL). IMG now features 7-foot-3 Center Chol Marial and 6-foot-8, 218-pound man-child Darius Days, a highly-lauded recruit. Anfernee Simons, a hot-shooting top-10 prospect who has suitors aggressively banging on his door since de-committing from Louisville recently, is the centerpiece of IMG's post-grad team.


Head coach Randy Casey will take a pair of post-graduate teams to a high-level tournament at Vincennes, a nationally recognized JUCO superpower. The trip to Indiana will be a major barometer.


The increase in both numbers and strength of schedule has made for multiple post-graduate teams. Several prospects to keep an eye on in this weekend’s event:


Kymani Dunham: Massive 6-foot-9, 280-pound forward has soft hands, footwork, and a still evolving back to the basket game. Averaged 15 points, 10 boards, and five blocks as a junior at Brunswick High School (Ga.). As a senior, Dunham was a central piece in leading Brunswick to a berth in the 6A Georgia state championship game. Dunham is currently committed to College of Charleston.


















Dexter Dennis: Massive 6-foot-5 Louisiana native is widely regarded as one of the nation's top unsigned guards. Dennis thrives at knifing to the rim and is an explosive finisher. Has developed into more of a reliable knockdown threat, an aspect of his game he's improved on exponentially. Currently holds offers from Lafayette, Northwestern State, Southern Illinois, and various others. Has established himself as one of the more under the radar prospects.

Devan Cambridge: Bouncy 6-foot-5 Class of 2019 guard from Nashville has potential to become high-percentage inside-outside source at the high-major level. Athletic, rim-to-rim piece has knockdown capabilities. Averaged 17 points at Pope John Paul II last season, including a pair of 36-point outbursts in state tournament. Georgia Tech recently offered Cambridge, while Florida and Auburn also appear to be high on him.

Malcolm Nicholas III: Smooth 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard has picked up offers from Eastern Michigan and UT-Chattanooga recently. A high-motored athlete, the Miami native has the attributes to thrive in the souped-up attack. South Florida has upped their interest in Nicholas, who starred at Mater Academy in Hialeah, FL.

Coulter Dotson: Tennessee native will spend final year of illustrious high school career at Believe. At 6-foot-6, 175 and  containing a wealth of experience as a high-scoring feature piece, Dotson will lead by example. Has been an active presence on the glass while showing an ability to guard multiple positions.  Possessing high-major 3-point shooting ability and an adept all around feel for the game, Dotson is an intriguing prospect on the Division-1 market. His 3.8 GPA certainly helps. 




Joel Ntambwe: Forest Trails transfer brings multi-layered ability and can play a little point forward. Class of 2018 forward has offers on the table from Cincinnati, Rhode Island, Tennessee, UNLV, Providence, and myriad others. Possesses deft finishing ability and all-around game. Congo native possesses European guard skills and has flashed a 3-point game this fall.

JJ Romer: Hialeah, Fla. product is late-bloomer with bouncy athleticism and guard-esque skill-set. At 6-foot-10, Romer has potential to be another unique threat who will subscribe to the program's tenets of interchangeability and versatility this season.


Malcolm Farrington: 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard has lethal 3-point shooting ability, as evidenced in SIAA performances last year against Oldsmar Christian (15 points, 5-7 3FG), Potter’s House (20 points, 6-for-8 3FG), and in The Grind Session against Wesleyan Christian and Tennessee Prep. Class of 2018 guard has all-around game and brings defensive mindset into 2017-18 campaign. With a 4.0 GPA and steadily rising game, the 17-year-old Farrington would be a major get at the Division-I level.

Michee Mianga: 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward is sound around the basket and still developing as an interior threat. Has the potential to be a high-efficiency guy at the next level. Showing promise on the glass and as a rim-protecting presence. The Citadel, VMI, and Coastal Carolina are potential NCAA destinations for The Congo native.

Kris Volo: 6-foot-11, 245-pound Center has unique blend of size and evolving talent. Becoming more of an active presence on the glass and developing a sense of urgency in the paint has paid dividends for Volo, who has interest from Mercer and several others.

Cody Jude: A 6-foot-7 small forward with a feathery stroke and a hard-to-guard shot, Jude has been heating up on the high-major market. Marshall has been in the most active pursuit of Jude, who possesses immeasurable intangibles such as coach-ability and a high on-court IQ.  







Dazzling Summer of 2017 Revitalized Lecque's Profile





Jalen Lecque pieced together a commendable, memorable summer that enabled his Division-I stock to skyrocket. In fleeing from relative obscurity, the 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard injected dazzling displays of athleticism and advanced know-how as a game manager.


These immeasurable attributes propelled the New York native to collect offers from Providence, Florida, Auburn, Seton Hall, St. John's, Minnesota, and myriad others. His massive summer '17 eruption heightened the high-major presence of Lecque, who previously had just a short list which included the likes of Iona, VCU, and Santa Clara.

Body transformation, fearless slashing, and a newfound feel of how to pick apart a defense revitalized Lecque's profile. Now at The Christ School (N.C.), the Class of 2019 Lecque is widely regarded as the top guard in North Carolina.

Accustomed to carrying a bulk of the scoring load during the regular season, the 2017 AAU campaign witnessed Lecque adopt and run with a point guard skill-set.

In sparking the break, dissecting defenses and prospering in the above the rim game, a kid who has said he views himself as a high-end talent made sure his words proved prophetic.
One pulsating, extravagant explosion circulated the internet instantly. Lecque took a hard dribble, levitated and threw down an extravagant one-handed hammer over a helpless defender.
There was simply no turning back from there.


Continue Reading Here

Friday, October 6, 2017

All-American Jamboree Features Traditonal Prep Powers


 

 




























Team To Watch: No team enters the 2017-18 campaign with a price on its head like Montverde Academy. Kevin Boyle’s program will feature the country’s best player in newly re-classified Class of 2018 wunderkind R.J. Barrett.

 Barrett’s 38-point scoring binge, the factor which propelled Canada to a 99-87 victory over USA in the FIBA U-19 Basketball World Cup this summer, cemented his status as the country’s unrivaled prospect.

Barrett also submitted 13 rebounds and doled out five assists in authoring a hyper-efficient performance. Crafty, explosive, and adept at scoring the ball from all areas, Barrett recently sliced his list down to Duke, Kentucky, and Oregon. Barrett is slated to make his decision on Nov.10, prior to the official start of the 2017-18 campaign.

Arizona, mired in the groundbreaking FBI scandal which entails wire fraud, pay-for-play, and bribery charges, did not make the cut. Michigan was recently eliminated as well.

Montverde features newly-minted Florida commit Andrew Nembhard, a traditional point guard who pulls off passes only a rarified brand of talent is capable of. Also a spot up and stick threat, Nembhard will have help from 6-foot-4 lefty Mike Devoe.

Having recently committed to Georgia Tech, the Oak Ridge transfer is an efficient offensive source who can finish amongst the trees upfront and also spread the floor with considerable range. The addition of Devoe, one of the nation’s top-20 guards, pads the loss of North Carolina commit Rechon “Leaky” Black.

A 6-foot-8 guard and a fluid supplementary piece during the nationally televised Dick’s Sporting Goods tournament, Black has returned home to play for 3A North Carolina State Champions Cox Mill.


 Morris Udeze, who recently committed to Wichita State, brings a massive presence in the trenches at 6-foot-8, 215 pounds.

Football player turned three-star forward Josh Roberts, who is committed to St. John’s, will be a pivotal figure on the boards. Kevin Zhang, a 6-foot-9 swingman who hails from Chinese basketball royalty, should supply meaningful minutes. A transfer via La Lumiere, Zhang is being recruited by UCLA, LSU, Ohio State, and several others.

Few teams in the country possess the augmented depth and position-to-position potency of this Montverde team.

While Montverde’s post-graduate lost 3-point shooter Cameron Healy (Now at Albany), who knocked down 25 3-pointers during one three-game stretch last year, they added Seton Hall commit Darnell Brodie.


 A mobile 6-foot-10 big with a feathery touch, the Newark, N.J. native is known for his work rate. Montverde’s PG has also bolstered its roster with 6-foot-5 small forward Bikim Biyombo, the younger brother of NBA player Bismack Biyombo.

 The transfer from Mountain Mission (Va.) contains superior strength and wowing athleticism. If he can develop his all-around game and add some ball skills to his prodigal vertical, he could have a special impact.


Hey, nobody ever called the kid a genius. Biyombo will need to shore up past academic issues in order to crack the high-major scales.


Event's Most Electrifying Player: Luguentz Dort, Athlete's Institute




The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Dort is one of the country’s most menacing match-ups.


 Boasting a game predicated on fearless slashing and above-the-rim finishing ability, Dort arrives at Athlete’s Institute with a number of gifts on both ends of the floor.


After authoring a 36-point outburst against 22 Feet Academy last season and showcasing his hard-driving, defense dissecting style, Dort has etched his name as one of the country’s elite in 2018. Dort is still developing a steady 3-point shot and has shown improvement in that compartment of his game.


He’s a full throttle athlete with the build of a halfback. Dort has whittled his list down to Arizona State, Miami, Indiana, Michigan State, Oregon, and Baylor. The Montreal native is active defensively at all times and can convert a turnover into a transition dunk as effectively as anyone in the country. His sheer strength allows him to overpower foes and manufacture points at a torrid pace.


Game To Watch: Oldsmar Christian (FL) v.s. Believe Academy (TN), Oct. 14th

As the defending SIAA Florida state champions, Oldsmar Christian enters the All-American Jamboree with a wealth of Division-I talent. Coach John Bianchi’s program features one of the country’s most highly-lauded recruits in Elijah Weaver.


The well-built 6-foot-5, 195-pound guard is an innate left-handed playmaker with the ability to take game-changing matters into his own hands. He is currently deciding between Florida, USC, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State.

Oldsmar will reap the rewards of a healthy 6-foot-5 D.J. Mitchell. A steady 20+ point scorer, Mitchell now has offers from Rhode Island, St. Joe’s, Penn State, FCGU and a barrage of others.


Oldsmar, which lost just two letterman to 2017 graduation, has backcourt depth with IPFW commit Tione Rollins, Braxton Bartlett, and Class of 2019 Jose Romero.

Micheal Durr, a 6-foot-11 South Florida commit with a versatile game, will be the stabilizing force on the frontline. Oldsmar features an underrated big in Marcus Hopkins, a 6-foot-11 Center out of Oakland who has the potential to be a sleeper recruit.

Believe Prep spent the off-season ramping up its recruiting efforts, bringing in surefire Division-I talent such as 6-foot-8 Joel Ntambwe (Providence, Tennessee, Rhode Island, UNLV, Arkansas, Wichita State) and 6-foot-6 Class of 2019 prospect Devan Cambridge.

Ntambwe possesses a versatile and finesse game, attributes which enable him to put the ball on the floor and create and guard from the 1-4. Cambridge, out of Nashville, Tenn., brings all three levels scoring and high-level athleticism.


Coming off a year in which he averaged 17 points and six boards (including a pair of 36-point outbursts in the state tournament) to lead Pope John Paul II to a Division-II/AA State quarterfinal berth, Cambridge has interest from Auburn and Florida.
Believe also features a still developing 6-foot-11 Center in Chris Volo, a Long Island native who appears to be high on Mercer’s priority list.


They also have under the radar prospect in 6-foot-3 sharpshooter Malcolm Farrington, who averaged over four 3-pointers per game on the Grind Session circuit last season.


A game of this magnitude, in one of the most highly anticipated pre-season events, will be a major barometer for the vastly improved Athens, TN-based program.


...

Defense and stellar guard play will again be bedrock principles of Orlando’s West Oaks Academy.

West Oaks, which has churned out strong, multi-layered and double duty threats such as Corey Sanders, Andres Feliz, Richardson Maitre, and Sylvain Francisco, will again feature a promising backcourt.

 

Tyrell Jones, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound point guard out of Orlando, is flushed into a prominent role this season. Jones holds offers from Tennessee Tech, South Florida, James Madison, Florida International and a bevy of others. Florida recently has expressed interest in Jones, with Gators assistant coaches Dusty May and Darius Nichols taking in a practice recently.

 

The Class of 2019 prospect is rather under the radar on a national level, an aspect which should change with West Oaks competing in the All-American Jamboree,  The Grind Session, and various other exposure-heavy events.

 

Jones is a well-built guard capable of creating for his own and scoring in a number of ways. He possesses high-level athleticism and the rare ability to pick apart a defense as a facilitator.


Jones does a bit of everything, including hit transition 3-pointers and leave defenses on their heels with an evolving downhill game and a crafty, fearless style in the half-court set.

 

West Oaks will also feature a rugged defender and underrated guard in New York native P.J. Person. Person showed strides this summer on the AAU circuit and has the expanded offensive guard tool-set to be one of the SIAA’s best kept secrets.

 

He will have help from Tyrieke Blakeney, the younger brother of the former LSU star and current Chicago Bull. Blakenley registered his grit in a recent fall league win over Windermere Prep, knifing to the rim and displaying a pull-up game as well.

 

West Oaks returns a young but experienced guard in A.J. Neal, a Class of 2021 guard with 3-point range and an advanced offensive mindset. Neal has been playing varsity since he was in seventh grade, after averaging 28 PPG on J.V. Expect him to take on a more meaningful role in 2017-18.








Freakish Freshmen: Potter’s House of the SIAA (FL) boasts underclassmen talent in freshmen in 6-foot-9 Jonathon Izemef and 6-foot-8 Bretner Mutumbo. Both will be thrust into prominent roles as rim protectors for Steve McLaughlin’s new-look roster.


While most callow, raw work-in-progress caliber sky-scrapers arrive at the doorstep with tremendous upside and a debilitating handful of flaws, Izemef and Mutumbo's quick evolution as upfront monsters is indicative of their potential.
 Both players have displayed an advanced skill-set and scoring acumen, complete with post moves and thunderous  finishes at the rim.
The promising 1-2 punch has instantly shed any traces of softness, dunking with relative ease and penetrating the nooks and crannies of frontline defense to score.



Thursday, October 5, 2017

SIAA Season Previews Part I










West Oaks Academy

Orlando, FL

 

Key Losses: Sylvain “Frenchie” Francisco, L.J. Figueroa,

 

Key Newcomers: Tyrell Jones, Tyrieke Blakeney

 

The tradition of Guard Academy never seems to graduate at nationally recognized West Oaks. The program will again be predicated on tough, thorough backcourt play underscored by hazardous defensive pressure all across the floor.

 

West Oaks has churned out strong, multi-layered and double duty threats such as Corey Sanders, Andres Feliz, Richardson Maitre, and Sylvain Francisco. Once again, their lofty expectations starts and ends in the prominent backcourt.

 

Tyrell Jones, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound point guard out of Orlando, is flushed into a significant role this season. Jones holds offers from Tennessee Tech, South Florida, James Madison, Florida International and a bevy of others. Florida recently has expressed interest in Jones, with Gators assistant coaches Dusty May and Darris Nichols taking in a practice recently.

 

The Class of 2019 prospect is still quite an unknown on a national level. This should swiftly change this season, with West Oaks competing in Scott Golden’s All-American Jamboree, The Grind Session, and various other exposure-heavy events.

 

 He will have a number of opportunities to ramp up his exposure while subsequently staking his claim as one of the country’s prized recruits. Playing in the SIAA, given the league’s unforgiving strength of schedule and national reputation for electrifying guards, will certainly help.

 

Jones is a well-built guard capable of creating for his own and scoring in a number of ways. He possesses high-level athleticism and the rare ability to pick apart a defense as a facilitator. He does a bit of everything, including hit transition 3-pointers and keep defenses on their heels with an evolving downhill game and crafty, fearless slashing and creating in the half-court set.

 

West Oaks will also feature a rugged defender and underrated guard in New York native P.J. Person. Person showed strides this summer on the AAU circuit and has the expanded offensive guard tool-set to be one of the SIAA’s best kept secrets.

 

He will have help from Tyrieke Blakeney, the younger brother of the former LSU star and current Chicago Bull. Blakenley registered his grit in a recent fall league win over Windermere Prep, knifing to the rim and displaying a pull-up game as well.

 

West Oaks returns a young but experienced guard in A.J. Neal, a Class of 2021 guard with 3-point range and an advanced offensive mindset. Neal has been playing varsity since he was in seventh grade, after averaging 28 PPG on J.V. Expect him to take on a more meaningful role in 2017-18.

 

In order for West Oaks to be successful with multiple high-major guards, these players have to understand that in order to win everyone has to sacrifice. (Electrifying Rutgers Guard) Corey Sanders, (2015 state tournament MVP) Andres Feliz, Richardson Maitre, LJ Figueroa, Sylvain “Frenchi” Francisco all had the talent to average 30 points a night. They sacrificed individual stats for team success. Guard success at West Oaks is not determined by points and assists, but how much you put in, in a collective effort to win.”-Head Coach Kenny Gillion



Potter’s House

 

Jacksonville, FL

 

Key Losses: D.J. Russell, Mike McDougal


                                                                                                      

Two years after boasting one of the country’s elite bigs in 7-foot mountain-man Udoka Azubuike (now a sophomore at Kansas), Potter’s House has revamped the frontline with a pair of top-shelf freshmen in 6-foot-9 Jonathan Izemof and 6-foot-8 Bretner Mutumbo.

 

Both bigs possess an advanced skill-set and considerable rim protection, along with an evolving arsenal of post moves and growing scoring acumen. Expect this 1-2 punch to be flushed into significant interior roles from the start.

 

Cushioning the loss of Russell and McDougal, who accounted for a significant percentage of the scoring output last season will be 6-foot-5 guard Jimmy Beane. A Class of 2018 prospect, Beane has racked up offers from Indiana State, Ball State, Kent State, IPFW, IUPUI, and various others.

 

 A transfer by way of Clay High School in Indiana, Beane has the size, strength, and innate ability to reel off points in a hurry. This much was on display at The Hoop Exchange Fall Festival in Orlando.

Known for an adeptness at scoring the ball in a variety of ways, expect Beane to carry a bulk of the offensive load. With a greater schedule comes greater national visibility. Expect Beane to earn more offers throughout the 2017-18 campaign.

 

Oldsmar Christian

 

Tampa, FL

 

Coach John Bianchi’s team returns one of the best guards in the country in Elijah Weaver. Choosing between USC, Ohio State, Florida, and Oklahoma State, Weaver is a crafty left-handed playmaker who thrives in the one-on-one game and a creative, off-the-dribble scorer. A facilitator first, Weaver sacrificed his individual totals while leading Oldsmar to an SIAA state championship in 2017.

 

Weaver will reap the rewards of a healthy D.J. Mitchell, a 6-foot-5 guard with offers from Rhode Island, Penn State, Cleveland State, and countless others. Mitchell led the team in scoring last year before suffering a season-ending injury. The squad bolstered its backcourt depth with recent IPFW-commit Tione Rollins, Jose Romero, and Braxton Bartlett.

 

They bring back a wealth of battle-tested experience upfront with Micheal Durr. A versatile 6-foot-11 senior, Durr recently committed to South Florida. Marcus Hopkins, a 6-foot-11 newcomer out of Oakland, has shown promise. He has offers from San Jose State, Alabama A & M, and several others on the table. Bianchi believes Hopkins has the tool set and interior toughness to eventually be a high-major caliber recruit.

 

After upsetting The Rock School in an epic 2017 state championship win, Oldsmar enters the 2017-18 season with a price on its head. Weaver, who had several 30+ point eruptions last season, will look to stake his claim as the best point guard in the 2018 class and the country. Having lost just two lettermen from last year’s team, Oldsmar’s experience and layered depth cements them as a favorite to repeat as state champions.



 

The Rock School

 

Gainesville, FL

 

Key Losses: Jamari Wheeler, Darius Days, Daniel Mading

 

No team in the SIAA had a rougher off-season than The Rock. While 2017 graduation claimed high-motored, high-scoring point guard Jamari Wheeler (now at Penn State), All American probable Darius Days transferred to IMG Academy at the tail end of the summer. Days, a bullish 6-foot-8, 218-pound forward who just committed to LSU, was a go-to scorer.

 

An adept attacker buoyed by explosiveness, Days also led the team in 3-pointers made and field goal percentage. He was a presence on the glass and spent the summer tighteni
ng his handle and solidifying the guard skill-set that makes him such an intriguing threat. 

 

With Days’ loss being filled by committee, The Rock will look to Antrell Charlton for leadership. The younger brother of Wheeler, Charlton showed flashes during last year’s Grind Session. A heady passer who can operate offense, Charlton has sneaky bounce and a scoring skill-set at all three levels. He pieced together a commendable performance at the Hoopseen in Atlanta in the off-season, getting to the rim with relative ease and leading by example. Eastern Kentucky, Florida International, Mercer, and Stetson are all high on Charlton.

 

 Class of 2019 guard Jaden Campbell, out of Canada, is another bouncy attacker who can carve up defenses in the end-to-end game. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard will offer immediate contributions in the backcourt. An underrated athlete with an active defensive presence, Campbell has the capability to flee obscurity this season and cement his presence on the Division-I scales.

 

He’s quick, witty, and loves to play downhill. The Rock will be led by guard B.J. Greenlee, an experienced veteran point guard who creates a formidable troika alongside Charlton and Campbell. A traditional point guard who can facilitate and beat defenders off the dribble, this will be a quintessential prove-it season for the 6-foot, 175-pound Class of 2019 guard. He’s widely regarded as a high-IQ prospect with the intangibles to play at the high-major level.