Saturday, July 23, 2016

Shooting For The League: S4G Product Now On NBA Radar












Dequon Miller arrived at Shooting 4 Greatness Academy (N.C.) as an unknown, unheralded 5-foot-10 guard out of Charleston, West Virginia.

 Severely under-recruited and under-appreciated on the recruiting market, Miller’s size and lack of true guard qualities were the two pivotal factors contributing to his obscurity. 

Fast forward. 

Only a few years later, the setback-filled, wayward journey of Missouri State’s Miller could potentially lead to a promising professional career. Few could have envisioned this from a kid sat out his entire senior year at George Washington High (W.V.), where he was suspended for disciplinary reasons. 

Miller currently projected as 2017 NBA draft prospect.

Entering his senior season, the rugged little guard has emerged into the focal point and mainstay of Missouri State’s offense. Miller averaged 12.7 points and 3.7 assists for the 13-19 Bears in 2015-16.

A little-known JUCO transfer via Motlow State, Miller registered his presence with a wowing 21-point performance during an upset of Oklahoma State.

 It was Miller’s game-winning layup with 7.3 seconds that propelled MSU to the monumental, resume-worthy victory back in December of 2015.

The incoming senior struggled mightily prior to the performance against Oklahoma, connecting on a meager 13-of-64 field goals. After the 8-for-16 performance against Oklahoma, he became a sturdy and dependable scorer.

Miller dropped 23 points (6-of-13 FG, 4-6 3FG) during a 79-70 win over Drake. He would follow this performance up with 22 points on an 8-for-16 clip during an 80-65 loss to Southern Illinois. As the scoring engine which propelled MSU to an 84-81 overtime victory against Illinois State, Miller drained 6-of-10 three-pointers and finished with 22 points.

Averaging 19.8 PPG during that four-game span in late January, Miller cemented his status as MVC Newcomer of the Year and MSU Coors Player of the Year.

Buoyed by deep range, gear-shifting quickness, a consistent pull-up game, and a nose for the right pass, Miller averaged 20.7 points, 7.2 assists, and 2.9 boards per game at Motlow Community in Tennessee.

Miller was by leaps and bounds the best ever to come out of Shooting 4Greatness  a small prep program here in Raleigh, N.C. 







Much of Miller's success at S4G can be attributed to the constant workload under Kyle Solomon. Known for innovative workouts from the gym to the weight room to the swimming pool, Solomon helped Miller tack on muscle and develop a better handle. The result was a quick, playmaking guard who expanded his game on the drive and in one-on-one situations, atoning for his lack of size. 

Solomon, a coach and reputable trainer from Yonkers, N.Y., maximized the potential he inherited with Miller. 

“(Solomon) got him in the weight room, he pushed (Miller) through pool workouts, he just made him into an all-around player and worked with him thoroughly to improve on everything,” Spikes recalled.


At Shooting 4 Greatness, Solomon has routinely taken forgotten about recruits and launched them to NCAA and NJCAA opportunities. Beyond Miller and the aforementioned Spikes, the program has helped mold the likes of East Hartford (CT) product (and one-time UCONN target) Kahari Beaufort (Angelina College/UT-Martin), Troy Stancil (Jackson State), Raheim Robinson (Delaware State), and a bevy of others. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Alum Corner Elev8 Prep




TYSON JOLLY (CLASS OF '16)


BAYLOR UNIVERSITY 


""People ask, 'is he a shooter? Does he just get to the rim? I think he's just a guy that gets baskets"

"I don't like to be classified as a particular position, because I'm just a competitor," said Jolly.

"I'm a winner. I always pride myself on stepping up to competition. If you beat me, I'm going to work on it and make sure I beat you the next time."

Tyson Jolly's world was smothered by darkness. 

Putnam City West's then-junior guard went from one of Oklahoma City's most electrifying playmakers to a young man plagued by restless uncertainty. There was a dreadful fear of the unknown.

It had all unfolded so rapidly.

After sustaining a nasty spill during a game, the seven blood clots found in Jolly's lungs forced the 6-foot-4, 200-pound combination guard to shut it down for the season.

His legs were also hampered by this case of pulmonary embolism, rendering him immovable for the final 13 games of his junior year. 

 The timing couldn't have been worse. Putnam City West had reeled off 18 straight wins, with state championship aspirations well in view. 

Jolly now had to come to grips with a larger issue, one far greater than basketball. 

Pulmonary Embolism, which Jolly survived, was initially categorized as life-threatening for the teenager. Jolly has vivid recollections of lying in a hospital bed, struggling to manage the high-speed thoughts which circulated his mind uncontrollably. 

 They jolted him out of sleep, breaking into his solitary dreams relentlessly. 

When the thoughts intensified, he was up all hours of the night. Jolly, who didn't play organized basketball until the ninth grade, was just starting to flourish as a defensive catalyst and balanced scorer. 

He's made tweaks to his health. He bounced back completely as a senior, averaging 20.1 points, 9.1 boards, and 3.1 assists en route Putnam City West's berth in the class 6A state semifinal. 

Continue Reading Here










RODNEY CULVER (CLASS OF '16)

OHIO UNIVERSITY  

"We are excited to complete our recruiting class with the addition of Rodney Culver. Rodney possesses the invaluable combination of high character and basketball ability. During our two-year relationship with Rodney, he continuously displayed the type of athleticism and skill we are looking for in this class." 

Assessing the new offensive style Elev8 Prep will implement in 2015-16, Rodney Culver is cognizant of his role.

He doesn't need to adjust, assimilate or adapt much at all. 

This breakneck, high-horsepower attack mirrors the style on which Culver tends to thrive.

At Pickerington Central High in Ohio, Culver scored the rock at all three levels--at the rim, from 18-feet, and from beyond the confines of the arc. 

An adrenaline-fueled 6-foot-4 wing, Culver carved his niche as an effective rebounder and more of a menacing shot-blocker than his size would indicate.

 This unbridled defensive energy solidified Culver's jack-of-all-trades status.

Simply put, the mid-major recruit utilized his athleticism all across the stat sheet. 


Continue Reading Here 







J.T. ESCOBAR  (CLASS OF '15)

NORTHERN FLORIDA/OLE MISS 


"J.T. Escobar is the definition of everything our program stands for as a person and student athlete," said Driscoll. "His ability to be a player, not a position, makes him such a valuable piece to our future. During his transfer sit-out season, he will be able to grow as a player with practice time on the floor as well as benefitting from all the analytics and video that we use. We look for his game to be even more refined once he steps back on the floor to compete. We are extremely excited to have J.T. as part of our team and look forward to him being a contributor for several seasons."

Driven by a Godly way of life and plenty of older influences, Elev8 guard JT Escobar conducts himself with a maturity level beyond most 18-year-old student-athletes.

 Escobar understands the value of relentlessness, having routinely made the five-minute trek from his Tallahassee home to watch Florida State's long, daunting practices.

Training with former Florida State guard Adrien Crawford, who doubles as his life coach, Escobar has devoured a wealth of knowledge both on and off the floor.

He considers Crawford a brotherly presence and credits him for instilling balance and perspective into his life.

Crawford, a captain during the Steve Robinson era at FSU and currently a pastor, has nurtured Escobar's development since he was 10.

When Escobar started to thrive as a hard-driving, score-first underclassmen guard, Crawford began applying unique new methods to cultivate his prodigious young talent.

 He would frequently take him to work out with program greats such as Al Thornton, demanding Thornton not take the 6-foot-2 180-pound guard lightly in drills.


Continue Reading Here







YANKUBA SIMA (CLASS OF '15) 


ST. JOHN'S UNIVERSITY 

"The road that Sima took to get to Queens was one that spanned the globe, stretching from Africa to Europe by way of Florida before arriving at St. John's. Born in July of 1996 in the tiny West African nation of Gambia, Sima would call the Catalan city of Girona, Spain as home.  Spain was also where he would take up the game, playing at the Canarias Basketball Academy in the Canary Islands by heading off the Florida to play for Arlington Country Day School and Elev8 Sports Institute in Delray BeACH, Fla."

St. John's has landed a 2015 center target in Yankuba Siba, a 6'11" athletic center who played at Elev8 Sports Institute and Arlington Country Day High School after playing at the Canarias Basketball Academy in the Canary Islands.

Sima also played on the Spain Under-18 team; he was born in July of 1996 in The Gambia. At the European Championships last summer in Division A, he averaged 11 points, 12 rebounds (leading all participants) and two blocks per game in 33 minutes per contest. He shot 45% from the field in the tournament, facing Federico Mussini's Italy team in their final game, a win.

Continue Reading Here





SANDRO NOEL (CLASS OF '16) 


SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY 


When Sandro Noel first started playing basketball, just four years ago to be exact, he was extremely raw.

It's hard to imagine he'd be where he is today. Now one of the nation's quickest rising mid-major recruits, the wide-open Noel is sifting through a growing list of potential suitors.

Lacking the fundamentals and initially failing to grasp the intricacies of the game, Noel embodied a "work-in-progress."


Continue Reading Here





LEVI COOK (CLASS OF '16)

DEPAUL UNIVERSITY 

Consider Levi Cook a basketball old soul.

 As a young kid, the Glen Daniel, W.V. native was enamored with highlight films of hometown stars such as Jerry West, Randy Moss and Jason "White Chocolate" Williams. 

His focus shifted, however, when his grandfather implored him to take note of Shaquille O'Neal during the Shaq/Kobe Lakers heyday.

Shaq's supreme interior manhandling quickly garnered Cook's undivided focus. It also put everything in perspective, as the 6-foot-10, 286-pound Cook was always considerably bigger than all of his classmates. 

Emulating Shaq's inside game and sustaining his identity as a true big, Cook's game flourished. With big, soft hands, he's become increasingly adept around the rim. 

Finishing with authority while learning to alter, change, and manipulate shots defensively, there's no confusion about where the big fella belongs on the court. Yet with deft interior dishing ability and an innate awareness for reads, one of Cook's more appealing attributes is his basketball IQ. 

This quality allowed Cook to ascend the ropes of the nation's premiere bigs. Though he served primarily as a supplemental piece alongside 6-foot-11, 245-pound Thomas Bryant (Indiana) at Huntington Prep (W.V.), Cook said he's bettered his defensive play and physical condition.


Continue Reading Here



DANTE FITZPATRICK (CLASS OF '16) 

OLE MISS 

It doesn't matter the brand, style, or the color.

Each and every pair of sneakers Donte Fitzpatrick laces up has "DM" or "Desmond Merriweather" etched on them in clear, black lettering. 

 Merriweather, the late Memphis grass-roots hoops pioneer, was instrumental in cultivating Fitzpatrick's double duty acumen throughout his prep career.

Merriweather died in early February, following a lengthy battle with colon cancer. He was only 41.

An innate competitor and high-adrenaline defensive pest, Fitzpatrick hates nothing more than losing.

An agonizing loss can linger within Fitzpatrick, breaking into his solitary dreams.

Eventually, a hard-to-swallow loss will create a mountain of motivation in the wiry 6-foot-5, 183-pound guard.

The loss of Merriweather--who Fitzpatrick regarded as a father figure--has been by far his toughest to stomach.

"I was just so hurt after he passed," said Fitzpatrick, who averaged 25 points and six assists at Southwind HS (TN), en route to choosing Ole Miss over AlabamaArkansasTennessee, and hometown Memphis.

"Those were tough times. But I knew he was going to heaven, so I just had to face the fact."

In Fitzpatrick, his mentor's lasting legacy lives on and on.


Continue Reading Here







KOBIE EUBANKS (CLASS OF '15)


TEXAS A & M 

Four-star prep shooting guard Kobie Eubanks has committed to Texas A&M and will be able to play starting the second semester of this school year, reports Evan Daniels of Scout.com. 

Once strictly a catch-and-shoot threat, Elev8's Kobe Eubanks'new-found knack for putting the ball on the deck, creating off the dribble, and ambidextrous passing ability has rendered the well-built 6-foot-5  guard one of the nation's most hotly-pursued guards.

Eubanks scored 15 points in under 13 minutes last night, as Elev8 coasted to a wire-to-wire 85-48 throttling of Virginia Tech's J.V.

Elev8 overcame a lackluster start, hiking up the defensive pressure en route to the sloppy blowout.


Continue Reading Here



LEROY BUTTS (CLASS OF '16) 

COASTAL CAROLINA 


The summer was about  grinding, getting in shape. Doing extra things, chasing 50-50 balls and rebounding and working on my ball handling." 

Roughly twenty minutes before an arduous workout at Village Academy High School in Delray Beach, Fla., 6-foot-7 forward Leroy Butts arrived carrying a pair of beet-red Air Jordans. 

The flashy kicks are not all Butts, a post-graduate and veteran, will carry this season.

 As an elder statesman amongst a flurry of new faces, Butts will carry the leadership mantle.

 He'll carry a bulk of the offensive load, utilizing versatility as a weapon. 

A wiry forward with a knack for interior scoring last season, he'll also carry a new offensive arsenal. 

Butts spent the entire summer working to refine these tools, developing a fluid 15-18 foot jumper and becoming more comfortable putting the ball on the deck. 

At the collegiate level, survival is dictated by day-to-day progression.

Those capable of expanding, adjusting with new elements to their game each year? 

They tend to last. They tend to stand the test of Division-I time. 

"I think he'll definitely take on a bigger role for us offensively," said Elev8 head coach Chad Meyers, who inherits a bevy of wings and interchangeable guards this season. 

"For 'Roy, the biggest thing is we want him to be a leader. He knows what we expect. He knows how hard we have to practice this week. He's been tremendous so far with his workouts, bringing energy. I think if you look back 12 months ago, when he got here and to where he is now, he's a totally different person."


Continue Reading Here




Sunday, July 17, 2016

Uno En Uno With: Jared Grasso, IONA





When Jared Grasso was tasked with revitalizing an ailing Quinnipiac program, the odds seemed overwhelming.

Then a young assistant, Grasso appeared ready for the rigors of planting the basketball seed in a northeast hockey hotbed. It would take laborious work.

 It would take persistency. It would entail consistent afterhours work, going above and beyond your typical 9-to-5 and side hustle. It would take important connections throughout the metropolitan area.

  Sure, Grasso had the opportunity to pitch a recruit an attractive campus loaded with attractive females. He had to rep the unique mix of a hyper-lively party scene and a free competitive college education (normally valued at $43,000+ per year).

  Selling a serviceable recruit on a program stuffed in the Northeastern Conference’s low-rent district…Well, this particular part made for a hard sell. Daunting though it was, Grasso’s recruiting tactics and experience had ultimately positioned him for this task.

  Grasso was instrumental in helping the Bobcats sign sharpshooter James Feldeine out of Cardinal Hayes (N.Y.) and DeMario Anderson, a bullish 6-foot-3 guard who transferred from rival Central Connecticut State. 

  Both players entered Quinnipiac with uncertainties. Feldeine was suspended for half of his freshman year and never cracked the rotation. His first few weeks, Anderson struggled in adapting his freelance barrel-to-the-rim game to Joe DeSantis’ motion offense. How did they exit? Anderson and Feldeine are each Quinnipiac Hall of Fame caliber talents.

Without a doubt, they are two of the best two ever do it at the now-MAAC school. A product of Cardinal Hayes High, Feldeine was known for sneaky bounce and deadly corner 3-pointers. Anderson was the clear focal point as a senior, the type of multi-tooled veteran scorer capable of dictating the outcome should he get hot in a hurry.

As the lone steady threat on a youth-laden team in 07-08, Anderson’s contributions were ubiquitous. Anderson’s wowing, half-court buzzer-beater against his alma mater became an ESPN Top 10 play. The miraculous shot is forever embedded in program lore.

Now at Iona, Grasso has been instrumental in building the Gaels into a tournament team. As he did during his days in the NEC, Grasso has stocked the program with gritty, defensive-minded guards.


Grasso on Spring Valley product Rickey McGill
He kind of figured out how hard he had to play at this level, how hard you need to work every day in practice and how hard you need to compete to be successful at this level. From there he kind of took of for us.


Had a big game against Quinnipiac and then kind of move forward from there and really became a major part of our rotation. To be honest I don’t know if we go to the NCAA tournament without the spark he gave us down the stretch. He was probably our best on-the-ball defender.


High energy, Rickey is a kid who offensively can give you a spark. He can really defend and really pressure the ball. We have big expectations for him moving forward. He’s had a great summer so far with us, building up his body and shooting the ball a little better. He’s been working on his decision making. I think he’s a kid who has a chance to have a great year for us.


On Shadrac Casimir
He’s been out with the hip surgery, he’s still rehabbing right now. He’s a kid who obviously was rookie of the year as a freshman. He was one of the better players in the league. He was pre-season first team all league going into last season.

He’s a guy who we have big expectations for. You know, you don’t want to rush him back from an injury. So, we’re going to take our time and make sure we get him healthy. Even if it’s January or February when he’s playing his best basketball we want to make sure he’s back in shape and physically ready to help us.

I think he’s a kid who-- when he is healthy, he’s as dynamic offensively as any small guard in the country. He can make shots, he can make plays with the ball in his hands. He’s just a really gifted, explosive offensive player.

He’s just a really gifted, explosive offensive player. He’s a guy who were hoping to, at the start of the season have healthy. Hopefully by the team league play comes around and he has his legs under him, he’ll have a big impact for us.


On Incoming Transfers


It’s a large class. A couple of graduate transfers. A few JUCO guys and a prep school kid. So, we’ve got some older guys who I think are mature and hopefully ready to keep us competitive and keep us in the mix to win another conference championship.

 I think we’re excited about the group we’ve brought in. Again, it’s a lot of new guys. It’s a lot of new faces and we’re trying to get them to learn what are culture is and how hard we play every day and how hard we work.

The expectations here are something they’re going to adjust to. You’ve got to get them to mesh. You’ve got to get the chemistry right. You’ve got to figure out rotations and who you’re going to play where. It’s going to be a lot of mixing and matching.

I think we have some guys who fit our style of play. Again, it’s going to be up to them to figure out how hard we play. 

The guys who figure that out the quickest will be the guys who will play the most minutes early on. It takes different guys a different amount of time to adjust. Some of these guys can be thrown to the fire a little bit.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Northwood U: Home Of Birdman's Evolution




During his career at White Plains High School (N.Y.), Ra'Shad "Birdman" James was known for his maniacal aerial abilities.

Widely regarded as "the best dunker in the state," the generously-listed 6-foot-1 guard won over crowds with electrifying and prodigious hang time.

 A walking high school highlight film of his heyday, James played alongside current Brooklyn Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick under defensive tactician Spencer Mayfield.  James' nomadic collegiate career included stops at STAC (where he averaged 16.8 points per game) and briefly Iona. James' game ultimately flourished at little-known Northwood University here in West Palm Beach. 

Showcasing NBA-caliber athleticism, James averaged 23 points and six boards per game under Rollie Massimino, spearheading Northwood to a 30-4 overall record, a Sun Conference championship and a berth in the 2013 NAIA Division-II National Championship.





Shooting the ball at a 55 percent clip and opening up a 20-foot and long range jumper considerably, James the explosive James was named NAIA Division-II National Player of the Year. In high school, James was able to survive on athleticism alone. In college, most notably at Northwood, he grew as a multi-tooled scorer who could turn in 20+ on any particular night.




"He's been dunking consistently since the eighth grade," said former White Plains teammate and 6-foot-1 guard Jamell Cromartie, who is currently playing in Brazil with the America Esporte Club. 

"I'd say I've seen him do pretty much every kind of dunk there is. He was tremendous to have off the ball because of his ability to guard multiple positions defensively. When the bigs were in foul trouble, we would always count on him to rebound." 


Former White Plains point guard Dave Boykin, who also plays for America esporte club, struggled to pinpoint James' most memorable dunks.

"There's too many to recall," Boykin said.

"I do remember a summer league game at the Greenburgh Center. I was in college (Bridgeport) and he was headed into his senior year of high school. I hadn't seen him in a while, so I didn't know his bounce got that crazy. I threw him an oop that I figured was a terrible pass. He caught it with two hands easy and finished, so that always sticks out."

James cemented his legacy as easily the best Section 1 dunker of all time. Others, such as Mike Kach (Carmel) and 5-foot-7 Daequan Brickhouse (Peekskill) deserve an honorable mention.

"Ra'shad James is by far number one in this area in terms of dunkers that I've ever seen at the high school level," said MSG Varsity's Kevin Devaney Jr., who has covered high school basketball in the Westchester County area since 1998.

"Mike Kach was a guy that I always remembered because you just didn't expect it. If someone told you he could dunk, you'd be surprised. Then you see how he could dunk and that kind of set him apart. Ra'shad had the best dunks I've ever seen, but Daequan Brickhouse had the best moment in a dunk contest I think I've seen. Palisade Prep had Isaiah Ward a few years ago, who was terrific, a really good dunker. (Mount Vernon's) Jabarie Hinds had a great dunk in the Sectional quarterfinal game a few years back."

John Malone, also of MSG Varsity, said James is worthy of the "Section 1's best Dunker" title. Malone, a devout Section 1 fan, has been attending games since Elton Brand starred for Peekskill in 1997.

"For the longest time, I thought (Beacon product) Roberto Macklin was the best in-game dunker I've ever seen in Section 1 but then James came around," Malone said. "It's mystifying to see someone, especially of his size, get off the floor like that' He's ferocious at the rim."

James was forced to work consistently on adding new facets of his game. At the next level, he needed to develop into a dependable shooter and learn how to navigate bigger, stronger defenders and amplified coverage. Still adept at knifing to the rim and finishing with contact, the kid they call "Birdman" transferred from STAC to Iona vowing to become a different player.

Devaney learned of Birdman James' purely by surprise.

"The first time I actually ever saw him play, he was on J.V. as a freshman. The varsity game ended and I kind of hung around. In the first quarter, this kid dunked. I had never seen a J.V. kid dunk in a Section 1 high school game before."

Synonymous with Section 1 basketball is Mount Vernon product Ben Gordon, the former professional known for his career at UConn and the Chicago Bulls. Gordon showcased unparalleled leaping ability, as the rise on his jumper (typically 2-3 feet off the ground before the shot release) demanded respect.

In The Journal News' Josh Thomson, who has been covering the Westchester County for over a decade, Devaney's words resonated.

"He's easily the best dunker I've ever seen in high school," Thomson said. "I remember seeing him pick up a loose ball under the basket and dunk it. You see guys 6-10 do that, but never anyone his size, even in the NBA. It was unreal."

"I never doubted (James') work ethic," Devaney said. "I realized he was a kid who you just constantly saw growth with...If you told me he would have played professional basketball, I would have thought he was going to be a Harlem Globetrotter. That's the type of dunking ability he had. I never imagined in high school that he would play in the summer league, play in the D-League and be that good. I always think back to that day (at White Plains High School)."

Cromartie called the opportunity to pursue a professional career (especially with a fellow White Plains alum) a "gift." While over the waters, he still keeps tabs on homegrown professional products Kilpatrick and James.

"I was elated and happy for them," he said, recalling the moments when he learned Kilpatrick had signed with the Nets and James penned with Westchester.

"I still am. To see their hard work and dedication pay off is priceless."

Understanding Scott "Homey" Pritchett

To know Scott "Homey" Pritchett is to know a man who has never been chained by societal norms. 

Shaped by a natural love for surfing, wanderlust, and building lifelong connections, Pritchett tends to march to the beat of his own drum. 

Pritchett is a unique mix between an intense eyeball to-eyeball motivational speaker and Jeff Spicoli, the weed-crazed surfer from "Fast Times At Ridgemont High." 

Pritchett has spent a significant portion of his life molding young minds, imparting surf/life wisdom on others. He takes strong pride in cultivating the mindset of others, establishing a presence others seem to eat off.

 Hockey was Pritchett's initial  love. He learned the trade from an early age, maturing into a beyond-his-years ice skater. 

Pritchett went on to captain the sponsored Triple-A Little Caesers Forum team. He traveled from city-to-city plying his trade on the ice. 

During those long road trips, Pritchett self-educated by talking with teachers and coaches on the bus. He is quick to cite this this as a source for a majority of his childhood education.

Pritchett earned five straight Player of the Year awards at right wing, his eyes pasted on a possible professional career. 

Initially, Pritchett was petrified of the water. The movie "Jaws' had traumatized him as a child. When he landed in tropical but drug-addled Lake Worth, Fla., that fear of sharks suddenly decreased.

This was a huge transformation for Pritchett, no longer haunted by the ocean.









 In Michigan, Pritchett's distaste for the water was so monstrous he would take baths wearing underwear. Then, one day, his mentality changed entirely. This moment solidified the transition from the ice rink to the surf. 

With a skateboard, Pritchett rode five miles to the then-localized beach in Lake Worth, Fla. It was at Lake Worth that Pritchett stumbled upon Daron Knowlton and Nathan Knowlton, both legendary surfers cruising through waves. 

From that moment on, there was no fear of sharks. He would forget about JAWS and the impact the horrific impact the film had on his early life. Homey jumped into the ocean as if God had embraced him, fending off his longtime fear of the water.

"I asked them, 'what on earth are you guys doing?' Pritchett recalls. 

"I said, 'you guys are walking on water. I knew, at that moment, for the rest of my life, I wanted to have that feeling. From that exact second, I knew I was going to be a surfer for the rest of my life."

Rather than taking the expected route and attending college, Pritchett developed a marketing mindset by studying the ways of Vincent McMahon. Thus, he developed an innate feel for entrepreneurial trade. This mindset enabled Pritchett to kick-start a number of businesses in his later life. 

With Motor Blower Media, Pritchett built a family-operated media outlet which represents family-owned businesses. It is, as Pritchett explains, for his children. He took the project into his own hands and is steadily engaged in it. 

As a professional skateboarder, Pritchett was sponsored by BillaBong for 12 years. His relationship with the company soured, however, when they refused to help pay his medical bills. Pritchett sustained numerous injuries during his time as a professional skateboarder. 

He never received financial assistance with his growing list of medical bills. This greatly altered Pritchett's perception of Corporate America. It was at this moment, Pritchett noted, he decided to pursue family-owned business and avoid involvement in corporate life. 

He was sponsored by Billabong since his teenage years. During these times, he became a professional surfer and garnered numerous East Coast championships. 

Prtichett graduated SantaLuces High School with a 3.65 GPA, rising to the top of the class with an unrivaled work ethic and burning desire to learn more. When Pritchett moved to South Florida, he turned the rudder over hard from the ice rink to the beach.

Rather than taking the expected route and attending college, Pritchett developed a marketing mindset by studying the ways of Vincent McMahon as a child. He developed a feel for entrepreneurial trade, helping kick-start a number of businesses in his later life. 

With a natural knack for crushing waves, Pritchett became one with the ocean. He's attended more concerts than he cares to count, striving to break the world record for most concerts ever attended (statistics unknown)He

He dabbles into all forms of music. Possessing a love for heavy metal, punk rock, rock n' roll and hip-hop of the early 1990s, Pritchett has studied high-potency lyricists and discovered meaning in their messages. 

Pritchett still remains an avid fan of Iced-T, a legendary rapper who etched his legacy in California. Old school rap and the originals have a special appeal to Pritchett, as he continues to develop long-lasting friendships with those from all walks of life. It is in concert stadiums and on the ocean where Pritchett said he feels most alive, tapping into that inner comfort zone. Mastering the serenity of sobriety,  kicking a once-troubling drug problem, Pritchett now serves as an inspirational source for those in recovery. 

Beyond providing guidance and personal consultation, Pritchett allows those undergoing drug problems to free their minds through group activities and powerful analogies.


 Adversity is no stranger to Pritchett. He's overcome drug addiction, bounced back from 10 knee operations, and constantly battled devastating injuries which all but derailed his surfing career. 

The injuries and setbacks were never too arduous for Pritchett. He's made his livelihood slaying adverse obstacles and overcoming setbacks. Having endured so much, Pritchett views pain and adversity as non-factors incapable of hindering one's life progress. In fact, the mental strength gained from these experiences can only benefit us in the long run, as Pritchett preaches. 

These are just some of the pivotal points he illustrates in detailed, engaging dialogue. 

Christian Fletcher, the iconic aerial surfer who mastered surf-rebel extremism, has been a regular associate of Pritchett's. They are in the process of building up Madhouse Customs, a spanking new company in California. Madhouse Customs features muscle cars, motorbikes, and intergalactic surf crafts. 

Living a life defined by sobriety, the man they call "Homey" plans to implement his very own rehab community in his Action Sports Training Facility.

With Action Sports Training, Pritchett will open the doors for those seeking drug and alcohol treatment. Action Sports Training is part of his non-profit, Keep The Dream Alive. Homey's commitment to the kids, he says, was the reason for his involvement in Keep The Dream Alive. 

Showing compassion for others, rather than being consumed by his own self-interest, helped propel him as a person. He believes that by caring more for others and less about himself, his world changed dramatically. 

Pritchett vows to continue a life journey of sobriety while grooming a torrent of young surfing talent and innovative thinkers. Action Sports Training Facility will also feature amenities for those as intrigued by skateboarding and other action sports as Pritchett.

His goal is to build the first mega ramp in Florida, a project Pritchett currently finds himself immersed in. 

Pritchett is from a stable family, raised by two loving parents who did everything in their power to make his life comfortable. His father was a Teamsters Truck Driver. 

His mother was a stay-at-home Mom, molding her son's interest before he shifted his gaze to traveling the world and using surfing as a tool for community engagement. 

Pritchett currently resides in South Florida, where he lives with his beautiful Filipino wife, Shelly Tognacci-Pritchett. The couple have two kids, 15-year-old Skyler and nine-year-old Karver.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

West Palm Beach's Derek Harper Brought 90s Knicks Mental Moxie







The collective cocksure attitude became contagious for the legendary basket-brawl Knicks teams of the early to mid 1990s.

 These Knicks were truly New York's favored OGs.

Frank White's veritable goons in orange-and-blue, this particular era of New York basketball birthed many of today's Knicks loyalists.

 Blue collar toughness became their identity.

No 90s Knick ever needed to be told,  "hey man, leave your vag at home."

The team bought into the physical concept.

  They were fully committed to covering each other's necks during this vastly different NBA heyday.

Neutralizing, negating, and applying the clamps on any high-scoring threat who dared taking over on their Garden floor, these Knicks brought appeal to discipline and defense.


 Yes, those '94 Knicks were emblematic of the hustle and grind-heavy mentality of the pressure cooker that is New York City.

 John Starks, Derek Harper, Patrick Ewing, The Oak Man, and the late and legendary Anthony Mason, all Hard Knocks U graduates, utilized this rugged mentality in appeasing the high-maintenance Pat Riley.

Here in sun-baked South Florida, we are currently visiting the former stomping grounds of Derek Harper. Harper was the venerable point guard who quarterbacked that memorable 1994 NBA Finals runner-up squad.


A career 11.3 PPG scorer during a thorough NBA career underscored by his stay in Dallas (“Harp” is currently involved with the Mavericks organization as a TV analyst.) Harper is one of South Florida's most reputable sons.










 West Palm isn't all beaches and pool-dotted resorts and flowing palm trees and 55+ retirement communities.

There is a hardscrabble inner city.

During these sultry summer days, tensions tend to skyrocket. 


The area has steadily developed into the rehab capital of the world, a hub for recovery centers and halfway houses and high-end detoxes.

While many of these treatment centers do a commendable job selling retired junkies on the serenity of lifelong sobriety, don't be surprised to see drug-addled marauders roaming the streets.



In New York Harper was a calming influence, primarily a ball control point guard.

He orchestrated the fluid attack for a bruiser-laced team predicated on feeding the post.

Featuring 7-foot behemoth and 11-time NBA All-Star Patrick Ewing , it was only necessary to flank the big fella with thorough interior bangers.

Ewing and this thick frontline could never have envisioned their once prominent organization faltering so mightily in the following era.


Eddy Curry and a number of lackluster, jarringly overpriced duds from the dismal Dolan era sullied the organization.

This was not flashy, souped up basketball. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

No swift-passing attack. No arsenal  of deep-ranged shooters. No furiously athletic Russel Westbrook-like attackers flying all across the court.

Though Harper is from scenic West Palm Beach, there was truly nothing aesthetic about this hard-hitting Knicks team.

Harper was crafty, cerebral, controlled. Harp scored in a multitude of ways, with crafty finishing ability amid swarming hands and a high-release set shot rendering him a scorer in Dallas.

HARP's legacy isn't complete without mention of the massive brawl with JOJO English in a classic melee witnessed by then-commissioner David Stern. This was a classic throw down. It occurred during a heightened stage of the historic and heated Knicks/Bulls rivalries of the 1990s.

While it surely isn't even in the same school district or classroom as the Malice at the Palice, rarely do you see a free-for-all of this type. Yellow-clad security guards jump in to quell the hostilities, as you can see.






As the offensive engineer, it was Harper’s responsibility to keep the mercurial John Starks engaged. Though Starks rarely (if ever) saw a shot he would turn his nose at, NO.3 had the scoring spurt-ability and hard-driving acumen (mastering the right-to-left dunk) to make that Garden crowd rock in ways only rarified Knicks are capable of.

Like J.R. Smith after him, Starks possessed a unique ability to shoot himself out of a maddening funk and rapidly develop the hot hand.

Harper became a stabilizing force at point guard with the Knicks. He didn't author the scoring numbers he did at Dallas ("Harp" averaged 17+ PPG for three consecutive seasons in the early 1990s), albeit he adapted to the facilitator role in New York.

While his most memorable season was clearly the 1993-94 championship run, Harper's best statistical season was 1995-96. In this particular season, Harper averaged 14.0 points, 4.3 assists, and 1.6 steals. The Knicks underwent a coaching change midway through the season when Don Nelson was supplanted by Jeff Van Gundy. Nelson, who warred with several of the Knicks' star players, most notably Starks, simply couldn't steer the pressure cooker that is New York City. 

In the football-crazed land of Palm Beach County, Harper emerged into a stud point guard for North Shore High in West Palm Beach.