Sunday, July 23, 2017

Iona Prep's Kouressi Growing In Size, Playmaking Ability

Length, versatility, gifted finishing ability and a propensity for weaving through defenders and getting to the rim.
These pivotal elements have levitated 6-foot-9 off guard Sal Koureissi to New York’s upper percentile of unsigned recruits this summer.

The Iona Prep senior has the dependable jumper, pull-up game, post-up tools and mindful on-court awareness to play all five positions on the court.

Gaels first-year head coach Steve Alvarado will accentuate and capitalize on these traits in Koureissi, a steadily growing prospect with 15 Division-I offers currently on the table.

Koureissi still has his work cut out for himself physically. Developing the muscle necessary to fend off ramped up interior defense is the primary challenge. 

 Sustaining this strength will be instrumental in adjusting to the Division-I level, where 7-footers are bound to be hastily awaiting his surges to the rim.

Koureissi’s handle, game management acumen, electrifying finishes, and ability to read the defense and find seams was evident during Saturday’s Hoop Group Jam Fest at Spooky Nook (PA).

Playing alongside former Kennedy Catholic star Malachi De Sousa on Castle Athletics’ AAU team, Koureissi was the featured piece.

Blowing by defenders and finding his way to the rim, Koureissi was by far the best player on the court Saturday. Countless college coaches were meandering throughout the Nook’s sprawling 600,000 square foot complex all morning and afternoon.

“The biggest aspect in his development has been his transition to becoming a more effective perimeter player,” said Iona Prep head coach Steve Alvarado of Koureissi, who has grown dramatically from strictly a post player (with zero offers as a sophomore) to a multi-dimensional piece loaded with upside.

“It started with Sal becoming a reliable source to consistently make jump shots. He’s been able to add to his skill-set by putting the ball on the floor effectively and becoming a legitimate playmaker. We’ve been able to put him in situations off ball screens, where he’s been able to make decisions off of that. He’s shown an ability to hit guys with pocket passes, beat guys off the dribble, and once he gets stronger and more explosive he’s really going to get more out of his game at another level of success.”

Minnesota, Michigan, and Rhode Island have been vying for Koureissi’s services with the most consistency. Alvarado pinpointed those three as the notable leaders in Koureissi’s recruitment.

“In my mind, in terms of their interest, Minnesota seems to be at the forefront,” said Alvarado, citing assistant coach and longtime New York City presence Kimani Young's involvement.

“Coach (Richard) Pitino offered Sal right there on the spot. Kimani is a big believer in Sal and his abilities, what he thinks he can become and the level they can ultimately get him to. Coach (John) Beilein has seen him play this summer and he loves Sal. Rhode Island had him visit up there, and you have some of the Ivy League schools in there as well. Temple likes him a lot as well and has been impressed with his dramatically improved playmaking ability. He’s going to have some good options.”

In catering to the team’s identity, Alvarado will utilize a hastened attack. The speedball concept makes the most sense, especially with the ramped up development of Kouressi. The program could be adding new pieces which also mirror the quick-paced style with length and quickness.

 Playing the game at quicker pace, Alvarado said, will fully empower the team's length, size, versatility, and interchangeability.

“The one transition is we’re going to playing much more of a fast-paced game this year,” explained Kouriessi, who developed a feel for the game while playing in the same Harlem neighborhood as Texas-bound 6-foot-11 big Mo Bamba and crafty left-handed guard Anthony Nelson, among others.

“That style fits what we have with quickness and versatility. We’ve been able to adjust to that and really speed the ball up the floor and make plays quickly with that kind of approach.”

Alvarado added that this new approach pays dividends, with their style of play predicated on consistently picking at the weaknesses of opponents.
Controlling the defensive boards, out-letting the ball and employing the track meet mentality creates more open shots and enables guys to get into the  right spots, harvesting higher-scoring results.

One player who will adjust to honing is scoring aptitude more than ever is Valhalla native Bryce Wills.

The 6-foot-5 guard, who picked up an offer from Cal last month, has been working at a furious pace to open up an evolving jumper and rapidly improved beyond-the-arc game.

The lack of a consistent shot was the one critical knock on Wills' game last year. While sequestered in the gym all summer, the has worked maniacally at shoring up this hole.

Putting in maximized concentration on a weakness can eventually turn it into a strength, which is how Alvarado describes Wills' unexpected offensive transformation.

“What you’re going to notice in Bryce is a renewed confidence in his offensive game,” said Alvarado of Wills, who put together a 23-point first half in Iona Prep’s opening game of the Jimmy Salmons tournament.

“We’ve seen the results of that work in his game and in his mental confidence. He’s shooting at a high level from 3-point territory, he’s shooting off the dribble, he's stronger physically. I think this year he’s going to be much more aggressive in his approach to scoring and impacting the game offensively. A lot of people haven’t seen what he’s showing right now.”

In Saturday’s performance, Wills shouldered a bulk of the scoring weight. He hit multiple 3-pointers and put together multiple traditional 3-point plays. He also seized the quarterback reins, creating in the half-court set and engineering the fast break game. He was able to manufacture points in a hurry.

“He’s going to be very difficult to contain in exactly what it is we’re promoting—speed, length, size,” Alvarado said.

“The key is maintaining it. I think he’s primed for a very big year.”

Friday, July 21, 2017

Vertically Explosive Days Is Country's Best Kept Secret

Darius Days entered the 2017-18 campaign as one of the most underappreciated guard/forwards in the talent-heavy SIAA conference. Now, after proving himself before some of the nation's most talent-rich programs, Days may be one of the most underrated players in the country.

Blessed with a man-child like build and a scoring aptitude at all three levels, his ability to barrel to the rim and finish was never in question.

Becoming more of defensive presence and crashing the boards with a sense of urgency is pivotal in separating himself from a first league player to a league MVP.

Against nationally-potent Prolific Prep, paced by Duke-signee Gary Trent and a horde of highly-touted teammates, Days solidified his status as a hard-driving forward. His knack for hustle points and active presence on the offensive glass earned wide notice.

Days scored 35 points, ripped 11 rebounds, and created a matchup difficulty for everyone guarding him. Some liken Days’ unique blend of strength and vertically explosive style to Shawn Kemp in his prime.
Others envision Days as a more skilled version of former Syracuse guard/forward Paul Harris, once a bullish guard/forward overpowering frailer foes during his high school days.

Beyond Days’ 35-point and 11-board showing against Pro Prep, the 6-foot-8, 218-forward scored 35 points and tore down 10 boards against DeAndre Ayton and Hillcrest Prep (Az.).

Kansas, Virginia Tech, Virginia, and a slew of others have also offered Days. He has no official visits set up. He would like to weigh his options following this summer.

“His shot has continued to progress and what Darius needs to do is continue to understand he can score at all three levels,” said The Rock head coach Justin Hardin, after a 100-71 thrashing of Mater to win the A-ROD tournament in Miami in May.

“He can post up at times, he can knock down the mid-range shots, which is probably his best shot. His 3-point shooting has improved tremendously as he’s now leading our team in 3-pointers made and percentage.”


For Chaney, Illustrious Prep Career Continues At Scotland Campus Sports

During his storied stay at Laurinburg Prep (NC), Chris Chaney orchestrated a veritable prep "Dream Team." This historic prep team left a monumental mark in the pages of history, with a 40-0 overall record.

The 2005 national champions possessed position-to-position power. The core adapted to multi-layered roles, soon becoming interchangeable pieces.

 Laurinburg dumped off foes to the tune of a 40-point average margin of victory. Only five games were determined by 20 points or less.  They shot 80 percent from the foul line and committed less than 10 turnovers a game.

They defeated prominent prep programs such as Hargrave Military Academy, Notre Dame Prep, Bridgton Academy, Winchendon, and several traditional breeding grounds handily.

This Laurinburg team also featured 17 different leading scorers and a record 15 Division-I signees in total.
This talent-rich core bought in collectively, implementing a souped-up attack and taking everything they did to the next level. They arrived to practice limber, fresh from a five-mile run to the gym from campus.

The collective desire to become the best to ever do it on the prep level soon became infectious. Since the very beginning of the season they employed a championship-or-bust mentality, pegging anything less of an undefeated season and national championship a disappointment.

Attacking in layers and bolstered by augmented bench depth, Laurinburg coasted to a 95-83 win over Hargrave Military Academy in Wayne Otto’s U.S. prep national championship.

Championship MVP Antonio Anderson, Robert Sallie, and Shawne Williams, all of whom ended up at Memphis under then-head coach John Calipari, were the mainstays and bulwark of this team.  

While at The Patterson School (N.C.), Chaney cultivated a post presence in a raw 6-foot-11 kid named Hassan Whiteside.

Chaney's workaday labor facilitated Whiteside's assimilation to the heavy demands of a bruising center. Whiteside, out of Gastonia, N.C., soon developed an adeptness at blocking shots. Applying the low-post scoring tools necessary to play up to his 6-foot-11, 245-pound frame, he abruptly grew.

Of the 17 NBA draft picks Coach Chaney has nurtured the development of, few stories tell like Hassan Whiteside’s.

Whiteside endured an unpredictable city-to-city journey ride before skyrocketing to prosperity with the Miami Heat. He played in China and Lebanon, struggling to find a permanent home in the NBA.

 Then, seemingly overnight, Whiteside was plucked from obscurity. His rapid evolution as a quick-hit sensation for a Miami Heat team was no flash in the pan. After leading the team past the Charlotte Bobcats in the playoffs and sustaining his role as stabilizing interior force, Whiteside signed a whopping $98 million dollar contract with the Heat in the summer of 2016.

Against the Chicago Bulls, Whiteside vaulted into national prominence with a “Triple Dozen” performance of 14 points, 13 boards, and 12 blocked shots. He became the fourth player in the last 25 years to record such a stat line.

 His monumental 12 blocks also put him amongst elite company, as he became the first player since the late and legendary Monute Bol (a menacing shot blocker at 7-foot-7) to collect 12 blocks in 25 minutes off the bench. With the hype seeming like overkill, Whiteside continued to produce extravagant, unparalleled numbers.

While adapting to a new program with college-level facilities in The Patterson School, Chaney was instrumental in tuning up a raw, inexperienced kid named Jordan Hill.

Hill had not played one full season of high school basketball, albeit the promise and quality was there.  

Under Chaney and staff, Hill (who was drafted by the New York Knicks after a stellar career at Arizona) developed an interior offensive skill-set and evolved into a menacing rim protector.

 Such is the true unique draw of Chaney and staff's coaching.

 While countless programs thrive on inheriting star-spangled lineups and nabbing those hotly-pursued recruits, Chaney has been able to attain success with the unproven.

This has been the case with late rising prospects such as Jeremy Hazell (2,000+ point scorer at Seton Hall), Bobby Maze (Tennessee), Renaldo Balkman (South Carolina/NBA), and various others.

 Scotland Campus Sports aspires to take an unknown and raw prospect and turn him good, pushing his evolution every step of the way. 

 Chaney, who has won more games than any active high school or prep coach, continues to churn out a steady wave of talent from all across the country and overseas.

No longer working strictly with blue chips, Chaney’s time at Scotland Campus Sports has been spent enabling under-the-radar players garner notice.

Last season, Chaney swooped in at the 11th hour with the focus on getting a new program off the ground. He needed to move swiftly to build up the culture and engineer the meshing experiment.

This involved taking forgotten-about recruits and pushing them against national brand name high school/prep programs. Chaney discovered one of the country’s more underrated recruits in Jaylen Jordan. Jordan, out of Congers, Ga., flew mostly under the radar during his high school career.

Then, during the latter half of Jordan’s senior season, he became a focal point and an innate playmaker averaging 18 points and six assists per game in becoming the 6A State Player of the Year.

Working with Chaney and assistant coach Sullivan Brown, Jordan added muscle onto a once twig-like frame. Inheriting some ownership of the offense, the multi-geared guard with ferocious attacking ability soon found his identity.

Blessed with various scoring tools, few are aware of the limitless bounce Jordan possesses. Any given moment, Jordan can kick-start the momentum roll with an electrifying dunk or a move that oozes of his wowing athletic ability.

Guard Chris Parker also entered Scotland Campus without the lofty expectations and rankings and soon made a name for himself. At 6-feet and 155 pounds, what Parker lacked in size he made up for with instincts and true point guard play. 

Parker became an instant linchpin in Chaney’s controlled and strategic transition game, fueling fast breaks and kick-starting the running game fresh off a defensive board. He averaged 17.0 points and 4.0 assists for the post-graduate team.

Similar to Jordan before him, Parker not only bought into but embodied the “unsung” theme.

The fact that this core didn’t generate the same national headlines as others provided added ammunition for kids like Parker (who recently penned with Henderson State).

“Coach always tells me, ‘play with a chip on your shoulder,’” Parker said of Chaney.

And so the Texas native relished the responsibility of seeing the play before it unfolded and developing an accurate read on his teammates’ strengths.

 Parker fed the post, was instrumental in creating in the half-court set, and scored at all three levels. He blew past defenders and relied on his wit to make the right pass and pile up pivotal buckets. 

Parker called his own number during high-pressure moments, pocketing pivotal 3-pointers against Mount Zion (M.D.) and 22 Feet Academy (S.C.).

Another guard who improved dramatically under Chaney's system is Dylan Angel.

"He's the ultimate winning type of kid," said Chaney of Angel, who found his way to SCS' backcourt following a mid-season transfer from DME Academy in Daytona Beach, Fla.

"He possesses all the tools necessary to be a good, reliable four-year player. He had a very good high school career which ultimately culminated with a loss to Tony Bradley (now a newly-minted champion at UNC) in the playoffs. He's also a good student and has the maturity and mindset to make a seamless transition to college and be a key catalyst (on both sides of the court) from the get-go."

 At DME this season, the prep and post-graduate team did not have the same high-rankings and highly-touted recruits as they have in previous years.  The SIAA program underwent a putrid down year, stuffed in the talent-stacked SIAA's lower percentile.

Thus, weighing the transfer market to renew his winning ways was the best option for Angel.

A disciplined up tempo pace that entails consistent work and hustle, was also better suited for the post-graduate.


 "At DME we had a lot of set offenses that were drawn up to take time off the clock," the 6-foot-2 Angel said.

 "At NTSI, we were told to run the fast break and score as quick as possible. The part of my game I really had to refine was my quickness and driving capabilities. I really think that playing at NTSI and the level of play really helped me adjust and refine those aspects of my game."

A deft shooting stroke, decision-making off the dribble, and defensive tenacity are key attributes which makes Angel a safe bet to win the plus/minus stat on the floor.

"It was tough adjusting to all the new faces at first in the middle of the season, but I quickly proved myself in the gym," Angel explained.

"I feel like after I proved myself, everything else just fell into place. I was able to find my niche by gaining the trust of the guys and just performing well on daily basis."

Angel was quick to cite that the two coaches propelling his development helped him get acclimated.

"I can't tell you how many times I've had two coaches from the same team tell me two completely different things," he said. "With them, they were always on the same page.”

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Coach's Corner With: Sullivan Brown, Scotland Campus Sports

Hailing from the hoops hotbed of Memphis, Sullivan Brown is the best example of a player who could have reaped the rewards of the post-graduate year.
A late-bloomer on the recruiting market, Brown played just one season of high school at Hillcrest High in Memphis. Possessing a deft, left-handed stroke from beyond the arc, the 6-foot-2 Brown emerged into a key scorer and hounding defensive presence, helping the program earn a berth in the state tournament.

Brown played this lone year of high school hoops merely by accident. Having plied his trade strictly on the AAU circuit with the Memphis Disciples, Brown learned of Hillcrest’s tryout through a friend at the 11th hour.

“I learned there were tryouts that day and I just happened to have all my gear with me at the time,” said Brown, who has morphed into one of the top player development ace’s in the country.
 “I had literally just transferred schools and I hadn’t made up my mind about playing on the team yet. When my friend told me he was going to tryouts, I wound up going with him.”

Brown not only made the team with ease, he found his way to the starting lineup and soon became a dependable two-way source. He relished his role as a knock-down specialist, posting four games of six treys or more.
From there, Brown earned a scholarship to William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa. A consistent presence in the NAIA national tournament, William Penn had a prestigious basketball reputation and a tradition of success.
After red-shirting his freshman season, Brown became an immediate spark off the bench as a sophomore. Spreading out the floor with deep, seemingly limitless 3-point range, he played a vital role.

After college, Brown continued to weigh options for his basketball career. He had already worked a number of basketball camps and got his feet wet in the coaching world, taking great pride and passion in nurturing grass-roots talent. An opportunity emerged at camp Winadu in Massachusetts, where Brown opened up a network of contacts in the coaching world.
 While he initially considered weighing his professional stock over the waters, he developed national appeal as a coach. Steadfast in not only nurturing talent but locating noticeable holes in player’s games and working relentlessly to rectify them, Brown took a job at DME Academy in Daytona Beach, Fla.

While at DME, Brown worked exclusively under Chris Chaney, a three-time National Champion and three-time National Prep Coach of the Year. Alongside Chaney, Brown helped recruit and cultivate a wealth of Division-I talent.
Instrumental in grooming a plethora of Division-I recruits-- Tobias Howard, Ted Kapita, Kevaughn Harris, and Connor Farrell to name a few—Chaney and Brown helped DME ascend the nation’s prep mountaintops. By mid-way through the year, they were ranked No.5 nationally.

Working on everything from physical development, ball handling, defensive acumen, reads, and shot selection, Brown continued to push the group’s evolution. While at DME Academy, coach Chaney learned of an opportunity near his Maryland roots at the sprawling Scotland Campus in Central Pennsylvania. After inheriting the keys to the kingdom for the basketball program, Brown was the first staff member Chaney hired.

Jumping at the opportunity, Brown hopped aboard at NTSI. During his first year, he helped recruit and assemble a barrage of underrated, unsung recruits en route to a 21-7 campaign. This group included mid-major recruits such as Rasheed Brown, the electrifying Jalen Jordan, Tyler Morman, and Chris Parker. The team registered upset victories over nationally-ranked Mt. Zion Academy (Md.) and Montverde Academy of Florida.

Brown’s day-to-day activities include player development, recruitment, overseeing the entire operation, speed and agility, college placement, and is steady presence in coordinating with Division-I coaches and placing student-athletes at programs throughout the country.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

NY Pride's Carlo Has Bright Future Ahead

In today’s hoops landscape, there are various instruments capable of gauging a player’s statistical impact and effectiveness on the floor. For promising incoming freshman Allessia Carlo, the best aspect of her game is an immeasurable intangible which cannot be computed: Heart.

Despite being a tad undersized, Carlo possesses the fleet of foot and competitive nature that gives her a savvy well beyond her years.

An accurate depiction of a gym rat, Carlo has spent much of the summer of 2017 bettering all components of her game. Carlo averaged 13 points and five assists, quarterbacking the New York Pride AAU team to six out of seven tournament victories on the Zero Gravity circuit. Carlo’s blend of tactical playmaking, unselfishness, and outside shooting allowed her to lead by example for the Pride, coached by longtime Westchester/Putnam County hoops pioneer Aldo Redendo.

“What Allessia brings is rarified court sense, tenacious defense, and ability to get to the rim with either hand and finish,” said Redendo, who envisions an memorable four-year career at Kennedy Catholic for the point guard.

“She was one of seven eighth-graders that competed on a team at the ninth grade level and she put game-changing matters into her own hands during tough moments. Her ball handling has blossomed and her IQ is off the charts. She’s really a student of the game and she continues to soak up knowledge and pick things up at a quick pace. She may not be the biggest guard, but she makes that up in her skill-set and her decision-making and her quickness.”

From last summer to this summer, Carlo improved in every statistical category. Redendo said the most noticeable changes was her hunger for the big moment and commitment to the little things. By dishing key assists, taking charges, facilitating the transition game, and delivering key stops in high-pressure situations, Carlo was super-active across all 94 feet.

“She wins the plus/minus category whenever she is on the floor,” Redendo explained. “She is already able to make those around her better and she’s still developing. I’m looking for her to ultimately become a four-year starter at Kennedy, with an impact that’s really felt by her sophomore year. If she continues to progress and sustain this work rate, that’s where the bar is set.”

While it seems Carlo is just starting to garner recognition, she’s built quite the resume in staying devoted to her craft. She averaged a team-best 16 points for her St. James the Apostle (Carmel, N.Y.) this past season, taking home the Jim Normile Outstanding Player Award this year.

The work ethic applied on the court seems to mirror her work in the classroom. Carlo has earned a steady supply of academic hardware these past three years, with high honors and honors recipient status from 2015-17.
 She was named salutatorian of the 2017 Graduating Class, an arduous task given the highly competitive academic environment of such a school system.

Away from the regular season, Carlo leaves herself with little time to rest on her laurels. She’s been instrumental in leading her team to Brewster Super League championships in 2015, 2016, and 2017. She’s played for Playmaker Academy on the AAU circuit and also competed in the Spooky Nook Hoops Classic, helping pilot her team to a championship in May of 2016.

She’s displayed both aspects as a point guard, orchestrating the offense as a dish-first creator while simultaneously pacing her team, scoring-wise.

“Offensively, Allessia is a major threat with the ball in her hands,” explained Christopher Tychostup, her CYO coach with St. James.

“She knows how to get players involved, can beat defenders off the dribble, and finish around the basket. When she sees her jump shot go in early in games, she becomes very hard to defend. In her final year with the program, she averaged 15 points to lead her team into the playoffs. Defensively, she has fast feet and active hands. She can play in the zone as well as match in the man-to-man and really shut a player down.”

All of these tools have prepared Carlo for the next chapter in her career.
At a Kennedy Catholic program that values its storied basketball tradition, expect Carlo to offer immediate and lasting contributions.

Utica's Hawkins Continues To Develop As Double Duty Source

Even before he emerged into one of the fastest-rising mid-major recruits in the country, Jalen Hawkins embodied the two-way toughness of a New York guard.

Hawkins, who would stake his claim as one of the most prolific scorers in New York State history while at Utica-Proctor, spent the past year on the prep route.

 Less relied on to manufacture points, Hawkins wound up devoting more attention to his defensive energy. Applying pressure all across the court, Hawkins routinely challenged himself to neutralize high-scoring guards.

Following a commendable spring, Hawkins’ sustained his increased level of play at Peach Jam. Hawkins averaged 11.5 points, 5.2 boards and 2.2 steals.

Once again, Hawkins relished the role of locking up on upper-echelon recruits throughout the event. He's made a major transformation after being groomed as strictly a go-to-guy his first three years.

The high-energy guard averaged 32 points as a junior at Proctor, never once dipping below his scoring average in league games. He shot 51 percent, scoring a good deal of his points on hard drives and crafty, acrobatic finishes knifing through traffic.  
 Hawkins developed a dependable deep 3-point game, consistently drawing box-and-ones and various junk defenses.

As a senior, Hawkins opted to pursue the prep route. Citing a desire to face national competition and play a schedule featuring prized recruits, Hawkins transformed his role at now defunct City United Reach Basketball Academy (N.H.) and The Conrad Academy (FL).

During his time on the prep scene, Hakwins had the chore of guarding proven scorers such as Putnam Science’s Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky), The Rock School’s Darius Days, and 22 Feet Academy’s Hamidou Diallo (Cincinnati).

“Basically, my role changed from scoring and go-to scorer to a guy willing to guard the other team’s best player,” said Hawkins, who will attend Our Savior Lutheran (N.Y.) for a post-graduate season.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to get the team to win. At the end of the day, it’s all about that “W” and that’s all that matters to me so it wasn’t really a transition.”

Monday, July 17, 2017

Chaney Alum Part II

Wesley Johnson

Iowa State/Syracuse University


After a brief stay at Iowa State, Johnson’s loud impact at Syracuse reverberated throughout the country. In going above and beyond the expectation level set for him, Johnson was able to stake his claim as the best player in college basketball during the 2009-10 season.

He pieced together a 25-point showing during a win over defending NCAA champion North Carolina at the season's start, a portent of what was ahead.

Johnson’s mammoth performance was followed up immediately with a 17-point, 10-rebound performance which piloted ‘Cuse to a wowing upset of No.10 Florida.

 After being peppered with questions about whether he could sustain this smoking-hot start in the ultra-physical Big East, Johnson answered with a thorough 20-point, 19-board effort during a win at Seton Hall.

Johnson’s multi-layered scoring ability and knack for taking over games invigorated a Syracuse program initially enveloped by question marks. Heading into Johnson’s lone year with the Orange, the program had lost key pieces such as Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf, and Paul Harris—a significant percentage of their offensive output.

 Johnson immediately filled the gap, simultaneously keeping Syracuse buoyant in the talent-heavy Big East, averaging 16.0 points and 8.4 rebounds.
Consistent numbers and a pattern of stellar performances in high-stakes games vaulted Johnson to the periphery of National Player of the Year. He wound up earning a First Team All-American nod.

Categorized as a lottery pick and gaining traction on a variety of expert pre-drafts, Johnson opted to circumvent his final year of college and declare himself eligible for the NBA draft. He was selected with the fourth overall pick of the draft, taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Johnson carved a niche for himself with the Pheonix Suns, where he became a dependable scoring threat who piloted the perimeter game. His NBA journey included spots with the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. Johnson flourished with the Lakers, tallying career-highs in nearly every statistical category.


Antonio Anderson

University of Memphis


Anderson was the catalyst of Chaney’s marquee and memorable Laurinburg Prep team, which is widely regarded as the best prep team ever. Maximizing their capabilities on the hardwood and never looking back, this team ran foes out of the gym. They pulled off a historic, unrivaled 40-0 on the season, pummeling teams by a 40-point average margin of victory. Just five games on the season were won by 20 points or less, a portent of their sheer dominance. From the beginning of the season, this special group made it clear anything less of a national championship would be a disappointment. Chaney even said publicly he would be disappointed if the team didn’t author a perfect, 40-0 season.

The team bought into Chaney’s philosophy, sacrificing individual totals and preferences for team success. They took strategic measures to getting better everyday, arriving at practice after running five miles to the gym.

The team thrived with oceanic depth and came at foes in waves, utilizing 17 different scoring leaders on the season. Sprinkled across one roster were 15 Division-I players, a statistical mark no team in prep history has been able to mirror.


At the forefront of these routine offensive onslaughts was Antonio Anderson, a well-built 6-foot-6 215-pound guard. As part of a four-man group that penned with Memphis under famed coach John Calipari, Anderson was a hard-finisher with a mechanical, smooth jump shot and dependable 3-point game.

He averaged 10.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, active all across the floor as a two-way player. Anderson is one of two Memphis players, second only to Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, to register a triple-double. Despite going undrafted out of college, Anderson saw time in the NBA with the Houston Rockets, Charlotte Bobcats, and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Renaldo Balkman

South Carolina


While treated to a typical New York Knicks fan ovation and booed lustily on draft night, Balkman is best remembered for the spark he provided a dismal New York Knicks organization. Though the Knicks struggled mightily during Balkman’s stay, he was one of few promising spots.
Balkman supplied relentless energy, heart, hustle, and dazzling finishes in the open court while bringing quick-hit energy off the bench. Balkman fit a need in the NBA with his defensive motor and ability to play scrappy, workmanlike basketball.

This dogged style endeared him to Chaney, whose Laurinburg teams constantly held foes well under their scoring average. Though more of an interior banger than a shut-down defender, Balkman’s in-your-grill style and ferocity on the defensive glass paid dividends. His ability to play rim to rim, flying all over the court and sacrificing his body for loose balls sparked a team hell-bent on making history.

During his stay at South Carolina, Balkman’s pesky style led to a pair of victories over eventual national champion Florida. He was extremely active across all statistical categories during the 2006 National Invitational Tournament, averaging 9.6 points, 6.3 boards, 1.9 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.3 blocks en route to bagging MVP honors. Balkman’s high-motored, high-octane style solidified him as an appealing choice to NBA scouts.

Balkman’s NBA career included time with the Denver Nuggets and a detour back to the New York Knicks, where he was instrumental in helping the team snap an exasperating playoff drought in 2011-12. He is best remembered for his ability to guard multiple positions, from guards to bigs. His professional career included overseas stops in Mexico, Venezuela, The Dominican Republic, and Panama.

Bobby Maze

University of Tennessee

High-voltage, crafty, and boisterous, Bobby Maze was known for his innate attacking ability. Never reluctant to thread through defenders or go smack into traffic for acrobatic finishes, Maze’s flair for the exhilarating made him a fan favorite at Tennessee. Floating up lobs, hitting runners, speeding the ball upcourt, and knifing into the driving lanes, Maze brought boundless energy to Bruce Pearl’s team.

When Chaney left Laurinburg for a new opportunity to build up the Patterson School (also in North Carolina), Maze was a pivotal piece in easing the transition. He was a prototype Chaney guard, bringing a multi-tooled skill-set and utilizing his athleticism and instinctive style to make plays. Playing hard, sturdy defense and applying pressure all across the floor, Chaney was sold on a hyper-aggressive kid who brought unbridled passion and drive to the floor. He put together an all-state and all-county campaign at Suitland High School in Forestville, Md., where he averaged 20.3 points as a senior.

At The Patterson School, he wasn’t a primary scorer as much as he was a quarterback and veritable defensive pest. He averaged 14.0 points, 5.0 assists, and 3.0 steals, helping the team to a 34-3 record and No.3 national ranking. After cracking the top-40 of the nation’s elite post-graduate players, Maze signed his letter of intent to play at Oklahoma. Things never panned out, however, with Maze offering minimal contributions as a freshman and only starting five games.

He then transferred to Hutchinson Community College (KS), a traditionally-tough junior college in the hyper-competitive Jayhawk Conference. Maze left a lasting legacy at Hutchinson, averaging 20.7 points, 6.8 assists, and 1.7 steals en route to earning Conference Player of the Year accolades. Operating as a dual threat who made his teammates beneficiaries of his presence, Maze doled out 200 assists on the year. He set a school record when he dished 16 assists in a win over Barton County Community College.

During his second run at high-major basketball, Maze’s success at Hutchinson translated to Tennessee. He posted a double-double of 12 points and 11 assists in a win over Chattanooga. He scored 16 points and kicked in nine assists during a win over Georgetown. In a game against Kansas, he scored 14 points and pickpocketed three steals. Against Arkansas, Maze scored 13 points and drilled the game-winning 15-footer with under five seconds remaining. As a senior, Maze became one of the country’s elite guards. He showed out during heated matchups against South Carolina’s Devan Downey, frustrating the high-scoring guard with confrontational defense. Bolstered by a proclivity for blowing by defenders and snaking his way into the lane, Maze averaged 15 points, five assists, and six boards during to earn SEC Player of the Week following wins over Charlotte and Kansas. His leadership at the point guard position helped steer the vols to a 28-9 overall record (11-5 in the SEC) and a berth in the NCAA Elite Eight. Maze shined in an NCAA tournament victory over Ohio, dealing out nine assists.

Maze’s story is not atypical. Following a stellar high school career in Maryland, Maze generated interest at a variety of Division-I programs. Yet with no offer on the table, he opted for the prep route. When he first got to The Patterson School, he was on the second team with sharpshooter Jeremy Hazell. Both were eventually brought on to Chaney’s elite team. When their starting point guard suffered an injury and Maze got the start, he embraced the opportunity and never even looked in the rearview. The rest is history.

Maze remains a tight confidant of Chaney’s. He is active on the grass-roots scene, as the founder of the B.Maze Elite AAU program.