Monday, July 2, 2018

Hot-Shooting Ndatuje Oozes Of Division-1 Talent

The soft, sweet stroke on underrated 6-foot-11 Class of 2020 big man Emmanuel Ndatuje has the tendency to elicit matchup nightmares.

That's on every level of play. Similar to former NBA sharpshooter Sam "Big Smooth" Perkins, Ndatuje has a deft and reliable 16-20 footer, plus a 3-point game which really spreads the floor out.

Intangibles such as Ndatuje's height, length, and aesthetic form help give him a bird's eye view of the rim on his shot.

It all makes his fluid jumper and evolving pick and pop game a chore to guard. As he enters his junior season as an unknown commodity with upside, Ndatuje has the potential to be one of the state's most unique offensive threats.

After getting his basketball teeth cut in Canada, the forward/center adapted to the style of the American game. Ndatuje developed into a key source in a quick paced offense at Inspire Prep of Orlando, competing in the talent loaded SIAA conference of Florida.

"Playing in America has just been a great experience," said Ndatuje,  who could eventually grow to above 7-feet and be sifting through Division-I offers.

"It really taught me just how hard you have to play at all times to be successful. Plain and simple, you have to have your 'A' game out there."

Becoming a sturdy additional leg of offense alongside high-scoring combination guard Khalyl Simmons and 6-foot-7 senior strongman Raymond Dieng at Inspire, the big Canadian's game really developed.

By ramping up with the unrequired work and incorporating a face-up game, Ndatuje became a critical piece.

"I had to have confidence in myself when no one else believed in me," he said. "That meant more of a workload and being a student of the game as they say and learning. You have to want it. It is 'killed or be killed' out there."

Ndatuje savored that mentality, looking to play the role of killer.

On the full monty of short jumpers, interior buckets, and shots from deep, he scored 15 points against state champion The Rock.

Against a DME national high school team featuring Florida Atlantic-signee Madiaw Niang and Fresno State-bound 7-foot-2 Center Assane Diouf, Ndatuje dropped 20 points.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Uno En Uno With: Dylan Andrews

ZS: Judging by your film Dylan, it's clear you have the potential to be a dual threat guard who plays both sides of the ball. How would you describe your game?

DA: First and foremost I am an attacker. I pride myself on being a guy who can really slash and get to the rim. With my strength and scrappy nature, I am able to finish with either hand inside.

I also pride myself on playing an unselfish style of basketball. Therefore, I am able to read the defensive schemes and hit the open man. By picking up on my teammates' tendencies and understanding their skill-set, I'm able to playmake with the ball. I really like to cater to their strengths when I am controlling the game.

ZS: How did you develop the natural ability to knife into the rim with such ease?

DA: Honestly, I have been playing basketball since I was 11 in the UK. I stuck with it and wound up representing my city  (Birgmingham) as one of the area's top-tier guys.

I always looked to penetrate and score on the big guys at the rim, because that's how I grew up playing.

That's a challenge I presented myself with early on. Beating guys off the dribble and using my strength to fend them off on my takes to the rim, there is a certain challenge I embrace in it all.

ZS: Despite growing up in the UK, it seems you have knowledge of the American game and a skill set which aligns with the American style of play? How did this all develop?

DA: Really I think watching old school NBA guys and developing a passion for their style is what molded me as a player.

I watched plenty of film on NBA guys like Steve Nash, who was a supremely gifted passer who really knew how to spark the attack.

I watched guys like Mark Jackson in his Knicks heyday.

Man, he played with such a swagger and a tenacity it was something his teammates just seemed to feed off of. I try to emulate that in how I play the game.

I also watched a lot of Reggie Miller, who was extraordinarily clutch. His killer instinct and mental fortitude under pressure really intrigued me. I remember when he scored eight points in about nine seconds against the John Starks and Patrick Ewing-led Knicks back in 1995.

 He was just a special, uber clutch player. All of these guys intrigued me growing up.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Hotly Pursued Smith Is Heating Up This Summer

For 6-foot-7 Class of 2019 prospect Diante Smith, versatility is king.

Subscribing to the "Mr. Everything" role has enabled Smith to erupt as one of the country's most prioritized, upper drawer recruits. Developing a tightened handle and improving his shot consistency have been instrumental elements of his ascension.

The Florida native's wide ranging defensive responsibilities and bouncy athleticism align with the style enforced in today's high major game.

TCU, Alabama, Cincinnati, Dayton, Florida, and Auburn are currently putting forth the most consistent effort in Smith's recruitment.

Smith, who will attend the prestigious NBPA Top 100 Camp, is slated to visit the University of Florida on June 11th.

"I see myself doing well at the next level due to my versatility," said Smith, whose knack for attacking and gliding to the rim have been notable.

"This year (at Choctaw HS) my role is to score and control the game."

Smith envisions playing the wing at the next level. One of the finer points of his trade is his ability to block and manipulate shots.

He's got rarified shot-blocking ability for a player of his size. Held to a high standard by his coaches, Smith is expected to defend the rim at the same level that he applies on-ball pressure.

"I think he will find a lot of success on the next level, the kid is a big time playmaker with the ball in his hands and he knows how to play without it," explained 1Family Co-Director Darryl Hardin, who helped cultivate the multi-layered talent of fellow 1Family product Nassir Little (UNC).

"He is a dog on defense and can guard multiple positions."

Playing under Zo Jenkins with 1Family, Smith has assumed the elderstatesman role for a talented but callow, youth-laden team.

"He has been good in all games, he has taken on that leadership role," explained Hardin.

"Leading a group of young guys that look for his guidance. He does it all for us--score, defend, playmake. He's just the complete package."

There appears to be mutual intrigue between Smith and Alabama. The school's proximity to his home and the opportunity to be a key figure in the SEC from the beginning are enticing factors.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

East Carolina Earns Commitment From Bosnian Big

East Carolina earned a big pickup, both figuratively and literally, in Class of 2018 Center Milan Stakic.

A 7-foot-2, 240-pound Center, Stakic has come a long way in a short period of time.

The lane-clogging Stakic, who overcame early spurts of softness in his career, has committed to East Carolina.

Having played just 15 games of American prep basketball, Stakic brings a small sample size of potential with his deft touch and monstrous, soft hands.

 If pushed in a controlled environment, it's hard to argue Stakic has a convincing chance.

The Believe Prep (TN) product arrived in the country from Bosnia in September of 2016.

Extremely raw at first, Stakic transitioned from a European four-man with a feathery 15-18 footer to a wide ranging scoring threat.

He has the physical attributes required to backbone a defense as an intimidating and physical space eater.

When initially acclimatizing to a souped up offensive attack at The Conrad School (FL), Stakic struggled with the pace of the game and coordination.

He worked away at his body, trimming down from a whopping 282 pounds to 238 that winter.

Partly at his coaches' urging and partly at his desire to play Division-I basketball, Stakic worked at incorporating an offensive game.

After a 15-point performance in Conrad's six-point loss to ISA-Naples, Stakic's increased offensive tool-set materialized.

He posterized a seemingly helpless defender with an extravagant two-handed dunk during the first half, instantly jolting life into a partisan prep crowd in Orlando.

Stakic put his incrementally improved post game to use in that one, utilizing his size and exploiting interior mismatches.

He drilled a 3-pointer and buried a deep jumper during a pivotal second half stretch.

This coming out party caliber performance ultimately instilled a confidence and an in-game moxie in Stakic moving forward.

From that point on, Stakic's demeanor changed. He went from a shaky work in progress to a high-upside prospect in under two years.

Oklahoma State, Marshall, and several others began to take notice.

 ECU was the first program to put eyes on Stakic, who finished his career under newly minted Wichita State assistant Tyson Waterman at Believe (TN).

The aforementioned thunderous dunk and performance against ISA-Naples were integral elements in shaping Stakic's confidence and mindset.

In high school basketball, guards and ultra-skilled, versatile forwards tend to be the deadlier scorers.

Towering 7-footers notably develop late and encounter difficulty scoring between a defender and the basket. Stakic outlived growing pains in his path to becoming a dependable scorer who can defend the rim at the other end.

Stakic arrived in a hyper-competitive environment, playing in the reputable and traditionally tough SIAA (FL) conference.

 He received a crash course on the niceties of the American game, quickly thrown into meaningful minutes.

After a daunting transition phase, Stakic became a tireless worker.

 Major tweaks to Stakic's body, a less hesitant approach (which led to quality production with his soft touch), and the development of a face-up game propelled his rapid evolution.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Boya Graduates Early, Reclassifies

A vertically explosive 7-foot-1 five-man, Ari Boya has reclassified into the Class of 2018.

A significant recruiting coup for Bradley, the Cameroon native brings length, baseline to baseline mobility, and the potential to pan out as a menacing shot blocker.

Boya, who graduated from Scotland Campus Sports (Pa.) this spring, averaged 14 points, 11 boards, and 6.3 blocks during the 21-2 Scotland's rapid ascent of the prep national mountaintops. The program was ranked as high as No.1 nationally.

Boya blocked nine shots against IMG Academy's post grad national team, sealing off the driving lanes en route to an 82-70 upset at the Prep National Showcase in New Haven, Conn.

"Ari was definitely a defensive stopper for us. With his length and great timing he protected the goal for us many of times," explained Scotland Campus head coach Chris Chaney, who has helped nurture 18 NBA players while winning more games than any current prep coach.

"He was more confident on scoring the ball and facing up and shooting. I think he definitely got the preparation necessary to prepare for Bradley."

Boya's two seasons of high school and prep basketball are a microcosm of his quick growth. He began his career at The Conrad School in Orlando, Fla.

 During his first ever game, against Elijah Weaver (USC) and an SIAA state champion Oldsmar Christian team, Boya scored just two points and pulled down seven boards in under 20 minutes of action.

This type of meager production wouldn't last.

Three weeks later against Agape Christian (FL), Boya went off for 25 points and tore down 17 boards.

This past season against ISA at home, Boya scored 26 points on a mixed bag of dunks, point blank finishes, free throws, and a feathery mini-hook.

When he first got into the country from Cameroon, he needed to develop a better grasp of the game.

He pored over highlight clips of Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaq on Youtube before touching foot on U.S. soil. Still, despite his clear physical and athleticism advantages, Boya was raw in many categories.

He worked tirelessly on his handle and adjusted to a speedy offensive pace.

Boya also developed a rapport with then-teammate Luguentz Dort (Arizona State), emerging as a key recipient of the bullish 6-foot-4 guard's high lob passes.

Chaney has helped churn out talented bigs such as Hassan Whiteside (Marshall/Miami Heat) and Jordan Hill (Arizona/L.A. Lakers), whom he coached at North Carolina prep powers.

How does the veteran coach rank Boya up there with those household name bigs?

"He could be right up there with them," Chaney opined.

"The great thing about Ari is not only is he talented and long, but he has that special work ethic and desire to be good. He does pick up on things quickly."

Boya's play last summer garnered calls from Baylor, UConn, UCF and several other high major programs.

Citing his relationship with assistant coach Drew Adams and head coach
Brian Wardle, Boya committed to Bradley as a sophomore.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

ASA Miami's Gomes Back On Market

With the recent firing of Albany State head coach Michael Moore, high-scoring ASA Miami sophomore Anthony Gomes is back on the market.

The Osceola County product averaged 19 points and 4.2 assists, seizing the leadership reins after coming off the bench as a freshman.

Gomes averaged a team-best 24 points in conference play.

Seizing a tremendous green light, Gomes was the ball-dominant scoring presence on which ASA leaned heavily in 2017-18.

He overcame hot and cold stretches in conference play, quickly surfacing as the program's all-time leading scorer following a 29-point performance against Indian River.

He manufactured points thoroughly, averaging 7 free throw attempts per game.

Gomes toted the hot hand during the final two permances of his JUCO career, with a 39-point performance against Palm Beach State and a 31-point game against Indian River.

He shot a combined 25-for-45 in those games, including 16-for-27 from beyond the arc.

"Last year he came off the bench for me and averaged 10.5 points and this year he was an absolute stud," ASA Miami coach Jean Dubuisson said of Gomes.

"Anthony is an alpha dog which I love. He hates to lose. He's a gym rat. He's always trying to get better. Always has questions on how to get better. His best asset as a player is his pure ability to score the ball and get others involved."


One prospect with the potential and well rounded tool-set to be a late signee is Class of 2018 prospect D.J. McQuarter.

Out of Believe Prep Academy (TN), McQuarter displayed length and a wide ranging offensive game during the Battlegrounds tournament in Memphis.

The 6-foot-7 wing fills all categories as a scoring presence, with a burgeoning back to the bucket game and a smooth stroke which he's now extending beyond the arc.

The New Orleans product has an explosive aerial game. He went rim to rim multiple times during the aforementioned Battlegrounds tournament, putting the ball on the deck with ease.

While his physicality could use a few tweaks in preparing for the demanding rigors of the next level, McQuarter's sound all around game should have appeal to mid major suitors.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Moses Decides On Palm Beach State

After a monstrous senior season in which his play propelled Inlet Grove back into the realm of South Florida relevance, Dante Moses will continue his career at nearby Palm Beach State.

Moses averaged 19 points, nine boards, and four steals in catapulting Inlet Grove to a regional playoff berth for the first time in nearly 10 years.

Knifing to the rim and scoring in traffic are the finer points of Moses' trade. During critical sequences, Moses commandeered the offense with tactical and timely surges to the rim.

Possessing the type of dazzling athleticism that made for wild open court finishes and allowed him to levitate above rim protectors, Moses has some burst to him.

He culminated his senior campaign by taking home PBCHoops MVP honors.

Turning a once cringeworthy jumper into a fluid weapon was instrumental in his growth.

"Dante is a versatile player capable of playing and defending multiple positions," Palm Beach State head coach Martin McCann said.

"Dante is a wonderful kid and epitomizes the quality of student-athlete we desire in our program."


Eastern Wyoming will utilize a perimeter oriented four in 7-foot-1 David Appelgren of NTSI Orlando.

A native of Sweden, Appelgren averaged 14 points and 7.5 boards in his first-ever experience in the United States.

A unique challenge for Appelgren will be transforming from a European guard skill set to an interior presence. While he oozes of potential as a multi-layered big, he must get tougher in the trenches.