Friday, January 31, 2014

Thurgood Marshall's Vaughn Now One Of The City's Most Lethal Scorers

The iconic prep scout Tom Konchalski once described Villanova’s Jayvaughn Pinkston as a player with the “body of a blacksmith, touch of a surgeon.”

Another one of the imitable Konchalski’s classic one-liners, “He’s a mountain masquerading as a man,” now has resonance with those at Thurgood Marshall High in Harlem.

That’s because the Panthers feature one of the city’s most versatile scoring threats in polished 6-foot-5 junior Dimencio Vaughn.

 Possessing the build of a shredded-up monster, Vaughn has worked at a furious pace to become a certified knockdown shooter. The sinewy southpaw has extended his  feathery jumper beyond the confines of the arc.

He’s worked through countless catch-and-stick drills, prolonged his long Saturdays in the gym during the off-season, and refined all facets of his game.

During his freshman and sophomore years, Vaughn was known strictly as a banger.

He attacked the cup with ferocity. He navigated double teams and barreled his way to the rim. Heeding advice not to fade away, he powered up and scored inside. His muscle-bound frame rendered him a beast amongst boys, allowing him to hit the glass early and throughout.

In an era where far too many bigs possess merely robotic games, Vaughn has become more adept at shooting, orchestrating offense, and playing instinctively. He’s cultivated his presence as a playmaker, now averaging four assists per game.

“He’s a workaholic,” said Thurgood Marshall coach Abdu-Allah Torrence of Vaughn, the son of widely-known street-baller Linzell “Predator” Vaughn and the brother of former Rutgers standout and WNBA player Kia Vaughn.

“He’s usually the first guy in the gym and the last to leave. He wants to get his shots after practice. He’s become more vocal as a junior this season, he’s been leading by example but he’s becoming more vocal. He’s still crashing the boards. He’s always been capable of guarding kids who are 6-foot-6, 6-foot-7. He’s come a long way. When he was young, he was a bit of a fat kid.”

The only thing fat about Vaughn now is his gaudy statistics. He’s averaging 26 points and 16 boards to lead the 14-4 Panthers, who’ve ripped through Manhattan AA with a 10-1 record.

What began with active pursuit from Hofstra, Drexel, Iona, and Quinnipiac has evolved into surging interest from Miami, Villanova, Temple, and most recently Kansas. Rhode Island is the latest to throw an offer at Vaughn.

While Vaughn's emergence as a high-scoring, jack-of-all-trades in the Panthers lineup has been promising, Torrence has assured him that the stat sheets in the gym will never even compare to jewelry on the fingers.

And so the vision is to decorate Vaughn's Wolverine-sized fingers with sparkling rings. Championships would help showcase this multi-layered prospect.

“I told D, along with talent, people are going to judge you on championships,” explained Torrence.

"When you win championships, that talent looks better. When you win championships, that talent is effective. He’s a kid who has a chance to eventually be the best player in the city. He’s an ambidextrous kid, an athletic kid with a high-motor who is as versatile as they come.”

While Vaughn’s production rate has increased--He scored 33 points to propel the Panthers to a  70-69 thriller over Westinghouse Saturday-- the program's vision won't dwindle.

“The goal is always to win a championship,” said Torrence.

“That will never change. (Vaughn) is going to have to produce and help us get to a championship.”