Monday, April 21, 2014

McGill, Mitchell Headline House Of Sports

As a coach, there is a certain button you must press to evoke late-game heroics.

Through powers of persuasion, motivational maxims and simple calming methods, a flair for the end game can be instilled.

Like Spring Valley coach Willie Worsley, House of Sports AAU coach Andy Borman is cognizant this button is virtually non-existent with junior guard Rickey McGill.

 There is no button to press, no switches to flip.


The killer instinct is always coursing through the 6-foot-1 point guard's veins, ready for eruption when the stakes heighten.

"He's a hunter," said Borman of McGill.

"He's been our best player all year. He's really been the kid who has been consistent. He's really getting better scoring at all three levels--at the rim, behind the arc, and from 18-feet. When he goes into kill mode, you want to make sure he doesn't to fall in love with one area. You can be in kill mode and still have a variety."

 Kill mode reared its presence during last summer's BCANY tournament in Johnson City, N.Y.

During the tournament quarterfinal against Suffolk, McGill snaked out to the perimeter and swatted a 3-point attempt from Shaundell Fishbourne, plucking the ball as soon as it left Fishbourne's fingertips.

 The loud block, with 5:41 remaining, was as necessary as it was electrifying.

Fishbourne had been operating a one-man clinic up until that point, as McGill's Hudson Valley squad nearly frittered away a 17-point lead.

 McGill swiftly recovered the ball and zipped a pass up court to a streaking Jack Daly, who drew a foul. They held on for a 78-68 win.

Then there's McGill's play during a 67-66 Sectional semifinal win over Clarkstown South.

The soaring McGill capped a 23-point, eight-rebound, five-assist performance, cramming a violent two-handed alley oop which sent the County Center crowd into a frenzy.

Blanketing, panic-provoking, in-your-chest defense was paramount to House of Sports'  2013 summer ascension.

This was most notable during an upset of vaunted New Heights and several marquee performances during an elite tournament in sun-baked Las Vegas.

While House of Sports has lost a significant portion of last year's luster, they return with a super-sized frontline.

Featured on the blocks is Scanlon's Jonathon Nwankwo, a powerful 6-foot-9, 250-pounder.

Nwankwo, a junior, has offers from myriad programs, Manhattan, St. Peter's, Minnesota, Niagara and Fordham, to name a few.

 Nwankwo's stock has taken off the past few months. Seton Hall, Marquette, Tennessee and Georgetown have quickly become believers.

Harvard, Stanford, and Bucknell have rapidly shown interest, as Nwanko now has a mixed bag of Ivy League, Patriot League, and high-majors in pursuit.

There is Brandon Aughburns, another behemoth at 6-foot-9, 240 pounds. The Flushing, N.Y. native, who plays at the Canterbury School (CT), is a mid-major prospect.

Spring Valley's Kai Mitchell, at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, is expected to stabilize this troika.

 Mitchell may be the least acclaimed of the trio, but he's light on his feet with the mobility and athleticism to blossom this spring.

And so Mitchell, who averaged 16.3 points and 12.0 boards, establishing a resplendent inside-outside punch alongside McGill, is flushed into a prominent role.

Monmouth, Manhattan, Elon, and a scattered gaggle of programs across the way have been on the prowl for Mitchell.

"We're getting a ton of (Division-I) calls for him," Borman explained.

"This really is a big season for him, because during the high school season he's got to play the five-spot. He's got the hands, the footwork, and a mid-range game out to 15 feet. Last year, programs were a bit gun shy because he's not a five."

Salim Green, out of Rye Country Day, has also been an important figure.

 Green, who has interest from Ivy League and Patriot League schools, is a threat on the attack. He loves to create his shot off the dribble, penetrate the driving lines, and work his defender with freelance, one-on-one moves. Playing off McGill's reads gives Green the freedom to run off screens, ready to pull and pop.

Borman preaches the power possessed within the No.2 pencils, pens, and term papers.

With several players earning Ivy League interest, the message hasn't fallen on deaf ears.

"What's the point of playing AAU, if you can't qualify academically?" Said Borman.

 "Why am I going to put you in front of a coach so he can fall in love with your game, only to realize he can't have you? It doesn't work like that."

Borman, who played soccer and basketball at Duke and was the Basketball Academy director at Florida breeding house IMG, stays true to the principles of his system.

The nephew of famed Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, Borman installs a disciplined style, ensuring that no player gets enamored in the flashy or selfish style that tends to corrupt the AAU scene.

"I think the kids realize that the more they play as a team, the better their interest will be," Borman said.

"I want the identity to be of a team that nobody likes playing against because we play every possession. The goal is to be a team on the AAU circuit, that does not play AAU basketball. We really try to run it like a small college program."

Borman continued,  "We play man because if you play man, you can play anything. That's kind of where we're at. We are by no means a finished product. We're going to be a hell of a lot better two months from now than we are now. We've got games where we look like a team. But we've got other games where we look like a bunch of misfits."

McGill will take some responsibility in melding this piecemeal into a functional unit.

"I don't know what it is about AAU season, but Rickey just morphs into a different player. The bottom line is, he's just pretty freaking good."