Saturday, January 17, 2015

Eubanks' Eruption Lifts Elev8 In Ballin' At The Beach

Attacking the rim with both hands, investing more energy into his defensive game, and levitating above the rim more than ever, Elev8's Kobe Eubanks has become one of the nation's most hotly pursued recruits.

A man-child 6-foot-5 wing, Eubanks has the body of a Big East recruit and the stroke of a kickout shooter.

 Scoring 37 points on a full arsenal of hard drives, shots from well beyond the arc and acrobatic finishes through traffic, Eubanks piloted Elev8 to a thorough 112-87 thrashing of FCI in Friday night's Ballin' At The Beach tournament.

Oregon, Missouri, Kansas, UCLA, Providence, Minnesota, Maryland, Louisville, UConn and myriad others have expressed an uptick of interest in the Fort Lauderdale native.

"There's Oregon, Missouri's still showing a lot of love, Louisville's been loving it, Michigan just jumped in," said Eubanks.

"I spoke a few words with Texas recently. I'm just taking it day by day."

Eubanks' emergence as an adept scorer has paralleled 14-2 Elev8's ascension of the national mountain.

He's playing with less flair and more focus.

On Friday, it wasn't difficult to see the threat Eubanks poses for defenses.

"If they put a smaller defender on him, he can go to the block and score. With his range, you can't put a big on him because he can step out and stretch the floor," Elev8 head coach Chad Meyers explained.

"I think he's a major mismatch problem. Everybody wants to know at the next level if he's a two or a three. I think he's just a player. He's a wing. He can score on all different levels."

That much was evident in the first half.

Getting to the rim with ease and spreading the floor out, Eubanks scored 25 of his team's first 37 points.

 Elev8 broke a 16-16 deadlock with an 11-0 surge, capped off by a 3-pointer from Nick Rogers.

High-rising Jamall Gregory (Maryland, VCU, South Florida) set the tone defensively, registering a pair of loud blocks at the rim.

Ole Miss-bound guard JT Escobar facilitated the souped-up attack and Radford-signee Caleb Tanner drained 4-for-5 from beyond the arc in under 12 minutes.

"I think the zone lights our guys' eyes up," Meyers said.

"I'm selfish but I think maybe we have one of the best shooting teams in the country."

Elev8's ability to accelerate the transition game and jump out on the break overcame some early defensive lapses which kept FCI hanging around.

 They built an insurmountable lead at the start of the second half, after Escobar splashed a straight-away 3-pointer.

Helping nurture Eubanks' development has been fellow Fort Lauderdale native and Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Knight.

"Oh, we used to go at it in the gym," said Eubanks, recalling his deep and detailed training sessions with Knight, during which they were constantly trying to one up each other.

"He'd lift a certain weight and I'd try to match it. It's a competition. We got out on the football field, ran sprints and just pushed each other. Brandon's obviously doing great right now and that motivates me because I've got to get to that same position."

Witnessing the 'never settle' mentality of Knight, Eubanks said, helped ingrain a new work ethic in him.

"Even though he's making money and playing in the NBA and that's his dream, no matter how much he produces he's still working very hard," Eubanks said of Knight.

"He comes out there and gives everything. He just taught me about getting better and preparing yourself for the next level."

While decommiting from Baylor and the controversy which followed was a patience-taxing experience, Eubanks said it helped him understand the power of resilience.

"Windows always close, you just have to wait for another to open up," Eubanks said.

"Opportunities open up here and there, it's up to you to take it. I just never gave up. I've got to keep pushing myself."

Spending extra time in the gym and launching shots for hours, coupled with workouts with Elev8's Cody Toppert and NBA skill development guru Ganon Baker has made Eubanks more multi-layered.

 He said he's been playing more instinctively and looking to create offense more, locating the best possible shot.

How coachable is this kid?

"He's a sponge," Meyers said.

"He wants to listen. He wants to be good. We were on him earlier about playing harder and tonight he was flying around getting rebounds. He's definitely a high-major guy. There's no doubt. How he progresses every day in the next couple of years will likely determine if he's got a chance to make money playing basketball. I don't think that's a bias take at all."