Friday, July 22, 2016

Alum Corner Elev8 Prep



""People ask, 'is he a shooter? Does he just get to the rim? I think he's just a guy that gets baskets"

"I don't like to be classified as a particular position, because I'm just a competitor," said Jolly.

"I'm a winner. I always pride myself on stepping up to competition. If you beat me, I'm going to work on it and make sure I beat you the next time."

Tyson Jolly's world was smothered by darkness. 

Putnam City West's then-junior guard went from one of Oklahoma City's most electrifying playmakers to a young man plagued by restless uncertainty. There was a dreadful fear of the unknown.

It had all unfolded so rapidly.

After sustaining a nasty spill during a game, the seven blood clots found in Jolly's lungs forced the 6-foot-4, 200-pound combination guard to shut it down for the season.

His legs were also hampered by this case of pulmonary embolism, rendering him immovable for the final 13 games of his junior year. 

 The timing couldn't have been worse. Putnam City West had reeled off 18 straight wins, with state championship aspirations well in view. 

Jolly now had to come to grips with a larger issue, one far greater than basketball. 

Pulmonary Embolism, which Jolly survived, was initially categorized as life-threatening for the teenager. Jolly has vivid recollections of lying in a hospital bed, struggling to manage the high-speed thoughts which circulated his mind uncontrollably. 

 They jolted him out of sleep, breaking into his solitary dreams relentlessly. 

When the thoughts intensified, he was up all hours of the night. Jolly, who didn't play organized basketball until the ninth grade, was just starting to flourish as a defensive catalyst and balanced scorer. 

He's made tweaks to his health. He bounced back completely as a senior, averaging 20.1 points, 9.1 boards, and 3.1 assists en route Putnam City West's berth in the class 6A state semifinal. 

Continue Reading Here



"We are excited to complete our recruiting class with the addition of Rodney Culver. Rodney possesses the invaluable combination of high character and basketball ability. During our two-year relationship with Rodney, he continuously displayed the type of athleticism and skill we are looking for in this class." 

Assessing the new offensive style Elev8 Prep will implement in 2015-16, Rodney Culver is cognizant of his role.

He doesn't need to adjust, assimilate or adapt much at all. 

This breakneck, high-horsepower attack mirrors the style on which Culver tends to thrive.

At Pickerington Central High in Ohio, Culver scored the rock at all three levels--at the rim, from 18-feet, and from beyond the confines of the arc. 

An adrenaline-fueled 6-foot-4 wing, Culver carved his niche as an effective rebounder and more of a menacing shot-blocker than his size would indicate.

 This unbridled defensive energy solidified Culver's jack-of-all-trades status.

Simply put, the mid-major recruit utilized his athleticism all across the stat sheet. 

Continue Reading Here 



"J.T. Escobar is the definition of everything our program stands for as a person and student athlete," said Driscoll. "His ability to be a player, not a position, makes him such a valuable piece to our future. During his transfer sit-out season, he will be able to grow as a player with practice time on the floor as well as benefitting from all the analytics and video that we use. We look for his game to be even more refined once he steps back on the floor to compete. We are extremely excited to have J.T. as part of our team and look forward to him being a contributor for several seasons."

Driven by a Godly way of life and plenty of older influences, Elev8 guard JT Escobar conducts himself with a maturity level beyond most 18-year-old student-athletes.

 Escobar understands the value of relentlessness, having routinely made the five-minute trek from his Tallahassee home to watch Florida State's long, daunting practices.

Training with former Florida State guard Adrien Crawford, who doubles as his life coach, Escobar has devoured a wealth of knowledge both on and off the floor.

He considers Crawford a brotherly presence and credits him for instilling balance and perspective into his life.

Crawford, a captain during the Steve Robinson era at FSU and currently a pastor, has nurtured Escobar's development since he was 10.

When Escobar started to thrive as a hard-driving, score-first underclassmen guard, Crawford began applying unique new methods to cultivate his prodigious young talent.

 He would frequently take him to work out with program greats such as Al Thornton, demanding Thornton not take the 6-foot-2 180-pound guard lightly in drills.

Continue Reading Here



"The road that Sima took to get to Queens was one that spanned the globe, stretching from Africa to Europe by way of Florida before arriving at St. John's. Born in July of 1996 in the tiny West African nation of Gambia, Sima would call the Catalan city of Girona, Spain as home.  Spain was also where he would take up the game, playing at the Canarias Basketball Academy in the Canary Islands by heading off the Florida to play for Arlington Country Day School and Elev8 Sports Institute in Delray BeACH, Fla."

St. John's has landed a 2015 center target in Yankuba Siba, a 6'11" athletic center who played at Elev8 Sports Institute and Arlington Country Day High School after playing at the Canarias Basketball Academy in the Canary Islands.

Sima also played on the Spain Under-18 team; he was born in July of 1996 in The Gambia. At the European Championships last summer in Division A, he averaged 11 points, 12 rebounds (leading all participants) and two blocks per game in 33 minutes per contest. He shot 45% from the field in the tournament, facing Federico Mussini's Italy team in their final game, a win.

Continue Reading Here



When Sandro Noel first started playing basketball, just four years ago to be exact, he was extremely raw.

It's hard to imagine he'd be where he is today. Now one of the nation's quickest rising mid-major recruits, the wide-open Noel is sifting through a growing list of potential suitors.

Lacking the fundamentals and initially failing to grasp the intricacies of the game, Noel embodied a "work-in-progress."

Continue Reading Here



Consider Levi Cook a basketball old soul.

 As a young kid, the Glen Daniel, W.V. native was enamored with highlight films of hometown stars such as Jerry West, Randy Moss and Jason "White Chocolate" Williams. 

His focus shifted, however, when his grandfather implored him to take note of Shaquille O'Neal during the Shaq/Kobe Lakers heyday.

Shaq's supreme interior manhandling quickly garnered Cook's undivided focus. It also put everything in perspective, as the 6-foot-10, 286-pound Cook was always considerably bigger than all of his classmates. 

Emulating Shaq's inside game and sustaining his identity as a true big, Cook's game flourished. With big, soft hands, he's become increasingly adept around the rim. 

Finishing with authority while learning to alter, change, and manipulate shots defensively, there's no confusion about where the big fella belongs on the court. Yet with deft interior dishing ability and an innate awareness for reads, one of Cook's more appealing attributes is his basketball IQ. 

This quality allowed Cook to ascend the ropes of the nation's premiere bigs. Though he served primarily as a supplemental piece alongside 6-foot-11, 245-pound Thomas Bryant (Indiana) at Huntington Prep (W.V.), Cook said he's bettered his defensive play and physical condition.

Continue Reading Here



It doesn't matter the brand, style, or the color.

Each and every pair of sneakers Donte Fitzpatrick laces up has "DM" or "Desmond Merriweather" etched on them in clear, black lettering. 

 Merriweather, the late Memphis grass-roots hoops pioneer, was instrumental in cultivating Fitzpatrick's double duty acumen throughout his prep career.

Merriweather died in early February, following a lengthy battle with colon cancer. He was only 41.

An innate competitor and high-adrenaline defensive pest, Fitzpatrick hates nothing more than losing.

An agonizing loss can linger within Fitzpatrick, breaking into his solitary dreams.

Eventually, a hard-to-swallow loss will create a mountain of motivation in the wiry 6-foot-5, 183-pound guard.

The loss of Merriweather--who Fitzpatrick regarded as a father figure--has been by far his toughest to stomach.

"I was just so hurt after he passed," said Fitzpatrick, who averaged 25 points and six assists at Southwind HS (TN), en route to choosing Ole Miss over AlabamaArkansasTennessee, and hometown Memphis.

"Those were tough times. But I knew he was going to heaven, so I just had to face the fact."

In Fitzpatrick, his mentor's lasting legacy lives on and on.

Continue Reading Here



Four-star prep shooting guard Kobie Eubanks has committed to Texas A&M and will be able to play starting the second semester of this school year, reports Evan Daniels of 

Once strictly a catch-and-shoot threat, Elev8's Kobe Eubanks'new-found knack for putting the ball on the deck, creating off the dribble, and ambidextrous passing ability has rendered the well-built 6-foot-5  guard one of the nation's most hotly-pursued guards.

Eubanks scored 15 points in under 13 minutes last night, as Elev8 coasted to a wire-to-wire 85-48 throttling of Virginia Tech's J.V.

Elev8 overcame a lackluster start, hiking up the defensive pressure en route to the sloppy blowout.

Continue Reading Here



The summer was about  grinding, getting in shape. Doing extra things, chasing 50-50 balls and rebounding and working on my ball handling." 

Roughly twenty minutes before an arduous workout at Village Academy High School in Delray Beach, Fla., 6-foot-7 forward Leroy Butts arrived carrying a pair of beet-red Air Jordans. 

The flashy kicks are not all Butts, a post-graduate and veteran, will carry this season.

 As an elder statesman amongst a flurry of new faces, Butts will carry the leadership mantle.

 He'll carry a bulk of the offensive load, utilizing versatility as a weapon. 

A wiry forward with a knack for interior scoring last season, he'll also carry a new offensive arsenal. 

Butts spent the entire summer working to refine these tools, developing a fluid 15-18 foot jumper and becoming more comfortable putting the ball on the deck. 

At the collegiate level, survival is dictated by day-to-day progression.

Those capable of expanding, adjusting with new elements to their game each year? 

They tend to last. They tend to stand the test of Division-I time. 

"I think he'll definitely take on a bigger role for us offensively," said Elev8 head coach Chad Meyers, who inherits a bevy of wings and interchangeable guards this season. 

"For 'Roy, the biggest thing is we want him to be a leader. He knows what we expect. He knows how hard we have to practice this week. He's been tremendous so far with his workouts, bringing energy. I think if you look back 12 months ago, when he got here and to where he is now, he's a totally different person."

Continue Reading Here