Saturday, August 27, 2016

France's Esso Oozes Of High Major Talent

If his sudden grasp of the English language is any indication, France product Mel Esso learns at a quicker pace than most.

Though he's been studying English for only one year, Esso has caught on rather rapidly. He's already challenging himself with hyper-sophisticated words, the type of elevated diction he will see on the SAT.

If Esso develops on the court and assimilates to the American style of play at the same furious pace, the 18-year-old will be sifting through a grocery list of Division-1 offers in the ensuing few months.

Now at The Conrad Academy in Orlando, Fla., Esso's game is buoyed by a smooth left-handed stroke and deceptive athleticism. He's recently flashed an above-the-rim game.

"He's got the combination of size, versatility, and an ability to shoot from the perimeter," explained Johann Mpondo, who played at Wright State, authored a professional career overseas and currently  serves as an assistant under Conrad head coach Shaun Wiseman.

"TCU has been talking to him. Oregon, they're asking about him. Those are the only schools I'm aware of right now. From what I've heard, other schools are certainly interested in him. He's going to be alright when it comes to finding the right school. I think he's a high-major player. Once he gets used to the physicality here in the United States, just the speed and everything he has in talent, he's going to be a high-major Division-1 player.

Esso's ability to shoot from distance, attack the rim from all angles, and finish with both hands through traffic bodes well for Wiseman's system at Conrad. The team, headlined by Florida and Oregon target LuGuentz Dort, is predicated on a souped up attack with aggressive defense and rim protection. Adding 7-foot sophomore Aristide Boya and 6-foot-8 Damir Hadzic (a transfer via Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, FL) should pay dividends.

"The United States has appeal to me as really one of the best places to play," said Esso.

"There was an opportunity to get more of a development of my personal skills and also gain motivation and higher goals through hard workouts and coaching that I couldn't always receive in France. The mentality, the language, the fanfare around the sport, I would say I always loved the American way."

Helping push Esso's development has been Frank Mpondo, the brother of the aforementioned Johann Mpondo. Frank Mpondo coached Esso thoroughly on the grass-roots level in Le Mans, France.

As a versatile threat at the 2-3 positions, Esso averaged a team-best 20PPG and played with the French national team.