Saturday, January 14, 2017

Oldsmar's Weaver Is One Of The Nation's Prized Players

Elijah Weaver and the word “underrated” should not be found in the same sentence. Ever. 

From an outsider looking in, that would almost seem criminal. How could he possibly be pegged as underrated?

"Weaver" and "underrated" shouldn't be found in the same book, the same chapter, the same page, or even the same tiny blurb that vows to accurately depict high school basketball in America.
An electrifying lefty game-changer and multi-tooled talent at Oldsmar Christian High School (FL), Weaver has done enough to stake his claim as one of the Class of 2018 as well the country's most proficient guards.

And yet with averages of 18.2 points, 6.2 assists, 4.2 boards, and 2.0 steals on a national schedule, Weaver actually does go unsung and underappreciated.

Yes, a group of “experts” and “gurus” out there have failed to equate the blur-like 6-foot-5, 195-pound guard with the same blue chip status as other national household names.

Weaver hasn't paid any single iota of mind to it at all. Winning and an insatiable thirst for competition seize the Florida native's attention like nothing else in this world.

Since inheriting the reins of a traditional hoops breeding ground, Weaver has invested most of his focus on heavily-hyped matchups and this level's grandest stages.

 He’s the kid who dropped 37 points, doled out five assists, and ripped six boards to go with four steals during Oldsmar’s 63-61 win over Cannon School (NC) back during Thanksgiving. 

Weaver loudly announced his go-to presence this season, instantly filling the scoring gap left by since-departed L.J. Figueroa (West Oaks/New Mexico State) and Troy Baxter (UNLV). 

Weaver dropped 31 points on defending champion and nationally ranked West Oaks Academy in Orlando.

During a victory over The Conrad Academy in Orlando, with Rick Pitino on hand, Weaver scored 22 points and dished eight assists. 

In defeating Tennessee Prep during Grind Session's prestigious Mustang Madness, Weaver poured in 25 points en route to earning MVP honors.

And to think Weaver entered this season as Scout’s 37th ranked Class of 2018 prospect...Where was his name listed among ESPN's  Top 20?

“I would say he’s underrated still, that’s solely my opinion and yeah, it may be a bit biased,” said Oldsmar head coach John Bianchi, who has green-lighted Weaver with some ownership of this year's team.

“I’ve seen some of the guys who happen to be ranked above him and I don’t see how he’s not ranked above those guys.”

At Oldsmar Christian, rankings don't have much weight amongst the players. In fact, Weaver’s maturity and decision-making has given him his own privilege of rank on this oceanic-deep team.

“I would say his IQ is so high that he just knows when to either take a jump shot or get to the rim or go get a floater or go for the mid-range pull up,” Bianchi said.

“He knows what to get at all points of the game and nobody’s going to take that away from him. He’s grown this year just by making his teammates better off and on the court. In addition, he’s still staying humble and working as hard as he’s had to work to get to where he is now.”

For quite a while now, Oldsmar has been synonymous with gritty, in-your-grill defense. We're talking pressure all across the court.

Weaver has improved on that end as well, while also displaying scoring abilities at all three levels and becoming a headier game-manager.

Louisville, Villanova, Florida, Wake Forest, and Maryland appear to be putting in the most work for the SIAA’s most hotly-pursued recruit.

“I would say Maryland is starting to pick it up,” Bianchi added. “UCLA has been here once every couple of weeks even though they haven’t offered yet. So I would say those schools right there and also USC and UConn."
And, as effective as Weaver's been, he's clearly not alone.

D.J. Mitchell, who would be the focal point on a majority of the nation's superpower preps, is averaging 17.7 points as a supplementary piece. While Mitchell's been sidelined four games, Jhakeem Smith has filled in with a 24-point performance and a string of 15-point games.
Oldsmar features a frontline that matches up well in an SIAA loaded with 7-footers and wide-bodied rim protectors.
"The trio of bigs Stefon Fisher, Alex O'Guinn, and Mike Durr, they play major roles and they are all performing at a high level right now," as Bianchi noted. 

"(Class of 2018) Akiel Shakoor, he's had 14-point, eight-assist nights, 11 and eight, 12 and eight."
Bianchi is cognizant that the road to the championship will likely make a heavily anticipated stop through  reigning champion West Oaks or 18-1 The Rock.

"I would say the strength of our schedule is helping us improve as a team and getting us ready for the SIAA tournament coming up at the end of February," explained Bianchi. "The goal, of course, is nothing less than a state championship."

The somehow underrated point guard will play a significant role in leading them there.