Monday, March 13, 2017

22 Feet's Sloan Capitalizing On Talent

David Sloan hauled in a kickout pass from Luguentz Dort, scanned the rim and buried a corner 3-pointer amid a close-out.

Sloan's Conrad team was slicing away at a monstrous 21-point first half deficit against a national power in Wesleyan Christian (N.C.).

 This was during mid-winter, at the Grind Session's Mustang Madness tournament in Paducah, KY.

Moments later, Sloan got free and hit a deep straight-away 3-pointer.

Then, Sloan pick-pocketed a Wesleyan Christian guard and converted the turnover into a rare two-handed dunk in transition.

Fueled by a pair of 30-point performances from Jaylen Hoard and Aaron Wiggins, Wesleyan Christian fended off Conrad's second half rally en route to the win.

Still, Sloan's eight-point sequence and 28-point performance was emblematic of the 5-foot-11 guard's knack for timely buckets.

One of the more unsung point guards still remaining on the Class of 2017 recruiting market, Sloan registered his presence on big stages throughout the 2016-17 campaign.

Against a Bishop Sullivan team featuring Rasir Bolton at the time, Sloan scored 20 points (on seven shots). Against Hillcrest Prep, Sloan erupted for 32 points.

 He wound up transferring to 22 Feet Academy (S.C.), a move which reunited Sloan with former coach Richard Gatewood and childhood friend Peanut Cunningham.

Scholarship-hungry performances, most notably during an exposure-heavy Grind Session tournament in Arizona this weekend, have attracted the likes of Oregon State,  Bradley, Eastern Kentucky, Santa Clara, and Morehead State.

Just four days after arriving at 22 Feet and absorbing the new system, Sloan dropped 26 points in a win.

His pull-up jumper from mid-range with 1.3 seconds left, before a horde of Division-1 coaches, closed the deal in a 46-44 upset over Victory Rock Prep (FL).

"The thing that we were most impressed with was how well he gelled with the team so quickly," said Gatewood, who formed a radiant tandem with Sloan and rugged 5-foot-9 guard Daniel Sackey.

"I think David can go somewhere and help a program right away. With his scoring ability, it's clear how much he effects the game. Yet if he's not scoring he's still going to get someone 10 or eight, he's still going to impact the game. He's underrated in that sense. Coaches that have seen him recently, they love his pace. They love his demeanor."

Gatewood first discovered Sloan when the heady guard was a seventh grader, possessing a court sense and an awareness level which oozed of promise.

 When he took the head coaching job at Taylor County HS (KY), he took Sloan with him and gave him a green light as a freshman.

With Quentin Goodin (now at Xavier) operating  off the ball and Sloan orchestrating the offense while averaging 20 points, Taylor County ascended to national prominence.

The plot grew more complex at the culmination of Sloan's junior year at basketball-crazed Taylor County. Citing a desire to be closer to his Louisville home, Sloan transferred to Ballard.

 Gatewood, who aspires to eventually break into the NCAA coaching market, took the position at 22 Feet.

Sloan encountered forgettable trouble at Ballard, where the KHSAA questioned his transfer and ruled him ineligible.

The prospect of sitting his senior year out became overwhelming, especially for a kid who played varsity basketball as an eighth grader.

Worry and frustration compounded as the KHSAA refused to budge. Sloan's initial confidence and optimism soon morphed into hopes and prayers. He found an escape route, however, when he learned of Conrad Academy in Florida.

Sloan stumbled upon Conrad merely by accident. Upon perusing his snap chat videos, he came across one of hometown friend Dai'von Thompson and Austin Wiley (now at Auburn).

 Sloan, who befriended Wiley after the two attended Team USA tryouts, quickly learned the two were at the same prep program in Florida.

 Immediately upon reaching out to Conrad's coaching staff (with an endorsement from Wiley), Sloan earned a scholarship and filled an immediate area of need at point guard.

"I thought I wasn't going to be able to play out my senior year period," Sloan said. "God opened doors for me."

Bigger stages elicited bigger performances from the Louisville native.

Primed to erase any tinges of doubt regarding his mid-major value, Sloan has proved his worth by producing in pressure-filled moments.

Partially at all the work they've put in the last five years and partially at Sloan's close relationship with Gatewood's wife and three young children, playing his final game with Gatewood coaching him had special resonance.

"People around us know how much time we've put in the gym and how much work he's devoted himself to," Gatewood said.

"Having watched him play since he was a seventh grader, I always wanted to see him go out on senior night. It was great to see him finish his career here at 22 Feet and play."

Gatewood added that a player of Sloan's demeanor is rare because the senior doesn't get rattled and doesn't get too hyped up, either.

 Couple that with his ability to hit fearless shots in crunch time and Gatewood finds one keyword to sum up Sloan's game.

"He's smooth out there, I'll tell you that. He's smooth."