Saturday, June 17, 2017

Soccer Player No More, Dort Is One of Country's Top Unsigned Guards

Asked about the high-major talent he’s molded throughout uber-competitive conferences in North Carolina and Florida, Conrad Academy coach Shaun Wiseman didn’t exactly have to think long and hard for the answer.  

You see, Wiseman coached former Florida State guard Ian Miller at United Faith Christian (N.C.), with legendary Charlotte Hornets guard Muggsy Bogues as his assistant.  Corey Sanders (Rutgers), an electrifying guard who quickly became a Youtube and online show sensation his senior year, helped Wiseman’s West Oaks (FL) team to a 2015 state championship.

During his stay at West Oaks, Wiseman also coached current Louisville Center Anas Mahmoud. Chol Marial, a versatile 7-foot-3 Center and the nation’s top-ranked center in the Class of 2019, played a role on the state championship West Oaks team as an eighth grader.

While at Arlington Country Day School (Jacksonville, FL) Wiseman cultivated a post presence in 6-foot-10 Center Koch Bar, now a key frontcourt piece at Bradley.

Still, without a hint of hesitation, Wiseman can put bulldozing 6-foot-4, 205-pound combination guard Luguentz Dort smack at the top of the list.

“Make no mistake about it,” Wiseman said.

 “Luguentz Dort is the best player I’ve ever coached. He’s a special kid. He’s just a man-child out there. I mean, he gets to the rim whenever he wants. He gets to the free throw line. He’s the type of player who can manufacture points in a hurry. And, he can win a lot of games in those moments of heightened pressure. He's just bullish, he's just a winner and a kid whose game is predicated on toughness and talent.”

Dort,  heavily courted by programs such as UConn, Indiana, Oregon, Baylor, Florida, Indiana, Michigan State, and a bevy of others, has spent this season proving his former coach’s words prophetic.

Dort is the kid who put up 36 points in leading Conrad to a win over 22 Feet Academy (S.C.) during a Grind Session event at Taylor County (H.S.).

 He’s the kid who dropped 33 points (in three quarters) in an end-to-end drubbing of his former school, Arlington Country Day. His performance enthralled former UConn assistant Andre Lafleur (now at UNLV) and Oregon assistant Mike Mennenga --both of whom eyeballed his every move.

Dort was a defensive catalyst that December afternoon, collecting six steals and converting two hard strips into thunderous dunks in less than a minute during the first half. He showcased the much-improved, softer touch and range. Bagging corner treys while simultaneously proving he could knock down contested shots, Dort gave an efficient account of his capabilities.

Dort put up 23 points, six boards, and five steals against Bishop Sullivan (VA), displaying an arsenal of power moves and considerable bounce during the second half.

Dort authored efficiency against plenty-tough Potter's House, scoring 24 points (on 14 shots) in a home win.  Against Tech Academy of Canada, playing against his own countrymen, Dort knifed his way to the rim and barreled through double teams all night. The battle intensified, with the mild-mannered Dort exchanging hostilities with Matur MakarMakar, the 6-foot-11 freshman with a world of high-major Division-I promise, played physical on the oft-slashing Dort.

The Montreal native ultimately had the final say against his own people. He managed to leak out and get free for a layup, bucketing the deal-sealer in a 49-47 win over Tech Academy.

Dort, who averaged 25.3 points on the Grind Session this season, surfaced on the high-major scene as a oft-driving sophomore. He was plucked from obscurity, playing in the United States for the first time ever.

With ACD entertaining a national schedule that season, Dort assembled a wild, 33-point performance against Josh Jackson and Prolific Prep.

Dort spent much of the summer of 2016 changing his shot. Working with AAU coach Nelson Osse, he rapidly developed a quicker release and more dependable form. Dort reaped the results of it almost instantly, hitting 11-of-23 from beyond the arc during Brookwood Elite's run in Vegas.

The timing worked. The biggest knock on Dort, during his sophomore year, was his spotty jump shot. The skeptics surfaced, saying he was only a threat at the rim. They said at the next level, when 7-footers are constantly waiting for him at the rim, he'll need a mid-range game and a sturdy three-point game to balance his offensive acumen.

Dort entered the 2016-17 season as a marked man.

During the first open gym at The Conrad Academy in Orlando, Rick Pitino and then-assistant Mike Balado were present.

After witnessing his vastly-improved 3-point shooting, Louisville offered Dort right there on the spot. Dort was operating offense all over the court that night, feeding the post with swift no-look passes and engineering the attack.

He was tearing down defensive boards and kicking up the tempo in transition. Switching to off the ball, Dort hit pull-ups in succession. He darted through defenders and eased his way to the rim, finishing with either hand. He displayed a number of crafty, acrobatic moves in scoring at the rim.

Oregon, Arizona State, Baylor, Michigan State, Indiana, Florida, Illinois and UConn are all working hard right now,” said Osse, Dort’s longtime AAU coach and advisor.

“Lu is enjoying the process and feels privileged to be in this position.”
UConn jumped into the scene merely by accident. During the aforementioned win over 22 Feet Academy (S.C.) at , Dort went eyeball-to-eyeball with then-Washington commit Mamdou Diarra (now headed to Cincy).

 Dort proved himself as one of the most unheralded guards in the country, exploding for 36 points. This caught the immediate attention of the staff.

Lorenzo Romar and Rapaheal Chillious both began recruiting him. Romar has since been fired from Washington. He is currently the Associate Head Coach at Arizona. Chillious is now at UConn under Kevin Ollie and has been extremely consistent in his recruitment of Dort.
Dort, who was recently at the NBA TOP 100 camp in University of Virginia, appears wide open. There is no favorite and there is nobody out of the equation.



Growing up in Montreal, basketball once had little appeal to Luguentz Dort. Soccer was his first sport, the game he had the most passion for.
Soccer? With that kind of extraterrestrial leaping ability, the kid was playing soccer?

Though he had seen a torrent of talent in the area, witnessing guys such as Tristan Thompson and Joel Anthony and Kris Joseph thrive, soccer was his initial labor of love. By the time he reached middle school, Dort was head and shoulders taller than his classmates.

He also developed unrivaled athleticism. This attribute led to both his friends and coaches urging him to ditch soccer and play hoops with a full throttle approach and 12-month focus.

"It was almost as if they were recruiting me," said Dort with a laugh.

"They basically told me I was wasting my time by not playing basketball. Really, the one who I followed around was Shawn (Barthelemy). He was that guy in Canada. He was a playmaker and a scorer. I learned a lot of his moves and picked up the game from him."

Barthelemy was the one who introduced Dort to Nelson Osse, his current coach on Brookwood Elite. Osse, who has been instrumental in guiding Dort through the recruitment process while keeping tabs on his production, has been there every step of the way.
Both Osse and Joey McKittreck have cultivated a hard-barreling, quick-scoring acumen in a pin drop quiet kid who simply morphs into a different human being on the basketball court.

“Defensively, he’s improved tremendously when you take into consideration the jump from his sophomore to his junior year. He can pluck passes out of the air and he is all over the court, picking people off and converting steals into easy dunks. I mean, he’s just a freak of nature out there.”

Hoop Family

Many of Dort’s cousins have authored basketball careers both in Canada, over the waters, and here in the United States. Dort had frequent battles with his cousin, former West Oaks star Richardson Maitre, while playing at Arlington Country Day.

Maitre, also a Division-I prospect, was a skilled combination guard with a dependable jumper and natural finishing ability. He won a 2015 state championship alongside the aforementioned Sanders and bullish guard Andres Feliz at West Oaks.

Dort’s other cousin, Kenny Chery, was a two-way guard at Baylor who is currently pursuing a professional career overseas.

"As a young gun I looked up to all of my cousins and had the opportunity to take advice from them whenever I could," said Maitre, now at Indian Hills (JUCO).

 "Kenny was really the biggest influence because he played my position and he really took me under his wing. He's been with me since I was young."