The 2018 Nike Hoop Summit game was loaded with top 20 talent. Rj Barrett, Bol Bol, Andrew Nembhard, Josh Green, Tre Jones, Cam Reddish, just to name a few. With those names brought NBA scouts, GM's, National Media, and just about everyone in the basketball community out to Portland, Oregon this week for the Nike Hoop Summit.
Amongst media outlets, scouts, writers, and reporters who covered the practice sessions throughout the week, the overall opinion was that the World Team would beat the US team for a multitude of reasons. By the time Friday rolled around, we were all considerably confident that this would play out the way it did.
In the first quarter both teams looked to get comfortable shooting the ball in an arena setting, throwing up some airballs and missing what would normally be routine shots for them.
It was close throughout but in the second half the tale of the tape was the US just went into a stretch where they couldn't buy a basket. This was common all week during scrimmages for them as there would be 4-5 minute periods where they would not score during practice scrimmages against mediocre talent.
World Team remained consistent and with an RJ dunk and a couple of 3's, the US didn't have enough fire power to bounce back leading to Worlds' double-digit win over the United States.
The final practice for the USA Junior National Team commenced last night at the Portland Trail Blazers practice facility. USA Basketball did an excellent job of bringing in some really great talent to scrimmage the USA squad. Darius Garland and Quentin Grimes have been great all week, including last night. Two of the less talked about prospects, Darius is headed to Vanderbilt while Quentin is signed with Kansas - they both have had great weeks infront of NBA scouts and GMs here in Portland.
On the opposite side, top 50 recruit Kevin Porter Jr. stole the show last night, offering up some incredible highlights against the US team.
USA Team Roster:
Darius Bazley, Bol Bol, Jordan Brown, Darius Garland, Quentin Grimes, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, Tre Jones, Louis King, Romeo Langford, David McCormack, Cam Reddish, Zion Williamson
The last practice for the 2018 Nike Hoop Summit World Team was in front of a gym full of NBA scouts and GM's. Rj Barrett did not disappoint, showing off his full arsenal of dunks and scores. Check him out as he goes off in the teams' scrimmage.
Quentin Grimes is a 2019 guard prospect who has been selected to the Nike Hoop Summit this year. We caught up with him after his impressive performance throughout the teams' scrimmage Wednesday evening. Grimes is headed to the university of Kansas to continue his basketball career and he has a message for fans of KU hoops.
Day 3 at the Nike Hoop Summit for some of the best high school Basketball players in the world. The United States National team looked sharp during practice showing off a full arsenal of dunks, handles, and jumpshots. We were able to capture the entirety of the scrimmage between the squad, check it out!
USA Team Roster:
Darius Bazley, Bol Bol, Jordan Brown, Darius Garland, Quentin Grimes, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, Tre Jones, Louis King, Romeo Langford, David McCormack, Cam Reddish, Zion Williamson.
Day 1 here for HoopFocus in Portland, Oregon covering the Nike Hoop Summit. Check out these scrimmage highlights from tonights action. This squad is loaded! World Select Team Roster: 1 Yago Dos Santos 2 Andrew Nembhard 3 Bathiste Tchouaffe 4 Josh Green 5 R.J. Barrett 6 Kevin Zhang 7 Leandro Bolmaro 8 Jaylen Hoard 10 N’Faly Dante 11 Charles Bassey 12 Ignas Brazdeikis 14 Kofi Cockburn & Daniel Oturu.
The Top Rank National Showcase makes its second to last stop of the 2017 calendar year in Des Moines, IA a the Des Moines Sports Center. This event will feature 115 of the best high school hoopsters in the midwest. Take a look at our player watch list below:
Gavyn Elkamil 6'3 MoKan EYBL
Cooper DeJean 6'0 Martin Bros
Karter Kriegel 6'0 Pure Prep
Quincy Wiseman 6'1 Adidas IA Barnstormers
Caden Stoffer 6'3 Martin Bros
Jouldan Velez 5'8 Adidas 1 Family
Dalton Banks 6'0 Adidas D1 Minnesota
Rashad McDaniels 6'0 MoKan EYBL
KT Raimey 6'4 UA KC RUN GMC
Nate Seputis 6'10 Team RWA
Antonio Alzheimer 6'0 Pure Prep
Xavier Foster 6'10 Pure Prep
Caleb Love 6'4 Bradley Beal EYBL
Braxton Bayless 6'0 All Iowa Attack
JJ Schwepker 6'4 St. Louis Warriors
Lamel Robinson 5'11 UA KC RUN GMC
Amorey Womack 6'2 MO IMPACT
Aguek Deng 6'9 Kingdom Hoops
Malcolm Miller 6'5 Shelby High School
Tyem Freeman 6'5 MoKan EYBL
Tyreke Locure 6'0 MoKan EYBL
Drew Lowder 6'0 The Family EYBL
Jeron Artest 6'3 California Supreme EYBL
Damien Burnett 5'8 Team KC
Easton Null 6'1 Adidas Gateway
Broc Smith 6'3 Hawks
Keenon Cole 6'7 Mac Irvin Fire EYBL
Markese Jacobs 6'0 Mac Irvin Fire EYBL
Javaunte Hawkins 5'10 Adidas Team Rush
Ej Liddell 6'8 Bradley Beal EYBL
Isiaih Mosley 6'6 MoKan EYBL
Mario McKinney 6'2 Bradley Beal EYBL
Owen Coburn 6'10 Martin Bros
Rodvon Jennings 5'10 MoKan EYBL
Roman Wilson 6'10 MoKan EYBL
Amauri Pesek-Hickson 6'2 Adidas Team Rush
Kenny Quin 5'10 Adidas IA Barnstormers
Jamonta Black 6'3 Adidas Gateway
Mason Alexander 5'10 Adidas Kansas Pray N Play
Bryant Mocaby 6'5 Adidas Kansas Pray N Play
Trae Meny 6'5 Adidas Gateway
Lamar Norman Jr. 6'2 UA 1Nation
Markeese Hastings 6'7 UA 1Nation
Cooper Kaifes 6'2 MoKan EYBL
Sadique Perkins 6'3 UA KC RUN GMC
Leon Perry 6'7 Adidas Team Carroll
Wesley McCullough 6'8 KC MAGIC
Xavier Rhodes 6'2 UA OK RUN PWP
Jordan Ray 6'3 UA 1Nation
Jamal Harris 6'2 UA Indy Hoosiers
Israel Barnes 6'4 MoKan EYBL
Ryan Klassen | Lead Writer
THE Warriors are one win away from the perfect postseason.
The Golden State Warriors took a commanding three games to none lead in the 2017 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers after a stunning comeback in game three. On Wednesday night in Cleveland at Quicken Loans Arena, the Cavs took a lead in the third quarter, their first lead not in the first quarter all series. The team carried it late in to the fourth quarter before the Warriors storming back in the finals minutes of the game. The comeback was capped by a Kevin Durant (41 min., 31 pts, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) three pointer over LeBron James (46 min., 39/11/9) to put the Warriors up by one with 45 seconds remaining. The final 45 seconds for the Cavs were a scramble to get shots off while also trying to keep the Warriors from furthering their lead.
The Cavs still had time to retake the lead. After the Durant dagger with 45 seconds left, Kyrie Irving (44 min., 38/6/3) attempted to reclaim the lead but failed to drive the lane and draw a foul, or drain a jump shot. After the miss, it was clock-stop mode for the Cavs. Twice the Cavs fouled a Warriors player and twice the player hit both of his free throws. In the final possession, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue called a time out and set up a play. On the in-bound, the ball found its way to LeBron in the corner beyond the arc. He attempted to draw a foul on the shot only to have it blocked by the Warriors premiere wing defender and 2015 Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala. LeBron had been taken out of bounds after the block and the ball made contact with him while there, so with 1.5 seconds left, the ball went to the Warriors. The Warriors got 30 minutes, seven points, five steals, and the big block off the bench from Iguodala.
Time expired with score reading 113-118 Golden State, and likely sealing the fate for the Cavs. The Warriors ended the game on 11-0 run.
The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team to have come back from a 3-0 deficit in the championship series in the history of North American sports.
Game 4 of the NBA Finals is on Friday, June 9th tipping off at 8:00 (CST) at The Q in Cleveland.
Ryan Klassen | Lead Writer
Ishmail Wainright reflected on his recruitment and discussed what young prospects should be aware of during their own recruitment processes.
In Kansas City, MO, I was able to catch up with former Baylor University letterman, Ishmail Wainright at Team Rush practice. During the interview, he expressed warnings about self-conduct and social media, and touched on how to be the best prospect possible.
Wainright has been through the recruitment process so he’s familiar the dos and don’ts. He says how a player presents himself on and off the court is a key contributor to a player’s image. He stressed the importance of keeping body language up as to not show discontent. He believes that positive body language can improve a player’s attitude from a singular mindset to a team mindset. He reflected on his time at Baylor and said he could remember times where he or his teammates had gotten frustrated early on in a game, took some possessions off and, “we left early from the [NCAA] tournament.”
Wainright also stressed the importance of self-awareness. He says every team has personnel designed to fit their own role to allow the team it’s highest chance of success. If a player is a strong defender but lacks a jump shot, don’t be a free shooter and take the ball from the team’s scorers. Wainright wants young players to know their own strengths and weakness, and to be aware of risky decisions in a game. “If you’re not doing it in practice, you shouldn’t do it in the game.”
He also wants young players to be aware of how they present themselves on social media. Wainright, who has recently deleted his social medias had this to say, “Social media can kill a kid. You know, that’s all some guys look at. Kids will have their mixtape on social media only showing the best part of their game, leaving recruiters to believe that player can’t, play defense, or shoot the three. It can just drain a kid’s confidence if the coaches don’t like what they see.”
He used Zion Williamson as a comparable example, “I want to see how he [Zion Williamson] does when he gets to college. I’m not knocking him or anything, that’s a tough kid. But I want to see how he plays defense, or how coachable he is.”
Wainright’s recruitment process began early on in his basketball career. He knew some schools would recruit him from the day he became eligible to talk to schools, but was never sure how seriously he should take it. He recounts a teammate sitting him down before his junior year of high school telling him it was time to be serious about basketball. To him, ball was a passion he did out of love, but after that he had to see hoops as a passion and as a business. Despite speaking with to programs nationwide and coaches such as Duke’s Coach K., Baylor gave him so much respect it was easy for him to commit.
The decision to go to Baylor came from his first visit to Waco, Texas, and another time where they came to see him. His first visit to Waco, his parents came with him. He says seeing both of his parents there together and enjoying their time really stuck out to him. What sealed the deal was when Baylor came to him for a visit. “They came to the hood,” he remembers with a laugh, “they came and sat down with my parents and we talked for like two hours. I knew then, so I told them that I had one more visit then I’m gonna commit. I told them I knew where I wanted to go and they didn’t believe I would make the decision as quickly as I said I would so I just told them.”
Wainright is a 6’5” guard from Raytown, Missouri, who played four years for the Baylor Bears. He was the only player in Baylor men’s basketball history to play in the NCAA tournament all four years of his eligibility. Wainright looks back on his time at Baylor with great fondness. He believes himself to have been blessed to be able to play all four years, blessed to have played all across the nation and the world with and against the best talent, and he will always remember being ranked #1 in the nation.
Ryan Klassen | Writer
BRYANT Mocaby is stronger and more physical than most, showing the crowd at the KC Classic why he has gained so much interest from schools in recent weeks.
This past weekend, Kansas Pray N Play shooting guard Bryant Mocaby showcased his entire skillset at Hardwood Events KC Classic at the Sports Pavilion in Lawrence, Kansas. When asked if playing physically came naturally to him he said, “On defense it’s always been there. It comes naturally and it gets physical down there [under the rim], so I have always had to play to that.”
His defense is tight and physical. He bodies players his size, or uses his length to suffocate and clamp the smaller, quicker guards. Mocaby would often force the ball handler into the corner, effectively using the baseline or other out-of-bounds lines as a second or third defender. He can stop a fast break by just getting in front of the movement and forcing a pick-up, allowing the rest of the defense to catch up.
ON the offensive front, Mocaby has really worked to transition his game from passive to aggressive. “I’ve always had a long range shot but I’ve never really went for it because I played very passive. Now that I’ve been really playing more aggressive on offense and carried more confidence in my shot, it’s been falling a lot more.”
This aggressive mindset has made him a prolific shooter. Whether he had an open three-pointer or a contested mid-range jumper, the confidence in his shot was there. From the very first game of the tournament he showed that he can drain the long ball from a shooter’s position with his feet set. He also displayed ability to hit the three on the run after a screen for a quick catch-and-shoot.
In his opinion, Mocaby could improve on his ball handling skills to give him more of an edge. Despite not being a strong ball handler, he still finds opportunities to score outside of his catch-and-shoot play style. His size and physicality allow him to body bigger defenders under the rim and go up strong against contact. On day two of the event, Mocaby received a pass from beyond the arc, made one quick feint to the right, and then broke left towards the rim. Leaving his defender behind him, he picked up his dribble, switched to his right hand, and violently threw down a dunk on the jumping defender under the rim. This play was a true visual of Mocaby’s physical strength as he was able to finish the dunk through mid-air contact. It also displayed the obvious development of his confidence in his offensive game.
MOCABY tries to model his defense after NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Kawhi Leonard, for his quiet yet unrelenting demeanor. He looks to Oklahoma City Thunder point guard, Russell Westbrook for his game-time mindset, “He just plays so hard, every motion is fun with him.”
Mocaby has gained interest from a number of Division II programs and an official offer from Washburn in Topeka, Kansas. Going into his senior year of high school, Mocaby’s big goal is to reach state for the first time before graduation.
Mocaby is 6’5” and currently attends Goddard High School located in Goddard, Kansas.
Ryan Klassen | Writer
RJ Lawrence showed that he can set the tone on offense and control the pace of an entire game if given the minutes.
AT the KC Classic by Hardwood Events at the Sports Pavilion in Lawrence, KC, RJ and MO Team Carroll Premiere 17u played the duration of the tournament undermanned. Schedules, injuries, and other personal matters allowed for no more than six of their players to be at the event on any day for the weekend. Being short staffed, RJ could shine. When asked if having just enough guys to suit up for a game changed the team mentality or attitude he said, “We knew when we came out and gave it the 110% as always, but having just six, seven guys it would be tiring. We knew that no matter what we just had to keep fighting through.”
RJ played every game, sometimes playing point guard, other times switched over the shooting guard. When playing point, he effectively set up the offense, called plays, and the team would develop fluid ball movement until the opportune shot could be taken. Other times at point guard RJ would size up his defender and spin by or just blow passed him if the lane was available. Many times, Lawrence drove to the rim where he was met with strong contact in the paint. Going up strong against the defenders, he was still able to get the shot off, draw the foul, and gain himself a trip to the free throw line for two shots. In the first three games of the tournament, RJ shot at least six shots from the charity stripe where there was no open shot but was able to draw a foul and create his own scoring opportunity. He converted those opportunities at a high rate.
WHEN playing as the shooting guard, RJ played with a very different style. At all times he was moving. Whether he finding space to shoot, maneuvering a quick catch-and-pass, or setting up a screen, RJ was a nuisance for the defense. Often at this position, the play would bring the ball to RJ’s hand while he was in a perfect shooters position beyond the three-point line. To get to this position, he would cut across the baseline and rub his defender on the men in the paint, would roll off a screen and find himself open at the top of the key, or the play would be specifically designed for him be open for the shot. Once the ball was to him in these situations, Lawrence let it fly. From all around the arc, and from seemingly limitless depth, RJ made it rain threes. Twice in the tournament he made back-to-back-to-back threes in consecutive possessions.
RJ is a self-proclaimed combo guard, saying he can play both point and shooting guard, but says he really tries to work on becoming a better point guard and finding the mismatches on the court, especially down low. As a stronger shooting guard, naturally his scoring ability is the highlight of his game. He has range from three and can make an easy jumper at mid-range. He can effectively drive the lane and draw a foul or make the defender miss and finish the lay-up.
His defense is tight and annoying for the offense. He works at his defense in the weight room to become physically stronger against the ball handler, and works on his agility regularly to maintain lateral quickness. When challenged on defense his focus does not waiver. “Get me mad enough and I can guard anybody,” he said with a wry smile when asked if he is a confident defender, “I try to play somewhat conservative on defense, but if the big steal is needed, or the big move, I take it.”
RJ Lawrence standing at 5’11”, is gearing up for his final year and season of high school at Blue Springs High School in Blue Springs, Missouri. He has garnered interest from some well-known Division II schools as well as some smaller Division I programs despite being undersized. With his senior campaign of high school and another AAU circuit next summer still to come, RJ’s high offensive ceiling paired with a year of training could make him a serious prospect for the next level.
Ashton West | Writer
EACH year the Kansas City Classic tournament hosts a number of talented individuals and teams with the 2017 event being no different. The main site for the KC Classic this year is the Sports Pavilion in Lawrence, KS. Games are set to begin tonight (Friday) with bracket play beginning Sunday.
HoopFocus Watch List
17u: Kansas Pray N Play Champions
16u: MoKan Elite (15u) Champions
15u: Kingdom Hoops Champions
Visit HardWoodEvents.com for the full list of teams participating in this event as well as all schedule information and changes!
Ashton West | Writer
LANDON Harrison is a rising senior point guard from Jefferson City, MO generating low-major division I interest with several division II offers already. He competes throughout the summer with Team Carroll, underneath Coaches Ben Lyles and Tim Ward.
UNFAMILIAR with Landon? Let me catch you up to speed. Landon is a lightning quick guard who is ALL energy the entire time he is on the floor. He is a willing defender and a crafty scorer. Landon is at his best when shooting off the dribble, mid-range or beyond it doesn't matter, his sweet shooting stroke and elevation on his jump-shot make him a tough cover for opposing defenders. Although undersized, Landon is fundamentally sound when handling the basketball and has a solid build for his frame, allowing him to finish inside against bigger defenders.
I caught up with Landon after a Team Carroll win in their first game in the Ramey Jets tournament this past weekend:
AW: How would you describe your game to a fan or coach who hasn't seen you play?
LH: I just want people to know that no matter what, I am going to go out and give everything I can all game long.
AW: What're you working on each day in the gym?
LH: I have been working my jumpshot, attempting to develop a quicker release. Also, I am working on my floater because of my size. It will allow me to score over taller defenders.
AW: Are you holding out in hopes of playing Division I?
LH: I just want to play, man. No matter the level.
AW: Dream school?
LH: Honestly, I can't see myself going too far. Illinois would be great. I am being patient with the process and enjoying the last summer of AAU.
AW: How have you enjoyed playing with Team Carroll?
LH: I've loved it. Coach Lyles and Tim have done a lot for me.
Prediction: Landon will find himself a home at the Division II level following high school and be very successful as he would be a great addition to any program at that level.
Ashton West | Writer
JOSEPH Reece is a dynamic scoring wing. At 6'9 he can play out on the perimeter or take his long frame inside and down low. The 2018 prospect displayed his ability to score at all three levels as well as being an effective rebounder on both ends. Joseph has great hands, catching dime after dime from teammates Courtney Ramey, Torrence Watson, and DeAndre Campbell and finishing in the lane through contact. After a double digit win over an Illinois based AAU program, I caught up with the 3-star prospect to talk basketball, ramey jets, and scholarships.
AW: Who's offered thus far?
JR: K-State, Old Dominion, St. Louis, Murray State, Brown.
AW: Dream school?
JR: Syracuse. I love Jim Boheim.
AW: How do you feel you're playing so far this summer?
JW: I feel like I'm playing well, always room for improvement.
AW: How would you describe your game to someone who has never seen you play before?
JW: I'm a long guard who likes to get everyone else involved. I can score anywhere on the floor because I can shoot and drive. I'm unselfish!
2018 6'9 SF, Joseph Reece has the ability and intangibles to be an impact player in college and BEYOND. This is an exciting time for Joseph and his family as there seems to be no stopping him at this point!
Ryan Klassen | Writer
AT the Ramey-Jets United Tournament in Belleville, Illinois, MO Team Carroll Elite player Trent Lyles was team focused both on and off the court. In between games, HoopFocus had the opportunity to pull Trent away from his teammates and coach to discuss his game, the tournament, and what is ahead for him.
TRENT Lyles is a pass first guard who believes his ability to see the whole court, in a field general type of way, is the strongest part of his game. His eyes are always working to finding the best opportunity for his team to convert the possession into points. Scoring comes second for him as he would rather spread the love to his team, but that does mean he is not focused on scoring. Shooting is something that he says is something that a player can always improve on so every day in the gym he works on shooting from various spots on the court. Another fixture of his game that he works on every day is his ball handling. His ball handling is not lacking for talent, but it is just a part of the game he believes he can never stop improving.
TRENT has had interest shown from a few mid-major schools but will not think too hard on a decision or even where he may be interested in until after the AAU summer circuit as to not distract from his team and performance.
TRENT is so focused on the now and his current squad that any question asked of that was specific to him, he would always reply with something about the team or instead of answering about how he played, it was how the team played. His goals for his senior season are not to gain more offers or personal accolades, but for his high school team to win a state championship.
TRENT Lyles is true point guard whose team first attitude can be a real asset for any team looking for a player that looks to make the team better before himself.
Ryan Klassen | Writer
DEANDRE Campbell has received some interest from a few low to mid-major Division I programs as well as some Division II schools, but his sights are set for free college.
WHEN asked about what he is looking for in a program, Campbell’s reply was instant and quite simple. “Honestly, I just want to go to school for free. Anywhere I can fit the program and receive a scholarship I’ll show interest.”
AT the Ramey-Jets United tournament in Belleville, Illinois, Campbell displayed the tools that have gotten him interest from a list of schools. He showed that his big, strong body does not lack for finesse and athleticism. He can move through traffic by weaving in and out of bodies in the paint, and can also over power another player when under the basket. In his own opinion, he believes the best asset of his game is his ability to get to the rim. His strength and size makes it difficult for other guards to stop him once they get in front of him, and his speed allows him to explode through the paint. His short passing can be strong at times but that is just matter of power correction. His outlet and half-court passes are where his passing game really excels. He plays on a fast paced, high flying team so he often times has the opportunity to find the open man streaking down the court for an easy, fast break bucket.
GOING into his senior season at Parkway Central, his goals for the season are easy, “I want to gain a few more offers, and commit somewhere to play at the collegiate level."
Ashton West | Writer
2018 6'6 WF Leon Perry was special on Saturday for Team Carroll. His size, length, and athleticism added a great boost to the guard heavy group and lead to their route of the Southern Illinois Storm. Leon attends Confluence prep academy in Downtown St. Louis where he put up impressive numbers all year long. After Team Carroll's win over the Storm, I caught up with Leon:
AW: For someone who hasn't seen you play before, how would you describe your game?
LP: I would describe my game at good at finding the ball coming off the rim. A wing forward who is comfortable in the post but I can play on the wing as well.
AW: How do you feel you played last game and can college coaches find you here with Team Carroll throughout the rest of the summer?
LP: I feel I played well, I didn't attempt to do too much, new team and all. Yeah, I like this team. I'll be here.
AW: If you could go anywhere in the country, where would it be?
LP: My dream school is North Carolina. I met Roy Williams at Peach Jam last year.
LEON does hold division 1 interest from multiple programs, however they're awaiting his test results and other academic related matters. If Leon can handle his business in the class-room, he'll have no problem finding his way onto a LM-MM roster following high school.
Ashton West | Writer
TORRENCE Watson is a well known name throughout the midwest. The Rival 4-star prospect currently holds offers from schools like, Butler, Creighton, Kansas State, Marquette, Iowa State, West Virginia, Texas A&M, and many others. The list compiled by Torrence and his smooth game are impressive to say the least.
I am late to the party, as this past weekend was my first time seeing Torrence in person. At 6'5 he has good size and good length, making him in stature, your prototypical D1 shooting guard. With his size, he also posses a solid set of skills and athleticism that make him a tough cover for opposing wings. Check out my conversation with Torrence below:
AW: Which schools right now are showing the most love?
TW: Butler and Mizzou.
AW: For someone who hasn't seen you play in person, how would you describe your game?
TW: An athletic wing with the ability to score at all three levels.
AW: What's practice like with Ramey?
TW: Practice is no joke. We get no fouls and it makes us tougher as a group.
TORRENCE has all the tools to be a great college player. To keep up with him, follow him on Twitter @TorrenceWatson !
Ryan Klassen | Writer
UNIVERSITY of Louisville commit, Courtney Ramey, made his presence felt early and often at the Ramey-Jets United Tournament in Belleville, Illinois.
This past weekend (May 12 –13), the Ramey-Jets put on a tournament where star player of the Ramey-Jets United 17u put on a show. The opening game of the tournament, played at Belleville Middle School, was a relentless display of defense and fast-paced offense from the Jets. In the game and throughout the tournament, Ramey proved why he has generated so much interest from major Division I schools.
COURTNEY said he planned to start the tournament off with an aggressive play style to set the tone for the day. From that decision on, he never looked back. He kept pressure on the defense by constantly setting up plays that created uneven matchups so he could find an open teammate for an easy bucket. Whenever he could not set up a pass through a pick-and-roll or the defense played tight on his teammates, he drove the paint with ease for the high percentage lay-up.
THROUGHOUT the tournament, Ramey did not hesitate when he found himself in a situation where he could take an open three-point shot. Draining back-to-back threes in the first game, his confidence from long-range only grew. In between games, Ramey was challenged to a three-point contest very similar to a typical three-point shoot off. Having a two-hour break between games, Ramey decided he did not want to cool down too much and accepted the challenge. Each of the two shooters would have eight shots at five stations around the arch, making a total of 40 shots for each man. With a certain confidence that only a real baller can have, Ramey promised to shoot over 50 percent. Maybe it was just a good day for him, or maybe he wanted to prove that he can do more than just find an open man, but Ramey kept his promise. He finished with 25 shots made out of the 40 total attempts, shooting at just over 62 percent and winning the challenge soundly.
RAMEY describes himself as a taller point guard but does not forget his responsibilities of his position, “I think I am a pass first point guard and love to get opportunities for my teammates, but I can score.”
He believes his court vision is the best part of his game say, “sometimes I can see two steps ahead of everyone and it really puts me over the top,” but finds that sometimes he will start a game lackadaisical and wants to focus on coming out aggressive and, “staying hungry throughout the game.”
COURTNEY Ramey is around 6’3” and committed to Louisville in early February. Before he gets to Louisville though, he must first finish his senior year at Webster Groves in St. Louis, Missouri. He only has eyes for a second straight state title to finish his high school career, though he knows that after his season ends he must commit to trips to Louisville to get on the weight program. Courtney seems like a kid with the right kind of confidence, a drive to improve his game, and love for the game that can be infectious both on and off the court.
Ryan Klassen | Writer
ISAIAH Washington splashed his way to victory in the BallIsLife All-American Game three-point contest in Long Beach California.
AT Long Beach City College, Eastbay presented the BILAAG, where the day began with a three-point contest highlighting some of the players range. The contest began with seven shooters where each player shot from five positions around the arch. After the first round, the finalists were named and Isaiah was able to seal the victory by just one more made shot. On the subject of the contest, Isaiah said, “I had to enter that [contest] and I had to show them that New York guards can shoot.”
DURING the actual game, Washington showcased many of the skills that made him one of the top guards from New York. He displayed fine handles that allowed him to get space from a defender, and fool a defender into making a move for the steal only to come up grabbing air and Isaiah moving towards the rim. Of his skills to get to the rim, he showed a brilliant finger roll that deserves it’s own story, and if he found his way blocked he was able to dish out no look, behind the back, and through traffic passes.
DURING warm-ups, and throughout both the three-point contest, and the dunk contest, Washington sported a black long sleeved t-shirt that brandished the University of Minnesota ‘M’, and above that, the phrase ‘Jellyfam’.
Jellyfam, a phrase and movement in which Isaiah has been the catalyst for has a fun history. Isaiah recalls the start of Jelly with a smile and states, “I remember playing when and all the dudes started dunking so I had to make something else. We got the jelly.”
THE jelly he is referring to is his smooth and signature finger roll which both slips past defenders arms with fluidity, and emphasizes his New York play style. Washington is very adamant about putting on for his city no matter where he is or what he is doing, and gives the vibe of someone who will never forget their roots.
IN September of 2016, Washington signed his letter of intent to the University of Minnesota. He credits his decision to wanting to start his own legacy and wants to preach that, “No matter what school you go to, you can still live your dream.”
Washington is a 6’1” guard from New York, and attended St. Raymond High School.
Ryan Klassen | Writer
TREVON Duval expects his long-awaited announcement to come soon.
Upon being asked, Duval says the college of his choice will know his decision whenever he gets home and can find the time to make the announcement. He plans on bringing a hardworking and dedicated player to the school of his choice with his sights set for the NBA.
AT the Ball Is Life All-American Game at Long Beach City College in Long Beach, California, Duval, and 20 other soon-to-be college student-athletes were brought together by Eastbay to showcase their skills where defense was played in one-on-one isolation situations, the flying was high, and the score even higher.
Duval displayed tight, lock down defense in various one-on-ones causing either an escape pass or a missed shot. He showed efficiency with ball handling in getting past the defender and finding the open man or shot. In the high scoring nature of the game, fast breaks were a big part of the offense and Duval showed both strength and accuracy in his outlet passes.
TREVON Duval is a 6'3" guard from Delaware and attended IMG Academy where he had, “a lot of fun, and enjoyed the experience of playing with such a talented group.”
Ashton West | Writer
JAYLEN Hands showed OUT this past weekend at the 5th annual Ball is Life All-American Game in Long Beach, CA at Long Beach City College. After stealing the show early on during the Dunk Contest with a leap over Oprah Sideverson, you could certainly hear who the crowd favorite was. Jaylen would go on to best Arizona Commit Ira Lee in the finals to win the Dunk Contest Championship. See the highlights here:
Ashton West | Writer
THE Ball family has made a lot of noise as of late, with the three Ball brothers being declared stars at their respective levels and the leader of the Ball clan, Lavar making waves with the Big Baller Brand shoe announcement and bold statements regarding his sons. This past weekend in Long Beach, CA, LiAngelo Ball, the middle son played in the 2017 Ball is Life All-American Game where he showed off his range and passing ability.
AFTER a great performance in the 3pt contest and game, I caught up with LiAngelo to talk shoes, UCLA, and the Ball family. When asked why he was the best "Ball Bro" he simply stated, "The ways I can score, my versatility." LiAngelo impacts the game on both ends of the floor in a tremendous way. On the offensive end he is an excellent shooter and scorer. He is less of a distributor as his two brothers, but he is still a very good passer. On the defensive end, Gelo is a willing on ball defender.
LIANGELO described the Ball is Life All-American Game to be "A cool game and a fun time. Everyone can play so the atmosphere is great." LiAngelo was not lying. The talent on hand attracted numerous internet personalities and celebrities, not including hundreds of fans to make this event truly memorable. After snapping a picture with both Lavar and LiAngelo, my final question for LiAngelo was simple. "What message do you have for UCLA basketball fans?" Gelo responded confidently, "Look forward to a great season."
LONZO enters the 2017 NBA draft and is expected to go #1 overall. LiAngelo is beginning his journey at UCLA. LaMelo is preparing for his junior season of high school basketball after scoring 92 points in a single game during his sophomore season. Lavar has his eyes on the prize as Big Baller Brand is receiving national attention for their products.
I'd say things are going as planned for the Ball Brand.
Ashton West | Writer
OKLAHOMA signee Trae Young put on a show this past weekend at the 5th annual #BILAAG in Long Beach, CA. He showed off his impressive range and great ball-handling ability in front of a sold-out crowd at Long Beach City College. This will be hist last camp and or event he participates in before reporting to Oklahoma for summer workouts on June 4th.
AFTER his impressive performance, I caught up with Trae to ask him a few questions. Take a look at our interview below.
AW: What're your goals as a freshman this season at Oklahoma?
TY: "My team goals are always first. Win the regular season BIG12 and win the national championship. I've always been a winner. My individual goals would be to be the best teammate I can be."
AW: Describe your experience with MoKan basketball
TY: "I can't say enough about the people involved with MoKan and what they've done for me. It's the best AAU program in the country."
AW: What message do you have for Oklahoma basketball fans?
TY: "We're going to make a name for Oklahoma this year."
MY interview with Trae ended when DeAaron Fox walked by and grabbed my phone hoping it was recording a video. Trae Young has all of the tools, on and off the court to have a HUGE, ONE AND DONE kind of year at Oklahoma University.