The class of 2020 is shaping up to be one of the most dynamic and enamorming classes in recent high school memory. Boasting superstar names like Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, and R.J. Hampton who already have six figure follower counts on Instagram. Top to bottom, the 2020 recruiting class has the type of difference makers that has college coaches lining up from all over the nation to get a piece of the action.
The upside of having a loaded a recruiting class is players like Ty Berry get undervalued and fly under the radar. From Newton, Kansas and standing at 6 foot and 2 inches tall, Ty Berry is coming off 35 and 22 points performances in his last two games respectively.
Currently, Berry is ranked 120 by rivals.com, considered a Four star recruit by ESPN, and has 2600 followers by Instagram’s standards.
Berry has official offers from Colorado, Creighton, Drake, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Weber State, and Wichita State.
When I asked him about what his role is for the Newton Railers this year, he said he focused on winning. “Rebounding, doing a lot of that. I score when I can, and I just play hard” Berry said.
The Railers are 7-7 and 3-3 in league play after a slow start to the season.
During the AAU season, Berry runs with KC Run GMC who is in the Under Armor circuit. This year’s 17U KC Run GMC team will consist of other top players around Kansas including Ethan Kilgore, Markelle Hood, Kobe Johnson, Kaden Hooks, and top Colorado prospect Javonte Johnson. Berry said Run GMC usually starts practicing during spring break.
Right now the schools that are interested but have not yet offered are Kansas, Notre Dame, Purdue, and Wake Forest. Berry said he is hearing from those schools at least once a week whether it be by call or text.
Although he is hearing from all the coaches interested in his recruitment, Berry said he has heard the most from Iowa, Iowa State, Purdue, and Wichita State.
Berry has taken an official visit to Iowa where he had a chance to meet the players and hang with team. Berry said he enjoyed his time.
When asked about the possibility of playing in his home state Kansas, Berry said “It would be cool, but that’s not a difference maker for me.”
Berry said he is going to wait till the season is over to focus more on his recruitment and take more visits.
Tymer Jackson has Olathe North rolling early in the season, helping lead the Eagles to a 6-1 record along with co-star, K.T. Raimey.
“He helps me spread the court, gets me assist, I get him assist, it’s a nice duo game” Jackson said when talking about his backcourt running mate.
Jackson is off to a blazing hot start averaging 28 points and 6 assist per game. Jackson points towards leadership and energy as fascists of the game that he excels in.
Earlier this season Jackson put up a school record, 47 points in a game earlier this season versus Shawnee Mission North. After three quarters, Jackson had 38 points.
“Leakouts, steals, threes, I was just feeling it” Jackson said about his performance.
Standing at 6 foot 1 inch, Tymer Jackson says he has heard from Portland and University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Jackson is a senior and is expecting to hear from more schools performing at this level.
Julian. The name rings a bell in your head. Normal, though, as we have been talking about him for quite some time now. And “time” here is no small thing, because Julian Newman has been in our mouths and brains and highlight reel YouTube feeds since he came out of the womb.
It feels like it’s been a whole life since the kid broke into the scene with sick moves as a 14-year-old. Real story is, Newman has just turned 17 and is aiming at becoming a top 2020 class nationally ranked baller. Be it a question of word-of-mouth, he’d already be there, because this young gun is damn calling the shots. Literally.
One fun thing about Julian is how he’s coached by his father Jamie. The J-J partnership may not be at the level of LaVar’s Triple B Evil Empire, but it is definitely showing out there. How could it not, with Newman becoming the last phenom playing varsity ball at 11 years of age!? Orlando born-and-raised, the Floridan prospect has raised through kids younger and older since day one at Downey Christian.
Now let me tell you a story, and bear with me. Today I have sold my XBOX One. Yes. I just had to do it. Don’t ask why. I just sold it, and one of those basketball games that are the rave nowadays among players here and there. And I will miss one thing more than anything. Not winning. But enjoying dribbling and doing crazy stuff with the sticks at hand. I’ve always said Kyrie Irving is the most videogame-character-player among pros. His handles are out of this world. He looks like a constat flick of sticks and an infinite string of pressed buttons. Enter Julian Newman, and you have a videogame-character playing a videogame-character. Basically, doubling down on Irving’s moves. Newman is legit a baller.
Yes, call him overrated (he may be a little, I must concede myself), try to bash him, throw him under the bus, criticize him and deem him a ball-hogger. Do you what you want, do what you please, too bad for you, he ain’t gonna flink. Julian has grown on the spotlight. He knows business, and he deals them on a weekly basis. Newman is averaging a crazy 32 points per game shooting 49% from the field (and for three!), he’s getting 5 boards a game and also stealing the ball around 3 times. Oh, and for the haters, he also knows how to share that little rounded thing–he’s putting up 7 dimes a night.
Even with all this, Newman’s biggest challenge is still ahead of him, though not much further down the line. Actually, it’s happening this weekend, when he will join forces with nation’s No. 10 2021 overall prospect and No. 1 PG Zion Harmon, from Kentucky, in which is labeled as the game of the year already. No joke, BBB against Prodigy. Melo against Julian. Spire against DCS.
I introduced you to this stupidly good Spire team yesterday, and you thought you had seen it all. Well, you better hold your horses. Yes, DCS is nowhere near Spire on paper. The LaMelo-Rocket-Isaiah trio is way ahead of Newman and Zion, both in age, frame, building, ability and strength. They aren’t nationally ranked, yet they haven’t lose a game. But they may ultimately turn to be your Monstars to Newman-&-Zion’s Tune Squad.
Will it be hard for the youngins to beat the team from Ohio? Sure. Will Newman and Zion shoot up to 30 shots each trying to kill Spire with otherworldly volume? Don’t doubt it. It may look ugly after the final horn, the stats’ sheet will probably be ridiculous (and maybe on both sides), but we’re up for a massive showcase, not just a game. No wonder this battle might field a minimum of five future pros, if not more. In just a single game. In just a packed court.
Forget about hating and enjoy hoops at least once. We may be witnessing history this weekend.
Coming from a long line of hoopers, Jaxson Robinson is ready to handle success. His Mother, Brandi McWilliams played Division-1 basketball at Missouri State.
His aunt, Crystal Robinson who recently accepted a position with the Seattle Storm as Assistant Coach and is a 7-year WNBA veteran helped Jaxson get to this point.
“She taught me everything” Robinson said.
Standing at 6 foot 5 inches, Robinson continues to help lead Ada High School to an 8-4 record.
This year as a Sophomore, Robinson is averaging nearly 20 points a game.
A leading scoring on Ada recently quit the team so, Robinson has been shouldering more of a load. “I play everything but the five” Robinson said when talking about his flexibility for the Cougars.
Robinson has received interest from schools including Texas Tech, Texas Christian, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Wichita State, Tulane, and Tulsa.
This summer the 2021 Wing will play with the Team Griffin 16U in the Nike EYBL.
Alston Mason, Sophomore point guard at Olathe West High School is one of the premiere point guards in the 2021 class.
A team with only one senior, Mason has accepted the role of leading the Owls to a 7-4 record.
“We play well versus good teams and beat them, but lose focus a lot against teams we shouldn’t lose to” says Mason when referring the youth of the team.
Mason has seen his share of face guarding and being singled out by defenses, acknowledging the difference between High School preps and AAU. During the summer Mason plays for Nike MoKan Elite, a premiere basketball grassroots program.
“Lonell (Lane), Stevie (Strong), Daylan (Jones), Jaylon (McDaniel), and Danair (Dempsey)” Mason said highlighting some of the teammates he plays with for MoKan.
With no official offers, Mason says he has heard from SMU, Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona State, and U of Denver.
When asked about his goals for the upcoming AAU season, Mason was direct, “I want to prove I’m one of the best point guards in the country, plain and simple”
HoopFocus writer covering Basketball of all levels
Introducing your freshest three-headed monster
LaMelo was a head case. He still is, mind you. Only in 2017 there was no doubt he was on the goofy, careless, youngish and cheerful mood 24 hours a day, even while sleeping–that when able to catch the bed. And you could expect what happened to Los Osos when facing Chino Hills. They went empty. Turned black. Fooled by the Ball.
That chilly night in SoCal, Melo made history and dropped–not cherry-picked–the mere amount of 92 points while handing 7 assists and capturing 5 boards. “Nah, no big deal, he just an indulged kid”, haters said.
Two years later, and a few round-world trips after that match, Melo finds himself at the spotlight again, and not only because of his surroundings. LaVar’s game keeps going strong, yes. Lonzo is partnering LeBron just around the corner, right. LiAngelo, well, LiAngelo is part of the triple B, which is something. But it is all about LaMelo now. Now lanky and sporting a shiny-trimmed hair, the small of the Balls is just doing that, Ballin’.
His family still brings the fanfare, for sure, but he’s undoubtedly the leader of a Spire Academy team nothing but full of talent. He may not be ranked by most scouting services because they see them as a pro, but the kid could be easily the leading PG of this year’s class. Don’t sweat it tho. As in the past, time will put everyone in his spot, and Melo ain’t gon be far from the L much long.
What are you supposed to explain when talking about someone sought by the likes of UConn, FSU and Michigan State? Most probably greatness. Ask Rocket Watts, the No. 1 prospect coming out of Ohio in 2019 and future MSU Spartan. And yet, with all of this, we can consider him only the second-best player in a Spire team led by Melo (yes, bullies are coming packed in full.)
It ain’t a unique routine, for sure, but don’t get surprised if you catch Rocket awake and putting up shots in the gym barely by the time your father gets to bed. Watts is ahead, and he only wants more. Actually, what started as a middling career with a dubious future ahead (he was ranked No. 100+ in the nation just one year ago) has turned into a sure-thing waiting to hit the NBA. Excuse me, I better say smash it.
Just check this out. This summer playing for The Family on the summer Nike U17 tourney, Rocket hung 20 buckets per game. He can handle the ball, move it around and find his targets, spot on. You know the best thing about playing along LaMelo Ball? He can hook you up anytime. Tell Rocket about it and he’ll show you an endless string of killer dunks, so start getting some free time in your schedule cause it may take a while to cover all of them.
And still, he shares the court with yet another stud. Spire can’t stop, won’t stop.
* * *
The class of 2020 looks strong. Michigan State, well, they pounded on Watts and could strike gold on Isaiah. Why would you get satisfied just scoring one of them? Bring Rocket in 2019, build a solid team around him, hope he stays for a second year (sorry Spartans, he won’t) and pair him again with Jackson later. One can dream and East Lansing looks like the place of dreamers nowadays, to be fair.
Don’t get fooled by that messy hairdo though. Isaiah is ditching offers from top-dog colleges and looks like he would be pleased to greet Sparty every week in a couple years when he arrives in campus. Can’t say he doesn’t deserve it now, and much less that he won’t deserve it even more in 12 months time when he finishes his high school run. Melo could be anywhere, Rocket is NCAA-bound, but Isaiah Jackson will keep bringing his game to Spire. No little business.
The kid is putting up 15.2 PPG and it is hard to watch him drop below the 10-point mark. And then, there are the rebounds. The rock can’t escape Isaiah’s hands in the paint. He’s turning the ball over no more than he’s sharing dimes and we’re talking about a big guy. And don’t look now, but he’s blocking almost five shots per outing while also getting a good couple of steals a game. Complete package, they say.
So yes, this is Spire Academy 2019 and if you don’t know, now you know. Being undefeated is a thing. Coasting is another, and the Academy is surely bringing flair to the game.
After transferring out of Texas, Jonathan Jackson has had to sit out the first half of the season. Last night he made his junior season debut and he went crazy! Check it out!
Jada Williams is back again, this time against the only team thats beaten her this season. Grain Valley is a solid team that runs their sets and scores efficiently, their bigs have nice size with a solid skill set making them a tough cover for defenders.
This game would go into overtime where Jada would hit a clutch shot to give her team the lead!
Check out the come behind victory!
Christian Braun committed to Kansas this week. After doing so, he made his way to Rockhurst College with his high school squad, Blue Valley Northwest where he destroyed Wyandotte high school in his only fall league game of the day.
Top 2019 guard Cole Anthony and highly ranked 2018 point guard, Kevin Porter Jr. go back and forth at Team USA u18 training camp in front of coach Bill Self as they compete for roster spots for the 2018 World Cup.
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.