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.
Ashton West | Writer
COLLIN Sexton. Remember the name.
The Alabama signee played exceptionally well yesterday at the Ball is Life All-American game that featured some of the most talented high school basketball players throughout the United States and earned MVP honors along with Brandon McCoy. He put on a show, making tough plays and showing off his versatile offensive repertoire by scoring the ball at all three levels as well as getting his teammates involved with spectacular passes.
DURING #BILAAG practice on Thursday night, things got a little chippy between Collin and Jaylen Hands resulting in a skirmish that ended fairly quickly. Towards the end of the game, Collin brought the ball up the floor and the match-up everyone wanted to see was finally going to happen. Collin vs. Jaylen. I think it's clear to everyone in the gym who got the better of who.
I asked Collin what his goals are entering his freshman year at Alabama and he replied, "Just coming in and working, preparing for the next level." Collin will no doubt be pro ready after one year of college play. Collin also added, "I'll go at anyone." referring to my question of his killer mentality and mental toughness.
ALABAMA fans, Collin Sexton has a message for you, "Get ready. We're about to change the program from a football school to a basketball school."
Ashton West | Writer
The 2017 Ball is Life All-American Game is here and it features some of the most talented basketball players in the 2017 class. 26, future Division I basketball players, most being nationally ranked by ESPN, will participate in the game today, May 6th, 2017. Take a look below at the roster of athletes participating and where they will be attending school this season.
Ryan Klassen | Writer
RASHAD McDaniels, fresh off announcement of attendance for UA’s Top Rank Showcase, hopes to receive multiple Division I offers by summer’s end.
In a recent interview, Rashad McDaniels humbly spoke on his goals for this summer’s circuit. Among receiving at least three Division I offers, he aims top ranking in his class. The Nike Peach Jam in Atlanta this summer is an event that McDaniels has resolved to win as well.
McDaniels says he maintains a similar mindset for every event that will help him prepare for the Top Rank Showcase in the fall. “I go into every camp with that killer mode … I’m going in their camp with a chip on my shoulder. It’s my time.”
Rashad plays for MoKan Elite 15u and believes in the coaches and his teammates. He credits his loyalty to MoKan from when, “they took me in.” A talented prospect, look for Rashad McDaniels to begin being recruited by some of the biggest programs in college basketball.
Ashton West | Writer
THE Big Baller Brand is continuing its path against the grain, after not receiving an offer from either Nike, Adidas, or Under Armour to co-brand with the infamous triple B's, Big Baller Brand has announced Lonzo Ball's FIRST signature shoe:
WITH the announcement of Lonzo Ball's first signature shoe comes with some controversy. Are you surprised? The ZO2 PRIME's cost a whopping 495.00$. Yes, you read that right 495 USD. In comparison, you could purchase 4 pairs of the new Kyrie 3's and still have some money left over for lunch. 495.00$ sounds like a lot, right? We'll if you happen to wear a size 14 and above, the price jumps from a staggering 495.00$ to an unreal amount of 695.00$.
A good amount of basketball athletes have big feet. One could say that a majority of high level basketball players could fall underneath the 695.00$ category. Say you're a big guy and can't afford the lofty price tag of the ZO2 PRIME's but still want to rock the triple B's. You're in luck, Big Baller Brand has announced the ZO2: Signature Slides by Lonzo Ball that will set you back 220.00$ plus shipping.
BEFORE you hop on bigballerbrand.com to purchase your new slides or ZO2 PRIME's, here are a few things you'll want to keep in mind!
ZO2 PRIME: The ZO2 Prime is ushering in a new paradigm on and off the court. The ZO2: PRIME was meticulously developed at every stage by Lonzo Ball. Debuting in a low-top cut, the Prime flies first class without compromise.
An Ortholight© insole is embedded throughout the entire insole for maximum comfort.
A full bed of shock absorbent material keeps the shoe lightweight for high-speed performance. With a Custom Hand painted the bottom, Microfiber python texture in Matte Black, and a Delorean finish.
The ZO2: PRIME is a first class fit for any collection.
Pre-Order available for a LIMITED TIME.
No Refunds or Exchanges. Shipping by November 24th 2017.
ZO2: SIGNATURE SLIDES
The ZO2 Signature Slides are the ultimate in style and comfort. A Microfiber footbed for luxurious comfort with our insignia logo laser embedded in the heel.
The Upper is a python texture with an Ultra sleek appearance; stamped with a two tone gold and silver lined logo from Lonzo Ball.The Bottom consists of a non-slip Crystal Gold outsole.
The Zo2 Signature Adjustable slide can be adjusted for your customized fitting. This is one is for the Culture. Pre-Order available only for a limited time.
No Refunds or Exchanges. Shipping by November 24, 2017.
FINAL thoughts: I believe this is the beginning of a shift in the way big companies handle professional and college athletes. You will see more players begin to want to create and build their own brand and their own company rather than have someone like Nike build it for them and pay them a fraction of what their name is actually bringing in. However, I do not believe Lonzo Ball and his family will profit what they would have had they signed Lonzo to a Nike, Under Armour, or Adidas endorsement deal. However, only time will tell what the market will make of Big Baller Brand and I am looking forward to seeing the success of Lonzo and his family.
Ashton West | Author
ISRAEL Barnes is a six foot 4, true shooting guard in the class of 2018. He competes with one of the best programs in the country, defending Nike EYBL Peach Jam Champions, MoKan Elite. MoKan is known primarily for taking top midwest prospects and turning them into household, national names. Israel Barnes case is no different. As of today, he has received his 2nd NCAA Division 1 offer from the University of Texas Tech. His first coming from Tulsa University. This is only the beginning for the rising senior prospect.
AFTER seeing him on film on numerous occasions and in person at the MADEHoops #TheWarmUp event in Bentonville, Arkansas - he is at his best in catch and shoot situations. Outside of being a great athlete, defender, and play-maker, Israel is an ELITE shooter. One of the very best in the 2018 class. His mid-range game is just as good as his shot from behind the arc. His game could be described as very smooth and fluid with the ability to out muscle defenders when attacking the rim. He has good size at 6'4 and a solid build making him a tough cover for smaller defenders at his position.
NO different than other MoKan Basketball Alumni, Israel has a great attitude about his recruitment process telling me, "I don't really think about it, I am just enjoying the process." Sounds very similar to other elite prospects when asked the same question. Speaking of MoKan, Israel commented on what it's like playing for such a well-respected program in throughout the midwest and country: "At MoKan, the level of competition is great and i've enjoyed the role that has been given to me. I am a leader and expected to score the ball when the opportunity presents itself."
Take a look at the rest of our conversation here:
AW: What does your daily workout routine look like?
IB: "Each day I spend I spend in the gym is with my father. We spend a lot of time on the gun and working on moves that the "greats" have perfected. After that, I lift about an hour of weights."
AW: What are you feeling right now after receiving an offer from Texas Tech?
IB: " Just extremely happy and thankful to God for all his blessings. I'm still going to continue to work for his glory."
AW: For someone who hasn't seen you play, how would you describe your game to them?
IB: "I'd describe it as a guy who leaves it all on the floor every game. Can score, defend, handle the ball, and get his teammates involved. But more than anything just a guy who plays with passion."
KEEP an eye on his recruitment as the floodgates have opened and the secret is out on Israel Barnes!
Ashton West | Writer
THERE are plenty of prospects flying under the radar throughout the state of Missouri, none with more potential in the 2019 class than Jamonta Black of Team Carroll 17u. Jamonta is near unstoppable when attacking the rim, using his large frame and strength to overpower defenders. He is a tough cover for guards due to his size and skill. He has a build of a Small Forward with the skill set of a Combo Guard.
FOR someone who hasn't seen him play, I would categorize him as a slasher primarily with the ability to pass and get others involved using his basketball IQ. His long arms, height, and athleticism also make him an excellent defender as well. He is currently playing with Team Carroll 17u. There he has an excellent back court of two rising seniors, Rj Lawrence and Xavier Rhodes. Jamonta had high praise for his teammates stating, "Playing with Rj and X is a great experience. It's nice having teammates who can score the ball whenever they want. That takes a lot of stress off me."
WHEN asked who was showing interest at this point, Jamonta expressed that only Tulsa University and UMKC have reached out to him. Look for that to change over the next two months - Jamonta has a heavy workload. Juggling school, weights, practice, and basketball workouts, he is putting in the work to improve in every facet of his game and the most important part is that he is doing it everyday!
I asked Jamonta who his favorite player was in the NCAA or NBA and without hesitation he responded, "My favorite player is Lebron James. I think he's the best player ever. He's an all around player and he makes his teammates better. He's also a leader on the floor, and that's how i model my game. I want to be a leader, i want to score, pass, rebound, defend. That's who i model my game after. I strive to be as dominant as him. He just makes everyone around him better and that's how I want to impact the game."
LOOK for Jamonta Black to burst onto the scene this summer with Team Carroll 17u and their excellent guard play. HoopFocus projects Jamonta to be a LM-MM player out of high school. College coaches, don't miss out on this gem!
Ashton West | Writer
TYRESE Maxey is a highly skilled combo guard with the ability to score the rock at all three levels in the class of 2019, very few are better in the position. If you keep up with spring and summer basketball, then you'll know this kid has burst onto the national scene in the last 6 months, receiving offers from high major programs such as LSU, Stanford, Texas, California, Oregon, Texas Tech, and others all in the last few weeks. I caught up with Tyrese of Nike RM5 to discuss some of these accomplishments and get his take on the highly competitive EYBL circuit:
AW: "What's it like seeing all of your hardwork pay off in the return of all of these recent scholarship offers from high major programs like Texas and LSU?"
TM: "I'm really glad to see my hard work paying off, but really it only makes me want to work that much harder."
AW: "What does being in the gym each day with Tyrese Maxey look like? What do you focus on the most?"
TM: "I focus on the fundamentals and work my way into shooting and passing. I try to work on a lot of my weaknesses, including my mid-range game."
AW: "For someone who hasn't seen your game in person or on film, how would you describe your game to them?"
TM: "I am a scoring point guard who can play off the ball and I'm a willing defender."
AW: "RM5 is new to the EYBL circuit, what's it like playing with that group?"
TM: "We are new and we don't get to practice together all that often, but I think the more we play together the better we will become. I think we'll make a push for the Peach Jam!"
AW: "At this point, is there any school that has offered that you favor more than the others?"
TM: "I try not to worry about all that. It's still really early and I am just focusing on my game."
The 6'3 2019 4-star prospect will rise in the national rankings this year and will continue to see his stock grow as a recruit. A special talent for RM5 and one of the best players in the 2019 EYBL class. If you haven't seen him yet, check him out this spring and summer as his next stop will be in Atlanta, GA on May 12th-14th for the 3rd session of the NIKE EYBL.
Ashton West | Writer
JARVIS Thomas is a 6'7 native of Minnesota where he plays in the EYBL with Howard Pulley, a program known for producing Division I players. He is an athletic forward who can stretch the floor by stepping out and hitting mid range j's and passing the ball well. Jarvis is at his best when in transition where, if you're not careful, you'll end up on a poster. Few have experienced the rise he has, earning multiple NCAA Division I high major offers over the last 12 months. Including offers from Marquette, Arizona State, and Iowa State.
HE described to me what it is like actually playing on the biggest stage in high school basketball, stating that "The EYBL is like no other circuit, EVERYONE can play. It's fast, physical basketball." I don't think anyone would disagree with Jarvis as the EYBL has produced thousands of Division I athletes and pros. According to D1Circuit.com, the ELITE 8 of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament this past year featured 38 EYBL alumni, led by future national champions, North Carolina with 8!
THE rise junior SF Jarvis Thomas has experienced is anything but normal. After beginning basketball in the 7th grade, he was cut from his middle school team. Where most players at that age would move on to another sport or activity, Jarvis persevered and came out again the following season for try-outs, making the B team his 8th grade season. The floodgates had opened, Jarvis was exposed to his first taste of organized basketball that year leading him to find his first AAU team, the Minnesota Lockdown. Things would begin to move quickly for Jarvis after this, growing a few inches and beginning to play above the rim in 9th grade.
NOW Jarvis is faced with the most important 2 months of his high school basketball career. Sitting on a handful of offers, I asked J, "If you could go anywhere in the country, regardless of size, position, etc. where would you go?" His response was direct and quick, "If I could go anywhere, I'd want to go to Kentucky." It will be interesting to see where the 3-star prospect lands after his spring and summer campaign with Howard Pulley.
Follow Jarvis on Instagram: @jarv.10
Ashton West | Writer
KC Team Rush participates in the Adidas Uprising circuit. A series of tournaments that are only available for Adidas sponsored teams. After seeing Team Rush in Bentonville, Arkansas for MADEhoops' The Warm Up, I stopped by their practice in Kansas City on Saturday to cover the workout.
From the first addressing to the final drill, players were engaged and the energy level was high. When players were not in the drill they were clapping their teammates up and shouting words of encouragement. When players were in the drill, you would hear a lot of talking on both the defensive end and offensive end. Coach Vic is known for his disciplined teams. It was apparent early, these talented kids have bought into what Team Rush is trying to do. The 17u Team Rush group features a few of the most talented players in the Kansas City metro area. Take a look below at my breakdown of each player after interviewing the team.
Anthony Selden has the most BOUNCE I have seen in a high school player in a long time. At just 6'2 or so, he has a great frame and is very strong but you wouldn't expect him to boast the athletic ability that he possesses. The junior combo guard will add a great boost to his teams momentum, throwing down thunderous dunks in transition. Although he is solid defensively, Anthony needs to polish up his handle and become a better shooter and an overall play-maker. With no DI offers as of yet, I expect him to have a big summer and land at a LM-MM school during his senior year at Lawrence High.
The 2018 6'7 big man, Elijah Farr offers great size for Team Rush. He also displayed the ability to step outside and be a threat from the perimeter. Elijah is also a great Football player for Lees Summit North High School in Missouri. It will be interesting to see what takes place this summer and who becomes involved with Elijah as he currently has no NCAA Division I offers. This may have something to do with playing for UA KC Run GMC the past few years in the shadow of Bol Bol and Yor Anei. Don't let that goose egg distract you, Elijah is a big time talent and is sure to earn a handful of DI offers this spring/summer with Team Rush.
Few have experienced the rise to relevancy like 6'8 SF Christian Bishop has. Coming from a JV starter to Varsity leader in under a year with a handful of Division I offers, stories like Christian's are always fun to hear about. The 6'8 lefty is lethal outside the 3-point line. After seeing him play and in practice, Christian is your prototypical HIGH MAJOR small forward. What I like most about his offensive arsenal, is his ability to get to the rim virtually anywhere inside half-court within 1-2 dribbles. Multiple DI offers including the most recent, Purdue and Oklahoma State. Christian will become a household name this summer with Team Rush on the Adidas circuit.
UNDER THE RADAR. Those three words perfectly describe 2018 6'0 PG Deng Bol and his recruitment. With NO offers and virtually NO interest, a MM school is going to get an absolute steal. After seeing him in action during a tournament in Arkansas and in practice, I am a believer in Deng Bol. The best part about his game is his defense, an incredible on ball defender he constantly made things uncomfortable for the opposing team, forcing turnovers left and right. However, the most exciting part of his game is his athleticism. At 6'0 on a good day, Deng can FLY! During a scrimmage at Team Rush practice, I witnessed one of the best contested finished dunks I have seen since Xavier Rhodes' poster at the #PHRoute66 event in Tulsa. Deng's dunk almost stopped practice, almost. He can score, defend, pass, and lead, look for DENG BOL to receive multiple MM offers over the next 2 months.
Jamar Madge Jr. attends Baytown South High School in Kansas City, MO. At 6'3-6'4 Jamar adds nice length and scoring ability, coming off the bench for Team Rush. He models his game after Cj McCollum. Explaining that CJ isn't the quickest or most gifted guy, but is really sound fundamentally and very crafty in his ability to create and make plays. He plays extremely hard and is a great defender. No offers or interest at this point but I could see him playing at a NWMSU (D2) or UCM (D2), even possibly a LM-MM school after this summer with Team Rush.
The guy that makes this team go.
2018 6'4 PG Jordan Lathon has seen his recruitment explode over the last year or so. With 7 DI offers from schools like Butler and DePaul. At 6'4 his height, strength, athleticism, and length make him a tough cover for defenders and a strong defender himself on the other side of the ball. I have seen this kid grow as a leader over the years and coach Vic has done a great job mentoring him into the HM Point Guard prospect he is today. As I have said before, Jordan Lathon can do it all. Look for him to extend that number of offers into double digits over the next two weekends in April.
SHOOTER ALERT. 2018 6'3 Logan Jenkins is one of the best shooters in the class of 2018. This kid can shoot 2-3 feet beyond the 3-point line and consistently make shots. What I like most about his ability to shoot is his efficiency. He doesn't throw shot after shot up, he is an unselfish shooter who, when he gets hot, look out! However, if you're going to play for Coach Vic and Team Rush, you better be able to do more than just score and shoot. Logan is a good defender as well. A smart player, look for him to commit to a great DII or LM this fall.
Quite possibly the most under rated player in the Kansas City metro area, Ronnie Bell is the total package. Although he is undersized, that is where the doubts stop. He can play above the rim, handle the ball, score, shoot, pass, defend. Like his teammate Jordan Lathon, 2018 6'0 PG Ronnie Bell does it ALL. He has been one of my favorite players to watch since first seeing him torch UA's KC Run GMC last year in the Jayhawk Invitational. One of the best parts of his game has to be his motor. Energy energy energy. Ronnie brings it every possession. If this kid isn't a LM-MM, OVC player.. no one is!
2018 6'7 Sevon Witt has the ability be a DI player. He can hit shots from mid-range and beyond the 3-point line, as well as bully smaller defenders inside with his good size and length. It is the little things with Sevon that make him special, like his ability to catch the ball after setting a hard screen and rolling to the basket for the finish.
Yor Anei has the potential to be a HM star. A fundamentally sound, BIG MAN. Growing since I have last seen him at the Top Rank National Showcase by Under Armour in Kansas City, MO last fall, Yor now stands at 6'10 with over a 7-foot wingspan! Yor has also transferred from Shawnee Mission South to Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, KS. It is apparent that his athleticism and explosiveness has improved since transferring. If Yor can continue to work hard in the class room and on the court, there is no limit for him. He is going to have a BIG summer on the Adidas circuit for Team Rush.
Tyler Simpson | Writer
BENTONVILLE, ARK. -- Few kids have ever seen the rise that Christian Bishop, a 6’7” SF from Lee’s Summit West has had. A little over a year ago Bishop wasn’t even seeing the court for the varsity team and had only scored one career point, off of a free throw. Now, he’s a mainstay and a big part to their success. Bishop in his first year with Team Rush is looking to build off of his strong high school season and continue playing at the high level he currently is.
Bishop is surrounded by incredible talent, including himself. The Lee’s Summit West basketball team has talent up and down their roster and it doesn’t go unnoticed. “It’s awesome playing with them, they can get you in position to make plays. There’s a lot of great players on that team.” Said Bishop of his Lee’s Summit West team. While his high school team is good, Bishop thinks playing with Team Rush is better. “We’re expected to do a little bit more, it’s hard but fun though. We get to play hard, and play against great teams.”
There is one thing in mind to what he wants to improve on this spring and that’s his ball handling. “My ball handling still needs some work, so I’m really trying to work on that this spring and improve it a lot.”
Due to his rise he has seen a number of schools offer and reach out to him. Bishop recently picked up his newest offer from Oklahoma State with several more to come. “Tulsa has offered, Missouri has reached out, Wichita State, Butler, Creighton, Nebraska, Florida Gulf Coast, and Missouri State.”
No schools have stood out in particular with Bishop, “I’m just trying to keep an open mind with everybody, I like Nebraska a lot though. They have my field of study, athletic training and their program is phenomenal.”
Bishop’s waiting on the offers from other schools but isn’t so sure when those will come. “Wichita State and Creighton are going to come and watch me play this spring.” Said Bishop. While being a 2018 kid, he has no timeline about a decision at the moment, just trying to take his time with everything.
There will certainly be no shortage of offers coming this spring for the young man who has an incredible talent. He will be a player to watch progress through the Spring while him and Team Rush play in the Adidas Gauntlet against other top teams and players.
Tyler Simpson | Writer
BENTONVILLE, ARK. --- Few kids in AAU play up a year in their age group, but when they do they are usually a special kind of talent and see no disparity in their game versus others. Isaiah LeBlanc from Houston, Texas of Nike Team Griffin could be playing this spring with the 15u’s but instead is playing up a year. With two tournaments already under their belt, Nike Team Griffin is looking like one of the top AAU teams in the country for 16u and it’s all thanks to their dynamic backcourt that features 4 incredibly skilled guards.
LeBlanc is a versatile guard who can shoot lights out from beyond the arc and has the ability to drive to the hoop and finish around the rim. LeBlanc was able to showcase all of that and more this past weekend at Made Hoops’ The WarmUp, he was able to show his ability to handle the ball and play more of the point guard role.
LeBlanc while only being 5 months into the age of 15 will definitely be a kid to watch for in the 2020 class. He currently holds an offer from Georgia Tech and interest from several other high major programs. When all said and done, LeBlanc should end up being one of the most sought after PG’s in the class of 2020. I was able to catch up with Isaiah to talk about a variety of things.
What are you most looking forward to during the AAU season?
Just making my teammates better, and being able to expand my game for next year. Also being physically adapted to the older play style, and just make everybody better.
You’re a pretty good scorer as well, is that what you’ve always been known for? Shooting the ball and scoring it?
Yes sir, I started off as a shooting guard because I was a bigger kid when I was younger. Now that I’m moving up and playing older I’m moving to a point guard. I’m still able to score though when I need to get it done.
What do you like most about playing with Team Griffin?
I like that everybody is unselfish and everybody has one common goal and that’s to win the game. We do whatever we can, if that’s me with scoring or playing defense, I’ll give my best to help the team, I’m not worried about stats.
How was your high school season for you?
High School season went great, we lost in the final four by one point. We started off down 25-0 and fought back but just couldn’t win it.
Houston has a lot of good basketball talent there, was there anyone specific that was a tough matchup?
We played private schools but we played a couple schools that had good guards that used to play with the 17u Team Griffin. It was a pretty good matchup, we played them in the final four.
You’re obviously still young, have you been hearing from any schools at all?
I have an offer from Georgia Tech, I’ve been hearing from Virginia, A&M, Baylor, UCONN, Florida, just a couple of schools. I’m on their radar.
What’s Pastner’s message been to you?
He just wants me to play my game, and just keep on adapting and being aggressive with my shot and keep working on my defense. He told me I’m blessed to play at his high of a level and to keep up the intensity that I bring. He just told me to keep working.
Ashton West | Writer
The Top Rank National Showcase in Des Moines, IA on 9/2/17 will feature some of the most talented high school basketball prospects across the midwest and country. In conjunction with Under Armour, this event will feature 125 nationally recognized prospects competing for exposure, all-star status, and bragging rights. Each player will be featured in 3 games throughout the day, as well as an intense workout at the beginning of the morning session. Top performers will then be selected to participate in the Top 30 "Best of the Best" game.
Tyreke Locure of Nike MoKan Elite will be in attendance he tells us this weekend as we caught up with him at #TheWarmUp in Bentonville, Arkansas. Tyreke is currently ranked as the #2 overall player in Iowa behind University of Iowa commit, Patrick McCaffrey. Tyreke has a lightning quick first step and is virtually unguardable when he decides to attack. He is also a very good shooter. He has the ability to step out a few feet behind the 3-point line and make shots consistently. One of the better guards in the midwest, he is sure to shine at the Top Rank Showcase.
Interviewed by Tyler Simpson
This is your first year with MoKan, how are you enjoying it so far?
TL: "I really like it. This is a good group of guys to be playing with. Everybody is here for each other, they really accepted me as the new guy."
This is your first tournament with MoKan, how have you played so far?
TL: "I think I've played well. Making open shots and getting teammates involved."
How'd your high school season go?
TL: "It went really good. I think we finished 19-5."
What is one goal you have this summer with MoKan?
TL: "Definitely to pick up some offers. I want Iowa State and Iowa bad."
Who is showing interest in you right now?
"Creighton, Western Illinois, Nebraska, and a few more."
Tyreke is certainly one to watch out of Iowa, look for him to explode onto the recruiting scene this spring with a big summer for MoKan. You can follow him on Twitter at @locuretyreke3.
Ashton West | Writer
Jordan Lathon is a dynamic scoring point guard with a high basketball IQ. The Kansas City native displayed a wide array of skills this past weekend at The Warm Up in Bentonville, Arkansas. Standing at 6'3-6'4, Jordan has great size for the point guard position, making him a tough cover for smaller guards.
Defensively he is long and showed the ability to play solid on-ball defense. Any point guard that plays for Coach Victor Williams is going to be sound fundamentally and solid defensively. You can certainly tell that he is a "Coach Vic" player. He took smart shots and found teammates like Ronnie Bell, Yor Anei, and Christian Bishop for easy baskets throughout the day.
Jordan also has progressed physically. He showed he could really play above the rim and its apparent that he has been in the weight room. Seeing him from when he was a freshman to now, you can tell he has really worked hard on and off the court. Check-out my interview with Jordan below:
What is practice like with Team Rush preparing for the Adidas Uprising?
JL: "You know Vic, intensity is crazy. It's like a college environment, everything is taken seriously, no joking around, its all business."
Your first game in #TheWarmUp, how'd you feel you played?
JL: "I felt good, I don't think I missed a shot the whole game and I finished with 16 points. It was a good first game for us as a team."
What're your goals as an individual for the Adidas Uprising and as a team?
JL: "Just win and get scholarships. To have everyone go play college basketball, thats what it's about."
Who's pressing you the hardest right now and who's offered?
JL: "I have 7 offers right now. Butler, Colorado, Tulsa, DePaul, Boise State, Air Force, and Florida Gulf Coast. Butler and Oklahoma are showing me the most interest right now."
The 4-star recruit is being targeted by a majority of the midwest MM-HM schools. You can tell from speaking to Jordan that he really likes Butler, but his dream schools are Kansas, Mizzou, and Duke. At this point he is looking for the best fit for him. He is going to have a big spring and summer campaign with Team Rush. Look for his number of offers to grow exponentially over the next three months as schools will come out of the wood-work for a dynamic point guard like Lathon.
Ashton West | Writer
2019 Camryn Dennis is one of the most exciting players I have seen this spring. The Nike Team Griffin Shooting Guard can get to the rim with ease and I have yet to see anyone be able to stop him when he decides to attack. Camryn is at his best in transition where his uncanny driving ability and great vision allow him to score or find an open teammate for an easy basket. He is also a tenacious defender, turning defense into easy offense creating turnovers for the opposing team.
When asked about practice and preparing for the EYBL circuit, Camryn was able to sum it up in just a few words: "Its intense, very competitive. Everyone is going at everyone." It would make sense that Camryn plays with such intensity and energy, at Team Griffin thats the way they practice. Camryn knows his game, stating his biggest strengths as a player were getting to the rim and creating for others. He also understands where he needs work, telling me he needs to become a better shooter. It will be important for Camryn to develop an outside scoring attack to pull in some MM-HM offers which he has the potential to do.
He is working hard this summer in hopes of receiving his first college scholarship. As of right now, Oklahoma is the only school showing interest in Camyrn but expect him to pile on the offers as he continues to perform throughout the spring and summer months.