by Alex Schwartz
GALLOWAY, N. J. – The first full day of July’s final Live Period took place yesterday and NBE Sports was back in South Jersey for Live In AC.
We had a chance to see several more teams in action as well as catch a few quality squads for the second day in a row.
Ernest Aflakpui had a nice outing for the We R 1 16s squad. The 6-foot-9 center out of Archbishop Carroll (PA) has a big body with a good overall build and he plays hard. Aflakpui, a class of 2015 prospect, runs the floor very well and looks to contest shots. He is not a great athlete, but can swat some shots.
Levan Alston of Team Final Blue 16s may well have been the best player of the day. The 6-foot-3 combo guard scored at will, dropping 30 points on Team Takeover in the semifinals. Alston has a nice feel for the game, gets in the lane and comes from a basketball family, as his dad played at Temple. The class of 2015 recruit does need to get a bit stronger, but he grabs defensive rebounds and also score in the paint, as he is comfortable with his back to the basket.
Princeton-commit Amir Bell has a chance to be a star in the Ivy League. A class of 2014 prospect from East Brunswick (NJ), Bell has nice size for a player who can play some point, at 6-foot-4. More of a combo guard, Bell does need to show he can shoot the ball consistently. He is a bit thin, but is a solid athlete who can defend multiple positions.
by Alex Schwartz
Signing week is now in the books, but a number of other 2013 players made their college commitments since our last Recruiting Notebook on Monday. Some popped before the signing period ended and some after it.
The best senior to come off the board in the past few days is Brandon Austin of Imhotep Charter (PA). Austin is a 6-foot-6 point guard/small forward and he is now a future Providence Friar, per his Twitter account.
A long, versatile player with an impressive skill set, Austin was at one point committed to Penn State. Ranked No. 47 in the NBE Sports Class of 2013 Post-July Top 125, Austin picked the Friars over Texas and UConn.
Manhattan got an incredibly huge coup in landing JUCO stud Chris Thomas of Chipola College (FL). The news was broken by Scout.com’s Evan Daniels. Thomas is a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who was at one point ranked amongst the top 10 players in high school in the class of 2012 before opting to take a unique route and enrolling at a junior college.
By Brian Bosworth, National Recruiting Analyst
Saturday in Indianapolis was all playoff action at the Adidas Invitational and with higher stakes came stronger performances. All three age groups (15U, 16U, 17U) were represented at the main gym and players from all ages and all places managed to stand out. Here’s a sampling of who impressed.
Top Performers of the Day:
Daniel Hamilton (Dream Vision 2014) – The younger of the pair of brothers on Dream Vision’s 17U squad, Daniel is two inches taller and significantly longer than his older brother. While Daniel’s set of tools on the offensive end is not quite as refined as Isaac, he does have the middle game down to a science. He’s best scoring on runners or floaters going in either direction often using the back board from unusual angles. Hamilton has range out to the 3-point line but is consistently more successful when he puts the ball on the floor and pressures the defense off the dribble. Added strength, improved ball handling skills, and better shot selection can spring board Hamilton’s game to the next level.
Contrast in communication sticks out
by Raphielle Johnson
The LeBron James Skills Academy, and other events like it, provide scouts and media with the opportunity to watch both collegiate and high school players work out in an instructional environment.
The final leg of Nike’s skills academy series, the LeBron camp features 24 college and 93 high school basketball players.
One area that has displayed a stark contrast between the two groups through two days has been on-court communication.
While the college players, be it in drills or in scrimmage situations, consistently communicate with each other the same can’t be said for the the high school stars.
This isn’t incredibly surprising, but if anything the need for instructors to consistently remind the high school players of the importance of on-court communication underlines a major difference between the two levels.
An action as simple as calling out a screen for a teammate may not seem like a big deal, and in many instances pure athletic skill trumps the intangibles when evaluating young talent.
But those “little things” can ultimately be the difference between simply having a shot at being a pro and being able to make an impact as one. This will be something to keep an eye on as the high school players begin scrimmage play on Sunday afternoon.
Over the last several years much has been written on the shortcomings or pitfalls of the fly-by-night prep schools that seem to come out of the woodwork each year across the country. Some are termed diploma mills or accused of funneling their players to certain programs or conferences.
At the complete opposite spectrum of the schools that operate in the gray areas of the sport is Northfield Mount Hermon. If anything, the program could be accused of funneling its players to a certain conference…the Ivy League!
A tremendous mix of academics and athletics makes Northfield Mount Hermon special. In the last several years the program headed by John Carroll in Northfield (MA) has been a virtual factory of Ivy League basketball players. NMH is considered the best combination of academics and basketball in the United States and in the 2010–2011 season eight NMH alums were in the Ivy League, more than any other school in the nation. That number contines to rise with players like Evan Cummins, Joe Sharkey, Jvonte Brooks and Armani Cotton in recent years following the path and will continue to attract players to the program, like Anthony Dallier, who are looking for similar opportunities.
This weekend starting Friday evening colleg coaches will hit the road for AAU events across the country. Stops in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and areas far and wide will be popular destinations for Division 1-A head coaches and assistants as they are allowed to evaluate talent for the first time in the busy April AAU schedule in a few years. While the intensity of the action is likely to be ratcheted up a few nothches, CIA Bounce big man Isaiah Watkins is taking it all in stride.
The 6-foot-8 Watkins attends St. Benedict’sPrep in Newark (NJ) and performing in front of college coaches is a regular event for him and his Gray Bees teammates. It was one of the reasons why he chose to attend a school like St. Ben’s and play with a powerful AAU program like the Canadian CIA Bounce program, which participates in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL).
Yet, Watkins is looking forward to showcasing his improvement as a player, but also has goals for himself to continue to impove against the top flight competition he will be facing.
Isaiah Watkins has seen his game grow tremendously in the past year and his recruitment has followed the same growth curve. The Class of 2013, 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward should be expected to see a continued increase in attention as he gets ready to hit the season with St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark (NJ), one of the most high-profile prep programs in the country. Watkins was drawn to the Gray Bees program, where he will play for coach Mark Taylor, for the opportunity to improve every day and play against the toughest competition possible at the prep level. Even with a daunting schedule ahead for the Newark school, Watkins has set his sights very high for the season.
“I’m really looking forward to playing in big games against the top teams in the nation,” Watkins told NBE over the weekend of what he is most looking forward to this season. “I want to help St. Benedict’s achieve something great, collectively I [want] us to become the top ranked team in [the] nation this year.”
Watkins is certainly willing to put his individual accomplishments to the side and do what it takes to help the Gray Bees win. The native Canadian seems to understand that winning will take care of everything when it comes to exposure and the importance of playing for a winning program in the eyes of college recruiters.
by Alex Schwartz
Daiquan Walker and Karonn Davis might not be the biggest names in Philadelphia basketball right now, but there is no question that both of them are talented players.
Walker is a 6-foot-1, 170-pound senior point guard at Constitution High School, while Davis is a 6-2, 190-pound junior point guard at Friends Central School. On Tuesday, NBE had the opportunity to see both players in action and catch up with them to discuss their recruitment and more.
Although Walker had just nine points, his heady play was a key part in Constitution’s 61-53 victory over Council Rock North (PA). He split time at the point, but showed a superb feel for the game when at the one to go along with a quality handle.
By Raphielle Johnson
By the end of the last college basketball season it was best to simply expect the unexpected. The same could be said for this weekend in Las Vegas, which has produced an unexpected champion in the Kansas City 76ers. The 76ers won the Las Vegas Fab 48 by beating Team Breakdown (Florida) in Monday night’s title game.
While the stands weren’t filled to brim as they were last summer (Oakland Soldiers tend to bring out the crowds), there were a few college programs represented in the coaches area with 2013 wing Ishmail Wainright the primary focus.
Ben Howland (UCLA) and Steve Lavin (St. John’s) were both there to watch Wainwright, who considers Earl Watson (who has connections to both as he played at UCLA under Lavin) to be an older brother and mentor. Other programs represented include Western Illinois, George Mason, Kansas, Missouri, UC Irvine, South Florida, Cal Poly, Nebraska, UM-KC and Creighton.
New Jersey big man in Akron looking to show colelge coaches his talents and looking for a family atmosphere in his college choice
By Lauren Kirschman
Class of 2013 power forward Austin Colbert describes himself as a poor man’s Kevin Durant.
Long and athletic, the 6’9”, 195-pound Colbert is a quality passer and shooter with some range—two qualities he counts among his major strengths along with his high basketball IQ.
But during the summer, Colbert is still intent on improving those skills along with some aspects of his game he believes could use some work: ball handling, stamina and speed.
An invitation to the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio—something Colbert referred to as “a crazy opportunity”—offered him the chance to continue to develop as a player and take his abilities to the next level.
“It’s a great experience,” he said. “I know guys get to come back, but being here for the first time it’s just like wow. You are really invited to such a big, well known camp.”
He added that the invitation to the camp encourages him to keep working hard.
“[It means] our dreams are starting to shape a little bit,” he said.
For Colbert, those dreams could take him to any number of universities as the forward is being recruited by Seton Hall, Oklahoma, Baylor, North Carolina, Marquette, Stanford, La Salle, Georgia Tech, Miami, Xavier, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Florida, St. John’s, St. Joseph’s, Harvard, Princeton, West Virginia and Ohio State.
He’s taken an unofficial visit toGeorgetown.
“They were really circled around each other and that’s what really kind of got to me,” he said. “I didn’t think it was going to be like that, but it’s special. I think they each have their special qualities and that’s what kind of struck me a little bit.”
While Colbert is attracted to North Carolina’s fast break and transition game, he’s also intrigued by Ohio State’s four-out/one-in offense.
For now, though, Colbert has two more days of the skills camp to complete and he’s focused on playing well.
“You want to do good, you have to do good—you never know who’s coming out to watch you,” he said.
By Lauren Kirschman
The Lebron James Skills Academy rolled on this afternoon with another high school player workout at James A. Rhodes Arena on the University of Akron campus. The media had another chance for a round of interviews following the workout. It would be the last chance to interview players on Wednesday as the evening workout did not have a scheduled interview session following the on-court activities.
NBE had the opportunity to speak with Jamel Artis ’12 and Austin Colbert ’13 in the afternoon. Both players list BIG EAST schools among their leaders. Artis looks to be focusing most of his energy on the recruiting aspect on one school from the BIG EAST. Read about both below…
by Alex Schwartz
PHILADELPHIA – The 17th annual Rasual Butler All-City Classic took place last night at Benjamin Franklin High School in Philadelphia. The top players in the Philadelphia area took the court for three games, one for each of the high school classes besides the outgoing seniors.
The first contest was the Freshmen Game and the White team defeated the Black team by a score of 94-78 in a matchup of 2014 standouts. The MVP from the victors was 6-foot-5 power forward Jamal Custis of Neumann-Goretti (PA) with 18 points. Eric Anderson was named White’s MVP, as the 6-foot-4 small forward from Haverford (PA) dropped 15 points.
The Defensive Player of the Game award went to the White team’s Conrad Chambers, a 6-foot point guard out of Friends Central (PA). He was the game’s top scorer with 19 points. It was Black’s Malik Smith, a 5-foot-10 point guard from Del Val (PA), who won the Unselfish Player trophy.
Other double-digit scorers for the White team were 6-foot-2 combo guard Ja’Quan Newton and 5-foot-11 point guard Troy Harper. The Neumann-Goretti (PA) teammates had 10 points apiece. For the Black team, 6-foot-1 combo guard Shep Garner and 6-foot-2 combo guard Rashann London, teammates at Roman Catholic (PA), had 14 and 12 respectively. In addition, 6-foot-2 shooting guard Malik Starkes of Olney (PA) added 11.
The second game was easily the best one, with the Black team winning 93-86 in the Sophomore Game featuring 2013 players. The MVP from the winning side was 6-foot-6 small forward Rondae Jefferson of Chester (PA) who had 18 points. For the White team, the MVP was 6-foot-2 shooting guard Rysheed Jordan of Vaux (PA) who also had 18.
The Defensive Player of the Game honor was given to 5-foot-6 point guard Yahmir Greenlee of Boys’ Latin (PA), a member of the White team. Stephen Vasturia, a 6-foot-3 combo guard from St. Joseph’s Prep (PA) on the Black squad, won the Unselfish Player honor. In addition to Jefferson and Jordan, both Black’s 5-foot-10 point guard Britton Lee of Roman Catholic and White’s 6-foot-5 power forward BJ Johnson of Lower Merion (PA) had 18 points.
Three other players finished the game with double figures in the points column. Shafeek Taylor, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Roman Catholic, scored 15 points for Black, while 6-foot-3 combo guard Miles Overton of St. Joseph’s Prep had 14. Finally, 6-foot-8 center Zac Tillman of Shipley School (PA) finished with 11 points for the White squad.