Monday, June 30, 2008

Austin Rivers- Making a Name for Himself

In the basketball world, Rivers is a big-time last name right now, as Doc Rivers just coached the Boston Celtics to the NBA title. The head man in Beantown has another star in his family. Doc's son, 6'3.5 guard Austin Rivers of Winter Park (FL), was one of just two players in the class of 2011 at the Steve Nash Skills Academy, along with Tony Wroten. Rivers, Wroten, Michael Gilchrist, LeBryan Nash, and LaQuinton Ross will likely be battling for the top spot in their class as time progresses. I had a chance to speak with Austin after he finished up his final workout at the Nash event.

NB: What was it like watching your dad coach the Celtics to the NBA Championship?
AR: Man, it didn’t really sink in until the next day. It was crazy, it was probably the craziest thing, probably the best day of my life so far. [It] was crazy.

NB: Do you kind of felt a weight off of his shoulders, finally winning that title, getting that playoff [series] win and all that?
AR: Yeah, I think he can actually relax now, now that he’s at least won one and he has none of that pressure about having all those great players and not succeeding, so I think he’s more relaxed now.

NB: What’s it been like for you being around NBA players all the time, with your dad always being around those guys?
AR: It’s different. . . . It’s helped me a lot because they teach you a lot of stuff. I don’t train with them or play with them that much, I just go in my backyard and play, but it’s a lot different. They teach you stuff and it’s fun.

NB: You’ve really come on strong during the spring and summer. What’s went into that for you?
AR: It’s been good so far. I’ve been working, I think I’ve been playing a lot better because I’ve been getting a little bit . . . stronger, and . . . I’m trying to get a lot more stronger, and I just can’t wait until the Peach Jam.

NB: What’s the biggest strength in your game?
AR: I’d say my jump-shot because it can open me up, and when they have to play close, I think I [am] quick enough to go by a lot of people, and I can penetrate or score. . . . Just, the jump-shot, I think [it] opens me up.

NB: What’s your biggest weakness?
AR: I’d say my strength. Compared to these dudes, these dudes are pretty big. You got Lance [Stephenson] and Tommy [Mason-Griffin] over there [that] look like football players. . . . I need to get a little bit . . . bigger. I think that’s my weakness, strength.

NB: What schools are you currently considering?
AR: Florida, right now. . . . University of Florida, that’s most likely.

NB: Is that your dream school?
AR: It’s one of them. I’ve always liked them and Texas, and North Carolina, and Kansas. Those are the . . . four right there.

NB: Who do currently have an offer from?
AR: Florida, [Central Florida], and . . . I’m going to try to go visit Memphis, Kansas, and Texas.

Austin Rivers is not only a nice and genuine kid, he is a talented ball player. That's evident merely from the fact that the rising sophomore was invited to the Steve Nash Skills Academy, a top-notch Nike event. Rivers is a player with a of potential, as he is still young and lanky. Once he begins to fill out his frame, Rivers will be a load for any defender to handle. Austin was one of just three or four players who kept shooting around during the water break in the scrimmage I saw him. His work ethic will take him a long way, and it will help him to be more than just Doc's son.

Note- photo is from

Tony Wroten- The Best in the Class of 2011? He Says "Yes"

The Steve Nash Skills Academy featured some of the best players in America. The invitees included Lance Stephenson '09, John Wall '09, Tommy Mason-Griffin '09, Maalik Wayns '09, Doron Lamb '10, and Trae Golden '10. One of the biggest names at the event, which was full of superstars, was class of 2011 big-timer Tony Wroten of Garfield (WA), a 6'4.5 guard. After the last workout of the event, I had the opportunity to catch up with Wroten, one of only two players in his class at the event.

NB: What schools are you currently considering?
TW: Man, there’s a lot. I got long [list]. . . . It’s Louisville, Syracuse, [Villanova], Memphis, Maryland, Seton Hall, [and] Washington. I can go on and on. . . . I don’t even know what my top five [is] yet.

NB: How many offers do you have at this point?
TW: I only got one.

NB: From who?
TW: Washington

NB: What’s it like for you getting so much attention? You’re . . . going to be a sophomore next year, yet you have so much national attention.
TW: It’s great because . . . a lot of people come to your games, all eyes are on you, but then again, . . . I can’t think all about me, it’s about my team, and then my game will follow. So, it’s a nice privilege to have people come see me [and] have [my] games [be] packed.

NB: What’s the strongest point of your game?
TW: My vision. . . . I’m an all-around player. . . . I’m like Magic Johnson basically.

NB: What’s the weakest point of your game?
TW: Right now, I’d say, my opposite hand, my right hand.

NB: Are you the best player in the class of 2011?
TW: Yes, by far. . . . I’m not saying that to be cocky, I’m just saying it to be confident. The reason why is because I can do it all, shoot, dribble, go to the hole, play defense. I always want to guard the best player on the . . . opposite team, that’s why a few days ago I wanted to guard Lance . . . Stephenson and John Wall [because] they [are] the best. That’s why I think I’m the best in [the] class.

Wroten is certainly confident, and rightfully so. The young guard has a bright future ahead of him, and it appears that he has many options as to where he wants to go in his future. Wroten's cousin, Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks, can likely give him some secrets to success and some tips on how to handle pressure. Tony Wroten is a player that you will be hearing much more about as his years in high school move along.

Scouting Report on Wroten:

Tony Wroten was the second tallest player at the camp, behind Lance Stephenson '09, who is actually a swingman. Tony has a nice build and a big frame. The star from Washington is a top-notch athlete. It was this aspect of the the class of 2011 guard's game that made him stand out the most. He is a great dunker and has great hops. Wroten's size, athleticism, and overall talent will take him a long way.

Note- photo is from

Update on . . . Khalid Lewis El

Class of 2011 swingman Khalid Lewis El just finished up a big weekend in San Diego, California. The 6'3 star from Trenton Catholic (NJ) was at the adidas Phenom 150 event in the Golden State. He had a big-time weekend and busted out in a major way. Khalid was ranked by as the number three player at the camp, which had around 360 kids in the rising 10th graders division. Lewis El was the top ranked wing forward, and the highest finisher of all players from the New Jersey/New York/Pennsylvania basketball powerhouse area. I'll keep you posted on how things are coming along for the TCA soon-to-be sophomore.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Tavon Sledge- Young Speedster Wants to Improve

St. Benedict's (NJ) seemed to have the game in lock during their matchup with PCTI (NJ) at the Hoop Group Showcase. The Gray Bees, who led by 14 at halftime, and were up by double digits for most of the contest, let the squad from PCTI slowly creep back into the game. The game was all tied up with under a minute to go and PCTI had the ball, but was unable to convert. St. Ben's took advantage of the opportunity and hit a close-range shot as time expired. During the hard fought contest, Tavon Sledge, a 5'10 point guard, stood out as one of the premiere players for either side. I had the opportunity to chat with the class of 2011 star after the win.

NB: What happened with [the team] out there? You guys had a big lead, [but] fell apart. You guys had to win it on the last second shot. What went wrong?
TS: We just got too ahead of ourselves, started throwing turnovers. We weren’t settled. We were trying to rush our shots, and just [did] not listen to the coach really.

NB: How did you personally contribute to the letdown at some point during that game?
TS: I threw some crucial turnovers, too. I tried to push the issue and tried to get my team involved when we weren’t supposed to, and that’s pretty much it.

NB: How did you then help your team rebound and get the win?
TS: I tried to stay down low as much as possible and try to double down on the big man because he started killing us at the end and started getting more rebounds.

NB: What do consider to be the strongest point of your game?
TS: My speed and my ability to score.

NB: What’s the weakest point of your game?
TS: My jump-shot.

NB: What are you doing to improve your jump-shot?
TS: I’m working a lot on my jump-shot with my trainer, . . . so I’m trying to get to him as much as possible every week and work on the shot.

NB: What do you see as some of the similarities between playing in a high school game during the summer and an AAU event during the summer?
TS: AAU is more of a run-and-gun game. [In] high school [games] you got to be smart and listen to the coach because [in] AAU, coaches don’t really coach, they just let you play. [In] high school [games] you got to run sets and just follow what the coach is saying because if you don’t listen he’ll take you out.

NB: Which one do you prefer?
TS: High school.

NB: Which one do you think you play better in?
TS: I think I play better in AAU.

NB: Then why [do] you prefer high school [basketball]?
TS: Because I think it’s going to get me better more [than AAU is] in the future. . . . I like to run a lot and play, but high school teaches me how be smart as a point guard and play . . . [like] the coach is telling me to.

NB: You brought up the future. What are some of the colleges you’re considering right now?
TS: I don’t even know yet.

NB: Have you been receiving any interest?
TS: I got letters from Marquette, Seton Hall, Villanova, . . . Syracuse, and that’s pretty much it.

NB: Are you interested in . . . [at] some point playing in the Big East?
TS: Yeah.

NB: Do you have a dream school?
TS: Not really.

NB: Is the Big East the conference that you want to play in though?
TS: Yeah.

NB: What are you looking for in a college?
TS: Something just to get me better, to be a smarter student. . . . That’s pretty much it.

NB: How important will academics be in your decision?
TS: Very important.

It's evident that Tavon, a speedster with great hops, wants to improve his game. The floor general will definitely get some playing time for the Gray Bees this year, despite the crowded point guard situation. With seasoning and practice Tavon Sledge may well become one of the best point guards in his class. It seems that getting him to practice won't be an issue, as the St. Benedict's guard is a baller who wants to become as good as he can.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

News & Notes-

Here are some quick tidbits of information for you:

- Prior to the NBA Draft officially starting, I asked Jerryd Bayless if he knew where he was going to get pick, and he responded by saying, "I have no idea." It seems that the players really do have to wait in the dark.

- Duke's Greg Paulus was injured at the Steve Nash Skills Academy. He hurt his ankle and ended up on crutches. Paulus did not go to the gym for camp activities on Friday, the last day of drills and workouts.

- Dexter Strickland of St. Patrick's (NJ) apparently has a pulled hamstring. The injury, which he seems to have suffered either just before adidas Nations in Africa or during the event, kept him out of the Steve Nash Skills Academy, and he did not even come on Friday.

- The Steve Nash Skills Academy really is a "skills academy." The players do drills, work on fundamentals, get quality coaching, play some games, and work hard. Nike is doing a great job trying to help these players improve their games. As well, Steve Nash was not only at the event, but he really did do coaching. It wasn't as if the Phoenix Suns star just stood around and watched the camp go on. He took an active role in helping the kids get better. The camp was well-run an well organized. Kudos to Nike!

Upcoming Interviews:

I'm sorry I was unable to post any articles yesterday. I had a very busy 24 hours that included attending the Steve Nash Skills Academy at Kean University in Union, New Jersey. These are the college players that participated in the event that I spoke to: Stephen Curry of Davidson, Jai Lucas of Florida, Eric Maynor of Virginia Commonwealth, Levance Fields of Pitt, and Tyrese Rice of Boston College. I caught up with two of the event's high school players, class of 2011 stars Tony Wroten, Jr. and Austin Rivers. As well, I took the chance to chat with some members of the crowd: Brandon Costner of North Carolina St. and Lance Stephenson's father. Finally, I had the opportunity to ask some questions of Steve Nash along with a few other reporters. Besides these 10, I got contact information for a number of other players, including John Wall, Kenny Boynton, and Jack McClinton, and will speak to those guys sometime in the near future. For now, stay tuned in for these interviews, as well as many of the ones I conducted at the Hoop Group Showcase. Thanks!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

2008 NBA Draft My Way

Here's a rundown of how the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft would go if I were the GM of all 30 teams. Basically, I'm saying what I think the team should do with each pick.

Pick. Team: Name, Position, Grade/Age, College/Country
1. Chicago: Michael Beasley, F, Fr, Kansas St.
2. Miami: Derrick Rose, G, Fr, Memphis
3. Minnesota: Kevin Love, F, Fr, UCLA
4. Seattle: OJ Mayo, G, Fr, USC
5. Memphis: Brook Lopez, C, So, Stanford
6. New York: Jerryd Bayless, G, Fr, Arizona
7. Los Angeles Clippers: DJ Augustin, G, So, Texas
8. Milwaukee: Danilo Gallinari, F, 19, Italy
9. Charlotte: Eric Gordon, G, Fr, Indiana
10. New Jersey: Anthony Randolph, F, Fr, LSU
11. Indiana: Russell Westbrook, G, So, UCLA
12. Sacramento: Mario Chalmers, G, Jr, Kansas
13. Portland: Brandon Rush, G, Jr, Kansas
14. Golden State: Joe Alexander, F, Jr, West Virginia
15. Phoenix: Donte' Green, F, Fr, Syracuse
16. Philadelphia: DeAndre Jordan, C, Fr, Texas A&M
17. Indiana: Robin Lopez, C, So, Stanford
18. Washington: Darrell Arthur, F, So, Kansas
19. Cleveland: Kosta Koufos, C, Fr, Ohio St.
20. Charlotte: Alexis Ajinca, C, 20, France
21. New Jersey: Chris Douglas-Roberts, G, Jr, Memphis
22. Orlando: JJ Hickson, F, Fr, North Carolina St.
23. Utah: Roy Hibbert, C, Sr, Georgetown
24. Seattle: Marreese Speights, C, So, Florida
25. Houston: Jason Thompson, F, Sr, Rider
26. San Antonio: Nicolas Batum, F, 19, France
27. Portland: Nathan Jawai, F/C, 21, Australia
28. Memphis: Bill Walker, F, Fr, Kansas St.
29. Detroit: JaVale McGee, C, So, Nevada
30. Boston: Courtney Lee, G, Sr, Western Kentucky

Note- the sites I used as sources are:,,,, and

2008 NBA Mock Draft

I'm heading off to the NBA Draft soon, but before I leave, I want to just give my mock draft, of what I think will happen tonight at the WaMu Theater in New York.

Pick. Team: Name, Position, Grade/Age, College/Country
1. Chicago: Derrick Rose, G, Fr, Memphis
2. Miami: Michael Beasley, F, Fr, Kansas St.
3. Minnesota: OJ Mayo, G, Fr, USC
4. Seattle: Russell Westbrook, G, So, UCLA
5. Memphis: Kevin Love, F, Fr, UCLA
6. New York: Danilo Gallinari, F, 19, Italy
7. Los Angeles Clippers: Jerryd Bayless, G, Fr, Arizona
8. Milwaukee: Joe Alexander, F, Jr, West Virginia
9. Charlotte: Brook Lopez, C, So, Stanford
10. New Jersey: Eric Gordon, G, Fr, Indiana
11. Indiana: Anthony Randolph, F, Fr, LSU
12. Sacramento: DJ Augustin, G, So, Texas
13. Portland: Alexis Ajinca, C, 20, France
14. Golden State: Brandon Rush, G, Jr, Kansas
15. Phoenix: Donte' Green, F, Fr, Syracuse
16. Philadelphia: Robin Lopez, C, So, Stanford
17. Indiana: Kosta Koufos, C, Fr, Ohio St.
18. Washington: Darrell Arthur, F, So, Kansas
19. Cleveland: DeAndre Jordan, C, Fr, Texas A&M
20. Charlotte: JJ Hickson, F, Fr, North Carolina St.
21. New Jersey: Marreese Speights, C, So, Florida
22. Orlando: Courtney Lee, G, Sr, Western Kentucky
23. Utah: JaVale McGee, C, So, Nevada
24. Seattle: Roy Hibbert, C, Sr, Georgetown
25. Houston: Chris Douglas-Roberts, G, Jr, Memphis
26. San Antonio: Nicolas Batum, F, 19, France
27. Portland: Mario Chalmers, G, Jr, Kansas
28. Memphis: Ryan Anderson, F, So, Cal
29. Detroit: Jason Thompson, F, Sr, Rider
30. Boston: Nathan Jawai, F/C, 21, Australia

1 (31). Minnesota: DeVon Hardin, C, Sr, Cal
2 (32). Seattle: Bill Walker, F, Fr, Kansas St.
3 (33). Portland: Serge Ibaka, F, 18, Spain
4 (34). Minnesota: DJ White, F, Sr, Indiana
5 (35). Los Angeles Clippers: Ante Tomic, C, 21, Croatia
6 (36). Portland: Jamont Gordon, G, Jr, Mississippi St.
7 (37). Milwaukee: Nikola Pekovic, C, 22, Serbia
8 (38). Charlotte: Kyle Weaver, G, Sr, Washington St.
9 (39). Chicago: Omer Asik, C, 21, Turkey
10 (40). New Jersey: Richard Hendrix, F, Jr, Alabama
11 (41). Indiana: Damjan Rudez, F, 22, Croatia
12 (42). Sacramento: Joey Dorsey, F, Sr, Memphis
13 (43). Sacramento: Sonny Weems, G, Sr, Arkansas
14 (44). Utah: Trent Plaisted, F/C, Jr, BYU
15 (45). San Antonio: Goran Dragic, G, 22, Slovenia
16 (46). Seattle: JR Giddens, G, Sr, New Mexico
17 (47). Washington: George Hill, G, Jr, IUPUI
18 (48). Phoenix: Gary Forbes, G/F, Sr, UMass
19 (49). Golden State: Mike Taylor, G, 22, NBDL
20 (50). Seattle: Semih Erden, C, 21, Turkey
21 (51). Dallas: Malik Hairston, G/F, Sr, Oregon
22 (52). Miami: Sasha Kaun, C, Sr, Kansas
23 (53). Utah: Bryce Taylor, G, Sr, Oregon
24 (54). Houston: James Gist, F, Sr, Maryland
25 (55). Portland: Pat Calathes, F, Sr, St. Joseph's
26 (56). Seattle: Shan Foster, G, Sr, Vanderbilt
27 (57). San Antonio: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, F, Jr, UCLA
28 (58). Los Angeles Lakers: Mantas Kalnietes, G, 21, Lithuania
29 (59). Detroit: DeMarcus Nelson, G, Sr, Duke
30 (60). Boston: Reggie Williams, G, Sr, VMI

Note- the sites I used as sources are:,,,, and

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Poll- My Choice

In one of the polls last week, I asked you to pick the best program right now between the St. Anthony's Friars (NJ), the St. Benedict's Gray Bees (NJ), and the St. Patrick's Celtics (NJ). The programs, led by Bob Hurley, Danny Hurley, and Kevin Boyle respectively, are three of the best in America. Now to me, the "best program right now" would mean that overall, the program, not just the current team, is the best. That means that it's done well in the recent past and poised to do well in the not-too-distant future. All three have a rich history, so that criteria is out the window, though St. Ant's probably does have a bit of a leg up up. Anyway, it's so hard to pick between the three because of just how amazing all of them are. I'm going to rule a teams out, to start, thus narrowing the choices down to just two. I'll get rid of the Friars first. Yes, the team won the national title last year and went undefeated, but other than that it hasn't been all fun in the sun for Bob Hurley's boys. Prior to last year, St. Anthony's was certainly the third of the three in terms of how well the squads were doing, specifically during the 21st century. As well, the future doesn't look great for the Friars, as their starting lineup next year will lack a quality point guard, and whoever does start at that spot, will likely be not even close to the level of the other 14 starters the schools will have. The Friars will start Ashton Pankey '10, Devon Collier '10, and Dominic Cheek '09, all of whom are superstars. Jamee Jackson '09 will start as well, but he is not quite up to the level of the other three. I really don't even know who Bob Hurley's fifth starter will be. Let's move on to the final two, the Gray Bees and the Celtics. It's so hard to choose between the two. There is no right choice, as both of them, and St. Ant's, can have a powerful argument for the spot. I'm going to go with St. Patrick's. The Gray Bees were better than them last year, beating them at the Prime Time Shootout, and finishing with only one loss, but prior to that it was a lot of push and shove between the two, with St. Pat's usually pushing a little bit harder. As for next year, the Celtics seem to have a better roster from top to bottom. Not only will they be deeper, they will be just flat-out better. Thus, I'm putting aside the Gray Bees' better season from last year, and giving the nod to St. Patrick's.

Northstar Basketball's Top Three Programs in New Jersey Right Now:
1. St. Patrick's Celtics
2. St. Benedict's Gray Bees
3. St. Anthony's Friars

Player Diary: Stevie Taylor '11

Since my last entry I’ve been to a lot of camps and AAU tournaments. First I would like to talk about the Bob Gibbons TOC in North Carolina. My dad and I took a plane to North Carolina and as soon as we landed I told my dad that I was going to make the all- tournament team. I did! The first game I had 15 points and 5 assists, and when we went up by 20, they had to stop the game with 4 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. Throughout the whole tournament we were blowing teams out by 20 points.

In the championship game we played the M33M Memphis, which also was the team we played in the U-14 AAU Nationals last summer. I’m happy to report that we beat them by 15 points for the second time in a row. In that game I had 23 points and 6 assists. The experience was unbelievable, and all of the universities that we played at were top notch. We played at Duke, North Carolina, and NC State. Me personally, I liked North Carolina the best because it was so big and everything was painted baby blue. I have to say, the Gibbons was the best tournament I’ve been to ever.

A few weeks back I attended the Xavier Elite Camp in Cincinnati. At Xavier, I played really well. The first game I played on the main court against some top players. The coach at Xavier spoke to me at the camp and told me he liked my game and was going to start recruiting me really hard. I like Xavier a lot and I hope they keep watching me.

I had to leave early on Saturday morning because I had to go play with my high school team at Ohio State. The Ohio State Team Camp was another great experience for my team and I. We went 2-2 the first day and we got the 5th seed going into the playoffs. We won the first game on Sunday, but then we lost the next game.

This past weekend I played in the RBK Breakout Underclassmen Camp in Chicago, Illinois. The breakout camp was invitation only and everybody there could play. I played really well in every game. In the first two games I went for 20 points each game. There were a lot of individual match-ups that people wanted to see and most of them turned out really well and were fun to watch. I got hurt the last game on Saturday so that kept me from playing in any games on Sunday, including the all-star game. The Reebok Camp was great and I think I made a big impression.

During the last couple of weeks I have been playing in a summer league that features pro and college level athletes. Last week I led my team in scoring with 12 points, but we kind of got blown out. Next week is a big showdown between my squad and my brother’s team. I hope my thumb is better because I plan on going at my brother for real.

I was supposed to be attending the Cincinnati Elite Camp this week but I didn’t make it because of my thumb injury. However, I will be going down to the UC Team Camp on Friday with my high school team. I was hoping to get an offer from UC but that may be tough now that I missed the elite camp.

Well that’s all for now. Look for my next entry in the next couple of weeks. The next time we talk I will tell you what went down at the Adidas Take Five Classic in Cincinnati, the Adidas Super 64 in Vegas and of course the NCAA First Team Program in early August. See ya.

Poll Results:

It seems that many of the readers are either St. Patrick's (NJ) fans or just people who don't buy into to rankings as the end all and be all. The first poll last week asked whether St. Pat's, St. Benedict's (NJ), or St. Anthony's (NJ) was the best program right now. The results were somewhat surprising, especially after the undefeated season that the St. Ant's Friars had last year, which included a win over St. Pat's. The Celtics of the Elizabeth school, St. Patrick's, were chosen as the best program of the three right now, getting 22 of the 49 votes. Kevin Boyle's program edged out Bob Hurley's group, the Jersey City school, in St. Anthony's. The Friars got 17 votes. Danny Hurley's team, the Gray Bees from Newark, finished third with 10 selections. As for the other poll, asking you to pick the best player in New Jersey/New York/Pennsylvania in the class of 2009, the winner was a shocker. Dexter Strickland, the point guard for St. Patrick's, grabbed 41 of the 104 votes. Lance Stephenson, the most well-known player in America, a swingman at Lincoln (NY), received 36 selections. It's interesting that he did not win, as he was the player that you picked in a previous poll as the best player in America as a whole in the class of 2009. After these two was a major drop off, and Dominic Cheek, a shooting guard at St. Anthony's, came in third with 12 votes. Maalik Wayns, a point guard from Roman Catholic (PA), came in fourth with nine votes. Lamar Patterson, an incoming shooting guard at St. Benedict's, tied with "Other" for fifth place, as each of them was chosen three times. As for the players who could have received the "Other" vote, I'd think that it was likely for one of the following guys: Omar Lawrence, Durand Scott, Tamir Jackson, or Zeke Marshall. The other guys with a chance may have been Sherrod Wright, Dane Miller, Dalton Pepper, Brandon Triche, and Lamont Jones. Please comment with your choice and why you selected the player and/or team that you did.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tyreek Duran- Working Out Pays Off

Tyreek Duran, a 6'2 guard for Neumann-Goretti (PA), was his team's top player in its win over Brick Memorial (NJ) at the Hoop Group Showcase. Duran showed off his nice ability to get to the rack, and translated it into a 17-point performance. Although his teammate Tony Chenault '10 is more highly regarded than him, Duran is definitely working to improve his game. I spoke with Tyreek after his team's win in the game over Brick.

NB: In the first half, . . . you had fifteen points, [but] only two in the second half. Why [did] you cool off so much?
TD: Just to slow the game down. [I] didn’t have to do as much in the second half, so I just got other people involved.

NB: What were you doing in the first half to keep on scoring?
TD: Just putting pressure on the guards, easy opportunities leak out, and just run the offense basically.

NB: What do you consider to be the strongest point of your game?
TD: My dribble drive.

NB: What [is] . . . your weakest [point]?
TD: Probably my jump-shot.

NB: What are you doing to . . . try to improve your jump-shot?
TD: Just work out like two, three times a week?

NB: Do you have a specific routine that you use when you work out?
TD: Not really. . . . It depends on who I’m working out with.

NB: Do you prefer to work out by yourself or with other people?
TD: With other people.

NB: Who are some of the people that you’ve worked out with?
TD: Tony Chenault [and] Dion Waiters.

NB: What’s it like for you working out with some of those other guys, either teammates [such as Chenault] or non-teammates [such as Waiters]? What can they add to your game?
TD: It’s just different styles. I see how they workout, and it’s like motivation for me to work out harder.

NB: What schools are you currently considering?
TD: Right now, Providence, Georgetown, and I think Robert Morris. They [contacted] me the other day.

NB: Have all three of those schools offered you a scholarship?
TD: Not yet, . . . so far I haven’t [received an offer]. I think Miami is supposed to offer me a scholarship.

NB: Miami-Florida or Miami-Ohio?
TD: Florida.

NB: What are some other schools that have shown interest in you?
TD: St. Joe’s, and that’s about it off the top of my head that I can name.

NB: Do you have a dream school?
TD: Probably Georgetown.

NB: Why Georgetown?
TD: Because Allen Iverson [went there].

NB: Is Allen Iverson your favorite player?
TD: He’s one of them.

NB: What do you as some of the similarities between your game and his game?
TD: His ability to get in the lane with ease.

NB: Who are some of your other favorite players?
TD: Kobe Bryant.

NB: What are some of your similarities with him?
TD: None really, he’s just a crazy player, too good.

NB: When you watch Iverson and Bryant, do you try to emulate some of what they do and use that in your game, or do you just try to play the way you play?
TD: Just play the way I play. I look at it as, you can only play your game, you can’t really play like anyone else.

NB: Talk about your game. What exactly is [your] game?
TD: Just fast-paced, never slowing down, one speed.

NB: Where does you loved for basketball come from?
TD: Probably just the city of Philadelphia. I grew up playing.

Duran, a good ball handler with a smooth crossover, is evidently trying to make himself a better ballplayer. Working out with high-caliber players such as Chenault and Waiters will only improve his game. Chenault has been considered one of the premiere players in his class even before reaching high school, while Waiters has already committed to Syracuse. The two class of 2010 star guards will be key parts in the development process for Duran. The Neumann-Goretti guard will continue to work on his game during his high school career, and before you know it, Tyreek Duran just might be one of the best guards in the Northeast.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Andre Gillette-Heading to the Atlantic 10?

Neumann-Goretti (PA) was missing its biggest star, Tony Chenault '10, over the weekend at the Hoop Group Showcase, but its number two guy was in attendance. The team's tallest player, class of 2009 power forward 6'8 Andre Gillette is the secondary player on the Philadelphia basketball powerhouse. The big man came late to his team's game against Brick Memorial (NJ), but the game was already well in hand at that point, despite it still being the first half. I chatted with Andre, who scored four points in the game all of which were in the first half, after his team knocked off the Jersey public school by a score of 61-31.

NB: What schools are you currently considering?
AG: Schools in the [Atlantic] 10.

NB: Such as?
AG: St. Joe’s, Xavier, [and] Temple

NB: What about some other schools? Is there . . . anyone outside of the A-10 that you’re thinking of?
AG: Not really, I’m just focused on right now, but there’s a couple schools in the Big East like Syracuse [and] Marquette [that are] recruiting me.

NB: What do you consider to be the strongest point of your game?
AG: Facing up, catching it in the post, facing up. I can create off a few dribbles.

NB: What’s the weakest point of your game?
AG: Strength, probably.

NB: What are you doing to work on that?
AG: I’m in the weight room for like three days a week.

NB: What do you prefer to play . . . during the summer, high basketball in these team events or AAU ball?
AG: The traveling, it gets crazy, but I don’t know, I like AAU. I like both.

NB: What about overall as a whole, . . . just the game, do prefer playing a high school style game or the AAU [game], more of the running-and-gunning?
AG: I like to run, but either way, I . . . think my game is more running.

NB: Can you give me one word to sum up your game?
AG: Finesse.

NB: What schools do you currently hold an offer from?
AG: Like I said, mostly the [Atlantic] 10.

NB: Those schools have all offered you a scholarship?
AG: Yes.

NB: Do you have any leaders at this point? . . .[Are there any] schools at the top of your list?
AG: Those who are recruiting me hardest, [which right now] would be Xavier.

NB: What do you think the chances are [that] you end up at Xavier?
AG: Seven out of ten.

NB: Do you have a dream school?
AG: I like the Big East, any school in the Big East, like Syracuse or one of them.

NB: If you could pick one school to play for, who would it be?
AG: I would like a school that’s not too big, so I would like St. Joe’s, or Temple, or Xavier.

NB: What type of coach do you want to play for?
AG: One that’ll help me individually, work on me. . . . Yeah, that’s it.

NB: What’s your favorite part of playing basketball?
AG: Favorite part of playing basketball? A team, just playing with a team, . . . team effort, I just like playing with a team.

Gillette seems to be highly interested in the Atlantic 10, and many of those schools are in Pennsylvania, and close to Philadelphia. Thus, he may not have to go far away from home for college. Despite the fact that it's not in Pennsylvania, Gillette seems to be favoring Xavier, an Ohio school. Regardless of exactly where the big man ends up, it appears that the school will likely be in the A-10.

Scouting Report on Gillette’s Game vs. Brick Memorial:

The 6’8 big man needs to add some weight to his lanky frame, and much of it will likely need to be in the form of muscle. Right not, Andre Gillette just is not big enough, though he certainly has some time to get bigger. Adding about 15 pounds would work nicely for Andre. The class of 2009 power forward is long and does a solid job of blocking shots. He is powerful and aggressive despite his lanky build. On defense, there were some times when smaller players would get offensive rebounds over him. Gillette needs to develop into more of a scorer, but he does have talent and length.

Note- photo is from

Update on . . . Markese Tucker, Wayne Newsom, Dondre Whitmore, and Frantz Massenat

The offers are continuing to pour in for Dondre Whitmore, Frantz Massenat, Wayne Newsom, and Markese Tucker. All four of them were offered by Iona today, with official offers coming within the past few hours. Tucker, Massenat, and Whitmore all play for the Trenton Catholic Iron Mikes (NJ), while Newsom is a member of the Piscataway Chiefs (NJ). All four are in the class of 2010, and their lists should continue to grow over the summer. Massenat is currently leading the bunch with five offers.

Sterling Gibbs- Hard Work Could Make Him a Star

Seton Hall Prep (NJ) is losing one Gibbs, but has another one that seems to have a bright future. Ashton Gibbs will be heading to Pitt next year, leaving the squad to his younger brother Sterling Gibbs, a rising sophomore. The younger of the two is a 6'1 point guard, and is a well thought of player. At the Hoop Group Showcase this weekend, I had the opportunity to see the younger Gibbs play. I also was able to speak with Sterling after his team defeated Lakewood (NJ).

NB: What do you consider to be the strongest point of your game?
SG: Playmaking, getting everybody involved, getting everybody in the flow of the game.

NB: What’s your weakest point?
SG: My strength, quickness, and just [my] pull-up jump-shot.

NB: What are you doing to work on those three attributes of your game?
SG: Oh, just working out everyday at Sports University with players like Andre Barrett and different big-time players to try to get stronger and better.

NB: What’s it like for you [to be] working out with those guys, being just a freshman . . . [and] now a soon-to-be sophomore, working out with some big names?
SG: Oh, it’s good. They mentor, they just the stuff that I’m doing wrong, and then at the same time it gets you confidence up, that when you play against kids your age, then you just kind of dominate.

NB: Do you ever work out with your brother [Ashton Gibbs ‘08, a Pitt-signee]?
SG: Oh yeah, I . . . work out with him all the time.

NB: What do you see as some of the similarities and differences between your game and his?
SG: I don’t really think that we play anything alike. He’s more of a spot-up shooter, he’ll shoot it in your face, but I’m more of a playmaker, and then mainly I hit the shot if I’m open.

NB: What colleges are you currently considering?
SG: Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Florida, and Maryland.

NB: Have any of them offered you a scholarship?
SG: Oh no, I haven’t had any scholarship offers yet.

NB: Is Ashton being at Pittsburgh going to impact your decision in any way?
SG: I can’t really say yes to that question because I won’t know until the time comes around.

NB: Will the way he performs at Pittsburgh have an impact in what you think of the school?
SG: No, I can’t say yes because we don’t play anything alike, . . . his style of play is different than mine.

NB: Do you have a dream school?
SG: My dream school . . . would be Arizona because they’re more of a guard-based school.

NB: If the Wildcats were to start getting involved with you and down the road they did offer you a scholarship, is that the kind of thing that you’d jump at on the spot?
SG: I would have to measure the decision because I would have to see how many guards they have, how many guards [I would be] coming in with, and different things like that.

NB: Does all the turnover in their program worry you at all, . . . with [it] being your dream school?
SG: Not really, not really, I can’t really say yes to that.

NB: Have you received a letter from them or anything of that matter?
SG: Oh yeah, that was my first college letter that I received, in eighth grade that I received from them.

NB: What was that like for you?
SG: Oh, it was exciting, it was exciting. I got it in the mail and then told my dad about it. Everybody got excited.

NB: What are you looking to accomplish throughout your high school career?
SG: Win a TOC [Tournament of Champions] Championship. That’s the main thing I want to do.

NB: What about personally?
SG: I don’t really have any personal goals. I just want to win the TOC Championship, and that would be good for me.

The Seton Hall Prep (NJ) point guard is clearly a talented player with the ability to put the ball in the hoop. Yet, it is also clear that he has a lot left to work on to be the player that he can be. Right now, he is just a solid guard, though it is hard to fully judge his playmaking and distribution skills as he is not on a particularly great team. Gibbs will be a player to keep an eye on. It should be interesting to see how he develops and what type of player he becomes.

Scouting Report on Gibbs:

Park (NJ) in a 61-39 win, finishing with 20 points, 14 of which came in the first half. Gibbs scored almost a third of his team’s point in the game, yet did so somewhat quietly and The class of 2011 point guard was so-so and inconsistent at the Hoop Group Showcase. I caught the majority of two of his team’s game. Gibbs, who is listed at 6’1, but looks at least two inches below that, had a solid showing when his Seton Hall Prep (NJ) squad manhandled Ridgefield (NJ), yet didn’t do anything all that special to standout. He certainly displayed some fine qualities in his game, such as driving strong to the hole, good court vision, and nice quickness, all of which are important are important in a modern day point guard. I did notice a few attributes in Gibbs’ game that will require some work. When heading down the court for offense, he would occasionally break early, though many times he would lag behind the play. When he did catch up to the play, there were times Gibbs would stay behind the three-point line standing around. Sterling, who has nice hops and takes contact well, did seem a bit awkward on the court at times, though part of that may have been a result of him running slowly at times, rather than actual awkwardness. He rarely went down low on either offense or defense, unless he was driving to the rack. Gibbs is the type of player who would likely need to play on a team that utilizes zone defense, as when his man went down low, Gibbs seemed lost. He needs to be able to hang up top, where he seemed quite comfortable. In fact, Sterling would actually play D well above the three-point line on some possessions. In a zone defense, Sterling could certainly excel as a premiere defensive player. Against St. Patrick’s (NJ) in the other game I saw him play, Gibbs had a rough game, dropping just eight points, half of which came at the line, where he was 4/6. He seemed frustrated for much of the game, as the Celtics ran all over them to a 54-41 win. Overall, Gibbs is a player with talent and potential. He needs two or three inches, a more developed all-around game, especially on offense, and needs to give full effort at all times. Assuming he does what he can to improve, Gibbs has a great shot of making some noise throughout his high school career and taking his game to the high DI level.

Update on . . . Markese Tucker, Wayne Newsom, Dondre Whitmore, and Frantz Massenat

The Team New Jersey ABC U-16 AAU squad just had a big week offer-wise. Four of the team's main 10 players received a scholarship offer last week. Markese Tucker, a 6'5 forward in the class of 2010 at Trenton Catholic (NJ), got his first offer, and it was from one of the top teams in the NEC, Robert Morris. The Colonials also gave 6'7 forward Wayne Newsom '10 of Piscataway (NJ) his first scholarship offer. In addition, the team offered Dondre Whitmore '10, a 5'9 point guard from Trenton Catholic, as did Fordham, an A-10 school that has been aggressively recruiting New Jersey players. The ligtining-quick point guard has been previously offered by Rider, so his total stands at three right now. Another player who already has an offer from Rider is class of 2010 6'4 guard Frantz Massenat of Trenton Catholic. Recently, Massenat has picked up offered from both Fordham and Robert Morris, in addition to another A-10 school, LaSalle, so he has four offers as of now. I've spoken with Wayne and Frantz, and both of them are quite happy about the recent developments in their recruitment. I'll definitely keep you posted on how the recruiting process is coming along for these four quality players.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Scouting Report on Mike Spence

The Nia School (NJ) had two teams at the Hoop Group Showcase this weekend. Mike Spence, a 6'10 power forward who played with the school's Blue team, was easily the squad's best player in its game against Lakewood (NJ). In the first half, Spence dropped 10 points, and his team was in a commanding lead, that went up to as much as 18 in the second 16 minutes of play. Although Nia Blue did blow its lead, Spence still performed well. The big man was strong in the post and always took the ball up with using his strength, yet the most noticeable part of his game had nothing to do with his talent. Rather, it was his extreme intensity. Spence was vocal, and got hyped up whenever he'd score, especially when the game got tight. Some people may take this as a negative, but I definitely saw it as a psotive, as Spence was really into the game. At points, Spence did seem a big awkward on the court, but he more than made up for it with his play. Physically, the soon-to-be post grad player was lanky with long arms. He is a pure low-post player without much of an outside game. Spence isn't juts big, he is smart on the court. He post ups prior to getting the ball to get into good position, and he is aware, specifically of the three second rule. Rebounding-wise, the Nia big man was solid on the offensive glass. Defensively, Mike was, not surprisingly, a quality shot blocker, as he utilized his size and long arms well. Spence's 13 second half points gave him 23 in the game as a whole. The 6'10 post player does not seem to be particularly raw, so its likely that he may not improve all the much in his season at Nia. I'd say that Mike would nice at a low-major DI school, but only time will tell.

Ranking of the Top 30 Players at the Hoop Group Showcase

I'd like to provide you with a quick list of the top players at the Hoop Group Showcase based solely off their performance at the event. Many of the major superstars, such as Michael Gilchrist '11 of St. Patrick's (NJ), Tristan Thompson '10 of St. Benedict's (NJ), and Dominic Cheek '09 of St, Anthony's (NJ), were at the NBA Top 100 Camp. Nonetheless, there was still a lot of talent that did participate in the vent. Two studs from St. Patrick's lead my rankings.

Rank. Name, Height, Position, Class, High School (State)
1. Kyrie Irving, 6'1, guard, 2010, St. Patrick's (NJ)
2. Markus Kennedy, 6'8, power forward, 2010, St. Patrick's (NJ)
3. Isaiah Epps, 6'2, guard, 2010, Plainfield (NJ)
4. Tyrone Johnson, 6'3, guard, 2011, Plainfield (NJ)
5. Adrian Satchell, 6'7, forward, 2009, Windsor (CT)
6. Aaron Brown, 6'4, forward, 2010, St. Benedict's (NJ)
7. TJ Clemmings, 6'6, forward, 2010, Paterson Catholic (NJ)
8. Fuquan Edwin, 6'5, swingman, 2010, Paterson Catholic (NJ)
9. Chase Plummer, 6'5, forward, 2010, St. Patrick's (NJ)
10. Keith Lumpkin, 6'8, center, 2011, St. Peter's Prep (NJ)
11. Myles Mack, 5'9, guard, 2011, Paterson Catholic (NJ)
12. Tavon Sledge, 5'10, guard, 2011, St. Benedict's (NJ)
13. John Calcaro, 6'3, guard, 2009, New Rochelle (NY)
14. Antoine Mason, 6'3, guard, 2o10, New Rochelle (NY)
15. Tyreek Duran, 6'2, guard, 2010, Neumann-Goretti (PA)
16. Shaq Thomas, 6'7, swingman, 2010, Paterson Catholic (NJ)
17. Josh Daniell, 6'6, small forward, St. Patrick's (NJ)
18. Akeem Wilson, 6'6, forward, Susquehanna Township (PA)
19. Mike Spence, 6'10, power forward, The Nia School Blue (NJ)
20. Sterling Gibbs, 6'1, point guard, Seton Hall Prep (NJ)
21. Anthony Baskerville, 5'8, guard, Plainfield (NJ)
22. Matt O'Brien, 6'4, guard, Brick Memorial (NJ)
23. Doug Soutar, 6'3, guard, 2009, Windsor (CT)
24. Kevin Boyle, Jr., 5'7, guard, 2010, St. Patrick's (NJ)
25. Ryan Delaire, 6'6, forward, 2010, Windsor (CT)
26. Lance Brown, 6'3, guard, 2009, Paterson Catholic (NJ)
27. Jayon James, 6'6, small forward, 2010, Paterson Catholic (NJ)
28. Jarell Lane, 5'10, guard, 2011, St. Patrick's (NJ)
29. Justin Harris, 6'6, forward, 2o11, Paramus Catholic (NJ)
30. Jimmy Burke, 5'11, guard, 2009, Seton Hall Prep (NJ)

Note- rankings re based soley off this event alone, and only includes players that I either saw play and/or whose point totals I saw

Hoop Group Showcase Day Two- The Month of the Celtics

First the Boston Celtics, and now the St. Patrick's (NJ) Celtics. The men from Beantown wrapped up the NBA Championship just several days ago, while today the kids from Elizabeth took home the title at the Hoop Group Showcase. Maybe St. Patrick's Day should be moved to mid-June because it seems that the luck of the Irish is quite far-reaching around then. Today was, for the most part, about St. Pat's, though a few other teams did make some nice impressions.

In the first game I saw, St. Patrick's manhandled Seton Hall Prep (NJ) and won by 13, 54-41. The game was not nearly as close as the score would indicate. Seton Hall's class of 2011 stud Sterling Gibbs, a 6'1 guard, struggled mightily in the loss. He had just eight points, half of which came from the free throw line, where he shot 4/6. Jimmy Burke '09, a 5'11 guard, showed off his nice shooting touch, scoring nine points, all of which came one threes. Markus Kennedy and Kyrie Irving, both class of 2010 stars, led the way for the Celtics. Kennedy, a 6'8 power forward, scored 22 points, 16 of which were first half, when he team had 30 total, giving him over half their points through the first 16 minutes. The big man was 4/5 at the line. Irving, a 6'1 guard, hit his only two free throws and knocked down two treys, finishing with 14 points in the win. After the Celtics' win, I caught the end of the final game played by Linden (NJ). The Tigers, a quality public school squad, lost the game, and finished 0-3 on the weekend.

After the Linden game came a match-up that many people were excited for: St. Patrick's against St. Benedict's (NJ). Although most of the star players on each team were not playing (Michael Gilchrist '11, Paris Bennett '09, and Dexter Strickland '09 for St. Pat's and Lamar Patterson '09, Tamir Jackson '09, Tristan Thompson '10, and Myck Kabongo '11 for St. Ben's), the game was still a drawing card. The Gray Bees, though, were thoroughly over-matched by St. Patrick's, and took a crushing defeat, losing 61-35. Aaron Brown '10, a 6'4 forward, was the standout for St. Benedict's all tournament, and the semifinals game was no different, as he led the way with 12 points, knocking down two three-balls, and went 2/5 at the line. Tavon Sledge '11, a 5'10 guard, added seven points on 4/6 shooting at the stripe and a three pointer. The Gray Bees may well have been tired after their overtime victory over Neumann-Goretti (PA) earlier in the morning in the quarterfinals. Kyrie Irving was phenomenal again for the Celtics, scoring 18 points, hitting two threes, and making all four of his free throws. Markus Kennedy added 17 points and hit his lone shot at the stripe. Kevin Boyle, Jr. '10, a 5'9 guard, scored 12 points and was 2/3 from the free throw line.

The semifinals game between Windsor (CT) and Plainfield (NJ), two powerhouse public schools, for the right to play St. Pat's in the finals was the best game of the day, and maybe of the whole event. Windsor's players had to coach themselves, as Connecticut state rules prohibit a team's coach from being on the bench. Plainfield, a squad that features two superstars in 6'3 guard Tyrone Johnson '11 and 6'2 guard Isaiah Epps '10, as well as under-the-radar Anthony Baskerville, a 5'8 guard in the class of 2009, trailed 48-35 at the half. The game got interesting, as Epps and Johnson led the charge and the Jersey boys began to eat away at the lead. At the 3:45 mark, Plainfield had stormed all the way back and had taken the lead, 80-78. After the two teams exchanged buckets, Tyrus Weaver '10, a 5'11 guard, knocked down a three with 2:10 remaining to put his Windsor team ahead. Tyrone Johnson answered with two free throws allowing his side to re-gain the lead, 84-83 with two minutes on the clock. Johnson went to the line again with 0:53 showing on the clock, and he hit the first of two shots, stretching Plainfield's narrow lead out to two points. Windsor then took a timeout with 35 seconds left. After play resumed, Windsor wasted some clock, and then class of 2010 member, 6'6 forward Ryan Delaire got to the rim and even up the score with around 12 seconds left. Plainfield was unable to score at the other end, and a long-range shot from Windsor went way off, ending regulation with the sore knotted up at 85. Plainfield won the top to start the two minute overtime period, and Isaiah Epps quickly put the ball in the hole, before 10 seconds had even gone by. Kingsley Boothe '09, a 6'3 forward, answered for Windsor, tying the score with 1:38 left. Plainfield then hit another deuce, re-taking the lead with 1:19 left on the clock. Windsor then hit one of two at the stripe with 1:11 left, cutting the lead to 89-88. Anthony Baskerville got to the line with 51 ticks left and missed the front end of a one and one. The score stayed 89-88 until there was 20 seconds remaining, when Steven Samuels '09, a 6'5 forward, scored a bucket on a drive to the rack. Plainfield then missed a shot on its attempt to get to the hole, and the rebound bounced around, until 6'7 forward Adrian Satchell '09 grabbed hold of it and got fouled with five seconds left. The big man knocked down bot hshots, putting his squad ahead 92-89. Isaiah Epps then took the inbounds pass and drove past his man along the left side of the court and passed the rock to Anthony Baskerville. The junior's three-point attempt from the left corner, rimmed in and out, and Windsor grabbed the win by a final of 92-89. Leading the way for Plainfield was Isaiah Epps, who scored just four points in the first half, but finished with 28. He hit three threes and three free throws on his way to the team high points total. A close second in that race was Tyrone Johnson, who dropped in 27 points, including nine from the line. Baskerville, whose shot was off all game long, scored 12 points. For Windsor, Adrian Satchell poured in a whopping 34 points, scoring 18 of them in the first half. He hit two threes and two free throws. Doug Soutar, a 6'3 class of 2009 guard, added 23 points, including two three pointers and four free throws. Ryan Delaire dropped 13 in his own right, with five of them coming at the stripe. Tyrus Weaver's big three near the end of regulation accounted for his lone points in the contest, but they sure were huge in the high scoring affair.

The beatdown the St. Patrick's handed St. Benedict's doesn't even compare to the one they gave Windsor in the title game. Not only did the Celtics win by even more, they did so in much more convincing fashion. The squad jumped out to a quick 10-4 lead after 3:30 of play. Markus Kennedy injured his knee at about the 10 minute mark, iced it and had it looked at by the trainer, and was then good to go. With seven minutes left in the half, the game was still somewhat close, with Windsor trailing 19-6. Three minutes later, the difference was still 13 points, 22-9. Windsor did not hit double digits until 14:40 into the game, when they hit a deuce to give them 11. At the half, the scored favored St. Patrick's 27-13. Kyrie Irving led the way for the Celtics in the half with 11 points, including a three pointer and 4/5 shooting at the line. Ryan Delaire led Windsor in the half, scoring four points. Things started to get ugly in the second half. The St. Pat's lead was 33-15 with 12 minutes to go, then 41-17 with eight minutes left. The margin had grown to 30 points, 47-17, with about 5:30 left, and that's around when the team put in many of its rarely used/JV-only players, such as 5'10 guard Richard Dobin '1o who scored two points, and 5'7 class of 2009 guard Berdy Cadet who hit a three. At the two minute mark, the Celtics were ahead 54-17, and that was the game's final score. St. Patrick's held Windsor to just four points in the second half and kept the scoreless for the final eight minutes, the equivalent of a full quarter in regulation high school ball. For St. Patrick's, Chase Plummer '10, a 6'5 forward, scored 12 points, all in the second half, and was 2/4 at the line. Kyrie Irving finished the game with 17 points, scoring three deuces in the second half. Markus Kennedy had 11 points, and was 3/5 at the line. For Windsor, Adrian Satchell was the leading scorer, finishing with six points, including 2/2 shooting at the charity stripe. Ryan Delaire had four points, and missed his only two shots at the line. Attah Agymand '09, a 5'7 guard, scored two points, and Steve Samuels had three, hitting his only free throw.

The wonderful showing that St. Patrick's had today can be summed up by going over the box scores from their three double-digit victories. They scored 50+ in all three games, while holding opponents to no more than 41. In total, they outscored their opposition 169-93, a 76-point margin. Markus Kennedy (50 points) and Kyrie Irving (49 points) outscored Seton Hall Prep, St. Benedict's, and Windsor combined. The Celtics averaged 56.3 points per game, while their opposition averaged just 31, for a wide 24.3 average scoring differential. My tournament MVP award would go to Kyrie Irving. The 6'1 rising junior guard was unstoppable, seemingly scoring at will. He hit threes, got to the rack, made the majority of his free throws, and just dominated whoever he was matched up against. Irving, a transfer from Montclair Kimberly Academy (NJ) is the real deal.

Congratulations to St. Patrick's on their win in the 2008 Hoop Group Showcase.

Note- photo on the top left is of Markus Kennedy, photo on the bottom left is of St. Patrick's (NJ), and photo on the bottom right is of Windsor (CT)

Note- photo in the middle on the right is of Isaiah Epps, and is from

Player Diary: Steve Rennard '10

So here’s a normal schedule in my life. School just ended a few weeks ago and I’ve been working hard with my high school and AAU teams. My AAU team (Team NJABC) has been very busy these past couple months. We’ve been in a number of big tournaments such as the the Playaz Spring Fling, a couple of Hoop Group Jam Fests, and the Rumble in the Bronx. Coming up we have the West Virginia Jam Fest, Hoop Group Reebok Summer Classic, and the Super Showcase in Florida. We decided to do the Super Showcase this year instead of the Main Event in Las Vegas, but both are very competitive. Last year we made it to the elite eight in the Main Event, but lost on a buzzer beater to Houston Hoops. I’m definitely looking forward to the traveling and playing the best teams from all over the country.

For my high school team (St. Joe’s Metuchen, NJ), starting this week we have league games in Elizabeth and Linden on Mondays and Wednesdays. The rest of the week we have individual skills training and weight lifting at St. Joe’s. We go through our lifting program for an hour and then have skills training with Coach Turco and Coach Dolan. We are also going to team camps at a few colleges and at Eastern.

St Joe's just signed up to do a speed and agility training program at the Basketball Shooting Academy (TBSA) in Edison. I usually get there an hour early to get some shots up before we start. Then afterwards I stay and run some games with the guys there.
Last weekend (June 15 – 17) I was at Princeton Elite Camp. I thought the new coach there (Coach Johnson) really knew what he was doing. He is trying to give the kids on his team more freedom to create, and I like his coaching style. We are definitely going to keep in touch. I am going to attend the Temple elite camp in Philadelphia in a few weeks. Supposedly the competition there should be tough so I’m looking forward to it. The Headliner tryout camp held in Rebounds just passed also. From that camp I got invited to the Breakout camp in Chicago.

One thing that I also enjoy doing when I’m not playing basketball is drawing for a new company that my friend and I started up. We sell mostly T-Shirts and hoodies, and it’s really starting to take off. I just designed a T-Shirt for two DJs and I am working on another one for a new Ice Coffee drink that is going to be hitting the stores soon called “Mojava”. Oh yea, you can check out some of the stuff on

Well it’s been, and still going to be, a very busy summer. The summer after sophomore year is an important time to start thinking about college, and it’s been exciting so far. I have to keep working hard if I want to get to the level where I want to play. It’s been a good experience, and I’ll keep you updated as time goes on.

More Upcoming Interviews:

Today, the second and final day of the Hoop Group Showcase gave me the opportunity to speak with a few more quality players. I took some time talk to seven guys: Myles Davis '11, Markus Kennedy '10, Isaiah Epps, '10, Tyrone Johnson '11, David Bruce '09, Dean Kowalski '09, and Doug Soutar '09. Both Bruce and Kennedy have already been featured on Northstar Basketball. I will be posting these interviews, along with the 13 that I conducted yesterday, over the next few weeks. I'll get them up as quickly as my busy schedule will allow. Make sure you check back soon.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hoop Group Showcase Day One- "Pandemonium in Piscataway"

It seems that Chris Carlin's call of "Pandemonium in Piscataway" does not only relate to Rutgers football. Today at the Hoop Group Showcase, there was pandemonium abound from start to finish. The madness began during the very first set of games in a match-up between The Nia School (NJ) Blue and Lakewood (NJ). The Eagles of TheNia School were coasting along, stretching their lead to 18 at one point, but Lakewood would not go away. Nia had no subs, and that may well have hurt them. Regardless of the reasoning, Lakewood stormed back to pick up a 70-69 win. Mike Spence, a senior for Nia, was one player who caught my eye during the game. I'll have a scouting report on the 6'10 senior up on the site sometime within the next few days.

At 12:30, the craziness continued on as a tournament heavyweight lost in its first game. The Linden Tigers (NJ) fell to the "other" St. Joseph's (Montevale, NJ) by 14 points. Linden's 6'10 big man--and star player--David Bruce struggled throughout. Also at 12:30, Monmouth (NJ) knocked off basketball powerhouse Bloomfield Tech (NJ) in a surprising upset. At 1:45, the first big game of the day turned into an interesting one. St. Benedict's (NJ) sans Tristan Thompson '10, Myck Kabongo '11, Lamar Patterson '09, and Tamir Jackson '10, narrowly beat PCTI (NJ). The Gray Bees led 36-22 at halftime, and seemed to be in full control of the game. PCTI, though, wouldn't die easy and made it into a game. The boys from the Passaic County evened up the score in the final 1:30 of play. Then, with less than a minute, PCTI elected to run the clock down, but not hold for the last shot, as a shot was put up with about 14 seconds to go. Tavon Sledge '11 of St. Benedict's drove the ball downcourt and missed a layup, but Aaron Brown '10 grabbed the rebound and put it back up and in with only two seconds to go, giving the Gray Bees the victory by a final score of 63-61. Brown was the superstar for his team, finishing with 24 points. The 6'4 forward was 6/9 at the charity stripe. Sledge, a 5'10 guard added 12 points and was 1/2 from the line. In an upset, Don Bosco (NJ) was defeated by Freehold Boro (NJ) during the 1:45 games. At 3:00, St. Peter's Prep (NJ) lost a tight one to Newburgh Free Academy (NY) in a contest that came down the wire.

In one of the day's two craziest games, St. Patrick's (NJ) and New Rochelle (NY) met at 4:10 in a game that was changed to the main court, allowing more people to see the Celtics showcase what they had. In the first half, it was all about Kevin Boyle's squad, as the Celtics took a commanding 43-13 lead into the half, despite 6'8 power forward Markus Kennedy '10 not playing for much of the half. Chase Plummer '10, a 6'5 forward , filled the void left by Kennedy, and scored 12 points. Kyrie Irving '10, a transfer from Montclair Kimberly Academy (NJ) scored 15 points in with first 16 minutes of play, as the 6'1 guard was easily the best player on the court. Superstars Michael Gilchrist '11 and Dexter Strickland '09 were not in attendance for St. Pat's, nor were Paris Bennett '09, Derrick Gordon '11, and Shaq Stokes '11. The Celtics' 30-point lead did not stay all that big for long, as New Rochelle (NY) hit shot after shot to cut the lead all the way down to seven, 54-47, with nine minutes left in the game. Leading the way for squad from the Empire State were John Calarco '09, a 6'3 guard, and Antoine Mason '10, also a 6'3 guard, both of who were deadly shooters from beyond the arc. With the clock showing 6:50, the lead was six, 59-52. About two minutes later, with only 4:40 to go, New Rochelle had fought all the way back to within one point, and trailed 62-61. The teams then began to exchange buckets and after two more minutes had gone by, St. Patrick's led 66-64. The Celtics then began to take over, leading 73-64 with a minute left. At this point, the game seemed all but over. With the clock reading 0:10, the Celtics were ahead 75-69, and a three-ball with a few ticks left cut the lead to three. Josh Daniell '10, a 6'6 forward, used some heads-up thinking and did not inbound the ball, sealing the win for his St. Patrick's squad. Daniell also had a big block and a key bucket in the final minutes.

At 7:45, the undefeated "national champion" St. Anthony's Friars (NJ) took the floor against The Nia School (NJ) White. Bob Hurley's squad did not have its three best players: Dominic Cheek '09, Ashton Pankey '10, and Devon Collier '10. The only member of the team's core players for next season that was there was Jamee Jackson '09, a 6'7 forward. The rest of the squad was quite inexperienced. It was evident how thin the team will be next season depth-wise, as Nia knocked them off in a close, low scoring affair.

On paper, the Paterson Catholic (NJ) and Susquehanna Township (PA) contest did not look like it would be a good game at all. For the first half, that was completely true, but not in the way one would expect. The Keystone State team was ahead 41-23 at the half, despite PC jumping out to a quick 8-0 lead. The team pushed its lead up to as much as 30 points during the second 16 minutes of play before Paterson Catholic started to fight back. The game stayed in the twenties for a while, yet as time progressed, PC slowly chipped away at the lead. Fuquan Edwin '10, Shaquille Thomas '10, Jayon James '10, and Myles Mack '11 were the main members in the comeback. Before you knew it, Susquehanna's lead was in single digits. It grew back up to 10+ in the final two minutes and it seemed that PC was as good as done, but they did not give up, chopping the lead all the way down to three. With four seconds left, Susquehanna hit one of two at the stripe, making it a four point game. Myles Mack shot far to early and from from way to far away, and the shot missed, giving Susquehanna Township a huge upset win.

The day's games at the Hoop Group Showcase were crazy, and tomorrow will hopefully be just as good. Both St. Patrick's and St. Benedict's will have tough games in the quarterfinals. The Celtics will meet Seton Hall Prep (NJ) and the Gray Bees will face Neumann-Goretti (PA). If both Jersey teams do win, though, they will meet in the semifinals. On the other side of the bracket, a spot in the title game is up for grabs as both of the favorites have been eliminated. Windsor (CT) and The NIA School White will meet in one quarterfinal game, while Susquehanna Township will face the winner of tonight's Plainfield (NJ)/Christian Brothers Academy (NJ) game in the round of eight. This tournament may well have a surprise champion, it's just as matter of who that champ will be.
Note- photo on the top left is of David Bruce and the photo on the top right is of Aaron Brown; both are from
Note- photo in the mid-right is of Jamee Jackson and is from
Note- photo on the bottom left is of Myles Mack and is from

Upcoming Interviews:

I was at the Hoop Group Showcase all day today, and while there got to see some great basketball and speak with some great players as well as a phenomenal coach. Here is a list of the players I spoke with: Sterling Gibbs '11, Andre Gillette '09, Tyreek Duran '10, Tavon Sledge '11, Aaron Brown '10, Chase Plummer '10, Kyrie Irving '10, Josh Daniell '10, Jarell Lane '11, Shaquille Thomas '10, Fuquan Edwin '10, and Kyle Anderson '12. In addition, I caught up with Kevin Boyle, the head coach of St. Patrick's (NJ). I'll be getting these interviews up over the next few weeks, so be sure to check back!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jordan Hamilton- "Smooth"

The LA Dream Team (CA) had a sub-par performance in their loss in pool play at the Rumble in the Bronx. Jordan Hamilton, Renardo Sidney, and Co. were knocked off by the NY Panthers and were outplayed from start to finish. Hamilton, a junior swingman from Dominguez (CA) did what he could in the second half to keep his team in it, but his shot just would not go in. Although he didn't have great showing, his talent was obvious. Following his squad's defeat at the hands of the NY Panthers, I caught up with the highly-regarded offensive weapon.

NB: What do you think went wrong . . . out there for you guys? Why weren’t you guys able to pick up the win?
JH: Well, we [are] not used to this heat . . . [in] California, but that’s no excuse. We still should have come out an executed. We came to the game late also, but we just came out [and] they played harder. I don’t think they were the better team, but they did play much harder?

NB: Why wasn’t your shot falling today? Was it something in your motion?
JH: As a matter of fact, I hurt my shoulder in the last game. . . . I banged it up pretty bad, but I’m going to come back tomorrow, and I think we are going to pull out the tournament [for a win].

NB: Do you have a diagnosis on that shoulder [of] what the injury is, or is it just hurting?
JH: Oh, no it just happened [in the] last game. . . . I didn’t really feel pain after the game, but as I was playing, as I was raising it up, I kind of felt it.

NB: What do you consider to be the strongest point of your game?
JH: My strongest point is coming off the dribble, pushing it up court. Most guys wouldn’t think I would push it up court, but sometimes I can run the one, let my guards get out on the wings and I can kick it out to them so they can get open shots and get layups.

NB: What [is] . . . your weakest point?
JH: My weakest point right now is just guarding smaller people and guarding quicker people because usually I’m used to guarding the post, but I’m trying to get up there, and I’m trying to guard the wing.

NB: What position to you feel most comfortable at?
JH: The three and the two. . . . Most definitely, yeah.

NB: What schools are you currently considering?
JH: Texas, Syracuse, UConn, Kansas, Cal, and USC.

NB: A lot of people have been saying that you’re a big Texas lean. What’s the truth on that?
JH: Well, my options are still open. I . . . didn’t commit or anything like that, but I do like Texas. It’s [in] a great city. I had a chance to take an unofficial [visit] and I thought the coaches were great. The players were great, and they have a very young team, and I think . . . if I was to go there, I would make a big impact.

NB: When do you plan on starting to take official visits?
JH: I’m going to start [in] maybe December, October, and November probably.

NB: When do you think you’re going to end up committing? Is there a timetable?
JH: Right, I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do yet, but . . . when I do, I’ll let you know.

NB: What are some of the goals that you have for your senior season?
JH: Right now, just wining our league, winning our tournaments that we play in, winning CIS section, and then wining states.

NB: What’s it like for you putting on the jersey at that school [Dominguez in California]? It’s a prestigious high school basketball program. What’s that like for you?
JH: Well, Tyshaun Chandler and Tayshuan Prince came out of there, Bobby Jones, Kenny Brunner, Brandon Jennings went there for a while. I just think that they have great guys that go there, and I just think that I can be the next big thing coming out.

NB: Do you ever feel there’s too much pressure on you because of that, or do . . . you to deal with all that?
JH: Not at all, I like to live up to the hype and I’m going to live up to the hype, keep on working on my game, executing, and I’m [going to] do have to do what I have to do.

NB: Who would you compare your game to?
JH: Most people say Carmelo Anthony and Josh Shipp.

NB: What do you say?
JH: I’ll say Carmelo Anthony.

NB: Since he went to Syracuse, is that something that may bring you to Syracuse as well?
JH: Well, I like Syracuse a lot. [The school has a] great coach, Hall of Fame coach, and if I was to go there, I was told that I could make a great impact. They have a young team also, and they have great players.

NB: Give me one word to sum up your game.
JH: I would have to say smooth.

I completely agree with the word that Hamilton chose: "smooth." The junior is extremely athletic and quite flashy. He has a nice shooting motion and just an overall pretty game. Even though he struggled in the loss, you could sense that there was something special about him. His game is "smooth" and he has great talent and athleticism. Jordan Hamilton may be a star in the making.

Scouting Report on Hamilton’s Game vs. NY Panthers:

Although Hamilton definitely had an off game against the NY Panthers, it was evident why people are so enamored with the junior swingman. Although Jordan was lazy getting back on defense, and was even lazy points when he was back, it was evident that his has the ability to more than make up for that at the other end of the floor, though the defensive issues are still somewhat troubling. On offense, he attacked the basket quite well and displayed a nice handle. Some of Hamilton’s passes were overly flashy, and he is a big fan of the alley-oop, whether it be on the passing or catching end. Jordan has good height and length, and his extreme athleticism was apparent. He has nice ups, aggressiveness, and just that “it” factor that you can’t really pinpoint, though it certainly relates to his supreme athletic ability. Hamilton complained to the refs at different points during the game, and also did not always jump for rebounds. Although his shot was off from start to finish, he demonstrated a nice stroke. As well, he continued to shoot even when he kept missing, a positive trait in a quality shooter and scorer. Hamilton struggled at the free throw line, though that, like his shooting from the field, may have been a result of his injured shoulder. Hamilton did not do anything outstanding, yet due to his phenomenal athleticism, he clearly has great potential.

Note- photo is from

Renardo Sidney- What's All the Fuss About?

The award for the most disappointing player that I saw play at the Rumble in the Bronx would definitely go to Renardo Sidney, a junior power forward from Fairfax High School (CA). Sidney teamed up with Jordan Hamilton on the LA Dream Team (CA) to form one of the tournament's favorites. The squad, though, did not even win its pool. Sidney had a poor performance against the NY Panthers in what amounted the pool's championship game, and his sqaud was defeated. According to, the team did win the Silver Bracket title, though that's likely not what the boys from the Golden State were looking for when they arrived in New York. After the disappointing loss to the NY Panthers, I caught up with Sidney, one of the most highly touted players in the class of 2009.

NB: What do you think went wrong for [the team] . . . out there?
RS: We just came out and just played lazy and . . . the referee got in our head. We [are] from LA, [so] we don’t get no-- . . . they [are] in home cooking.

NB: What got you in foul trouble?
RS: Dumb fouls in front of [the] referee. I put my hands straight up and they call a foul on me. . . . I did wrong, on some plays there [were] some stupid fouls.

NB: What do you consider to be the strongest point of your game?
RS: Right now, I got to work on . . . losing weight and just going down there in the post and being . . . big.

NB: What do you think you need to work on the most? What’s the weakest point of your game?
RS: Conditioning, once I get in condition and lose some . . . pounds, I’ll be . . . good.

NB: What do you think makes you stand out against some other big men in the country?
RS: I’m quick, I got good footwork, I’m smart, well sometimes I’m smart, and I play hard.

NB: What schools are you currently considering college-wise?
RS: Kansas, Louisville, USC, UCLA, Texas, Texas A&M, [and] Florida.

NB: What do you think the chances are that you and [your AAU teammate] Jordan [Hamilton] end up going to college together?
RS: Oh, that’s a big chance. . . . Jordan [and I] just talked the other night and we got one more year in high school, [and] we [will] just go [and] probably just make the decision together.

NB: What are you looking for in a college?
RS: I just want a team that . . . plays my style of basketball, up-and-down.

NB: What type of coach are you looking to play for, someone who is very vocal or someone who is kind of more laid back?
RS: A coach that’ll get on me when I’m . . . not doing [anything], that pushes me.

NB: With the NBA age limit, if that were something that wasn’t in place, would you consider making the jump straight to the pros [after next year]?
RS: Yes, I’d definitely make that jump because high school, . . . school-wise it’s just . . . hurting me, but I’d like to go to college, get that one year.

NB: Who are you saying might be a part of that package deal [that you are trying to work out with colleges]?
RS: Antonio Bigelow, Kawad [Leonard], . . . Eric [Swoopes], me, Lance [Stephenson], and then we got to find another big [man], oh and Jordan [Hamilton], might be Jordan.

NB: What are the schools recruiting all of you?
RS: Everybody . . . actually is recruiting us, but we just got to come as one and then pick the school we want to go to.

NB: What do you think the likelihood of that [package deal] happening is?
RS: I really don’t know right now. . . . Catch me next year.

Renardo's game against the NY Panthers did not lead me to believe that he should be thought of as even close to one of the best players in his class. The junior big man play lazily for most of the contest, and quite frankly, didn't do much. He could certainly develop into something special, as he has great height, and if he loses some weight he could be more affective. As of now, though, I'd consider Renardo Sidney to be one of the most overhyped players in the nation.

Scouting Report on Sidney's Game vs. NY Panthers:

After watching Renardo Sidney play, I was left wondering what makes him so special, as he did basically nothing against the NY Panthers. Yeah, he grabbed a few boards and scored some points, but he was not even close to dominant, and was not even remotely close to backing up his reputation, which is about as large as he is. Speaking of size, Sidney either needs to shed 15 or 20 pounds or just work on his endurance, stamina, and agility. The junior big man didn’t run back to play defense all that often, and even when he did, he seemed lazy and at some points uninterested. At points, he didn’t even jump for rebounds. As well, Sidney complained about referees’ calls, appeared tired even during the first half, fouled a lot, was even at halfcourt for free throws sometimes. In the second half, after Sidney fouled out, I didn’t even notice that the big man was off the floor, though that may be hard to believe. That explains just how nonexistent he was throughout the contest. There were some positives that the highly regarded big man did display in the game against the NY Panthers. First off, Sidney is a good free throw shooter and puts a lot of arc on his shots from the stripe. His has a solid handle and a stellar form on his jumper. Renardo was certainly aggressive at times, and even dove on the floor for the ball at least once. In the second half, for the little bit that he was in, the Fairfax High School star seemed to play better, as he was jumping more, and thus grabbed more rebounds. Overall though, Sidney wasn’t even one of the two best players on the floor . . . for his own team.

Note- photo is from

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Update on . . . Justin Crosgile

If you will recall, back on April 28th, I first featured Justin in article entitled "Justin Crosgile- Soon to be St. Joe's Hawk?" It appears that I was right, as I first read on last night that 6'0 junior guard Justin Crosgile of DePaul Catholic (NJ) had committed to St. Joseph's. Also last night, I caught up with the future St. Joe's baller and discussed his decision with him. "Well, it's a great school, not too far from home, it's a guard school, it has my major, and I think it's a perfect fit for me," said Crosgile of why he picked the school, adding, "I feel comfortable with my decision. I'm happy and excited to be a Hawk. The coaching staff is great and I love everything about the school." I inquired of Justin what he planned on his major being: "Computer science or business and marketing." I asked the DePaul Catholic guard when he actually committed and when he really did make his decision, and he told me that he officially committed yesterday, but "decided about two weeks ago." After hearing that he waited two weeks to commit, I questioned Crosgile about the reason for the wait, to which he said: "My coach wanted to talk it over, and my mother wanted to a little bit after my brother's graduation." Justin, who told me that "family" helped him along the way to a decision informed me that his other finalists were "Virginia, Miami and [he] was looking at Indiana." I will keep you posted on Crosgile as he completes his high school career and continues off to St. Joseph's.

Northstar Basketball Milestones & Thank You Again

Well, this has been a big couple of days for Northstar Basketball. Yesterday, the site crushed its previous record for hits and topped 1,000 hits in a day for the first time. As well, today I posted the 200th article on the site, the one just below this, on Omari Lawrence. I would once again like to to thank all of my readers as well as other sites that I have worked in collaboration with. This sites can been seen below under "Northstar Basketball's Favorites." Once again, thank you all very much. Northstar Basketball will keep Leading the Way in the Search for Excellence Both on and off the Hardwood!

Omari Lawrence- Helping the NY Panthers Enter the Spotlight

The NY Panthers are sometimes over shadowed by other AAU programs in New York, such as the NY Gauchos, New Heights, Metro Hawks, and Juice All-Stars. Over the weekend, the NY Panthers' U-17 team thrust their name near the top of the list of the best programs in the Empire State with an impressive showing at the Rumble in the Bronx. Led by 6'4 junior guard Omari Lawrence of St. Raymond's (NY), the squad pulled off an upset over one of the the tournament favorites, the LA Dream Team (CA), a squad featuring Renardo Sidney and Jordan Hamilton. Lawrence paced the Panthers from start to finish in the game, keeping them out front almost the whole contest. Prior to the big win, I had the chance to speak with Omari.

NB: What do you consider to be the strongest point of your game?
OL: My leadership and driving to the basket.

NB: What [is] . . . your weakest point? What are you going to need to work on the most?
OL: Extending my range.

NB: Do you have any goals for your senior year in high school?
OL: My goal is [to] hopefully become a McDonald’s All-American and just winning a championship, a national championship.

NB: What schools are you currently considering?
OL: Right now, I’m considering Marquette, UConn, West Virginia, Memphis, [and] Arizona. Schools like that.

NB: Have all those schools offered you scholarships?
OL: Yes.

NB: Is there a leader that stands out to you right now?
OL: No, nobody stands out to me right now. I’m just wide open still.

NB: Is there any school that you’ve always dreamed of playing at?
OL: No, I don’t have [any] dream school right now.

NB: When do you plan on starting to take . . . visits?
OL: I’m taking an unofficial [visit] next month to Marquette, and to UConn.

NB: When are you going to start taking official [visits]? Do you know?
OL: The beginning of my next year, before my season begins.

NB: Do you have a timetable for when you plan to commit?
OL: No, I don’t. . . . I’m just waiting for the perfect fit for me.

NB: What [is your team] . . . looking to accomplish in the tournament here?
OL: We [are] trying win it, win the whole thing, like everybody else.

Although the NY Panthers did not win the Rumble 2008, the team did make it to the title game before falling to the NY Gauchos. In addition, the team knocked off a New York squad, the Juice All-Stars, in the semifinals. As well, they were the only team to defeat the LA Dream Team, who would go on to take the Silver Bracket crown. A big part of the squad success was certainly Omari Lawrence. He is a player with a great game, major goals, and a bright future.

Scouting Report on Lawrence’s Game vs. LA Dream Team:

Omari Lawrence is a fantastic talent, certainly one of Big East caliber. The 6’4 junior guard is a bit lanky, quite skinny, and appears somewhat awkward on the court, as he has an odd shooting motion, which is evident on his free throws. As well, he even seems to dribble somewhat awkwardly, but it’s definitely working for him. Lawrence has solid athleticism: nice ups, quickness, aggressive, and some muscularity. As for his actual game, Omari has a solid crossover and attacks the basket extremely well, which is helped by his stellar head fake. At times, the St. Raymond’s (NY) stud appeared to be a bit too fancy. On a court of superstars (Kevin Parrom, Sterling Gibbs, Renardo Sidney, Jordan Hamilton), Lawrence may well have been the best player of them all. This NY Panther is destined for success.

Note- tournament info is from

Note- photo is from

Kevin Parrom- What's Done is Done

Kevin Parrom has had an interesting past few months. The former St. Raymond's (NY) star was involved in an altercation with his coach (See for details), and it seemed that Parrom was going to have to make some changes. Well, he has done so, and he was with his U-17 NY Panthers squad at the Rumble in the Bronx, where the team had a great showing. I spoke with the 6'4 junior forward before his team met and defeated the LA Dream Team (CA) in pool play.

NB: Could you discuss a little bit about the incident that happened with you recently, or do you not want to talk about that?
KP: It just happened. It could have been . . . handled a different way, but it happened. Everything happens for a reason, [I’ve] just got to move on from this.

NB: Are you and [St. Raymond’s Head] Coach [Oliver] Antigua on better terms now? Have you guys spoken since then?
KP: I haven’t spoken to him.

NB: Is that something you want to try to do, or no?
KP: I don’t want [any] bad blood with nobody, but if he wants to speak, I’ll speak. It . . . doesn’t really matter.

NB: What school are you planning on attending next year?
KP: South Kent.

NB: What went into that choice for you to go to South Kent?
KP: [Pause] It’s like a college campus. It’s going to help me get ready for college, so that was a main point. [It will be] my senior year [and it will] help me get ready for college.

NB: You mentioned colleges, what are some of the schools that you’re considering right now?
KP: Xavier, St. John’s, Pittsburgh, Clemson, Marquette, [and] South Carolina

NB: Have all those schools offered you a scholarship?
KP: Yes. . . . There are more, I just don’t feel like naming them right now.

NB: Do you have any leaders? Any top three of four schools?
KP: I plan on chopping my list down during the summer, but I . . . don’t have [any] leaders at this time.

NB: Do you know how much you’re going to cut it down, to about how many schools?
KP: I don’t know, I’m going to just decide on that during the summer, probably during August.

NB: Do you have a dream school [of] someplace you’ve always wanted to go?
KP: No, no dream school, just . . . to go to college.

NB: What do you consider to be the strongest point of your game?
KP: My versatility, to be able to go in and out.

NB: What [is] . . . your weakest point?
KP: Defense on the perimeter, I need to improve on that.

NB: What are you looking to accomplish [during] your senior season?
KP: Become a better player every game, everyday I play, just get better over the summer.

Kevin appears to be past his struggles with Antigua. Although the situation is unfortunate, Parrom did sat that "everything happens for a reason," so maybe there will be some positive results. Evidently, Parrom had nothing blocking his concentration at the Rumble 2008, as selected his a one of the event's top performers ( Kevin Parrom is clearly talented, and as long as none of these occurrences happen again, he is poised for big things.

Scouting Report on Parrom’s Game vs. LA Dream Team:

Flat-out, Kevin Parrom didn’t show the crowd all that much in the game I saw him play. He didn’t stand out at all. The 6’4 junior was almost non-existent in first half, when he scored just three points and was only 1/3 at the free throw line. In the second 16 minutes of play, Parrom was a bit better. He drove to the hoop and was aggressive. Overall, though, this was a poor performance for Kevin, and not a great game to judge him on.

Note- photo is from