athletics

AAU 2016…Bidding For The Best

February is here and fans of travel league circuits will start to get an open look on a behind the scenes  battle of the major shoe brands.  Their campaigns revolve around solidifying the best young basketball players in the nation.  If a sort of “who has the advantage” scorecard was kept for the summer of 2015, the win would slightly go to the EYBL.

As the pride of amateur basketball for NIKE, the EYBL was able to host the best young basketball talent in the world culminating with the Global Challenge.  The event created a media frenzy and became a gathering place for countless professional scouts as well as numbers of college coaches.  Behind the scenes, the Under Armour Association has taken note and gets ready to host an unbelievable display of talent for this upcoming travel circuit.

Having the top rated guard, Trevon Duval, will make the UA association a target of the major high school sports media outlets including ESPN, Scout.com, and 247 Sports.  The Adidas Gauntlet Series and Reebok Breakout Classics have also become star studded events in the realm of high school basketball.

It must be said that social media has greatly contributed to the fame of these travel circuits.   Minute by minute images, updates, and stats of highlighted players  are a new norm.  The most interesting concept or rather question that is being posed about the summer league travel circuit is whether high school players will play in multiple series.  Will we soon see a five star athlete play in a Nike Series as well as an Under Armour circuit? Or will a player make the choice to play in both Adidas and Reebok travel circuits?

Since most of the games in these circuits are played in the same weeks this can be difficult for players to attend multiple circuits. On the flip side, these players are still considered amateur athletes and are not under any binding contracts and can play on whatever circuits that will accept their respective teams.  One would be clueless to think that the aforementioned labels are not vying for the top basketball prospects and AAU programs to participate in their leagues.  Once the high school season ends we can expect this bidding war to begin in the realm of travel circuits.  Stay tuned.

Decade to Decade Part 1…Five on Five… 90’s vs. 2000-10

It’s always interesting to match up talent from different decades and debate who would take the crown.  A great match would definitely have the top 5 high school basketball players from the 90’s square off against the best from 2000-10.  Starting off with the 90’s, who can argue that Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett hold the top two spots.

The next three in open opinion should be Ronnie Fields, Tracy Mcgrady, and Vince Carter.   Those final 3 are debatable but would win out in most arguments.

Moving up to the period of 2000-10, Lebron James would obviously take the number one spot.

The next four in no necessary order would be Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Amare Stoudemire, and Greg Oden.

Fans must remember that we are talking high school basketball only and these listed players were more dominant in their decades than any other players.  Pick a neutral site, Rucker Park maybe, and the magnitude of this matchup would parallel any athletic battle in amateur athletic history.

And So The Countdown Begins…Football ’15-The Run to Number One

Training facilities and high school gyms across America are about to fill up with student-athletes in preparation for the upcoming fall football season.  Training will be intense as teams get ready to battle for the number one spot, not only in their respective state,  but also for a national top 25 ranking.

Expect to see the usuals, Bishop GormanDe LaSalle, St. John Bosco, and St. Thomas Aquinas, who are perennial powerhouse programs.

Add the training and combines to the always exciting recruiting scene and this summer of preparation will be as intense as any in the past.  Some critics may think that recruiting and training have become a bit too cinematic and even far-fetched, with recruit predictions and over the edge training methods.  But as athletes get better and the game of football becomes faster and more methodical amongst coordinators, it would seem that training and preparation has and will always be a mainstay.  Bottom line for the high school football fan…enjoy watching your favorite recruits and favorite teams prepare for the upcoming fall season.

The Shadows…Some Of The Nation’s Top Cover Corners

This summer and fall, receivers from state to state will be constantly looking over their shoulders. What they will be looking for may first seem as harmless as a shadow but in fact will be one of a handful of top cover corners playing high school football.  The class of 2016 boast some pretty good cover corners, and it remains to be seen whether this group will rate as high as last year’s group.  That group featured USC commit Iman Marshall and Alabama commit Kendall Sheffield, arguably two of the best young talents in the past 10 years.  With numerous 7 on 7 camps being held across the nation, scouts will have a good opportunity to see some of the best and brightest corners that this upcoming class has to offer.  Several names that will seem to come out of nowhere will be Juanthony “Juice” Parker, Eric Cuffee “time”, and Khalil Ladler. These and others listed are gifted with the rare combination of speed, quickness, and anticipation.  Scouts will be lined up to throw the scholarship offers at these talented young athletes.

Kristian Fulton DB-Rummel High/Metarie, LA

Kristian Fulton DB-Rummel High/Metarie, LA

Eric Cuffee

Eric Cuffee “time” DB-Waco High School/Waco, TX

Khalil Ladler DB-IMG Academy/Bradenton, FL

Khalil Ladler DB-IMG Academy/Bradenton, FL

Donte Vaughn DB-White Haven High/Memphis, TN

Donte Vaughn DB-White Haven High/Memphis, TN

Wayne Davis DB-Lake Taylor High/Norfolk, VA

Wayne Davis DB-Lake Taylor High/Norfolk, VA

PJ Hall DB-Hoover High/Hoover, AL

PJ Hall DB-Hoover High/Hoover, AL

Jared Mayden DB-Sachse High/Sachse, TX

Jared Mayden DB-Sachse High/Sachse, TX

Juanthony

Juanthony “juice” Parker DB-South Oak Cliff High/Dallas, TX

Jay Williams DB-Rantoul High School/Rantoul, Il

Jay Williams DB-Rantoul High School/Rantoul, Il

Nigel Knott DB-Germantown High School/Madison, MS

Nigel Knott DB-Germantown High School/Madison, MS

AAU Basketball 2015…..A Return to 2006?

As the top AAU basketball teams ramp up for the upcoming season, could fans be in store for a repeat of the 2006 season? No one can forget the excitement from that year that included incredible match-ups and one of the greatest runs by a team in the history of the sport.  The guard combo of Eric Gordon and Derrick Rose versus Tyreke Evans, or how Jimmer Fredette and his Albany team shot their way deep into tournament play at the Boo Williams invite are just parts of the memorable season.  Maybe the most incredible part of the 2006 season was the 47 game winning streak that the SoCal All stars completed which was led by present NBA players Brandon Jennings and Kevin Love.  Mix these highlights together with one of the greatest dunk shows (SoCal vs. D1 Greyhounds), and you arguably have the greatest year in AAU basketball history.  This upcoming season may bring about a new “greatest season” as some new and incredible talent takes to the floor.  The obvious headliners will include Jayson Tatum, Miles Bridges, Seventh Woods, and Zach Norvell.  But it may be the class behind 2016 that will provide that added spark and excitement which would make this one of the more talked about seasons.  The class of 2017 will bring a vast amount of talent to the floor led by Michael Porter, Jalek Felton, Nojel Eastern, and Victor Bailey Jr.  Bottom line…Fans should get their cameras ready and make plans to witness one of the more memorable AAU basketball seasons. (click on player names for highlights)

Eric Gordon and Derrick Rose versus Tyreke Evans

Jimmer Fredette

Brandon Jennings and Kevin Love

Jayson Tatum

Miles Bridges

Seventh Woods

Zach Norvell

Michael Porter

Jalek Felton

Nojel Eastern

Victor Bailey Jr.

funky four plus 1 more

“Funky Four Plus 1 More”….5 of the best in the category of  “swingman” for co’ 2016!

jayson tatum3

Jayson Tatum

braxton blackwell 3

Braxton Blackwell

Mario Keglar

Mario Keglar

nicholas 2

Nicholas Robinson

josh jackson 3

Josh Jackson

Jabari_Parker/Glenn Robinson III/Andrew Wiggins/Jerami Grant/C.J. Fair….players who have obviously given college basketball fans a reason to stay on the edge of their seats all the way up to and thru March Madness.  As in any sport there’s always a present, past, and future group of all star players.  High school’s next great crop of swingmen may indeed be coming from the class of 2016.  Led by Jayson Tatum, these players can fill up the highlight reels with “above the rim” plays, but they also can revert back to fundamentals and play team basketball.  Fans of the sport always are waiting for the next big thing and the class of 2016 may provide them with a lot to talk about!

Quarterbacks for co’ 2015…Multi Talented Crew

Kelly Bryant "Incredible playmaking ability"

Kelly Bryant
“Incredible playmaking ability”

The tape on this young man makes the case for him being the top playmaker in high school football for the co’ 2015.  Accurate arm, good velocity on all his throws, pocket presence….And we haven’t even broken the ice on what he does when he feels its time to take the game into his own hands and make those “special plays.”  We’ve seen the classes before him…Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel…and there will be many after him, but right now Kelly Bryant is arguably the best playmaker in high school football.

Past QB comparison- Charlie Ward/Florida State  Cam Newton/Auburn  Jameis Winston/Florida State

hudl

 

Jimmy Fitzgerald "Cannon Arm"

Jimmy Fitzgerald
“Cannon Arm”

 

Having witnessed the arm strength of Jimmy Fitzgerald in person makes it fun to voice my opinion on his ability.  His arm strength ranks up there with the top “guns” that were highly touted coming out of high school.  If you are a fan of great quarterbacks, you immeditately understand how Fitzgerald will have an edge when he enters college.  Of course it helps to have that “cannon” attached to his torso.

Past QB comparison- Drew Bledsoe/Washington State  Chris Redman/Louisville    Matthew Stafford/Georgia

hudl 

 

Kevin Dillman "Ironman toughness"

Kevin Dillman
“Ironman toughness”

 

Although Kevin Dillman is one of the more polished passers in high school football, his biggest attribute may be his toughness.  Possibly a byproduct of playing defense, he can withstand hits from defenders and although qb coaches would rather their starting qb get out of bounds on the scramble, this young man doesn’t mind getting the extra yard.  It’s also a plus when he’s in the pocket as he doesn’t sweat the “walls closing in” on him….otherwise known as the pocket collapsing.  He will stand in there and make the throw.

Past QB comparison-  Mark Brunell/Univ. of Washington  Philip Rivers/North Carolina State  Zach Mettenberger/LSU

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Jake Browning "Pro-style touch pass"

Jake Browning
“Pro-style touch pass”

 

When looking at Jake Browning you are almost immediately convinced that he is being trained by an NFL quarterback.  The incredible touch on his passes makes it easy for his receivers to adjust to the ball and also provides a very catchable ball.  He ranks right up there with the great touch passers who have went on to become top college passers.

Past QB comparison- Elvis Grbac/Michigan  Eli Manning/Ole Miss   Derek Carr/Fresno State

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Gabe Green "Mr. Composure"

Gabe Green
“Mr. Composure”

 

In the pocket Gabe Green looks like he’s playing 7-on-7 even though there’s a defensive line coming at him.  His composure seems unreal at times but is one of the main reasons why he is ranked in the nation’s top passers.  Poise and confidence while in the pocket helps give his receivers time to get open and also makes it hard for opposing defenses to rattle him.  After watching his game film and watching his passing league tape you immediately notice that his mechanics are exactly the same.  College coaches will develop his passing skills and he will undoubtedly develop into a premier college player.

Past QB comparison- Rick Mirer/Notre Dame   Alex Smith/University of Utah   Aaron Murray/Georgia

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Joshua Land and Josh Parker

Illinois high school athletics has brought high school sports fans amazing stories over the past years.  Players like Ty Isaac, Jabari Parker,  and Jahlil Okafor have lit up media headlines and with good reason.  There may be a new story developing in the sport of football for the class of 2017.  Two running backs, Joshua Land and Josh Parker, are already vying for the number one spot in Illinois and are not stopping there.  Two nationally ranked backs for the upcoming years? Without a doubt!  joshua land   josh parker

Catch more high school highlights recruiting info at www.besquadsport.com

Matt Mitchell of St. Rita must be mentioned with Nation’s top LB’s

Any high school football fan who knows the importance of a solid linebacking core needs to watch Matt Mitchell of St. Rita…..His cat-like quickness and knowledge of the position will help him to rise to the top scouts’ rankings this spring and summer.  click for highlights