basketball

Shareef O’Neal…Diesel Version 2.0

Most of us remember Shaquille O’Neal for his rim shattering dunks.  Die hard basketball fans can scroll their memory all the way back to when Shaq faced off against a Christian Laetner led Duke team. Where after being defeated by Duke, Shaq was minimized as a “maybe” future NBA star.  Those who said that would later eat crow when Shaquille O’Neal became a hall of famer as the most feared inside presence in the history of the NBA.  Scroll life forward to the present and now comes Shaquille O’Neal’s son, Shareef O’Neal, who is his father’s clone with his heart, his drive, his presence on the floor but he adds a couple of more components to his own game.  The true basketball mind would immediately ask what an athlete could possibly add to the game of a hall of famer and more than that how could someone, even if it’s Shaq’s son, become better than the original number 32.  Here’s how.  Shareef O’Neal has the favor of NBA legends on his side mainly Kobe Bryant who he schedules workouts with.  Between arguably the best basketball center in history and one of the top three overall players in Kobe Bryant, Shareef O’Neal will have some of the best training that a prospect can come by.  The younger O’Neal may very well rise up to the top spot for co’18 prospects.  Currently the 6’9 power forward attends Crossroads School located in California.

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What makes Shareef O’Neal one of the top recruits in the class of 2018?  Besides the fact that he is the most athletic swingman in his class, he is quickly learning how to defend.  A defender with his length and potentially high basket IQ that will be attained from training with NBA legends will be nothing less than lethal on the floor. In fact when he learns how to play defense with the fierceness of the elder O’Neal, things could get downright frightening for his opponents.  Offensively, he already has a very effective midrange jumper.  While Shaq’s finishes at the rim were at minimum sinister to his competition, Shareef O’Neal’s dunk ability has been described as violently poetic.  This touches to the fact that while there are many similarities in the father and son’s game, the younger O’Neal is also turning into a perimeter threat.  While there are other prospects that can match skills with the young prospect, Shareef is developing floor leadership skills, an NBA caliber handle, and a defensive prowess that has now made him the prime target of every major basketball program in the NCAA.   There are murmurings in the basketball world of the elder Shaq wanting his son to attend Kentucky.  Whether Shareef chooses the Wildcats remains to be seen.  What we do know though is that he will continue to terrorize his opponents on the high school level and is set to be a sleeker version of the original diesel.  Would a fitting nickname be Diesel 2.0?  Stay tuned.  www.besquadsport.com

Thon Maker…Re-Opening Pandora’s Box

With Thon Maker skipping college and heading straight to the NBA, sports enthusiasts are questioning if this will indeed re-open the Pandora’s Box of too early, too young. This subject has been sort of taboo and has been a close cousin to the conversation of paying college athletes. Cause and effect to a lower degree if you will; players with pro-level talent should surely go straight to the league right?

A controversial question that comes down to several factors. Is the player mentally and physically ready? And can the player endure a season that is at the least four times longer than his previous high school term? The upside of going straight to the NBA is the obvious financial boost in one 18 year old’s life. The downside is that players who are not ready tend to run out of gas in the middle of their first season and face the threat of being out of the league by the end of their second season. The highly skilled Thon Maker potentially can be a huge success story in the NBA. His game film is testament to why he was advised by his circle of confidants to make this bold move. But in the rearview mirror it is an obvious chatter among the elite players in high school’s class of 2017 and even ’18 that if this works for Thon Maker, what says it can’t work for the next man with those type of skills. Stay tuned.

Continue the story with SBNation: “Thon Maker will become the first player to jump from high school to the NBA in a decade.”

 

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Christian David…Representing More Than Self

Now attending Vermont academy, located in Saxtons River, Vermont,  Christian David began to capture headlines during his tenure in Canada while attending Bishop Reding Catholic as a sophmore.

David is a 6’5 guard who is yet another budding star with a unique story.  After ending the 2015-16 season with a better than double-double average in points and assists, David proved to be a more than average team player.  Coaches from the B1G Ten and ACC conferences have concluded that David will be more valuable as a combo guard because of his ability to score, rebound, and handle the ball.  While Canada is not the hotbed for basketball talent, David’s Canadian as well as Filipino roots has caused a certain hoopla in both respective locations.

There are few to none Filipino basketball stars that are currently holding a meaningful place in the game.  Christian David possesses high caliber skill, but also walks around Canada knowing that thousands of Canadians as well as extended family in Philippines are holding him to high standards.  As David gains fanfare for his sharp shooting ability and higher than normal court IQ, the heroic buzz from two national locations has become a constant in his ear.  The fun part about being a sort of national hero is knowing that you have the opportunity to capture the approval of the masses with your skill.  The hard part about being a national hero is knowing that failure is not an option.  While all this is a small pocket of game fuel for the young prospect, playing as a young dual national hero may indeed be the role Christian David has taken on.  Stay tuned.

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Gary Trent Jr. …Lay Ups From The Perimeter

A quick basketball journey back to the future has left a smile on the faces of old school basketball fans.   It involves the play of Gary Trent Jr. and a nameless legend otherwise known as Lamar Mundane.  At a recent travel league game the highly rated Trent pulled up from the perimeter and amongst the crowd noise, “laaaayyyyyy uuuupppp” was yelled.  Now to the media soaked sports fans and twitter-dependant basketball experts this legendary sound merely bounced off unlearned ears.  But for anyone who truly knows their basketball and collects all parts of the game in their minds like an avid historian, that proverb-esque phrase instantly captured your attention.

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And of course without a chance of touching any rim, Trent’s shot hit all net.  That still could not keep those of us who knew the origins of that catchphrase from thinking that Gary Trent Jr. does indeed have pieces in his game that at the least places him on the court with the legendary Lamar Mundane, and at best gives sharp shooters like Trent a true predecessor.  Today’s sports scene has plenty of mesmerizing stories that catch the eyes of fans and athletes.  Take note of some in your face stories; the historical run of the 2016 Golden State Warriors, a quarterback famous for his own obscurity that ends up being the second pick of the NFL draft, and even the miseducation of prospects doing dumb things that potentially ruin careers.  This is a positive yet very behind the scenes story that provides at least old school basketball followers with a “snack-like” moment of joy.  Chalk it up as a signature moment on Gary Trent Jr.’s road to success.  Stay tuned.

BeSquadcast…Trae Young co’17

Trae Young has mesmerized the high school basketball scene in this current season and looks to take Norman North to a memorable playoff run.  Already putting up a 60 point game, Young is one of the nation’s top three scoring point guards.  Fans should not mistake and look past the other parts of his skill set as he is averaging 3 steals and 11 assists per contest.  Young will be one of the main highlights during this summer travel circuit as he squares off against some of the other top names such as Duval, Trent, and Diallo.  Stay tuned.

Jayvon Graves…St. Vincent-St. Mary Revisited

A venture out to St. Vincent-St. Mary high school will introduce basketball fans to a another great recruiting report. There are great basketball stories to be found here and legendary status is connected to this location because one of the most successful athletes to come out of Akron, Ohio: Lebron James.  Lebron James not only put the city on the map but made the school, St. Vincent-St. Mary, a mainstay in the premise of high school basketball greatness. Can someone come along and seriously make a name for himself in an area already known for presenting the sports world with a historical athlete such as James?  If you pose this question to Jayvon Graves he will give you a fair yet bold answer.  The 6’2 point guard in the class of 2017 is an up and coming prospect. He takes every opportunity to create his own storyline while he courses through his high school basketball recruiting experience.

At present Graves is averaging 20 plus points and 8 assists per game. While he sits at a two star rating from some several recruiting outlets, the talented outside shooter knows it’s just a matter of time before he has his breakout moment.  To even the most detailed of pundits, the mention of any prospect name in the same sentence with Lebron James causes an immediate accusation of basketball blasphemy against such a famed name.  But instead of trying to fill shoes or even follow the path of such a high rated player, Graves takes a different road to the same destination.  Constant development and appreciation of each and every detail of the game is his forte.  In the mind of this prospect, it is as important to learn from the greats as it is to be bold enough to blaze your own trail.

As the regular season comes to an end for high school basketball, Jayvon Graves takes on the challenge of being considered a top five guard prospect for his class.  One could say that the hard part is already figured out and that is knowing that there are more naysayers than believers.  A familiar subject in the experience of nearly all aspiring athletes and all great stories.  Stay tuned.

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.

Martrellian “Duck” Gibson…No Stars, No Problem

The rumors of Martrellian Gibson’s skill level being a virtual match to the  Rucker Park legend and NBA vet Rafer Alston were worth searching out.  A 6’2 guard out of central Illinois is proving why rankings won’t keep him from his goal of playing college basketball.  Nicknamed “Duck” Gibson, this electric guard holds a 40 inch vertical and is vying for his opportunity to showcase his skill on one of the major travel circuits this upcoming summer.  Gibson has been a main contributor to his high school’s current success.  The Rantoul Eagles have recovered from a slow start and have caught midseason heat while rolling to an 11-5 record.

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“Duck” Gibson is becoming a fascination in the world of high school basketball. Why? Plain and simple, he has style.  His style of play is as exciting as high end tournament play at the Rucker, and it is fundamentally sound.  One might think he is being trained by one of the most elemental focused coaches in the game.  A constant comparison to Rafer Alston comes up when depicting Gibson’s skills.  While his jumping ability is the primary attribute that stands out in his basketball summary, Gibson’s perimeter shooting seems video game worthy when he heats up.  And do not make the mistake of underestimating his aggressive choices when it’s time to go to the bucket.  He attacks the rim 70 percent of the time and while this seems unbecoming of a point guard, it certainly creates “dead to right” open shots for his teammates.  Defensively this young talent  has learned the importance of using his 6’4 wingspan to regularly eliminate the vision of opposing jump shooters.  If his opponent is quick enough to get into the lane, Gibson will deflect many an attempt at futile layups.  Since “Duck” Gibson is only a junior he is certainly holding all aces and is all set to have a thrilling recruitment  experience.  Stars next to his name have meant little to Gibson.  He’s more concerned with showing college scouts and coaches consistency and a fully developed skill set.  So far so good…Stay tuned.

Tatum, Duval, Giles…Too Early For Star Comparison?

Problem…Sports enthusiasts and self proclaimed experts suggest early comparisons of high school basketball players to pro players is a bit premature.  Solution…Show them game film on Jayson Tatum, Trevon Duvall, and Harry Giles and then see if they retract these thoughts.  Different styles, bright futures, and bonafide present-day all stars.  These words are a short description of three of the most talked about stars in high school basketball.  The comparisons of these young talents to former pro stars come easy to any true basketball fan.  Watch Tatum for a game or two and its hard not to see shades of Tracy McGrady.bss_bb_tatumMcGrady1_3_15

The similarities are uncanny.  McGrady had the ability to take over games at the high school and pro level.  A perennial all star who decided to skip college competition to enter the pros, McGrady was noted as possibly the best at using his length.  A long guard that forced countless match up problems with the opponent, McGrady goes into the basketball history books as collectively one of the most electric scorers of all time.  That said, watching class of 2016 Duke commit, Jayson Tatum moves fans of the game to seeing an obvious comparison to McGrady.  Tatum too creates incredible miss matches as the best point forward on the present day high school basketball scene.  If you haven’t heard the story on Tatum yet here’s a quick breakdown.  He’s a 6’8 small forward from Chaminade High school in St. Louis, Missouri.  As said earlier, the five star athlete is a Duke commit and will more than likely make a huge splash on the college scene that can only be compared to what Jabari Parker did only a short time ago.  Tatum’s highlight reel explains a lot and while its a respect to the game not to place high schoolers in the category of future hall of famer, it is more than fair to say that Jayson Tatum has game and skill level comparable to a young McGrady.  Meanwhile another class of 2016 commit, Harry Giles certainly brings up comparisons to another recognizable former pro in Shawn Kemp.

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Most famous for his role with the former Seattle Supersonics who were relocated to Oklahoma City, Kemp was a big man who mastered his role of playing above the rim.  He also became a legend with his lethal accuracy from the “top of the key.”  Giles who is presently at Oak Hill Academy and also a Duke commit doesn’t necessarily try to imitate the ways of Kemp but has the default game of the latter because of an almost identical skill set. Very much the high flier and above the rim player, Giles will too knock down those mid to long range shots with a level of accuracy normally seen in the best guards. And let’s not forget the defensive similarities between the two.  Supreme verticals usually begets supreme shot blocking ability and Giles has taken up an advanced course in rejecting the opponents’ attempts.  Obviously Kemp is a historical figure in the terms of professional basketball success even more for those who watched the game during the 90’s era.  This generation may indeed catch their version of the Kemp-like skill set in Giles.   Finally Trevon Duval is the top guard of 2017 and has earned the right to be compared to a pro star.  Duval’s humble but fierce approach to the game has garnered the respect of the high school basketball world.  It’s hard not to see the resemblance between Trevon Duval and NBA legend Kevin Johnson.

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Those who were fortunate enough to see Johnson in play saw one of basketball history’s greatest floor generals.  He was also one of the best at spreading the floor and creating his shots during clutch moments.  Although Duval is only a junior in high school the fanfare that he has experienced is understandable.  He has been described as having an advanced knowledge of the floor and pro level skills. More than that is put a tape of Kevin Johnson and Trevon Duval next to each other and you see early legendary status connecting itself with the young man from Advanced Prep Academy.  Pundits will of course dig in and place question marks next to these young prep stars and say action speaks louder than words.  Fans of these three will cheer them on regardless.  Their comparable mentors wouldn’t hesitate in saying stay tuned.