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.
Miles Bridges has enjoyed the summer of 2015 by squaring off against some of the best talent around the world. One of the best parts of being a top rated recruit, is meeting other top athletes and developing a comradery that can last for a lifetime. Bridges will tell you that he has befriended other players such as Nick Ward, Cassius Winston, Derek Funderburk, who all played on his Midwest team during the Global Challenge hosted by Nike. After talking to Miles Bridges, one would acutally think that he has no enemies. His demeanor as he overlooks his opponents is tranquil and as he watches his fellow teammates he smiles at his newfound allies. What goes through his mind though is what takes players from good to great and finally may land them at legendary status. Bridges is studying not just his opponents but also his teammates. Looking for strengths and weaknesses, almost absorbing their talents and discarding the fragile parts much like a superhero would or could do. This could be the very reason why Bridges grades out as the most lethal scorer in the class of 2016. College coaches and scouts label his ability to score from anywhere on the court as lethal, even in the range of devastating to his opposition. With his 6’7 height, Bridges has spent the spring and summer developing his ball handling and is super smooth at creating a shot. Add this to his vast array of post moves and long range capability, and one is now looking at one of the most feared offensive arsenals in his class. It’s always wise for athletes to study the games of pro athletes and even base their game around someone who plays their position. What’s even wiser is to study teammates and opponents and pick up a move here or there, a sort of merger of skills. And after the skills are complete, meet the opponent on the court and hit him with a version of his moves and your own. A strategy that has been perfected by Bridges and has placed him at the top of his class. Bringing his full arsenal to the basketball court is a given but definitely stay tuned to see what Miles Bridges will add to his game.
Charlie Moore-PG/Morgan Park High/Chicago, IL
Who is Charlie Moore? He is one of the nation’s most patient guards and a blue chip recruit. Moore, who attends Morgan Park High school and is a member of Mac Irvin Fire aau team, has placed more fuel in the intense talk of his recruiting journey. Moore faced off against some of the world’s best talent at the Nike Global Challenge hosted by Nike EYB. Everyone in attendance shook their head in approval as Moore, a poised guard, held his composure while his team faced an early 18 point deficit to the USA West team. Moore helped his Midwest team fight their way back into the game and grab a temporary lead, making the game an intense battle up to the end. Just one instance of many that Moore proves to be a patient and very knowledgeable guard. What makes him patient is his high level court vision. As you watch him bring the ball up the court, it’s as if he has predetermined where the defense will be and Moore reacts with boxer like reflects and either scores or gets the valued assist. Charlie Moore demonstrates the importance and value of knowing the game of basketball and not just showing up to do what he is told. His knowledge of the game exceeds what you would expect for even a five star recruit of his ability and would make his value to any college program more significant. Most recruits come into the college system with a very skewed comprehension of the game. More importantly Moore is a coach’s dream because he gives the offense a chance to work and makes quick assessments with a calmness comparable to the legendary guards from the University of Arizona. It is not a long shot at all to say that Moore’s vision and court knowledge measures up to what Mike Bibby or Jerryd Bayless had at this point in their great careers. While the mad scramble for college offers takes place around the nation, this class of 2016 guard is as relaxed as his mild expression shows. Top guard status…check. Division one offers….check. Next move for Charlie Moore…stay tuned.
At the Nike Global Challenge, hosted by Nike EYB, two guards made it their business to certify their games as the best. The class of 2017 five-star performers inked another page in their impactful summer basketball play.
Trae Young took advantage of the opportunity to match up against two top guards from the class of 2016 in Xavier Simpson and Charlie Moore, when the USA West squared off against USA Midwest. Young was definitely up for the challenge when presented with the quickness of Simpson and defensive discipline of Moore. Trae Young’s method of attacking the basket shows his confidence and concept of keeping constant pressure on the opposing defense. While his ability to shoot the long range three-pointer is up to the standards that college scouts prefer, Young regularly chose the 14 foot jumper that he is deadly accurate at shooting. What did college coaches find out about Trae Young during the Nike Global Challenge? That he approaches the game with a make something happen attitude and does just that.
Whichever division one program Gary Trent Jr. decides to be a part of, that program will gain a complete player in a very short list of players who can do it all. Trent’s awareness on defense keeps even the most meticulous of coaches interested in his games. It was interesting to hear some of the NBA scouts comment to each other how useful it is to have a rebounding guard, who also has the presence of mind to stick with the forgotten fundamentals of boxing out. Trent Jr. came into the tournament known as one of the nation’s top scorers, but he would leave as possibly the nation’s top defender. While he stood out as a defensive juggernaut, Trent Jr.’s scoring ability is as natural as any big name in the tournament. Offensively, he is a legitimate ball handling guard and is able to mix it up in the paint when challenged. As a native of Minnesota and B1G conference territory, fans have to wonder if this young talent will take his abilities down to the SEC where Kentucky is now on his recruiting trail.
As both Young and Trent Jr. leave the Chicagoland area and the Nike Global Challenge, onlookers are left with two verified blue chippers. Look for both players to continue to dominate their positions as summer high school basketball comes to a close in August.
We are in the middle of an intense summer of travel basketball leagues, and Toi Baylor and Nike EYB have brought out the big guns to their much anticipated events.
The Baylor Youth Foundation has hosted several top notch tournaments with the pinnacle of them all being The Chicago Jam Classic. Over 200 colleges poured into her event last week to see who the next Jabari Parker or Jahlil Okafor would be, as Baylor Youth has hosted these all-world talents as well as others. Fans and coaches were all introduced to the 6’11 guard-skilled power forward Malik Williams at the Baylor Youth event. Williams is experiencing a meteoric rise to the top of the rankings and is being compared to a young Kevin Garnett, who we all know brought his talent to Farragut High School back in the early 90’s and would go on to become an obvious NBA legend. At the Chicago Jam Classic, coaches and scouts were able to verify the star ability of Theo John and Gary Trent Jr., both members of team Howard Pulley. Next year get to the Chicago Jam Classic several hours early because there is usually standing room only.
Nike EYB confirms the fact that the base for high school basketball talent and recruiting anchors in the windy city or as Nike coined the “Win City.”
The Nike Global Challenge event that ends today brought in players from around the world who squared off against the best from the US. Players in attendance included Jayson Tatum (class of 2016’s number one player), Jeremiah Tilmon (the 6’10 do-it-all big man), and Miles Bridges (considered the top swing-man in the class of 2016). College coaches and NBA scouts graced the sidelines at the Global Challenge and were thrilled to be in the biggest venue for the nation’s top high school basketball stars.
Bottom line… the Chicagoland area remains the main battle ground for basketball talent, and the Baylor Youth Foundation and Nike EYB are a major reason for this. Stay tuned for the upcoming stories of players from both events.
It’s not important to know everything out there in this world, but it is important to know something. If you are a high school athlete with collegiate level skills this is the something you should know.
NLI – National Letter of Intent