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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Those familiar with Chicago sports know the powerful basketball programs that have given the location its identity as a “basketball prospect haven.” Schools like Simeon, Whitney Young, and Morgan Park have over the past years stood on the forefront of top teams in the immediate Chicagoland area. Head 90 miles southwest to Peoria and you have the favorite cousin to the Chicago basketball family. There too is a history and continuing platform of basketball talent boasting legendary names such as the Mcclains, Frank Williams, and Shaun Livingston. Between those two cities the family grows and now you have the awakening of a sleeping giant that is the Thorton Wildcat basketball program of Harvey, IL.
The program is under the direction of one of the most competitive teachers of sports, Tai Streets.
Hearing the name Tai Streets immediately brings thoughts of the moxie that any of his players bring to the court. Streets, while getting his athletic fame from being a standout at Michigan and later with the San Francisco 49’ers as a receiver, has gained his coaching notoriety with his dominant Mean Streets AAU program. Now one of the most respected and competitive basketball programs in the country. There have been countless five star prospects to emerge from the Mean Streets program.
Coach Streets has taken his experience and tenacious style to Harvey, Illinois, and expects to reanimate a program that not too long ago had a national identity. Let’s not mistake the job at hand for Streets and his Wildcat team. He is not being asked to build a team from scratch. Instead Coach Streets is being asked to take the program from an in-state powerhouse and transform it into a feared machine on the national level.
Competitors locally and abroad will be watching the Wildcat basketball program with a renewed respect.
What are they watching and looking for? That breakout moment when Coach Streets will surely take his players and program to perennial top ten opponent wins. The moment when a team goes from respected to feared. Plainly speaking, the awakening of a hibernating champion.
The immediate horizon shows the Wildcat program familiarizing itself with the high expectations of a coach with a championship mindset. The further and larger goal is to make the consistent deep playoff runs and national schedule play. Several tasks that Coach Streets would rather not talk about but instead make materialize. Stay tuned.
In the sport of basketball, guards come and go. You have those who will do a fancy crossover, will get airborne for a dunk, will get a rise out of the crowd, may even hear his name for 15 minutes of fame, but then he disappears into the archives of the forgotten almost and maybes. None of this relates to Trevon Duval who has let everyone know that he is on the basketball scene to stay. Incredible vision is his mantra. Duval has the peripheral vision of an NFL defensive back chasing a receiver and at the same time miraculously seeing the quarterback release the ball. In other words, Duval can see what’s in front, on the side, and sometimes you would even think what’s behind him. With his point guard “sixth sense”, Duval makes sure to find even the most hidden scorer and get him involved. Though what’s creating ear to ear smiles on college coaches’ faces is the fact that Duval can create his own shot when things are at a standstill in the offense. As he attends Advanced Prep International located in Dallas, Texas fans have to wonder if the mighty Orangemen of Syracuse will let Duval out of their recruiting grasp. Those UConn coaches and fans may have something to say about it after all is said and done. Stay tuned…
Several summer basketball tournaments have ended and the class of 2016 has proven that the next generation of greatness is here and ready for any challenge. As Josh Jackson, Harry Giles, and Jayson Tatum battle it out for the number one ranking, the entire summer league has thus far been as exciting as any in the past. If it continues, and it sure seems set to do just that, the class of 2016 could usher in the next generation of greats. Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, and Kobe Bryant did in the mid 90’s, and in the new millenium we were introduced to Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James. The excitement and skill brought to the game by the class of 2016 mirrors that of the previous names. It would be a bit premature to give the tag of “greatness” to anyone in the class of 2016, but basketball fans would agree that no one is putting the cart before the horse in saying that this class is headed in that direction. Keep these young athletes in mind, follow their progress, and decide for yourself whether they have the ability to be that “special” class.
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.
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.
A great battle at the point guard spot brews in Chicago. Alonzo Verge and Nojel Eastern, both guards from the class of 2017, prepare their combat maneuvers for the top ranking guard spot.
Verge stands out as one of the best natural scorers in his class. His highlight tapes have plenty of razzle dazzle, but his court vision and ability to score from virtually anywhere on the floor separates him from other players. The Willowbrook guard continues to develop his outside shot and looks to climb the rankings this summer.
Facing off with Verge for the top spot will be Nojel Eastern. It’s easy to see why scouts consider Eastern as the most complete guard in the class of 2017. His aggressiveness on offense carries over to his defensive efforts. Eastern’s mid-range and long-range jumpers may be his deadliest weapon, but his creativity is lethal when he gets to the bucket for scores. It will be interesting to see this guard climb the charts, as he may not only claim the top spot in Chicago but also become the top rated guard in the nation. He definitely has the skill set to do exactly that. Fans should prepare for a very exciting guard battle….Verge vs. Eastern…stay tuned!