Friday, November 30, 2007

Playing at the Next Level

Devon Jefferson

OJ Mayo and Taj Gibson are the players garnering all of the attention at USC, but there's one other player with tremendous upside worth watching closely, in Freshman Davon Jefferson.

At 6’9 Jefferson is a freak athlete with the length, quickness and speed to dominate the opposition. He plays with an explosive style, always attacking the rim and trying to dunk on anyone in sight. Jefferson is still very raw and needs to work on his mid range jumper, but with some schooling from the USC coaching staff, Davon Jefferson has the potential to be a name that you hear for many years to come.

Gerald Henderson and Russell Westbrook

It’s pretty clear thus far this season, who was working on their games over the summer. Two players that have made tremendous strides and will soon begin to receive the recognition they deserve are Gerald Henderson (Duke) and Russell Westbrook (UCLA).

Both players are among the most athletically gifted in college basketball and are major reasons why their teams are having early season success.

Henderson still needs to expand his range and improve his handle, while Westbrook’s biggest challenge will be transitioning to a true point guard, rather than just a scorer. With that being said, both players should be early 1st round selections in the 2009 NBA Draft.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Future

If you don’t know everyone on this cover, you will very soon.

Featured on the new issue of Punks (Slam) magazine are the four best high school guards in the nation. From the left: Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Lance Stephenson.

All four participated in this summer’s Elite 24 and none of them disappointed. Jennings and Holiday will continue their battles next season, with both of them heading to the Pac-10 at Arizona and UCLA respectively. Evans hasn’t declared his college intentions, but he has narrowed his choices down to Louisville, Texas, Memphis, Seton Hall and UConn. Stephenson still has another two years left of high school ball and hasn’t given any real indications of where he will be playing in college. The one thing that we do know about Lance’s recruitment process is that it is being handled by his father; Lance Stephenson Sr. The approach is rather unconventional, yet equally effective: If they are interested, they will call you…
(Via Slam)

For more in-depth coverage on:
Lance Stephenson
Tyreke Evans
Brandon Jennings

Sunday, October 21, 2007

NCAA: Finest Freshmen

If not for the NCAA decision to require high school athletes to go to college for one year, this list wouldn’t be so special. Most of these kids would be riding pine for an NBA team, with a serious bank account and a new house for mom. I guess it’s a moot point now.

With one of the best freshman classes in recent memory, college basketball is going to be real strong this season. Let’s take a quick look at some of college basketball’s Finest Freshmen:

1st Team

OJ Mayo, USC

The most heralded of the group, look for OJ to make a huge splash with the Trojans this season. He’s a superb scorer who can get hot in a hurry and absolutely dominate a game. OJ sees the court really well and has a very pure shooting stroke. You won’t get much emotion out of OJ on the court, but he apparently chose USC to display his personality off of it. If you haven’t read this story, it’s a must... OJ chooses USC.

One thing to note, OJ has been on the map for as long as I can remember, so if you’re expecting another LeBron, don’t. OJ doesn’t have the explosiveness to be a superstar at the pro level.

Eric Gordon, Indiana

Hoosier fans are going to be extremely happy to see Eric Gordon wearing cream and crimson this season. After originally verbally committing to Illinois, Gordon had a change of heart and decided to take his game to Bloomington, Indiana.

Plain and simple, Eric Gordon is a scorer. He plays an attacking style on offense, continuously taking the ball to the bucket, fending off contact with his muscular frame. He has great athletic ability and solid range on his jumper.

At 6’4 Gordon is still a tweener, so he might be forced to stick around IU for a few years to improve his point guard skills. Otherwise, this marriage will be short lived.

Derrick Rose, Memphis

There is not a faster player in college basketball right now than Derrick Rose. When the ball is in his hands, he is gone and if you blink you might miss him.

Rose is a tremendous athlete that can throw it down with the best of them, but he’s also a natural point guard with great court vision. His jumper could use some consistency, but other than that Rose is the complete package.

With the NBA draft only 8 months away, I doubt Rose is even unpacking. Done, locked, he’s gone.

Kyle Singler, Duke

Kyle is a perfect fit for the Blue Devils. He is extremely competitive and plays with a no fear attitude that will quickly make him a fan favorite. He is also very versatile. At 6’8, Kyle can not only bang with the big guys inside, but he has the ability to step outside and stroke from deep.

I’m picturing him now smacking the court at Cameron Indoor. You can expect to see him at Duke for the next few years, by choice more than anything.

Kevin Love, UCLA

Love is going to be a force at UCLA. He has a great attitude, always shows up to compete, and he gets the job done.

Love does a great job using his body to shield off the opposition. He is extremely active down low and has the ability to step out and hit the mid range jumper. His footwork is better than most pros and he can probably teach a course on outlet passing... Complete Kevin Love scouting report.

Love’s lack of athletic ability will inhibit him as he attempts to make UCLA a quick pit stop before heading to the next level. Despite many analysts predicting Love to be one and done at UCLA, I wouldn’t count on it. In fact, it wouldn’t shock me if he stayed the full 4 years.

2nd Team

Corey Fisher, Villanova – Don’t be deceived by his pudgy frame, Fisher is a scoring machine. Fisher needs to learn how to play the point and get teammates involved, but expect major scoring numbers from Fisher right away.

Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Beasley brings a swagger and cockiness with him to Kansas State. He is an inside-outside scorer that will force you to take notice every time he steps on the court. Both his willingness to be coached and his effort have been questioned, but never his talent.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, look for Beasley to declare for the league 10 seconds after his final college game.

Donte Greene, Syracuse Green follows in the recent line of long, skinny, athletic ball players to come through Syracuse. Like Damone Brown, Hakim Warrick and Demetrius Nichols before him, Green needs to hit the weight room. Once he polishes his game and learns to play inside, sky’s the limit.

Austin Freeman, Georgetown
– Despite the departure of Jeff Green, look for Freeman to come in right away and fill some of the scoring void left behind. Freeman will benefit from playing with two stud big men in his college career; currently Roy Hibbert and #1 Junior Greg Monroe. With those combinations, you can expect to see Georgetown among the top schools in the Big East for years to come.

Jonny Flynn, Syracuse – Flynn is a superb athlete who plays hard every minute of the game. He should have no problem beating out last years point guard, Josh Wright and immediately earn the starting nod. Joining former high school teammate Paul Harris, this dynamite combination should have Syracuse back to the nation’s elite.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

In the Spotlight: Kevin Love

Position: Power Forward
Ht: 6-9, Wt: 250
Hometown: Lake Oswego, Oregon
Class: Freshman
College: UCLA
Age: September 7th, 1988


  • Big body that is very active down low
  • Does a great job sealing defenders on his back, allowing for easy entry passes into the post
  • Has great form and rotation on his jumper
  • Terrific outlet passer who is always looking down court after grabbing rebounds
  • Kevin really battles on the glass and gets after it going for rebounds.
  • Superb footwork ( well coached )
  • Great attitude, competes hard all game
  • High basketball IQ


  • Doesn’t have much athletic ability; he can’t get off the ground
  • Slow moving around the court
  • Great at starting the break, but not great at running it.

The easiest way to describe Kevin Love on the basketball court - he gets the job done! He competes hard every game and his effort never wanes. He was able to dominate at the high school level because he is so much more physically imposing than other kids his age. As he transitions to the college level, it will only get tougher for Kevin. Without any real explosiveness off the ground, Kevin has to work hard on finding ways to get his own shots. He needs to continue developing his face up game, which will expand his offensive arsenal and make him a tougher match-up. However despite his limited athletic ability, Kevin is a very skilled big man that you can expect to become a force at UCLA.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Commitments: Class of 2008

Most of the players in the Class of 2008 have announced what school they will be playing college ball at next year.

Recapping the Top 15 prospects:

1) Brandon Jennings – 6’1, 170 lbs - Oak Hill Academy (VA)
College: Arizona
Scouting Report

2) Greg Monroe – 6’10, 230 lbs – Helen Cox (LA)
College: Undecided
Finalists include: Duke, UConn, Kansas, LSU, Georgetown, USC, Texas, Baylor

3) Demar DeRozan – 6’5, 195 lbs – Compton (CA)
College: USC

4) Tyreke Evans – 6’4, 195 lbs - American Christian (PA)
College: Undecided
Finalists include: Louisville, Villanova, Seton Hall, Texas, UConn
Scouting Report

5) BJ Mullens – 7’0, 260 lbs – Canal Winchester (OH)
College: Ohio State

6) Jrue Holiday – 6’3, 200 lbs – Campbell (CA)
College: UCLA

7) Willie Warren – 6’3, 195 lbs – Oak Hill Academy (VA)
College: Undecided
Finalists Include: Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette, Oklahoma, Texas, Marquette

8) Samardo Samuels – 6’9, 230 lbs – St. Benedict’s (NJ)
College: Louisville

9) Devin Ebanks – 6’8, 185 lbs – St. Thomas More (CT)
College: Indiana
Highlights (25 secs in)

10) Scotty Hopson – 6’5, 185 lbs – University Heights (KY)
College: Mississippi St.

11) Eloy Vargas – 6’10, 210 lbs – American Heritage (FL)
College: Florida
Dunk of the Day

12) Delvon Roe – 6’7, 215 lbs – St. Edward (OH)
College: Michigan St.

13) Al-Farouq Aminu – 6’8, 210 lbs – Norcross (GA)
College: Wake Forrest
Dunk of the Day

14) Terrence Jennings – 6’10, 225 lbs – Notre Dame (MD)
College: Undecided
Finalists Include: Maryland, Kentucky, Memphis, LSU, Louisville

15) Kemba Walker – 6’2, 175 lbs – Rice (NY)
College: Connecticut

*Some of the highlight reals are a little weak... I'll try to get my hands on additional footage*

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Throwback: LeBron vs Carmelo in High School

Many were there to see the game, and I'm sure most have seen the highlights at least once. But to me, these highlights never get old.

Back when LeBron James was the #1 Junior and Carmelo was the #1 Senior in the country, they squared off. LeBron playing for St Vincent-St. Mary's against Carmelo's Oak Hill squad which consisted of all D1 players.

Looking back Oak Hill Coach Steve Smith was quoted as saying, ''"I had never seen the crowd stand in unison at the end of the game and just start clapping in appreciation of what they just saw."

Final Stats
LeBron James: 36 points on 12 of 27 shooting, eight rebounds, five assists, and six steals.
Carmelo Anthony: 34 points on 14 of 25 shooting, 11 rebounds, and two assists in the 72-66 Oak Hill win.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The "From Courtside" High School All American Team (past 15 years)

At the beginning of every summer, a few high school basketball players are hyped as the future, or the next great! After dominating their high school season the buzz begins and people start flying up the high school rankings. Eventually players from all over the country convene at AAU tournaments, ABCD and Nike All-American Camps so that questions can get answered. By the conclusion of the summer, we see many players fizzle out, while others begin to emerge.

Looking back over the past 15 years, there have been so many great players flourish and take the thrown as king of the class. Epic battles have taken place, like in 1995, when Kevin Garnett, Stephon Marbury, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce and Ron Mercer all dominated their respective parts of the country.

After breaking down all the players that have come through the high school rankings in the past 15 years, 10 stood out above the rest. In some instances, high school was the highlight of their career as college and the pro’s never amounted to anything. Others used high school as a stepping stone to become one of the greats.

Without further adieu:

1st Team

Kevin Garnett
6'10 forward Farragut Academy, Chicago

"Little Ticket"
Was there anyone better? LeBron, maybe, but Kevin Garnett changed the game.

Kevin began high school as a 6’6, pencil thin 9th grader immediately earning the starting nod for the Maudlin High School Mavericks. His game was beginning to take off and Kevin was starting to build a name for himself, when everything took a turn. In the summer going into Kevin’s Sr. year of high school, Kevin and 5 friends were charged with second-degree lynching (charges were later dropped). This prompted the move to Chicago where Kevin would flourish.

When he arrived in Chicago, Kevin was a player possessed. He absolutely dominated averaging 25.2 points, 17.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 6.5 blocks per game as a senior leading Farragut Academy to a 28-2 record and the city championship. He owned the summer circuit, took home MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game and established himself as the prize recruit in the star studded 1995 class.

After failing to qualify academically, Kevin decided to do something that had not been done in the 20 years prior. Kevin declared himself eligible for the NBA draft. This move would eventually open the flood gates for players like Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and LeBron James to go straight from High School to the pros.

Minnesota selected Kevin with the 5th pick and I think that it’s safe to say, the gamble paid off. An MVP in 2003 – 2004, 10 all star teams, 8 All-NBA and All-NBA Defensive Teams later, the “Big Ticket” has become one of the all-time greats.

LeBron James

6'7 Forward St. Vincent-St. Mary's Akron, OH, 2003

"Your prayers were answered"
LeBron James is the most highly touted high school basketball player ever. As a 6’3 freshman LeBron led the St. Vincent-St.Mary's Fighting Irish to a perfect 27-0 record and their first state championship in over 15 years. LeBron was just getting started. During the summer LeBron continued to grow, literally, getting up to 6-7 and pretty much making himself unstoppable.

Sophomore year was more dominance as LeBron captured another state championship. That summer was when things escalated, as LeBron went from the man in Akron, to the best high school player in the nation. Lenny Cooke entered ABCD Camp with all the hype, but left known as the player abused by LeBron James. His stock took quite a hit as LeBron outscored the #1 player in the Sr. class, 23 – 9. LeBron had left his mark for the entire country to take notice.

Junior and Senior seasons were more of the same for “The King” on the court, but the buzz off the court was getting out of control. St Vincent-St Mary’s was broadcasting home games on pay-per-view for $7.95, season-ticket packages for the Fighting Irish soared to $125, and the Fighting Irish made on appearance on ESPN.

All was well, until the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSSA) started to investigate how the son of a poor mother was suddenly rolling in a Hummer and rocking expensive retro-jerseys. LeBron was eventually suspended, but the decision was ultimately overturned and LeBron was able to return in time to lead the Fighting Irish back to the state championship, their 3rd in 4 years.

At this point, the high school all-American games were a joke for LeBron as nobody was even close to his level. LeBron went on to become the #1 pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers and receive an unheard of $90 million to sign with Nike. I think we all know the rest of the story…

DaJuan Wagner
6'2 Guard Camden, NJ, 2001

"100 pts in a 32 minute game - that's nuts"
There really isn’t much DaJuan Wagner didn’t accomplish in his high school basketball career. DaJuan was a scoring machine, putting up 27.3, 35.3, 31.9, and 42.5 points per game in his 4 year high school career.

As a freshman, DaJuan absolutely burst onto the scene leading Camden to a South Jersey Group 3 championship. Being dubbed “The Messiah,” DaJuan had gone from legend in South Jersey to the consensus #1 player in his class. As a senior, Dajuan earned national recognition, after he dropped 100 pts in a 32 minute game. Despite the low level of competition, anytime you are able to shoot 42 of 61 and hit 10 from 3-point range, the future looks very bright.

DaJuan ended up taking his game to Memphis, where he would meet up with his newly hired father, Milt Wagner. Yes, he was that good that John Calipari, not only hired his father, but also gave best friend Arthur Barclay a scholarship, to ensure DaJuan would bring his game to Memphis. It turned into a short pit stop as DaJuan declared for the NBA after a productive freshman season.

After being selected 6th and having a solid rookie campaign, DaJuan was hit with serious health issues including severe colitis which led to the removal of his colon. He hasn’t spent much time in the NBA since. Last summer, the Golden State Warriors gave him a chance, but DaJuan appeared in just one regular season game before they decided to part ways. At only 24, it appears his NBA career is over for now, but he’ll forever be a hero in South Jersey.

Felipe Lopez

6’5 guard Rice HS, New York, NY, 1994

"Not many magazine covers followed"
When you’re put on the cover of Sports Illustrated without having played a college or professional basketball game, you must have dominated in high school and that’s exactly what Felipe Lopez did.

Felipe came to the US when he was just 13 years old, from his native Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. From the moment he stepped foot in the US, he began tearing up the NYC courts. By his senior year he was heralded as the #1 player in the nation, and led Rice High School to the city championship. When put against the best high school competition, Felipe was the star among stars. Felipe earned MVP of both the McDonald’s High School All-American game after scoring 24 points, and the Magic Roundball Classic pouring in 25 pts, 11 assists and 4 steals.

Expectations were so out of control for Felipe that it would have been nearly impossible to live up to them. After deciding to stay close to home and attend St. John’s, people thought Felipe was the savior for a program that was on a steadfast decline. His college career was solid (No. 3 on St. John's career scoring list), but certainly not what people envisioned.

Following St.John’s, Felipe was the 24th pick of the San Antonio Spurs and ultimately traded to the Vancouver Grizzles. He was never a splash in the pro’s, bouncing around and eventually ending up overseas and playing CBA ball. Felipe has since retired from the game of basketball, but he’ll always be remembered as a High School Basketball legend.

Stephon Marbury
6’1 guard Abraham Lincoln High School, Brooklyn, N.Y. 1995

"The only title Steph will win at MSG"
It didn’t take Stephon Marbury long to gain national recognition. At age 11, he was touted by HoopScoop as the #1 sixth grader in the nation, and was creating his mark on the playgrounds outside of his Coney Island Projects housing development. By the time Stephon entered Lincoln, he already had a huge reputation. Many believed that Stephon would lead Lincoln to the New York City championship, something that eluded his 3 older brothers, who were also stars at Lincoln.

Stephon’s high school career got off to a brilliant start. As a freshman, he was not only living up to expectations, but exceeding them, as Lincoln coasted through their schedule. Sophomore and Junior years were more of the same. By his Senior year, Stephon had achieved everything on the court except for the NYC Championship. He was not to be denied. As the final buzzer went off in Madison Square Garden, Stephon cried uncontrollably as he finally lead Lincoln to the title. He finished his high high-school career, averaging more than 28 points per game and 9 assists, and was involved in one of the biggest recruiting battles of all time.

He would eventually choose Georgia Tech, but that was a one year stop on his way to the league. Depending on which way you look at it, you can argue whether Stephon has had a successful pro career. His numbers are unbelievable. Stephon is one of only 2 players to average 20ppg and 8assists (Oscar Robertson) throughout his career. Off the court, he got paid. Growing up in the Brooklyn projects and coming from nothing, to driving Bentley’s and getting contracts worth over $20 million per season is quite a feat.

The flip side is Stephon is a career loser who nobody wants to play with. He is yet to make it past the first round of the playoffs and teams have had instant success the moment Stephon has been traded away.

One thing is for sure, he’ll always have the high school championship that no other Marbury brother was able to bring home.

2nd Team

Ronnie Fields

6’3 Guard Farragut Academy, Chicago, IL, 1996

Kobe Bryant
6’6 Guard Lower Merion HS, Ardmore, PA, 1996

Tim Thomas
6’10 Forward Paterson Catholic, Paterson, NJ 1996

Dwight Howard

6’11 Center Southwest Atlanta Christian, Atlanta, GA, 2004

Greg Oden
7'0 Center Lawrence North, Indianapolis, IN, 2006

Honorable Mention
(in no particular order)
Ron Mercer 6'7 Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA
Baron Davis 6'2 Santa Monica (Crossroads) CA
Al Harrington 6'8 Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ
Jason Kidd 6'3 Alameda (St. Joseph) CA
Shaheen Holloway 5'10 Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ
Rasheed Wallace 6'11 Philadelphia (Simon Gratz) PA
Chris Burgess 6'10 Irvine (Woodbridge) CA
Gerald Wallace 6'7 Childersburg (H.S.) AL
Tracy McGrady 6'8 Durham (Mt. Zion Christian) NC
Eddie Griffin 6'9 Philadelphia (Roman Catholic) PA
Amare Stoudamire 6'8 Orlando (Cypress Creek) FL
Jerry Stackhouse 6'6 Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA
Jay Williams 6'2 Metuchen (St. Josephs) NJ
Carmelo Anthony 6'7 Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA
Ronald Curry 6'3 Hampton (H.S.) VA

*I chose to spare the many specific high school accolades because if you are on this list, you are a Mr. Basketball, Parade Magazine, etc award winner…

To steal a line from my boy Bud, "this is simply one man's opinion."

Monday, September 10, 2007

In the Spotlight: Tyreke Evans

Position: Point Guard / Shooting Guard
Ht: 6-4, Wt: 195
Hometown: Aston, PA
Class: HS Senior at American Christian School
College: Undecided
AAU: Team Final
Age: September 19th, 1989


  • Possesses incredible ball handling skills… Great cross over dribble which he’s equally comfortable going left or right with.
  • Has the ability to freeze his defender with a hard dribble, that he uses to get space for a pull up jumper (if the D sags back) or blow past the defense (if they tighten up).
  • Demonstrates good body control when he gets into the lane.
  • Plays with an attacking style, consistently penetrating to the basket and putting pressure on the opposition.
  • He’s able to use his strong build (deceptive) to fend off contact when attacking the hoop.
  • Has a scorer’s mentality, always looking to keep pouring it on. He’s capable of going off for big scoring numbers.


  • Lacks the athletic ability to get above the rim, or elevate on his jump shot. Tyreke does not have the leaping ability which he’ll need as his game looks to advance to higher levels.
  • Needs to repair his shooting form. It’s ugly, inconsistent and he has a slow release. Tyreke also tends to drift back rather than rising straight up on his jumper.
  • Has to improve playing off the ball. Tyreke is at his best when he is isolated one-on-one, but he really struggles moving without the ball and finding other ways to score.
  • Lacks point guard skills to run a team… Main focus is getting himself going.
  • Needs to get better defensively. He has to get more committed on the defensive side of the ball and improve his foot speed and work on keeping his man in front of him.

Tyreke is blessed with a ton of skills. He is very advanced with the ball in his hands and he can break down just about any defender off the dribble. His style of play is a treat to watch, because very few players have the ability to consistently penetrate to the basket, with a wide array of moves like Tyreke. He has a scorer’s mentality and can put up huge numbers any time he steps foot on the court.

His mind set is similar to that of another Phili product, DaJuan Wagner in their scorer’s mentality. In order for Tyreke’s career to go down a different path, it is essential that he improves his point guard skills. At 6’4, he has great size for a pg, but he really needs to focus on learning how to run a team. He also needs to work on moving without the ball, finding creases in the defense and not just being effective with the ball in his hands. (Doesn’t have “live legs”)

Because he is not very athletic, Tyreke will need to hone his skills for a few years in college, before he even thinks about entering the league.

Tyreke Evans Highlights

Thursday, September 6, 2007

In the Spotlight: Lance Stephenson

Position: Shooting Guard / Small Forward
Ht: 6-5, Wt: 200
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Class: HS Junior at Lincoln
College: Undecided
AAU: Juice All Stars
Age: September 5th, 1990


  • At 6’5, 200lbs, Lance has great size and a toned physique for someone only entering his Jr. year of high school.
  • Extremely versatile on both ends of the court. Lance posses the handle which allows him to play the point forward, and the strength to bang inside. Also, he’s flexible enough to guard the 1 – 3 depending on match ups.
  • Has the NYC swagger with confidence written all over his face.
  • Very good finisher around the room. When Lance gets to the basket he can use his left, right, or throw it down.
  • Fierce Competitor... Lance is at his best when he's playing against other elite players.
  • When his body is squared to the basket, he displays a sweet shooting jumper. Has the range to hit from deep 3, but also the mid range game to hit from foul line and in.
  • Solid athlete... Not an extremely high riser, but can definitely hold his own athletically.


  • Needs to get more committed on the defensive end. Tends to leak out to half-court looking start the break.
  • When things aren’t going well his immaturity shows as he pouts and point fingers.
  • Has a tendincy to overdribble when he wants to break down his man and play to the crowd.

It’s never easy when you are the next great superstar from NYC and dubbed “Born Ready” at the Rucker Park at such a young age. Lance has all the tools to become an elite NBA prospect very soon. He’s already sculpted like a pro veteran and he has the cross-over, versatility, and athletic ability which make you believe that the sky is the limit. Lance has to stay focused, keep practicing and not get complacent beating up on inferior competition. He also needs to grow up on the court and act like he’s mature enough to handle being a superstar. Lance would be best suited to play college ball far away from the distractions in NYC, to get ready for what has the potential to be a long pro career.

Player Comparison: Tracy McGrady

Lance Stephenson Highlights

Thursday, August 30, 2007

In the Spotlight: Brandon Jennings

Position: Point Guard
Ht: 6-1, Wt: 170
Hometown: Lakewood, CA
Class: HS Senior at Oak Hill Academy
College: Arizona (verbal)
AAU: SoCal All Stars
Age: September 23rd, 1989


  • Lefty point guard with a spectacular handle… Stronger going to his left, but comfortable going right as well.
  • Superb court vision, consistently throwing thread the needle passes.
  • Has a flare to his game that excites anyone who watches him play.
  • Very quick feet defensively. With a commitment and coaching, he has the tools to become a terrific defender.
  • Amazing athlete that can really elevate when he gets to the basket.
  • Excels in transition by using his incredible speed to lead the fast break.
  • Has exceptional quickness that very few players’ posses.
  • HUGE upside with a ton of talent.


  • Needs to develop a more consistent outside jumper.
  • Has no medium range game. Its deep 3 balls or nothing.
  • Brandon has to get stronger. His body has not fully developed, but he’s going to need to spend quality time in the weight room.
  • Very emotional on the court. He’s so advanced that his teammates have trouble catching his passes, and his frustration tends to show on the court.
  • Gambles way too much on defense, allowing penetration.

Brandon is one of the most exciting point guards I have ever seen play at the HS level. His handle, court vision, and flare make him worth the price of admission every time he steps on the court. He has all the intangibles needed, as long as he’s able to keep his emotions in check. The foot speed is there, but he only seems to lock players up when he gets challenged. The college level will enable Brandon to work on some areas that need improvement, mainly his inconsistent jump shot, strength and learning to use his quick foot speed to become a more consistent lock down defender. Without a doubt, look for Brandon to be a lottery pick in the 2010 NBA draft.

Player Comparison: Kenny Anderson

Brandon Jennings 06-07 Season

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

2nd Annual Elite 24 Hoops Classic

When I got off the subway at 155 and 8th Avenue, I really didn’t know what to expect, or where I was going. Luckily, Rucker Park is right outside of the subway station and when you have hundreds of people waiting to get in, it’s not hard to find your way.

After having to slip a few bucks to security just to enter this packed, bug infested court, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was finally at the Rucker and to me there is nothing better than watching the top HS players battle it out. The only thing that made it sweeter was the fact that I was sitting in the Stephenson entourage, with Lance’s parents and friends. I wasn’t only at the Rucker, I was part of a crew.

Tip time called for 7:30, but I was probably the only person in Harlem that thought that was going to happen. At about 8:20 the game was underway and with every all-star game it was clear from the start, the guards were going to dominate. I was anxious to see the progress of big men like B.J. Mullens and Renardo Sydney, but this was certainly the wrong forum to gauge any improvement in their skills.

After a back and forth first quarter, the starters entered the second session determined to give the fans something to cheer about. Depending on what section of the Park you were located, determined “who was your guy”, and I couldn’t be happier about the performance of my boy, Lance Stephenson AKA “Born Ready”. He had his full arsenal on display, from his slick ball handling, to his athletic finishes around the basket. This 6-5 combo guard is something special.

Brandon Jennings returning to Harlem, after earning co-MVP honors of this event last year and being dubbed “Do Be Doo” for his flashy playmaking, was not to be outdone. Every time the ball was in his hands, something electric was happening. Between his insane handle and his thread the needle type passes, it is easy to see why he is a crowd favorite. Arizona is going to be a quick stop on his path straight to the league.

Two minutes into the second quarter, with the crowd fully entrenched in the game, the MC started to instigate the action and fire up the crowd. At this point, players started calling for clear outs, to set up isolations, and determine who was going to be “Harlem’s Finest” on this hot NYC night.

Pound for pound, handle for handle a case for top billing would have to be made for Tyreke Evans. This 6’4 point guard used his combination of strength and ball skills to embarrass the opposition. In this case, highly touted Jrue Holiday was receiving the punishment. Time after time, Tyreke was attacking the basket with vengeance, racking up buckets. His entire section was on their feet and the electricity was building as he began to dominate.

Looking around it became clear why the game is played at this famous Harlem Park. There is definitely something special about having the game at “The Rucker”. I felt a vibe, or energy you just don’t get anywhere else. It was like being in Cameron indoor, only the stands were divided in sections, as opposed to everyone rooting for the same team.

After a first half that saw very little defense and a Stephenson, Jennings, and Evans highlight show, the second half had a lot to live up too. Stars were out in full force including coaches Baron Davis and Rafer Alston. Pearl Washington, Marcus Williams, Jay Williams, Nate Robinson, Fat Joe, and many others were also on hand to take in the action.

The second half was off to a slow start as nobody wanted to play defense and players like Renardo Sydney had pretty much mailed it in. This was until Devin Ebanks, Kemba Walker, and Dexter Strickland entered the ball game. All having solid first halves, these three guys started to emerge again in the second. Ebanks, a lanky 6-8 forward has the uncanny ability of getting to the basket, regardless of who is guarding him. Using his wiry frame and great leaping ability Ebanks began to fill it up. Walker, a fellow NY native was also asserting himself. Using his crafty handle, Walker started to get hot in a hurry with some smooth finishes around the bucket. Strickland, a point guard from St.Partick’s in NJ, can flat out fly. At only 6 -3, Strickland had his defender on skates and glided to the rim at will, to the delight of the Harlem crowd.

The score was real tight at the end of three, somewhere in the upper 100’s. Nobody was concerned with the score, they just wanted to see more isolations. At this point, I was just worried about how I was getting home. The crowd was rowdy and I was certainly not walking around Harlem looking for a cab at 11 o’clock at night.

The fourth quarter opened with more of the same from the first half. Lance was scoring and Walker and Jennings were abusing their defenders. It got to the point were I just wanted to see the ball in Jennings hands, because I was excited to see what was going to happen next.

With around 5 minutes to go, and the score not on anyone’s minds, I had to make a power move. The battles were still going, but I had to hit the road. It was certainly worth the trip uptown and it won’t be my last time at the Rucker. This place is a junkie’s heaven…

"From Courtside" is launched

On August 29th, 2007 "From Courtside" is launched to provide a different perspective on all the latest hoops topics and players. All levels from high school, college on up to the pros will be discussed.