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Recruiting Roundup
Wednesday, 28 June 2006

By Brian Crownover
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Malcolm Eleby
The spring/summer basketball season is approximately halfway through and the summer camp silly season is set to begin.  Before the craziness of the camps starts, I thought I’d take the time out to reflect on what I’ve seen so far this spring/summer.

Point Guard
Finding a point guard to run your offense is perhaps the most important aspect of recruiting.  Nowadays, there are a lot of guards who simply want to score and score often.  Guards who can run an offense and distribute the ball are not easy to locate.  The class of 2007 has several point guards of note.

Malcolm Eleby (Franklin Learning Center, PA) is at the top of my list.  He is a very good passing and scoring lead guard.  He loves to attack the basket with crafty dribbling.  He reads defenses well and seems to know when to pass and when to shoot.  In addition to being quick, he is big and strong and combines that with a soft touch around the basket.  Malcolm is also a very good free throw shooter, which is key when you’re on the attack as much as he is.  The biggest hole in Malcolm’s game is his jumper.  He has decent form on his shot, but is range is limited.  He rarely even takes shots from behind the arc.  He does shoot the ball off to the side a bit, so he does tend to push the ball a bit more from the outside when compared with natural shooters.  With the frequency that he can hit from the foul line though, I think he is capable of extending his game out to the perimeter more. 

Anthony Raffa (Wildwood Catholic, NJ) is another attacking lead guard.  He is a great transition player with a unique dribbling style.  He has a good size and can finish well.  He has a good court sense and passes pretty well.  Like Malcolm, he does need some work on his outside game or at least needs to show he can shoot from there.  Perhaps I was too fascinated with the All Star game that I saw Anthony play in.  I really need to see more of this kid to get a feel for just how good he is.

Kyle Griffin (Germantown Academy, PA) is a good combination guard.  What I love most about his game is how he shoots off the dribble.  He can hit from anywhere on the court in the fashion including behind the arc and from the mid range area.  He is also a solid ball handler who uses his size to finish near the hoop.  Kyle is a solid spot up shooter as well.  I would like to see him show that he is capable of make difficult passes.  He didn’t make the wrong passes, but also didn’t set his teammates up with really good looks.  With his ball skills, outside shooting and size, he can play either guard spot.

Josh Martin (Prep Charter, PA) is perhaps the flashiest of the 2007 point guards.  He’s a slick ball handler with an array of moves.  He loves to use the crossover and spin move.  He also adjusts well in mid flight.  Martin has a smooth shot, but doesn’t need to develop some more consistency with it.  Much like Griffin, Josh is an adequate passer, but doesn’t seem to set his teammates up in better position.  Every time I see Josh he is playing on a talented team so he’s rarely the go to guy.  I think he is capable of being that type of player and would like to see him be more assertive on the offense end.  Both at the high school level and in the AAU circuit, Josh typically plays in guard oriented offenses.  Therefore, he is probably best suited for an up-tempo offense.

Gerald Colds (St. Raymond’s, NY) is one of the better point guards in New York.  He too can play either guard spot as well.  He’s a solid ball handler, probably not as strong as Eleby or Raffa in that area.  He does have a nasty crossover and is very good with hesitation moves.  Gerald also has a very smooth jumper that he can hit out to three point range.  He’s not a flashy dribbler or passer, but gets the job done in both areas.

As you can tell, a lot of the point guards in this class are big.  There are a few smaller point guards around, but I don’t find them to be much quicker.  Typically, if I’m interested in a small point guard, I want him to be faster than his taller counterpart.  

Help Wanted:  Big Man
Finding big men at any level of basketball can be a tricky task.  Finding one that can play at the mid major level is even more challenging.  The key is to find someone who has some good natural skills, but is still making progress.  If he’s too skilled, he’ll get offers from bigger programs and if he’s too raw he’ll take a lot of time to develop.  With that said, I have found very few players to fit that mold in the class of 2007.  There are a few potential prospects in the class of 2008 that do fit though in Jordan Henriquez, Jonathan Edwards, Eugene Teague and Matt DeSouza.  The 2007 class contains several big men that are too skilled for the mid major level, such as Brandon Walters or they play too far away from the basket such as Todd O’ Brien

Perhaps the best mid major caliber of player is Michael Eric.  He is very similar to current Drexel Dragon Chaz Crawford.  Michael is long and athletic, but still developing on the offensive end.  He does have nice touch around the hoop, but just doesn’t seem to have a good feel on where he is in relation to the basket when he shoots.  Michael has good hands and does rebound well.  He can block shots, but doesn’t seem to be great with his timing.  I haven’t seen him since the end of April and I’m interested in noting how his game has progressed since then. 

Lavoy Allen (Pennsbury, PA) is an interesting prospect.  He does have the skills of high level interior player, but doesn’t seem to utilize them enough.  He can go stretches of games without have much of an impact on the offense end.  He’s always studying rebounding and is an excellent shot blocker as well.  He will certainly get some major looking, but will those programs like his game enough to offer him?

Edis Dervinsic (Our Saviour Lutheran, NY) is perhaps the most developed potential mid major big man.  He is very skilled around the basket and can step outside a knock down a jumper from time to time.  He’s not a great athlete and is a bit undersized so the major programs likely won’t show much interest.  He has a solid frame and with some more time in the weight room, Edris could develop into a great post player.

Another player to keep an eye on in this class is Kevin Gallagher (Pennsbury, PA).  Gallagher is a skilled face up player.  He is a bit raw though and does need to add some weight.  In fairness to Papa Dia (South Kent, CT) and Hamidu Rahman (American Christian Academy, PA), I haven’t watched them closely enough to tell what level they fall at.

On the Wing
Basketball on the high school level is filled with talented big guards and wing players.  Perhaps that is one of the reasons why Bradley Wanamaker isn’t getting as many major looks as you would expect.  Wanamaker is among the best finishers I’ve seen all spring/summer, including the elite level prospects.  He’s a typical tough, hard-nosed Philly player who won’t back down from anyone.  He’s a very efficient ball handler who gets to the hoop in a hurry in both the full and half court.  Brad is also one of the strongest wing players you will see at the high school level and that allows him to score with high frequency near the hoop.  He is a decent jump shooter, but that is the area of his game that needs the most improvement.  That may be the only thing keeping in from entertaining nearly unlimited offers.

Kaihrique Irick is another strong wing player.  At first look, he looks like a player that would bully his opponents in the low block.  While he is effective on the interior, particularly on the offensive glass, he’s also very skilled on the perimeter.  He’s quicker than he appears and that combined with his strength make him nearly impossible to stop when he’s on the attack.  He also has pretty good range on his jump shot.  He’s a decent athlete, but perhaps not good enough for the majors to offer.

Stock on the Rise
Since high school basketball players are still young, there are frequently players who improve their stock.  Khalif Foster (Academy of the New Church, PA) is one player who has really raised his level of play lately.  He’s always put up solid numbers, but when I first saw him he was playing second fiddle to Sammy Givens (see below) and Larry Loughery (see below).  Lately though, Khalif has been playing at or above their level.  He’s shown a more consistent jumper to go along with his already solid penetrating and finishing game.  He has a wide body that allows him to score in many ways including off of offensive rebounds.  

Where do they fit in?
Often times when watching prospects, there are players that stand out, but you just aren’t sure where they fit in at the next level.  Two of those players are Khalil Mumford (Cardinal Dougherty, PA), Rashon Dwight (Bloomfield Tech, NJ) and Tamir Johnson (Imhotep Charter, PA), are three of those types of players. 

Khalil can just flat out score.  He has a beautiful jump shot and good ball handling skills.  He’s an ideal shooting guard at the high school level.  Unfortuneatly, he’s too small to play there at the next level.  He’ll have trouble finishing around the hoop and guarding taller players there.  While he’s a good ball handler, he’s not lightning quick so he probably won’t get by opponents as easily as he does now.  At his size, he’ll need to be a point guard, but he’s probably not a good enough passer for that.  That said, Khalil can flat out play and should get some division one looks. 

Rashon Dwight is another player that you can’t help but notice.  He puts the ball in the hoop at an alarming rate.  He’s attacking guard who always loves to push the ball.  He’s superb in transition because of that.  However, he spends so much time running the floor that it is difficult to tell what other skills he possesses.  He hasn’t shown to be a good enough passer to say he can definitely play the point guard position.  Rashon has rarely attempted the shots necessary to play the shooting guard spot on the college level.  He also isn’t nearly as strong as Wannamaker, so he probably won’t be as good of a finisher as he moves on.  He is a good athlete and a tough kid so he should get some decent looks.

Tamir Johnson is a very good interior player.  He’s a quick and skilled player who can score around the basket.  He’s also tough and not afraid of contact.  Tamir is also a good athlete and strong rebounder.  He can even block shots from time to time.  That all sounds fine, except he’s only 6-5.  At that size, he needs to develop more wing skills to play on the division one level.  He is a good enough ball handler that it is possible for him to improve in that area, but it will take a lot of work. 

Looking Ahead
It’s never too early to look ahead; especially considering most college coaches already have their eyes on several 2008 prospects.  Several young players have caught my attention.  Among them are Jonathan Edwards (Living Faith Academy, NJ), Sammy Givens (Academy of the New Church, PA) and Larry Loughery (St. Joe’s Prep, PA).

Edwards is a very skilled interior player.  He plays with his basket the ball and has a variety of moves that most big men his age don’t possess.  He also handles the ball well and can even knock down 17 foot jumpers.  He’s not a great athlete, so he might end up being a mid major player.  If his wing skills continue to develop, he’ll likely play at a high level.

Sammy Givens is a skilled combo forward.  The son of a coach, Sammy knows the game well.  He’s a very efficient dribbler who gets to the hoop quickly.  He finishes well; although he almost always uses his left hand (he is left handed).  He loves to use a spin move in the interior and shoots a hook shot off of it.  He’s a monster on the boards.  Sammy is also a very good passer.  He is effective from behind the arc as well, although he doesn’t take very many shoots from there.

Larry Loughery is another good combo forward.  He is a better shooter than Sammy and perhaps more of a perimeter player as well.  Larry is a good ball handler and very good passer.  He also rebounds well, especially on the offensive end where he loves to use one handed tips to put the ball in the hoop.  He is not a great athlete and is a bit undersized to play on the inside at the next level.  I have witnessed him being blocked several times due to those weaknesses.  Although he is a solid ball handler, he’s not quick.  Larry can flat out play though and understands the game very well.  He might be more suited to play at a place like Penn, but I believe he could play on the CAA level as well.    

Jai Miss Me?
George Mason fans that enjoyed watching the big bodied Jai Lewis play will have no worries if they can land Eugene Teague.  Eugene is a large man who is fleet of foot, much in the mold of Jai.  His combination of size and speed make him a monster around the basket.  Eugene is an excellent rebounder.  He also has a sweet, soft touch on his shot and can even knock a jumper from around twelve feet.  Teague will have to make sure to keep his weight under control to play at the next level.  Unfortunately, Eugene is a 2008 prospect, so it’ll take several years before he could be playing in the CAA.

New Features and Future Improvements
This website is still in its infant stage.  As such, we are constantly looking for ways to improve the content.  Some recent additions were made particularly on the prospects list page.  We have capitalized the names of the players that we have personally seen and thus created a profile based on our observations.  In addition, we have added the players’ position on that page to make it easier for fans to find a player from around the region based on their schools’ specific needs.  Now rather than searching through a list of names of Pennsylvania players, you can target the point guards in that state.  Another key feature that was recently added was listing all the games that we’ve observed a specific player in action.  We cover a lot of prospects and don’t write about players every single time we see them.  This way you can see how often we’ve personally watched your player of choice.  I think this will be a good feature because the more often we can see a player the more accurate our assessment will be.  I have already come across several instances where I wrote about a player and found out he actually played much different the second time I’ve viewed him.

Looking ahead there should be several more features added to the site in the future.  Currently, most of our teams’ lists come from various other web sources.  As we establish ourselves, we hope to get more accurate and updated lists from the players and their high school coaches.  If you hear about your team being interested in a particular player, make sure to check on his state’s list because there is a good chance we have seen him.  In the future, we hope to add some sort of ranking system or at least a more specific analysis that projects which conference the player is likely suited for.  We are still learning this scouting process and not quite at the point where we feel like making those assessments.  We also will likely add more conferences into the mix, specifically northeast based mid major conferences.  Please feel free to leave us any feedback in our contact section, regarding improvements or just general comments.  Thank you for supporting our site and helping it grow.

Last Updated ( Friday, 25 August 2006 )
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