The Beak EYBL Review Day #2

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Once again on Saturday the nations top 2016 and 2017 prospects were on display at the EYBL event in Lexington. It was another great day of hoops.

I started off my morning on court #1 where I watched Charles O’Bannon Jr and Troy Brown Jr of the Las Vegas Prospects. Both are prospects in the class of 2017. Brown has a scholarship offer from Louisville and I really think that O’Bannon could get one eventually. In a recent interview with Prime Sports he was asked: When you think of College Basketball what are the first five schools that come to mind? His answer: UCLA, Louisville, Arizona, North Carolina, & Duke. Sounds like a kid that might have some interest.

Troy Brown Jr plays at such a high level for a young guy and made plays from many different spots on the floor. Great dribble drive, pull up jumpers and solid in the post. This kid has a 6-9 wingspan and uses that to his advantage both on the offensive and defensive side of the floor. I enjoyed watching this young fella play. He had 8 points and grabbed 6 boards. I hope the Cardinals stay in the mix for this kid.

Charles O’Bannon is another very skilled player for his age. He was very crafty in the game I watched and was able to create his own scoring opportunities with many different moves. He is a long and rangy kid that thrives in transition and has a nice jump shot in the half court set. Like his father he is a very savvy player who plays with a lot of energy. Really would like to see the Cardinals get into the mix here as well. I do think it will happen.

After checking out these two young prospects I headed over to court #4 to check in again on my favorite 2016 prospect Carson Williams and his Travelers squad. These guys are playing the role of the home team this weekend featuring some of the states best players. In this game Carson sure put on a show for the home crowd scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. It was one of his best performances in the EYBL and it did not go unnoticed as there were several big time programs scratching notes in their note pads while watching the big fella muscle his way to the basket on many occasions.

I sit amongst the coaches this morning and heard one of them say “I didn’t expect that” as Carson flew through the air on a big-time dunk. He was playing above the rim the whole game. Carson was rewarded for his big performance with a scholarship offer from EKU, and this is just the beginning. I really believe this kid will get the chance to play in a major conference. His Travelers lost this first game but came back to the night session and got themselves a win against Playground Elite on the main court. I noticed a lot of the same coaches back to watch this second game. Carson had a good stat game in this one with 4 points, 7 boards, 3 assist and a blocked shot. It was a great day at EYBL for the country boy from Owen County.

I finished off my night gathered around court #3 with all of the big name programs to watch rising star VJ King. Coach Balado and Coach Padgett were there scouting out King for Louisville. He will be taking his official visit to campus on May 19th. King had another very impressive performance again tonight scoring 18 points while showcasing his multidimensional game. He has growing to do and will need to add some bulk to his frame. Once he does watch out. This kid is an elite player and I’m glad the Cardinals staff is paying close attention.

I have had a great time watching basketball over the past couple of days and am looking forward to what the final day has to offer.

The Beak EYBL Review Day #1

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Went out and covered the first night of the EYBL in Lexington tonight and it was a packed house at the Basketball Academy. Coaches, fans and basketball players from all over the country were packed in that gym with a 300 capacity. They were actually holding patrons at the door and people were waiting for their chance to watch some of the most talented basketball players in the country. It is a great event and night one was an exciting one.

I started off my night at Court #2 to check out my favorite recruit in the class of 2016 Carson Williams of the Travelers. Carson hurt his foot in the first EYBL session and didn’t really get to have much of an impact during the event in Hampton. You could tell that he was hungry to get into the mix tonight. He came up big for his Travelers squad leading them in scoring with 11 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. This is a big summer for this young man and it is his chance to show some of the bigger D1 college programs that he could be a solid player for them. His game reminds me so much of Stephan Van Treese. Carson does all of the dirty work and really does all of his damage around the rim. He loves to mix it up inside and has a knack for the basketball. He is a rebounding machine. He did all those things tonight and was one of the most active guys on the court. He is set to have a big weekend and started it off with a bang. He is a great young man on and off the court.

After watching Carson I headed on over to court #1 for the 8:00pm game that featured one of the top Louisville targets in the class of 2016 Abdul Ado and his Georgia Stars team. He really strikes me as a kid that will be a solid 4 year guy and he is still a very raw basketball player. He has excellent size and a great wing span. This makes him a great defensive guy in the low post, and he showcased that tonight. He does well in transition and had some decent finishes. He is on a team with some very talented big men including 6-11 Udoka Azubuike so he doesn’t have that much pressure to be a major contributor. He did finish the night with 6 points, 5 rebounds and 1 blocked shot. I like this kid and he has all of the physical attributes to be a dominate player when he works his way to a finished product. This is just the type of kid that coach Pitino loves. I will be surprised if Ado is not wearing Red in college.

After watching Ado I went over to court #5 to check out a couple of other guy’s with potential Louisville interest in 2016 VJ King of Team Takeover and Marques Bolden of Proskills. This was a very good game that went back and forth and these kids were playing some ball. VJ King is a very nice player and was making some very nice plays. He has a great looking jump shot and can handle the ball very well for his size. His skill set makes him very hard to guard. Talk about a stat stuffer… He had 22 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. He is also a very crafty defender. Marques Bolden is another Big Man who when he fills out and hones his skills will be a beast. He is a big body kid that takes up a lot of space in the post where he is very active around the rim both scoring and grabbing offensive rebounds. I really liked his mobility and dexterity inside. He is also a very good defender and had 6 blocked shots in this game. He also had 11 points and 7 rebounds.

I finished off my evening going over to court #3 to watch the end of the E1T1 game that featured a very hot target lately in Maverick Rowan. This kid is everything as advertised and is a beast on the basketball court. He demands the ball and wants it in his hands. His jump shot is so smooth and effortless. He has all of the stuff spotting up for big threes, stopping and popping in transition and coming off the screen to score. There were several big names sitting court-side watching him put on a show scoring 23 points. Since he has been such a hot topic lately and with all the speculation surrounding his re-class decision I decided to try and get some video with him after the game.

Steve Jones of the Courier Journal started off the interview and it was the most uncomfortable 4 minutes that you could imagine. Rowan didn’t seem that excited to be speaking with the media and seemed like he would rather be left alone. In the interview below you will see a kid that seems much undecided and one that will probably stay in school for his senior season. I’m not a recruiting expert and never claimed to be one, but in my opinion Rowan will end up at a school not named Louisville and it won’t be in 2015. In the video you will also here a voice of a coach that refused to let Rowan be asked about Louisville. I have edited the video per EYBL request so as to protect the coach’s identity. You will hear Steve ask about not being able to talk about Louisville. It was a very awkward moment to say the least. I had a great night but have to admit this interview really left a bad taste in my mouth. There were several other guys around including myself waiting to ask Rowan a few questions but after Steve got finished Maverick was rushed away by the coaches.

Looking forward to getting a chance to check out some other potential Louisville guys this weekend and will have my updates every evening. Thanks for reading…

Future Cardinals Represent at Derby Basketball Classic

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I had a great time covering the three days of the Derby Basketball classic. It was great having the opportunity to watch and cover Ryan McMahon, Deng Adel, Donovan Mitchell, and Ray Spalding. I can tell you from being around these guys for three days that they are all great kids and they all represented themselves and the University of Louisville very well. Watching their interactions with the other players and with the adults you can tell that each of them were raised very well and the phrase yes sir and yes ma’am were commonly spoken between the four. And as far as their play on the basketball court they all are going to be very good and each of them has something to bring to the table.

Ryan McMahon isn’t a 6-7 guard but he sure plays like one. This kid is a very crafty player for his size and when he goes to the basket he means to score or make a play. The word fearless is the word I would use when Ryan gets a basketball in his hands, and he is very confident in his shot. It was awesome watching him break the record in the first round of the three point shooting contest and it just reassured everything that I had originally thought about his game. I can’t wait to watch him make big shots in a Cardinal uniform.

Ray Spalding has a ton of upside and when he adds more muscle to his athletic frame he is going to be big-time. He is a very versatile player who has good hands and can handle the ball well for his size. He is very good in the lane and can even step out and shoot the three. He’s got that very laid back personality like Wayne Blackshear and I do think he is going to be the biggest project out of this group but once Coach Pitino brings him along watch out.

Deng Adel is college game ready and is a fast developing forward. He plays very hard on both ends of the floor and kind of brings that energy that we were used to seeing from Montrezl Harrell. With added strength and some honing of his skills he is going to be a nightmare match-up for opposing teams. He is a player that can lead the break and stop and pop from long or mid-range. And can finish around the rim. He will see the floor next season on the wing.

Donovan Mitchell is one of the most college ready players that coach Pitino has ever recruited. Right now most of his scoring threat is finishing in the lane and around the rim. Once he adds to his skill set and polishes his mid-range game he is going to be a very good player. No doubt in my mind that this kid is going to be an instant fan favorite and he’ll play hero in more than his fair share of games in the future.

These guys were all under-evaluated, and under recruited at times in their high school careers. They are all guys that really came on late in the recruiting process and are all considered diamonds in the rough. Nothing like guys who play with that chip on their shoulder and I think all of these guys think they have a lot to prove not only to themselves but to everyone who ever doubted them along the way. We had a guy like this in Terry Rozier and we know how that worked out. If L1C4 was defined in the dictionary a picture of these guys would be in the footnotes. You are going to love these kids Card Nation…

Below are photos and videos over the last three days of the Derby Basketball Classic:

DERBY BASKETBALL CLASSIC PRACTICE COVERAGE:




NIGHT OF FUTURE STARS COVERAGE:

DERBY BASKETBALL CLASSIC COVERAGE:




JAYLEN JOHNSON AND ANAS MAHMOUD INTERVIEW AT DERBY BASKETBALL CLASSIC:

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Future Cards Headline Derby Basketball Classic This Weekend

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2015 signees Raymond Spalding, Donovan Mitchell, Deng Adel and Ryan McMahon will play in the annual Derby Basketball event this weekend. Night of the Future Stars will take place on Friday at New Albany High School at 7:00pm. These guys will compete in Slam Dunk and Three Point contest. Saturday night at Freedom Hall is the actual Derby Basketball Classic All-Star game at 7:00pm.

These guys form one of the top recruiting classes in the country and the Cardinals coaching staff were ahead of the curve in identifying and landing four of the biggest stock risers in the class of 2015. In the ESPN rankings Deng Adel went from No. 81 to No. 30, Donovan Mitchell rose from No. 72 to No. 37, and Raymond Spalding, a local kid was identified by the Cardinals’ staff early in the process, before he went from unranked to No. 52. Recent commit Ryan McMahon is the lesser known of this group but he also came out of nowhere to garner attention for his long-range shooting. He is ranked the No. 42 shooting guard nationally by ESPN.com.

Tickets are available for $13, $18 and $50 through Ticketmaster.com or at the Freedom Hall Box Office

Here are the rosters for each team:

WHITE TEAM

Deng Adel F 6′ 7″ Louisville
Prince Ali G 6′ 3″ UCLA
Bryant Crawford G 6′ 2″ Wake Forest
Jawun Evans G 6′ 0″ Oklahoma St
Ryan McMahon G 6′ 0″ Louisville
Donovan Mitchell G 6′ 3″ Louisville
Justin Patton C 6′ 10″ Creighton
Danjel Purifoy F 6′ 6″ Auburn
Matt Ryan F 6′ 8″ Notre Dame
Ray Spalding F 6′ 9″ Louisville
Diamond Stone C 6′ 10″ Undecided

PURPLE TEAM
Jalen Adams G 6′ 2″ UConn
OG Anunoby F 6′ 7″ Indiana
Thomas Bryant C 6′ 10″ Undecided
Daniel Giddens C 6′ 10″ Ohio St
Austin Grandstaff G 6′ 5″ Ohio St
Dedric Lawson F 6′ 8″ Memphis
KJ Lawson F 6′ 7″ Memphis
Juwan Morgan F 6′ 7″ Indiana
Brandon Sampson G 6′ 4″ St. Johns
Justin Simon G 6′ 5″ Arizona

Silver Team Coaching Staff
Coach Todd Day – Hamilton (TN)
Assistant Coach Perry Stevenson – Trinity (KY)

Purple Team Coaching Staff
Coach AW Hamilton – Hargrave Military Academy (VA)
Assistant Coach Ryan Arrowood – Huntington Prep (WV)

First held in 1973, the Classic is the oldest high school all-star game in the nation and is known for showcasing players who’ve moved on to stardom at the collegiate and professional levels. Former players include Jamal Mashburn, Moses Malone, Rex Chapman, Pervis Ellison, Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, Darrell Griffith, Derek Anderson, Anfernee Hardaway and Michael Beasley.

Grab a ticket and get out to this event to support the Cards. The Cardinal’s Beak will cover all of the action and will have videos and photos from the events this weekend.