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Local Talent Competes at New England Elite 75

July 10, 2010 Columns No Comments

BOSTON – The New England Elite 75 brought together some of the best talent in the region on Friday. A good number of players who had been under the radar had good days, all coming after a morning game that saw BABC blow out a national team from Ireland by a score of 88-37.

In BABC’s win, the star was unquestionably Jaylen Brantley (5’8″ Jr. PG, Springfield (MA) Central HS), who had 32 points with 10 three-pointers. It seemed like he couldn’t miss, although it happened quietly as he didn’t exactly hit them in bunches – rather, it was a steady diet when he had a decent look. But he wasn’t just a shot-maker on this day, as he was finding teammates often as well and reinforcing that he’s a point guard who can shoot.

He had good help inside with Egi Gjikondi (6’8″ So. PF, Malden (MA) Cushing Academy), who continues to emerge as more than just someone who puts up points. He’s certainly improved how he scores, as he’s more effective hitting mid-range jumpers, but most of all he’s become a much better rebounder and overall defensive presence. He’s put a good deal of weight on since arriving at Cushing Academy last fall, and he’s using it well.

The best prospect to take the floor all day was Nerlens Noel (6’9″ So. PF-C, Everett (MA) Tilton School). His length was apparent all game long, but the biggest thing was the continued offensive improvement as he scored against double teams and was constantly demanding the ball, something he didn’t do a year ago. The improvement he has made in the past year is comparable to that of Andre Drummond from two years ago to last summer, as he’s made a huge jump.

Georges Niang (6’7″ Jr. PF, Methuen (MA) Tilton School) continued to do what he did all spring. He got offensive boards and stickbacks, but didn’t stop there as he got some deflections and steals in the back of the press, and ran the floor to finish the break a couple of times.

Now, a look at some of the prospects we saw in the afternoon.

Tavon Allen (6’7″ Sr. SF, New Haven (CT) Worcester Academy) He didn’t match his play from earlier in the week, but he scored on a variety of driving field goals that included a nice pump fake and drive while also making a nice pass into the low block.

Zach Auguste (6’9″ Jr. SF-PF, Marlborough (MA) New Hampton Prep) Although his lack of strength was evident in his attempts to finish near the basket, there was a lot to like about his play. He showed an improving touch shooting the ball, which he must continue, and he’s far from done filling out. He must improve at the defensive end, between rebounding better and staying out of foul trouble. Near the end of the day, he fell on his right wrist but seemed to be all right.

Daniel Brooks (6’2″ Sr. SG, Dorchester (MA) Kimball Union Academy) Although he had a good but not great day, it was nice to see him use his left hand with enough frequency that it’s clear he looks more comfortable with it. For the most part, he didn’t show anything else different and looked like he often has, not standing out but having his moments.

Ousmane Drame (6’8″ Sr. PF-C, Roxbury (MA) Marianapolis Prep) The lanky lefty is still tough to figure out, but he’s showing progress overall. His post moves continue to look better and he seems to have less moments where one has to remember that he hasn’t been playing the game for very long.

Kris Dunn (6’3″ Jr. PG-SG, Oakdale (CT) New London HS) Physically gifted, he has a lot of potential waiting to be tapped. He’s quick and athletic enough to one day play both guard spots, and he showed he can score and pass well enough for those positions as well.

Zaid Hearst (6’3″ Sr. SG, Silver Spring (MD) Salisbury Prep) In limited viewing early on, he caught our eye, but he was hard to miss in his last game. There, he was active and scored on a variety of jump shots from mid-range and long range, including a nice fade-away from mid-range.

Kaleb Joseph (6’1″ So. PG, Nashua (NH) South HS) His good play of late continued here, as he continued to show his ability to score while his passing ability is well-known. He knocked down jumpers and on one play drove through a gap in the defense and finished with a nice floater.

Scott King (6’8″ Sr. PF, Derry (NH) Holderness Academy) A thin post player, he lacks strength but has a lot of good things going for him. He shot the ball very well from mid-range in stations, then continued that when the games started and showed a little more range. If he adds some strength, a low Division I team that takes a chance on him might be very happy in the end.

Jordan Laguerre (6’2″ Sr. SG, Manchester (NH) New Hampton Prep) After winning the MVP in his division at Hoop Mountain Super Week II, the recent UMass commit had a good day here. He shot it well, which is a key to his game as he’s tended to be streaky, and the highlight was a dunk off a rebound.

Gabas Maldunas (6’8″ Sr. PF, East Falmouth (MA) Holderness Academy) He showed here what he showed the previous few days a little south of town at Hoop Mountain Super Week II. Namely, he showed solid fundamentals and a good feel for the game, including a drive and lefty scoop shot, a little touch shooting it and a stickback as he was around the ball a good deal.

Mike Mallory (5’11” Jr. PG, Waterbury (CT) Holy Cross HS) One of the breakout players of the day, he’s a baby physically but impressed at the offensive end. The biggest area was his shooting, as he shot well and not just in a streaky sense as he was making shots all day and is a plus athlete as well.

Gerald McClease (6’3″ Sr. SG, New Haven (CT) Wilbur Cross HS) We got a little look at him earlier in the week, and here he showed some good offensive ability just like earlier in the week. He’s not a great athlete and his body’s not there yet, but he showed he can drive and score a couple of times while also knocking down some shots from long range.

Brian Patterson (6’7″ Sr. SF-PF, New Haven (CT) Hillhouse HS) Earlier in the week, he had some good moments at Hoop Mountain Super Week II, and looked better here. A baby physically, he’s athletic and showed a touch shooting the ball, including a nice turnaround jumper that he banked in. His ball skills aren’t there yet, but they’re not entirely lacking so it’s certainly possible he can improve them enough for the wing.

Brandon Sherrod (6’6″ Sr. PF, Bridgeport (CT) Choate Rosemary Hall) This beefy post player might have had as good a day as anyone here. A load inside, he’s very mobile and strong and ran the floor well for dunks in transition in addition to scoring on post moves.

Imoh Silas (6’8″ Sr. PF, Plymouth (NH) Holderness Academy) As he has continued to do of late, this post player was a defensive presence and owned the boards for much of the day. He blocked shots, played solid position defense, and showed some improved offensive ability between his post moves and using his left (off) hand to finish.

Tarik Smith (6’0″ Jr. PG, Bronx (NY) St. Paul’s School) Talented guard has some quickness and can get through defenses. Making him a tougher guard is what he showed here, knocking down a few jump shots and in one game hitting a runner at the buzzer.

Kyle Umemba (6’4″ Sr. SF, Chelsea (MA) BB&N School) Athletic wing finished the day well, dunking home a missed free throw and finishing another play with the left hand while off balance. He also drove to the basket and drew fouls several times.

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