Ballas TV Breakout Breakdown
The 3rd annual BallasTV Breakout Showcase took place at UMass-Boston on Sunday. With about two dozen D1 prospects in attendance, it's become southern New England's unofficial way of wrapping up the summer and celebrating the start of the coming season.
Wabissa Bede (Cushing) '17 - Fresh off his official visit to Butler, Bede looked as polished and bouncy as he did all summer, when he led Mass Rivals to two national championships on the Adidas circuit. Bede's now become a legitimate threat to penetrate, rise up and hammer it home in traffic. He's developed in a completely opposite way of most elite prospects today, by developing a new level of athleticism after sharpening his all-around game. He also showed maturity on the sidelines, constantly working on the foam roller, hydrating and keeping himself loose throughout the day.
Geo Baker (Proctor) '17 - The fact that Baker will play his college ball in the Big Ten has been a polarizing topic in coaching and scouting circles across New England. My opinion on the subject is clear: Rutgers got an absolute steal and landed the perfect guard to build their program around! Baker kicked off the event by hitting a buzzer-beating 3 in the '17-vs-'18 game and is another player who has developed a new level of athleticism as his body's continued to mature. Baker was dunking off a drop step this weekend, throwing alley's off the backboard to himself, and consistently hitting shots from beyond the arch. He looked every bit the part of a high major prospect.
AJ Reeves (Brimmer & May) '18 - When Reeves' jump shot is falling, he's the type of pick-your-poison player that gives coaches at all levels nightmares. And as it did throughout the summer, his jumper was falling all day. An athletic 6'5" wing who does the majority of his damage from beyond the arc and above the rim is the epitome of efficiency in today's game. Reeves recruitment reflects his value as he continues to prove that he's worthy of the "high-major" label that's been placed upon him.
Aaron Wheeler (Brewster) '17 - Wheeler is poised for a big season in Wolfeboro this year. He seems much more comfortable handling the ball in the open floor and comes equipped with a noticeably wider and thicker frame than ever before. Wheeler is the definition of the length/strength package that college coaches at all levels covet. He was simply dominant physically and (although he didn't land most of them) attempted some outrageously athletic things during the dunk contest. Wheeler still needs to realize what he's going to do at an elite level to effect games at the NEPSAC level but the physical tools are there.
Tyler Burton (Marianapolis) '19 - Every time I see Burton he adds something new to his game and makes his prospect package that much more intriguing. This weekend, Burton was rising up in traffic off the bounce and off drop passes alike to finish high above the rim with a different level of power and athleticism than he's flashed before. There's a new confidence and swagger in his game while his humble workmanlike approach remains the same. Once he fills out his frame (see Quinton Burton, former Providence Friar, for a preview of that) he's going to be one of the most sought after prospects in New England.
Shandon Brown (New Hampton) '18 - As a true junior, Brown is a little younger than many of his peers in the '18 class. It only seems to make the chip on his shoulder that much bigger. He went after Holy Cross-commit Caleb Green time and time again throughout the day. Green embraced the challenge and was entertained by Brown, until the shifty lead guard continued to score and seemed like he'd never run out of energy! Scoring comes naturally to Brown, who can put up points in a hurry from all three levels. He'll be an exciting addition to the New Hampton offense alongside Kimani Lawrence, Anthony Gaines and Kristers Zoriks this season.
Trahe Qualls (New Mission) '20 - Playing in the Breakout All Star game at the end of the day, Qualls caught a few dunks early. Then he caught a bunch of dunks during the middle portion of the game. Qualls then wrapped up his day with a few more dunks. All told, Qualls had his hand above the cylinder more often than a soldier who's been assigned to clean the latrine during basic training! Qualls has bounce and uses it functionally, something to look forward to in the future.
THE DUNK CONTEST
Jonathan Cenescar is an athletic beast. He dunks everything and threatens to take any defender's hand with him when he does it. Because of that, he was my pick to win the dunk contest. I was extremely confident in my selection or at least positive that Cenescar would break all six rims at UMB before he'd let someone beat him. Then St John's Prep rising senior Nate Hobbs stepped to the plate.
A two-foot jumper, Hobbs easily threw down a powerful between the legs dunk with his head above the bottom of backboard. He sent everyone in the place through the roof and devastated almost any chances that I had of picking the winner correctly. It was an awful lot like the exams I used to take on the same UMass-Boston campus.
But Cenescar came through with a clean, powerful and precise two-hand-cock-back-to-windmill combination after it was decided that the two had to dunk off for the title. The judges and players all agreed that it was only fair to crown co-champions. It was absolutely the right call. Cenescar and Hobbs each showed off their rare athleticism in an impressive show. Find them on BallasTV, it's worth it!