Yags’ Point Forward - NEHF Review/Sneaker Preview II
Last week we took a look at the performances of the Connecticut Basketball Club, Expressions Elite, and Mass Rivals programs in the Northeast Hoop Festival and gave a preview of how they look heading into the heart of the grassroots season schedule. This week, we’ll take a look at the New England Playaz and the BABC, two more prominent sneaker-associated programs in our region.
BABC All-In With Pitbull Guards & Swider As Their Sniper
One thing was perfectly clear to any opponent that faced or scouted BABC at the Northeast Hoops Festival: Your guards better keep their collective heads on a swivel and your defense better keep their collective eyes on Cole Swider.
Swider scorched nets throughout New England during the prep season and has plans to do more of the same during the EYBL season. Swider’s outside stroke is true and his mechanics flow rhythmically whether he’s coming off a screen or in a catch-&-shoot situations. His ability to drive and finish at the rack has improved tremendously which keeps defenders honest.
Swider is one of the top-10 returning scorers in the EYBL after spending the second half of last year’s season with the BABC and averaging 11.8 points while putting up some of the cleanest shooting percentages on the circuit. The 6’8” wing shot 46% (50-109) from the field, 41% (29-70) from three and 100% (13-13) from the line. While his percentage from the line can’t improve, increasing the quantity of attempts is a must for Swider going forward. The BABC will also be dependent on Swider to get inside and help on the boards since their most explosive offensive lineup could feature a guard trio that are all 6’2” or under.
Opposing EYBL squads are going to look at some of the BABC’s lineups and immediately assume that exploiting their size advantage over 5’10” Shandon Brown, 5’11” Maurice Works and 6’2” Jakigh Dottin will lead to easy wins. After all, “Size Wins” on the basketball court, right?
Yeah, good luck with that!
What was once simply an accepted basketball truth is now merely a case-by-case possibility and nobody should understand that more than basketball fans in New England. Watching UConn’s Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright harass, punish and expose Kentucky’s Harrison Bros. in the 2014 National Championship Game will forever be burnt into my mind. Regardless of how much of the floor you can see, it’s tough to create from the perimeter when you can’t put the ball on the floor and are constantly worried about your defender beating you to a spot and drawing an offensive foul. “Low Man Wins” is a universally applicable term in sports and could become the theme of the BABC’s season.
Dottin is fresh off another MIAA state title with Cambridge, Rindge & Latin and has some EYBL experience to draw from after spending last season as a backup to George Washington-commit Justin Mazzulla. Dottin was uber-efficient during his time on the floor, hitting 64% of his shots, scoring 5.4 points and dishing out 2.3 assists in just 13 minutes per game. Dottin looked like a man on a mission at the NEHF with a sculpted physique that provided explosive results on the floor.
Brown proved to be a menace at the highest level of NEPSAC basketball as a true junior at New Hampton this season. Deadly from beyond the arch, crafty with his handles and creative in the paint, Brown is simply one of the best competitors in all of New England. Brown and Dottin give the BABC two skilled guards who will keep the electricity and heart on high all season.
Works is the third member of the BABC backcourt and arguably one of the most underrated players in the 2018 class. Works played at Lawrence Academy this season but has transferred to South Kent where he’ll finish out his prep career. True to his name, Works brings a heightened work ethic and rose to the occasion whenever Lawrence played a better opponent, earning honorable mention NEPSAC AA all-conference honors. The BABC will welcome efforts like Works gave this season and like the one he gave here at the NEHF last weekend…..
Dimon Carrigan will be the BABC’s man in the middle this season. Carrigan, a 6’8” game-changer as a rim protector and above-the-rim finisher in the paint, teamed with Dottin on CR&L’s title teams and will look to bring that winning partnership to the EYBL and beyond. Dottin and Carrigan are both committed to prep years at Woodstock Academy for the ’17-’18 season. Carrigan is playing the best ball of his career heading into the spring circuit and his stock is bound to rise if the effort and results continue.
The BABC kicks off their EYBL season at The Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton, VA this weekend.
In the 10th grade division, Brycen Goodine heads into the EYBL season as one of the most underrated players nationally (IMHO) and could see some time with the BABC’s 17U squad before the season is done. A dynamic 6’3” PG/Wing who flashed an improved jumper during the prep season with St. Andrew’s, Goodine has the raw tools to see his recruitment rise to the next level if his game continues to develop at the same pace over the next six months.
Playaz Poised to Produce From The Perimeter
A penetrating point guard’s best friend is a wing who can drill open 3’s. Tyson Walker, Tyrese Williams and Moses Flowers, all newcomers to the Playaz’ program and the guys who will be relied upon to penetrate and create, just found themselves a handful of new best friends!
The Playaz are loaded with high impact perimeter prospects who can put points on the board in a hurry. Nate Laszewski, a 6’9” rifleman who already owns offers from Villanova, Miami and Wake Forest, gives his point guards a knock down shooter with a huge catch radius and smooth stroke to lean on whenever they get in trouble in the paint. Laszewski enters the Adidas circuit season at 100% health and is ready to prove that he can become an offensive focal point going forward.
Ethan Wright, a smooth 6’2” wing who can become the Playaz primary ball-handler for stretches, is coming off a successful junior season at Newton North where he averaged 24.2 points and 6.4 rebounds. Wright has established himself as a dangerous offensive weapon, consistently producing from beyond the arch as a shooter and above the rim as a slasher, which has made him one of the most highly coveted New England state association prospects by college and prep school coaches alike. Rumors have swirled since Wright’s breakout sophomore campaign as to whether or not he would transfer to a prep school and possibly reclassify to 2019. But the young man has put himself in position to do whatever’s right for his and his family’s future and a strong summer will only solidify his options. Chris Herren Jr. and Kai Toews add to the Playaz’ perimeter depth and, like Wright, can slide over to run the point when needed.
Walker, a jet quick 5’10” point guard from Christ The King in NYC, shared the backcourt with Georgia Tech-bound PG Jose Alvarado during the high school season and brings a confident demeanor to the floor after succeeding in the passionate environments of the NYC Catholic School League. Williams and Flowers provide different looks and give the Playaz good depth at an important position. Coaches think Flowers could be one of the region’s big surprises this summer and he showed flashes of it at the NEHF.
The Playaz don’t plan on attacking the Adidas competition solely from the outside though. They have a group of skilled, tough and athletic interior players that can match up with anybody on the circuit. More importantly, they’ll look forward to matching up with anybody on the circuit!
Chuck Hannah, a 6’6” wingspan big man (7’ wingy) who really came into his own during the National Prep Championship at the end of the season, and Lukas Kisunas, a 6’9” Lithuanian who was on the winning end of the championship game with Brewster, give the Playaz two post players who have already succeeded against the best prep competition in the nation. Hannah and Kisunas are both interchangeable and deadly as a combination, depending on the scenario.
The most interesting member of the Playaz big man group is 6’8” Chris Doherty. After being sidelined with an injury for most of last season, Doherty is back with a vengeance and is hell bent on making his opponents feel that same type of pain on a nightly basis. Doherty is strong, athletic and has an elite motor that is bound to ruffle feathers along the way. The best part about it: Doherty could care less. It ain’t his problem, he’s your problem!
The pieces are there for this Playaz team to garner all types of attention both individually and as a team on the Adidas circuit this season. The campaign will start in Dallas this weekend.
Other Area Players to Watch
Milton Academy’s Cormac Ryan will run with the NY RENS in the Nike EYBL this spring. The 6’5” PG/Wing has shown flashes of brilliances time and time again during his young career and will have every opportunity to prove that he’s the type of player, both on and off the court, to lead a high major program to success. 6’1” point guard Chris Childs, who recently transferred to Woodstock Academy, will give the RENS a steady hand during long EYBL weekends.
MacDuffie’s 6’7” PG/Wing Ismael Massoud will team with NMH’s 6’9” big Max Lorca-Lloyd on the PSA Cardinals 16U team. While the squad features an abundance of talent, Massoud and Lorca-Lloyd are as vital to the team’s success as anyone and will be relied upon to turn their special potential into current production this grassroots season.
PSA’s older group also features some local talent. Springfield Commonwealth’s 6’9” big Arashma Parks and Putnam Science’s 6’5” wing Jose Perez are members of one of the EYBL’s best programs and both are expected to carve out roles that ensure PSA continued success. For Parks, that means providing valuable minutes in the post as instant offense and on the boards. Perez will try to fill the roles of glue guy who successfully defends every position on the floor with aggression and athleticism, in the same vein as future-BU Terrier Walter Whyte…
Wilbraham’s Iden Tretout will run with New Heights on the Under Armour circuit again this season. The 6’4” guard/wing can fill up a stat sheet as quick as anyone in the region. Tretout has garnered mid-major attention up to this point in his career but he has a chance to take his recruitment to the next level if he can prove to be a true knockdown shooter.