Checking In From Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS, NV–After spending an entire month on the road from one AAU event to the next, pages upon pages of notes have accumulated and now it’s time to reflect on evaluations for Canada’s top basketball talent.

Upon Tariq’s return from National Championships in Alberta, the North Pole Hoops scouting team will sit at the table to review National Rankings for 2015-2018 graduating classes. At the climax of Jermaine Haley’s recruitment, the 2016 British Columbia guard made a commitment to the University of Washington earlier this morning which has him joining fellow Drive Basketball family member Tristan Etienne.

Stay tuned for National Ranking releases in various classes.

JUCO Rising Star James Sylvester

The time spent in Las Vegas allowed me to track three major tournaments on the West Coast; Adidas Super 64, Las Vegas Fab 48 and the Las Vegas Classic. I finished off with the All-American JUCO camp where former Eastern Commerce star James Sylvester was selected to the Top 20 game. He will be joined at Northwest Kansas Tech with former high school teammate Gavin Pearce.

Head Coach at NT, Jase Herl is high on Sylvester’s game and contribution to the team.

“He’s just such a great kid and hard worker. He’s put on 20 lbs of muscle this year and is always in the gym working on his game. The most improved part of his game this year is his shooting.”

This speedy guard is coming off a freshman JUCO season with the Mavericks where he average 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists.

Sylvester looks to improve from the three point line this year which will make him a threat at all times. Mid-majors get your radar out, he’s a game changer.

Chemistry Coincides

The nature of the circuit and the possibility of attaining an NCAA scholarship often breeds the “me first” mentality. This was not the case for three teams in Vegas. Brookwood Elite 17U, Drive 16U and UPlay 16U.

While chatting with coaches from different conferences all had agreed that these teams were enjoyable to watch because of how well the personnel gelled.

One D1 coach went on to say, “They play good, clean basketball and its making all of them look good.”

On their first year in the Adidas circuit, Brookwood Elite has continued to stun doubters south of the border. They finished with a 21-8 record on American soil.

Credit to Joey Mckitterick, Brookwood’s head coach for getting these guys to buy in fully to the concept of the team.

Izaiah Ugoalah is a 2016 Canadian prospect with offers from Montana, Seattle and Southern Utah

Izaiah Ugoalah is a 2016 Canadian prospect with offers from Montana, Seattle and Southern Utah

The idea of “buying in,” helped teams like UPlay 16U, who played without Nolan Narain and Marquell Frazer, who are with the Cadet (16U) National Team traveling to France for exhibition and Dubai for International play at World Championships. Others like, Mississauga product Nicholas Russell, Justin Andrews, Rommel Calura and Mark Douglin were pivotal role players in the absence of the team’s centerpieces.

Drive’s Coach, Lucian Sauciuc had his Canadian west coasters playing at the top of their game. This is a team that struggled to get it together through April and May.

“Every Coach’s dream is to get their team to peak by July and I think we’ve done that, the guys aren’t concerned anymore with who ends up with the most points. Things started to change after they watched the San Antonio Spurs in the finals and realized how each individual’s game looked better when they were getting it done as a unit.”

The development of the players on this 16U team is well noted, none more obvious then Izaiah Ugoalah who has recently picked up offers from . Ugoalah’s bodily transformation has come a long way. He has added mass to his slender figure and is starting to kick in to other gears for explosiveness.

Ugoalah currently holds offers from Montana, Southern Utah and Seattle and has garnered interest from San Diego State, New Mexico, Boise State and Oregon State.

Since seeing him last at the NPH Showcase in British Columbia last summer he has made the greatest jump in development of all prospects seen during this evaluation period.

The Kings Collapse

Northern Kings 17U and 16U teams dropped in the sweet 16 rounds of the Platinum Bracket at the Fab 48. The 17U team could not get it together against a stacked Upward Stars squad whose length and athleticism was something that could not be overcome.

The Kings had a difficult time getting off any shots and struggled to score all game. They would eventually lose by 30 points.

On a brighter note, 2015 shooting guard Miles Seward stood out in this game displaying his consistent perimeter shooting and found his way to the cap on a few possessions.

Seward has been a difference maker in every tournament the Kings have participated in this summer. With added physical strength and blow by ability he is shaping to climb in the 2015 class.

As for the 2016 Kings, Irshaad Hunte displayed an extended range in his jump shooting ability while also doing a solid job defending the post. Dontae Mitchell was instrumental in creating offense and drawing double teams. The round of eight was within reach but poor free throw shooting as a collective put them out early.

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