Sunday, August 14, 2011

HoopRootz Runway Cleared for Player Landings

Chutes & Ladders: EJ Hits a Ladder

First Landing: Mission to the Moon
There was a a lot of talent down at the Reggie this weekend, but rather than writing up all the players who stood out, the Spaceship will concentrate on the players who made their first-time landing at the HoopRootz Airport.  Keep your seat-belts on til we reach the gate.

Elijah Rogers - This kid definitely wins the Cannonball Award for making this weekend's Biggest Splash.  Running w/Expressions, EJ was terrific all weekend.  His style of play reminds of a Brevin Knight/Raymond Felton combination.  He has special burst and possesses a rare combination of quickness, strength, athleticism & body-control.  He has really developed an understanding of the game, possessing the speed and ability to get into the lane at will, but  the understanding not to force his offense.  Instead, he lets his offense come to him and otherwise looks to create for his teammates.  Rogers also has a nice shooting-stroke and can get hot from deep, as he showed this afternoon in the Final by going 4/5 from three-point range in the 1st half.  Defensively, EJ defends his position at a high level and digs out steals in bunches.  The type of player who gets better as his teammates get better, Rogers is a player who has the potential to play at a very high level a little ways down the road.  To get there, he will continue to develop his understanding of the game and he will work on getting his handle tighter and getting his jump shot more consistent. 

Jalen Adams - Smooth as Butter 6'1 combo-guard with long arms and great speed.  He glides out there on the basketball court, exploding to attack creases in the defense with the dribble before springing up and attacking the rim.  Very talented with the ball, but handle needs tightening up.  Although not a traditional jump-shooter, Jalen is a shot-maker who knocks down throws from all over the floor.  As he tightens up his handle and learns to simplify his game, Adams is going to be a player who makes a ton of noise this year.

Maurice Taylor - Everyone talks about Jacquil as the scholarship-prospect amongst the Brothers-Taylor, but we're here to tell you that big brother Maurice is right there beside him.  He is a legitimate 6'5 with long arms and he is athletic.  He rebounds, defends, and slashes to the hoop from the wing and attacks the basket, finishing with either hand and looking to go up top if it's there.  Maurice also has a nice shooting-stroke and can knock down the 3-ball.  Going forward, he'll work to toast his handle to get it crisper so that he is a more versatile player out on the wing.

Jameilen Jones - An athletic, physical 6'2 two-guard who defends with energy and rebounds at a high-level from the back-court.  He crashes the offensive boards like a tiger-cat and today had one of the plays of the weekend with a monster one-hand put-back jam.  Offensively, he moves the ball and attacks when the opportunity presents itself.  He did a great job today of playing along the baseline against the zone, catching in the short-corner and attacking with 1 or 2 dribbles.  Anxious to get a closer look at how he shoots & handles the rock.

Tyrese Hoxter - Although his BABC teammates get most of the pub, the 6'4 Hoxter is a player who has really gotten better and has taken his game to a new level.  He is a long, athletic left-handed wing player.  He is a great energy guy who rebounds, defends, and slashes to the hoop, looking to challenge shot-blockers on the top floor.  If the top floor is full, Hoxter will use the rim for protection and finish on the other side.  Tyrese showed this weekend that he has the ability to be high-level role player beside stars.  Hoxter will continue to work to develop his handle and shooting-stroke.

Juwan Gooding - Everyone knows that Juwan Gooding has been one of the top middle school guards in the Northeast over the last few years.  But the Spaceship has always worried that Gooding's game might have a hard time translating to a higher level of play.  Well, this weekend, Juwan served as my therapist and eased all worry on the Spaceship.  Playing today against top competition in the 16u Final, Gooding adjusted his game to be highly effective.  Gooding is a handful as a left-handed speed-dribbler who beats defenders by slashing explosively from one spot on the floor to another, making plays all over the court and using his court vision to set up teammates for easy buckets.  Gooding also is a knock down three-point shooter who can heat up and also has a nice pull-up game from the elbows.  Gooding's upside is a lot higher as a creator than as a scorer, and today, Gooding was a creator who scored when opportunities presented themselves.  Good to see.  A lot of potential.  To get where he wants to be, Juwan will work to make his right hand as good as his left and will practice to get up higher off the ground on his jump shot. 

Patrick Benzan - Although not spectacular, Benzan really knows how to play and is a great facilitator on the floor.  He is a player who good players want to play with, because he plays to set up his teammates rather than for himself.  Patrick has a tight handle and penetrates to pass, urging teammates to cut as he drives and then dropping dimes off the bounce.  In addition to setting his teammates up for buckets, Benzan is a master of the hockey assist and understands that the point of the game is to advance the ball up the floor.  Another player who gets better as his teammates do.   Benzan will work to develop a quicker release off a more fluid jump-shot and this year he should really emerge as he gets stronger and is able to play through more contact.

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