Monday, April 20, 2015

Team Melo Makes Power Moves - Takes Over the Future of the DMV

With the national high school summer season heating up across the country,  with all the major shoes brands NIKE, Adidas, & Under Armor all opening their circuit play. Attention in the DC Metro area, as well as all over American has shifted slightly to the high school arena. 

There have been numerous rumors and rumblings in the DMV area regarding a shift in the balance of power at the middle school ranks and it deals directly with the NIKE circuit.  At the collegian level 44 of the 65 BCS institutions don the NIKE swoosh and historically their circuit houses the largest stable of the nation’s top players.

For several years the DMV area has been dominated by the Team Takeover program led by Keith Stevens.  Stevens and the TTO brand have consistently attracted the top area players to the circuit and have established its program and players as a premier competitor each year at multiple age levels.   In what may turn out to be one of the most strategic moves locally and nationally; program Dwayne Wise and Kirk Lee who represent NIKE Team Melo has partnered with national middle school guru Coach Francis to fully load their entire middle school grassroots program.

Previous reports had Francis and some of the nation’s top talents at various age groups affiliating themselves with quickly floundering Team Durant brand; that presumable has lost some of the country’s top team faster than they had gotten them.  The demise of Durant was epic, as in some cases never having any top elite players put on uniform to represent the brand at all.  In speaking with an anonymous source familiar with the situation it was stated that “…the Team Durant group made a lot of promises they either were unwilling or unable to keep – they let down a lot of people in the area and hurt a lot of kids. “  Additionally the source revealed, “What the top guys at Durant have done is an embarrassment that will dramatically affect their ability to compete in the future if ever”. 

Not Pictured: Montez McNeil '20, Odell Dickinson '19 & Cameron Byers '20

Team Melo immediately went to work this weekend; putting their “new”  2019 product on the floor for the first time and was very impressive in winning the Spring Jam Fest Championship in the 2018 age group playing up a year.  The most valuable piece of them all may be the nationally renowned “Terror Squad” (class of 2020) who many recognize as the #1 7th grade team in the country and the former Durant coo at the 2021 level, the former Team Glory leader requires no introduction – Team Melo now boast undisputed national #1 player Zion Harmon as part of their future construct. The building blocks for the future positions Team Melo to be the top high school program in the area in very short order.  

Standout performers from the 2019 championship group from this weekend who will garner immediate national attention and become household names in quick order with the construct and coaching infrastructure in place are as follows:

Che Evans ( 6’6 Wing/Forward) – Five position players has begun to come into his own while showing a whole new package of tools and intangibles.  Evans played freely & w/ passion never seen before making an impact on both ends of the courts.  Defensively his length paid tremendous dividends as he played the passing lanes, worked the glass, and both altered & blocked shots.  Offensively he passed well and showed vastly improved court vision, while working exceptionally well in the mid-range with pull ups and floaters – but was special when attacking the backboard and finishing with both hands; even looking to dunked missed shots.  Rumors have been confirmed & Evans will be reclassing which will position him as a top national prospect and the Melo program the home of country’s #1 team.

Jason Murphy (6’7 Center) – Jason Murphy has improved so dramatically in recent months that he very well be the bests back to the basket bigman in the entire DMV area. Murphy has the size, strength, and length to dominate – literally he is trying to duck everything at the rim and when he does; he is doing so with authority.   Showed great dexterity around the rim and finished with both hands; as well as a jump hook with both hands that make him truly difficult to find and answer for on the block.   He post up strongly and is able to establish block side position and his strength allows him to hold it.  A surprisingly good passer off the post – he understands the value of the kick and repost process; and he is very unselfish focusing on winning the game.  Where Jason is next level and dominant is on the boards and as a shot blocker; he changes shots and blocks the ball on the release at its highest point the definition of an elite shot blocker.

Cameron Byers (6’6 Forward) – Byers has come into his own in the last few months by staying in constant rotation against high level talent.  His confidence is at an all-time high and watching Byers play with another premier post has put on display an entirely different skill set.  Known as a power big; Byers has diligently worked on this face up game and he is able to cause havoc with a face up game that few can rival.  An above average ball-handler for his size spacing him away from the basket has accentuated his ability to put the rock on the floor and finish.  Rebounding continues to improve and he love to defend and block shots.  When Byers is engaged and focused there are not many in his league; dominated for long stretches even at the 9th grade level – and even with him playing with Melo 2019 Byers is a 2020 kid.   

  Mahki Long (6’4 Wing Guard) – The wildcard of the bunch, we hadn’t seen much of the lanky wing this season, but with the Team Melo group he played major minutes and was a major producer.  Somewhat of a hybrid at this juncture, Long looks to be long-term a big two who can guard multiple positions – operating with a unbelievable motor he made a difference in virtually every possession.   Long grabbed boards, blocked shots, guarded the primary offensive threat, and still had energy to get in out on the lane on the break and showed he is an elite level finisher.  Good vision and unselfish he is the ideal teammate for this ultra-talented bunch.  An underrated shooter, Long knocked down a few jumpers from distance, but is comfortable and at his strength attacking the paint – the beauty is that it simply may be a confidence issues as the shot mechanics look solid.  A summer with the ball in his hands could dramatically change the rankings in the area as Long will make a bigger impact at the high school then he ever did in middle school.

When Team Melo played the above players together they made up one of the biggest teams in the country across the board and it isn’t just size is talent and a diverse grouping of skill and talent.  There is no longer an invisible boarder between Maryland, DC, & Virginia.   The best kids clearly want to play with the best kids regardless of zip code – and parents have finally figured out that it makes no sense to watch someone else play when you can have an opportunity on the same circuit; as parents look out for the best interest of their kids opposed to the best interest of the program the climate is quickly changing  and right now the winner is NIKE Team Melo.

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