Thursday, March 31, 2016
Team Melo vs Baltimore United game rumored to not be played
There has been a growing “rivalry”, or as much of one as there can be for two teams who have never actually played each other. Baltimore based programs Team Melo (Jordan Brand/NIKE) and Baltimore United (Under Armour) have tussled for bragging rights, players, and any alternative measuring stick they can find.
It is anticipated that a true rivalry-type intensity will rear itself the first time these programs take the court against each other and with some serious star power to boot; the game will “settle” a lot of scores in the minds of players and Baltimoreans alike…at least until the next match-up.
The other interesting battle that will inevitably be discussed is the prominence of the brands. Who has the top talent and where does that top talent play. There are some very clear differences between the teams and brands and depending on the vantage point from which you are looking each has some strong advantages and disadvantages in comparison.
Yet, the time for talk is quickly coming to an end – or so many may have thought. With the highly anticipated upcoming Session III of the UA Proving Grounds Session taking place at Catholic University in Washington, DC this coming weekend it was expected by many that Team Melo 2020 vs Baltimore United 2020 would finally face-off, right here in the DMV for all to see.
Not so fast my friends, sources close the situation have intimated that this game WILL NOT be played “It's a heated rivalry. It's always going to be that way so we have to get the players and participants that [are going to be] down there for the love of the game and not down there for other alternatives." stated an unnamed source close to the situation.
So with only one session remaining after this weekend’s tip-off the only remaining hope for a NIKE/UA match-up of Melo vs United is in Carmelo’s second home in New York City….stay tuned because the possibility remains that this group of young star may not step onto the court to compete unless it’s at their respective high school. A very interesting proposition to say the least or rather this is simply how things go would you are in the midst of a local and national sneaker war.
This my friends is a lot bigger than a lot of people think and there are many more things in play than anyone’s wildest imagination – welcome Class 2020 to the high school side, you will see very quickly it’s a very very different world.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Rob Lawson has the versatility that many coaches covet. He has the scoring ability and offensive game to play as a scoring guard, but he can also distribute the ball and facilitate the offensive in the mode of a point guard.
He has a very well-rounded game, deserving of high marks in many areas. He can stroke it from the perimeter in addition to being a very effective penetrator. He passes the ball well also, which allows him to swing to the point guard slot for significant minutes. He also has good athleticism and the quickness that most coaches look for in guards. Lawson is also a good defender, using his good foot speed and lateral quickness to stay with most guards on the perimeter. He played solidly for the USA National Select squad in their recent appearance in the Atlantic City Showcase.
Kamal Francis is budding wing with a lot of raw talent and ability, Francis has the type of long and athletic frame that makes his upside easy to see. He's very rangy with a good nose for the ball. He can cover the court, be a major factor in transition, and a weak-side shot-blocker.
He has a solid foundation on his jumper to continue to develop and is gradually expanding the rest of his ball skills as well. Long-term, he could be the type of versatile scorer who could not only thrive in transition but also from various spots in a half-court game. Long athletic attacking wing scorer that rebounds on both ends and plays with great energy and urgency. Just getting his feet wet on the national stage Francis had a solid weekend alongside some of the nation’s best as a member of USA National Select.
Gionne Swann has all of the tools that coaches love to see in point guards. He is quickly developing size and strength for a point guard while using a method we have seen many time, playing off the ball against bigger stronger guards – where he can knockdown his jump shot . He showed well in at the AC Showcase playing with USA National Select.
Despite being slight of build, he has the quickness to penetrate past defenders and get to the paint. He is one of the best shooters with range extending out to three-point land. He has a good feel and understanding of the game that point guards have to possess to be successful and when his body catches up with his mind and shooting ability you will see a huge jump in his overall production. Currently he has the ability to give you buckets from anywhere inside half court when he get his shot off.
Mark Pharos’s length and mobility is very in intriguing. He runs, has rebounding and shot blocking ability. He is still raw offensively and more effective as a face up then back to the basket. We like his overall strength and will be looking for increased aggression – as when active he has the tools to impact the game. A true big, those that know they have immense value and traditionally are developed late; as a younger player he has very good upside and could be a great reclass candidate.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
The time is officially hear to formally introduce the DMV to 6’9, class of 2020, big man Treyvon Todd; Todd who appeared on our radar roughly 3-years ago has remained one of the most intriguing prospects in the area. The game at the youth level has long been guard dominant, coupled with the change in the game itself the art and value of true big men and post play have been lost in many systems at all levels. Yet there is and has remained a beacon; one that is quickly rounding out and whose path will be littered with “Johnny Come Lately’s” who attempt to benefit from the hard work and development Todd has put it. Todd will be a force on the high school level before it’s over; as he is just now beginning to realize the immense potential he has always possessed at the most elite level. Todd with the right development is what you call a program changer.
Treyvon Todd to date is decently productive right now, but it's the flashes of spectacular that are most intriguing, and so he's still very early on in his development and is slowly but surely turning his potential into production. His hands are improving each time he takes the floor, with both the initial catch and in traffic. A future that will without question include a lot of double teams he must continue to increase his strength with the ball in congestion while also continuing to polish his go to post move while adding a dependable counter.
Today Todd can be considered a big bodied post player with a terrific natural build and a very high ceiling. Already long and strong, his frame has plenty of room left to support even more muscle mass in the coming years and so he's likely to have a big time body before it is all said and done.
He scores primarily off dump-offs and put-backs right now, but we have seen the development of a jump hook. He runs and jumps well for his size and showcases more than acceptable athleticism – Todd will likely be a power player who incorporates finesse. What we really love now is that Todd is a solid shot-blocker and rebounder while his under the radar quiet, no-nonsense type of workmen approach to his game is something that coaches at the next level will value and love.
In conclusion Treyvon Todd is a young and talented big man, and is the type of long-term prospect that you believe in because he appears to work hard and have a good demeanor for the game. Not to put the pressure of labeling a player so young as a can’t miss; it’s best if coaches don’t miss out on any opportunity to work with and/or add Treyvon Todd to their team or program.
Friday, March 25, 2016
The 2022 Baltimore based Team Melo squad has been running rampant all season long collecting banners, titles, and trophies – and now national recognition. Boasting a stellar line-up of versatile and talented players their relentless pressure, unselfish play, and disciplined coaching has many taking note. Extremely fun to watch they have the requisite pieces in the right places to translate up multiple levels meaning that this group will be a problem for years to come!
Starting with the head of the snake; the straw that stirs the Melo drink is PG Sammy Scott. Sammy is one of the elite point guards in his class nationally. With a strong, powerful, compact frame he is able to absorb contact all over the court especially in the paint, where he has a multitude of unique finishes. He has a nice burst off the dribble to get separation from his defender and he'll drop off the nifty assist or convert the floater in the paint area.
In the open court he is exceptional at utilizing the look ahead pass and his vision overall is NEXT LEVEL. The ball never dies in his hands and his passing prowess is high-level. He knows how to put the ball into the pocket of the shooter. Love his astuteness in the high screen and roll, and he has almost eliminated the excessive dribbling when he's running the half court set. Not to mention he is showing natural PG leadership ability as he guides his team on both ends of the floor. Labeled the “Grim Reaper” Scott is putting fear into the hearts of opponents each time the ball is in his hands.
BATMAN & ROBIN
The wing and front court of the Melo squad is manned by CJ Scott and Andrew Rhuebottom, giving them amongst others on the team, the necessary pieces at each level to impact games at the championship level.
CJ Scott’s combination of size and developing skill on the wing make him a very intriguing long-term prospect in the class of 2022. He's equally dangerous shooting behind the three-point line or with tough mid-range pull-ups. He handles the ball fluidly and also has an advanced offensive repertoire for a player of his age and size.
He'll use a jab step or shake his man off the dribble to get to his pull-up and can also create space in the mid-range area with a step-back. He uses his size and length to score over defenders in the mid-range area and also has a special ability to make tough shots. We also are impressed with vison and passing ability – all of the aforementioned skill set is done with flair and we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg for this young man.
Andrew Rhuebottom is the man in the middle and has turned the corner as an elite level big man, not simply a player with size. He is now impacting the game on both ends on every possession. We completely focused and engaged he has been unstoppable for stretches.
Another one of the top post prospects in the national class of 2022 Andrew is still just scratching the surface of his ability. He's broadly built with wide shoulders, a naturally strong frame and good agility and athleticism for his size. He runs the floor well, has good use of both hands and plays with a ton of sheer force around the rim. He's a powerful finisher who can finish through contact and loves to get on the offensive glass.
His impact is on the defensive end of the floor allow the Melo squad to extend their defense and he acts as an eraser for any mistakes out fronts – a luxury that Team Melo uses to its full advantage . He's an excellent rim protector who both blocks shots and challenges just about everything in the paint. Offensively, he has tools to develop and is consistently showing flashes of agile footwork, a soft touch that extends out to 12-15 feet and a good passer's instinct for his size. He is playing the game both back to the basket and face-up and can be certified as a problem for anyone one or team trying to contain him.
The scary part is that this is just the surface of the talented Melo bunch they are deep at every position and as they continue their individual growth as players so will the growth of the team. Baltimore’s Melo group has a pipeline for continued success in the future and the ground floor is Team Melo 2022.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
The rosters for this summer’s Elite 24 2020 (eight grade) all-star game will be determined by evaluating the top players nationwide, with Under Armour inviting 24 top-100 prospects from the class of 2020 the competition is sure to stiff.
The game was first held in 2006 at Rucker Park in Harlem, but after spending a couple of years at California's Venice Beach, the event is now hosted in Brooklyn annually and has become one of if not the most exciting and prestigious event of the annually each summer.
Three No. 1 NBA draft picks have participated over the years as well as five NBA All-Stars and 55 first-round picks. ESPNU will televise the Elite 24 as it does each year.
This isn’t an open event which is one thing player must get used to as they prepare to walk on to High School Campuses; this isn’t a place where you prove yourself – it’s a place where you must be proven and a environment where iron sharpens iron.
Under Armour’s Invite Only “UA Next Combine Series” for Basketball’s Next Generation
This April, Under Armour Basketball will introduce the “UA Next Combine Series” for select middle school basketball players. The Combine Series is an invite only program that will offer eighth graders high-level teaching, instruction and competition. The program will run for a full day in each of the following six cities nationwide, including: Washington, D.C., Columbus, Ohio, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston and Walnut Creek, California.
The “UA Next Combine Series” is for current eighth grade players (Class of 2020) and 40 total players will be selected at each location. Players will compete for invitations to the prestigious “UA Next Experience” at the Under Armour Elite 24 this August in New York City. Under Armour’s Elite 24 event is the nation’s premier annual high school basketball showcase that offers the world’s top prospects an opportunity to experience the energy and spirit of authentic playground basketball, while competing on the biggest stage of the summer.
“UA Next Combine Series” is the latest program from Under Armour’s Grassroots Basketball platform. It joins ongoing nationwide events, including the UA Association League, NBPA Top 100 Camp, SC30 Select Camp, UA All American Camp and the UA Elite 24. It is the purpose of these events to provide youth basketball players with the opportunity to hone their skills and maximize exposure in high-level teaching and competitive environments. The platform aligns with Under Armour’s mission to “Make All Athletes Better.”
For more information please visit the UA Next tab on www.theuaassociation.com
Who: Select Basketball Players in the Region
(40) 8th Graders Class of 2020
Format: Skills Development, Special Situation Games, and 5-on-5 Competition (3 games guaranteed)
Cost: $150.00 (INVITED players please register online at least two weeks prior the event to guarantee your spot)
- Under Armour shoes, socks, full uniform, and T-shirt
- Online player profile/evaluation with picture (www.theuaassociation.com)
Awards: 1 MVP and 5 All Combine Team Trophies
Media: The media attention generated by these events will be unmatched, as many of the top scouting services from around the country will be in attendance.
If you believe you deserve an invite to one of the regional combines please email your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org
When: UA Next Combine Series East – Washington, D.C. – Saturday April 30, 2016
Where: St. John’s College High School 2607 Military Rd. NW Chevy Chase, DC 20015
High level grassroots basketball – which is incorrectly referred to as 'AAU' -- features three top circuits funded by shoe companies: Nike, Adidas and Under Armour. All three companies have begun a substantial push to attract talent at a younger age groups with NIKE introducing the MADE Hoops League, Under Armour The Proving Grounds, and Adidas beginning sponsorship of the NYBL. In many minds the structure of grassroots ball has improved greatly over the last few years with the birth of these middle school leagues to coincide with Nike's EYBL tour, The UA Association and Adidas' Uprising Gauntlet. The bottom-line is those three companies essentially vie for players they hope will blossom into pros who can eventually sell shoes.
In the past few years in the DMV; we have seen many teams rehashed as they trade one tennis shoe for another; Baltimore Elite (formerly NIKE) now Adidas, DC Blue Devils (formerly NIKE) now Under Armour, as has been the history for many years. The “new” Baltimore United Group is a mixture as well of former clubs that held “deals” at different levels that, shall we say saw power in numbers and moved forward with the Under Armour brand. Let us not forget one of the more intriguing power plays of 2016 the merger of former Adidas brand DC Thunder with the Baltimore based Jordan Brand/NIKE Team Melo.
Yet it has been several years since a new upstart group; a fresh face to the shoe game; where the services to the top players within the DMV will be able to impact both the middle school and the high school market.
New World Basketball Academy now formally maintains a sponsorship relationship with Adidas and the impact that this will have will most certainly impact the already competitive environment of the DMV. New World has teams and formal rosters from the 2nd grade all the way through grade 9 and is actively building. They have a contingent of coaches, staff, trainers, and support personnel that immediately allow them to reach multiple players and prospects within the market. They have experience at the high level high school and Prep School arena as well as college relationships, facility access, and young leadership with a business mindset and hunger combined with the requisite tools to be a major player.
New World is set up better today than a lot of organizations who have been around for several years and the impact will be two fold. Their current relationships and immense opportunity available there will be major selling points and of course the “new” access for kids in the DC market to compete on a major circuit that part sells itself. Again with DC Thunder out the picture New World are “those guys” and without question with the aforementioned attributes they will have success and players will flock. Its has been a while since anyone truly had an opportunity to impact the area balance of power substantially; New World is that group without question and those that know, know it and are keenly aware.
If you still wonder how competitive does it get between the companies and programs? Consider the recent example of Under Armour's Elite 24 event. The Elite 24 has had a monopoly on the end of the summer calendar for a few years and is considered THE PREMIER EVENT each year – The Elite 24 brings every top player to New York City for what amounts to a TELEVISED OUTDOOR ALL-STAR GAME. At least that was the case until last summer when Nike decided it didn't want its kids seen in the UA logo.
Nike created an event seemingly on a whim that overlapped with Elite 24 to keep kids away from Under Armour. Best yet, they put the event in the Bahamas. It worked: top recruits Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum skipped the Elite 24 event to attend Nike's event, as did most of the top NIKE prospect on the High School side. But Middle Schoolers went untouched and are now competing with impunity in the Elite 24 events without a competitor on the NIKE side….but wait for it one of these companies will jump in soon as they continue to do.
There won’t be any overlapping of New World, but the new competitor in the market is one that must be paid attention to as any group with the backing of a brand not only can change the game but can do so very quickly. Congratulations to the New World group and congratulations to the DMV for developing a plethora of talent that continues to attract attention and ultimately give more kids and opportunity.
More information can be found on the New World Basketball Academy by visiting: http://newworldbb.com/