Playing Up

Five freshmen who are ready to compete with the nation's best

by Russell Steinberg March 30, 2012 11:05am ET
Mickey Mitchell 624
Michael J. Le Brecht II/1deuce3
Julius Randle's (right) running mate, Mickey Mitchell, is one of the most fearless freshman forwards in the country.

A version of this article appeared in the 2012 Five-Star Basketball Summer Preview Magazine, which will be available at all of the premier events this summer.  

With the summer season approaching, we all know the established stars. But what about the newcomers set to accompany them? Several freshmen this year plan to “play up” at the 16U and 17U levels and have the potential to be contributors right away. Here are a few to keep an eye on this summer:

TYLER DORSEY
6’4’’, GUARD, CALI STYLE, RIBET ACADEMY

It's possible that you've never heard of the combo guard Tyler Dorsey. 

But if Dorsey has a good summer, that can change fast. The offensively talented freshman has already proven himself with a nice jump shot and flashy passing ability. He can also drive by his man with an impressive display of one-on-one moves that makes him difficult to guard. Dorsey is working on leading by example by being more vocal on the court — something you would expect to hear from an experienced, battle-tested point guard, not a high school freshman. 

MICKEY MITCHELL
6’6’’, GUARD/FORWARD, TEXAS TITANS, PRESTONWOOD CHRISTIAN

As a high-major  prospect in basketball and football, Mitchell will have to make a decision eventually. But this summer he will help Julius Randle and Matt Jones in trying to lead the Texas Titans to the top of one of the most competitive states on the circuit. The athletic wing can shoot, dribble and get his teammates involved. But he can also be a factor on the other end of the court.

“He does some uncanny things for a ninth grader and a lot of times he guards the best player on the other team,”  Prestonwood Christian coach Chris Maybury said.

Last summer, Mitchell played alongside Five-Star rated Julius Randle with the Titans’ 17U team, and with that duo returning, they have a chance to make some serious noise in EYBL play this year. 

HORACE SPENCER
6’8’’, FORWARD/CENTER, SOUTH JERSEY GYMRATS, WILLIAM TENNENT

Even as a freshman, Horace Spencer got a lot of media attention, but it seems to be well-earned so far. His AAU coach, Rick Barrett, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Spencer is a kid that other players will cling to because he is so likable. Some have praised Spencer’s athleticism, others have lauded his impressive post play. But whatever it is that is drawing people to Spencer, it seems clear that he will be a player to watch this summer. He can run the floor, rebound and block shots. Now, according to Barrett, he is working to refine his offensive game, and once he gets that down, the 15-year-old will be tough to stop.

“He knows he has to get better every day,” Barrett said. “He wants to keep working harder.”

The hard-working and long Spencer might make the Gymrats a force to be reckoned with in the already stacked northeast AAU scene. 

KARL TOWNS
6’10’’, FORWARD, SPORTS U/TEAM IZOD, ST. JOSEPH’S OF METUCHEN

Last summer with Sports U/Team IZOD, Towns showed he was capable of playing just about anywhere on the court. Literally, anywhere. At times, he makes a three look like a free throw, yet he can also go inside and score in the post. 

At the beginning of the high school season, he told Five-Star how much Sports U has helped him improve on and off the court, saying that it’s important for him to be “an intellectual and an athlete.” 

The 4.0 student, who will likely start the season with Sports U’s 16U team alongside fellow prospect Quadri Moore, emphasizes that his main priority is to win a championship. It’s a lofty goal, but those are the only ones to which he aspires.

STEPHEN ZIMMERMAN
6’10’’, CENTER, DREAM VISION, BISHOP GORMAN

Zimmerman played wih Dream Vision’s 16U team last year, and he is set to continue with one of the best AAU programs in the country. The 6’10’’ lefty will have a tough task in replacing his Bishop Gorman teammate Shabazz Muhammad, but with his intimidating post presence and impressive mid-range game, Zimmerman appears ready. He can block shots and rebound, as well as finish in transition with a level of agility you don’t normally see from someone that size at that age. 

“He can do a lot of different things,” Bishop Gorman head coach Grant Rice said. “He can face the basket, shoot the ball, but if you need him to, he can post up too.” 

Related Bishop Gorman Dream Vision Stephen Zimmerman Texas Titans Tyler Dorsey St Joes Metuchen Sports U Team IZOD Prestonwood Christian Academy Mickey Mitchell Cali Style Ribet Academy Horace Spencer South Jersey Gymrats William Tennent Karl Towns
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