Ready to Break Out
Teams and players that may surprise you this summer
It’s no secret that top-ranked players and powerhouse programs get all of the ink. But, who is flying under the radar and which teams are poised to take the summer by storm? Last year, Mitch McGary and his SYF Players went from unranked and unnoticed to national contenders in the Five-Star Basketball Top 25. Here are some of the top candidates to have a breakout 2012 summer season.
DC Assault 17U
The Capitol District-based program will be looking to come back from a disappointing 2011 campaign. After beginning last year with high expectations – and a No. 16 Five-Star ranking to boot –DC Assault had an up-and-down season in which they finished unranked. The return of UNC-bound point guard Nate Britt – a phenomenal, unselfish passer who sees the floor with the best of them – along with the return of bruising, 6’5’’ forward Kris Jenkins and 6’7’’ forward Junior Etou - who is still learning the nuances of the game, but runs the floor hard - plays tough on the interior and is the cousin of the dominant Oklahoma City Thunder forward, Serge Ibaka. The Assault could also promote the smooth, Class of 2014 guard Romelo Trimble if it needs help in the backcourt. Though DC Assault’s ranked No. 19 to start the spring, don’t be shocked if you find them inside the top 10 in August.
Team SCAN 16U
Following the outburst of highly talented and versatile, 6’9’’ forward Chris McCullough, Team SCAN has a lot to look forward to in the summer of 2012. McCullough combines with a group of multi-faceted, unselfish guards who are gaining traction in the recruiting world. Conrad Chambers, Shavar Newkirk and Kevin Seymour are all capable of playing either backcourt position at any point in the game – a valuable asset for any coach to have. “I expect the same things that I’ve expected the past three years – to win and [to] be successful,” said Team SCAN coach and program director, Terrence “Munch” Williams. “These kids understand that winning is a priority and they understand what it takes to make these things happen. At Team SCAN, all of the kids get free SAT Prep tutoring during the AAU season.” Playing in the 16U division on the Nike EYBL circuit, along with SAT tutoring for a group this talented and hard-working, should yield positive results.
Goodluck Okonoboh (BABC)
Goodluck Okonoboh’s already a ranked player who’s being recruited by a bevy of high-major programs. But, playing alongside Nerlens Noel with BABC and The Tilton School caused him to be overshadowed on the national scene. Okonoboh is a high-character player who happens to be an excellent team defender and is more skilled offensively than he has shown on a regular basis during the prep season. With the responsibility of manning the middle for BABC without human eraser Noel, Okonoboh will have the opportunity to shine on the Nike EYBL summer circuit. Playing alongside talented combo-guard Wayne Selden and steady-but-efficient point guard Jaylen Brantley should help to keep the pressure off of Okonoboh.
Alex Rifkind (Each 1 Teach 1)
Alex Rifkind is a 6’1’’ shooting guard who plays for St. Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, Fla. A 2014 prospect, Rifkind is considered one of the top three-point marksmen in his class – backed by Rifkind hitting the most treys on his high school team as just a sophomore. Though he’s viewed primarily as a shooter, Rifkind is working on his ball-handling skills to become a more versatile player for his last two high school seasons. Rifkind’s future is bright. Former Duke Blue Devil and current Phoenix Suns swingman, Grant Hill, watched Rifkind record a triple-double last year at AAU Nationals and advised Rifkind to take an unofficial visit to Duke. Coaches from high-major schools have already contacted his family and even more figure to do so this AAU season when they watch him on the 16U Each1 Teach 1 Elite squad.
Jordan Bell (Compton Magic)
Jordan Bell, a 6’7’’ shot-blocking forward who plays his high school basketball at Long Beach Polytechnic High School (Calif.) and runs with the Compton Magic during the AAU season, should have a breakout spring and summer. What makes Bell particularly intriguing is his cat-like reaction time when going up for a rebound or blocked shot, combined with a relentless motor. Areas of improvement for Bell include tightening up his ball-handling, becoming more comfortable operating in the low post and adding a go-to move to his repertoire, along with the ability to consistently knock down 10-15 footers.