Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bishop Elite Hoop Camp - Event Recap

This week at the Sports Zone in Derry, the Bishop Elite AAU program put on a basketball camp which featured NBA player DeMarcus Cousins as well as some of the top high school players in NH.

Cousins played at the University of Kentucky, was the 5th pick in the 2010 NBA draft and currently plays forward for the Sacramento Kings. He was at the camp on Thursday and Friday to speak to the players and participate in drills. The proceeds from the camp benefited the Bishop Elite program as they hope to take 4 of their teams to AAU nationals.

The NH Notebook was present at the camp, and here is our event recap along with player evaluations of the camp's top prospects.

It was definitely a thrill for all of the kids to see Cousins there and play against him. Cousins participated in full court scrimmaging with the players on Thursday. And on Friday he took part in ‘King of the Court’, signed autographs and took pictures. It’s not every day that an NBA player comes to New Hampshire and helps run a camp, so this is a pretty big story.

Also running the camp was Bishop Elite director and Manchester Memorial JV coach Sudi Lett, Trinity JV coach David Greenidge Jr., former Pinkerton and Plymouth State player Ryan Lambert and TJ Thompson, who played at George Washington University and professionally overseas. The camp allowed the kids to get instruction from top notch coaches and players while also testing their skills against stiff competition.

Also participating was Derry’s own Scott King, who is headed to Stony Brook University in the fall to play basketball on a full D-I scholarship. King definitely played like a Division I player, showing outstanding mobility, shooting and ball handling for a 6’9” kid. Having someone like that playing in the drills and scrimmages raises the level of play of everyone else.

Zach Stevens, who will continue his basketball career at NHTI this winter, was also at the camp. The Trinity graduate is a gym rat and having someone with that kind of work ethic in the gym showing the younger kids how it’s down definitely helps. At the camp he continued to show why he’s one of the best shooters NH basketball has seen in recent years.

Standout Performers

Richard O'Brien, 5'10", Brewster Academy (2013)
When you spend an entire winter matched up in practice against Naadir Tharpe (one of the top point guards in the country and headed to Kansas) it’s going to make you better. The improvement in O’Brien’s game over the past year is obvious, as he performed as well as anybody at the camp. He was hands down the best defender at the camp, as he frustrated anybody who tried to score on him. On Friday when Bell was really feeling it offensively, he was the only one who could slow him down. O’Brien also showed a good feel for the game with improved decision making ability, and always seemed to make the right basketball play. He also knocked down the three point and mid-range jumper with regularity in addition to a sneaky quick first step which enabled him to get into the lane. In scrimmages on Tuesday he simply put on a show, hitting shots, wreaking havoc on defense, playing hard and playing smart. There’s nothing flashy about his game but she jut gets the job done. During 2-on-2 drills on Friday it was fitting that O’Brien and Zach Stevens were teammates – the 2 biggest gym rats in NH basketball.

Devin Gilligan, 6'4", Kimball Union Academy (2013)
Gilligan created quite a buzz around the gym on Thursday by scoring 44 points in a game, and that came against DeMarcus Cousins. And it's not like the score of the game was in the 90's either, as Gilligan's tea scored just 56 points. Gilligan hit 7 threes in that game, as he continues to show a much improved stroke from the outside. He also took his man off the dribble and made some good, strong finishes at the rim. He simply has a knack for scoring the basketball, and also got out on the break and got above the rim to finish with a number of slam dunks. He was a very tough match-up for anybody with his combination of size, strength and skill.

Wol Majong, 6’2”, Trinity HS (2012)
Majong has been getting a lot of love this spring/summer on the recruiting scene, and deservedly so. He has that freakish athleticism that a lot of the Bishop Elite players have, but Majong is able to combine that with a very refined skill set. He has a tight handle, a killer crossover, sees the floor well and does a nice job of keeping his head up at all times when dribbling, especially when on the break. He can get by his defender with some nifty dribble-drive moves and sheer quickness, and he also showed the ability to pull-up on the drop of a dime and stick the jumper in his defender’s eye. Majong has developed his game into that of a pure point guard, and at 6’2” he has good size to play that position at the next level.

Chris Light, 6’3”, Pinkerton Academy (2012)
Very tough player to guard 1-on-1, Light was even able to score on King quite a few times. He showed a nice jab step and blow-by move to get by his defender and attack the rim. Light has also gotten stronger since last season, which allowed him to muscle opponents down on the block in addition to playing on the perimeter where he ran the point for his team, led the break and hit the mid-range pull-up. Light is a versatile player who played 4 different positions on the floor. He excelled in transition as well as the half court, and you have to also like the swagger he now plays with. Light believed he was as good as anyone in the gym and he played like it. He went toe-to-toe with a Division I player in Scott King, he didn’t back down and he more than held his own against him.

Mabor Gabriel, 6'7", Trinity HS (2013)
Gabriel showed why he's the #1 ranked player in the NHIAA's Class of 2013. His upside is tremendous, and during the scrimmages on Tuesday he displayed an impressive skill set. Gabriel has a quick release on his jumper, and does a nice job of catching the ball high, keeping it high and draining the three with a smooth stroke. He also drove to the basket, using long strides and good quickness. Gabriel got out on the break and finished with authority, slamming down a number of dunks. He does need to work on holding onto the basketball though, and not letting opponent's strip it out of his hands so easily.

Jourdain Bell, 5'11", Manchester Memorial HS (2015)
Bell put on a show during full court drills on Friday. He had some ankle-breaking crossovers and dribble drive moves, enabling him to get by his defender and get to the rim at will. There he made some nifty finishes, showing his outstanding athleticism. Bell can jump out of the gym, and skied up high to grab offensive rebounds. Very tough player to cover in the open floor. ‘Turbo’ also hit the outside shot, although he is definitely a streaky shooter. He makes the game look easy, and is able to play at a very fast pace. Bell’s younger brother Joe (only going into 8th grade) was also one of the camp’s standout players. During 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 drills on Friday, the Bell brothers were nearly unstoppable.

Shelton Rice, 5’11” (2013)
Rice is the younger cousin of Sudi Lett. Rice is from Chicago, but may be moving to Manchester over the summer. If he does he’ll likely be attending West High according to Lett. And if that happens it will instantly make the Blue Knights a MUCH better basketball team, because Rice can really play. In scrimmage action on Tuesday he drilled 5 threes in one game, with the last one coming from WAY beyond the arc. He’s an athletic player who can handle the ball and also go by people off the dribble.

Majak Wenyin, 6'4", Manchester Memorial HS (2013)
Wenyin made good decisions with the basketball, both in transition and in the half court. He can play the 1, 2 or the 3 and once again showed tremendous range and a quick release on his jump shot. Despite his lanky frame, Wenyin was still able to take his man off the dribble and finish inside with some nifty moves even against bigger, stronger defenders. He is also an underrated passer.

Kabongo Ngalakulondi, 6'2", Manchester Memorial HS (2015)
The camp’s other big time incoming freshman prospect (yes, they’re both going to Memorial). He actually beat Bell in an intense, hard fought 1-on-1 battle on Tuesday, with the entire camp looking on. Ngalakulondi has the size, skill and potential to really be a scary player over the next few years. He can lead the break as well as finish on it. If he had a smaller player guarding him he took him to the block and abused him, and if he had a bigger player on him he took him off the dribble and went to the rim. Ngalakulondi also had one of the better, more consistent mid-range jumpers at the camp, and he drained shots off the catch or off the dribble.

Others Who Impressed

Romeo Masuku, 6'1", Trinity HS (2013)
Masuku is no longer playing football for Trinity, focusing strictly on basketball. You can definitely tell he has been working on his game, as Masuku was one of the most improved players in the gym on Tuesday. He already had impressive physical tools, with the athleticism to make nifty moves at the rim and also get up over the rim to dunk the basketball and the strength to muscle opponents on the block. But now his skill level and decision making are also starting to catch up to his physical ability. He’s emerging as one of the better defenders around, and his ball handling and range on jumper are also coming along nicely.

Joel Mayola, 6'1", Manchester Memorial HS (2013)
As athletically gifted as anyone in the gym, Mayola was a blur in transition with the ball, and showed the ability to get up the floor faster than anybody else. He can pretty much coast out there and still play the game at a faster speed than anybody. If he can get his basketball skills to catch up to his athleticism his game could really take off.

Tong Akot, 6'3", Manchester Memorial HS (2013)
Big, strong frame which allows him to take smaller defenders inside and muscle the ball up and in and also grab boards. Akot also showed the versatility to step outside and knock down the open jumper. He needs to increase his foot speed and consistency, but if he can do that watch out.

Brian Dworkin, 6'1", Souhegan HS (2014)
Southpaw entering his sophomore year. Not many people around the state know about Dworkin, but he definitely showed he can compete and hold his own against some of the state’s top rising talent. He has a very good mid-range jumper and he’s not shy about pulling the trigger on it. Dworkin plays hard and with a chip on his shoulder.

Garrett Camacho, 6'4", Bishop Guertin HS (2015)
His skills are still very much a work in progress, but you can just tell by watching that this kid just loves to play the game and you like to see that. He’s only going to be a freshman and is already 6’4”. You can’t teach size, and Camacho also runs the floor well and showed a soft touch around the rim.

Nick Stevens, 6'0", Londonderry HS (2014)
Younger brother of Zach Stevens, Nick is a scrappy wing player who plays hard and made a big time block on Friday coming out of nowhere on the break to block a layup opportunity by Bell.

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