The Take Away: Elite 26 Middle School Showcase
WILSON, NC – This past weekend Charles H. Darden Middle School hosted the 1st annual Middle School Elite 26. A showcase highlighting some of the top middle school ballers in the county . The players were met with high level drills followed by competitive play. With the favorable amount of talent in the gym here are some of the take aways:
As soon as he steps on the court it’s easy to notice that East Cary Middle School’s (Cary, NC) Lawrence Frost is more athletically advanced than his peers. The C/O 2020 guard has crafty handles; making it hard for the defense to stay in front of him. Shifty with the ball, Frost showed that he can easily break his defender down off the dribble or blow past a full-court press. While his shooting form needs work, he does a good job at consistently knocking down the open shot. Frost has good court vision and the ability quickly transition up the floor or get the ball to the open man. He also showed flashes of being a lock down on-the-ball defender. Frost does well anticipating where the ball where be. This allows him to get clean strips, intercept cross-court passes and stop his man from driving to the lane.
Imajae Dodd of Green County Middle School (Snow Hill, NC) was one of the more intriguing kids in the Elite 26. This kid stands at 6’4, but plays like he’s 6’10 – which he could quite possibly grow to since he’s only in the 8th grade. An impressive aspect to Dodd’s game is whenever he gets an opportunity he pounds the air out of the ball on rebounds and entry passes. He flaunts really good footwork and body control in the paint. He’s also light on his feet and very well coordinated. In addition, Dodd does well at establishing position and sealing his man in the low post. While he does well at backing his man down, learning the the best spots on the court to execute backing down will be beneficial to him. As Dodds learns when to turn and face versus back his man down he’s going to be lethal. He also has to find the right touch when finishing around the basket; there were times he used too much strength on his jumphooks. Defensively, he challenges everything – either blocking or altering shots – discouraging the offense from coming into the paint. The only concern is that his aggressiveness on defense could cause him to get into foul trouble. Overall, Dodd is truly impressive as he gives his all on every possession.
In today’s game it’s rare that you find a pass first point guard, especially in a showcase. However, Darden Middle School’s (Wilson, NC) c/o 2020 Djimon Bailey is the type of player that makes sure the ball is distributed. It’s clear that his primary objective is getting teammates involved, which is a good trait for a player expected to run the show. The wiry guard keeps his head on a swivel allowing him to see the outlet pass, the slasher in the lane, the big man posting up, or the shooter spotted up on the perimeter. His game reminds you of a Kendall Marshall in regards to his efficiency with the ball. Bailey is precise and does not waste any movements. If he decides to go the basket, it’s one move and to the rim. If he decides to draw the defense and find the open man, it’s a drive and dish. Shooting the ball, Bailey has excellent form and rarely takes a bad shot. He could actually stand to shoot a little more but his selflessness prevents him from it. That can be both good and bad. While Bailey possesses a good basketball IQ, he expects a lot of himself – this is undeniably a good thing. As he continues to mature, he will need to learn how to have a “short memory.” This will enable him to push pass mistakes and stay alert for whatever the next possession brings.
Check out some of Djimon Bailey’s highlights from the Elite 26
Check out some of the highlights from the Elite 26