Get Me Recruited: Middle School HOT 100
March 14th, 2015 played host to the inaugural Get Me Recruited: Middle School Hot 100. Under the J.D. Lewis Multi-Purpose Center roof were one hundred of the most talented middle school basketball players from North & South Carolina. The event lived up to every bit of the hype and exceeded every expectation! From the organization to the structure and format, Lamont Taylor (GMR Founder), Coach Pop and the GMR staff made sure everything was seamless and well executed. With the endless amount of talent assembled in one place, there were a few who stood out about the rest.
It wouldn’t be right if this didn’t start off talking about the MVP of the GMR Hot 100, Juwan Gary. The 2019, 6’4 small forward from Summit Parkway Middle School (Columbia, SC) dominated the event in complete fashion. This kid is athletic, coordinated, competitive and ferocious when he attacks the rim. In the offensive transition, he does a great job sprinting up the court, slashing to the basket and finishing with authority. Gary gets to the bucket with ease and has a soft touch around the rim. He takes advantage of his length and quickness to get wherever he wants on the court. When you watch Gary play it’s clear that he has a good handle on the basics as every move he makes seems calculated and efficient. He’s a passionate player that gives his all on every possession. Once he establishes a consistent and efficient jump shot, good luck trying to stop him. He’s a walking highlight reel waiting to happen. Gary set the crowd on fire throughout the event with thunderous dunks. Defensively, Gary takes his role personally as he tries to challenge everything that comes in the paint. Do yourself a favor and remember the name!
Mills Park Middle School’s (Cary, NC) C/O 2019, Justin McKoy was outstanding at the Hot 100. Although the 6’3 8th grader is listed as a power forward, his abilities span far beyond that position. While McKoy can be a presence in the paint, he shines in the open floor and on the perimeter. He can handle the ball on the break while managing through pressure defense. He can get to the basket and finish with contact. McKoy also has a nice outside shot that allows him to stretch the floor. This along with his size and ability to put the ball on the floor makes him a defensive nightmare. McKoy’s style of play is similar to that of TJ Warren (Phoenix Suns) in which he has an uncanny scoring ability. Whether it’s shooting the ball or getting to the rim, McKoy is about a bucket! On defense, he’s active and does a good job moving his feet. He holds his own in the post by remaining solid as he absorbs contact and keeps his hands off the defender. If you’re a basketball fan, it would be in your best interest to keep him on the radar.
Jahzeer Baker was one of the quicker, more shifty players in the Hot 100. There wasn’t one defender that could stay in front of him in a 1 on 1 scenario. The 5’9 point guard is a mixture of speed, creativity and fearlessness. Baker, the C/O 2019 out of South Central Middle School (Winterville, NC), put a number of players on skates while making his way to the basket. He the puts the defense at his mercy because once he breaks down his man, he has the mindset to read the floor and make the best decision for his team. If a defender steps up to help, Baker makes the pass to the open man. If defender doesn’t help, he gets to the rim and finishes. Baker also has a solid jumper that you have to respect making him that much more difficult to guard. Defensively, he accepts the challenge of getting up on his man and playing lockdown defense. Baker has quick feet that allows him to stay in front of his man without putting his hands on him and get fouls called against him. He plays with a ton of emotion and gets after it on the court!
There wasn’t a kid in the event with a higher motor than St. Andrews Middle School’s (Columbia, SC) Christian Brown. The lanky 2019, 6’5 small forward gets up and down the court like a gazelle! Brown is the type of player that a coach would never have to question the level of energy or effort that he gives. Overall, he’s the type of player that gets after it on both ends of the floor, a Jerome “Junk Yard Dog” Williams type of player. Offensively, Brown thrives in fast break opportunities, using his speed and length to get to the basket and finish. He’s also effective when he gets the ball on the wing as he uses his first step to get by defenders and into the lane. As Brown develops a consistent mid-range jump shot, he’ll morph into a major offensive threat. Defensively, he does well protecting the basket, deflecting and making players change their shots to avoid the block. Brown is the player that every team needs. He provides the energy needed to compete and win games!
Trinity Christian’s (Fayetteville, NC) Joey Baker not only was one of the more impressive players there but also provided the most memorable highlight of the Hot 100. On a fast break the C/O 2019, 6’6 SF got out in transition, caught the throw-ahead pass, came down the lane and THREW DOWN A MONSTER DUNK on a defender who tried to meet him at the rim, with two hands!!! The crowd went crazy, causing some of the players on the other court to take a look at what created such a frenzy. Baker is an experienced player that excels in useful movements to score the ball. At his size, that’s a trait that will carry him far. Starting on Trinity’s varsity team as an 8th grader has granted him the opportunity to become battle tested. This was evident in his play as he seemed much more cultivated when measured against his peers. Offensively, Baker is an impressive shooter. He squares his shoulders to the basket, sets his feet, elevates and has a high release – all in rhythm. Baker can knock down shots off the dribble or in catch and shoot scenarios. He also does well with driving to the basket. As he tightens up his handles and becomes more merciless in his attacks, Baker will transform into an offensive weapon! Defensively, he does well with getting low and challenging shots. However, he needs to continue to work on his lateral movement as opponents who are just as big and slightly quicker may get the better of him. Basketball fans should keep an eye out for this one.