The Take Away: Big Shots w/ WCBA
Heritage High School’s (Wake Forest, NC) Jayden Gardner, a 2018 Forward, is an all out hustler! Standing at 6’5, the freshman makes his presence felt on both ends of the floor. What’s really impressive about Gardner is his motor. He sprints from end to end on every possession. Gardner handles the ball effectively enough to get into the paint and go to work in a half court set. He does a good job flashing high to keep the defense moving. Also, when Gardner catches the ball he does a good job assessing where he is on the floor, then either turning to face up or backing his man down. He’s an aggressive rebounder on both offense and defense, going after anything that comes off the rim. As soon as he snatches a defensive rebound, he makes sure to keep the ball high and immediately looks down the court for his guards. Gardner has a soft touch around the basket, and combined with his rebounding skills, he can put up a lot of points. He’ll need to add a 15 footer, either from the baseline or wing, along with free throw line extended jumper. This will allow him to stretch the floor and be more of an offensive factor for his team. Overall, expect him to get a lot of attention over the course of the summer playing with Team Loaded (15U).
WCBA’s (17U) John Burwell was out to make a name for himself this weekend. After first witnessing Burwell play on JV for Millbrook HS during the 2013-2014 season, it was noticeable that there was some improvement needed in his overall game. However, after catching glimpses of the 5’11, C/O 2016 Point Guard during this past season and now watching him over the weekend, it is safe to say that he’s a force to be reckoned with. From getting out on the break, to driving to the basket, to hitting jumpshots all over the court, it is obvious that Burwell has been putting in work at the gym. The most striking difference in his game is maturity and IQ. Early on, Burwell would recklessly drive to the basket and be turnover prone. However, he’s always been a tough on-ball defender. Now he’s very poised and patient, on top of being a tenacious defender. While Burwell is still relentless, it’s much more under control. He also plays with great confidence (which helped him standout against the star studded Team Loaded 17U) and his head stays on a swivel. After seeing such a strong outing, it’s safe to say that Burwell will have a successful AAU season, if he keeps this up.
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding the C/O 2017 Donte Tatum. The WCBA (16U) point guard has been making a lot of noise out of Cary High School this past season. Throughout the weekend Tatum was ultra aggressive. His style of play makes him seem like he’s always in “attack mode,” constantly coming at the defense. He’s a scoring guard that can get buckets in a variety of ways. Tatum is fierce when he drives to the lane, as he uses speed and a quick first step to get by his initial defender. When he gets to the paint, he can finish with style or through the contact. Tatum’s arsenal also includes a consistent jumpshot, so if a defender backs off of him he can knock it down with ease. On defense, he doesn’t cut his man any slack. He remains active and aware, always ready for an opportunity to present itself. Tatum can turn a turnover into a fastbreak in the blink of an eye. With his strength and stamina, it’s easy to recognize that Tatum is the heartbeat of any team he’s on. He sets the tone and leads by example. He’s already starting to make a name for himself, so you can be sure you’ll hear about him throughout the summer!
The best word to describe Team Loaded’s (16U) Aaron Simmons is, “bully”! The C/O 2017, 6’4 combo guard is not only quick, he’s very solid. What you appreciate most about Simmons is he gets after rebounds. He uses his size and strength to snatch down boards. When he grabs a defensive rebound, he has the ability and control to bring the ball up the court. Oh, and good luck trying to take it away from him. Simmons has the handle and craftiness to get the job to ward off any defender. When he drives to the basket, he uses his power and quickness to keep his man off him. All of the while making sure to finish at the rim. Even though Simmons is a decent spot up shooter, once his jumper becomes more consistent he will evolve into a major threat.With all of the offensive weapons in his toolbox, Simmons best quality is his defense. It’s rare to see kids takes pride in strapping up and giving their all on the other side of the ball. Simmons is the kid that coaches love, because as a defender he’s communicating, up on his man, moving his feet, and crashing when the shot goes up. Only a sophomore at Score Academy (Chapel Hill, NC), it’s anticipated that he’ll get a lot of attention from college scouts and recruits on the summer circuit!