The Take Away: Rock The Court Tournament
With teams, both boys and girls, playing in three different gyms, there was basketball happening all over Raleigh, NC. However, it was the J.D. Lewis Multipurpose Center that was rocking on this Saturday, April 4th, 2015 as they played the host gym for the Rock the Court tournament – see what I just did there! With all of the talent in the area here were the ones that stood out:
Michael Boykin, the newest member to the Garner Road Bulldogs (17U), brings a high level offense to the AAU organization. Boykin is a seasoned player that can run a team. He has his pick between the dribble drive and the pull-up/spot-up jumper. The C/O 2016 Point Guard out of Trinity High School (Fayetteville, NC) keeps his eyes up and does well running the team’s sets. He has shown the ability to get into the lane and finish with ease. Boykin uses his slender frame along with unassuming bounce to play above the rim. He also does a good job moving without the ball, and has the ability to knock down the jumper. While his jumpshot is consistent, it is also his “achilles heal.” There are moments where he’s either shoots himself out of a game or takes too many ill-advised shots. As Boykin continues to develop and smooths out that minor hiccup, he’ll be that much closer to being an elite level guard. He has a nice wingspan which benefits him on both ends of the floor, but primarily on defense. Boykin does a good job reaching in without fouling and he can get off the floor to get blocks. He’s extremely active and vocal, two major characteristics of a strong floor general. Overall, he’s an exciting player to watch and will draw a lot of attention over the summer.
Fresh off a state championship win with Garner High School (Garner, NC), C/O 2016 JaShaun Smith looks to transition his winning habits to the Garner Road Bulldogs (17U). Smith, a 6’6 Small Forward, is an athletic wing with a solid jumper. Maybe using the term “athletic” is a bit of an understatement. Based on assumption alone, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say Smith has close to a 40 inch vertical. He gets really good elevation on his jumpers, making it virtually impossible for defenders to block his shots. Going to the basket he’s nearly unstoppable, using his wingspan and agility to get to the rim. However, with these tools at his disposal he often does not take full advantage of them. With his offensive ability he can easily be a 20+pt/10+reb guy, if he were to play with more of an attack mentality. From time to time he falls in love with the 3 point shot. Even though he can make those, he’s more efficient inside the arch. Defensively, Smith is a match-up nightmare! Not only are his long arms a factor, but he has good lateral movement. Smith does well guarding his man on the perimeter and in the post. Currently, Smith doesn’t hold any offers, but don’t count on that still being true by the end of the summer!
It’s not often you see pure shooters at the high school level. Garner Road’s (17U) John-Reed Barnes is that rare player that makes you feel like it’s going in every time he shoots the ball. The 6’5, C/O 2016 Shooting Guard out of Gate City High School (Gate City, VA) has a lights out jumper that warrants the respect of any defender. When the opposing team fans are yelling, “Watch the shooter…” it’s usually Barnes they’re talking about. What’s intriguing about him is that you can tell he puts a lot of time and repetition into his shot. Barnes has text book form and a picture perfect release. He does a good job coming off of screens for spot-ups. Studying film on NBA greats Reggie Miller (Indiana Pacers) or Richard “Rip” Hamilton (Detroit Pistons) would be deeply beneficial for Barnes, as he can continue to learn movements, cuts, and curls to get better shot selections. As teams catch on to the type of player he is, he’ll have to find creative ways to get open. Barnes doesn’t try to do too much out of his element. When it comes to dribbling, he does enough to make sure he doesn’t turn the ball over. One area of improvement for Barnes is doing a better job reading the defense. There are times where the defender gives him too much space. In those situations he should use his quick release to his advantage. Be on the lookout for Barnes torching nets this summer!
For a freshman out of South Central High School (Greenville, NC) Tahj Riddick has amazing composure! Throughout the entirety of the game at the Rock the Court tournament he was even-keeled and under control. It was like he had ice water running through his veins. The 5’10, C/O 2018 Point Guard for Team Infinite has a swagger that makes him seem mature beyond his years. Riddick has the ball on a string. He’s equipped with an unassuming quickness that allows him to lull defenders in, then he blows by them with his first step. Riddick also showed good body movement and footwork as he faked out defenders with hesitations and crossovers, getting easy paths into the lane. He’s under control when he goes to the basket, allowing him to finish heavily contested shots or make smart decisions with the ball. Riddick knows how to draw in the defense and find the open man. He also has a consistent, smooth jumper. It would be nice to see him use it a little bit more. Since Riddick can break down defenders off the dribble, he would be able to easily incorporate his jumper. He’s already a handful to guard and throwing that into the mix would open up a lot of opportunities for him. With time still on his side, he has potential to develop into a highly effective guard.
Corey Gensler is the real deal! If you followed Cary High School (Cary, NC) basketball this past season you would know that he finished with the Player of the Year award in the conference. In the second game of the Rock the Court tournament Gensler, a 6’4 C/O 2016 Shooting Guard, scored Garner Road’s (17U) first 14 points, straight! He hit four 3 pointers and a jumper inside the perimeter. Not only is he a masterful shooter, Gensler can handle the rock. When the defense tries to close out he can put the ball on the deck and get to the rack or pull up for the shot. He struggles just a little bit on defense if he’s guarding a quicker or stronger opponent. However, Gensler makes it up with his all around toughness. He’s a player that gives maximum effort on both ends of the floor. What seems to make Gensler so skillful is his IQ. While he’s tough and gritty, he makes calculated decisions and makes the most out of situations. His game deeply resembles JJ Reddick (Los Angles Clippers) in the sense that he’s such a threat from the outside but if you try to shut that down, he’ll find other ways to beat you. While Gensler doesn’t have any official offers on the table as of yet, you can bet the farm that won’t last for long. He’s an ultra competitor who wants his team to dominate every time they step on the court. In a 20 point victory Gensler expressed that his team was still a little careless and needs to pick up the intensity. It’s a coaches dream to have players that want to leave everything on the court and Gensler is exactly that.
Jarren McAllister arguably has one of the biggest upsides in the Raleigh-Durham area. The C/O 2018 Shooting Guard was a starter for Heritage High School this past season and held his own. Transitioning from middle school is difficult in it’s own right, let alone being expected to come in and contribute at the highest stage in high school basketball. During the Rock the Court tournament McAllister looked to bring his poise and experience from the high school season to his Garner Road Bulldogs (15U) team. Offensively, the 6’1 guard is not limited to any one thing. McAllister is quick and physical which allows him to absorb contact and finish when he drives to the basket. He also has excellent handle and ball control. McAllister demonstrated this in the final seconds of a game, playing “keep away” to run down the clock and the defender could not come remotely close to taking it from him. He used to have a habit of looking down when he dribbled, but he’s greatly improved on that minor flaw since last I saw him. McAllister also has a reliable jumper that he can knock down if the defense slacks and gives him too much room. He’s extremely athletic and makes good use of this trait, especially on the defensive end. As he continue to develop he’ll have to work on identifying situations where he can maximize any one of his many abilities on the court. Also, there are moments when it seems that McAllister defers too often. Not implying that he needs to shoot 40 shots a game or be a selfish player, but his game could use a little more aggression specifically on offense. With his capabilities I think he could emerge as one of the more dominant basketball players in his class.