Friday, December 30, 2011

ARIK ARMSTEAD: What School??? What Sport??? What Fun!!!


Written by: Mitch Stephens & Prospect-Central

For some people just going to college is an accomplishment, for Arik Armstead, that's just the tip of the iceberg.  The 6-foot 8-inch, 280 pound Armstead is a star on both the basketball court & football field and has serious aspirations for playing both sports at the next level. Armstead is rated by some scouting services as the #1 football prospect in the class of 2012, so his dreams of playing in the NFL are more than reasonable.  As far as the NBA is concerned, that's another story.

In October Armstead decommitted from USC and is now considering entering college in January.  His list of schools are Oregon, Auburn, Cal, Notre Dame, & Texas to name a few; all of which have said he could play basketball.  The new year is upon us and Arik Armstead has the most important decision to make in his life.  If he's really serious about playing both sports professionally, then the college he chooses is critical in accomplishing that dream. Can Arik be the first athlete ever to play in the NFL & NBA??? Probably not, but he certainly has a chance to play in the NFL.  First things first though, he needs to play ball in college and that might be happening sooner rather than later.  Below is an article about Arik from December 29th, 2011.

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) post Arik Armstead snatched a defensive rebound above the rim and instinctively didn't bother to look for an outlet. 

The court was spread and players dispersed in this up-and-down sequence, so the 6-foot-8, 285-pound senior played "Magic Johnson" and dribbled speedily, gracefully and no doubt powerfully straight past midcourt and toward the Simi Valley free throw line. 

None of the Pioneers looked to take a charge. 

"I wouldn't," Pleasant Grove point guard Malik Thames said. "That's almost 300 pounds of beef chugging at full speed." 

Armstead stopped on a dime at the line, dished left to Thames and the slight 6-2 junior made a contested layup while being fouled. He converted the 3-point play. 

It was a textbook fastbreak hoop. … without an outlet pass. … and King Kong leading the break. 

"I have some skills," Armstead said with a twinkle following his team's 73-45 victory in pool play of the MaxPreps Holiday Classic at Cathedral City High School. "I don't get to show them much but I have them."  

Armstead hasn't flashed them much over the past season because he's one of the nation's top football recruits, a two-way interior lineman ranked # 28 in the nation by CBS/MaxPreps recruiting expert Tom Lemming.  

But his first love, he said, was always hoops. His dad Guss trained professional athletes for a living, many of them college and NBA players. 

"I grew up in the gym and around the game," Armstead said. "I loved it. I still do." 

His first recruiting letter, in fact, was when he was a freshman. It was from Cal to play basketball. Despite his massive size and growing muscles, he's agile, nimble and quick. 

He possesses soft hands, a nice touch around the hoop, and with a simple shift of his powerful hips, he can easily clear space. 

Like in the third quarter against 6-7, 180-pound senior Jordan Ladd, a typically-sized high school post. Armstead decided to assert himself. Ladd wound up on the ground. The Simi Valley coaching staff understandably pleaded to the referees for mercy. 

Or at least a foul. 

"That's probably how I should play," said the soft-spoken Armstead. "It's hard in high school. I have to do a lot of soft stuff to avoid people. It's going to be different in college. I'll be playing against more physical guys and I can show my game." 

But many people – football folks of course – think that Armstead should give up his basketball dream. 

Those in the know see him as a sure-fire NFL lineman. Some say an offensive tackle. He prefers defense. 

His ultimate dream though is to do it all. And we mean all. 

"I want to be the first to play in the NFL and the NBA," he told Sacramento Bee staff writer and MaxPreps contributor Joe Davidson in August. "I really want to try. I think the only thing that would hold me back would be injuries, but if I'm healthy, and I really put my mind to it, why not?"

Pleasant Grove basketball coach John DePonte wouldn't put it past him. But DePonte said it would be nice for Armstead to enjoy being a kid first before thinking of making history. 

"Never seen a kid pulled in so many directions," DePonte said. "Football recruiters. Basketball recruiters. Writers. Colleges. People on the street. It's amazing that he holds it together." 

It helps, of course, that he has such strong family ties. His older brother Armond played football at USC, where Arik originally committed to play football. 

He decommitted in October and his football and basketball recruiting is wide open. On top of that, he's considering graduating Pleasant Grove early and enrolling next month in whatever college he picks. 

He said his finalists – Oregon, Auburn, Cal, Notre Dame and Texas – have all said he could play basketball also. 

That's a lot to chew over. But at least he's got options. More than an 18-year-old should be faced with perhaps. 

"I do a pretty good job of blocking everything out and enjoying my time in the here and now," he said. 

Of course, if he leaves, DePonte and the Eagles will have a huge hole to fill in the middle.  The Eagles are 10-1, extremely talented and a legitimate Division I Northern California state basketball contender. 

The team is in the wait-and-see mode with Armstead's decision, to see if he actually finishes out the season. He averages about a double-double per game and those numbers could grow exponentially as his basketball legs get underneath him.

"I know it's tough on them," Armstead said. "Again, I try not to think about it. I'm here now, I'll be here tomorrow. We're a team." 

Thames, one of his best friends on the team, and a top Division I basketball prospect, said whatever Armstead decides he'll support. 

"We just want what's best for big Arik," he said. "Of course we'll miss him if he goes. He's a huge part of our team. But it's totally his decision and we'll all be good with it.

"I'll be really interested how he does (in basketball) in college. He's such a nice kid he sometimes takes it easy on the high school (players). And the refs call him for everything because he's so much bigger and stronger than everyone. But when he gets mad, he absolutely dominates and I can see him doing that in college." 

DePonte would prefer he stay at Pleasant Grove for his last semester even if he didn't play basketball. 

Just so he could enjoy his peers. Attend senior ball. Relax. 

And hey, if he wants to help Pleasant Grove win a Sac-Joaquin Section basketball title – or more – all the better. Armstead would love all those things also. He'll announce his college plans likely at the U.S. All-American Bowl Jan. 7 in San Antonio. If not, then shortly after, he said. 

"Colleges start up January 17, so I'll have to make my decision before then," he said with a wide grin. "I've got big things planned for my life. If I leave high school early then I'll start moving to the next chapter then." 

Judging how he moves on the break, he's ready to take off.  Original Article.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

ANTHONY DAVIS: The NEXT Marcus Camby???

Marcus Camby
Anthony Davis

Written by: Elena Bergeron & Prospect-Central

I knew who Marcus Camby was almost before Marcus Camby knew who he was.  I had a chance to watch Marcus play as a high school freshman (Conard High) and then as a sophomore, junior and senior (Hartford Public), not to mention in college (Umass) as well. At the time I was a little "wet behind the ears", but it didn't take long before I knew he was destined for the NBA.  While I knew Camby was good, I didn't know how good.  It was only after he threw down a vicious one-handed alley-oop on me in a pick up game, at the infamous Colt Park in Hartford, Connecticut, that I truly realized the potential he possessed. A couple years later, he was selected #2 overall in the 1996 NBA draft and the rest is history.

Anthony Davis not only has a chance to become the NEXT Marcus Camby, he actually has a chance to be better than the sixteen year NBA veteran.  Camby might be a little bigger than Davis is, but there is no question Davis has a nicer offensive game and is more active on the boards.  Even though Davis may have a higher skill-set than Camby, their freshmen numbers are still pretty similar.  Camby averaged 10.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg & 3.7 bpg while Davis is currently averaging 11.8 ppg, 10.0 rpg & 4.2 bpg.  Ironically they share the same college coach in John Calipari as well.

While Marcus Camby has had a solid NBA career, averaging 10.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg & 2.5 bpg in sixteen seasons, he never quite lived up to the hype that a #2 selection warrants.  Lets face it, he was drafted ahead of three future Hall-of-Famer's in the likes of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash & Ray Allen.  I'm pretty sure if NBA gm's could go back in time, this would not have been the case. When Anthony Davis finally decides to declare for the NBA draft, I am almost certain he will be a top 3 pick.  Yet another similarity he will share with the "Camby Man." Anthony Davis the NEXT Marcus Camby???  In my opinion...NO...he's the NEXT Anthony Davis...which might actually be better. Below is an article written about Anthony from December of 2011 followed by a highlight video of himself & Marcus Camby and his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel.

Until 24 months ago, Anthony Davis was a nondescript set of initials. "Most people call me AD; I've never had nicknames based on my game," says the Kentucky forward. Of course not. Nicknames are a statement, affectionate and brief, describing the most obvious hook of a person.
When he was an oversize infant born in Chicago, his family took to calling him Fat Man -- a name that held most of the way through high school. But when puberty (and the basketball gods) stretched him seven inches over a few months during his junior year, it was time for a new moniker. Now, seeing the 6'10" Davis creeping along the court in practice, sticky limbs shooting out from nowhere, Kentucky coach John Calipari has taken to calling him Spider-Man. "He just goes 'pfft' and his arms go and he's hanging in the air," Calipari says.
Davis is just starting to get comfortable inside his taffy physique -- his version of a superhero suit. Two months into the season, the 220-pound freshman has already saved a win against North Carolina, snuffing John Henson's last-second jumper like spit on a birthday candle. On that play alone, Davis showed why he isn't just Tall Guy or Big Fella.
It also proved that he's figured out how to control those yards of limbs to his advantage. And people are taking notice. Fewer than 10 games into his college career, Davis was already being eyed as the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA draft. Says a Western Conference scout of the Henson block, "I saw that and I just thought, He's the type of player who justifies the entire NBA draft process."
But this wouldn't be a good superhero origin story without some pathos. Part of Davis' drive to develop a game on both ends of the court owes to the fact that he remembers being a 6'3" guard who didn't play travel basketball or get high-major scholarship offers until the summer after he grew. Instead, he practiced with his cousins Jarvis, Marshaun and Keith Chamberlain (who played pro ball in Germany), going through guard workouts put together by their dad, Keith Sr. -- Davis' elementary school athletic director.
Then the Spurt happened. Davis played exactly one summer on the travel circuit before his out-of-nowhere talent made headlines. Within a month after his first tournament during his junior year, he was a top-10-ranked recruit. Although he got offers to spend his senior year at Chicago's public school powerhouses, Davis decided to stay at Perspectives Charter School, where he averaged 32 points, 22 rebounds and seven blocks per game. "When I grew, it made the game a lot easier for me," Davis says. "I didn't have to try to shoot floaters over these giant guys."
Now he's a menace. Davis had blocked 14.74 percent of two-point field goals taken against him through Dec. 17 (fifth nationally), with 4.4 rejections per game (second). When Davis had seven blocks in a win over Kansas at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 15, Calipari says he texted 16-year NBA vet Marcus Camby (whom he coached at UMass): "Remind you of you when you were younger?" Camby laughed and responded yes. Then Cal gets serious: "Anthony is ahead of Marcus at this stage. Marcus was good but not like this as a freshman."
Davis' impact on defense is where his length and athleticism are most apparent, but it's his offensive potential -- the ballhandling skills and shooting touch Uncle Keith instilled -- that persuaded Calipari to switch up his dribble-drive motion (DDM) offense. At both Memphis and Kentucky, DDM always worked with a big who ran the floor for mostly transition buckets or putbacks. But with soft-handed Davis playing alongside preseason All-America post Terrence Jones, Calipari tweaked the strategy to include more pick-and-roll action. So far, Davis has scored on half the pick-and-roll possessions he's run (1.11 points per possession), mostly on a solid-looking 19-foot jumper.
Of course, things are more interesting when Davis goes up for breakaway dunks, which is how he scores most of his 11.8 ppg. He's easy to find on lobs, and his explosive vertical makes for a show. "He puts his teeth on the rim," Calipari says. "He's jumping that high with his size, which means his arm is probably a foot above the square." It's just one more way Anthony Davis has made a name for himself.  Original Article.

Monday, December 26, 2011

KYLE ANDERSON...REPLAY!!! Newark Central vs #6 St. Anthony's

Kyle Anderson: Class of 2012

Written by: Prospect-Central

There is no question that the St. Anthony Friars are the most dominant high school basketball program in the state of New Jersey for nearly the past forty years.  The Friars are of course coached by the legendary Bob Hurley Sr., who was selected to the Basketball Hall-of-Fame in April of 2010.  St. Anthony's has won a total of twenty five state championship's, which is more than any other school in U.S. history.  They have produced over one-hundred Division I college basketball player's as well as a number of NBA player's, including six first rounders.  The latest star to come out of the historic program...none other than 6-foot 8-inch, UCLA commit, Kyle Anderson.  Anderson, who is a top 5 player in the class of 2012, might be the most unique prospect in all of high school.  With his exceptional ball handling abilities, terrific court vision and tremendous overall feel for the game, Kyle Anderson is actually a point guard despite having the size of a forward.  Now is your opportunity to see for yourself if Anderson's point guard skills can translate to the collegiate level and beyond.  Magic Johnson was an over-sized point guard, as was Penny Hardaway.  Is Kyle Anderson next on the list???  Judge for yourself as Kyle (who scored his 1000th point in this game) and the St. Anthony Friars square off against the Newark Central Blue Devils from Jersey City, New Jersey.  * Newark Central vs St. Anthony's, December 20th, 2011.

ST. ANTHONY HIGH SCHOOL ( White ) Roster: #1 Josh Brown #2 Tony Houston #3 Hallice Cooke #5 Kyle Anderson (UCLA) #10 Tariq Carey #11 Jordan Forehand #12 Chris Regus #15 Kody Jenkins #21 Kentrell Brooks #23 Tarin Smith #24 Tim Coleman #30 Edon Molic #32 Jimmy Hall (Hofstra University) #33 Jerome Frink #42 Jordan Compas

NEWARK CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL ( Blue ) Roster: #1 Jaquan Hanson #3 Elijah Melvin #5 Taji Williams #10 Davion Morris #11 Johnny Morales #12 Brandon Waiters #13 Yasmin Smith #20 Al Gernon Gordon #23 Keywon Savage #24 Nafis Treadwell #34 Davon Benoit #35 Devin Huff #45 Ty Cradle

Saturday, December 24, 2011

ROBERT NKEMDICHE: The Force to be Reckoned With!!!


Even though he's only a junior in high school, Robert Nkemdiche might be the best overall prospect in the nation regardless of class.  In my opinion, if it wasn't for last years #1 player in the country and current South Carolina freshman All-American Jadeveon Clowney, Nkemdiche would probably be the most talented defensive end prospect to come through the high school ranks in roughly the last ten years.  Some scouts believe Nkemdiche might actually be better than Clowney. Whether he is or isn't I don't know, but judging by his statistics and accolades from the 2011 season, it seems like a fair discussion.

Robert Nkemdiche backed up his stellar sophomore year (53 tackles, 23 for loss, 18 sacks) with an outstanding junior campaign.  The 6-foot 5, 275-pounder was a terror on both sides of the ball.  He finished the season with 93 tackles, including 25 for loss and 18 sacks despite facing double and triple teams every game.  On the offensive side of the ball, he rushed for 528 yards and 17 touchdowns, including one TD in the state championship game (which his team won).  Nkemdiche was also named a First Team All-American by ESPN as well as an Underclass All-American.  With his size, strength (benches 340lbs, squats 500lbs, power cleans 340lbs) and speed (4.6 second 40-yard dash)'s quite clear Robert Nkemdiche is a force to be reckoned with!!!  Below is an article written about Robert from April of 2011.

Rush Propst knows a thing or two about football prospects.
The Colquitt County (Georgia) High School coach who has over 200 career victories has seen some of the best the Southeast has to offer over his 22 years of coaching in Georgia and Alabama. But it is Loganville (Ga.) Grayson sophomore defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, who nearly cost Propst a trip to the state finals last December, who has Propst searching for adjectives.
"Robert is one of the best players I have ever seen. Period," Propst said. "Going into that [state semifinal] game, I watched all 13 Grayson games and knew that we would have to do something different because we would have to slow him down. We had to keep him off balance with different schemes, protections and snap counts. We had to slow him down and not let him control the game because he's the type of player that takes over games. I have coached 30 years and a lot of great players. I have coached Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and Joe McKnight in all-star games. He's the best underclassmen I have ever seen."
You get that a lot when talking about Nkemdiche. He's gone from a seventh-grader who never played the game, but still scored 42 TDs as a running back, to a 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive end who holds verbal scholarship offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, USC and many others after posting 18 sacks last fall as a sophomore.
"There is not a kid in the country that can block him one-on-one right now," said Lenny Gregory, Grayson's defensive line coach, who played nose guard at BYU from 1989-93. "I am not sure that there is a college in the country where he wouldn't start this fall. This kid is that good."
It took a couple of years before Nkemdiche started focusing on defense. But even then, he initially was a defensive back as a freshman. But after the coaches looked at his hands and feet and saw his athletic ability, they came to the quick conclusion that his future was on the defensive line.
"We felt like when he was a freshman he would one day be No. 1 player in country," Gregory said. "So we told Robert that this is what we are going to do and put together a plan. It became our mission. What we thought would happen has happened."
Well, kind of. The Grayson staff always knew if he worked hard, Nkemdiche would develop into an unstoppable defensive end. They just didn't realize that it would happen quite this fast. Heck, he's played the position for only two seasons now, so it's scary to think what he will be like as a senior in the fall of 2012.
"Who would ever have expected Robert could do the things he can do?" said Mickey Conn, Grayson's head coach. "That motor of his is unreal, the way he can turn it on. He's big, powerful, quick and fast. He's a freak. Robert is way ahead of schedule. I honestly thought he would be playing this way by the end of his junior season or during his senior year. I never thought he would be that dominant as a sophomore."
Conn, who played for Alabama in the early '90s, says Nkemdiche reminds him of former Crimson Tide All-American Eric Curry, while others have compared him to former North Carolina and current Chicago Bears star Julius Peppers. If anything, that's a credit to Gregory, who has worked closely with Nkemdiche.
"Coach Gregory has played a big role, especially last year," Nkemdiche said. "He makes me humble and doesn't give me a lot of affirmation. He doesn't look at me as a standout. He played at BYU and he had a chance to play in NFL. He's a real good dude that has taught me so much. He's a big influence as to who I am right now both on and off the field."
And that's important because of Nkemdiche's unique situation at home. His mom, Beverly, lives in Africa and is currently running for governor for one of their states in Nigeria. His father, Sunday, is a doctor who works long hours at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
"Everything is hectic," Nkemdiche said. "My dad works overnight sometimes and Coach Conn and Coach Gregory really help me out. It's really hard because I don't get to see my mom that much. She comes to see us three, four times a year. But it's something I have gotten used to."
As much as he leans on his coaches, he also turns to his older brother, Denzel, who graduates from Grayson High School in the coming weeks and will play football at Gulf Coast Community College in Mississippi this fall.
"We have always been real close, especially with the family not together. With my mom in Nigeria and my dad working so much, Robert comes to me and asks me about everything," Denzel said. "I tell him the grades got me. I talk with him all the time about that. I tell him the grades are first. He's already getting lots of publicity already. I tell him to stay humble, stay focused and stay poised."
That's part of the focus for Nkemdiche now. Everyone at Grayson is trying to prepare the newly turned 17-year-old for the future.
"After last season, Robert won a few awards so I sat him down and wrote the word humble on a piece of paper," Gregory said. "I told him to put it on his wall and to look at that word every day when he wakes up. I told him to think about what it means. I will come up to him every day and ask him what our word is -- humble."
And it's worked. Yes, Nkemdiche knows he's a special player now, but he is also smart enough to know that doesn't guarantee anything for the future.
"Not trying to sound cocky, but I know I am pretty good and all, but I have things to learn and a lot ahead of me," Nkemdiche said. "I have a lot to learn, especially with technique. This is a big year ahead because I had a good year last season. Teams know who I am and I have to keep building on it. The attention doesn't throw me off. Like it or not, I will not change and it will not change me. You have good days and bad days and you have to work hard and stay humble."
It won't be easy, especially as more people learn about him, more stories are written about him and more schools recruit him. But as of now, he's enjoying the process. He unofficially visited Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama and Auburn, but says he's open to everyone. So far, he says, Oregon is the only team he'd like an offer from that has yet to offer.  (Oregon has offered now.) 
"I'm happy that I am ahead of the process a little bit," Nkemdiche said. "When I go to college I think I will be ready to play as a freshman. I want to be comfortable around coaches, players and students. That will play a big role in my decision."
It almost seems too good to be true. Then again, Robert Nkemdiche is one of those special football players who don't come around all that often.
"Robert's got 'it,'" Jones said. "I don't know what 'it' is, but he has it."  Original Article.