Monday, March 19, 2012

HS Basketball Class of 2016: Ten NICE 8th Grade Ballers Under 6 Feet!!!

JASHAUN AGOSTO: Class of 2016

Written by: Prospect-Central

There are many things a middle school basketball player can change about themselves to become an elite prospect for the next level and beyond.  Have a weak left hand???  Work on left handed dribbling drills.  Have no strength???  Hit the weights.  Have a suspect jumper??? Find a ball & hoop and go to work!!!  The point is that there is nothing a little hard work and dedication can't fix...except of course how tall you are.  Since basketball is predominately a game of size, it's obviously advantageous to be tall.  That's not to say smaller players can't prosper in the game of basketball (especially at the middle school & high school levels), but once they enter the college ranks and possibly beyond, it becomes a whole new ball game.

Let's compare some measurements before we move on.  It's difficult to get an exact average height for a 13-year-old male, but it appears to be anywhere from 5'3'' to 5'7''.  The average height of a 25-year-old man is roughly 5'10''.  Compare this to the average height of an NBA player at 6'7'' and one can see the importance of size in the game of basketball.  It's kind of crazy if you think about it.  How many times have you heard the words "Undersized" & "Six-Foot-Eight" in the same sentence, unless of course your talking about an NBA Power Forward.

Obviously height is not the only attribute that goes into the makeup of a great basketball player.  Because there are a number of other variables that go along with the development of a baller, there have been many players to make it to the highest level and thrive despite not having the prototypical size.  There really are too many players to name, but Allen Iverson is just one example of a "Small" baller that had a tremendous amount of success. With that being said, Iverson is one of the toughest players pound-for-pound to ever play the game & is still at least 6-feet tall (2-inches taller than the average man).  When we start talking about players under 6-feet, especially players under 5'10'', the deck really becomes stacked against them.

There have only been twenty-four players in NBA history at a listed height of 5'9'' or shorter. A pretty incredible statistic considering how long the NBA has been around.  Some notable names are: 5'3'' Muggsy Bouges, 5'5'' Earl Boykins, 5'7'' Spud Webb and two current NBA players in 5'9'' Nate Robinson & Isaiah Thomas.  This years Division-I NCAA scoring leader Reggie Hamilton, while not as small as these players, is also under 6-feet.  Move to the high school ranks and you have the electrifying Seton Hall commit 5'7'' Aquille Carr & the highly recruited sophomore sensation Parker Jackson-Cartwright terrorizing the hardwood.  So while size definitely plays a key role in the success of a basketball player, it's not everything.

Which brings us to ten NICE players under 6-feet from the Class of 2016.  Since these ten players are only in middle school, they are obviously still growing and could wind up becoming 6-feet or taller, but for right now they're being featured as some solid 8th grade ballers under 6-feet. As always there are many more players that could be mentioned, but that will have to be for another time.  While most of these names are pretty well known in the world of grassroots basketball, they still have a long ways to go in their development as players.  They are by no means the next pint-sized prodigies, but with some blood, sweat & tears, they could become some very NICE ballers!!!

JASHAUN AGOSTO pg / 5'5''/ Federal Way, WA
If grassroots basketball had a Hall-of-Fame, Jashaun Agosto would more than likely be a first ballot There really isn't a more popular middle school basketball player that comes to mind, than the diminutive Agosto. He's appeared on everything from Good Morning America & ABC World News to ESPN & CBS Sports.  Not to mention an appearance on the Ellen Show a couple years ago and a...wait for it...wait for it...wait for it...Dorito's commercial!!!  He also has more than 25 million YouTube hits under his belt.  While all this is fine and dandy, like the saying goes, "That and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee", or in Jashaun's case, some candy at least.  Basically it doesn't mean anything unless he can play some ball. While haters call Jashaun nothing but hype, the 13-year-old certainly has held his own against all the competition he's faced.  He plays his AAU ball for Emerald City and he's been destroying the competition for well over two years now, even though he usually plays against older opponents.  He was also one of the better players at the 2011 John Lucas Middle School Combine and just recently had an excellent performance at the 2012 13U Nationals from Memphis.  As you can see from the videos, there's a little bit of substance to the hype of Jashaun Agosto.  He definitely has a nice feel for the game. I'm not exactly sure how much more Jashaun will grow, but he should still be an interesting player to keep track of for the future regardless of his size.

RAKYM FELDER pg/sg / 5'10''/ Brooklyn, NY
When people hear the words "Basketball" & "Brooklyn, New York" in the same sentence, naturally they think of three people: Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair & Lance Stephenson. Throw in the fast rising high school sophomore Isaiah Whitehead to make it a solid foursome and it appears Biggie Smalls may have found his answer to "Where's Brooklyn At???"  What I'm trying to say is that every up-and-coming basketball player hailing from Brooklyn, New York, will always be compared to the three previously mentioned names, whether it's fair or not...and it's usually not.  So I will let someone else make the comparisons and just say that Rakym Felder is a very good basketball player, pure and simple.  He's been a scoring machine on the AAU circuit for well over two-years now, putting up some impressive numbers in the process.  Raykm currently plays his AAU ball with the talented New Rens. The New Rens are an excellent team and are anchored in the middle by the giant 6'11'' Raekwon Long. Rakym is more of a combo guard right now because he can score the ball so easily, but he has shown the ability to run an efficient offense.  He needs to work on not losing focus while he plays, but there is no question he has a tremendous amount of potential.  While he's under 6-feet right now, he probably won't be for long, judging by his frame.  So it appears the only other thing he's missing is Eric B...but then again so is the original Rakim...and just like the legendary M.C. from New York...Rakym Felder says..."Don't Sweat the Technique!!!"

BRYCE AIKEN pg / 5'7''/ Randolph, NJ
There will be no corny lines when attempting to describe Bryce Aiken's game.  While I obviously want to say something like, "People will be AIKEN after playing Bryce Aiken", I simply won't do  The fact of the matter is Bryce Aiken probably won't pass the "eye-test", but once he steps between those lines, his game says otherwise. While he's small in stature (5'7'' might actually be stretching it) he's big in intelligence.  He's able to run a team quite effectively, distributing the ball to open teammates as well as creating easy offensive opportunities for himself.  He also seems to have a pretty consistent three-point shot when left open.  Bryce has played for a number of AAU teams throughout his time on the circuit including F.A.C.E.S., King Streets, KYDA and his current squad Team Scan.  Few players have appeared in or won more championships than Bryce and back in January he helped Team Scan win the 2012 Tip Off Classic, taking home All-Tournament honors in the process.  Since he's from the great state of New Jersey, he has his options as to what basketball powerhouse he will to attend for his first year of high school ball.  As of right now he's deciding between St. Anthony's, St. Benidict's & Seton Hall Prep.  Some quality institutions if I do say so myself.  I hope Bryce is able to keep working hard and choose a school that not only helps him grow into a great basketball player, but an even better person.

AARON AUGUSTIN pg / 5'10''/ Atlanta, GA
Another player to definitely keep in mind for the future, Aaron Augustin.  The nationally known Augustin is considered by many to be one of the best point guards from the Class of 2016 and possibly the best 8th grade point guard in all of Georgia. Whether he is or isn't I can't really say, but he certainly deserves to be in the discussion.  Whether it's playing for his AAU or Middle School teams or performing at various camps across the country, Aaron Augustin continues to play at a high level.  Last summer at the Junior All-American Camp, he was easily one of the best players in the entire event, finishing as the 4th best player from the Class of 2016.  His excellent play didn't end there however, as he helped his AAU team Georgia Stars to a 2nd place finish at the 13U National Championships.  Aaron had an excellent game, pouring in a solid 18 points, but it ultimately wasn't enough.  The #1 eighth grader in the country Khalea Turner & Dunk Dog Elite (formally LA Select) defeated the Georgia Stars 50-41.  Fast forward a year and Aaron Augustin is still steamrolling the competition.  Back in February he led his Hull Middle School team to a championship victory, scoring 30 points in the game, with 15 of his points coming in the 4th quarter.  If that wasn't enough, the 57-41 victory gave Aaron & the Lions a perfect season.  A pretty remarkable feat regardless of age.  Like everyone else, Augustin's trainer & mentor Vidal Massiah has nothing put high praise for the 8th grader. "Aaron's the best player I ever worked with at this stage.  His jump shot, handle and IQ are way ahead of the majority of players his age", said Massiah.  While Aaron isn't 6-feet yet, he'll probably reach that mark by the time he graduates high school.  Until then he'll just have to continue to work hard and do what he does...PUNISH the competition!!!

COLIN SLATER II pg / 5'9''/ Fresno, CA
I don't know much about Colin Slater II, but he certainly has made a name for himself in his young basketball career. He's been featured in SLAM & RIVALS as one of the best 8th grader's in the country and while that has brought him a tremendous amount of exposure, he's not as well known as one would think.  He doesn't play in many AAU events or attend many national camps, so it's easy to see why he could fly under the radar.  It was almost three-years ago when he first became a relatively known name.  At the 2009 National Jr. Phenom Camp in San Diego, CA, Colin showed what he was made of.  It was his first and only nationally exposed event and he left as the #1 rated guard by HoopScoop in his age bracket.  He also had a nice showing at the 2010 Central Cali Finest Showcase Event, despite playing against high school seniors as a seventh grader.  The camps director Jeremy Russotti was very impressed with Colin saying he could be a "Top recruit in years to come."  Colin then attended the Michael Jordan Basketball Camp and once again dazzled everyone in attendance.  Jordan even went as far as to select Colin for a little "One-on-One" action.  A couple other people that know a thing or two about basketball were also impressed with the youngster.  Charles Paul & Daryl Augustin (father's of Chris PaulDJ Augustin) had some pretty high praise for the 8th grader.  "The kid is special," Charles Paul said.  "If he continues to get better, he could be the best in his class if he isn't already."  Daryl Augustin went on to say, "He reminds me of DJ at that age and DJ was tearing it up at 13.  I'm confident he'll prosper in the game of basketball, that's how good he is."  Colin plays middle school ball for Granite Ridge Intermediate School in Fresno, CA and nearly averaged a quadruple double this season (lol).  He will also attend the prestigious Fab Frosh All-American Camp in the summer.  Whether his game justifies the hype or not I don't know, but I look forward to finding out.    

ALANI MOORE pg / 5'9''/ Germantown, MD
Anytime someone has the nickname "Showtime", there's usually a good reason for it.  While it's yet to be determined if 8th grader Alani Moore truly deserves the moniker or not, he certainly plays with an indistinguishable flair for the game.  Alani does an excellent job at switching gears and changing direction, which really keeps his opponents on their toes.  Along with his terrific play making ability and sneaky athleticism, he's shown nice range on his jumper and the ability to finish through contact.  Because of his tremendous overall skill-set, he's been a formidable force on the AAU circuit for quite sometime.  Alani plays for the talented DC Assault and he's helped them win a number of championships over the years.  He's also earned a significant amount of accolades in the process.  Back in April he was named MVP of the 14U division at the 2011 Big Shots DC Basketball Tournament and in August he was named "Top Point Guard" from the 14U division at the 2011 Basketball Spotlight Super Showcase.  Then in January he helped DC Assault win the 14U Clash for the Cup Tournament, all while taking home MVP honors in the process. Last month he was at it again, this time at one of the most respected youth basketball events in the nation, the Maryland Invitational Tournament.  He helped DC Assault win the coveted tittle in the 14U division, defeating the Puerto Rican Playmakers 51-45.  Alani Moore currently attends Landon Private School in Bethesda, MD and is yet another player on this list invited to participate at the 2012 Fab Frosh All-American Camp.  While I'm not sure how much more he'll grow, it's safe to assume he'll be taller than 5'9'' by the time he graduates high school.  Regardless of height, it appears Alani Moore is a fast rising 8th grader...and if you ask him what time it already know the's SHOWTIME!!!

CHRISTOPER TOWLE pg / 5'10''/ Nova Scotia, CAN
After watching Christoper Towle play basketball I couldn't help but sing...Oooooooooh Caaaaaanada...Our home and native land!!!  The 8th grader from north of the border has some nice swagger to his game and could almost make any Canadian forget about their national pastime of hockey...then again...lets not get carried away with ourselves  For an 8th grade basketball player however, Christopher Towle definitely can hoop, regardless of what country he's from.  No one will get him confused with a young Steve Nash (if that even is, but he certainly plays with some pizazz.  Since Christopher is from Canada, he's not as well known as his American counterparts, but the game of basketball does not discriminate...if you can can play.  While he's relatively hidden in Nova Scotia, he did have a nice performance at the CT Adidas Jr. Phenom Camp back in November.  He was one of the better players in that event and it earned him an invitation to play at the National Adidas Jr. Phenom Camp this summer.  In the meantime he'll play in the North Pole Hoops East Coast Showcase in March, which might bring him some more exposure as well.  Because he's so young and already 5'10'' with room to grow, he'll probably end up at least 6-feet, but then again who knows.  For the time being he's just a young kid enjoying the game of basketball and there's nothing wrong with that.  So...there's only one thing you have to ask yourself then...Who's type of game gets WETTER as it DRIES???  Towel's...Christopher Towle's!!!

ANTHONY COWAN pg / 5'9''/ Bowie, MD
Every once in a while certain AAU teams get stacked. There really are too many to name, but one squad that comes to mind is the 2006 SoCal All-Stars.  That team was ridiculous to say the least.  It was led by three NBA Lottery selections in Kevin Love, Brandon Jennings & James Harden and in 2006 they went on an incredible undefeated run of 47-0.  Today's 14U DC Assault squad is obviously not even close to that 17U team, but for their age bracket, they sure are beating up the competition.  There's a number of excellent players on DC Assault.  I already featured two solid players (Joe Hampton & Sam Green) in the article "Ten Tantalizing Eighth Grade Ballers" and of course there's the previously mentioned Alani Moore.  There's also a nice looking player in Reggie Gardner that deserves a shout out as well.  Now it's time to introduce Anthony Cowan.  An excellent ball handler with great vision and solid fundamentals, Cowan could develop into a quality point guard once high school rolls around. For the time being he's been helping DC Assault terrorize the AAU circuit.  Back in April he helped them win the 13U division of the Nike Elite Youth Easter Invitational and most recently he helped them win the coveted 2012 Maryland Invitational Tournament.  He did a good job distributing the ball as well as scoring and clearly left his mark in both events. The highly respected Basketball Spotlight has even said Cowan reminds them of a younger version of former DC Assault player and current Duke Blue Devil Quinn Cook.  Like a lot of talented incoming freshmen, Anthony has been invited to participate at the 2012 Fab Frosh All-American Camp this summer.  It will be very interesting to see how he performs against some of the best 14 & 15 year-old's in the country.  Judging by his track record...I'm sure they'll all be bow'n...after play'n Anthony Cowan!!!

JAMIR HARRIS pg/sg / 5'10''/ PiscatawayNJ
Another baller to take a mental note of for the future...Jamir Harris. By no means is the 8th grader an unknown player though.  On the contrary, he's been a well established name in the grassroots community for quite sometime. Whether he's putting up big numbers on the AAU circuit or dominating basketball camps around the country, Jamir has continued to play at a high level since he first burst onto the basketball scene. Three years ago at the 2009 National Adidas Jr. Phenom Camp, he was rated as the #1 wing-forward for the entire event.  Then two years ago he was rated as the #1 overall player at the Adidas Houston Elite Grassroots Youth Program.  While he's dominated virtually every event he's played at, he's been just as good on the AAU circuit as well.  He started playing with Team Battle, where his scoring prowess helped them to a number of New Jersey state tittles.  Then on Team Final he was once again a scoring machine.  He helped them win a number of championships, including the 2011 13U Basketball Spotlight Super Shootout.  He was unstoppable in the finals of that event and finished with a game high 36 points.  Now he plays for the talented Playaz Club out of New Jersey and will no doubt continue where he left off.  He was also invited to participate at the 2012 Fab Frosh All-American Camp this summer.  Since he's already nearly 6-feet tall and able to score quite easily at the 8th grade level, he's more of a shooting guard at the moment, but does seem to have some point guard capabilities.  All in all, Jamir Harris is an excellent prospect and more than likely will continue his stellar play in high school as well.

DERRYCK THORNTON pg / 5'11''/ Simi Valley, CA
For those of you who aren't old enough to remember, which is probably original "Houdini of the Hardwood" was none other than the Boston Celtics legendary point guard Bob Cousy.  Fast forward to 2012 and 8th grader Derryck "Houdini" Thornton seems to be the modern day version of the master magician.  The California native earned the nickname by escaping the efforts of would-be-defenders and making his opponents...disappear!!! (lol).  While I'm obviously using some creative licensing, Derryck is considered by many to be the #1 point guard in the Class of 2016.  This summer at the 2012 Fab Frosh All-American Camp, he'll have a chance to prove himself against some of the best incoming freshmen from across the country.  He's already dominated nearly every event he's attended and currently he's been playing quite well for the immensely talented AAU club Cali Styles.  Cali Styles actually just won the X-Factor AAU Elite Youth Basketball Tournament this week.   Derryck and his talented teammates like #1 seventh grader Cody Riley defeated the Colorado Hawks and Top 10 eighth grader Deron Davis in the inaugural event.  He's also been receiving some recruiting letters from USC as well.  Because Derryck will continue to grow and is listed at 6-feet on some sites as well as under 6-feet on others, I was hesitant about featuring him with these group of players. He'll obviously reach the 6-foot mark (if he hasn't already) before he graduates, but for the time being he can be called a "Nice 8th Grade Baller Under Six-Feet." And just like the magician he's named after, it appears not even a straight jacket let alone some defenders, can stop Derryck "Houdini" Thornton from tearing up the middle school hardwood.

1 comment:

  1. You leaved Josh Colon and Edwin Cancel from the Puerto Rico Playmakers!!