Scouts Say: 14 Players Who Impressed

NEPTUNE, N.J. — Day one of the Hoop Group Buzzer Beater Classic, a full day of 98 games, is in the books. More than 35 coaches from every level of college basketball made the trip to Hoop Group’s headquarters on the Jersey Shore in the final throw’s of the summer’s live period.

With championship games still to come on Sunday, those coaches didn’t go to bed disappointed.

Hoop Group asked 15 coaches to name players who impressed them on Saturday. They gave us 14 different names, sometimes the same player. Coaches agreed to respond under the condition of anonymity in order to discuss recruiting information.

Players are listed with comments from coaches based on how frequently they were named.

Isaac Vann 

USAD (Ct.) | G | 6’5″

“He’s good. He’s smooth. I’m surprised more high-majors aren’t going after him.”

“Playmaker. He really drove the ball hard.”

“He’s great in transition. He just makes things happen.”

Mustapha Traore

Team FOE (Pa.) | F | 6’9″

“He knows how to play. He’s got great footwork. Good skills. Pretty good athlete. I like him a lot.”

“He was really active defending and rebounding.”

Jermaine Ukaegbu

Force 1 (Md.) | G | 6’3″

“He showed a lot of poise on the perimeter against a team that pressured a lot. He made long range shots, he drove the ball and he had a lot of fluidity on offense.”

“He’s one of the better athletes I’ve seen here. He goes to the rim hard.”

Bobby Casey

JB Hoops (Pa.) | G | 6’0″

“I think he’s the best shooter I’ve seen. He can just flat out score.”

Koree Hargraves

Wayne PAL (N.J.) | G | 6’1″

“Stand-up point guard. Always in control. Very hard to take him off the ball. Great court vision. Excellent inside passing.”

Quinton Dixon

NJ Roadrunners (N.J.) | G | 6’4″

“Played well. Did a little bit of everything. Got to the basket.”

Jack Laffey 

Shoreshots (N.J.) | G | 6’5″

“He made shots and played with a lot of toughness.”

Shawn Witherspoon

Team FOE (Pa.) | G | 6’2″

“He attacked. He was really aggressive. He didn’t shy away from anybody.”

Marques Jackson

Team FOE (Pa.) | G/F | 6’6″

“He was aggressive. He had a high motor the whole game. As a coach, that’s really what you want to see, guys going hard the whole game.”

Brandon Anderson

NJ Roadrunners (N.J.) | G | 6’0″

“He’s got a tight handle and he shoots it well.”

Malik Petteway

USAD (Ct.) | F | 6’7″

“A 6-foot-7 four-man who can handle the ball. His midrange game is really good. He attacks all rebounds.”

Justin Lynch

Bay State Jaguars (Mass.) | F | 6’7″

“Very skilled. They ran some Princeton stuff on offense and they had him in the high post and he passed it well. He hit a big jumper late and he looked pretty tough, too.”

Marcus Blackwell

CT Elite (Ct.) | G | Height not listed

“Just a really solid guard. Put together. He’s probably got a college-ready body already.”

Tommy Capuano

CWB (N.Y.) | G | 5’10”

“Probably the only good scorer on this team. He’s a shotmaker with a really tight handle.”

Some quick takeaways:

  • Only three players were mentioned more than once.
  • Only three teams had two or more players named by coaches. Team FOE had three players named to the list. USAD had two players. The NJ Roadrunners had two players named to the list, but they were from different age groups.
  • Only one player named is listed under six feet (Tommy Capuano of CWB is listed at 5’10”).
  • Coaches named eight guards, three forwards and one combination guard/forward (Marques Jackson of Team FOE).
  • Teams from Pennsylvania and New Jersey each landed four players on the list. Connecticut had three players. Maryland New York and Massachusetts each had one.

Gill St. Bernard wins dramatic championship

Gill St. Bernard High School wins the 2014 Elite Team Camp National Division

Gill St. Bernard High School wins the 2014 Elite Team Camp National Division

READING, Pa. — For those who discount the importance of summer tournaments, don’t tell Gil St. Bernard (N.J.).

The Knights made four double-digit comebacks in the course of two days — including an 11-point surge in the final — to capture the Hoop Group Elite Team Camp National Division Championship on Sunday with a 47-43 win over St. Anthony’s (N.J.).

“I’m not sure if I like going down early,” said senior forward Ian Demarest,” but it gets the job done.”

His runner in the lane gave GSB its first and only tie with four minutes to play.

“I don’t think anyone thought we would win this tournament,” Demarest said. “Coach gave us little goals. ‘Cut it to five, cut it to six.’ Eventually, it worked.”

National recruit Tyus Battle only scored nine points, but Adam Mitola added 22 points, including a deep 3-pointer from the wing that gave GSB a four-point lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

“When you can shoot the ball well, you’re never out of a game,” said coach Mark Mitola, Adam’s father. The Knights hit eight triples on the afternoon.

Guard Jagan Mosely scored a team-high 17 points for St. Anthony’s while checking Battle on defense for most of the game.

“There’s two top guards in the country going at each other and making each other work for their shots,” Mitola said.

St. Anthony’s forward Taurean Thompson went on a five-point spree to cut the GSB lead to one, but Battle came back with a layup in traffic and a pair of free throws.

Mosely’s 3 at the buzzer was short.

“We didn’t panic,” Mark Mitola said. “We had to make shots and rebound. That’s exactly what we did.”

Tyus Battle finds rewards in playing with GSB

10494966_731237140274153_7362984438852018458_oREADING, Pa. — When Gil St. Bernard (N.J.) coach Mark Mitola says his team has been “battle tested” over the past few months it’s quite the double entrendre.

When his Knights hit the gym in the offseason, half the time it’s without star player Tyus Battle. The national recruit might make the second day of a tournament or miss regular open gym practice time.

“When he’s not around we’re a slower team, but we move the ball exceptionally well,” said guard Ian Demarest. “But when Tyus is around we have to adapt. We’re a faster team and we have someone, when we need a big bucket, give it to Tyus.”

Such is the life of the topped-ranked shooting guard in the class of 2016. Such is the struggle of his teammates.

“We tell the kids: Tyus has to do his thing, so let’s work hard over the summer and in the gym so when we put him back in the mix, we’re even better,” Mitola said.

Battle missed out a tournament with his AAU team to play with the Knights at Hoop Group’s Elite Team Camp this weekend. He brought hoards of college scouts with him, from Villanova’s Jay Wright to Michigan’s John Beilein.

Behind Battle’s 22 points — all coming without a 3-pointer — against Roman Catholic (Pa.) the Knights are in the National division’s championship game Sunday afternoon.

“My jump shot wasn’t working so I had to take it to the basket even more and make the refs call fouls,” he said. “I guess it worked.”

Battle scored eight points off free throws including three and ones, leading an 11-point second-half comeback. When Demarest hit a triple plus the foul, Battle assisted on the play.

“He always makes big shots in big moments,” Battle said. “It changed the momentum of the game. All my teammates really stepped up on defense and made open shots.”

Mitola said having Battle with the rest of the team over the summer gives the rest of the team a confidence boost that allows it to make tournament runs like this.

“It shows what kind of kid he is,” Mitola said. “He’s unselfish enough to know how hard his teammates work and how special we can be with him here.”

“We all battle for each other,” said Demarest. “Tyus is a very humble player. He’s maybe the best player in the country for his age, but he’s just one of the guys around school and when we play, he looks for us. Our job is just when he penetrates and kicks, we gotta knock down shots.”

The Knights spread the floor during their second half surge in an effort to let Battle attack the rim. Once perimeter shots started falling, that sprung open lanes for the 6-foot-6 swingman inside.

“We wanted to spread the offense to open up some up some lanes for him,” Mitola said. “We have to find spots to expose some opportunities for us.”

Battle said it’s encouraging to see his teammates improve even when he’s separated from them. Through his busy schedule, games like the semifinal win over Roman Catholic make spending more time with Gil St. Bernard that much more rewarding.

“I love these guys,” he said. “I love this school and community. It’s always great coming back to be with them.”

Mohamed Bendary fasts and plays at Hoop Group Elite Team Camp










by Mohamed Bendary

As told to Jacob Bogage

Right now, I’m fasting because I’m Muslim. I would consider me and my family practicing Muslims. My father grows out his beard. We fast. We go to the Mosque on Fridays. We pray, all that good stuff.

Fasting during the month of Ramadan started for Muslims June 28 and it’s going to end July 28. It’s 30 days. I’m going to be fasting every time I play in front of a college coach this summer.

A lot of my teammates at St. Anthony’s (N.J.) think I’m crazy. They think I’m drinking or I’m only fasting for a couple hours. It’s pretty intense. My sister fainted last year while she was fasting.

People have no idea most of France’s team was fasting during the World Cup. Algeria, the whole team was fasting.

A lot people had no idea about that or just in general, how many Muslims there are that are fasting right now. I’m just doing it during camp.

I’m in this constant state of lightheadedness. There were some games where I’d look at certain lights and they would look extra radiant to me.

I tell my friends I feel like I’m dreaming, like I’m half conscious. I’ve been losing weight during the month. I don’t really know how much.

The first year I fasted was the fourth grade. My parents wanted me to start at a young age so it wouldn’t be harder for me when I got older. My mom always checked my tongue to see if it was white. When you don’t eat or drink, your mouth gets dry and frothy.

But I understand my teammates. Certain things you’ve never done or never tried, they seem so crazy. We always say at St. Anthony’s, “Your high school team comes before your AAU team. Religion comes before everything else.”

I feel very comfortable going to a Catholic school as a Muslim. I take religion classes at St. Anthony’s and it’s interesting to learn about Catholicism. The other half of the year we learn about world religions.

Even though I feel lightheaded, I’m happy. I got offered a scholarship by NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology) yesterday. My father got the call too. He was so excited.

I was talking to coach Bob Hurley, my coach at St. Anthony’s, about if I should come to Team Camp or not and he said I should go. You want to give yourself an opportunity and this is an opportunity.

That offer from NJIT, that’s something that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t come.

Coach has had Muslims on the team before. All the Ahmads, all the Mohammeds. One of our assistant coaches is Muslim. Arjan Perovic, the head coach of my AAU team, The City AAU, is also fasting. We eat at the same time. We can be together when everyone is eating. We’re in the same ship.

God is testing you during this month. You can over indulge on food, water, sex, sleeping. Those things you’re supposed to monitor when you’re fasting. You’re supposed to really be a good Muslim and be close to God.

It’s a very blessed month. A lot of people are holding themselves back and it’s a beautiful thing.

Maret beefs up offense, takes down Bishop McNamara

Maret guard Max Steiner

Maret guard Max Steiner

READING, Pa. — Year after year Maret (Washington, D.C.) has produced division-I caliber point guards and perpetually another has stepped in to fill that void. 

Who’s the new guy ready to lead the Frogs in 2014? “We’re still figuring that out,” says head coach Garrett O’Donnell.

Perhaps it’s Max Steiner, a 6-foot senior with biceps the size of his double-wide smile.

“It’s still a process,” Steiner says about becoming a point guard. He’s been a slashing shooting guard his whole life until O’Donnell stuck him in the starting five as a point.

The Frogs knocked off Bishop McNamara (Md.) in the Hoop Group Elite Team Camp on Saturday.

“As soon as I started hitting a few shots everything sort of felt better,” he said.

After all, Maret stretched the floor with a balanced attack. Steiner finished with a game-high 21. Sophomore forward Luka Garza chipped in 15.

The Frogs’ screen action on the post opened up seams for Garza to fire suave hook shoots. If the ball came back to the perimeter, typically two more passes found an open shooter.

“It’s a nice change,” said Steiner. Maret has seldom had a big man who has had such consistent success.

“We love to throw it inside,” said O’Donnell. “We’re trying to teach that more and more.”

He said Garza is showing at camp he’s ready to take on a larger scoring role.

“In our first few summer games I had to get out of playing like a freshman and change my mindset,” Garza said. “I’m in a new role now and it makes me really happy.”

Steiner said Garza’s ability to score makes the front court harder to guard.

“It’s great for me that I know I can throw it in there to Luka or the others and they can score,” he said. “I know if it’s not there it’s coming right back to me.”

Steiner is receiving interest from Brown, Oberlin College, Swarthmore College and MIT, he said.

Garza said he has prospects from George Washington, Davidson, Yale and Columbia, among others.

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