Ayala caps eventful summer with FAA camp

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Teddy Bailey (@TheTeddyBailey)

The season of summer is notorious for sleeping in late, taking trips to the shore and simply enjoying the beauty of free time.

Eric Ayala hasn’t been able to partake in many of those aforementioned experiences this summer.

The AAU circuit with WE-R 1’s 16U and 17U teams, combined with playing in the U16 FIBA Americas Championship, has caused for nonstop basketball in what has been an eventful few months for Ayala.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” Ayala said. “I haven’t been able to get much rest [this summer] so every time I have the opportunity to rest, I take advantage of it. Everything went well, we played good basketball for Team USA, lost in the 17U final in Vegas.”

Ayala is about to experience a good amount of change in the coming months. The 6-foot-2 guard has not only reclassified to the Class of 2018, but he announced his transfer from Sanford (De.) to Putnam Science (Ct.) over the summer as well. Ayala and fellow Division-1 guard Mikey Dixon were both expected to chase the Delaware state championship next season.

“I’m going to miss it, man,” Ayala said of Sanford.”We were a family, it was a brotherhood. Sanford did a lot for me. It’s [Putnam Science] going to be interesting, that’s for sure. It’ll be pretty fun. It was a family decision, that’s basically what it was.”

Ayala had played two seasons at the Sanford School before deciding to change the destination for his high school career. Ayala will join fellow WE-R 1 high-major Sedee Keita (2016), along with 2016 UConn commit Mamadou Diarra and 2017 wing Hamadou Diallo at Putnam Science next season.

The now-2018 guard is a smooth court general that sees the game better than most guards – his offensive upside is mostly done in the form of transition buckets, dribble-drives and creating for his team. Another year of high school basketball will allow Ayala to discover his full potential in terms of jump-shooting and explosiveness.

“I was focused this summer on just picking up the pace,”he said. “I wanted to play a little bit faster as a point guard. I’ve been playing more efficient this summer, which is extremely important for my position.”

Ayala is a high-major prospect that has seen his recruiting stock rise over this past calendar year. The rising sophomore holds high-major offers from Cincinnati, St. John’s, Southern Cal, South Carolina and most recently, VCU (8/4). Locally, Ayala has been offered by Temple, Saint Joseph’s and La Salle.

As far as Hoop Group’s Future All-American camp goes, Ayala’s legs are still churning and his court vision is still making his point guard play a force to be reckoned with. If the exhaustion and restlessness is there, he’s not showing it. Ayala is considered as one of the better point guards at FAA camp this week, but he isn’t taking his competition very lightly.

“There’s a few players here that are pretty darn good,” Ayala said. “I find it fun to play against them and see how it goes.”

Mikeal Jones eager to start at Roman

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Teddy Bailey (@TheTeddyBailey)

If Mikeal Jones’ first tryout game at Hoop Group’s Future All-American camp is any indication, Roman Catholic, and the Philadelphia area, may have found its next versatile wing.

The 6-foot-6 rising freshman is one of those players that just doesn’t look like they are months removed from middle school. Jones features a build that is comparable to an upperclassman, which is easily the first thing that catches the eye.

There’s more to the 2019 wing than his physique, obviously. Jones put on a show in the initial tryout games by knocking down jumpers from various points around the court. His build, combined with his speed, allows him to be a cumbersome task for defenders in the paint.

“Right now, I can play the 3 or the 4,” Jones said. “I like the idea of being able to play 1 through 5. I see myself in four years, developing and becoming more of a scorer and rebounder.”

Pressure is a key component of Jones’ game; mostly because the athletic guard is widely viewed as yet another future star to come through the Philadelphia basketball area. He picked the right school to play for in terms of play; the Cahillites feature Penn State commit Nazeer Bostick, as well as high-major guard Tony Carr, wing Lamar Stevens and mid-major forward Paul Newman.

“I’m willing to take on the challenge,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of people that are capable of doing it, but if Philly is dependent on me to do it, I’m willing to take it on.”

Is Jones feeling the heat? This summer definitely helped. After his first summer playing on the national AAU circuit, the incoming freshman feels a little more seasoned.

“I’ve played in Atlanta and Las Vegas, two big-time tournaments,” he said. “I know that I’ve gotten better over the past three months. It was a little intimidating and definitely a lot more pressure, playing in front of big crowds and that nature.”

As far as Hoop Group’s Future All-American camp at Albright College goes, Jones is considered to be one of the top 2019’s in the camp. That being said, the aspiring high-major player recognizes the abundance of talent here this week.

“It’s very competitive,” Jones said of FAA. “And definitely not as easy as I thought it was going to be. There’s player s from all over the country. I’m just trying to get better, day-by-day.”

It will surely interesting to see how much Jones contributes for the defending PCL, district and state champions in the winter. It helps that he’s already familiar with the upperclassmen leaders of the squad.

“We’re all pretty close,” Jones said of Carr, Bostick and Stevens. “I have great relationships with the entire team and I look forward to helping them out next year. Basically I’m planning on just bringing the energy, playing as hard as I can and trying to help out the team any way possible.”

“I want to see myself at a high-major D1 school,” Jones continued. “I want to be able to set examples for the younger kids coming up.”

He’s definitely on his way.