Bigger Than Ball Vol. 5: Aidan Igiehon

Aidan Igiehon is a top ranked basketball player whose aggression and footwork around the basket have colleges from all over the country lining up to see him play.  What’s even more impressive than his ability on the court is the unique journey he has taken to play basketball in the United States.  Igiehon is an Irish citizen, living and going to school in New York.  He’s also one of the most humble kids we have gotten the chance to interview so far.  Here’s our in depth Q & A with the number 55 ranked junior, Aidan Igiehon.  

 

You don’t typically see many kids from Ireland playing ball in the States, how’d you end up coming over to play?

 

It’s funny, I didn’t actually come over here to play ball.  I came over here with my local team called Dublin Lions, they play ball, and I went to this Sixers camp – Philadelphia 76ers.  I was 13, 6’5” – yeah, I was like tall and skinny…and then I was athletic and could dunk the ball.  They were like “yo he’s 13?”, and then a lot of high schools came to see me.  No one really helped me get over here.  I just traveled with my team.  I went from Philly to New York to visit my family, and then stayed a couple months; and then I was playing in the park with my Aunt – my Aunt’s daughter’s Coach is best friends with Dana. He set up a workout, and I’ve been with them ever since.  Never thought about playing with anyone else.  

How was it playing on the EYBL circuit? You were relatively unknown before  you started playing AAU basketball, how did that help your recruiting?

 

On the circuit that’s when I really blew up.  The first session…it was the game against Bol Bol and Shareef [O’Neal] – people were like…like didn’t know who I was at the time.  They were just focused on Shareef.  “theres a kid dunking crazy”, it was me – I was just cocking it back, like ahh!  I had 18 points with like seven dunks and a couple free throws.  After that game my phone started blowing up – they started calling me.  Then I got my first ACC offer.  Syracuse.  After I got that offer, a lot of schools started contacting me.  I was too excited.  Dana was telling me to relax.  I guess he expected it, but I didn’t…Syracuse was like my fourth or fifth, and from then on I had like 20 something.  

 

Who has been the best person you’ve played against so far?

 

Marvin Bagley. Gotta be – and second that Bol Bol.  Bol Bol might be better actually, I don’t know.  He’s nice…underrated.   Only thing is, he’s 7’3” but he hates to play around the rim.  He plays from the free throw line and up.  It’s easier for me to guard big men rather than guards so that made it tough.

 

Which NBA player do you think you play like?

A mixture…I wanna say a mix with Deandre Jordan…and with Anthony Davis.  Yeah – mix that – take a little skill off AD.  My aggression and how hard I dunk the ball is like him.  I am actually very skilled, but many people don’t know that.  All they see is the dunks.  I can finish with both hands and start the break.  It’s tough to show that sometimes because showcase games usually show the guards.  Nobody really knows my name like that so that’s why I’m trying to use this July period to get known.

 

Soccer is the main sport played in Ireland,  and you seem to have great footwork for a player your age – Did you play when you were younger?

 

Yeah, I actually started off playing soccer.  I started playing ball when I was 12, but before that yeah – it was only soccer.  So, I played center midfield – I started off playing right back, and right defensive mid.  I wasn’t thinking about playing in college honestly, I didn’t even know about college athletics when I was younger.

 

Do you still play?

 

I still play soccer for fun, like with my older brother.  He’s 20.  He’s playing semi-pro right now upstate.  He plays in college, but he’s going to be a pro…It’d be cool for me to be able to play for the same school as my brother…I still work out like a soccer player.  When I’m training I do a lot of ladder stuff.  With Dana [Dingle-New York Lightning AAU coach], we start with a couple sprints then some high knees and then other footwork. As you get really tall, really quickly you get kinda slow.

What was the biggest adjustment basketball-wise when coming over from Ireland?

 

The speed of the game, the physicality of the game, and how serious everyone is about it.  In Ireland it’s just fun and games.  Like people here, they work out like one in the morning – I’m used to like, training with a team. That’s how we do it. That’s why the development has been different for me.  I was probably one of the best players in the country back then.  For my age.  There were some good players though.  Now looking back it was kinda like, eh.  There was one guard though, Matt Drummond.  He was good.  I had to wait a couple months before I could play when I came here, just the speed of everything…they threw me into the fire though.

 

Biggest non-basketball adjustment?

 

So basically, I’m in New York so I’m in the city.  In Brooklyn.  So, how there are mad trains and mad buses, and how you don’t use cars to get anywhere…and just the speed of life. It was a big change.  I lived in a very nice estate in Ireland, that you had to drive everywhere. Everywhere’s kinda far…hilly – quiet.  Ireland’s nice, the weather’s just horrendous.  Sometimes you can have all four seasons in a day.  Freezing, then warm, then it gets kinda hot and it’ll rain.

 

You’ve been living in New York for a few years now, do you ever get homesick?

 

Oh yeah.  All the time.  I’ve got a ton of friends and even now, a ton of people follow me like “yo you’re my inspiration”…I actually have to go back and run a camp – I have to give a speech and everything.  A ton of people are going to be there. [laughing] I’m looking at them like, yo I’m just a regular kid – I don’t look at it like how they look at it.  I look at it like I’m just playing ball you know…

What are you planning on saying in your speech?

 

Basically…first thing they’re gonna ask me is if I can dunk.  After that there just gonna ask me questions about my life.  “How can we get there?” They all want to come over, but unfortunately they can’t all come, but who am I to say they can’t.  So I’m going to let them know they have to work hard, and try and tell them how I much work out – and how you have to stay focused on academics. That plays a huge part.  Because I have good academics my recruitment is great.  I have a 3.7 – because of that my recruitment took off.

 

You have well over 20 Division I scholarship offers now, which gives you the opportunity to pick a school that really fits you.  What are you looking for out of the programs that are recruiting you?

 

I want to be somewhere where I can play right away.  My goal honestly is to be a pro.  I’m going to try man.  I just started playing ball..like I’m working hard, so I think I have a chance.  That’s why I work out so much – I’m just trying to work on my skills.  I’m really gonna try.

 

What do you think you need to work on to become a more complete player, and hopefully reach your goal of playing professionally?

 

I think I need to work on outside shooting. ‘Cause i’m athletic enough to play the three, I think if I could spread the floor more I could really be good.  I do a lot of ball handling in workouts, because that’s the goal.  I’m trying to make the NBA.  Obviously still think the academics, so I can play anywhere in the country – and I really have to extend my game. Do the repetition so much so that when it comes game time it just comes naturally.  I’m going to work hard, so that once I get to college, I really can cement myself as one of the best bigs in the country.

Pooley’s Picks – Best Shooters Available

Pooley’s Picks

Best Available Shooters: 10 Best From Long Range

Qualifications:  Every college coach has made the statement: “We need guys who can shoot.”  Every analyst and basketball fan has noticed the value of the three point shot.  It’s not rocket science, if you can recruit a guy who can flat out shoot from three, you’ll win.  This list sets out the best available shooters.  Three point shooting is the only thing being explored here.  This is not a list of the best players who can also shoot.  Simply, the best shooters who are unsigned seniors from Maine to Virginia.  Prep schools are included in this.  If you graduate in 2017 and are on of the best shooters available: you’re on this list.  If you’re a college coach, you should be all over these 10.

Players are in no particular order. Please enjoy the third installment of Pooley’s Picks.

 

 

Matt Donahue: Matt is a catch and shoot nightmare.  He’s 6’2″ and is a great compliment to a scoring guard who can draw attention.  You can tell he works his ass off and it shows in what he can do beyond the arc.  He moves well without the ball and is excellent coming off a down screen or staggered double.

Range 21′ Quick Release B+ Form B- Off The Dribble B+ Catch and Shoot A

 

 

Thomas Binelli:  If we’re isolating shooting the rock Thomas Binelli is someone who can do it at any level.  Every bit of 6’7″ Binelli thrives outside the three point line.  Great off the catch and the dribble, leaning in and fading away, Binelli is a SHOOTER! A bunch of schools have overlooked the big guy, but someone will come around.

Range 24′ Quick Release B- Form A- Off The Dribble A- Catch and Shoot A

 

 

Reese Mona: Most people might describe Reese Mona, 6’3″ senior at St. John’s, as a role player.  Ask those same people to list guys they don’t want taking the last shot against their team: Reese Mona.  The guard is among the best available shooters specifically because he hits big shots and does it against the best of competition.

Range 21′ Quick Release B+ Form B- Off The Dribble B+ Catch and Shoot A

 

 

Devin Jensen: Devin Jensen, 6’4″ senior at Manasquan, has the purest release possible.  Watching Devin shoot is just fun.  While he can do more than just shoot, his 3-pt jumper is the deadliest around.  Range, a high release, excellent form, and ZERO conscience is what makes Devin one of the best available shooters.  Tall shooters like him won’t stay available for too long.

Range 26′ Quick Release A- Form A+ Off The Dribble A- Catch and Shoot A

George Pappas: A Maine representative on the list, George Pappas can shoot and he knows it.  The long guard is tough and can get busy from deep. After graduating from Union Catholic, George now attends Gould Academy in Bethel Maine.  George won’t ever turn down a look and uses his jumper to set up the rest of his game.

Range 23′ Quick Release A Form B+ Off The Dribble A- Catch and Shoot A

Charles Falden:  Falden can do more than just shoot, but is at his best from long range.  Surprising that someone who can stick it like Falden doesn’t have a laundry list of offers.  However, this guard probably won’t be under-recruited for long (Coach Myers and Massanutten known for helping recruits).  Look for Falden to shoot at a high clip from three this season and lock up offers sooner rather than later.

Range 22′ Quick Release B+ Form B- Off The Dribble A Catch and Shoot B+

Dom Fragala: Dom is a tough, heady guard, who you simply cannot leave open.  The 5’11” combo has range for days and dets up a lot of his shots off the bounce.  Dom plays through contact and has a lot of experience getting his shot off against taller defenders.  Dom hits big shots and certainly is one of the best available shooters.

Range 22′ Quick Release B+ Form B+ Off The Dribble A Catch and Shoot B+

Michael Speight:  First, Speight has been a Hoop Group campers for years.  He elevated his game this past year and was selected as one of the Top 20 all-stars at Elite 1.  Most of the difference with Mike comes with a new found consistency on his 3-pt shot.  Always dangerous, Mike now is much more consistent, that’s what makes the Wise guard one of the top available  shooters.

Range 22′ Quick Release B Form B+ Off The Dribble A- Catch and Shoot A-

Andre Rafus: The big lefty has bounced around a little but, but his threes rarely do.  The long, 6’8″ wing, with tremendous form and a quick release has landed at Lake Clifton.  Highly touted, and probably the highest recruited player on this list, Rafus is one of the top available shooters for sure.

Range 21′ Quick Release B+ Form A- Off The Dribble B- Catch and Shoot A

Jamil Pasha:  “Jamie” is admittedly a kid I haven’t seen a lot, but every I have he’s stroked it.  The 6’2″ Bishop Ireton senior, has range and is smooth as can be.  With a high release point and his ability to hunt shots make him a must have on this list.

Range 22′ Quick Release B- Form A- Off The Dribble B- Catch and Shoot A

Quick Rant About Shooters:  Every college coach says they want shooters and there are some out there who genuinely recruit them.  However, what I see more of is college coaches recruiting kids who can shoot.  They like a kids overall game and they say “and he can shoot”.  Unfortunately, I think this is backwards.  College coaches need to be recruiting kids that are SHOOTERS, and saying things like “and he can play”.  Most of the time when you recruit a non-shooter, they don’t turn into a shooter.  However, when you recruit a shooter there is room for things like ball handling, Bball IQ, Body, and defense to come along once they enroll.  It’s hard for a non-shooter to become a shooter, it’s easier for a kid to get in better shape or learn an offense.  Shooting is as much an art as it is a science and guys need to be recruiting kids who are shooters.  Over half of the schools in Division 1 don’t shoot 35% from behind the three point line.  Recruit one of the kids we’re talking about today and turn that around!

Dissenting Opinions:

Fall NOVA Top 100 Recap

NOVA Top 100 Recap

The final stop on the Fall Top 100 Tour lead us right outside our nations capital to Marymount University in Arlington, VA. A sold out event had players showing up an hour early just itching to get working on their game. With a staff comprised of over 20 coaches from collegiate programs, each player got a chance to get instruction from coaches who might recruit them! Check out the NOVA Top 100 Recap video below:

The Show-and-Go portion of the event set the tone for the entire day! A group of highly talented, highly competitive players, absorbing instruction and applying it to in game situations.

Terrence Gibbons (2018 Wise HS) works on his jab series during Individual workouts

Terrence Gibbons (2018 Wise HS) works on his jab series during Individual workouts

Vice President Matt Pooley introduces our Top Notch StaffVice President Matt Pooley introduces our Top Notch Staff

As the first game set got under way, half of the players headed down to a recruiting seminar with Hoop Group Elite Director Austin Kelley. The seminar “Separate Yourself in the Recruiting Process” is excellent way for us here at the Hoop Group to educate student-athletes on the recruiting process, and how to find the best academic and athletic fit for themselves. Some of the most valuable teaching that goes on at Hoop Group Top 100 happens in that room, as young men learn what’ll take to play basketball at the next level.

The Northern Virginia talent did not disappoint during the game portion of the day. College level talent on each court, showed why coaches from all over flock to this event each year.

Quentin James (2019 Lake Braddock) remaining alert in help side defense

Quentin James (2019 Lake Braddock) remaining alert in help side defense

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With so much talent in the event it was difficult to decide who would be part of the All Northern Virginia Team listed below!

Guard Keyante Williams (2018)  Massaponax
Guard Jack Kouba (2019) Bishop Ireton
Wing Jalen Gibbs (2018) North Point
Forward Terrence Gibbons (2018) Wise
Forward Deontay Compton (2017) Rock Ridge

If you would like to see your evaluation from the NOVA Top 100 check them out here!

Academic and Metro Top 100 Recap

Academic and Metro Top 100 Recap

Two separate events brought over 230 players to the Hoop Group Headquarters in one weekend for the Academic and Metro Top 100’s. With over 20 college coaches in the building throughout the two days, the players were given an opportunity to be seen and coached!

The Show-and-Go portion of the clinic was filled with players dialed into our top-notch staff, and applying what they were learning to the drills. They competed, went hard, and were given some tools to make themselves better!

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After the players were split up in to teams the first game set began! The teams that that did not play in the 1st game set headed upstairs to a Recruiting Seminar and Q&A with former D1 Head Coach Pat Kennedy. Coach Kennedy educated the student-athletes on the recruiting process, and what it takes to play the game at the next level.

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Game sets were characterized by high intensity basketball! The players competed, shared the ball, and showcased their skill to an audience of college coaches. With each team playing two games, each player had the opportunity to have a role with their team and show what they could do.

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With such a talented group it was difficult to decide, but after consideration from our coaching staff and evaluators we selected the:

All-Academic and Metro Top 100 Teams

1st Team:

 Eddie Evans (Guard) 2020 – Trenton Catholic
 Devin Jensen (Wing) 2017 – Manasquan
Daniel Sofield (Wing) 2019 – Jackson Liberty
Souleymane Koureissi (Forward) 2018 – Iona Prep
Marc Dadika (Post) 2018 – St. Mary’s

2nd Team:

Joseph McCoy (Guard) 2018 – Tottenville
Matt LaCorte (Wing) 2017 – Westfield
Max Somelofske (Wing) 2017 – Appoquinimink
Moe Fafana (Wing) 2018 – Wings Academy
Peter Obertan (Post) 2017 – John F Kennedy

Check out your Academic and Metro Top 100 Evaluation here!

Fall NYC Top 100 Recap

NYC Top 100 Recap

The next stop on the Hoop Group Fall Top 100 Tour was at the beautiful Riverbank State Park. Right on the Hudson River, Riverbank State Park provides a stunning backdrop to a competitive day of New York City basketball! NYC Top 100 recap video:

As the players filed in, they were dispersed to different baskets for individual skill workouts with our college coaching staff. Our New York City staff never fails to provide the student athletes with fresh new drills and great instruction to enhance every players game!

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After introductions, and a brief talk about expectations, from our Vice President Matt Pooley and Elite Director Austin Kelley, the players were disperesed to different baskets for our Show-and-Go portion of the event.

Hoop Group Elite Director Austin Kelley address camp about expectations

Hoop Group Elite Director Austin Kelley address camp about expectations

Show-and Go’s are drills ranging from 1v1-4v4 that help develop a wide range of basketball skills while getting every player competeing in game like situations! These Show-and-Go’s are a great way for our coaches to help the players get better, as well give our college coaches a chance to evaluate in different game simulations.

Sal Koureissi (Iona Prep) recieves instruction during Show-and-Go's

Sal Koureissi (Iona Prep) recieves instruction during Show-and-Go’s

After a tough workout, it was on to our games. At the Hoop Group Top 100’s every player competes in two full length games, coached by D2 and D3 coaches. The games at the NYC top 100 contained a competitive brand of basketball, with every player looking to make a name for themselves.

All-NYC Top 100  Team:

Guard 6’0 Jay Vaughn (2018) Allentown Central Catholic
Guard 5’11” Zack Jacobs (2017) Canterbury School
Wing 6’4 Deondre Bourne (2017) Leman Prep
Wing 6’7″Sal Koureissi (2018) Iona Prep
Post 6’6″ Jake Tavroff (2020) Oceanside

If you want to check out your evaluation from the NYC Top 100 you can find it here!