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.

Bigger Than Ball Vol. 4: Souleymane Koureissi

Known as the mecca of basketball, New York City is home to a large percentage of the world’s top youth basketball talent.  In a one block radius in Harlem you’ll find one future NBA lottery pick in Mohammed Bamba, and at least two other high level Division I prospects (Jalen Carey & Anthony Nelson).  6’9” wing Souleymane Koureissi grew up in these same houses, but took a much different road to success than that of his peers.  

Souleymane, or Sal as his friends call him, was the definition of a late bloomer.  Two years ago Koureissi was three inches shorter, less skilled, and playing the Center position for his High School-Iona Prep in New Rochelle, NY.  Sal was forced to watch his friends be courted by college coaches and spoiled by shoe companies, while he struggled to make a name for himself in the basketball world.  His AAU team, Castle Athletics, was not a shoe sponsored team at the time, and he was playing in a limited role for his high school.  Koureissi had no scholarship offers.  

Both of Sal’s parents immigrated to United States from the African country of Mali in search of a better life for their children and Sal seems to have adopted the same attitude of personal advancement as his parents  He was very vocal about witnessing the success of others and aspiring to have a better life than he’s had.  Growing up and seeing his peers achievements inspired Koureissi to be better–to want more.  Sal had an impressive summer on the Adidas Circuit in 2017, proving his name belongs on the short list of elite basketball players.  He now holds more than a dozen scholarship offers, including one from St. Louis University.  He is an example to younger basketball players around NYC who have yet to receive their break, that hard work makes anything achievable.  We sat down for a brief Q & A with Souleymane Koureissi, the Most Outstanding Prospect of Hoop Group Elite Camp.

 

 

We saw you play a few years ago at the gotham league when you were relatively unknown.  You’re obviously a completely different player now..so what’s the motivating factor behind you wanting to take your game to the next level?  

 

Wanting to change my family’s lives and going to school for free…hopefully making the pros some day. I want my family to have a different lifestyle.  But, honestly it’s just fun for me.  I love to play so…

 

Over the last couple of years, your mindset on the court has grown to be more determined. What drives you? Why do you play?

 

I don’t have really have a set thing to think about — but I would say I play because my older brother played it before me – he was good and he always used to beat me.  So I was just always determined to beat him.  So, I play it because I’m determined to be better than him.  

 

What made you choose to go to Iona Prep to play high school basketball?

 

Honestly? I didn’t really have a lot of options at the time.  I was going to go to a school in Washington Heights – a public school called WHEELS, and then last minute I played for an AAU team – Castle Athletics, and my coach helped me get in there.

 

How has it been for you playing there?

 

They actually recently just got a new coach, he coached the JV originally.  He’s tough, he’s gonna make us run a lot, but it will be good.  

 

Do you have any teammates who are going through the same recruiting process as you?

 

Yeah its funny, me and my teammate Josh were both unknown – now we have a competition to see who can pick up the most offers.  I think I’m up two or three right now.  

 

Who’s the best player you’ve played against at hoop group camp so far?

 

Probably Adrian Nelson.  I didn’t know who he was at first – he was strong and athletic, and it was an early morning game so it was tough.

 

Your sophomore year of high school, you had no college scholarship offers.  How has your opinion of recruiting and selecting a school changed from then to now?

 

Then I just wanted to get an offer bad.  I was seeing everyone else getting offered and I just wanted one bad.  I needed one.  But, now that I have plenty, I’m looking at the schools actually, and looking into the academic and athletic aspect and where I can fit in.  So there’s a lot more thinking that goes into it.  

 

What are you looking for in recruiting? What do you expect out of the coaches and university?

 

Definitely a good academic school first – because basketball always stops and I want to be able to get a job after college.  After that, I want to go to a school where I can play and where I’m comfortable with the coaches and basketball side of it – just a good fit.  

 

How do your parents feel about you getting scholarship offers?

 

Honestly, they’re just excited that they don’t have to pay.  I was probably going to college regardless..they’re actually proud of my grades.  This year I ended up with an 86 average. I put in a lot more work in the classroom this year.  When I try hard, usually I get good grades so-   

 

What do you like to do when you’re not playing basketball?

 

When I’m not playing I’m usually just hanging out with my girlfriend – chillin with my brothers, my friends – a lot of stuff.  I play a lot of 2k…I’m the best in my house though.  I’m a Cavs fan but I usually play with Toronto, but as long as I know who the player is I get buckets.  Like the Nets..they’re from brooklyn and I can’t name half the players on their roster.  

 

Do you have any siblings or family that lives with you?

So there are five people in my house other than me and my parents.  There are two sets of twins – my brother and sister are older than me, they’re twins.  Then there’s my younger brother – he’s 16.  Then there are twins under him, and they’re 9.

 

Where is your family from?

 

My family is from Mali in West Africa.  We all speak mandingo.  I always get jokes…you know the movie, I never watched it – it was some movie where the guy is like “I’m the captain now”.  [laughing] I hate that.  

 

New York City is known for its basketball talent.  How does the talent level in your area compare to others? Do the better players ever play together?

 

We have the most talented basketball block in the country.  Jalen Carey actually lives there, Mohammed Bamba lives across the street, Anthony Nelson’s also from that block – so there’s a lot of talent.  We do something called midnight madness every once in awhile.  At like 12 o’clock at night everybody just comes out to the court and plays basketball.  It’s cool.  

 

What do you think the difference is between you and somebody who is ranked in the top 50?

 

Honestly I think it’s athleticism.  I think if I was able to take my strength and athleticism to the next level I would be right there.  I think skill wise I’m there already.  

 

Favorite Rapper?

 

Right now? It’s Jay kritch.  Listen to him.  He’s from my area.  He’s gonna blow up, remember the name.  

 

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

 

Probably my dad.  He’s a hard working guy – seeing him wake up every morning and go to work.  He drives a truck – so he wakes up at 4 am everyday and comes in at like 6 – he’s a hard working guy – seeing him go to work everyday motivates me.  

 

How was it playing on the Adidas circuit?

 

We didn’t play on it last year, so this was our team’s first year – just the amount of coaches that we’re there – the competition level was great all around.  It really helped me explode with my recruiting – I played great so that helped…I remember we had a game versus Exum Elite.  They had Emmanuel Akot I think his name was, who’s committed to Arizona and some 7’2” kid. They had a good team.  We ended up losing, but it was a good game for me.  

 

You grew up in an area in Harlem, the Foster Buildings, that had so much basketball talent. Growing up with these guys, seeing them grow and seeing yourself grow, what sets you apart from everyone else who’s not in your position?

 

I think I was kind of a late bloomer.  As far as them, they’ve always been pretty good, but for me I just started getting offers so yeah – but it’s been really competitive.

 

What advice would you give to someone else who’s also a late bloomer and is in the same position you were in a couple years ago; undiscovered, with no college offers?

 

Just to keep working.  You can’t hide talent – so if you keep working and keep putting in work day in and day out you’re bound to get seen.  Trust the process.  

 

You have had a huge jump in your game over the last couple years and have had to work extremely hard to take your game to the next level.   How do you plan on taking your game up a notch again when you reach college, playing against better competition?

 

I’m going to do the same thing that got me here. Keep working.   Getting in the gym as much as I can, putting up shots as much as I can, and hopefully I can continue to improve.  

 

-Thomas Hayden

Undiscovered Vol. 3: Elite Session 1

The 2017 Hoop Group Elite camps are shaping up to have some of the most talented crops of
players we’ve seen in recent years. Kids are coming into camp with legit interest from high/mid
major Division One programs and are bound to upgrade that interest into tangible scholarship
offers.
Some guys are different though. Some guys have been patiently waiting. With not as much
college interest as deserved, they have been preparing for the moment when they get a chance
to perform in front of the coaches that need to see them. These players will wait no longer. In
the shadows until now, these Undiscovered players will impress when they get a chance to
perform in front of the coaches that need to see them.
Elite Session 1 will feature many, here is a glimpse at just a few as they move from
undiscovered to on your radar.

John Kelly – Fairfield Prep (CT)

John Kelly is a player all coaches are looking for. A lanky 6’7 that can score on all three levels
 and can guard multiple positions on the defensive end with his length and lateral
movement. It’s rare to see John making poor decisions with the ball in his hands as his
basketball IQ is extremely high. Look for John to really show out at camp this week

Luke Hicks – Cushing Academy (MA)

Luke Hicks is a well-built, 6’5 swingman that can light it up from anywhere on the floor. As lethal
as they come when shooting the ball, you can not leave him open on the perimeter. Going to do
a prep year at Cushing Academy in the winter, Hicks is a name that coaches will gladly put on
their list.

Emmanuel Umoffia – Score Academy (FL)

A legit 7’2, Emmanuel Umoffia is a force down low. Protecting the rim at a high level with a
developing post game on the offensive end, high major schools are starting to take notice. After
a dominating spring performance, he has the chance to carry over that momentum into a HUGE
summer.

Maurice Commander – Curie Metro (IL)

Maurice Commander’s last name isn’t a coincidence. When he is on the floor, he commands the
flow of the offense and ultimately the flow of the game. A true point guard with an extremely
smooth lefty stroke can make shots at a high rate off the catch and off the dribble. Not only can
he put the ball in the hoop, but he does a great job getting his teammates involved. With only a
couple of Division One offers on the table right now, Maurice is a player every high academic
program needs to take a look at.

Beau Smith – Trinity Pawling (NY)

Beau Smith is a 6’6, athletic combo guard that can really guard on the perimeter and get up and
down the floor.A capable shot maker too, he is a threat whenever the ball is in his hands.
Schools will be all over Beau after getting a glimpse of what he can do on the court at Elite 1
this week.

Adrian Nelson –  Pickerington Central (OH)

Adrian Nelson is a dark horse of 2017’s Elite 1 session. With a few low major offers on the table,
Nelson will catch the eye of everyone in the gym this week with his high flying dunks in traffic.
Check back soon for the next edition of Undiscovered!

Undiscovered Vol. 2: Elite Session 1

The 2017 Hoop Group Elite camps are shaping up to have some of the most talented crops of
players we’ve seen in recent years. Kids are coming into camp with legit interest from high/mid
major Division One programs and are bound to upgrade that interest into tangible scholarship
offers.
Some guys are different though. Some guys have been patiently waiting. With not as much
college interest as deserved, they have been preparing for the moment when they get a chance
to perform in front of the coaches that need to see them. These players will wait no longer. In
the shadows until now, these Undiscovered players will impress when they get a chance to
perform in front of the coaches that need to see them.
Elite Session 1 will feature many, here is a glimpse at just a few as they move from
undiscovered to on your radar.

Nick Timberlake – Kimball Union (NH)

Nick Timberlake is a must see for Division One coaches at camp this summer. One of the more
athletic, bouncy combo guards the camp will have to offer, Nick can not only jump with the best
of them but also put the ball in the hoop. He’s a potential mismatch nightmare every time he
laces up his sneaks and has a chance to become a household name in the next few weeks.

Brandon McGlynn – Dallastown (PA)

Brandon McGlynn has been one of the more under recruited guards in the area. A quick first
step poses a threat on the perimeter and all he needs is an inch of space for a catch-and-shoot
three. His skill set translates to the next level and college coaches are going to find that out in
the next few weeks. Injured in the spring, Brandon could be a steal waiting to happen at Elite 1.

Ronnie Silva – Bradford Christian Academy (MA)

Though only standing at 5’9, time and time again Ronnie Silva has outplayed bigger opponents
in big games. He is quicker than quick and can sink shots as soon as he crosses half court,
making him a prospect that college coaches need to pay attention to. This past spring was just
the start for Ronnie and this summer he will be as good as they come at the point guard
position.

Jacob Iwowo – Brooks School (MA)

6’4” with long arms is something all college coaches love to hear. Jacob Iwowo is athletic, plays
insanely hard, and makes an impact every time he’s on the floor. He can play above the rim,
score and defend. College coaches looking for a slashing wing with a high motor will be excited
to see Iwowo play at camp. Offers will come, sooner rather than later.

Michael Koch – Bergen Catholic (NJ)

Michael Koch is a perfect mix of skill and athleticism wrapped up into strong tall frame. Along
with being able to score the ball at a high level, he has been working hard on his decision
making and facilitating abilities with hopes of becoming a pure point guard. After a very good
spring, he has heard from many Division Two schools and is just starting to catch the eye of
Division One coaches. Whatever team Koch lands on at game will be a must watch for
scholarship schools.

Ryan Moffat – Hempfield (PA)

Ryan Moffat is the poster boy for Hoop Group: Undiscovered. A legit 6’5 with long arms, Ryan is
a skilled athlete who can really shoot it. To go with his range, he can play above the rim and
has a tough pull-up game. Undiscovered right now, but those days will be over after Elite camps
in the coming weeks.
Check back soon for more Undiscovered Prospects coming to Elite Session 1!

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: