The April evaluation period has ended and with it, the stock of some players is rising while others begin to realize that their D1 dream may not be as bright as they'd hoped it would be. I always encourage players to shoot for the stars, but remember it's not too shabby if you "only" make it to the moon. I preach repeatedly as do our coaching staffs that our victories come from our players attending college and getting their education costs mitigated or paid in full. whether it's the D1, D2, D3, NAIA or JUCO label, it does not matter.
It is now time to sit back and self reflect. Have I been in the weight room enough? Have I been getting up enough shots? Have I been doing ball handling drills in the driveway? If the answer is no, then let's get it in gear. You've got May and June before you get out there again for the July evaluation period. I had an opportunity to view most of the Texas D1 teams during the April events and here are my take on some of our brightest prospects.
A special thanks go out to our coaches; Frank Watson, Lynn Shuttlesworth & James Carter. These men are excellent role models and mentors. I thank them for the tireless hours they put in to make increased opportunities for these young men. We are the D1 Nation!
TEAM OF APRIL
The Texas D1 Ambassadors-West Texas are a tough group, reflecting their crusty Coach Lynn Shuttlesworth. There's just something about kids who are from those towns; Lubbock, Midland, Amarillo and the small farming and ranching communities that surround them which makes them play with a chip on their shoulder. They're always fighting for respect and they earn your admiration as there are no plays off. They lost the championship game in this past weekend's Great American Shootout in Dallas, TX. They reached that game playing short handed all tournament and without their best player, 2018 Nathan Betts (Amarillo, TX).
The D1 Nation (Texas) player with the second best spring is 2018 6'5" Nathan Betts (Amarillo, TX). Betts is a beast and with the exception of his tweener size, he's the best all around player we've got. He can shoot it, take you off the bounce, rebound and is a physical and tenacious defender. In short, he's a winner. He'll need to continue to hone his guard skills on the assumption that he may be finished growing vertically.
Betts' West Texas team mate, 2017 6'8" Jeremy Karngbaye (Portales, NM) is simply a beast. He's signed, sealed and delivered to play basketball at New Mexico Military Institute despite the fact that he spurned a number of D1 offers to play football. He is the two time Defensive Player of the Year for the State of New Mexico. Karngbaye reminds me of former Texas D1 player, Sedric Martin who went on to have a successful career at Cal State Fullerton and is now playing professionally in China.
2018 6'6" Carter Laramore (Seminole, TX), much like Betts brings a well rounded game to the table. Increased foot speed will determine his level but he knows how to play the game. He averaged 10.5 ppg for the GASO event in Dallas.
2018 PG Gannen Braddock (Littlefield, TX) is a bad little dude. He knows how to run a team, he defends hard and he's just a pain in the a*s that gets under the other team's skin. He's a guy you hate to play against, but love to have as your team mate. His dad is a high school coach, who's just accepted a job at Timpson, TX. I assume that's where he'll play as a senior this fall.
Nobody likes losing more than Coach Frank Watson & I do. The Texas D1 Ambassadors 17U squad which competes in the Adidas Gauntlet has lost a half dozen games by 5 points or less. With a few more close wins they'd have an impressive overall record. Those are always tough to swallow.
Of course, winning or losing these close games rarely affects recruiting so that's not my main point here. It's a guard laden team, forced to play small ball most times, but as mentioned they've got a great piece in 2018 Jayden Martinez to build around as they now regroup for the second live period.
Coach Frank Watson has named his top performers of April as follows:
Texas D1-Houston Leading Scorer Award:
2018 Deon Blackmore Jr. (The Woodlands, TX/College Park)
Texas D1-Houston Leadership Award:
2018 6'2" SG Jailyn McQueen (Cypress Lakes)
Texas D1-Houston Heart Award:
2018 6'4" SG/W Gabe Bazile (Atascocita, TX)
Texas D1-Houston Hustle Award:
2018 6'3" SG Life Granville (Houston, TX/Second Baptist)
Texas D1-Houston Floor General Award:
2018 5'11" PG Alex Dehoyos (Friendswood, TX)
Texas D1-Houston MVP Award:
2018 6'7" F Jayden Martinez (Cibolo, TX/Steele)
PLAYER OF APRIL
There's no question in my mind that the #1 long term prospect out of our Texas groups thus far has come from the Texas D1 Ambassadors 17U Adidas Gauntlet team. It's much more difficult for a young big man to affect a game at this level as the guards control most of the play. However, 2018 6'7" Jayden Martinez (Cibolo, TX/Steele) has been that guy. He's an excellent interior defender, rebounds hard and has a knack for timing as a shot blocker.
Offesnively his game's coming along nicely. He's got a soft facd up touch out to the free throw line extended and looks to be increasing this range. And while still growing into his body, Martinez is becoming comfortable with putting it on the deck for a few dribbles to get to the rim.
His Pops, Juan was a pro baseball player and a big guy, so it's not inconceivable for him to grow another inch or two. If so, it changes everything. The other thing Martinez as going for him is that he's not being coddled and enabled by his folks. This goes a long way towards the player keeping his expectations high, being coachable and in the long run accountable.
This comment s not directed towards any one family, but with 100 players in the organization not a year goes by where I don't hear "the coach doesn't understand my kid, or know how to use him". I urge parents of every team in every organization across the country to ABANDON this line of reasoning, as it's you as well who's being evaluated from the stands.
College coaches reject YOU sometimes in spite of your son's talents. So, unless you're a talent like the Ball Brothers. I'd think twice about your shenanigans. :-) Sorry for the soap box but after a lifetime being involved I know how the game works
Back to Martinez; he is clearly the best long term prospect we have this year among the Texas players on our rosters. He and his family's approach to the game guarantees success.
Putting together a brand new group to compete from scratch on the Adidas Gauntlet is no easy task. Being undersized, long time Coach James Carter had to go to "small ball" and what's emerging is a scrappy bunch who are learning to play to their strengths.
Undersized at 6'5" in the post, Nich Burch (San Antonio, TX/Central Catholic) had 15 in the 49-48 win over the Memphis Bulls, while 2019 Jackson Young (Kerrville, TX/Tivy) has emerged as the team's leading scorer. He's able to stretch defenses with his NBA range on his perimeter shot. He's the son of tough nut Tivy Coach Brian Young.
2019 6'4" Jackson Allen (Marion, TX) has what we believe to be the biggest upside at the moment as at his height he can handle. shoot with range and is willing to defend bigger players in the post.