Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
HAMPTON, Va.—Day 2 of the Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL)’s first stop featured 17U and 16U action on the eight courts at Boo Williams Sportsplex, with games going from 8 AM until well after dark.
Here’s a notebook from the later portion of the action on Saturday, April 11:
Shortest guard in EYBL has plenty of game
Darnell Rogers (2016/Indian Land, S.C.) certainly opened eyes when he took the court with Team CP3 (N.C.) on Friday night.
It’s something he’s used to, considering his stature. But while teammate Harry Giles was perhaps the most impressive pro prospect at the camp at 6-foot-10, it was the generously-listed 5-3 Rogers who shined, dropping 29 points in his first EYBL appearance.
He was knocking down step-back 3-pointers, weaving his way through Team Penny defenders to get to the hoop and either drop off a no-look pass or finish with either hand. And he was no defensive liability either, with eight steals on the weekend.
“The first day I came here, people were doubting me, saying I’m too small and stuff,” he said, “and I had 29 points—and we got the victory, so that’s what’s most important.”
Rogers quieted down a little bit after that, but had his second-best performance of the weekend on Sunday morning, scoring 13 points and dishing out four assists; for the weekend, he averaged 14.0 ppg and shot 38.9 percent from beyond the arc, as well as a very solid 17-of-19 from the foul line.
Team CP3 went 4-0, winning its first game by three and then the next three by an average of 32.3 ppg.
“The weekend’s been great, it’s my first time on the EYBL circuit and we’re winning every game, so I’m enjoying myself right now,” he said. “Just trying to pick up some more offers.”
Rogers is the son of former George Washington star Shawnta Rogers, who was only about 5-4, but still one of the better players in the Atlantic 10 in the mid-to-late 1990s. He won the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year in 1999 when he averaged 20.7 ppg, 6.8 apg, 4.0 rpg and 3.6 spg for the Colonials as a senior.
Not even quite as tall as his dad, the younger Rogers does have a George Washington offer under his belt, and he listed interest from high-majors “Georgia, USC, Duke, Penn State, South Florida, VCU” and “a lot” of others.
He wasn’t shy to admit that his dad’s playing history gives GW a little bit of a boost: “Yeah, of course. I love GW, I love DC and I’m from Baltimore, so it’s close.”
Rogers said he’s currently working most on his defense and “getting my whole team involved, because I’m usually a scoring guard.” Of course, if and when he does play at the next level it will almost by necessity need to be as a point guard.
“I’ve just got to work harder than everybody,” he said, “and put in work on and off the court, and in the classroom, also.”
Back on the market, Walker’s stock rising
Back on the market, 2016 G C.J. Walker (Arsenal Tech, Ind.) certainly had an impressive all-around weekend at Boo Williams, averaging 20.8 ppg while shooting 44.8 percent from the floor, though his Spiece Indy Heat (Ind.) team was less impressive with an 0-4 record.
The 6-foot guard committed to Purdue back in October, but reversed course in late March, deciding to re-open his commitment just before the start of the April live periods.
“It’s pretty much a long story, but to make it short, it wasn’t a fit for me,” he said. “The offense is kind of a big man team and I didn’t think they got in transition enough. It was a good school and stuff like that, I just didn’t think it would be good for me to fit in.
As of Sunday morning, he had added an offer from Wichita State to those from Memphis and Xavier; Penn State then jumped on board after the event was over. Florida State, Illinois, Butler and Creighton are also in touch with Walker, who’s looking for a team that fits his style.
Walker’s a scoring point guard who loves to attack the basket, with a great handle and the ability to keep his head up and look for teammates even as he’s hitting tough step-backs and fadeaway around the rim. He also got to the line 46 times in four games, doing a great job of drawing contact even if he couldn’t get his shot to fall--and he had quite a few 3-point plays.
“I just want to find somewhere that’s good in transition with their guards,” he said. “More uptempo and more fast-paced that can fit me, that’s also organized at the same time.”
Walker said he was planning on visiting Xavier unofficially this upcoming weekend, and would do the same with Illinois “sometime soon;” he also added he would take all five official visits before making a decision either in November or “around this time next year.”
New York guard Rose considering Big 5 school
At 6-foot-5, with the ability to play both guard spots, Bishop Kearney (N.Y.)’s Quinton Rose is an intriguing prospect with some real upside.
He didn’t put up huge numbers with Albany City Rocks (N.Y.) over the weekend, averaging 6.0 ppg on a balanced squad that went 3-1 to open the four-session EYBL season. But he showed off some serious athleticism with a baseline slam in a win over Expressions Elite (Mass.), driving past a defender and rising up with his right hand. He also made some nifty passes while attacking the bucket, and showed a good feel for when to go for his shot and when to back out and set up his team’s offense.
George Washington, Temple, Providence, Memphis, St. Bonaventure and Duquesne have all offered Rose, and he’s already singled out two he’ll be taking official visits to in the upcoming months.
“I have an official to GW next weekend,” he said, and as for the other school he knows he wants to take an official visit: “Temple, definitely.”
Rose said he’s looking for a city school where he can play right away, and he’s visited the North Broad campus unofficially--last summer, when he was offered by Fran Dunphy.
“I love it, I really like it,” he said. “I love the coaching staff and I like the environment, the school in the city, I like that.”
The Owls have a wide-open 2016 class, with as many as six available scholarships unless Dunphy brings on a transfer or a late 2015 recruit; still, it’ll be a key class for Temple.
--Team Final 17U lost its final game of the weekend, a 62-57 decision to host Boo Williams (Va.), to drop to 3-1 in the opening weekend of the EYBL. Lamar Stevens (2016/Roman Catholic) finished off a very strong weekend with a 23-point, 10-rebound effort; he averaged 18.5 ppg and 7.0 rpg in the quartet of games; his offer yesterday from Xavier remains his only new one thus far. Tony Carr (2016/Team Final) had an eight-point, five-rebound, three-assist performance in the final; his weekend (14.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 5.0 apg) netted him a Georgetown offer today after getting Xavier and Indiana the day before.
--In his first EYBL weekend, Albany City Rocks big man Arnoldo Toro (2016/St. Benedict’s) showed why several mid-majors are on him hard while high-major schools are just starting to get involved. The 6-foot-9, 230-pound power forward from Puerto Rico does all the dirty work: he runs the court hard, battles for rebounds, is active in posting up and is mobile enough to step out and guard the perimeter.
“I think I’ve got a good motor, great rebounder, [can] finish around the basket and outside as well,” he said.
He listed offers from George Washington, Texas Tech, Wichita State, Iona, Bucknell and Monmouth, saying he had further interest from West Virginia, Miami (Fl.) and Notre Dame. He took an unofficial visit to West Virginia, has one to George Washington next week and wants to schedule one to Wichita State, but isn’t sure yet what he’s looking for in a school.
--One of the top scorers all weekend was NJ Playaz shooting guard Myles Powell (2016/Trenton Catholic), who tied with The Family (Mich.) guard Cassius Winston for the EYBL lead at 22.0 ppg. After scoring 14 in the opening game against All-Ohio, he went on to score 27, 24 and 23 in the next three as the Playaz went 3-1 for the weekend. He listed offers from “Seton Hall, St. Joe’s, Rutgers, Temple, Robert Morris, Rider, Quinnipiac and Delaware,” but he didn’t seem too excited about his current batch of interested schools.
“Hopefully my recruiting gets up a little bit and then I’ll decide [on visits] during the middle of the year,” he said, adding he will take visits in May or June “when I get more offers, or if I don’t get any more offers, I’ll start considering the schools I have now.”
--Perhaps the best pure shooting prospect in the EYBL is Albany City Rocks wing Kevin Huerter (2016/Shenendehowa), a 6-6 off-guard who’s got the perfect size and skill set to be a high-major sniper. A good athlete, he’s a terrific catch-and-shoot guard from distance, making 46 percent (12-of-26) for the weekend--and all of his misses were only inches off. He’s been offered by Davidson, Albany, George Washington and Duquesne, but has been hearing from “Michigan, Penn State and Maryland” with a “little bit of Notre Dame, Virginia, Iowa and Syracuse.” He’s currently around 170 pounds, but wants to get up to 185-190; if he can do that and improve his handle, he could start reeling in those high-major offers.