Wednesday, November 5, 2014

CFBL Action - AugBball is Back!

The final Saturday of the 2014 CSRA Fall Basketball League included a special guest, the Queen's Grant Stallions from the Charlotte area.  But the special guest met its match against a select group of local players from Georgia and South Carolina who came together nicely, winning a pair of games against the North Carolinians.  The "home team" featured players from five different schools, but two high school teammates combined to carry their teams throughout the day.

Laney guards Collin Young and Christian Keeling dominated the first game, leading the local group to a 20+ point win.  Young did it all.  By my count he only missed one catch and shoot three all day.  He probably made six or seven.  He also scored off the bounce both in the mid range and in the paint.  He even rebounded, defended, and created for teammates.  These are things I haven't seen consistently from Collin in the past.  He is getting bigger.  The 16 year old is growing into his 6'2" frame nicely.  Saturday's performance was the best I've seen him play.





Keelng lived in the paint and constantly challenged the Queen's Grant defense off the dribble despite the presence of 6'9" Patrick Tape'.  He converted his fair share and shot many free throws.  Christian has always been willing and able to attack off the dribble.  But I was impressed by his ability to hit the mid range jump shot off the bounce going left and right and in the mid post against smaller guards.  Like Young, this junior is filling into his body and he is getting more athletic, dunking off the right foot and off the left foot in warm ups and catching a couple live ones "off the stride" in the second game.





It seems like Collin and Christian's games are rubbing off on each other.  I am not saying these guys are doing this on purpose. It's probably caused by Laney's coach Buck Harris's guidance as he demands that all Wildcats become more complete players all the time.  I can picture these guys battling in one-on-one (we used to call it "cut throat") during Laney's workouts while Buck barks at Collin to get to the hoop after his teammate crowds his jumper. And challenging Christian to develop a better mid range game so he can have a second option to driving all the way to the hole and scoring over bigger defenders.

Multiplying this type of player development by the 10+ impact players on Laney's roster and it is easy to see why the Wildcats have reached the Final 4 of the state tournament during each of the past six seasons.

But these two weren't the only standouts Saturday. Queens Grant's 6'8" junior center Patrick Tape' was probably the most impressive player on the court. His shooting touch, footwork, passing ability, and activity in the paint on both ends made him a consistent force.  Not only was Tape' an impressive player, he also seemed to be an impressive person.  After being chastised by a referee for protesting a non call, Tape' came out of a timeout and politely apologized.  It was a nice thing to see.





But Tape's dominance inside was not enough.  In addition to Young and Keeling, the local team got strong performances from Trey Brown (6'0" Jr, ARC); Demontrez Hawes (6'2" Jr, Westside); Jervon Walker (6'5" Sr, Laney); Christian Robinson (5'10" Westside); and Malik Dunbar (6'4" Sr, Spring Valley).

I've only seen Hawes play twice in the past year, once in July and again that Saturday.  But he is a well regarded player.  And I am struck by his shooting touch and feel for the game.  While teammates repeatedly challenged the 6'9" Tape at the rim, usually ending in a blocked shot, Hawes twice stopped a little short and shot a nice floater over the taller defender.  I look forward to watching him play this year, especially because he is being joined by Aquinas transfer Christian Robinson, another player with a good feel for the game.  Robinson did a good job in this game of making the right pass to the right player at the right time.





Finally, Jervon Walker showed why Coach Harris calls Jervon Walker an "energizer bunny."
See for yourself here.





This is the first post at the new Augusta Basketball Report (AugBball.blogspot.com).  Many remember the Augusta Basketball Report and ABR Live from the 2012-2013 high school basketball season.  Since that time I have not consistently posted articles and videos about area hoops.  Because I am not coaching a high school team this year, and because I like hoops, I plan to do this much more often and much more consistently.  So comment on this post if you are happy to see me back "in the gym."  Or tell me what you would like to see from the site.  I won't fulfill all requests.  But knowing you are reading and knowing what you want will help me make the site better for everyone!

***The "old site" still exists.  I won't update it anymore.  But if you want to sift through roughly 1 million minutes (obvious exaggeration) of hoops footage, you can click here.

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