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ELEV|8 GBB trains 5 draftees, many others enter NBA Summer League

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[flagallery gid=5]

One of my favorite events to do all year is the NBA Pre-Draft camp. It is a 2 month GRIND. I can honestly say these men all made their dreams a reality, so far.  You see G-reatness R-esides I-n N-onstop D-etermination.  Every day these guys went all out 3 times a day. The morning GRIND was skills and 3 on 3 / 4 on 4 action with offense and defensive NBA concepts implemented in it.  There were many new and multiple NBA terminology that these guys had to learn very quickly.  Just for the pick n’ rolls they had to learn the defensive coverage of  ice, down, or Blue, hard show, soft show, and blitzing. Then the offense had 7 or 8 offensive solutions once they evaluated the coverages.  My point is that if they did not have a Hunger Games Attitude, and engaged their mind and body every day, their NBA chances would die. Cody Toppert, Brett Newman, and I want to congratulate all who got their SHOT. The key now is to not only survive the cuts, but to thrive and be a part of a team!

In just the second year of the ELEV|8 GBB NBA Pre Draft Program, Ganon Baker and Cody Toppert saw 5 players with whom they worked during the period get drafted.  After 2 months of intense training, traveling and non stop working their lives changed and they were welcomed into the best league in the world.

  • Marcus Smart – Boston Celtics
  • Cleanthony Early – New York Knicks
  • Johnny O’Bryant – Milwaukee Bucks
  • Cameron Bairstow – Chicago Bulls
  • Semaj Christon – Miami Heat

Aside from those drafted we are also excited to announce the signings of additional Pre-Draft participants to various teams for the NBA Summer Leagues as they look to make their NBA Dreams come true.

    • Luke Hancock – Orlando Magic
    • Scottie Wilbekin – Memphis Grizzlies
    • Brady Heslip – Minnesota Timberwolves
    • Casey Prather – Atlanta Hawks
    • Joe Jackson – Sacramento Kings
    • Tyler Johnson – Miami Heat
    • Davion Berry – Portland Trailblazers
    • Khyle Marshall – Boston Celtics
    • Isaiah Armwood – Denver Nuggets
    • Pablo Bertone – Argentina National Team

You can follow how the process unfolded for the players above by checking out the videos below.

Follow Ganon Baker, Cody Toppert and the rest of the ELEV|8 Crew on social media via the following links

  • Ganon Baker: Twitter @GanonBaker
  • Cody Toppert: Twitter @Topp33 Instagram @Topp33
  • Chad Myers Twitter @CoachMyers5
  • Brett Newman @Coachbnew
  • @elev8si

NJ Girls Skills Select

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Ganon Baker Girls SS Art

Ganon Baker Training Session Player Evaluation – Holmdel, NJ May 24-25, 2014
Submitted by: David Borter (on behalf of Dan Olson & Collegiate Girls Basketball Report)

Several elite players from the east coast gathered at Holmdel, NJ high school on May 24-25 for an intense two day training session with Ganon Baker. The event was hosted by Tom Sclafani of Coaches Choice and College Select. Each of the players in attendance was challenged outside of their comfort zone as Ganon led them in a variety of skills, drills, techniques and basketball teaching points that expanded their game in many facets. The lessons learned at this 2 day training session will benefit all of these players as they continue down their respective basketball paths, but it is the ones that soaked up the knowledge and experience gained who will truly reap unlimited results. The following is a list of players listed numerically at the event who caught my attention:

TOP PLAYERS BY # LISTED AT THIS EVENT (CLASS OF EACH PLAYER NOT AVAILABLE)
#2 Kiera Cesareo – Very good with change of speeds – tremendous pull up jumper & 3 pt shot/ Creates shots for teammates in open ct. / very good mid range jumper / Needs to get stronger
#3 Tina Lebron – PG who is very skilled / Able to finish with contact & has tremendous footwork…finishing moves are very good – Will get stronger & bigger with age but love this kids skill level / Very good 3pt shooter
#8 Sarah Tranquilli – Tremendous handles – long guard who can also score on the blocks / very skilled with both hands and has tremendous basketball IQ level / Really good footwork with ball in hands / Able to create own shot
#9 Madison Sheppard – PG with very good handles / able to use both hands effectively well / Plays very hard…. creates havoc on defensive end – has tremendous upside
#16 Tori Hyduke – 2018 – Very good skill level with both hands / Will get stronger with age
#18 Janee Summers – 2017 – Very strong & athletic player with great upside / Plays very hard – tremendous rebounder & shot blocker / Runs the floor very well in transition…. great hands around basket / Has a very good mid range jumper / Can score face up or with back to basket / D1 player
#20 Lexie Iglesia – Very long & athletic player with good footwork in post area / Will get stronger with age
#21 Eve Crawford – 2018- Super quick off dribble who possess great handles with both hands / Lock down defender
#29 Stella Johnson – Long & athletic / Tremendous rebounder / Gets to the rim silky smooth / Finishes with contact / Able to score around basket with variety of post moves
#31 Amanda Hart – Very strong & skilled off guard / Finished with contact
#38 Dayna Sclafani – Has taken 49 charges in last 2 high school seasons.  tremendous passer who sees the floor and understands the game…. good basketball IQ from point guard position
#51 Samantha Widmann – 2016 5’11 – Notre Dame HS / Lawrenceville, NJ / (609)731-2626 / Coach James Mantos – (718)619-2431 / samwidmann@yahoo.com – Very long & skilled player who can play
both inside and outside – uses both hands very well / Super athletic /
#66 Chekasha Andrews – Very skilled PG who uses both hands well – very good at change of speeds and transition passing / Able to score with contact
#93 Cassandra Falone – Very skilled PG & off guard / Tremendous basketball IQ – has great accuracy from 3 pt. range / Outstanding footwork to create shot and open space with ball in hands / Leadership skills – very vocal and organized drills effectively
#109 Emma Boslet – Tremendous footwork / Highly skilled / Really understands the game & plays with passion– will get stronger with age
#117 Cassandra Ball – Very good 3 pt. shooter … really elevates on jumper/ Has good footwork on perimeter which allows her to get to the rim off dribble / Tremendous passes in transition
#125 Jada Wildgoose – Very strong, athletic & skilled player / Scores in a variety of ways / Has strong post moves / Quick hands on defense
#135 Christina Antonakakis – 2018 -Basketball skill level & IQ off the charts / Current 8th grader who was directing others at this camp – has leadership qualities… Interesting tidbit that each time asked for volunteers she was always the first one who stepped out / Deceptively strong – creates havoc on
defense / A definite gym rat who has upside to reach unlimited potential
#136 Kathryn Burke – Strong guard with deep range on perimeter / Very skilled with both hands / Very good passer – sees the floor and understands the game
#168 Katie Meckus -2015 – long & athletic player / able to score in multiple ways / has good footwork & post moves /Able to score with both hands – understands the screen & roll and how to get open / Needs to get strong …. Projected low D1 to D2 type player
#169 Alexandra Kerr – 2015 – Lefty who is able to score multiple ways – around rim, mid range and on the arc / Really strong defender – shot blocker & rebounder / Able to guard in the post
#173 Maureen Coakley – Physically strong 3 / 4 type player …. Highly skilled and understands the game
#183 Brianna Capacchione – Has really good basketball IQ / tremendous passes / very good footwork on the perimeter – can attack off the dribble and score
#186 Rose Caverly – 2018 – 5’8 – Solid pt guard & off guard who can really score in a variety of ways / Very good 3pt shooter & mid range / Can also score in post area / Very good upside
#189 Linda Wallentine – 2016 5’7 -Very skilled off guard – moves well without ball on offensive end / Very good floater & mid range game / Understands the little things – high IQ. Projected D2 type player
#192 Julia Wanfried – Skilled post who can score on the perimeter / 3 pt range
#296 Brynn Farrel – 2020 5’8 – highly touted in NJ / has tremendous skill level & upside

Training with a Passion – Winning Hoops Magazine

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Renowned trainer Ganon Baker developing the nation’s top athletes

By Kevin Hoffman, Managing Editor

Coaching is a logical career choice for athletes unable to shake their passion for the game, but that never quite satisfied Ganon Baker. Countless hours of paperwork and months spent on the recruiting trail meant more time away from the court, where he preferred to sweat alongside those with dreams of state and national championships.

That’s what led Baker to training, where his drive and intensity placed him among the top skill development instructors in the country. No longer consumed by the mundane nuances of a basketball program, he has worked with the nation’s best athletes, helping to elevate their games to elite status.

“Being an assistant coach in college means you’re only on the court 18 or 19 percent of the time, and that’s a fact,” Baker said. “I know these coaches get paid millions to see a kid play, but I have to impart knowledge to a kid and let them know how great they are or how much they have to work.”

Baker knows exactly what it takes to build and sharpen the various skills necessary to excel at all levels of competition. That’s because he experienced it for himself.

Baker, whose dad was a high school coach, started playing basketball when he was 8 years old. He was always more skilled at sports like tennis and soccer, so at the age of 13 he asked his father what he needed to do to land a college scholarship.

“He said I need to put down the Twinkies and the Mountain Dew, and get after it and work like Rocky,” Baker recalled.

It’s fair to say that’s a philosophy Baker holds to this day. He’s constantly on the run, working with athletes or participating in clinics to help coaches develop their young stars. Training is his calling, and he’s determined to do everything he can to inch aspiring basketball players closer to their dreams, whether it be a college scholarship or the NBA.

Baker describes that passion as a “Hunger Games attitude.” When he was younger, he practiced under the assumption that if he didn’t do everything necessary to elevate his game, he would “metaphorically die,” being left in the dust by those working harder to get ahead of him.

Baker’s training paid off, and his high school team won a state championship against a squad led by future NBA star Grant Hill. He received about 30 Division I scholarship offers, choosing Duquesne University (Pa.) before transferring to UNC-Wilmington.

After receiving his master’s degree, Baker landed a pro contract to play in Iceland but tore a tendon during the playoffs, sidelining his playing career.

That didn’t prevent him from training. Baker continued to work on his game from a wheelchair, developing individual dribbling and ball handling drills. The weeks spent rehabbing his injury gave him time to think about his future, which led to the creation of his own personal training business.

“This was something that had never really been done before at the time,” Baker said. “It was really amazing. There were no skills trainers, and now you can throw a rock and hit about a thousand of them.”

Proper Training

Coaches looking to get their athletes involved with trainers won’t have to look far, but it’s not always that simple. With a lot of them, you don’t know what you’re going to get.

Baker said first and foremost trainers must be organized and it’s also valuable if they have a degree. A number of trainers do fine without a college education, but it can say something about who they are as a coach.

“A true coach is an educator,” Baker said. “They played in high school or coached in college as a graduate assistant. If you’re a basketball coach, you should have a basketball background.”

Baker added that the best trainers are not only teachers but also students themselves. They regularly read books or articles, discovering new ways they can improve athletes. A trainer’s repertoire is constantly evolving, adapting to the needs of those they are trying to help.

With that in mind, a quality skills trainer still must grow each athlete with the team concept in mind. Baker believes that’s where many fail.

“There’s a fine line between individual improvement and team play,” Baker said. “A good skills coach is one that implements individual drills and can transfer that into a team atmosphere. When I work out with kids for a long time, I interview their coach and get on the same page and see what he or she needs to work on.”

What it all comes down to is asking questions. Coaches or parents getting their young athletes involved with a skills trainer should make sure it’s the right fit. Baker said after about two or three sessions, you should be able to identify whether a trainer is qualified to take your athlete in a positive direction.

That requires buy in from more than just the trainer. Athletes must be passionate about the sport and their desire to improve, otherwise all that effort could be wasted.

“One thing people ask me is, ‘What does it take for a kid to truly be successful in basketball and beyond?,’” Baker said. The average pro basketball career is three years and less than 1 percent of athletes make it there, placing an intense amount of value in education and abilities off the court.

“Make sure you’re working on your career, and not just working toward a job.”

Shooting Aids

Baker isn’t the type of trainer who stands on a soapbox promoting various training aids, but the Perfect Jumper is one he firmly stands behind. Anyone can shoot a basketball, but to do it with precision takes practice.

Two specific skills help basketball players hit more shots: alignment and arc, Baker said. The Perfect Jumper attaches to the rim and shrinks the diameter of the basket, making it more difficult to hit shots or get a lucky roll. Similar to throwing a football through a tire swing, the shooting aid teaches muscle memory and improves accuracy, making it that much easier on players when they step into a game and start shooting at a larger target.

“It’s basically the same as making all net or if you were to not count a shot until you make all swishes,” Baker said. “You pinpoint your target and try to find that trajectory with the elbow, and you’re training the body to shoot at a smaller rim.

“We also use it in practices for rebounds. We put the Perfect Jumper up there because there will be a lot of missed shots.”

Quentin Coryatt created the Perfect Jumper about seven years, determined to instill proper fundamentals in young athletes hoping to make an impact in the game. It’s certainly well equipped to reinforce proper shooting form and assist in muscle memory, but it’s also become an effective tool for veteran basketball players needing to make adjustments.

Much like a struggling baseball player takes to the batting cage to fix their swing, the Perfect Jumper can help put shooters back on track.

“It’s all inclusive and comprehensive when it comes to addressing every aspect of a shot from different areas on the court,” Coryatt said. Players like Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony and coach Bob Knight stand behind the shooting aid’s effectiveness.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge from the time a kid picks up a basketball that they need to learn the basic fundamentals of shooting. It starts from day one and goes all the way to the professional level.”

That’s part of what makes a great trainer, and Baker understands the value in pinpointing all aspects of an athlete’s game.

Training can be difficult, but for the coaches involved it’s a science best suited for those passionate enough to learn and teach the game at a high level. Whether it’s using training aids or innovative drills, helping athletes thrive in a team environment is ultimately what everyone strives for. But in the end, it still takes effort, determination and a positive attitude from the athletes involved.

“There’s more resources and less passion or desire to be coached, and in my experience kids now hate learning more than they hate losing,” Baker said. “These kids have no idea what they have. There are so many resources for them to be successful.”

– See more at: http://www.winninghoops.com/pages/MayJune-2014-Training-with-a-Passion.php

Another Successful Year at the Ohio Girls Skills Select – David Borter (OGBR)

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DSC00318

Several of Ohio’s top prospects along with players from Indiana, Virginia, Illinois, Maryland, West Virginia & Canada attended this intense 2 day training session with Ganon Baker at Ohio Dominican University of March 29-30.

In addition to the incredible skill development that each player received they also were challenged with a history lesson of the game (several references to the likes of Breanna Stewart, Skylar Diggins, Ivory Latta, et el) were mentioned throughout the weekend to make these rising stars not only appreciate, but understand the great players before them. A very detailed film session was also conducted as players were shown in slow motion the finite details that make big things happen.

Ganon’s staff was top notch as always including the likes of MJ (Melissa Baker) who also happens to be Ganon’s wife and coach of Bluefield (VA) College, Mihai Raducanu from Ontario, Canada and Amy Audibert (former ACC player for Miami & color analyst for Canisius College). Mihai led the players at the beginning of both sessions with challenging agility and plyo “warm ups” that were new and unique. Ganon’s ball handling drills put the players out of their comfort zone immediately, especially with the tennis ball drills that required great hand/eye coordination. These are just a few of the fundamentals and skill development drills that make Ganon’s training sessions a valuable experience for al players who attend.

Several players caught my eye and are climbing up the radar or making their initial debut on the radar screen with their rising stock. Here are a few of the players who made an impact at this event:

CLASS OF 2015

Ashleigh Parkinson (6-1 SF/Newark, OH/Newark Catholic 2015)

* Strong, agile and versatile perimeter threat with post up skills; stretches the defense to the arc, catches and finishes in traffic; executes pic n’ roll; handles and passes in transition; a rising BCS prospect with certain mid-major impact

Madisyn Foltz (5-9 G/Baltimore, OH/Liberty Union 2015)

* Very skilled and athletic 2 guard; Strong with ball in transition; Can score a variety of ways; Hard nosed defender

Damonique Patterson (5-9 G/Columbus, OH/Cap City AAU 2015)

* Strong, skilled, athletic off guard who is explosive in open court / Can score with contact and hit mid range jumper….. has very good first step off the dribble

Olivia Bower (6-1 SF/Bowerston, OH/Conotton Valley 2015)

* Incredibly athletic off guard who is able to create her own shot / Good footwork on perimeter and post / Big time upside – needs to get stronger

CLASS OF 2016

Kasey Hughes (5-5 PG/Springboro, OH/Springboro 2016)

* Strong PG / Very good handles – creates off the dribble & scores with contact / DII type player

Kaitlin Taylor (5-8 G/F/Carlisle, OH/Carlisle 2016)

* Long, athletic guard who can light it up from perimeter / Very good handles and creates off the dribble / Needs to get stronger and finish around the rim – -good upside

Abi Oriti (5-10 F/Seven Hills, OH/Normandy 2016)

* Strong post body; Undersized at 5-10 for DI but definite DII prospect; Very good footwork in post and passes very well; Can score with both hands

CLASS OF 2017

Alexis Kiser (5-5 PG/Bluefield, VA/Graham 2017)

* Court savvy floor leader with a scorer’s mentality; mid range pull up game, handles and manufactures in mid range game; floor game IQ

CLASS OF 2018

Kaitlyn Gilbert (5-8 PG/Indianapolis, IN/Heritage Christian 2018)

* Lead guard with a scorer’s mentality; handles and brings attack mode in transition; mid range game creator with range to the arc coming in the future; an impact combo-guard with a verbal to Evansville

Morgan McMillen (5-6 G/New Philadelphia, OH/New Philadelphia 2018)

* Very strong & skilled off guard; Scores in a variety of ways; Basketball smart with high IQ ….. watched this kid take 4 charges in 2 competition games at Ganon’s event

Kennedy Schlabach (5-3 PG/Millersburg, OH/Berlin Hiland 2018)

* Highly skilled & sneaky PG – undersized at 5-3 but able to create with ball handling skills and passing ability; Will get better with size & strength

CLASS OF 2019

Anaya Peoples (5-5 PG/Danville, IL/Schlarman Academy 2019)

* Confident floor leader with superb handles, creates and attacks; savvy, IQ with off the charts potential!

Emily Braun (5-5 G/Ontario, Canada/St. Davids Public School 2019)

* Possesses tremendous footwork with the ball; moves well and understands the game without the ball; Good mid range game; Tremendous upside – will get better with strength

Yanni Hendley-McCalla (5-4 G/Bowie, MD/Riverdale Baptist School 2019)

* Super quick handles; Lock down defender; Able to score with contact at rim & creates her own shot off the dribble; Big time upside for this incredibly athletic kid

Sommer Pitzer (5-2 PG/Columbus, OH/Ridgeview MS 2019)

* Incredibly savvy & skilled PG; Passing skills are tremendous – sees the floor in transition and creates easy looks for her teammates; Very good change of speeds with the basketball – could be a special player!

Morgan McAvoy (5-6 G/Ontario, Canada/Sainte-Marguerite Bourgeoys 2019)

* Highly skilled off guard who has solid mid range game; Very good basketball intelligence and moves well without the ball; Able to use both hands efficiently – will get better with strength

Elev8 HS Basketball Team Does a Double Alley Oop

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No camp fire sing-songs: basketball hopeful had a ball

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Hamilton Scores Article on Aerial Wilson – National Skills Select Attendee

http://www.hamiltonscores.com/2013/10/16/no-camp-fire-sing-songs-basketball-hopeful-had-a-ball/

Aerial Wilson – who plays with Hamilton’s Transway Basketball – reflects on her recent experience as one of 120 invited participants at the NCAA Certified National Girls Skills Select event in Atlanta, Georgia. Aerial was identified by elite basketball skill coach Ganon Baker at the Saltfleet Basketball Camp in July. The Grade 7 student was also chosen as one of top 20 developmental players at the Ontario Basketball U12 Talent Identification and Development Program (TIDP) mega camp this past summer.

I was so excited when an e-mail arrived saying I had been accepted into camp. But not just any summer camp for kids – this was Ganon Baker Basketball: “Congratulations you have been selected to our NCAA College Coach National Girls Event…”

I was thrilled, but I knew I would have to be at my best for this camp; it was time to work. My dad, one of my biggest fans and trainer, helped prepare me for this opportunity, I was out on the court everyday and spent extra time working on all aspect of the game. Strength training was very important, too, knowing that the other girls going to this camp were bigger, faster, stronger, and older with much more experience. When the day to leave arrived, I was ready to go and give it my all.

Among those older and more experienced, Aerial pounds the ball with confidence for the handling skills session.  (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson)

Among those older and more experienced, Aerial pounds the ball with confidence for the handling skills session. (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson)

We arrived early on the first day of camp and got to use the gym. I felt comfortable and confident warming up. When it was time to start, I realized how much older and bigger the other girls were. I might have felt a bit timid at first, but competing against older girls – and boys – along with playing in the United States against mentally stronger and more experienced players had prepared me for this camp more then I imagined.

The motto of the weekend camp is, “Was that my best?” But I personally believe that you can always improve. You can try hard and go 110% to do your best, but the truth is you can always pound the ball harder, rip the ball stronger, jump higher and run faster. Every drill I do I’m always putting in my best effort to get the maximum experience and learning from it.

The first skills session we did was ball handling. I pounded that ball the whole time even when my arm was tired and sore, and to make it harder we had defense hitting our shoulders and forearms as well. We also worked on triple threat and pivot moves, which, along with the offensive drills, was great to learn how to read the defense.

The trainers taught me a lot more about the game and elevated my basketball IQ. We worked on different scenarios of screens, the 2-men and 3-men games, transition, plays off ball movement, and other offenses.

Wilson gets advice from A'ja Wilson, who is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2014 by ESPN Hoopgurlz. (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson)

Wilson gets advice from A’ja Wilson, who is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2014 by ESPN Hoopgurlz. (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson)

Five-on-five games were one of the best learning experiences of the camp. I was really intimidated at first. These were the best of the best in the United States and most were six years older than me. Each game I improved more and more, learning to play with my size with the help of my instructors and teammates. I felt that I did really well during the course of this camp. It was an amazing opportunity to play alongside some of the best players in the nation: Erykah Davenport, Te’a Cooper, and Lynee Belton are all graduating students this year that I had the pleasure to play with them.

A’ja Wilson was an amazing girl to meet. She told me about sacrifices she made to get where she is today. Reiterating the hard work was Women’s National Basketball League legend Chamique Holdsclaw in a team meeting prior to the Fresh 50 National Game. Although I know I wasn’t ready to play in the big game, I was honored to be a part of it. It felt great to sit beside the best players in basketball today.

Someday I will be one of those players. I had an amazing time and got a lot out of the experience. I can’t wait to improve my game and earn an invitation for next year.

(Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson)

(Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson)

Atlanta Girls National Skills Select 2013 a Huge Success – Terry Drake

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I recently had the opportunity to be the Lead Trainer at the Ganon Baker/Full Court Fresh 50 Invitational Camp (BIG UPS TO GANON BAKER FOR THE OPPORTUNITY). Some of the top girls across the country gathered to showcase their talents in front of over 70 college coaches over the three-day weekend event. Just some of the talent consisted of Gabby Ortiz (University of Oklahoma commit), Courtney Ekmark (University of Connecticut commit), and Te’A Cooper (#3 ranked PG in the class of 2015), to name a few. There was lot to take away after the event some good and some not so good.

I guess we could play the old game that I have good news and I have bad news, which one do you want first. I am not sure about you but I have always wanted to hear the bad news first in hopes that the good news would lighten the blow from the bad news, so I will take this approach now.

I was thoroughly disappointed at the IQ level of many of the players in attendance and the skill level was not far from the level of the IQ for many throughout the camp. The answers that I received from questions such as: 1. Where is the best place to post and why? 2. How do you defend the post when the ball is free throw line extended above? 3. What are the reads coming off a sideline pick and roll? Was very troubling and disturbing. I sat down with Korey Harris, my close friend (Brother Form Another Mother) another one of the skill development trainers that worked the event and asked him, “What is being taught to these players across the country.” From the look of things at this “Elite” level camp not much is being taught.

Even though the skill development industry is growing, many still are not growing in the knowledge of the game of basketball. Many of the players ‘shoe game’ has more value than their ‘on the court game.’

You would think that with college coaches sitting in the stands watching and evaluating, effort would not be something you would have to address in this type of camp, but I had to address it on more than one occasion. I started the camp off with a slogan for the weekend, which was presented in the form of a question and that, was: “Was That My Best?” I challenged the players to reflect within themselves after every drill, after every possession, after every game, after every shot, was that my best! During one of the huddle moments after a skills session, I asked how many campers did not just give their best and there were about 15 out of 50 young ladies in the group that actually raised their hand. I was absolutely appalled that you could have an opportunity in front of college coaches and you not give your best. Spending minutes at an ‘Elite’ level camp talking about effort is not something that time should be spent on.

Now, all is not lost! There was definitely some ‘Elite’ level talent at this camp. From Gabby Ortiz a floor general who has it all, from range, quick release, great off the dribble, can create her own shot, to just a hard nose gritty PG she was a great young lady to watch. Has court vision unlike any player I have seen in the women’s game. A’ja Wilson (2014 PF/Heathwood Hall High School), is a match-up nightmare. She has tremendous length and is very active on the boards with a great mixture of low post moves. Te’A Cooper has come into her own and is a crafty guard who can score in bunches and can do it quite quickly. I saw her several years ago and I knew she was going to be one of the top rated kids in her class. The most athletic player I saw in the camp was Shakayla Thomas and she hails from Sylacauga AL, and she proved numerous times why she is one of the best in the state of Alabama. There were many impressive young ladies at the camp, and I will list more, along with a few strengths of their game, at the end of this blog. But before I do, Duke University has to be ecstatic about 2014 Commit Sierra Calhoun. Sierra opened a lot of people eyes throughout the weekend and was a force every time she stepped onto the court. She was a pure genius when it came to changing her speed. Whether she was slashing her way to the basket or knocking down the trey ball or utilizing a deadly crossover, she was showing why she was heavily recruited by major Division I schools across the country. And not to mention, she was a hard nose defender throughout the entire weekend.

There were some bright spots this weekend as you can see in regards to the caliber of talent that was on display. Even though the IQ level may not have been the best, or the effort may not have always been there, I was encouraged at the posture of ‘student’ that was taken by so many of the young ladies. I cannot tell you how many times after the skill sessions a young lady would come up to me with notebook in hand asking for me to help her with what was taught during the session. I encouraged the young ladies as college and NBA basketball season’s approach, to watch games as students and not as spectators. It was evident that many of the young ladies did not wait to embrace the posture of student because many asked for my email to be able to stay in touch and have someone to be able to discuss the game with. At the time that I am writing this blog right now, I have already had nine (9) young ladies from the camp email me asking for ways that I can help them to get better.

So, what was really exciting is the hunger for knowledge for the game of basketball that was birth into the young ladies. They came to the camp one way but left determined that they were not going to remain the same player. Any teacher will tell you that teaching a student that is hungry to learn is a joy, and even better yet, seeing the desire to learn birthed in a student for learning is even a greater joy. I earnestly believe that many young ladies committed themselves to becoming life-long students of the game, which will one day help them commit to the school of their choice in not just basketball but education as well.

Other Notables:

Courtney Ekmark (’14 Home-School Verbal/UConn): A pure assassin. In her range once she steps across half-court. Leave her alone if you want to and they will be putting 3 on the board and you will be finding a spot on the bench.

Jasmine Carter (’14 St. Pius X Verbal/UGA): A gritty hard nose PG. Aggressive on both ends of the court. Continuously puts pressure on defense when she has the ball in her hands.

Lynee Belton (’14 The Bullis School Verbal/Duke): Bruiser down low with a nice size body. Constantly working to get post position. Just a strong blue collar player.

Victoria Vivians (’14 Scot Central HS Verbal/Mississippi State): A solid player with a nice jumper. Comes to play every possession.

Jordan Hosey (’15 Manvel HS Verbal/TX): Range, Range, and more Range!

Bree Horrocks (’14 Buford HS Verbal/Purdue): Nice post game with her back to the basket, but even nicer when she steps out and makes the mid-range jumper consistently, which she shows is a key to her game.

Erykah Davenport (’14 Tucker HS Uncommitted): The elbow spot is her ‘SWEET’ spot. She loves the face up game and loves to attack once she does.

Tynice Martin (’15 Southwest Dekalb HS Uncommitted): If transition play is what you want to see, this young lady is excellent in transition. She thrives in it! Quick off the bounce and has great court vision.

Ganon Baker Makes History Happen Down Under with his International High School Skills Program!

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Nigel Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Ganon’s first year of heading up the skill development of St James College they have done the unthinkable and won the Queensland State Championship.  St James College has a wealth of talent with many African students including cousins of NBA stars Loul Deng and Manute Bol.  Ganon is working with these kids to reach their potential and realized their dreams of playing in college and professionally.

Never before had the 145 year old school been to the finals but with superior individual skills they didn’t just compete they dominated and won the final by 34 points with seniors Atem Deng and Atem Bior controlling the game.  With Ganon’s international High School Skills program he visits the school each year to show the level needed to play at College and professionally and then skyped in to monitor the progress.

Head Coach Nigel Berghan said, “Ganon gets to know the kids and our coaches personally.  His motivation and intensity puts the kids on the path to their dreams and we thank him for it”.

We wish them luck in the National Tournament to be played in the first week in December in Melbourne Australia.

Southern Talent Hot At Skills Select

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Ganon Baker Girls SS Art

The 2013 National Skills Select Summer I (Texas) featured some of the top up and coming talent in the South and Heartland regions.  The camp was lead by Elev8 /Ganon Baker Sport Institute trainer Cody Toppert. Toppert and his staff demonstrated the excellence that has become the staple of the Skills Select brand and the player responded in a very favorable way. Here we’ll take a look at some of the standouts:

Camp Standouts:

Jacquece Alston / 5’7” / 2016 / Atlanta, GA – Alston was one of the most determined players all weekend. She would not be denied. Whether it was on the offensive end, drill competition or attention to detail, the Atlanta resident seem to be at the center of it all. A physical guard with an active motor, we love her approach and see her as a legitimate Division I prospect in two years.  The strongest part of her game at this stage is her pull up jump shot that fell with regularity all weekend.

Tyler Collins / 5’3” /2018 / Fayetteville, GA – This was our second viewing of Collins this year (she also attended National Skill Select Spring in Ohio in March) and we walked away even more impressed than before. Her defensive efforts were ramp up to overdrive as she gave opposing guards fits with her quick feet and active hands. Collins again showed that as a transition point guard that her game is mature beyond her 2018 classmates. Her decisions on the break were good and she did an above average job of keeping her teammates involved. As a scoring lead guard, this may be a player that will be among the regions’ if not, nations’ best in time. She is still relatively small in stature, but that could easily change with time. We love her ability to finish at the rim with both hands even against bigger defender. Her jump shot looks improved.

Ria Gulley / 5’8” / 2016 / San Antonio, TX – Gulley is a player that at first glance may not attract the attention of high major BCS programs in time, but could easily find her way to one of the more established college programs. She already combines good size with an above average offensive skill set.  She displays a very quick first step on dribble penetration and while moving without the ball.  Ria can also score which was evident throughout the camp games where she was one of the camp’s top scorers.  She also finishes with either hand- a trait that will keep her scoring ability as a highlight to her game. She needs to improve defensively to garner more national attention.

Veronica Harjo / 5’8” / 2018 / Norman, OK – Projecting the long-term success or development of middle school players has been viewed as impossible and to most including us, unfair.  But we also recognize that talent is talent and hard work deserves to be mentioned and often rewarded. Veronica here’s your reward.  The 5’8” guard is both aggressive and assertive. We marvel at her speed and quickness. Her frame is already long and lean. Her spin move and finish to close out one of the camp game may have been the most advanced offensive move of the camp. She’ll need to improve her shooting range and her activity off the ball, of which, maturity and coaching should go along way to correct. One to monitor – for sure.

Brogan Jones / 6’3” / 2016 / Little Rock, AR – Jones was the top post, if not player, at this year’s camp. She would also be considered the top long-term prospect. She possesses the size now of an elite level post and has a developing face-up game that will only increase her market value.  Her presence was felt on every possession whether she involved in the play or not – it’s hard not to notice her 6’3” frame and sturdy build. She runs the floor well for her size and is becoming a better ball-handler. The Arkansas native, passes well out of the double team, passes well block-to-block and is easily proficient in outlet passing.  So list her as an adept passer at 6’3” – a coach’s dream.  Although she has shown considerable improvements over her multiple attendances of Skill Select camps, we still feel as though her ability to finish around the basket could be improved, which is more a by-product of focus than footwork or shooting touch.  Look for Jones among the top post in 2016.

Other Standouts:

Lauren Koenig / 5’8” / 2017 / Edmond, OK – Koenig is a big guard with very good scoring instincts. She moves well without the ball and has a nice releasing jump shot that falls with regularity. We like her a lot long term.

Taylor Sutton / 5’3” / 2018 / Hampton, GA – Sutton was one of the toughest players at the camp despite being one of the youngest.  She did an outstanding job finding teammates and was always willing to demonstrate when called upon.  Her leadership is evident, even at a young age.  Always looks to engage teammates, another characteristic that will make her among the region’s best in 2018. A willing passer as well.

A Snap-Shot of others who caught our eye:

Camryn Brown / 5’4” / 2019 / Lewisville, TX – a young guard with good shooting range.

Brittany Parker / 5’6” / 2016/ San Antonio, TX –possesses good speed and is a long finisher in the lane area.

Kameron Johnston / 5’8” / 2014 / Amarillo, TX – strong and physical guard with an aggressive style of play

Rachel Johnson / 5’3” / 2015 / Shreveport, LA – an active athlete, strong

Valarie Chastain / 5’6” / 2017 / Katy, TX – needs to get stronger, but future is very bright; good offensive skill set

Morgan Towells / 5’6” / 2016 / Atlanta, GA – a very good athlete with a scorer’s mentality. Has a tendency to force a lot of shots

Addy Lawson / 5’7” / 2016 / Mustang, OK – a strong guard; passes it well in transition; physical; needs to improve foot-speed.

Alexius High / 5’10” / 2016 / Atlanta, GA –a long active athlete, rebounds out of her area with her length and athleticism – reminds us of former MTSU player – Jennifer Justice.

Aubrie Wall / 5’3” / 2015 / Redding, CA – a lefty penetrator with toughness and poise

Makayla Escue / 5’10” / 2019 / Levelland, TX – at 5’10 and only in the 7th grade, future is bright; monitor long term as a combo forward

Anne Marie Burch / 6’3” / 2016 / Benton, AR = A strong body post; great lower body strength that will make her a prize recruit in time- showing improvements; release on shot is still a little low; needs to use her length better.

Kelvin Powell is a national evaluator  for Fullcourt.com and is also a member of the McDonald’s All-American Selection Committee and Gatorade National/State Player of the Year Advisory Board. Follow him on twitter at @kppros.