This past Friday and Saturday saw some very good middle school talent taking part in the 2018 Middle School Break-Out Camp at Inspire Courts in Gilbert, AZ. The event was once again a success with great instructional and developmental drills and 5-on-5 Showcase games, followed by an All-Star game with the Camp’s top talent going at each other. I was in attendance for the event and came away impressed with all the coaching and training taking part with our up-and-coming ball players. Kids came from all different parts of the Valley and I came away impressed at the advanced skillset from a number of the youngsters in the gym over the weekend. Here are some of the top performers I saw…
Raydon Thorson (8th grade/point guard) was the most advanced player in the event. The floor general can get his shot off whenever he wants from the most part and he is a great finisher at the rim. He also made a handful of passes that showed off his court vision and ability to make other players better. He is going to be a prospect to watch moving into the high school ranks. His motor needs to get a little higher and I would like to see him put a heavy emphasis on the defensive end, which will make him an elite point guard moving on into high school. It is unclear as to where he will attend school for the next 4 years at this point, as his family is still exploring local options.
Landon Schumaker (7th grade/power forward/Castillo Middle) impressed me more than anybody in the Camp. He is super-skilled and stands at 6’2” as he spent his 13th birthday in the gym on Saturday. He has the chance to be something special as a recent doctor visit revealed he should end up somewhere between 6’9”-6’10” as he walked in the gym today in a Size 13 shoe. He has an incredible ability to finish through contact and can also put the ball on the floor. He plays both ends of the floor at a high level and effects the game with his rebounding and shot-blocking ability. He can also put the ball on the deck the length of the floor to lead the break or make a power dribble or two to take it to the rack. Even more impressive is the type of kid he comes across as. He is a straight A student and very soft-spoken and mature for his age. He is well beyond his years on and off the court and should be a fun one to watch moving forward. He could use some work on his mid-range jumper and outside shot, but you can just tell that will come with time. It became known at the camp that he recently dropped 50 points in his last middle school game. Arizona, take notice!
Justin Shorts (8th grade/wing) might have the highest ceiling of anyone in a camp jersey in the gym. He stands about 6’2” and has some explosiveness and bounce to him already. He tried to dunk on a few occasions over the weekend, and you can tell he is only a month or two away from finishing those dunks with some real authority. He also has the best basketball body I saw and is a physical kid by nature. Can put the ball in both hands and finishes strong inside. His development will be aimed at his outside game and on the perimeter as he projects to be a wing player at the next level. He will be playing for Millennium (Goodyear, AZ) as he moves into high school next year.
Leonard Romayor (7th Grade/Point Guard/Legacy Middle) was an absolute joy to watch. The small-but-savvy point guard carved up defenses every chance he got in the showcase games and played poised throughout, creating easy scoring opportunities for his teammates. He was the best passer in the event and displayed great ball-handling as well. He is a player and a leader and plays with great maturity. He will be a joy to watch as he moves up the ranks in Glendale, AZ.
DeMarco Thomas (8th grade/Forward) was probably the most physical kid in the camp. Though he will need to learn how to gauge his aggressiveness and learn to play the game without forcing unnecessary contact, his physical gifts make him intriguing. He is a man amongst boys at times down low, and is explosive jumping off one step in the lane for rebounds, altering shots, or finishing through contact. He moves his feet pretty good for his 6’1”, thick frame, but he could use more work on his lateral quickness. The south-paw will be another one to watch as he will attend Millennium with his front-court mate, Justin Shorts, next season.
Xavier Castillo (8th grade/NFL Yet Academy) was the premier shot blocker in the camp and rebounded at a high level. The 6’1” forward runs the floor very well for his length and his long legs and long arms make him a legit problem in the paint and out in transition. He has good hands, as he was the recipient of a number of dimes from Raydon Thorson. The lefty also has a nice touch on his jumper and isn’t afraid to pull and net it from the outside. He will need some more weight on his frame as he transitions into high school at Mountain Pointe.
We might as well stay consistent with the age-old saying of “save the best for last” as we talk about the youngest participant in the camp, 9-year old Mason Magee. There are not enough words to rave about this kid. Put simply, he is in another stratosphere when it comes to what he can do on the court for his age. And it’s not just his ability to knock down 3’s and dribble through defenders at such a young age. Sure, that is an impressive thing to watch as he plays with such an older age group. But it’s the little things that the youngster does that makes him seem so special. When he shoots an outside shot he yells “shot” so his team can try to go for the offensive rebound. When he dribbles the ball through traffic, his head stays up and he finds the open man on drive-and-kicks like a high-school level guard. He is a competitor regardless of what age group he is competing against, and it puts a smile on your face watching the young’n. It was impressive as he got the respect of every other older camp participant.