Sanford (Del.)/Diamond State Titans 2016 PG Mikey Dixon. (Photo: Tom Reifsnyder)
READING, Pa. -- Eight hundred different players took to more than a dozen different courts today as part of the Hoop Group Elite Camp at Reading’s Albright College to show off for college coaches from around the country.
Today’s action marked the second day of the July live period, allowing coaches from all around the country to get an up-close look at some of the best high school talent in the Northeast.
Here’s a look at some of the standout storylines from the second day of action:
Mikey Dixon (2016/PG/Sanford, Del.)
If you haven’t seen Mikey Dixon since last year, you probably wouldn’t recognize him.
Not long ago, Dixon (pictured above) was a rail-thin, 5-foot-8 point guard with long arms and a body that just hadn’t quite filled out yet.
But a lot can change in a year.
“I definitely got taller,” the rising senior floor general said. “I grew about like four or five inches over the last summer, got a little stronger, more athletic finishing at the basket; I finish at the basket much better.
“I just think my height and athleticism helped my game get to that next level a little bit more.”
Now standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing in at 160 pounds, he still has a slender frame, but his growth spurt has essentially catapulted his recruiting status from a possible Division-II or Division-III player to a Division-I prospect.
Dixon has offers from D-I programs such as Central Connecticut State, Drake, Eastern Tennessee, and Stony Brook, and mentions Rider and Quinnipiac from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) as the schools recruiting him the hardest.
“They’ve been telling me that I can be an impact player,” Dixon said. “They know I’m good for their conference because I’m a guard and the MAAC is a guard conference, and they think I’d fit in well because I got a good scoring ability and they say that’s what the conference is all about.”
Dixon has been tearing up the AAU scene with the Delaware-based Diamond State Titans 17U squad, showcasing his lethal crossover and improved ability to attack the basket, and garnering interest from a number of college coaches over the past few months.
With his combination of lightning quick speed and ability to create off the bounce, in addition to his lanky frame, Dixon is taylor-made for lower-tier Division I schools, also called mid-majors.
“I’d probably feel most comfortable at like a mid-major, because I’m going to want to come in and get impact minutes as soon as I get there,” Dixon said. “I want to be an impact player right away.”
Right now, Dixon is enjoying the freedom of running the show for his AAU team, whereas during the high school season, he shares the playmaking duties with high-major Division I prospect and Sanford teammate Eric Ayala, a smooth-operating rising junior combo guard.
“I’m playing the point now, I’m playing on the ball more, so I’m getting chances to like show my vision and scoring from the point guard position,” Dixon said of his role on the AAU circuit.
As for this coming high school season, Dixon already has a strategy in mind for how he and Ayala will work together in the Sanford backcourt.
“He’ll probably bring it up one time, do his thing, create, and then I’ll do it,” Dixon said, laughing a bit. “We’ll probably just rotate and have like a two-guard offense, really.” --Tom Reifsnyder
Marquis Collins (2016/F/Chester High, Pa.)
Marquis Collins has been waiting for this; his senior season. The gritty, athletic 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward will be instrumental to the hopeful bounce-back campaign for the Chester Clippers. 2014-2015 was a historic year at the Clipjoint, but not in the usual way.
Head coach Larry Yarbray Sr.’s bunch dropped a jaw-dropping three games in Del-Val play and failed to qualify for the PIAA Class AAAA state playoffs for the first time since 1992. Albeit, without rising senior point guard Khaleeq Campbell (torn ACL), but nonetheless, it was a disappointing season for Chester. With Campbell and Jahmi Bailey-Green pacing the backcourt, combined with Collins joining fellow senior Maurice Henry down low, the usual senior-laden Clippers will look to get back on the right side of its storied history.
First up, though, is the final summer of Collins’ recruitment. After averaging nearly ten points per game a season ago, the rising senior picked up his well-awaited first Division-I offer back on May 19th of this year from Rider. The Broncs are still Collins’ lone offer heading into the all-powerful July recruiting live periods. The swingman visited his only option on June 28th, walking away with a good vibe from head coach Kevin Baggett’s staff.
“It was great, I really really liked it,” Collins said. “They said that they want to build the program around me if I get the chance to commit. It’s a very family-oriented program and a small school, I love that.”
Collins has been hearing from a pair of schools, Robert Morris and Quinnipiac, for quite some time. The schools have yet to offer, but with yet another solid performance at Hoop Group’s Elite Session I, RMU and QU may be close to doing just that. Regardless, it seems as if the Chester pulse is living in the moment and eager to see how it all plays out.
“I’m trying to get more [options],” he said. “But it’s all going to come down to who I like the best.”
Collins has a connection with one of those two schools that have been showing interest; Chester and Robert Morris grad Wesley Johnson, now playing professionally overseas, is a good friend of his.
“Wesley is like a big brother, like a mentor to me. I really like both Robert Morris and Quinnipiac, so we’ll see.” --Teddy Bailey
Evan Horn (2016/G/Cedar Crest, Pa.)
As of late, there have been many dual-sport athletes that have garnered recruiting attention in both football and basketball. Names such as Devante Cross (Parkland senior), Manny Taylor (Roman grad, Rutgers football freshman) and Jamal Custis (Neumann-Goretti grad, Syracuse football sophomore) come to mind, however, at this rate, you might want to add Evan Horn to the list.
Horn, a built and speedy 6-foot-1 point guard, holds football offers from Bucknell and Temple as a safety. In the basketball realm, though, it’s quite the different story. Horn has yet to garner a basketball offer as the July live periods get underway, and the reason for that is clear.
“A lot of D-I schools have been in contact with me,” Horn said. “But I think many of them are scared that I play football as well. I feel like that might worry them a little. I’d like to play basketball in college, but unfortunately I don’t have the offers to do that right now. We’ll see.”
Those offers will come if Horn keeps up the level of play he displayed on Thursday. The Cedar Crest senior has the athleticism to explode to the rim, and even throw down over it. Horn prides himself in fundamentally-sound point guard play; his ball movement, distribution and handling stood out from the pack at Albright College. Furthermore, it was evident that the dual-sport phenom can also score from various ranges to polish off his game.
“It’s been going good,” Horn said of this week’s camp. “We lost our first two games but have finally started to come together. I’m definitely trying to work on shooting the ball a little better and as a point guard, I’d like to get the other guys the ball better as well. I’m learning on how to run this offense and keep it flowing.”
Cedar Crest is coming off a historic 27-4 season that pushed the Falcons past Lower Merion in the first round of this past year’s state tournament - CC fell to eventual state champion Roman Catholic in the second round, 53-35. The Falcons were paced by Horn and ten other seniors - specifically leading scorers Josh Bucher and Andrew Eberhart. Horn will be crucial in a possible rebuilding campaign for Cedar Crest after such a magical season for the Falcons.
“We were in the locker room for probably an hour and a half,” Horn said of the season-ending loss to Roman Catholic.” “We didn’t get back to school until 12:30am. After playing with each other since 3rd grade, it was definitely a big deal. Coming back this year, only two of us have varsity experience.” --Teddy Bailey
Rasool Samir (2016/F/Martin Luther King, Pa.)
After a disappointing junior year at Martin Luther King High School, 6-foot-6 forward Rasool Samir has dedicated himself to not letting history repeat itself in his final year of high school.
Samir stood out amongst his teammates today at Hoop Group Elite Camp due to his always-running motor, defensive ability, and developing post game. Once only known as a defensive player, Samir has worked hard this season to add the final piece to his game, offense.
“I’m in the gym every day, getting stronger, working on my jump shot,”, Samir said. “I’m just trying to be a good team player, and helping my team in every way that I can”
The Martin Luther King wing admits that last year was not his finest, averaging only 3.8 points per game and having a limited offensive game. He knows that scoring the ball consistently will add another dimension to his game, and also make him more appealing to Division-I coaches.
“Last year, I don't think I was a big enough factor on offense to help the team. Honestly, I’m just working to beat Roman,” Samir said. “But, I’ve been more dedicated this year to get better, especially on offense and shooting.”
He has yet to receive any offers, but he has been in contact with multiple schools. Both Kutztown and Robert Morris have contacted him.
Samir is hoping that his dedication and work ethic will help earn him some looks from other schools. He has always been a defense-first player, and is able to successfully guard both on the perimeter and in the post.
“Defense is always what I pride myself on, and always hustling out there,” the Philly Pride AAU standout said.
The ability to step out and hit the mid range jump shot, however, is one thing he has never had in his game.
But he is doing everything in his power to change that, and become the best all-around basketball player that he can be.
If Samir keeps playing like he has so far at camps and AAU tournaments this summer, he may finally turn the corner and develop into a major contributor with MLK in his final season at the high school level. --Anthony Dabbundo
Photo credit: Tom Reifsnyder/City of Basketball Love