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Live in AC: Night One Notebook (July 26)

07/27/2017, 12:00am EDT
By Josh Verlin

CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
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GALLOWAY, N.J. -- The annual Live in A.C. Tournament takes over the Jersey Shore this week, with teams in the 15U, 16U, and 17U brackets playing at various venues around Atlantic City.

Here’s a notebook from the 17U showcase action at Stockton University on the tournament’s opening night Wednesday:

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Bernard Lightsey (above) will be one of the senior leaders at Imhotep this year. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Lightsey preparing to lead talented ‘Tep this season

After a 31-2 season highlighted by a PIAA Class 4A state championship and a Philadelphia Public league title, you could say that the 2016-17 Imhotep basketball team was pretty successful.

The 2017-18 Panthers, however, might be even better than last season’s team, says their new senior leader, guard Bernard Lightsey.

“I’ve just got to tell the underclassmen to be humble because the sky is the limit for all of them,” he said. “They all work hard, they all compete at a high level and it’s only going to get better for them.”

After watching recent grads and future Division I ballplayers Daron Russell (Rhode Island) and Dave Beatty (South Carolina) lead the team to a monumental season last year -- Imhotep was rated as high as No. 3 in the country by USA Today -- Lightsey wasn’t going to let his seniors leave without imparting a few tips.

“They just told me to be more vocal, lead by example and push my underclassmen to play hard,” Lightsey said.

Along with fellow seniors Amear Johnson and Davonte Canty, Lightsey is expected to contribute to Imhotep’s team on the floor and as vocal leaders

It’s been coming for a while for Lightsey, who’s been a four-year varsity contributor on the top program in the Public League over the last few seasons. The Panthers, under the direction of head coach Andre Noble, have won three of the last five Public League titles; the state title was the program’s first since 2013, but that was the last of three in a row. Over that time they’ve had Division I talent like Russell and Beatty, plus Brandon Austin (Providence/Oregon), Jaekwon Carlyle (Hampton), Devin Liggeons (Wagner) and more.

Now it’s Lightsey’s turn to shine.

“It feels great because I get to show what I’m really capable of doing on the floor and just showing that I can compete at a high level,” he said.

Lightsey showed some traits that a senior leader should show on Wednesday night, as he took a charge and played tough defense while putting up 21 points in a win for his Positive Image squad.

Another “senior trait” that Lightsey showed in his game on Wednesday night was playing the whole 32 minutes of his game without sitting out for even a second.

“My coach needed me out there at all times of the game so we could get a win,” he said. “I have to be mentally prepared if something like this were to happen this season.”

For Lightsey, D-II Kutztown is the only school to show interest in him, and he plans to visit the school “sometime in August.”

“I’m just trying to get recruited,” Lightsey said. “I’m not really getting recruited right now, so I’m coming out and playing hard so I can get noticed.”

As a shooting guard, Lightsey can really light up the stat sheet with his ability to hit 3-point shots, but he wants to transition into more of a point guard this summer.

“I’ve been working on being a game manager and working on my ball-handling because people look at me as a shooting guard,” Lightsey said. “I’m trying to prove that I can handle the ball and get others involved.” -- Austin Petolillo

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Andre Toure (above) has three Division I offers and much more interest entering his senior year. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

French forward Touré picking up language just like hoops

Two years ago, André Touré was connected with the basketball program at the Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem, N.C. after expressing his ambitions to pursue a basketball career.

Toure, then a sophomore, decided to leave his Parisian home and cross the Atlantic Ocean to play ball in the States.

There was one glaring problem.

“I couldn’t speak English,” he said. “I was on my phone sometimes to translate words in class… The first 3 months, it was pretty hard, but then I got to used to it.”

To hear him talk nowadays, it’s hard to believe he’s only been speaking English for two years. It’s easier to believe that he’s been playing basketball for a few years longer.

On the court, the 6-8 forward didn’t have as hard of a time adjusting, modeling his game after whom he calls “old-school” players like Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady.

In a showcase game on Wednesday, Touré showed off some impressive moves for a forward his size, including a Eurostep in the lane that ended with a dunk; he finished with 20 points in a win for SBA Elite, which was part of the St. Benedict’s (N.J.) roster playing under a different name.

A year after moving to St. Benedict’s from QEA, the Frenchman is in his final summer as a high school basketball player, looking to up his value and hone in his game before the time for making a college decision rolls around.

Toure is working on becoming more Hardaway and McGrady-esque, trying to become more of a versatile wing who can play the ‘2’ rather than a mobile ‘4’.

After playing a reserve role last season, Toure has “a chance to get some good minutes,” according to St. Benedict’s coach, Mark Taylor, but the main thing he’ll have to do is improve upon the physicality that comes with his size.

“He’s got to get tougher, that’s the big key,” Taylor said.

Whatever the case, Toure’s athletic skill set has already earned him substantial Division I attention; he’s already received offers from Manhattan, Santa Clara, and Stony Brook, and programs like Wichita State and Vanderbilt have also expressed interest, according to Taylor.

If Touré remains as quick a learner on the court as he is in the classroom learning to speak English, he’ll have his game ironed out quite nicely by the time he sets foot on campus. -- Zach Drapkin

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K-Vonn Cramer (above) is an excellent athlete who plays above the rim with ease. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Quick Hits

-- Standing 6-6 with a 7-1 wingspan, 2019 wing forward K-Vonn Cramer showed off his freakish athleticism for Team Final in a win over the N.J. Playaz, slamming home a slue of dunks and making many additional acrobatic finishes at the rim. Cramer, who began playing basketball in seventh grade, has already been offered by Rutgers, VCU, and Hartford, and he also has an unofficial visit to UConn planned, not to mention interest from Miami (Fl.) and Syracuse. Right now, the Mount Pleasant (Del.) forward almost exclusively rebounds and scores from close range, but at his height, the left-hander will need to develop more of a slashing game to be effective at the next level -- either that, or he’ll grow a few more inches and be even more of a mismatch problem.

-- Coming off of an impressive 2016-17 season for Bishop Shanahan, East Coast Power’s 2018 forward Kevin Dodds is starting to turn some heads this summer. The 6-6, 220-pound Dodds says that some of the schools interested in him include D-IIs University of the Sciences, East Stroudsburg and West Chester. Dodds plans to visit East Stroudsburg and West Chester after the July live period ends and already visited University of the Sciences. In their game against Crusaders Nation on Wednesday night, Dodds scored 20 points to go along with three rebounds.

After reaching the District 1 5A semi-finals and the Ches-Mont league finals last season, Dodds has high hopes for the upcoming season for Bishop Shanahan. “We’re very excited about next year,” Dodds said. “So we’re preparing as best we can so next year we’ll be able to come out and be able to compete at the same level.”

-- Add Imhotep’s 2019 wing Jamil Riggins to the list of players in an already stacked junior class that has received a Division I offer. Coming into July, the 6-5 southpaw did not have a single offer but as of Wednesday night, Riggins has received three offers from Coppin State, Rider and Central Connecticut State.

“It was a blessing,” Riggins said after scoring 15 points for Philly Pride’s 2019 group in a close loss to the Jersey Force Elite’s 2018s. “I’ve been waiting to get Division I offers but now I got them.”

Alongside fellow junior wings and Division I recruits Donta Scott, Dahmir Bishop and Karam Cummings -- all four now have multiple offers -- Riggins and the rest of the Imhotep squad are looking to top a season where they won numerous titles and were ranked in the top five high school teams in the country. “It’s going to be a great year,” Riggins said.

-- 2018 big man Jared Kimbrough had an impressive outing on Wednesday, scoring 16 points using an array of inside moves in Jersey Force Elite’s 67-65 win over the Philly Pride 2019s. Kimbrough, 6-8 with a 7-foot wingspan, has garnered significant Division-I interest this summer, with his number of scholarship offers now reaching double digits. The Neptune (N.J.) center said La Salle and Monmouth are the two schools contacting him most frequently, with Delaware and Towson also in the mix. He plans to make his official visits in September after narrowing down his list with unofficial visits in August.

Kimbrough said that he’s trying to “up [his] value” during the remainder of the live periods by expanding his range to the three-point line and working on ballhandling. He has a few other schools eying him -- he dropped the names Michigan, Temple, and Providence -- so he’d like to see if he can earn any more offers before the live periods wrap up on Sunday.

-- One of the top shooters in the state, Drew Friberg is starting to get an idea of where he’ll be playing next year. A group of mid-majors are strongly pursuing the State College (Pa.) rising seniors, including Delaware, William & Mary, Bucknell, Lehigh, Yale and Boston U, all of whom have offered; Friberg also said he’s been hearing a bit from Princeton, which hasn’t. Once the live periods end, Friberg said he wants to unofficially visit several schools who have recently offered -- UDel, Boston U, William & Mary and others have all come on board during July -- before going any further.

“I haven’t really thought about any [official] visits yet, but I don’t want (my decision) lingering over me going into the school year,” he said. “[I’m looking for] playing style, good fit, coaching staff is a big thing too. Just when you feel at home, that’s how I want to feel.”

A 6-6 wing, Friberg showed off his versatile offensive skillset with a 16-point outing as his Jersey Shore Warriors outlasted Crown Basketball (N.Y.) in triple OT to win its showcase game. A stellar 3-point marksman, he’s also shown this month an ability to score in the midrange and attack the hoop, moving very well without the ball.


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