Eugene Rapay (@erapay5)
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The field of competition that originally included over 40 teams from all over the country, narrowed down throughout the tournament play of the Adidas Gold Gauntlet. Basketball City hosted the four-day event for one last time, as games took place all throughout Sunday morning and afternoon. Here is a notebook from the final day of games:
Dahmir Bishop (above) and K-Low Elite made a run to the Adidas Gauntlet semifinals. (Photo: Eugene Rapay/CoBL)
Imhotep's Bishop talks high-major recruitment
A lot has changed for K-Low Elite's (Pa.) Dahmir Bishop (2019/Imhotep Charter) since last summer.
Around this time last year, he was starting to breach the high-level Division I conversation. Since then, a 31-2 record with his high school team, a state championship run, and the buzz surrounding his play as a Class 4A first team all-state player--he's only solidified his spot among high-major D-I chatter.
"It's looking real good," Bishop said. "I think I've really been asserting myself as a being a high-major basketball player. It's good to know that I'm in the position I'm in, and that I've just been working for this."
Currently, he says that he is being recruited by Florida, Texas, Xavier, Rhode Island, Providence, Auburn, N.C. State, and many others.
Standing 6-foot-4, Bishop is a strong scorer from almost anywhere on the court. He has a great shooting stroke from long range, but he also carries a relentless attitude when it comes to attacking inside. He plays with great emotion. Defensively, his length and ability to stay low while moving laterally makes him a tough asset to get by on that end of the court.
Unfortunately for him and K-Low Elite, they were knocked out of the 17U semifinals by Compton Magic (Calif.). Bishop had 11 points in the 59-50 loss.
It marked the end of an impressive run in New York for K-Low Elite, which was the dark horse of the last four teams remaining. Until Sunday's loss to Compton Magic, it enjoyed a five-game winning streak that dated back to the April recruiting period. Overall, in 2018, K-Low Elite has a 9-4 record--placing it among the top three teams in its Adidas Gauntlet pool.
He plans dedicating his offseason on bulking up and spending time in the weight room, adding onto his frame to make him a more complete athlete.
As for the college recruitment scene, he doesn't plan on trimming down his long list of schools until the fall, possibly September. So far, he's only visited one school, Rhode Island, but will look into scheduling more later on.
"Rhode Island was really good," he said. "I like the culture they have there, and I like the coaches there."
Until the time comes for when he will take the next step in his college process, he's taking things in stride and focusing on the work ahead of him.
"I've had a good summer, so I'm liking the way I'm playing, just need to keep progressing," Bishop said. "..Right now, I'm just focused on winning and finishing up my summer. Just want to have a good year, get better, win everything like last year in high school, and that's it."
USC Commit Onyeka Okongwu shines in his first taste of hoops since Achilles injury
Although he already has his college destination in mind, committing to USC in May, Onyeka Okongwu (2019/Chino Hills, Calif/Compton Elite) has been starving for his steady diet of basketball.
He's treating this July with the same intensity as he did before committing. Okongwu was virtually unstoppable in the 17U semifinal victory over K-Low Elite (Pa.). He guided the Compton Magic to the championship game, thanks to his 21-point, seven-rebound performance in the 59-50 win. He was a physical presence in the post, not afraid of contact or to bulldoze his opponent. It seemed like everything was falling for him, even the frequent finishes through traffic. He was 10-for-12 on the floor.
"It's how I play, I just like to be fed a lot," he said. "I like to take people to the basket, take them on the rim. Right now, I've got to get my legs back, I've been hurting for a while. Once I'm fully back, I'll be able to go even harder."
Okongwu has been away from the basketball court for the last four months, as he nursed an Achilles injury. The Adidas Gold Gauntlet is his first bit of action on the court, since being deprived of it. So far, it seems like he hasn't missed a step and his killer mentality has shown in the box scores.
"It's given me a lot of confidence," he said. "It feels good to be back on the court basically. It's been tough, but it's been good."
He chose to verbally commit to USC, opting for the Trojans over the likes of Kansas, UCLA, Arizona State, and Washington State.
"It's close to home, I love the coaching staff that's there, they love me," he said of his decision. "I have a great relationship with Coach Enfield, it's great."
For now, he's looking to finish out the summer and recreate the success he and his teammates at Chino Hills (Calif.) enjoyed. Even though the infamous Ball family is no longer around, things have continued to go well.
"It's quieted down, we don't get packed gyms anymore, but I still love playing with my teammates," Okongwu said.
This past season, Chino Hills finished 26-11 and went on to capture a CIF Division I state championship at the Golden1 Center in Sacramento. The Huskies beat Las Lomas High School, 73-68, for the crown.
Although the Huskies moved on from the Ball family, Okongwu remains friends with the brothers.
"It was a competitive experience playing with the Ball brothers, a great experience," he said. "Even though they're gone, elsewhere, we still hold stuff down at the Hills."
Matthew Hurt (above) and D1 Minnesota suffered a double-OT loss in the championship game. (Photo: Eugene Rapay/CoBL)
D1 Minnesota's Matthew Hurt finds motivation in loss
When D1 Minnesota's Matthew Hurt (2019/John Marshall, Minn.) takes the floor, he doesn't show much emotion.
This weekend in New York was a productive one for Hurt, who was a leading force in D1 Minnesota's first four games leading up to the 17U championship. Throughout this stretch, he averaged 21.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and shot an efficient 64.9 percent on the floor. Despite this success, he remained composed, never getting too excited.
Even in the championship game against Compton Magic (Calif.), he retained the same demeanor in the back-and-forth affair. After a devastating double-overtime loss to the Compton Magic, Hurt appeared to stay the same externally, but in reality--he's fired up.
"I'm a competitor, I hate losing," said Hurt, who had 15 points in the 87-83 loss. "It's motivation. We're gonna see them again, and hopefully we get another shot at them."
It was a setback for Hurt and D1 Minnesota, who couldn't capture the gold trophy that would have put an exclamation point on an otherwise winning weekend in New York.
According to 247 sports, Hurt is a five-star recruit, as well as a consensus top 10 prospect in the class of 2019. He boasts an arsenal of post moves to use. He's agile on his feet for someone that is 6-foot-9 and his footwork makes him deceptive. He can finish a hook, over either shoulder, with a fadeaway, bait a defender for an up-and-under--a seemingly limitless approach down low. He can also knock down jumpers and stretch the floor out to the perimeter. He is a player with great basketball IQ, one that doesn't force shots and plays unselfishly, which is probably why he is so efficient on offense. As talented as he is at scoring, he actually takes pride in his work on the opposite end of the court.
"I love playing defense," he said. I don't want to just be a scorer, I want to be one of the best defenders in the nation. I'm trying to compete."
The college recruitment process is currently the furthest thing from his mind right now, and isn't a top priority at the moment. However, he's welcomed a ton of attention from many top programs such as Duke, Louisville, Kentucky, North Carolina, UCLA, Indiana, and many more.
In the meantime, he's gearing up for the final leg of the Adidas Gauntlet, next week's Summer Championships in Las Vegas. Also, he's looking to improve his own game.
"Got a lot stronger, get quicker, tighter handles--there's a lot I've been working on," he said.
Positionless versatility is key for Compton Magic's Isaiah Mobley
Upon scanning Compton Magic's (Calif.) roster, you'll see that Isaiah Mobley (2019/Rancho Christian, Calif.) is listed as a forward. That's probably because "anywhere" isn't an official basketball position, but that's possibly the word that best describes his place on the court.
"I'm positionless, I'm a hybrid," Mobley said. "I can play the '1,' '2,' '3,' '4,' or '5.' Similar to Ben Simmons, no disrespect to him--but with a better jumper--something along those lines."
He's a 6-foot-9 player that is among the new breed of point forwards that have made their way into basketball. Mobley is capable of doing a little bit of everything, and doing so very well. With a Compton Magic team that has a number of different big men on its roster, he sometimes gets to play at the wings when they opt to go with a big lineup on the floor. When they do so, he gets to show off his creativity.
Mobley possesses the handles, court vision, and the ability to facilitate like a guard. With his size, he can post up, rebound, and take on bigger players. When it comes to scoring, he can knock down open jumpers from deep or go inside and finish at the basket. Ultimately, he is a mismatch problem for opposing teams. Defensively, he can pick up any assignment and hold his own
"I'm still adjusting, because I've been playing big for most of spring," said Mobley of playing the wing. "It makes me better, it makes the team better. I enjoy passing to them. I honestly like to pass first and score when I need to, it's great."
In the 17U championship game, Mobley's versatility was on full display against D1 Minnesota. He was a few assists away from a triple-double, tallying 15 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists in the double-overtime victory. Mobley drained a few crucial baskets to keep Compton Magic alive and helped his team clinch the win.
While most big men don't have the guard-like skills he has, Mobley gives the credit to his coaches early on, the ones who taught him before he shot up to 6-foot-9.
"My dad started me young," he said. "He trained me to be a guard. My high school coach, as well. He was a point guard and he rubbed off on me--taught me how to look, ball-handling skills, all that."
After his senior year, Mobley will be joining his father and AAU teammate Onyeka Okongwu (2019/Chino Hills, Calif.) at USC. His father is an assistant coach under Andy Enfield and it only helped him make his college decision.
"He was open, but I liked USC already," said Mobley, about whether or not his father was open to letting him look at other schools. "They were already pretty high on my list, so it only made sense for me to go. When Onyeka committed, it made even more sense."
Until that day comes, he will be doing Enfield's homework to better prepare himself for USC.
"I want to get stronger," he said. "My head coach, Enfield, told me he wants me to stay facing up some more so when I go to the basket, to not turn my back so quick. Trust the pullup jumper, my jump hooks, as well as get faster and just becoming a better leader."
Daniel Autrey Jr. (2019/Cass Technical, Mich./Michigan Mustangs): A skilled shooter with a quick release, Autrey is not someone opposing teams should forget about. He moves a lot off-ball and is active in always looking for his spot, giving opponents a reason to work hard even when the ball isn't in his hands. He helped orchestrate a late-game rally for the Mustangs against Team Harden (Texas). He strung together a few three-pointers and a layup to bring them within reach. Even with defenders closing in, it seems like he can take-and-make shots under pressure. Although the Mustangs' comeback bid fell short, as they lost 76-72, Autrey shined with a game-high 16 points, which included four treys.
Dajuan Gordon (2019/Curie Metropolitan, Ill./Team Rose): A lanky 6-foot-4 guard that boasts tremendous athleticism, explosiveness, and leaping ability. Gordon is a high-rise jumper, whether it be for a dunk or for a rebound. While he can make threes on occasion, he thrives at driving down the lane and attacking the basket. He has a great first step and gets good dribble penetration. On the other end of the court, his length and long wingspan helps him be a tough defender and a tough one to get past at that. In the 82-68 victory over Team Avery Bradley (Wash.), he was a menace on both ends of the court, tallying a game-high 25 points and three steals.
Oscar Tshiebwe (2019/Kennedy Catholic, Pa./ITPS Wildcats): Tshiebwe is a bulldog in the paint, using a dogged approach when he sets up in the post. While he's growing as a scorer, he truly excels in the other areas of the game--namely rebounding and defending. He has a big 6-foot-9, 250-pound frame and is great at cleaning up the glass. He tallied a double-double in the two-point semifinal loss to D1 Minnesota, scoring 12 points with 18 rebounds. A high-major prospect on the rise, he says he has offers from West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Illinois, Virginia, Oklahoma State, and that's just a handful of many others. Kansas is the latest to offer, doing so a few weeks ago. With the way he isn't afraid to play physically and takes pride in boxing out and protecting the rim--more schools are bound to notice this workman-like, unselfish player.
Darin Green Jr. (2019/Wharton, Fla./Team CP25): Although he mainly lives on the three-point line, this 6-foot-5 shooting guard showed he can be more than just a sharpshooter in Team CP25's (Fla.) 51-49 loss to Indiana Elite. Green contributed on the defensive end, keeping his assignment quiet, and even had a resounding chase-down block that caromed off the backboard. Hes gained low-to-mid major Division I attention, so far. While he grows in other areas of the game, his reputation as a three-point shooter can't be ignored. He has a lightning-quick shot and had four first half 3-pointers, en route to a team-high 14 point performance.
Makur Maker (2019/Mississauga Secondary, Canada/Brookwood Elite): Much like his older cousin and current Milwaukee Buck, Thon, Makur is a towering center. He stands at 6-foot-11, with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, and has a high motor that never seems to stop. He is a tenacious rebounder and a great shot-blocker. These are his two strongest areas in the game. He is quite raw offensively, but was one of the top scorers in Brookwood Elite's 73-58 loss to the NY Jayhawks, where he had 15 points and six rebounds. His finishing is something that should improve, as he looks to put on mass and get stronger. For now, his length alone makes him capable on both ends of the court.