By MARCUS HELTON
RANDALLSTOWN, MD - With the first live period of the 2017 travel season approaching, last Saturday’s Team BBC Adidas Spring Warmup Classic provided many area teams - and a few out of town visitors - with one final opportunity to prepare.
The one-day event featured three age groups, with the 17U and 16U teams competing at the Randallstown Community Center and the 15U action taking place at Deer Park Middle School.
Here’s a look at some of the standouts:
DA’SHAWN PHILLIP, TEAM BBC 17U
A 6-foot-4, 170-pound 2018 guard from Dunbar (Md.), Phillip holds a scholarship offer from James Madison and interest from several other mid-major programs. He’s impressed early this spring with his versatility, which he said the high school season helped him improve upon.
“It helped a lot because at my high school I have to do a lot: scoring rebounding, assists,” he said. “I’m pretty much the guy, but here I don’t have to do as much; I just have to focus on two or three things to help us win.”
And when Phillip is set loose in that manner, he’s impressive to watch. The -pounder was all over the gym Saturday, using his athleticism and length to harass on the defensive end and slicing through the lane for buckets on offense. He finished with 12 points in a win over DC Blue Devils UAA, with many of those buckets coming as he simply beat his defender to open spots.
JAYLIN ANDREWS, TEAM BBC 17U
The Boys Latin (Md.) 2018 wing has an impressively diverse skillset, and seems set for a breakout travel season.
“My strength is my versatility,” Andrews said. “I feel like if coach needs me to play any position I can do that and guard whoever he needs me to guard. I’m trying to work on getting stronger and getting more physical when I go in the paint. Just getting stronger and building my body and trying to get better for the next level.”
Andrews looked more than strong enough while turning in one of the day’s highlight plays, driving and throwing down a monster dunk over a DC Blue Devils defender in the second half of Saturday’s victory.
“It was a good pass from Immanuel [Quickley], and then I saw I had the open lane and I didn’t think he was going to jump so I took off, and then he jumped with me and I got that poster, so that was cool.”
The 6-foot-4 Andrews is still waiting his first offer, but said Lafayette, Navy, Tulsa and Wagner are among those who have shown interest.
“[The high school season] helped me a lot,” he said. “Coach [Cliff] Rees expects a lot from me and a lot from the team. Being a junior and leading that team in that tough conference in the MIAA and getting to the playoffs and the championship, it helps me a lot with my leadership skills and knowing different positions so I can know everybody’s strengths and weaknesses.”
TYLER HOLLEY, TEAM MELO RED 17U
Holley spent the high school season as an energy-changing sixth man at Perry Hall, playing a crucial role in in the Gators’ Maryland 4A state championship.
Now he’s getting an opportunity to show his all-around game and coaches are taking notice, with Holley listing Bucknell, James Madison, La Salle, St. Joseph’s and Temple as a few of the school’s he’s heard from.
“I think coaches are finally starting to see me with my energy and they’re starting to see me put up more points, I think that’s the main thing,” he said. “When they usually come and see me I fill up stat sheets, but then I do a lot of stuff that stats don’t show.”
Holley also credited the presence of Perry Hall teammates LaQuill Hardnett and Anthony Higgs – both 6-foot-8 – with allowing him to focus more on a perimeter role, which helped him improve his ball handling and shooting.
The 6-foot-4, 170-pound Holley is highly active on both ends of the floor, defends well and attacks the rim. His toughness should come as no surprise; he was the starting quarterback on Perry Hall’s football team last season and has earned some D-I interest for that sport as well. Holley is open to playing either at the next level, and said he hasn’t had a difficult time balancing the two.
“Usually football season is just football season,” he said, “and basketball is everything other than football.”
JOSH CORNISH, TEAM MELO RED 17U
The Calvert Hall 2018 guard has seen his stock rise after a strong junior season. He picked up his first offer from Southern Utah last month and listed interest from Boise State, Longwood, Old Dominion, Siena and UMBC.
“It was good,” Cornish said of the high school season. “Playing with Brendan Adams, he helped me become more of a scorer and our coach worked on defense a lot and got my defense way better. And I just became more of a leader, too.”
The 6-foot-2, 160-pounder has a well-rounded offensive game but is particularly dangerous from outside, which he demonstrated by hitting four 3-pointers in the first half of an opening win against Mid-Atlantic Select.
“I’m trying to start racking up offers and start getting more interest from schools,” he said. “I’m working on trying to get to the basket and getting stronger; I’m working on my handles and and trying to be more of a point guard because in college I know I’ll be a point guard. And I’m trying to get just a little bit quicker.”
JARED BYNUM, DC BLUE DEVILS UAA 17U
Bynum (Georgetown Prep 2018) is in a different position than his teammates, having already committed to D-I St. Joseph’s (Pa.). That doesn’t mean he still doesn’t have anything to prove, though.
“[The goal is] just to win,” he said. “As a basketball player, you still want to play to win and you still want to show what you can do and how good you are playing against other top guys, just to improve my ranking and improve what people think of me. And just helping out other guys around me get better and help them get offers as well. So I’m just going into the summer strong and trying to win and help my teammates out.”
Bynum finished with 14 points against Team BBC, knocking down three 3-pointers. He’s one of the few holdovers from last year’s Blue Devils roster, and said he feels good about the team’s potential despite some early hiccups.
“We really haven’t had a lot of practice time,” he said, “but we came out today and played well and fought hard to the end; even though we started off slow we still fought back. I think with a little bit more practice and the more we start playing the better we’re going to get, so I think we only can go up from here.”
CHIMEZIE OFFURUM, DC BLUE DEVILS UAA 17U
The Georgetown Prep 2018 wing more than passes the eye test at 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, and combines that size with impressive athleticism.
College coaches began taking note last year - with the likes of Indiana, Maryland, Rutgers and Virginia Tech extending scholarship offers - and Offurum looks ready to continue his rise. The Georgetown Prep 2018 wing has refined his perimeter game, and displayed nice touch from 3-point range. He’s physical and finishes well at the rim.
“I can stretch the defense out and get to the rim,” he said. “I’m really, really good in transition and I can also hit the deep ball, hit mid-range, defend and just be that energy guy that can do every little thing for the team.”
The Blue Devils have understandably been up and down in the past two weeks as they work several new players into their system, and Offurum’s versatility has been critical for them thus far.
“It’s a brand new team, so we’re still just trying to figure out things and see whose role is which,” Offurum said. “We’re just figuring out things and getting ready for the circuit. It’s a work in progress, but we’ll get there.”
Offurum said he may revisit his recruitment after the summer, but hasn’t set any sort of timetable for deciding on finalists. He already knows what he’s looking for in a school, though.
“Just a place where I can grow and get a lot better and the opportunity is good,” he said. “A place where of course I can play and just enjoy my college experience, because you only have it once.”
KEVON VOYLES, CECIL KIRK 17U
The Stephen Decatur (Md.) 2018 guard had a breakout junior season, and is hoping to build on the momentum this spring and summer.
Decatur’s season ended in a 3A state semifinal loss to eventual champion Poly, but Voyles said he learned a valuable lesson in defeat.
“It helped me a lot,” Voyles said. “It made me realize you can’t take every team for granted. It’s better competition everywhere you go, and you can’t just keep doing the same thing you’ve been doing, you’ve got to elevate your game.”
The 6-foot-3, 175 pound Voyles can get to the basket and finishes well, and also showed some nice touch from 3-point range on Saturday. He said he wants to work on getting to his spots and attacking the basket more, as well as his explosiveness.
DAVID MCCULLOUGH, NEW WORLD DC 17U
A 6-foot-6 2018 wing from Riverdale Baptist (Md.), McCullough displayed good finishing ability while posting 11 points in an easy win over Cecil Kirk.
McCullough served as a key contributor at Riverdale this past season, and said James Madison, Lehigh, Massachusetts, Towson and Stony Brook have shown interest.
“[My goals are] Just basically getting better, working on my overall game and picking up more offers,” he said. “I have interest now and I want to turn all that interest into offers.”
McCullough said this past season at Riverdale made him tougher and has prepared him to play at a high level consistently, and he’s eager to carry on the momentum with New World.
“Everybody on here can play basketball,” he said. “In practice we always go hard at each other and we just get each other ready for college.”
MATTHEW BALANC, MID-ATLANTIC SELECT 17U
Mid-Atlantic Select has returned to the scene after a one-year absence, and Balanc - a 2018 guard from Springbrook (Md.) - is looking like its newest star.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Balanc looked good attacking the basket and showed nice touch shooting off the dribble.
Springbrook wasn’t as strong this past season as it has been in recent years, but Balanc starred, averaging a team-high 20.4 points per game. He said College of Charleston, Denver, Florida Gulf Coast, Mount St. Mary’s and UMBC are among the schools that have expressed interest.
“I think it helped me a lot,” he said of his junior season. “It gave me a lot of confidence, ’cause I mean, in Montgomery County the competition is OK but there are good players there, so it did give me a lot of confidence knowing that I could do stuff like that.”
Balanc added that he feels good about his new MAS teammates as well.
“I think we’ll be pretty good,” he said. “I mean, we’re just starting out because this is the first time we’ve really ever played with each other, but by the end of the summer, we’ll be pretty good.”
MORE NOTES: 6-foot-5, 190 pound Cecil Kirk 17U forward Ronald Lucas (Lake Clifton 2018) impressed with his ferociousness in the paint and attacked the rim. … Team BBC 16U guard Logan Curtis (Calvert Hall 2019) credited the high school season with helping to expand his game: “It prepared me to play defense,” he said. “I used to not play that much defense, but my coach is pushing me to play defense, so I’ve gotten better at it and he’s prepared me.” … DeMatha (Md.) grad and projected top NBA Draft Pick Markelle Fultz made an appearance alongside his longtime trainer Keith Williams.