Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is Georgia High School Basketball the Best in the Nation?

Check out Elite Hoops workout with Rivals #3 team in the Nation

Is Georgia high school basketball the best in the nation?
Check out the's 2010-2011 preseason rankings compiled by Senior Analyst Dallas Jackson and other high school site publishers, and then tell us what you think.

1. Melrose

Memphis has taken over New York City as the nation’s hotbed for high school hoops and this Melrose team could be the best in the country. The team will be without guard Chris Jones, who exhausted his eligibility, but the team returns two forwards in Adonis Thomas as well as guard Cedrick McAfee. The Golden Wildcats finished the 2009-10 season ranked No. 10 in the RivalsHigh 100 but have even higher expectations for this season.

2. St. Anthony
Jersey City
The Friars ended last season with a heartbreaking triple-overtime, one-point loss in the Non-Public Group B state finals and are out for more than redemption in the 2010-11 season. Despite the losses of Derrick Williams (Richmond) and Eli Carter (prep school), the Friars return a great core of talent. Seniors Lucky Jones and Tyuan Williams lead the returning cast alongside junior Jerome Frink. The team will welcome Myles Mack, the No. 84 ranked player in the Class of 2011, and Kyle Anderson, the No. 1 player in the New Jersey Class of 2012, from the now closed Paterson (N.J.) Paterson Catholic.

3. Milton
The no-brainer No. 1 team in the state of Georgia this year is the defending state champion, Milton Eagles. The team had a mixed bag of results against top-tiered competition in 2009-10, but as a young team had enough talent to win the Class 5A state title. The Eagles return three elite players and have expectations of a national Top 5 finish. Leading the way is Ohio State commit Shannon Scott. The 6-foot-2 point guard has great court vision and a quick step to penetrate. His counterpart in the backcourt, Dai-Jon Parker, provides a great second scoring option on the perimeter. Cleaning up the glass is 6-foot-7 forward Julian Royal. Royal, a four-star player, is down to Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and Wake Forest for his college choices.

4. Poly
Long Beach
The Jackrabbits have the unenviable distinction as being the top preseason team in the state of California. The team had solid - but not spectacular - performances in its national games in 2009-10, but then did not make a deep run into the playoffs. Poly returns only one nationally-ranked player in 6-foot-6 forward Ryan Anderson, but brings back three other top players in the state – seniors Alexis Moore (USC) at point guard and shooting guard Alex Carmon, as well as a rising star in 2013 wing player Roschon Prince.

5. Findlay Prep
The Pilots are a team without a home as the season approaches. The team was affiliated with the Henderson International School for the previous four seasons, but with the school closing, the accreditation for its players is up in the air. Coach Mike Peck has done a fabulous job molding both the talent and egos of many of the nation’s elite players, winning a RivalsHigh 100 National Championship in 2008-09 and finishing No. 3 in the country last season. For the Pilots to be successful in this coming season, they will rely on guard Nick Johnson to provide the scoring and leadership.

6. Oak Hill Academy
Mouth Of Wilson
Perennial power Oak Hill could have finished last season in the Top 5 nationally had it performed better in the season-ending National High School Invitational tournament. There was an exodus of graduating talent, but that should not slow the machine at Oak Hill. Returning this season is standout forward Sidiki Johnson. Johnson, at 6-foot-8, can control the paint but still has room to develop. The future Arizona Wildcat will be joined by Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha transfer Quinn Cook to create an excellent inside-out opportunity for the Warriors.

7. Douglass
Oklahoma City
Being the best team in Oklahoma is usually good enough for a national ranking in the mid-30s. However, the Douglass Trojans could prove to be a very strong exception to that way of thinking. The Trojans, who finished ranked No. 62 in the RivalsHigh 100 in 2009-10, are very reminiscent of last year’s national champion, Houston (Texas) Yates. Douglass returns all five starters from a team that was the best in its state despite not being in its highest classification. The Trojans like to score a lot of points and put the ball on the floor. It is very unlikely that many teams in Oklahoma - or the rest of the country for that matter - will be able to keep up with this team in 2010-11.

8. Wichita Heights
Wichita Heights is the reigning two-time Kansas 6A state champion and figures to three-peat and have its best team ever in 2010-11, after only losing one senior to graduation. Returning star Perry Ellis developed enough as a junior to dominate the competition and is probably among the Top 50 players in his class. Wichita State commit Evan Wessel and Dreamius Smith return for the Falcons. Smith would be a mid-major prospect if not for his ability on the football field. Many will focus on the ability of Ellis, but this team is much more than a one-man show.

9. Winter Park
Winter Park
Winter Park had a great resume of wins and a handful of disappointing losses last season. However, the Wildcats were able to come together to win the Florida Class 6A state title. The team is led by the No. 6 player in the country and recent Duke commit Austin Rivers. Rivers is the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and is rated as the second-best high school shooting guard in the country. Rivers’ specialty is scoring from pull-up jumpers behind the arc. If teams overplay that, he has a lightning-quick first step to the right. His basketball IQ makes him one of the better passers in the country as well.

10. North Central
North Central was the best team in a very basketball-rich state in 2009-10. The team returns a lot of talented players from that team, which won the Indiana Class 4A state title, and has a solid group of young athletes that will make the team a threat to win for the next two years. Leading the team will be all-state player D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Smith-Rivera averaged 17.7 points and six rebounds per game last year, and those numbers should rise this season. The defending champs lost all-state guard Terone Johnson but will replace him with his younger brother, Ronnie, who appears ready to be a star himself. 6-foot-4 Dedric Griffin and sophomore sensation Darius Latham also return to the best in the Hoosier State.

11. St. Patrick

12. Taft
Woodland Hills

13. Jesuit

14. DeMatha

15. South Atlanta

16. Norcross

17. Penn Wood

18. Norcom

19. Sacramento

20. Bellaire

21. Lincoln

22. Hopkins

23. Butler

24. Southeastern

25. Merrillville

Friday, October 15, 2010

What Separates You?

Posted by Lee Miller | Friday, October 15, 2010 | Category: , , , , | 0 comments

With the start of the high school season approaching fast, it is time for you to ask yourself a significant question…
What separates you? What is it about your game that separates you from every other player? Are you as massive as Dwight Howard? Are you as explosive as LeBron James?Are you skilled as Kevin Durant?

 I assume, if you are being honest with yourself, you answered “no” to these questions. Therefore, you need to find other ways to separate yourself.

Do you need to separate yourself from the players trying out so you can earn a spot on the team? Do you need to separate yourself from the players that make the team so you earn playing time? Do you need to separate yourself from the top players in your state so you can earn a college scholarship? Do you need to separate yourself from the best players in the country so you can earn All-American status?

Think of the game Musical Chairs. The entire premise is that there are more chairs than there are people… hence the immediate anxiety attack you feel when the music stops and you scramble to grab a chair!

Basketball, and life for that matter, is similar. You need to find what separates you from the pack… so you can “get a chair.” There are 4 ways to separate yourself to make sure you “get a chair” this season:

1) Athleticism
2) Skill
3) I.Q.
4) Intangibles

You have no control over the natural gifts you were born with… but you can always get better. Not everyone can be as athletic as Derrick Rose. However, with hard work and a progressive program, you can get stronger, quicker, and be in great basketball shape.

Similar to athleticism, not everyone possesses the coordination and innate abilities required to handle the ball like Chris Paul or shoot like Stephen Curry. However, with countless hours of deliberate practice, you can improve your fundamental basketball skills.

I am referring to your basketball I.Q. (not your potential to split the atom or win $25,000 on Jeopardy). Do you know how to play? Do you understand concepts like time and score, know what a good shot is, and know your teammates’ strengths and weaknesses? You can improve your basketball I.Q. by studying film and learning from folks who truly know the game (like your coach!).

While there are natural limits to how athletic you can be, how skilled you become, and how well you understand the game… there are no limits to the intangibles. Everyone has the ability to do these things, but very few have the heart, fortitude, and perseverance to do them on a daily basis.

These intangibles are the best way to separate from the pack and help your team be more successful:

• Enthusiasm (raise the level of those around you, be positive, accept coaching)
• Unselfishness (put your teammates first, make the extra pass, set screens)
• Effort (give 100% every practice, defend, box out, take charges, dive for loose balls)

Here is how powerful these intangibles are:
If you are below average in athleticism, skill, and I.Q… but do these 3 things every day… you still have a strong chance to make the team.
If you are average in athleticism, skill, and I.Q… but do these 3 things every day… you have a strong chance to earn quality playing time.
If you are above average in athleticism, skill, and I.Q… and do these 3 things every day… you have a strong chance of playing in college.

Most importantly, doing these intangibles will give your team a better chance to win and will create habits that will carry over to every aspect of your life.

If you want to separate from the pack… whether to make the team, earn playing time, or to be an All-American… then continue to develop your athleticism, skill, and I.Q… and damn well make sure you do the intangibles… every day! There is no excuse not to.

Here are some killer on court strength and power drills to help you prepare for the season:

If you like my daily quotes at, make sure you “like” us at too (I post additional quotes there)!

Have fun. Earn success.

Alan Stein

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Basketball Tryout Tips Cont'd.

Posted by Patrick Hughes | Thursday, October 7, 2010 | Category: , , , , | 0 comments

We are less than two weeks away from basketball conditioning starting at the high school level in the Atlanta area. As this time draws near I thought I would elaborate on the previous tips Coach Langley gave you guys. As a high school coach myself I can tell you that I do look to make sure my potential players can do the things Coach Langley mentioned. The first question posed to our blog readers was if you are in good physical condition. One of the biggest mistakes that players can make is to show up at the conditioning sessions a week before tryouts, or even worse at tryouts, out of shape. As Coach mentioned, to play basketball you have to be in basketball shape. Working out for one week isn't going to get you to where you need to, or want to be, to perform at your best. As an athlete who played both football and basketball at the high school level I can tell you that being in good football shape, or other sport shape, does not mean that you are in good basketball shape. Along with line drills mentioned by Coach Langley here are some other drills to get you in good "basketball shape."

**As always please stretch out properly to avoid any sort of injury**

1.) Jump Rope Drills
30 seconds jumping on both feet
rest for 30 seconds
30 seconds jumping on your left foot only
rest for 30 seconds
30 seconds jumping on your right foot only
rest for 30 seconds
jogging jump rope the length of the court and back
As you start these drills just go for 30 seconds. Once your endurance builds increase the time to continue building your stamina.

2.) Speed/Agility Ladder Drills
Both feet in every square
Left foot in every square
Right foot in every square
Machine gun (left foot in 1st square, right foot in 2nd square, left foot in 3rd square)
Both feet skip a square
Left foot skip a square
Right foot skip a square
These are just a few examples of the numerous ladder drills you can do.

3.) Interval Track Running
Spring full speed on the straight-aways and then jog the corners of a quarter mile track. When first starting out do this for shorter distances, maybe only a few laps around the track, and as you build up your stamina increase the total distance you cover.

4.) Stadium stairs
For those athletes who have a football stadium with bleachers you can sprint up the stairs and jog down. Start at one end of the stadium and end at the other side.

5.) Traditional Suicides
Start on the baseline and sprint to the foul line. Once you reach the foul line sprint back to the baseline and then to the mid-court line. Mid-court line back to the baseline and finally spring from the baseline to the opposite baseline and then back again. Time yourself doing this the first time to see your "target time." In the future if you do not reach you "target time" institute some sort of penalty. Whether that is basketball push ups or more sprints thats up to you.

Since this may be the last post I am able to publish before your tryouts I wanted to give you a suggestion to think about going into your tryouts. During your tryouts show the coaches what you do best. If you are a good ball handler but only a decent shooter show your coaches how you can run an offense. How you are comfortable bringing the ball up the floor and distributing the ball to your team mates. Don't take a bunch of shots that you aren't comfortable with taking simply for the sake of shooting. Tryouts give you a very small window to show coaches what kind of players you are. If you want to improve your shot work on that in your driveway, during practice, or in the off season, but not during the day or so long try out period. You want to maximize your strengths in the eyes of your coaches and minimize any weaknesses that you may have in your game.

Good luck!
Coach Patrick Hughes

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Your Guide to Basketball Tryouts

Posted by Chris Langley | Tuesday, October 5, 2010 | Category: , , , , , , | 0 comments

Tryouts for rec league teams, church league teams, and middle and high school teams are right around the corner and we want to make sure that you're ready for anything your coach may throw at you during tryouts. Here are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself before tryouts to make sure you are ready.

1. Am I in good physical condition?

Basketball is a game of short bursts of actions and speed that is interrupted by free-throws, fouls, timeouts, and dead balls. Being in "basketball shape" is nothing like being in shape for cross country or soccer, where endurance over a long period of time is key. For basketball, you need to be able to know if you can run constantly for at least a minute without being winded or having to rest. If not, you need to make sure that you work on your "basketball endurance" by doing drills that involve constantly running and changing directions for at least a minute without being worn out. Line drills are a great way to work on this part of your game!

2. Am I able to shoot a layup with proper form?

Coaches expect players at any level to be able to shoot layups with proper form. To shoot a right hand layup from the right side of the basket, you will jump off of your left foot and your right hand and right knee will be in the air as you release the ball toward the basket. To shoot a left hand layup from the left side of the basket, you will jump off of your right foot and your left hand and left knee will be in the air as you release the ball toward the basket.

If you are having trouble with layup form, try "block layups." Start with both feet on the right block to work on your right hand layups. Take one step off the block with your left foot, and jump straight up toward the basket with the ball in your right hand with your right knee in the air. Practice this until you become comfortable shooting the layup consistently with proper form. To practice layups from the left side of the basket start on the left side take a step off the left block with your right foot and jump straight up toward the basket with the ball in your left hand with you left knee in the air. Practice this until you become comfortable shooting the layup consistently with proper form.

Without a defender guarding you, you should be able to make at least 9 out of 10 layups. Coaches need to know that if you get open under the basket that you can make a layup from either side.

If you are comfortable shooting layups from either side and want to work on your layups in pressure situations try the "cone layup" drill demonstrated in the video below:

3. Do I know basic basketball offenses?

2 basic offenses that coaches expect you to know are Pass and Cut and Pass and Screen Away.

For a simplified version of these offenses start with 3 guard spots, one player at the top of the key (point guard) and a player on either wing. The goal in any good offense is to make sure you keep spacing between all the offensive players to make it tougher for the defenders to guard against shots and players driving to the basket. On offense whenever a player gets close to another offensive player to set a pick or make a cut, they always bring the player that is guarding them on defense. Spacing is key. Without good spacing there will be less room to maneuver which makes it harder to score. So for these offenses, make sure you accomplish good spacing by making sure you always fill the 3 guard spots.

Pass and Cut is probably the most simple of the offenses. Starting with the ball from the top spot (point guard spot) in your offense, pass the ball to one of the wing positions and cut directly to the basket looking for a pass back from the player on the wing to whom you initially passed the ball. If you are open, you should get the pass and score on an easy layup. If you are not open, the opposite wing should fill the top spot which was left vacant after you cut and you should fill the spot on the wing that that player just left. Now the ball goes back to the top where it started and the offense is ready to run again. There is good spacing and all 3 guard spots filled.

Pass and Screen Away is one of the best offenses to make sure you keep space between yourself and other players on offense and is also one of the best ways to get your teammates open. Start again with 3 guard spots. Starting from the top spot (point guard spot) in your offense, pass the ball to one of the wing positions and set a screen for the opposite wing. The wing that was screened will take the top spot and the screener takes the spot of the wing. All 3 guard spots are filled again and you still have space between players for them to cut to the basket and get open. To get a better idea of how to run this offense watch the video below:

4. Can I listen and follow directions?

This is probably the most important question to ask yourself before tryouts! Listening is a key component in basketball. Every player must be able to listen to their coach, in order to be able to prepare for opposing teams in practice, learn offensive sets, run offensive plays out of timeouts during games, play good team defense, and to accomplish overall goals set forth for the team by the coach. Since listening is so important in basketball, coaches need to find out in tryouts if players have the ability to listen and follow directions. My advice to you would be to listen to every word the coach says. If your coach tells you to sprint from drill to drill, then SPRINT! If your coach tells you to not dribble the basketball while they are instructing, then DON'T DRIBBLE! Make it a point to try to do every thing exactly like your coach wants it done because coaches look for players that are disciplined and can listen.

If you can answer YES to the 4 questions above, then you are well on your way to making the basketball team. If you answer NO to some of those questions, then you need to start working NOW to make sure you are as prepared as you can be when tryouts come.