Photo courtesy of Jaquam Bodden/Hoop Dreams NYC
By David Cordova
Senior year is a very crucial time in an athlete’s life. They’re getting ready to graduate from high school and making the transition to college. But then again, there are some of those that are left without alternatives as far as post-secondary schooling, due to lack of exposure or lack of grades.
Every April, there are showcases designed to help these youths. Two of the biggest exposure events in all of New York City, the Nate Blue Showcase and the Unsigned Hype Showcase, have brought out plenty of successes in such a short time and intend to continue doing so.
Nate Blue Showcase
On Thursday night at the Frederick E. Samuels Community Center on Lenox Avenue in Harlem, athletes from throughout the city played in the Nate Blue Showcase, which was named after the legendary scout and mentor of NBA players Charlie Villanueva and Maurice Harkless.
The event, which is in its third year of existence showed a lot of great talent in a very small gym in front of coaches from Division II, Division III and junior colleges from the area. The first game, featuring the underclassmen, had a lot of under-the-radar players that looked very promising. But the senior game that followed showed plenty of college-ready players who had a lot of athleticism and playmaking ability, which they will showcase on the next level starting in a few months.
Unsigned Hype Showcase
The fifth annual Unsigned Hype Showcase kicked off at George Westinghouse High School in downtown Brooklyn with plenty of talent in the gym and many college coaches in attendance. The event’s alums include players such as Isiah Deas (La Salle University), Jordan Washington (Iona College), Michael Vigilance (Kentucky Wesleyan University), A.J. Williams (Clark Atlanta University), Dwayne Pow (Niagara University), Wesley Myers (University of Maine) and Jaquan McKennon (University Maine).
In the first game, Team White rolled on to a 102-86 victory over Team Red, with Khalil Rhodes (Thomas Jefferson), Shevon Ansica (Thomas Jefferson) and DeRhon Mitchell (Immaculate Conception) all scoring 15 points. For Team Red, Jahrell Thomas (Metro/BDA) led with 22 points, Mike Pollard (Nazareth) added 18 points and Keyon Smith (McKee-Staten Island Tech) added 15 points in the loss.
In the second game, Team White won convincingly, 88-79, over Team Black. Hegel Augustin (Springfield Gardens) led with 16 points, Zack Bruno (Xaverian) added 13 points and Michael Reid (Abraham Lincoln) added 13 points. For Team Black, Kyle Harding (Thomas Jefferson) led with 25 points and Deondre Bourne (Leman Prep) added 16 points.
Players to Watch in Nate Blue Showcase and Unsigned Hype Showcase:
Kaseem Ouderago, Wings Academy, Forward, Class of 2018
A player that runs the floor well & is great at blocking or altering the shots and rebounding.
Kevin Green, Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, Guard, Class of 2018
A shifty guard that looks to score. Has good ball handling skills. Very fearless when going to the hole.
Terrance Reaves, Cardinal Hayes High School, Class of 2018
Very quick with his feet. Has good lateral movement. Defensive stopper.
Jamari Lewis, Thomas Jefferson High School, Class of 2017
A small guard that knows how to run a team, very good at setting up teammates for baskets.
Andres Rivera, Walton High School, Guard, Class of 2017
Tough guard, has a lot of length, good rebounder.
Brandon Ellis, Pro Vision International, Guard, Class of 2017
Attacks the basket efficiently, looks to score every time and has toughness.
Cesar Ramirez, Mott Haven Campus, Guard, Class of 2017
Natural scorer. Always looks to go to the hole. Looks to score every time. Can shoot from long range.
Bryce Council, La Salle Academy, Guard, Class of 2017
Although very small, he has cat-like instincts and moves very fast. Has plenty of hustle & is efficient at leading a team.
Jawaun Daniels, Teaneck High School (NJ), Forward, Class of 2017
Versatile forward that has good court vision, can pass the ball & also rebound. Has a lot of athleticism.
Joel Boyce, St. Luke’s School, Guard/Forward, Class of 2017
Strong and agile, great ball handling skills. Bullies his way to the paint.
Mike Pollard, Nazareth High School, Guard, Class of 2017
Scorer, attacks the basket. Great at finding teammates for baskets.
Shevon Ansica, Thomas Jefferson High School, Forward, Class of 2017
Has plenty of offensive skills. Very physical in the low post.
Tilquan Rucker, South Bronx Prepatory School, Guard, Class of 2017
Attacks the basket. Has plenty of athleticism.
Keyon Smith, McKee-Staten Island Tech High School, Forward, Class of 2017
Puts the ball on the floor well, passes the ball & is very athletic. Highlight-reel player with explosion.