USA Basketball Mini Camp: Four of the Best from the NYC Metro Area come out to Compete During Final Four Weekend in Houston

Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.

By David Cordova

Every year, during the NCAA Final Four, it’s always a busy time. Many descend on whatever town for the festivities or to see the last couple of games of the collegiate basketball season. There are also other events taking place around that time as well, especially when it comes to grassroots basketball.

This year, during the weekend of March 30th-April 2nd, USA Basketball held their Junior National Training Camp in Houston, Texas, at Booker T. Washington High School, an institution with a large campus, located in the Independence Heights section of the city. The Minicamp was a chance for many of the nation’s best high school players, some of whom were returning after competing for USA Basketball in years’ past, and some whom were showcasing their talents for the first time.

The best thing about this experience for many of the young hoopers, who are freshmen, sophomores & juniors, is that with any event involving USA Basketball, the presence of the NBA scouts is always welcomed. For a lot of the youths, this might be the first time playing in front the scouts that are employed by their favorite professional organizations, whom they watch on television channels like ABC, ESPN, TNT & NBA TV. As always, first impressions can always be a lasting impression. If the impression is great, it will always leave the scouts wanting to see more & learn more about the prospect. After all, their organization could someday hold that prospect’s future employment in their hands.

Deron Rippey, Jr. makes a play at the USA Basketball Junior National Mini-Camp in Houston, Texas on April 1st, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint)

In this camp, there were four players from the New York City metropolitan area that came out to H-Town to compete against 58 other hopefuls. Two of them are familiar names that many in the city and on the national scene already know of.

They are Ian Jackson, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard out of Cardinal Hayes High School in The Bronx & Johnuel “Boogie” Fland, a 6-foot-3 point guard from Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, New York, in suburban Westchester County. Both are native of The Bronx, with Fland from the South Bronx & Jackson, from the North Bronx. Both play in the CHSAA (Catholic High School Athletic Association), which is one of the premier high school leagues in the country, and played each other four times this season, going 2-2, and meeting up in the city championship game on March 12th at Carnesecca Arena on the campus of St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens, in which Stepinac won, 69-66, over Hayes, to advance into the New York State Federation Tournament in Latham, New York.

However, both are also notable names on the national scene, as Jackson is rated at No. 3 in the ESPN national rankings & is verbally committed to the University of North Carolina, where he plans on signing his letter of intent in November. Fland, is rated at No. 8 in the ESPN national rankings, and is still undecided, but has suitors such as UConn, St. John’s, UCLA, Kentucky, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Miami (FL), Kansas State, Seton Hall, Illinois & more.

The other two youths are both young prospects who have just completed their freshmen season. And neither play their high school ball in New York City, but one plays a national schedule & the other plays a prep school schedule.

Johnuel “Boogie” Fland walks around the USA Basketball Junior National Mini-Camp in Houston, Texas on April 1st, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint),

Dylan Mingo, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, out of Farmingdale, Long Island, is the third in a trio of brothers that have made their name in basketball circles on Long Island. Mingo, alongside his brother, Kayden, a sophomore guard, plays at Long Island Lutheran High School, a private, Lutheran school in Brookville, Long Island that has had a history of churning out big-time prospects over the years. This season, the Crusaders finished in second place in the NIBC (National Interscholastic Basketball Conference), won the New York State Federation Tournament & also received a berth in the GEICO Nationals Tournament.

Deron Rippey, Jr., a 6-foot point guard from Brooklyn, plays his high school basketball at Blair Academy in Blairstown Township, New Jersey, which is a prep school powerhouse that plays plenty of boarding schools throughout the Northeast and has also produced many big-time prospects in year’s past.

Throughout the weekend, all four played against some of the nation’s best in their respective classes & held their own. Fland and Jackson both showed out, as did Mingo & Rippey. They learned their fundamentals and learned from some of the nation’s best high school coaches, some of whom have coached the USA Basketball teams in the past. On the final day of the camp, Fland & Jackson, were chosen to participate amongst many seniors in a showcase at NRG Stadium, the site of the NCAA Final Four.

Ian Jackson practices his dribble during the USA Basketball Junior National Mini-Camp in Houston, Texas, on April 1st, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint).

As the camp finished, time will tell when the invites to play on the National Teams will be given out. Fland & Jackson have both won gold medals with USA Basketball, having played in the FIBA World Cup. With Mingo & Rippey, both have a chance to be selected to participate in the U16 National Training Camp, in which they too will have a chance to play for the national team against many of the world’s best teams, in countries such as Mexico, the Dominican Republic, China, Puerto Rico, Canada & France, respectively.

Many have said over & over that New York City basketball is dead and has died down. But with four of the Empire State’s finest being invited to something prestigious as this. it’s only right that those former words are a myth. The Mecca, as the city as always been thought of, is still relevant and is here to stay. It’s not going anywhere. Plus, there are definitely more ballers coming through in the next few seasons.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.