Fall Fest Report

RALEIGH, N.C. – Thursday night was the opening evening of play at the first annual Fall Fest in Raleigh. The most impressive performers were from the Homestead (FL) Berkshire Academy team.


Bonner Academy 90, Riverside Academy 32
Love Christian 91, New Life Academy 27
Laurinburg 55, Coastal Christian 46
Berkshire vs. Ryan Academy, late

When we exited the building shortly after midnight, Berkshire appeared on its way to a victory over Ryan Academy.

It's time to give credit where credit is due. A few months ago, Berkshire coach Rolando DeLaBarrera said that Ismael N'diaye was going to make a big impact and is much improved. When we saw N'diaye at the AAU Nationals and then at the Charlie Weber, he looked good but not quite as good as the hype his coach was spinning.

Well, we stand corrected.

On Thursday, N'diaye, playing the point for the first time we've seen him, looked comfortable offensively and almost reinvented at that end of the floor. The previous book on him began and ended with his defensive prowess. Most of his offense came off his athleticism, but that's evolving.

As a 6-5 point man, he looked comfortable. He turned it over a little often early but settled down and looked up to the task of handling the basketball. He's quick and strong with the ball and makes remarkably good entry passes for a developing point guard. It certainly looks like he's up to the challenge.

Now for his offense. N'diaye isn't a great shooter but he's coming around. His stroke from 3-point range remains suspect, but what he does from medium-range off the dribble is quite impressive. He's looking confident and the fact that he makes jumpers off the bounce speaks to his skill level that is still being harnessed.

In short, this is a young man who is blossoming as a prospect. He'd be the perfect player for a program who needs size at the guard spot, versatility, smarts and athleticism. A few weeks ago, that program appeared to be Kansas State but things are changing. Miami-FL is making a move and it looks the Hurricanes have the inside track if they move on him.

Young Making More Strides

Missouri will have bookend inside players next year in Arthur Johnson and Berkshire's Kevin Young. Like N'diaye, he continues to make strides. He has soft hands and catches, turns and scores. He also made one of the best players we've seen all year. Young snatched a rebound with one hand, turned and fired a one-handed outlet pass to a teammate on the run for a layup. It wasn't his only assist of the night.

Possible Junior College Recruit

Love Christian small forward Lamont Cobb (6-5/190) is a player. He gets on the offensive glass and makes things happen, though he had some conversion problems Thursday night. He's a decent athlete who gets out and runs the floor. Reportedly, he's having some SAT issues but this is a guy who could disappear at a junior college for two years and wind up being a successful mid-major player.

Bonner Rolls

Riverside Academy didn't have a player over 6-1 on its roster and that turned out to be a huge problem as Bonner rolled them. Marvin Reed got to play his entire roster in an early season sleeper. Making his first appearance for the Bulldogs was 6-7 forward Joe Holmes. He's a mid-major type who probably could handle both forward slots. Riverside had problems early with their sneakers, which unfortunately were brand new. Their players slid across the Dorton Arena floor as if snipers with air guns were shooting at their ankles.

Laurinburg Edges Coastal Christian

We thought this one might be a little higher scoring but it didn't go that way. Laurinburg forward Boubacar Coly, a recently reclassified junior, flashed plenty of potential. Right now, he attempts skill moves like jumpers off the bounce and fade but hits few of them. However, he's got promise, plays hard and has bounce on the glass. Another junior, 6-6 Regis Koundjia, made his debut. The Central Africa Republic prospect is a great athlete. Right now, he plays only at one speed and that's fast so he has issues with the pace of the game. He's an isolation player with great quicks and if he ever slows down and starts consistently hitting his jumpers he could be a good one. For Coastal, small forward Ray Dickens had a nice first and fourth quarter sandwiching in a few off quarters in between. The Maryland native is a good driver and potential mid-major should his grades improve. Coastal also has junior big man Jermaine Bell. He's condor-like when he spreads himself out in the post and can block shots. However, he's got to add weight and polish offensively.


Coaches from both Mount Zion and Christian Faith were in attendance. Each was scheduled to play in the event but CFC had a number of players out of town for visits back home and Mount Zion didn't feel ready this early in the year to participate. … Coastal Christian has the deepest bench in high school basketball. Nattily attired head coach Walter Webb dressed 19 players for the game. We suspect that'll change as the season goes on. … Point guard Dennis Bowden, a 2001 American signee, is now prepping at Laurinburg but did not play on Thursday. Bowden, a solid low-major prospect, will not be resigning with American. … Berkshire, despite being early in the season, is one of the better passing teams around. Their guards feed the post like a well-disciplined bunch should. … Berkshire has a few other prospects worth a look. Senior big man Lubor Olsovaky is 6-10 and 220. He appears to be a guy who likes the perimeter and has passing skills. Junior shooting guard Brian Mason is a great athlete who can shoot it some from deep but gets to the rim fast. … Vincent Grier ran the point for Bonner. The competition level wasn't good, but Grier made sure he got everyone involved, which is a good sign. … Ryan Academy has a potential mid-major junior in Gaston Moliva. The 6-7, 195 pound power forward has good bounce, finishes and will block some shots. … It took six quarters of action before the first 3-pointer of the tournament was made. ... This concludes our coverage of the Fall Fest. ...

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