Intro: Jonathan Velez and Josimar Ayarza
Velez, an under-the-radar native of Puerto Rico who spent last year at Trinity Christian School in Greenville, N.C., is hoping to earn a Division I scholarship this winter. The athletic lead man is already receiving a few looks, which should multiply in the next few months.
"He had a game yesterday and he had five dunks on people, and got undercut on one of them," said his personal coach, Joe Boncore. "Jonathan is very athletic. He has a 40-inch vertical leap. He can shoot and handle, and he's a 3.0 student."
"I like to dunk on people," said Velez, who recently visited Maryland for its Maryland Madness festivities.
Last year Trinity faced off against Raleigh Christian and star guard John Wall, regarded as the No. 1 guard in the Class of 2008. Velez, an intrepid worker in the gym, afterwards insisted to Boncore that he'd like to be better than Wall. The coach responded that it would be a great accomplishment just to become nearly as good as Wall, but Velez didn't relent.
"I like the way he plays. He's very good but I want to be better," Velez said. "My goal is to go to professional basketball. I've got to get better, I just want to work and keep getting better at everything."
While playing in a few tournaments, Velez formed a bond with Ayarza, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound native of Panama who averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman at Custa (Calif.) Community College. The two would like to play in college together, though obviously that will require them to be recruited by some of the same schools. Ayarza has offer from Southern Miss and Southern Cal, along with interest from others including LSU. Both players also are interested in Maryland and Missouri, among others.
"I've visited USC and Southern Miss," said Ayarza, a multi-talented big man who will play at Arizona Western this year. "I like to play the three, but I can play the two, the four and the five, too. I like to shoot the ball a lot. I can score, but I also like to play defense and block shots."
Ayarza said he is favoring Southern Miss but remains open to other suitors. He also gave is a breakdown on Velez.
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