Two of those players were Jersey Shore Warriors teammates Amar Stukes and Stephen Smith, both members of the class of 2013.
In addition to being AAU teammates, Smith and Stukes are also high school teammates at La Salle College High School (PA). Yesterday, Hawk Hill Hardwood spoke with La Salle's head coach, Joe Dempsey, about his two rising juniors.
Amar Stukes is a 6'2 point guard that was a starter for La Salle this year, despite the senior-laden roster. In fact, the roster featured nine seniors, including Rider-bound Eddie Mitchell. Stukes and Mitchell started together in the backcourt for La Salle this year, with Stukes playing off the ball more often that not. According to Coach Dempsey, Stukes "will have the ball in his hands a lot more this year, which is good since he projects as a one at the college level."
Only a rising junior, Stukes is "unselfish, strong to the basket, and finishes well," according to Dempsey. In addition, Dempsey explained, "Amar has outstanding character and is very coachable." Like many players his age, Amar's room for improvement lies in his jumpshot, the development of which will force defenders to be more honest with him on the perimeter.
While Stukes started for La Salle last year, 6'7 Stephen Smith did not. Smith, at 6'7 with impressive length, turned the heads of college coaches and media members Sunday with his shooting prowess. Over the course of the day, Smith connected on many more threes than he missed, displaying a quick, almost effortless release.
"Steve wasn't quite ready last year. He had a developing body and we had so many seniors," Dempsey said with regards to his lack of significant playing time last year. He went on to explain the importance of confidence for Smith. This summer, due to his combination of gained strength and confidence, Smith has really broken out.
"From the moment he stepped on our campus, he could stroke it," Dempsey stated. "It was just a matter of confidence for him."
Although he did not play significant minutes last year, that will change this coming season. "He is going to play and we are going to let him just shoot it." While his strength lies in his jumper, Smith is not a one-dimensional player on the offensive end. "He can post up too, and rebounds well. He just plays hard out there," elaborated Dempsey.
Despite the loss of Eddie Mitchell and so many seniors, La Salle looks primed to have another strong season. One of the primary reasons for that is these two impressive rising juniors. With Amar Stukes manning the point, and Stephen Smith playing the three, La Salle will have a formidable backcourt.
Since they are both only going into their junior years, Dempsey did not go into the specifics of their recruitments, saying only that both project as mid to high major players. There are certainly colleges out there that need toughness and size at the point and shooters on the wing, so the demand for these two will likely only increase this year.
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