This morning at EYBL Peach Jam, the Albany City Rocks (NY), led by Hameir Wright and Anthony Gaines, won a thrilling, triple overtime game over Pro Skills (TX). Villanova is recruiting the duo and VUSports was on-hand to observe their performance. In the early afternoon, VUSports saw Collin Sexton in action and provides a quick evaluation below.
Villanova Asst. Coaches Ashley Howard and Baker Dunleavy were in attendance for the City Rocks game. Later, Jay Wright was seen observing Kevin Knox, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, Lonnie Walker and Collin Sexton at various games through the morning and early afternoon ...
Wright played a solid game this morning on both ends of the floor to help lead the Rocks to victory. He scored 17 points (6-17 FGs, 4-4 FTs, 1-5 3PFGs), to go along with 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 steal and 1 blocked shot.
Obesrvations/Notes from his play:
- right hand finish on a drive from 15 feet out on right wing
- jab step, step-back three-point attempt - barely drew iron
- put-back lay-up
- blocked on a failed dribble-drive move
- travel violation driving from top of key through paint
- nice up & under post move w/ good footwork
- rejected hard on failed dribble move
- drew a charge
- missing short frequently on his jumper - "tired legs?"
- steal in transition
- power dribble move from the top, finished with a dunk
- lay-up going to his left on a post move with a right-handed finish
- blocked again on a drive to the basket
- 2 clutch free-throws in 2OT with 16.5 seconds left to go up by 3 points
- took only one mid-range jumper (shot threes or drove it all the way in otherwise)
VUSports shared a quick conversation with Hameir Wright:
VUSports: That was a game where neither team wanted to go away and both teams made great plays at critical moments ...
Hameir Wright: It was great. Those games don't come around all that often where both teams want it that bad. It is going to take a toll on your body after awhile playing the 5 OTs [3 in this game and 2 in an earlier one] and I played every minute because I only had one foul.
VUSports: You do seem to log a ton of minutes is that because of your versatility, because your team lacks size …
Wright: Simply because I add to the team when I am in. When I am not in we suffer and when I am in we excel. Not all the time. When I am out my team really comes together but we are better off with me being in.
VUSports: What aspect of your game is your strength and what is your primary weakness?
Wright: Right now, I am happy with my ability to finish around the rim when the ball is not getting punched out into the third row [laughing - given it happened a couple times in this game]. Being able to create shots and get to the basket.
VUSports: To what do you attribute those blocked shots?
Wright: I went in soft. You have to go in with heart. Especially down in there with those trees. It is a mental block that I have to get past now with all these games i am logging in and all the minutes I am playing it is taking a toll.
VUSports: You seemed to exact a toll on the rim on that one dribble move you finished with a dunk.
Wright: [Laughing] Yeah.
VUSports: You jumper seems inconsistent so far this week but getting closer to where you are knocking them down at a good rate. How do you feel about your shooting right now?
Wright: We all have those on games and off games. I can feel it but it will pick up.
VUSports: Which handful of schools are you most interested in visiting?
Wright: Towards the end of July or mid-August I will figure that out because I don't want to go on visits until the Fall.
VUSports: Which schools have been on you the most of late?
Wright: 'Nova, Miami, Oklahoma, Florida, Syracuse, Maryland, UConn, Virginia, Kansas St, a bunch of schools.
VUSports: That is a varied list of schools - what things are most important to you as you make your decision?
Wright: Overall fit, defensive scheme, offensive scheme, that all plays a big part in what school I choose. The environment has to be alright and I have to love the coaching staff and the players because they are going to be my family for the next four years.
VUSports: What position are you interested in playing at the next level?
Wright: Anywhere from the 2, 3, 4 depending on match-ups.
VUSports: But definitely not the post?
Wright: I don't see myself guarding a 5 in college because those are some big dudes.
VUSports: What are you goals for the High School season?
Wright: Win another State Championship and get better every day.
VUSports: How important is it to you that you play as a Freshman?
Wright: Any school that recruits me feels that I have tremendous upside and I am willing to work in college to get where I want to go. If it is not the first year, thats alright but I am looking forward to playing earlier in college.
on to 2017 recruit, Anthony Gaines ...
Anthony Gaines (6-4, 190 lb, Class of 2017, New Hampton School, from Kingston NY)
Gaines was a stand-out performer for the Rocks with 18 points (7-20 FGs, 4-6 FTs, 0-2 3PFGs), 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 turnovers and 4 steals.
He plays with a superb motor and is absolutely relentless on the glass - in particular on the offensive end. He scores most of his points on drives to the basket and over time will need to improve his mid-to-ling range jumper. His ball-handling is adequate for helping to break pressure, keeping the ball moving on the perimeter and getting to the basket with a few dribbles.
Obesrvations/Notes from his play:
- two-bounce dribble move from the wing for 2
- nice deflection to deny a post entry pass to a much taller opponent
- had an elbow jumper blocked
- great ball pressure to force a steal
- had a three-point attempt blocked
- came up short on a floater on a drive from the wing
- one-hand, power slam in transition
- drove the lane, stopped, pivoted and knocked down a short one
- drove the ball - got stripped - recovered the ball - missed a short one - got the O-board - got rejected - tenacious nonetheless
- grabbed a tough O-board, went hard on put-back attempt to draw a foul
- good on-the-ball defense
- used a Hameir Wright screen to go baseline for a lay-up
- relentless on the glass - multiple jumps for the other players one
- grabbed a key loose ball
- strong drive to start 2nd OT
- followed immediately by another strong drive for a lay-up
- drained 2 pressure FTs to ice the game for the Rocks with a four point lead in 3rd OT
- took only one mid-range jumper (shot threes or drove it all the way in otherwise)
VUSports caught up with Gaines for a quick Q&A after the win:
Q: Villanova hasn't extended an offer to you but if they do, given they are recruiting Hameir Wright also, is playing with him at the next level something that interests you?
Anthony Gaines: Yes, Definitely.
VUSports: At the end of the game you made a series of great plays - scrapping for loose balls, getting offensive rebounds, and playing extremely hard … what are the strengths of your game from your perspective?
Gaines: My energy, my aggressiveness, defense, and leadership. This is my second year on the circuit and we have a lot of new guys out here for their first year except for Platek, so we knew what it would be like coming out here and we tried to keep everyone in it as a group - like in that last game we didn't let anyone get their heads down. We made plays to keep everyone going.
VUSports: They were answering every great play your team was making.
Gaines: They were, but once we got Mitchell Robinson fouled out of the game we were able to get to the rim and finish a lot more. It was easier to get to the basket. You could see in the first half and earlier in the game that trying to get to that basket wasn't as easy.
VUSports: What aspect of your game are you working on the most?
Gaines: Shooting and ball-handling. I have worked on my shot a lot. The Coaches are telling me that it looks good and now it is about having the confidence to shoot it in the game.
Q: Which schools are recruiting you the hardest right now?
Gaines: Butler, Cincinnati, Dayton, Buffalo, George Mason, George Washington, I just started talking to Villanova more, Temple … all have offered except Villanova.
Q: How about cutting down your list and taking visits?
Gaines: I have taken unofficial visits to Cincinnati, Dayton, and Villanova. After the July period I will make my list of schools to cut it down - I am hoping to five but it is not going to be easy.
Q: When do you expect to make your decision?
Gaines: Hopefully by September. I am not going to rush it but I would like to make an early decision.
VUSports: Who on the Villanova coaching staff are you most in touch with?
Gaines: Coach [Baker] Dunleavy.
VUSports: And what is that relationship like at this stage?
Gaines: He is a really great guy. I spoke with him a lot when I went on my visit, He has a lot of energy and is a really great person as well as the Head Coach who is a really great guy. I enjoyed talking to him and meeting him and the coaching staff during my unofficial last Wednesday.
VUSports: What interests you the most about Villanova at this point in time?
Gaines: How hard they play. I got to play with the guys and how hard they play, the style of play, I really enjoyed the way they compete. I found it very similar to how I play and I really enjoyed that as well as what they have to offer academically within my major, which will be Business. Those are the the great things that I will keep in mind as well as it being close to home. It is probably one of the schools nearest my home that is recruiting me - about three hours away for me.
VUSports: Have they spoke with you about what position you would play or how they would play you?
Gaines: They haven't really said but I believe the wing or wherever they would need me at. A lot of coaches have been saying that the great thing about me is they don't know what position I am so they can play me at multiple positions.
VUSports: Defensively, it looks like you could guard anyone from a 1 to a 3 and maybe a 4 if needed.
Gaines: In EYBL, I have guarded the biggest guy and the smallest guy. I will do whatever it takes to win.
In the early afternoon, VUSports took a trip over the river to Georgia to watch Collin Sexton play for the Southern Stampede in the Peach Invitational Tournament (also a Nike EYBL event). Sexton just flew back to the States from Spain where he was playing for USA Basketball. His legs were tight from the trip and as a result he played limited minutes and with limited effectiveness.
Sexton has seen his stock rise significantly and his recruiting interest along with it due to the impressive scoring ability he has displayed during Nike EYBL It was obvious he was not anywhere near 100% in this game as everything appeared a little bit off for a player that had been averaging around 30 ppg.
He scored only one FG and a couple of FTs but you could observe the athleticism, quickness and tenacity that he uses to relentlessly attack the rim on offense. Sexton moves very well without the ball to constantly try to get open. He plays with enthusiasm, is communicative and supportive of his teammates. Sexton seems to enjoy attacking the baseline, elevating and forcing a defender to have to either try to take a charge or attempt a very difficult block in order to stop him. He has some flair to his passing game as well. He had a steal in the open court that he took in for a lay-up - for his only basket in this game.
Sexton is the type of player who could potentially flourish in an offensive system like Jay Wright's ... how much traction the Cats can gain on the recruiting trail with this highly-sought-after guard prospect has yet to be determined.