Over the last few years AAU basketball has been growing rapidly throughout the U.S., but also here in Wisconsin. While most basketball fans know that these are in a sense "All-Star teams", many do not realize how much hard work is put in by these kids outside of the tournaments. Last night the Fox Valley Skillz held an open house of sorts, allowing the public to observe practice. While I was impressed with the talent level of some of the players, I was most impressed with how these kids conducted themselves with the attitude and approach they take.
Coach Ritchie Davis told the people in attendance that things would not be adjusted for this event, that they would go through the drills of a typical practice. It was a very well run practice, working on basic fundamentals. These kids went hard after it all evening long, never slowing down, never taking it easy. Seeing how they conducted themselves and responded to their coaches, it is not a surprise that the Fox Valley Skillz program is as successful as it is. If these kids keep up the strong work ethic, desire to succeed and positive attitudes that they displayed Monday night, they will be successful long after they are finished with basketball.
There were a few players missing, as they had obligations with other high school sports that we did not get a chance to see. One of those absent was Marcus Helland, a 6-foot-5 frosh from Baldwin-Woodville, about whom I have heard a lot of positive things. Here are a few of the players that stuck out in my mind from the event, some of which I feel are high and mid-major Division-I prospects.
Kirk DeCremer – 6-6, Verona
Kirk is an athletic player that can get up. Surprisingly strong underneath, can go strong to the hoop and plays intense defense which was typical of all of the Skillz' players.
J.P. Gavinski – 6-10, Wisconsin Dells
Prior to last night I had heard different reports on J.P.'s game, so I went in open minded and was impressed. He is left handed, but showed that he can hit the soft "baby hook" with either hand at will. Very soft touch and does know how to work for position under the boards, but needs to bulk up and add weight. He is a ‘young' sophomore, so I am sure a weight and conditioning program could turn him into something special. He is the next "BIG" man to come out of Wisconsin after Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma.
Anthony Green – 6-4, Beloit Memorial
Excellent shooter with great form. Can handle the ball very well and has excellent hops. Can take it to the hole in traffic, and also has a nice pull-up jumper. Has a very fluid/smooth flow to his game. All of the tools are there to be a special player. In my eyes, one of the two most impressive players there.
Trevon Hughes – 6-1, Delafield St. John's
Trevon is very quick. He is an excellent ball handler with superior court vision and passing skills. He can take it to the rack and dish in traffic. He needs to work on his jump shot – he does have nice form, they just do not seem to fall. That will come with hard work. Seems to be able to turn it on and off when he wants.
Justin Mitchell – 6-2, Port Washington
Very athletic and runs the court very well. Played very intense defense, and his quickness allowed him to cover a lot of ground. Can get up and has a nice jump shot.
Michael Shaw – 6-2, Madison Edgewood
Shaw has nice form on his shot and is deadly from outside. Did struggle a little against pressure D, but not someone you want to leave open.
Bryce Welch – 6-0, Weyauwega-Fremont
Another guy that I was not familiar with prior to last night, but he kept making plays. Several times he forced turnovers and took it the length of the floor in traffic and scored. Seems like one of those guys that quietly fills stat sheets.
Charlie Chapman – 5-10, Heartland Arrowhead
Chapman is a super-quick guard that can change the flow of a game with the way he sprints the floor. Can certainly run an offense, and his quickness makes up for lack of size on D. One of those "Charlie Hustle" players that gives it everything he's got and is fun to watch. Also has a great outside shot.
Scott Christopherson – 6-1, Melrose-Mindoro
I said Green was one of the two most impressive players there, Christopherson the other. This kid can flat out play. Only 6-1 but can drive the hole and finish with authority. In one of the drills had some of the most powerful dunks of the night. Deadly outside shooter, as I think he may have been 5-for-6 on 3-pointers during the scrimmage. He is also not afraid to mix it up down low to fight for rebounds. At one point went up over the top of Green to get a board, and that was one of the plays of the night. Physically mature despite just having turned 15. Reminded me of Travis Diener, but more athletic. Keep your eyes out for this one in the years to come.
Matt Dorlack – 6-10, New Berlin Eisenhower
Typically when you see high school freshmen that are 6-10 you say they have to get use to their size. While this does apply to Matt, he is not afraid to use his body for position and goes after rebounds with desire. At 6-10 he has a very big body, and with some conditioning and weight training could really be a strong and forceful post player. You just do not see high school freshmen that are this size.
Matt Karls – 6-4 Verona
Athletic ballplayer that can do it both inside and out. Runs the floor well and did play well on both sides of the ball.
Keaton Nankivil – 6-8, Madison Memorial
Only saw Nankivil in warm ups and drills as he is nursing a sore foot from an injury in Houston. He is very athletic and strong for a freshman. Already 6-8, but I was told he could grow 2-3 more inches. Disappointing that he could not go in the scrimmage, as he looked very impressive in the drills he participated in. Goes strong to the hole, great hops and fights hard for position. A dominant interior player.
Bryquise Perine – 6-0, Milwaukee Vincent
Here is a kid to keep an eye on. He is quick, has a smooth, consistent game and is a very good ball handler. Has a nice form on his jump shot. Nice hops and has the quickness to play aggressive D. One thing that stood out to me about him was his feet. I do not think he'll be 6-0 for long.