Over the last few years AAU basketball has been growing rapidly throughout the US, 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 last 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 6’5 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 D1 prospects.
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.
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
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 a nice form, they just don’t 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.
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.
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 with stats.
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
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 from three in the scrimmage. He is also not afraid to mix it up down low
to fight for the boards. 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.
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 don’t see high school freshmen that
are this size.
Karls – 6’4 Verona
Athletic ball player that can do it both inside and out. Runs the floor
well and did play well on both sides of the ball.
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 old he could grow 2-3 more inches. Disappointing that he
couldn’t 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.
Perine – 6’0, Milwaukee Vincent
Here is a kid to keep an eye on. He is quick, has a smooth, consistant
game and is a very good ball handler. Has a nice form on 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 don’t think he’ll be 6’0 for long.
Zimmerman – 6’8, OostburgAnother
kid that is very athletic for 6’8. Plays strong underneath and has a nice touch.
Has a great nose for the ball as he seems to be everywhere. Goes to the hoop
strong and plays intense D. May not be done growing yet.