MANALAPAN, N.J. – There is nothing like familiarity on the court. Last weekend at Elevate Hoops’ Icebreaker II, twins from West African nation of Mali proved great things come in pairs.
Meet Hassan and Fousseyni Drame, who came to the United States last year and are prepping at powerhouse independent school Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.). At first glance, the twins share the love of the game, but each one presents a different skill set on the court.
First, they are 6-foot-5 athletic wings, both have 7-foot wingspans while still learning the game as a rising juniors (Class of 2019). They hope to attend the same college are projected as mid to high major prospects.
Hassan is a better shooter and after 17 months in the weight room, he’s stronger. His rebounding, passing and dribble drive is improving daily.
Fousseyni is offense-oriented too but is more of a slasher. He’ll attack the rim and finish in heavy traffic. His handle is very good and he makes good decisions went the pressure is ratcheted up.
“Both of them are superior athletes; their best days are ahead and they have not even scratched the surface of potential,” OSNA assistant coach Eric Jaklitsch said.
The Drames were just two of more than a thousand players competing at Sportika for Born Ready Elite 17-Under of Brooklyn before more than 120 schools at the three-day event that concluded on Sunday afternoon.
There’s more with two weeks left in the NCAA live summer evaluation period.
The action shifts to Philadelphia University this week for the next round of business as the summer live period is quickly coming to a close. Elevate Hoops will take over the Gallagher Center on Friday for three days of the Summer Showdown.
The Under Armour All-American Camp featuring 64 of the nation’s top players tips off on Wednesday thru Friday at the Philly U’s Gallagher Center with a bulk of the major programs viewing the talent. This is must-see for hoopheads.
10 That Caught My Eye
The Icebreaker II was chock full of talent, mostly with mid-major talent in three (17U, 16U and 15U) age groups for three days at Sportika. Though it was nearly impossible to view all the players on seven courts in the new facility located in central New Jersey, my concentration centered on the 17U bracket.
Here are 10 players that stood out:
Allin Blunt, 6-6, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), 2018, MD 3D Red: Blunt starting to get interest and what coaches are seeing is an extremely intelligent player with vision. He doesn’t force action but make great decisions from the wing. He can shoot it from beyond the arc and plays solid, fundamental defense. He’s likely a mid-major and has honor-grades at one of the country’s top Jesuit secondary schools. Best days are still ahead of him.
Kyle Cardaci, 6-2, Mater Dei (Middletown, N.J.), 2018, Jersey Force Elite: Cardaci is a combo-guard with exceptional vision and perimeter play. Solid defender. He’s a team player that gets it. This is someone who will contribute mightily at the next level, probably a low major or D2.
Andrew Funk, 6-4, Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.), 2018, Jersey Shore Warriors Gold: He plays for a great high school program (Philadelphia Catholic League and Class AAAAA state champions in 2017) and on the summer circuit. Funk is a pure shooter and instant offense. He already has 12 offers, including Patriot League schools, Delaware, Quinnipiac, Yale and Pennsylvania. He’s an honors student with a 1470 SAT.
Lynn Greer III, 6-2, Roman Catholic (Philadelphia), 2020, Team Final 16U: You know the name from when his father was a star at Temple. The kid is a chip off the old block and the consummate point guard with his skills rounding into shape.
Kenneth Jones, 6-1, Mater Dei (Middletown, N.J.), 2018, Jersey Force Elite: Jones was the top point guard in the event. He’s already been offered by Temple, Saint Joseph’s and a host of Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) schools.
Jared Kimbrough, 6-9, Neptune (N.J.), 2018, Jersey Force Elite: One college coach said he’s Ahmad Nivins, who went on to have a stellar career at Saint Joseph’s last decade. He’s already getting offers from the Atlantic 10; he’s force in the post, challenges all shots and a ferocious rebounder. He’s a sinewy athlete and a real talent, maybe the best at this event. Tremendous upside.
Ryan Omslaer, 7-0, St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, N.J.), 2017, G7 Elite: The big man is still a work in progress. His footwork is improving and his post moves almost there. He’s a big body and physical post presence that won’t back down. Needs a prep school to polish skills or a place where he can redshirt as a freshman.
Andrew Sims, 6-6, Lenape (Medford, N.J.), 2018, Jersey Shore Warriors Gold: The lefty has a sweet stroke and shows it confidently from the perimeter. He’s a wing who will put it on the floor and absorb contact and finish.
Jesiah West, 6-5, Elizabeth (N.J.), 2019, G7 Elite: He’s 2 or 3 swing who is slippery in the lane and fluid. West is slender, long with great hops. He’s under the radar for now.
Ryan Young, 6-10, Bethlehem (Pa.) Catholic, 2018, Jersey Shore Warriors Gold: One of the most coveted recruits in the building; he’s a stretch-4 with crafty moves and a high IQ. He’ll start the break and finish it at the other end. I’m hearing Big Ten schools are involved. A real steal for any program and hearing that Richmond loves his game.
10 More Gems
Take a flyer on one of these 10:
Zahir Porter, 6-3, Our Saviour Lutheran (Bronx, N.Y.), New York Dragons (2017); Bless Jones, 5-11, William Allen (Allentown, Pa.), 2018, Team Final Red 17U; Connor Printz, 6-4, Taft School (Watertown, Conn.). 2019, Connecticut Select 16U; Noah Collier, 6-7, Westtown School (West Chester, Pa.), 2020, Team Final 16U; Daniel Buie, 6-2, Troy (N.Y.), 2019, New work Havoc; Isaiah Moll, 6-7, Colonia (N.Y.) Central, 2018, New York Havoc; Naheem McLeod, 6-10, Plymouth Whitemarsh (Pa.), PYO 17U; and Anthony Blunt, 6-3, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), 2019, MD 3D 16U.
The last word is a remainder that Elevate Hoops will reconvene next week (July 26-28) near Atlantic City for LIVE in AC at Richard Stockton College in Galloway. It’s one of the top events on the East Coast at the tail end of the live period with coaches from all levels in attendance to unearth gems that may have slipped through the summer evaluation period. Elevate Hoops concludes with the Summer Final In King of Prussia, Pa. (suburban Philadelphia) July 29 and 30.