Saturday Rewind At #LucasASWeekend2k18
March 3 2018
HOUSTON, TX — The John Lucas All-Star Weekend Tournament has become one of the best events in the country on the travel circuit. It’s date and location also make it an ideal event to bring closure to the winter months in youth basketball. Originally, John Lucas Enterprises became known for its individual camps, but the crown jewel of the Lucas empire may now be this elite weekend of team competition.
This event is firmly planted on my “can’t miss” list as it provides valuable evaluation opportunities for so many quality middle school teams and players. Here’s a sampling of the headlines from Saturday at #LucasASWeekend2k18…
HENDERSON TWINS HAVE BIG DECISION AHEAD
Twin brothers DeMari Henderson and JaCari Henderson jumped onto the national radar last summer with their performances at the 2017 13U/7th Grade AAU National Championships and the playmaking dynamos were at it again on Saturday to begin #LucasASWeekend2k18. However, the siblings aren’t shy to admit that football is likely their best sport.
The pair were both sporting Sanford Seminole (FL) High School football undershirts on Saturday and father Britt Henderson could only smile when the subject was brought up. He, too, was a star athlete at Seminole High School and says his boys should play varsity basketball immediately but will begin their careers on the junior varsity team for football as they adjust to the physicality on the gridiron.
BLACK HAS A BREAKTHROUGH DAY
Sure, I grew up in ACC country (North Carolina), but I remember Terry Black’s high-flying act for Baylor in the early 2000s. The 6-foot-5 swingman became a Baylor Hall Of Fame inductee in 2015, and with his playing career now concluded, he’s turned to coaching and training to get his fill of hoops alongside friend and 3D Hoops Academy Empire director, Shawn Ward.
On Saturday, 3D Empire emerged as one of the most surprising teams in the eighth-grade division at #LucasASWeekend2k18, and it was 5-foot-10 lead guard Anthony Black helping lead the way. Black has the physical stature and bloodlines that indicate he should continue to stretch out and add significant athleticism. In the interim, he’s a capable playmaker and perimeter shooter. Not a bad start, young man. Now keep going!
FOSTER’S PERFORMANCE ONE TO REMEMBER
There are a number of teams at all levels that find success by playing a dual point guard lineup. You can add Team F.O.E.’s eighth-grade group to the list. While Cason Wallace has continued to improve his playmaking ability this season, on Saturday evening at #LucasASWeekend2k18, backcourt teammate Isaiah Foster put together one of his best performances I’ve seen to date.
Not only did Foster hit the game-winning bucket in overtime as time expired against Louisiana-based Elfrid Payton Elite, but his 21-point outburst led all scorers, while also tallying an unofficial nine assists to only three turnovers. Take a few seconds and watch the game-winner here.
NEW NAME, SAME TALENT FOR KANSAS PROGRAM
In the past decade, there hasn’t been a more successful youth basketball program in Kansas than PowerGroup Basketball. The organization is now in the process of rebranding itself as “Drive5 Power Elite” after partnering with the Drive5 Sports Center facility in Overland Park, Kansas. The national debut of the new-look club came Saturday at #LucasASWeekend2k18.
Drive5 Power Elite will continue to be led by long-time PowerGroup program director Allen Skeens, so expect much of their talent to continue flowing through Under Armour-powered K.C. Run G.M.C. at the high school level. Another grassroots basketball veteran, LJ Goolsby, is at the helm of K.C. Run G.M.C. (formerly K.C. Pump-N-Run Basketball Club) and has helped dozens of the players groomed by Skeens and his staff reach the Division I level in recent years.
It’s a partnership that has worked and Drive5 Power Elite’s Class of 2022 team looks to have several promising pieces on its roster. Currently, 6-foot-7 forward Mark Mitchell is the headliner, but names like Quinton Conley, Adrian Dimond, Mozae Downing-Rivers, Taj Manning, Aidan Shaw, Damar’e Smith, and Max Whisner all have the look of players set to have an immediate impact on the high school level as freshmen later this year.
NEXT TOWERING TANDEM IN TEXAS?
Each time I visit the Lone Star State, it’s tough not to think of the popular phrase, “Everything is Bigger in Texas”. This expression has proven true in youth basketball over the years as the size of players in the state’s youth basketball talent pool always seems to be ahead of the curve.
Exhibit A at #LucasASWeekend2k18: Houston Hoops. Their eighth-grade team features Class of 2022 twin towers, 6-foot-9 Mohamed Ngam, and 6-foot-9 Adam Stewart. Only a few weeks ago, Ngam suited up with New York Lightning, but he has been shuffled around a bit lately after the school he was attending, Arlington (FL) Country Day, abruptly closed its doors in late January.
Meanwhile, expect Stewart to attract a variety of high-major academic programs as he told ThePrepInsiders.com that he’s seeking the best combination of education and basketball available, regardless of location. A few Pac-12 schools, among them Stanford, have already expressed interest, in addition to a number of Ivy League programs, including Harvard.