Lampasas Boys HS Preview

Left: All Region Performer 2009 6’4″ Heath Hopson
Coach Scott Harrelson’s Badgers hope to be in the middle of a fight for the 4th playoff spot in District 25-4A. That district is loaded though, so it will be a dog fight. In watching Lampasas, what they may have going for it is their methodical system. They’re not going to run up and down the court tossing up shots willy nilly. This will be a chage of pace for squads like Killeen, Lake Travis, P’Ville Hendrickson and Hutto who like to push the pace.

Lampasas will be led in the backcourt by 2009 6’0″ PG Jordy Carnes.
The real workhorse though will be 6’4″ W/P Heath Hopson who earned All Region Honors last season while averaging 20ppg and 9 boards. I was impressed with his ability to run the floor, shoot from different spots on the court including the trey ball and in his ability to finish around the basket.

Georgetown HS Boys Preview

Left: 2009 Payton Carrell, and 2010 Jaron Vierra
I had a chance to sit down for about a half an hour at the Harker Heights Fall League with veteran Coach Kenny Hoffpauir. He’s in his 2nd season with G Town after stints in Midland and Highland Park. We chatted about his team, and exchanged points of view on the worth of summer club basketball, teaching camps, and player development. It was a great conversation.

It had been a while since Georgetown had made the playoffs, until this past season. Last year’s team was pretty talented and this year’s version will be hard pressed immediately to replace the backcourt of 6’6″ G Travis Jones, now at Lon Morris JC and shooter Scott Hurley who will be firing up 3 pointers this year at McMurray, in Abilene.

One of the top players in the Class of 2012, Michael Hardge will have an opportunity to vie for varsity minutes in his freshman campaign. Keep an eye on him as the future of Georgetown basketball. 2011 6’4″ W Logan Webb also figures to log significant minutes, giving the Eagles a nice nucleus for the long haul.

However, if the Eagles want to build on last year and return to the post season they’ll rely on a talented frontline starting with 2009 6’3″ W Xavier Williamson a transfer from Killeen Elison.

The real strength of the squad though could well be the twin towers of 2010 6’6″ Jaron Vierra and 2009 6’7″ Payton Carrell who both have big game summer experience under their belts in the past with the Texas D-1 Ambassadors. Both these guys are very springy athletes with a bounce in their step and enough beef on them to bully guys inside. Carrell is benching 245 to go along with his 36″ vertical, which makes him almost as strong as Old Coach Max (although my vert is a shade under 36″…come to think of it, many

Gatesville HS Boys Preview

Top Left: Gatesville’s three headed senior guard attack; Bryan Cobb, Alex Aviles & Kevin Walters
Top Right: 2010 6’4″ WF Dominique Moore
Bottom Left: Moore and 2009 6’6″ Garrett Lamb
Gatesville, who has moved to Region 1, District 3A has the returning talent to build on the past year’s successes and make a run to the Drum in Austin. They return a ton of senior leadership, mixed in with a couple of extremely talented underclassmen.
Coach Brian Edwards will rely on three interchangeable seniors at the guard spots in Alex Aviles, Bryan Cobb, and Kevin Walters. Gatesville likes to employ lots of ball screens offensively, combined with a rep for a mixed bag of various defenses, all played with a hardnosed style.
Up front they are blessed with as good a pair as you’ll find on a 3A frontline in 2010 6’8″ dual sport star Garrett Johnson and super athletic 2010 6’4″ WF Dominique Moore who runs in the summer with Team Waco. Moore can fill it up in a hurry in the transition game and is also a tireless rebounder.

Copperas Cove HS Boys Preview

It looks to be a tough season ahead for Copperas Cove. I’m sure there will be additional players coming in from the football crazed Crusaders. Let’s hope so, because they sure could have used them against 3A Gatesville in last night’s drubbing. Coach David Farber has his work cut out for him in what from top to bottom is one of the toughtest districts in Texas, 12-5A.

A bright light for the Crusaders will be 2009 6’1″ G Raheem Odomes. They’ll rely on him to do the bulk of the scoring and to still lead the squad in rebounds (10 rpg last year). He’s extremely explosive in the open court with a 34″ vertical.

Coach Farber says they’ll trap a lot this season to try and offset their lack of height. They’ll fight the good fight for a playoff spot, but it will not be easy.

Harker Heights Fall League

I spent all day Monday in the Killeen area. Visited Killeen HS, Ellison HS and then headed to Harker Heights for Coach Celneque Bobbitt’s Fall League. Profiles will follow on Gatesville, Harker Heights, Georgetown, Copperas Cove and Lampasas. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and did not get to see either Lorena or Belton play.

My biggest disappointment, without getting into the local politics was that the other Killeen ISD schools; Killeen , Ellison and Shoemaker were not competing in this group. The rivalries are a natural and there are high quality kids at every one of these schools. Perhaps cooler heads will prevail and fences can be mended in the near future.

Regardless, I definitely appreciated the warm welcome though for and on their respective campuses.

The Piotrowski’s…Then And Now

On a personal note, one of the most enjoyable things about my immersion in basketball is the great bond it can strengthen it allows us to build with our children. I think all of us who have sons and daughters enjoy watching/coaching our kids more than when we played ourselves. Last week up in Philadelphia I had a chance to sit and visit with two generations of the Piotrowski Family. Principal, Coach and Proud Father Tom Piotrowski was on hand at Rick Barrett’s Midnight Madness Showcase with his two sons.
In the middle, Big Tom Piotrowski standing 6’11” is flanked by his two boys. On the left is 2009 7’1″ Mat and on the right is 2011 6’9″ Luke.
Pops played for LaSalle University, graduating in the early 80’s. He then went on to play with the Portland Trailblazers from 83-85 with Houston’s own Phi Slama Jama Alum and NBA great Cyde “The Glide” Drexler. The elder Piotrowski is now Principal and Head Basketball Coach at Atlantic Christian High School in New Jersey. Of course his two boys are under his wing there, and excel in the classroom as well as on the court.
Like most Bigs, Mat is still developing his post game. There is no doubt though, he will be a fine college player and with a 3.4 GPA he is already being recruited by the likes of Arizona State, Stanford, Rutgers, and Virginia. Look for him to play the 4 spot in college.
Sophomore Luke is a little bit more agile than his brother, with a softer touch. His recruiting is also brisk with Stanford, UCLA, Cal and Virginia in the hunt for his services. He is projected to be a face up 3.
One of the great things about the circuit is that you get to see a lot of the same folks several times a year and friendships can blossom amongst the kids and the coaches. I met Tom out at the Pangos Camp back in early June in Los Angeles. We got to chatting, hit it off and found out we knew a lot of the same folks in the basketball world. Here we are a few month later meeting up again in Spetember at the Philadelphia event. Small world. Keep an eye out for the Piotrowski Boys.

Avery Bradley To Texas

Left: Coach Max Ivany of, Northwest Panther Bossman Gary Ward, and University of Texas Basketball Assistant Coach Rodney Terry kickin’ it at the Texas-Arkansas Game.
Right: Our view from Row 6 on the 45 yard line behind a dejected Arkansas bench.
I went to the Texas 52 Arkansas 10 football game yesterday, and in the midst of the drubbing inflicted on the Hogs by the Horns, a basketball story broke out. I was sitting most of the game in the recruit section as Colt McCoy and the Gang de-tusked the Hogs. As with most basketball recruits, the coaches love to get the kids on campus for an official visit amidst the pageantry and spectacle of the atmosphere on campus that comes about as a result of a big time football program. Not too many schools can put this dual sport pedigree in front of the kids like the University of Texas can. In a sea of burnt orange the football team did it’s part to woo big time recruit 2009 6’3″ SG Avery Bradley of Tacoma, WA.
By half time, the game was over. Meanwhile, Bradley and his AAU Coach Gary Ward (Northwest Panthers)were surprised by the 91 degree Texas heat. Coach Ward hung out with me, chewing the fat while the Longhorns newest basketball commitment headed for shade. He and his player host, current Longhorn Damion James continued on with their campus tour along with the adoring fans and coeds. I was lax in my reporting role and failed to snap a quick pic of Avery before he headed on down the road, hence all you get was the one of us
I asked Coach Gary Ward who has had Bradley in his program for 4 years what kind of kid he was. Ward’s report was glowing. It was one of an unselfish team player who can score in a variety of ways, but at the same time does not need to dominate the ball. At 6’3″ Bradley has a 6’6″ wingspan. Ward is convinced he was the best perimeter defender on the circuit this past summer. Avery averaged 32 ppg this summer playing with the Northwest Panthers on the Reebok Circuit.
Because the D-1 Ambassadors play mostly on the Nike Circuit we did not get a chance to get it on with the Panthers this past summer. Coach Ward and I were talking out loud as to how much fun it would have been to see Bradley and his other outstanding guard, Abdul Gaddy ( 2009 University of Arizona commit) go up against my guard heavy D-1 Ambassador group led by 2008 Arizona commit Garland Judkins, 2009 UT-San Antonio commit Kendric Robinson, and 2009 big time recruit Brandon Thompson (offers from SMU and Colorado).
I did have two opportunities though to see Bradley in action this past year. Our respective programs were both at the Texas Elite Camp (which the Ambassadors won) and in the Spring at the prestigious Arizona Cactus Classic where the Northwest Panthers advanced to the semi finals before losing to the Compton Magic. Along the way I saw Bradley drop 28 on the New York Gauchos, 31 on Pump N Run Elite and then 25 vs. the Compton Magic. The kid can flat out score. Midrange, deep, getting to the rack, rebounding putbacks…you name it. Avery will finish his senior year of high school at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, NV.
Let me tell you folks, we’re happy to have him here in Texas next fall. So Avery, here’s an early welcome to Texas. We’re looking forward to your career here at the 40 Acres. You can trade in your umbrella and raincoat, pile some Texas barbeque high on your plate and get to saying “ya’ll”. Oh yeah, don’t delay in getting a pair of cowboy boots.

Liberty Hill Girls HS Preview

I want to thank Liberty Hill Girls Head Coach John Avritt for being the FIRST coach to respond on the girls side to our site. I am more than happy to get the info out on his players. It’s a small world, but when my son Chip and I returned to Austin 11 years ago, the first thing we did literally was to put him in Coach Avritt’s Camp at Hyde Park HS where he was the boys coach. At that time he really impressed me as a bright young coach, and someone who had a great demeanor of care and concern about his kids. My son ended up getting the “Mr. Hustle Award” at Coach A’s camp and we’ve had a friendship ever since.

Coach Avritt journeyed to Copperas Cove, as the Boys Assistant Coach where he turned me on to a wonderful athlete for the D-1 Ambassadors program. The boy, Robert Griffin is now a world class track man and starting QB for Baylor University as a true freshman. Later that year Coach Avritt became the interim Boys Head Coach at Cove in mid season and then the following year decided to switch to the Girls side because he felt that the kids were more coachable. He has since moved on to Liberty Hill where he’s done a great job at the 3A level.

Not sure what’s in the water at Liberty Hill but the Boys football & basketball, and now the Girls basketball are achieving with excellence.

After graduating 6 seniors from a 23-9 Area Finalist team, the Gals from Liberty Hill have switched Regions and Districts. moving to 8-3A. They return 6 lettermen including 1st Team All District performers 2009 PG Kelsy Parks (18ppg/5 asst) and 2009 P Kristina Danielak (15ppg/ 10 reb). Both are great bets to continue on at the collegiate level.
The Hill also returns 2009 P Katelyn Zurovec, a 4 year letterman and Rachel Rubin their defensive stopper. Look for big things from 2011 P Samantha Swarts last year’s Newcomer of the Year as she averaged a double-double as a freshman.
Not one to rest on laurels, Coach Avritt made sure he had the girls working hard in the off season. They attended West Texas A&M’s team camp and squared off against high quality comp, including poerwhouse Canyon. Liberty Hill has loaded up on a really tough non-district schedule this year chock full of 5A teams. Included is a trip to the Dr. Pepper/Chisholm Trail Classic at UMHB. Look for the Wildcats to make a deep playoff run.

Austin Hyde Park Baptist

Left to right 2009 5 ‘ 11″ Austin Mosely, 2009 6’7″ Ryan Springer, & 2012 frosh 5’6″ Spencer Phillips
Hyde Park had some unexpected trouble in their Hoop Zone Fall League Gamc v. St. Stephen’s who fielded mostly JV players. However, with a little bit of coaching injected once the school season starts, then the Hyde Park kids should be juust fine. Senior leadership from hustling G Austin Mosely, and the injection of 6’7″ Ryan Springer, a transfer from Dripping Springs will give HPBS a very nice one-two punch inside and outside.
Mosely has put on some muscle, showing off his “guns” in the Fall League. He is definitely a kid willing to put in the work to get better.
Springer is coming off an injury plagued junior campaign along with an inexplicable lack of playing time at Drip when he was available to play. Look for the move in via Arizona to have a very nice senior campaign. He has a soft touch around the goal out to about 12-15 feet and a long wing span. He has to get a little tougher physically though. He recently scored a 30 ACT along with a perfect score on the reading portion of the test. A quick shout out to Mrs. Springer for passing on the “brain gene” to her boy, as I know the dad Al, and it sure wasn’t from
On a serious note, Springer has lots of small academic oriented schools interested, but if the kid takes his senior year seriously and stays healthy, he could shoot up the ranks quickly. Confidence will be the key to his progression as the kid is extremely tough on himself. He split his club season between the Texas D-1 Ambassadors and the Cen Tex Shooters.
Young Spencer Phillips is in the mix as a 2012 freshman. He is as skilled a kid in the Class of 2012 that the Austin area has to offer, and is quick to boot. We’ll watch closely to see how much he grows physically. He has an older brother Sterling, who has just gone on to play in college. His stature and quickness reminds me of recent Lamar University commit, Jonathan Garza of Pflugerville at the same stage in their development. Spencer plays his club ball for his dad, Joe with the Texas Thunder.

Austin St. Michael’s Boys Preview

From left to right: 2009 Chase Kocher, 2009 Kyle Martin, 2009 David Rodriguez, and 2010 Jake Kocher
Head Coach Mackey Smith in his 5th year, returns a sneaky good crew to St. Michael’s. Not too many people know about the Crusaders, as private school basketball is historically underappreciated in the State of Texas.

However, Austin Private’s have produced D-1 players the most recent being St. Stephen’s Matt Zaney (UT-Pan American) and Xavier Silas (signed with Colorado, now with Northern Illinois) and St. Michael’s F Mark Sheppard (signed with Texas Tech, now with Baylor). I was in the gym for a classic matchup 6 seasons ago when St. Michael’s strapped it on with the area’s most talented team in the Killeen Ellison Eagles and came out the victors in a high scoring affair. That Ellison team’s backcourt went on to have highly productive college careers. Ellison’s “Zach and Zo Show” respectively ended up starting at Arkansas-Little Rock, and Rice University.

But…back to the present. Head Coach Smith was good enough to catch up with me on the phone last night and to sing the praises of his crew, and to promote Private School basketball. He proudly pointed out that last year his Crusaders went into Pflugerville Connally’s house and came away with a win. They also beat a pretty good Hutto squad twice, once a 30 point thrashing. This year sees another challenging schedule including an apparent grudge agains the whole town of They play Hendrickson, have a return date with Connally and then participate in the always tough Pflugerville HS Christmas Tournament.
What impressed me last night was the discipline shown by the players, even though it was pretty much a “pick up” situation in their Hoop Zone Fall League Game. This indicates a very well coached team. These kids ran more productive sets than many teams do during the regular season. Look for their relative lack of height to be a reason to run a lot of motion as well as “4 and 5 out”. Apparently they have a couple of bigger bodies in football and once they join the team, Coach will run some double post sets as well.
The biggest guy on the team, 2009 6’6″ Kyle Martin apparently likes his St. Michael’s maroon colors. He’ll save a lot on his wardrobe next year as he has already committed to play baseball for like colored Texas A&M Aggies.
I love the St. Michael’s backcourt. 2009 5’11″” David Rodriguez can really shoot the rock and is a very solid ball handler. He improved dramatically and built his confidence on the summer circuit this year with the Texas D-1 Ambassadors.
The other two thirds of the three guard lineup will be the Kocher Boys. Chase, a 5’8″ senior is a crafty ballhandler, playmaker and shooter. Jake, a 6’0″ sophomore could turn out to be the best of the bunch as he is a fearless DEEP three point shooter, a competent ballhandler as a soph and as stated in an earlier post, just has a KNACK for scoring. Look for him to have a future in college basketball if he dedicates himself to improving his footspeed and strength.