2010 7’0″ Stuart Lagerson of Converse Judson has a ways to go, but you cannot teach height ultimately making the big fella a D-1 prospect that we’ll watch closely. Runs the floor well, and will improve as his body fills out.
The Texas D-1 Ambassadors flagship team journeyed to Houston to play in the RCS Sports Ice Breaker this past weekend. Houston recruiting guru Jimmy Hicks hosted this high quality event which annually attracts a great deal of the top college level talent in the State of Texas & beyond.
From left to right: Tre Drye, R. J. McGhee, Mark Nwakamma, Jonathan Perry, D.J. Stephens, Paul Garnica, Daniel Alexander, Cody Doolin, Conner Kemper, Jake Kocher, Brian Williams & Trey Demps. The Texas D-1 Ambassadors went 5-1 on their 1st trip of the season. Here’s a recap.
Saturday Game 1 Texas D-1 Ambassadors 91 Houston Hoops 90 (OT)
The Hoops are regularly amongst the Top 10 teams in the country featuring the #1 player in the Class of 2012, (former Texas Ambassador) J. Mychal Reese and one of the country’s top post players in 2010 Toby Oyedeji and high flyer Brandon “Snap” Peters. The D-1 Ambassadors are no slouches though with #29 on Rivals, 2010 Daniel Alexander, dunking machine D.J. Stephens & 2010 Louisiana Mr. Basketball, Brian Williams. (Who was back in Louisiana at a luncheon picking up his award).
This is one of the most exciting games I’ve ever coached in. The Ambassadors came out hitting everything they shot. At the half they led by 23. A class organization like the Hoops will never quit though, and they pressed their way to a 6 point lead with about 3 minutes to play in the game. The standing room only crowd was thrilled by dunk after dunk by Peters and Stephens who sports a 42″ standing vertical leap.
Ambassadors PG 2010 Cody Doolin, who is no stranger to winning big games in the City of Houston (he led the Ambassadors to back to back Kingwood Classic Championships) hit a huge 30 foot shot at the buzzer to force the game into overtime.
The Ambassadors had a balanced scoring attack as sharp shooting R.J. McGhee of Baton Rouge Istrouma had 19, Daniel Alexander had 16, D.J. Stephens had 15 and Cody Doolin had 12.
Game 2 Saturday Texas D-1 Ambassadors 57 Rashad Lewis SE Texas Elite 56
After trailing most of the game the Ambassadors scored with 15 seconds on the clock in a nice comeback. SE Texas’ top prospect G DeCarlos Frank almost singlehandedly put the Ambassadors away in the 1st half by hitting numerous three pointers from another zip code. Doolin had 11, Alexander had 10, rugged 2010 W Conner Kemper had 8 and 2011 Jake Kocher had 7.
Game 3 Saturday Houston Select Swoosh 81 Texas D-1 Ambassadors 69
Playing their 3rd game of the day, the quickness of the Select guards; 2011 Texas A&M commit Jamaal Branch and 2010 Jamal Outler who shot lights out was too much for D-1 to handle. Select led most of the game, although the Ambassadors tied it with several runs, the last time at 63-63 before Select went on the late run to salt it away.
Cody Doolin led with 18 points while 2010 WG Brian Williams showed why LSU & Oklahoma State have already offered him as he dropped 12 points along with 10 boards from the Wing.
Game 4 Sunday Texas D-1 Ambassadors 69 Houston All 4 Sports 32
With too much depth for All 4 Sports to contend witha total team effort. No Ambassador was in double figures as we went deep into our bench getting a great contribution from all the players.
Game 5 Sunday Texas D-1 Ambassadors 65 Houston Superstars 54
As is our trademark, we just wore the Superstars out. Trailing early 9-0 and at the half by 10, there was a 20 point swing in the 2nd half. We pounded the boards with 2011 Tre Drye nabbing 10 rebounds while Daniel Alexander had 10 points and 10 rebounds of his own. 2011 G Trey Demps also added 9 points.
Game 6 Sunday Texas D-1 Ambassadors 74 Houston Clippers 69
Six games in two days against a team only playing it’s 3rd required the Ambassadors to play through fatigue coming back from 6 down late in the game and winning going away. R.J. McGhee fired 28 points for the Ambassadors.
The Ambassadors will make a rare Austin appearance on March 28-29th as they play in the Longhorn Classic being held at Austin Akins High School.
This is the time of year when every basketball fan, novice or fanatic comes out of the closet to get involved in March Madness. We’ve already seen some very exciting games in yesterday’s 1st round. It seemed timely to me that I write this article as it is also the time of year which bridges the gap between the recently finished high school season and the open of the Club Basketball Season. As most of my audience are families that dream of playing college basketball it seemed like perfect timing to recount our story.
Firstly, I’d like to thank all the high school and college coaches that I’ve been blessed to get to know over the years. Contrary to what many people believe there does not have to be a lack of respect between the high school coach and the club coach. (If there is, that’s a very good sign that your child is not in a reputable club program.) We should be working together to help kids get the best opportunities in life as well as in the game of basketball.
A QUALITY high school coach is responsible for training a player during the majority of the school year. He has access to gym time, and is likely acquainted intimately with the player’s academic situation. There is nothing like the pride of representing your school and being “big man/woman on campus”.
On the other hand a QUALITY club program should be well organized, have a code of discipline for it’s players and ensure that the kids have an opportunity for EXPOSURE to recruiting services and college coaches during their “second season”.
When the club and the school coach have a mutual respect for each other’s role it helps the player and family maximize the opportunity to live out the dream of playing at the collegiate level and ideally to subsidize/pay for the player’s education.
(Below; From left to right circa 2003 is Pflugerville’s Bryan Beasley (Rice University), a young Chris Paul then at Wake Forest, and Pflugerville Connally’s Chip Ivany (UT-San Antonio)
It’s hard to believe almost 7 years have gone by since Chip & Bryan were at Five Star Camp in Pittsburgh and I had the chance to coach Chris, and guys like current Kentucky star Jodie Meeks. The boys were sophomores in HS and the recruiting process had not hit them yet. The kids were two years away from what would be my first graduating class of players with the Texas D-1 Ambassadors. Quite honestly, I didn’t know if they were good enough to get the chance to play in college.
Turns out that they were, but I’d like to share my observations along with our family’s odyssey (hopefully for your enjoyment) but also a sense of reality as to how tough and competitive it really is as you and your child chase your hoop dreams.
In the fall of 2006, after completing a high school varsity career where he scored over 1200 points my son did not have a D-1 offer. His ego was bruised and like most kids out of high school the question was, “What now?” The answer was Junior College. On the recommendation of a good D-1 coaching friend of mine Chip landed a scholarship at Hill Junior College (TX). There are typically two types of kids who go the JuCo route. The first, are boys like mine, who have no academic issues but are simply not ready physically for D-1 (About 20% of the kids) The 2nd are guys who have either/or grade or personal character flaw issues. JuCo is their last hope, to reinvent themselves as model citizens and to get their academics in order. (80%)
If you think it’s the best players who are playing in college and even the pros, you are sadly mistaken. I have personally seen kids with more talent in their little finger never play past high school because they could not be accountable for their actions, keep their grades in order and be people of character. College basketball is a BUSINESS. Coaches feed their families based upon the perfomrance of players. They do not need extra headaches or someone who will embarass them and cost them their jobs.
After a year at Hill JuCo, Chip was ready for the D-1 route. As an academic qualifier out of high school he did not have to spend 2 years at the JuCo as the academic casualties do. As a family, we narrowed down his options to 5 schools and hit the road to visit the campuses. UT-Arlington, UT-San Antonio, University of New Orleans, South Alabama, and the University of Florida.
Needless to say the possibility of walking on at Florida to play for Coach Billy Donovan was incredible. (The thought of me paying out of state tuition was not real appealing though..lol) The facilities were top notch, and while we were there Chip worked out with several of the Gators who were selected in the NBA Draft a couple of days later. PROBLEM: Even though my son was a GOOD student, he was not a GREAT student. I was shocked to find that Florida’s admission standards were incredibly competitive and that he was on the cusp of being admitted. If he had ONLY worked harder in high school to raise his GPA to 3.5 instead of 3.3. A door closed for my son that day and he was heartbroken.
However, God has a plan. He ended up at South Alabama. They had an incredible season going 26-7 and receiving an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Chip got to play in 13 games but most of his contribution was behind the scenes as he studied the opposing team’s offensive sets for 2 hours the day before playing each opponent & then had the responsibility to run it in practice so the team mates who were starters were as fully prepared as possible when they faced the opponent the following day. Make no mistake about it, college athletics are a 25 hour per week J-O-B. Is this really what you want to do?
Below: Top left: Chip Ivany #42 South Alabama, Top Right: South Alabama live on CBS as they receive word of their at large bid to the 2008 NCAA Tourny. The kids go crazy and start texting. Bottom Right: Chip with the Texas D-1 Ambassadors in Las Vegas
I got in my car and drove 800 miles to the NCAA Regional in Birmingham, AL. It was an exciting game for almost all of the 1st half and then Butler University proceeded to knock down 16 three pointers and after 8 months of hard work, the South Alabama kids dreams died and the Butler kids dream lived on. As a father, I cried with my son when it was over.
Below: (Excuse the poor picture.) Chip’s Sunbelt Champions & NCAA ring. A momento for a lifetime.
From August 11th to May 5th my son could not get home. The schedule simply didn’t allow for it. Even the token break at Christmas time lasted just 30 hours before they began practice again on Christmas Day at 7PM. Back to work on Christmas Day!
After the year ended he and I sat down and he said he wanted to come closer to home. The coaches at South Alabama treated my son like family. We will forever be indebted to Coach Ronnie Arrow. My son still talks on the phone a couple of times a week with him & the USA staff. Chip is now completing his redshirt season at UT-San Antonio. The dreams of a 2nd straight NCAA Tournament appearance died last Sunday when UTSA lost the Southland Conference Championship Game to Stephen. F. Austin. Once again, one kids dream die, another’s live on.
Chip will make his final resting place at UTSA. He’ll finish his degree on time and be working on his Master’s degree in his 5th and final year. His goal has become refined, to be a college coach. He’ll be a graduate assistant at a D-1 school shortly thereafter. He already has promises from several prominent coaches to become part of their staff. Is this how his dream was envisioned when he dropped 27 points v Boerne while leading Pflugerville Connally to the Texas UIL Regional Final? Doubtful. But that’s the twists and turns this game can bring for you. Do you make lemonade out of lemons, and learn to redefine your goals?
In wrapping it up, I wish all the kids who aspire to be a college basketball player the very best. Understand that you’ll be faced with a mountain of hard work. Basketball as you know it will never be the same. It will be a job. Adversity will face you. Maybe you’ll be homesick, maybe you’ll have grade issues, or perhaps the coach who recruited you gets fired and the new staff barely acknowledges that you exist. Are you ready for that?
I hope you’ve enjoyed one family’s insight into the college basketball world. Best of luck as you follow your hoop dreams. If I can be of assistance to any of you, do not hesitate to contact me.
Texas Basketball Inc.’s March Madness Tournament saw some great varsity action with the Texas D-1 Ambassadors Girls running through the competition to go undefeated.
On the boys side in the varsity division, the Texas D-1 Ambassadors won all three of their scrimmages handily; having played D-1 Ambassadors Carter, Houston Franchize All Stars & D-1 Ambassadors DFW.
The Girls 7/8th grade was won by the San Antonio Comets as they beat the San Antonio Storm in the championship game.
Houston Yates 94 Dallas Kimball 78
As forecasted Yates was too quick and too deep for anyone to give them a game. In fact, their only loss this season was to a talented Alief Elsik team coached by veteran Tim Martin.
My, how time flies by as Joe Young led Yates to their State 4A Championship by dropping 29 points tonight on Kimball. Seems like just yesterday that his father, Michael Young was rattling dunks for the famous Phi Slamma Jamma fraternity at the University of Houston.
Congratulations to Coach Greg Wise on his long awaited championship. Yates plays at a breakneck speed, but not with reckless abandon. Their timing and spacing on their relentless pressing and trapping game are a thing of beauty. Have you ever heard of a team causing 40 turnovers in agame, as the Lions did in the Semifinals v. Mansfield Timberview? Simply amazing!
Desoto 48 Houston Strake Jesuit 44
Strake Jesuit’s undefeated season went up in smoke at the hands of a great Desoto surge in the last minute and a half. Desoto finished the game on a 10-0 run, holding Jesuit scoreless in the last two minutes.
Rico Dandridge was clutch down the stretch with a big three pointer, steal and rebound. Strake had control with a little over the minute to play in the game. Let’s see; possession, score, clock and foul count are all in your favor. The fly in the ointment is instead of holding the ball, and forcing Desoto to foul Penn State bound Tim Frazier decided to drive the lane and throw up a leaing floater. No good. Desoto hit a subsequent three and an additional basket…Game over the other way. Great job by Desoto as they maintained thier composure while down to get the win.
Cedar Hill 61 Converse Wagner 58
The Coach’s son, Tanner Mislon hit a wide open three ball from the corner as the clock wound down to less than three seconds to propel Cedar Hill to an exciting semifinal win over Wagner.
Perimeter shooting was brutal for both teams, but especially for Wagner as they went 5-23 from beyond the arc. However, Wagner’s relentless pace and hustle on the boards where they outrebounded Cedar Hill kept them in the game. Cedar Hill had a 6 point lead with a shade over 2 minutes left in the game but Wagner came fighting back hitting two rare three pointers and a layup to draw even with 12 seconds to play.
2010 W Jordan Clarkson led Wagner with 19 points and 2010 W 6’6″ Andre Roberson battled on the boards all night long. Overall Cedar Hill was the more physical team with man child 2011 Thomas Gibson a load underneath all night long. 6’0″ G and linebacker Jordan Jones drew the defensive matchup on the Big Fella and let me tell you, they’ll both be bruised and battered tomorrow. Shawn Glover was clearly the best player on the floor as he showed a very nice mid range game, he blocked shots and had 19 points for CH.
The 2009 F 6’6″ Glover had offers from Oklahoma State & Marquette among others but has opted to take his game out West. He signed with the Utah Utes and should be a good one.
In Lousiana, Slidell Salmen won their first State 4A title by beating Bossier 61-46
I didn’t have any pics of the Yates personnel to spice up the story, so I included the pic below of Nic Wise (left) & Chip Ivany (right) as they both worked the Arizona Elite Camp last summer.
Nic Wise is of course, the son of Yates Coach Greg Wise. The younger Wise is a Junior starting at the point for the Wildcats and has one State Championship under his belt with Humble Kingwood. Pops Greg Wise looks to be barrelling towards his 1st State Championship at Houston Yates. Wise previously lost at State while coaching Fort Bend Hightower.
Young Sophomore (15) 2011 6’7″ Trevante Drye will be a key tonight as Baton Rouge Glen Oaks attempts to move on to the Louisiana Stae Championship Game v speedy Bossier High. The Final Four is being played in Lafayette at The Cajun Dome.4A
LBJ 2010 G 6’2″ Donald Dallas will lead the Jaguars into the Erwin Center on Thursday in an attempt to bring the hardware of a State Champinship home to Austin.We finished up the predictions leading to the Texas State Championships in the Drum by picking only one of four participants in the 4A, but made a clean sweep in 5A including Duncanville going down to Cedar Hill on a buzzer beater.
We’re getting down to the nitty gritty in both Texas & Louisiana High School Playoffs. Pretenders are by the wayside, while in some cases longshots like San Antonio Southwest are becoming contenders.
In Texas, the Boys 4A & 5A Regional Finals are today.
Lake Travis over LBJ
Lancaster over Kimball
Yates over Jones
Amarillo Palo Duro over Mansfield
San Antonio Wagner over San Antonio Southwest
Cedar Hill over Duncanville
Desoto over Mesquite
Strake Jesuit over Chavez
Girls 5A Texas State Final
Aldine Nimitz over Mansfield Summit
****6’8″ Britteny Griner scored a State Single game record 44 and 18 rebounds last night as Nimitz blasted Pflugerville in the Girls 5A Semis.
Louisiana starts their Final 4 at the Cajun Dome in Lafayette next Thursday.