D.J. Stephens shown with the Texas D-1 Ambassadors, doing what he does best. Throwing it down!
Wow! How quickly things can change. The 3rd week of August D.J. Stephens of Killeen Harker Heights and the Texas D-1 Ambassadors (an unsigned senior) had still not signed scholarship papers, and school was starting in less than a week. It’s been chronicled here that the Pride of Killeen, TX signed on the 24th of August with perennial powerhouse Memphis Tigers and will play as a freshman.
Fast forward less than 2 months. I spoke to D.J. a couple of weeks ago on the phone and there was a heck of a racket in the background. I asked him where he was…”At a party?” He said, “No Coach, I am signing autographs at the football game.” A few days after that and his mom forwarded me a link with D.J. doing a solo 4 minute interview on Fox Sports. He’s growing up QUICKLY…lol
This morning I spoke with Memphis 1st year Head Coach Josh Pastner and he told me D.J. is improving daily. He’s already put on 13 lbs of muscle and is up to 183 lbs. The freakish 43″ standing vertical stands out, even amongst great athletes like the Tigers have. It was great feedback from Coach.
I finally had a chance to go watch the video from last Friday night’s Memphis Midnight Madness. There were 18,500 in attendance and the Fire Marshall turned away 1000’s more. In the dunk contest, D.J. had what most people considered the dunk of the night. He scored perfect 10’s from the judges. Now get a load of this. The 3 judges were: Penny Hardaway, Rudy Gay and Allen Iverson. In fact, his between the legs windmill dunk from the wing was so impressive that Iverson “bowed down” to Stephens. The fans went nuts.
Once you get there, click on “Launch All Access” then go to “Free Events” and then click on basketball. The ladies take up the first half of the event, with the men’s introductions starting at the 45 minute mark for those of you who want to fast forward. The dunk contest starts at approximately 1 hour 15 minute mark.
Enjoy! Coach Max
A little over 1 year ago, I decided to experiment with a “blog” and write a little bit here and there about local basketball. Quite honestly I had no idea how it would be received by the general public. I just went off a gut feeling that the Austin & San Antonio basketball community was grossly underserved when it came to RELIABLE & POSITIVE news and that the many high quality players in the area deserved a voice to get their name out Statewide and on the National scene. I wandered around Austin and San Antonio from school to school asking high school coaches if I could watch practice, evaluate players, take pictures, etc. With the exception of a few dinosaurs, I was given a warm welcome by most everyone.
Some 250 plus stories have been written over the last year and I have enjoyed every minute of it. It has been a joy seeing kids grow up before my eyes and being able to report their successes, giving them publicity along the way. Today I was honored to come to an agreement with ESPNU to handle the sharing of information to their site of all Division One basketball prospects and recruits. I will be reporting as always on which school the kids are considering attending, which college coaches are in town and who they are interested in. They’ve asked me to provide them with evaluations on new prospects as well as the more established names.
In one year, it’s come to this. Last week we had 14 of Austin area’s (along with a couple of San Antonio teams) top programs in our Inaugural Texas Super Showcase. It gave me a chance to see many of the area’s top guys as they head into the 2009-2010 school season. I interviewed several high school coaches and several of their key players. These videos will be posted soon.
Like most folks with the best of intentions, I sometimes get overwhelmed. There are plans in the works for a class by class ranking of players (both boys and girls) as well as a basketball magazine which will provide info about various high school programs in the Austin-San Antonio area. Player spotlights will be done, with every college in the country receiving a copy of this resource/media guide of the area’s big time ballers. There will also be an opportunity to allow parents to purchase an ad/shout out to their son or daughter.
Coach Max Ivany
2010 P 6’9″ Gus Leeper of Austin Westlake, shown here playing for the Texas D-1 Ambassadors has committed to play for the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.
Just got off the phone with 2010 P 6’9″ Gus Leeper of Austin Westlake. He returned from his visit at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock with a big smile on his face as he’s made his commitment to play for the Sun Belt Conference school.
The son of Mr. & Mrs. Rick Leeper of Austin, Gus already has focused academic goals and has already decided to study construction engineering. Leeper’s improvement over the last year has been dramatic. He plays for a high school coach in Tres Ellis who always has the gym open for the kids and a system where they press constantly. This necessitated Leeper to increase his agility and foot speed, or else.
Gus couldn’t run open gym with the UA-LR guys because it was the first day of practrice. However, he said he got along great with them, and Head Coach Steve Shields. He’s especially excited about working with former Arkansas Razorback and NBA player Joe Kleine who is an Assistant.
In addition to his high school coach, Leeper wanted to give credit to D-1 Ambassadors Coach Lance Carter (a big man who played D-1 at Mercer University) and my partner T.J. Garza of Speed Killz who has really improved Leeper’s conditioning, agility and helped to instill an aggressiveness and confidence in his game.
Big Gus is now focused on helping Austin Westlake win a district championship and to advance deep into the playoffs in this his senior year. Congratulations to Gus and his Family.
Coach Max & The D-1 Ambassadors
There was a nice crowd for Friday evening’s UT-San Antonio’s Annual Roadrunner Ruckus. The crowd was treated to player introductions, a video of last season’s highlights, a slam dunk contest (won by Freshman Melvin Johnson III) and a three point contest where the Lady Roadrunners trio (led by Round Rock McNeil’s “Downtown” Amber Gregg) smoked the Men. The highlight of the night though was the dance off between the two teams. The kids did a great job. What a life, to be a college student and athlete!The Lady Roadrunners celebrated their 2nd consecutive Southland Conference title last year, narrowly losing in double OT to powerhouse Baylor in the NCAA Tournament.
The Men’s team fell short in the championship game of the Southland Tourny to Stephen F Austin last spring, but according to ESPN return one of the most experienced teams in the country with 8 seniors. They’ll be led by the NCAA Steals Leader, Junior G Devin Gibson clearly the best backcourt player in the the SLC and a future pro. Even more impressive is that Gibson is on pace to graduate a year early, this coming spring with a degree in Information Systems!
Below: Men’s Head Coach Brooks Thompson strikes what might be his most relaxed pose of the year as he watches the festivities unfold.
Pflugerville Connally’s Jr G Chip Ivany, and Round Rock McNeil’s Amber Gregg pose for Texas Basketball Inc. They have been friends now since they played in the 7th grade.
The joys of a parent, enjoying their child’s productive life unfold before their eyes. Am I really that short? lol
I sat next to Mr. and Mrs Tommy (Speedy) Gregg during the Ruckus. Coach Gregg, along with Fonzell Martin runs the Austin Elite girls program. Basketball aside we are both tickled that our kids will be working on their Master’s degrees. Chip in his 5th year because of his redshirt transfer year from South Alabama, and Amber a year early becaise of accelerated summer school attendance. Great job with basketball in the community Tommy, and with raising a fine daughter!
Below: NCAA Steals Leader, Junior Guard Devin Gibson of Houston, TX and Senior P 6’10” Richie Frohlich of Germany lead the UT-San Antonio Roadrunners in what they hope will be an NCAA Tournament berth.
Today is the start of many college team’s practices. I’ll be in San Antonio at the “Roadrunner Ruckus” this evening. The Roadrunners bring back one of the most experienced teams in the country as they have 8 seniors, led by NCAA steals leader , Junior PG Devin Gibson of Houston, TX. My own son, Chip Ivany now a redshirt junior after sitting out last year due to his transfer from South Alabama is itching to make his second trip to the NCAA Tournament, this time with UT-San Antonio. As part of this evening’s festivities the men’s & ladies’ teams have a dance off. It’s a lot of fun. This year, Chip and 6’10” Richie Frohlich of Germany each have a dance solo. This could get ugly!….lol Let the college hoop season begin!
2009 WF 6’10” John Henson, formerly of Round Rock LED the North Carolina Tar Heels in their timed preseason one mile run. Look for Henson to make his mark immediately. He’s projected to go #4 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft.
2008 G 6’7″ Travis Jones of Georgetown impressed big time at the Junior College Showcase in Dallas, TX last week. My phone rang off the wall as schools called for a bigger insight into Travis’ past. After one year at Lon Morris JC (TX) Jones has grown from 6’5″-6’7″ and has really matured as a player and as a person. Big XII and SEC schools are now interested. Especially fond of him are Iowa State and Georgia. Baylor’s in the mix too, but won’t have a scholarship available until this spring, so they’re asking Travis and his mother Monica to be patient until then. Stay tuned.
2010 P Gus Leeper of Austin Westlake is on his official visit to Arkansas-Little Rock as we speak.
I received a text a couple of nights ago from 2007 C 6’10” Brandon Webster who now tips the scales at a generous 275 lbs. for the Fresno State Bulldogs. “What’s up Big Webb”, I asked. In his own inimitable way, he retorted “This conditioning’s killing me Coach”….lol If Big Webb can keep the pounds off and really take to being fit, a pro career is in the cards for the former Bryan High shotblocker.
Did you know? Texas Tech gridiron star QB Stephen Sheffield of Pflugerville Connally who threw for 491 yards and 7 TD’s last week was one of the original Texas D-1 Ambassadors in his 6th grade year, way back in 2000.
In addition to the kids who excelled and made the 1st and 2nd team All Tourny selections there were many additional standouts. Any one of these had the potential of cracking the top 12 performers in the tournament but for some reason or another they didn’t make the cut. This is not to say that some of them may not be even better prospects than others I ranked ahead of them based on last weekend’s selections. They are in no particular order, just brief evaluations and a shout out.
Below: 2011 SG Austin Birch of Austin St. Michael’s. Can shoot the ball with the best of them. Below: 2012 P 6’6″ Drew Wikelius of Austin Westlake continues to be one of the area’s most intriguing prospects. He looks like he’ll grow several more inches. He’s had two successive summers of nagging injuries, perhaps stunting his athleticism somewhat but his fundamentals and footwork are sound. Could be a dark horse role player who determines how far Westlake advances.
Below: 2011 G 6’2″ Branden Golden of Austin Reagan showed a nice mid range touch and got to the hole most any time he wanted.
2011 G 6’1″ Hagen Fell is another Austin Westlake player who befell to injuries last year. He’s a high level athlet and if he plays under control and does a good job of taking care of the ball he may be able to spell star PG Cody Doolin from time to time.
2011 G Alex Parrish of Austin Reagan is beginning to assert himself as a guy you just can’t leave open at the three point line.
2010 W 6’6″ Conner Kemper of Austin Westlake was just a hair away from the All Tourny team. He has a deadly perimeter shot and is starting to be a more aggressive inside presence on the boards. With P Gus Leeper on the frontside as a shotblocker, Kemper is more than capable of cleaning up backside rebounds along with Carl Meyertons.
2010 G 6’0″ Max Harford of New Braunfels is a tough nut. He’s solid defensively, is built like a linebacker, defends hard and does a lot of little things well. A great guy to have on your team.
Below: 2011 W Royce O’Neale of Harker Heights has a nice stroke from the outside. He’s long, and rebounds well. He’ll be in the post for a smallish Harker Heights team. That hasn’t been a problem as witnessed by last year’s HH undersized post, D.J. Stephens who landed a scholarship with the Memphis Tigers.
Below: 2011 WG Malcolm Canada of Austin Akins brings full effort, and a hard driving game every time he steps on the court. He’s physical and goes to the rim with abandon.
2011 G 6’2″ Jake Kocher of Austin St. Michael’s can score with the best of them. Aside from San Antonio Lee’s Paul Garnica he was the 2nd leading scorer at the Texas Super Showcase. He’s put on muscle and has an ever improving repertoire of ways to get to the basket and score. Now, once he puts a similar premium on defense he could be home free.
2010 G Cameron Gunther was solid for Killeen Ellison. he has developed into a leader. He’s physical, shoots the ball well, gets to the goal and rebounds his position well.
2011 F Ian Gulick of New Braunfels, a lanky player just seemed to have a knack for being in the right place on the court. Scored in bunches, one game I watched.
2010 G Dwayne Hutchinson of Harker Heights showed above average athleticism and made a couple of dazzling moves while getting to the goal.
2011 F 6’4″ Micha Rainey of harker Heights showed nice footwork, ran the floor well and showed nice moves around the basket.
2010 F Zach Karcewski of Austin Lake Travis competes hard and plays deceptively well above the rim.
2011 F Billy Sharakis of Austin Lake Travis a move in from Denmark plays a tough, and I mean TOUGH game. He’s ultra physical and makes no bones about going to the rim.
2011 W Adam Whitlock is a bouncy athlete. He has a beautiful stroke from the outside and is long enough that he can rebound the ball as well.
2011 P Nick Leasure has become a very consistent, hard worker in the low blocks. He’s not afraid to mix it up with the best of them and gets his share of points and rebounds.
2010 G Jarrell Turner of Pflugerville was just a shade away from the All Tournament selections. He can get hot from the 3 point line and bury you in a New York minute. he almost singlehandedly brought The Ville back to within two points of Westlake in the championship game before Cody Doolin righted the ship for the Chaps victory.
2011 G Deron Belford of Kerrville Tivy (a move in from Corpus Christi Calallen) added some much needed ball handling and athleticism for the Antlers. This will free up All region player Jonathan Perry this coming year by lightening the ballhandling load.
2010 P 6’6″ Tyler Kotson of Kerrville Tivy is a scrappy, physical guy. He’s going to get a lot of second effort points around the cup.
2010 P 6’7″ Taylor Finlay of Kerrville Tivy is tall and long enough to help Tivy make a deep run this coming season.
2011 G Alex Reinking of Austin High looks to follow in his two older brothers footsteps. He does many things well, including shooting, solid ball handling and a high basketball IQ.