The Fonde Rec Center may have more history than any gym in the city of Houston. In the city’s sixth ward, it is just outside of downtown, but has had nearly as many NBA players come through as the Toyota Center. Moses Malone really got things popping off, but the torch was carried from there. Barkley, Hakeem, and Clyde honed their craft at Fonde. Rashard Lewis, Gerald Green, and DeAndre Jordan did too. The building brought much more than the game, too. It brought a sense of community within basketball circles. In today’s day in which every elite prospect has their own personal trainer, spots like this just don’t exist anymore. This is the reason that one Fonde legend wants to keep the legacy alive.
“I thought our young kids were losing the history of basketball in Houston. U of H used to play home games at Fonde,” former #1 pick and NBA coach John Lucas explained during his history lesson. “Before vegas, we had best summer league in the country because so many pros lived here. Moses and I, then Hakeem, then Clyde. It’s always been passed on.”
He added “As basketball has grown, Fonde has become less attractive. Funds are raised to teach kids basketball and beyond now. Conflict resolution, drug awareness, life skills, and education are all some of the things besides basketball that Fonde has.”
The event brought Houston power Yates, Genesis Academy out of Virginia, Kinkaid, Victory Prep, and a host of others made the pilgrimage to Fonde for the event. Spanning two days, the event offered some inspired basketball with a live DJ spinning a ton of hot tracks. Boost Mobile, Raising Cane’s, and Take My Talent were just a few of the sponsors for a dope event that showed some of H-Town had to offer.
“We really wanted to highlight our local talent this time. We have Jarred Vanderbilt. We have never seen someone with his talent in Houston since Rashard Lewis,” Lucas said of the sophomore. “Last year, we had Myles Turner and Justise Winslow. This year, guys like Galen Robinson and Josh Hall were. This is an engagement of our community to put the spotlight on our local talent.”
And that it did. There were a number of serious prospects that we saw throughout the two day affair, and here are a few that caught our eye:
Jarred Vanderbilt, 6-8, SF/PF, Victory Prep, 2017
The player with the biggest rep of the tourney coming in definitely lived up to the hype, knocking off Houston powerhouse Yates. Drawing comparisons with Lamar Odom with his ability to play point forward, he was an absolute monster on the glass, handled the ball in the open court, and showed off his remarkable coordination with some filthy footwork. Blend in some serious vision for a player of his size and you see why he averaged 23 points, 19.5 boards, 7.5 assists, and 3 blocks over the weekend. DeAndre Ayton aside, there isn’t a better player in the class of 2017.
Jacob Young, 6-1, SG, Yates, 2016
The son of former NBA first rounder Michael Young and brother of Oregon swingman Joseph Young has some serious game himself. The lefty is a big time creator off of the bounce, using his nasty crossover to consistently create space to get his jumpshot off. Jacob still looks to be more of a shooting guard in a point guard’s body, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is one of the best scorers that H-Town has to offer.
Jacob Wiley, 6-6, SF/PF, SATCH, 2017
With big time freshman Antoine Davis out due to illness, Jacob Wiley was given the opportunity to showcase his full game and he shined. He routinely beat slower defenders off of the bounce, showed off a reliable J to mid-range, and bothered opposing guys all over the court with his length. Showing off some serious skills on the wing, there’s definitely a chance that Jacob becomes a full time swingman when it’s all said and done.
Maxwell Evans, 6-1, PG, Bellaire, 2017
A well put together lefty, Evans was one of the pleasant surprises on this trip to Houston. The scoring point guard has NBA range, great vision in the open court, and is a lot better athlete than people give him credit for. He plays the game with a swagger and a style that reminds you a little of Nick Van Exel, making him one to watch on the circuit this year.
Jaedon Ledee, 6-7, SF, Kinkaid, 2018
One of the most heralded freshman in the state of Texas, Ledee played all three perimeter positions for Kinkaid throughout this time at Fonde. He has elite size for his position, can see over the top of the defense, and can shoot it from deep. His game bears resemblance to that of Canadian Justin Jackson, making it easy to see why Ledee is one of the truly elite freshman in the state of Texas.
Boaz Williams, 6-7, PF, Victory Prep, 2015
One of the best unsigned seniors that we saw at Fonde, Boaz was exactly the type of role player that Victory Prep needed to come away undefeated on the weekend. He’s got great vision, is a really solid athlete, and offers the versatility to defend multiple positions. Playing under former Rockets players Rodney McCray and Moochie Norris, Boaz will have no shortage of suitors when the late signing period rolls around.