Under Armour Basketball Combine in NYC
Who said UA Combines were just a football thing?
by Franklyn Calle
After dominating the football combine sector for years, Under Armour launched its high school basketball version this month. Following the program’s tip-off in Los Angeles two weeks ago, UA’s Combine360 system made a stop in the Big Apple this past Sunday, attracting some of the best talent in the Northeast. This invitational-only event, the only one of it’s kind, was held at the Chelsea Piers Sports Complex in Manhattan. Players were chosen by coaches from Under Armour-sponsored high school programs. Each program was allowed to bring in five players into the combine.
Among some of the talent on the scene were Ricardo Ledo, a 6-5 junior from South Kent (CT) Prep, considered one of the best in his class. Baltimore (MD) St. Frances’, Philadelphia (PA) Roman Catholic’s Shepard Garner, Langhorne (PA) Neshaminy’s Ryan Arcidiacono, and West Hartford (CT) Northwest Catholic’s Kuran Iverson were also in attendance.
The combine creates a grades each prospect on their athletic performances. The highest score a player can get is a 360. The combine is divided into seven section, each serving their own unique purpose. Since the players have to go online and fill out a questionnaire as part of the final section of the combine, final scores were not available.
The first section of the combine tested foundational athleticism. It measures athletes on nine different constituents, ranging from strength, speed, flexibility, power and endurance. The workouts included broad jumping (jumping forward), vertical jumping (jumping upwards), and medicine ball seated throw for power, 10- and 20-yard sprints for acceleration and speed, a 5-10-5 run for agility, a grip test for strength, a sit and reach for flexibility and a 300-yard shuttle for conditioning. The foundational athleticism element is worth up to 120 points.
The second component was the integrated movement drills, worth up to 40 points. It’s purpose was to measure how well athlete’s nervous systems interacted with muscles and movement in order to create the adequate balance and posture. This three-drill element consisted of a pressing squat exercise that examined the bodies movement patterns and mobility, a push-up opposite which identified postural strengths and cross body firing patterns, and a single leg T-Balance drill for overall body balance.
Next came the basketball movement facet of the combine. It basically allowed athletes to take in drills that would contribute to the improvement and development of their basketball skills. They did some vertical jumping, some sideline to sideline running that tested their conditioning, and also put their lane agility to test. The highest possible score for this session was also 40.
The fourth part of the workout was a 40-point max visual ability segment. It’s near/far accommodation drill showcased an athlete’s ability to switch focus, helping to improve their reactions and hand-eye coordination. A vertical saccadic movement drill demonstrated how effectively these prospects were with swift up and down eye movement through the readings of letters. The same drill was practiced for horizontal saccadic movements.
The last three sections of the combine concentrated on off-the-court proceedings, where such things as mentality, nutrition and communication skills came into play, all worth 40 points each. The mentality portion focused on matters such as attitude, coachability, confidence, effort and composure, among many others. The communications sector touched on things like conversation, body language, and humor, while the nutrition questionnaire focuses on dairy intake and nutrition awareness.
Breaden Anderson (right), a highly touted prospect out of Canada who now plays for Plantation (FL) American Heritage proved to be one of the best pure athletes in the building, finishing first in a variety of tests including setting the record for the highest vertical jump with 32 inches. Julian Debose, a 6-3 guard from St. John’s College HS in DC, came in second with 31 inches of vertical jumping ability. Anderson also led the way in broad jumping with a splendid mark of 10 feet, 3 inches. Bishop O’Conell’s Will Furgeson of Herdon, VA, finished second by jumping forward nine feet.
In the 20 yard run, Anderson once again led the pack with a finish time of 2.69 seconds. Three others came in tied for second with a time of 35 seconds. In the 300-yard run, Anderson shared the best time record with Furgeson, as both ran it in 52 seconds. Andrej Pajovic, a former teammate of Anderson’s teammate at Wilbraham (MA) Wilbraham & Monson, finished with the second best time after running the 200 yard run in 53 seconds. In the 5-10-5 shuttle, another Wilbraham & Monson player, Jules Tavares, had the day’s top mark with 4.3 seconds.
The event, which also featured a speech from former prep/Duke star Jay Williams, received rave reviews in scouting circles, with DraftExpress Tweeting at one point Sunday, “The NBA needs to look at some of the things Under Armor is doing and start thinking about replacing their severely outdated combine drills.”
Look for the the event to continue expanding as it explores new cities and probably even broaden its system. Definitely something fun to watch develop over the next few years.