Milwaukee Madness: Top Seniors
A recap of the NY2LA Sports Swish ‘N Dish.
The AAU season is a seemingly neverending grind. Drive or fly a handful of hours to a spot, only to take in around 30 hours of hoops in 3 days. For the players, play up to 8 games in 3 days and then pack into a van or cramped plane to wake up in the AM for class. The pace is usually wild, the refereeing usually terrible, and the schedules are usually running at least an hour behind. Even though it has all of its faults (and believe me there are many), there isn’t a place I’d rather be on a spring weekend than in a dingy gym checking out some of the next big things.
SLAM Magazine’s own Antonio Curro got the NY2LA Sports Swish ‘N Dish in Milwaukee. He assembled some of the finest talent from the Midwest in Milwaukee, including virtually every top player from the Windy City. The event was well ran and it was good times chopping it up with some of the fellow media guys who you may have not seen on the block since the previous summer. As is the norm, a couple of guys lived up to their rep, a few didn’t, and a few straight exploded.
In between the action, we shot up to good ole’ Sheboygan, WI to check out a Wisconsin Playground Warriors practice. Playground Warriors drill sergeant Ritchie Davis had things running like clockwork and was really teaching the kids during his basically synchronized drills, all while keeping a smile on his face. We were able to take a sneak peak at guys such as UNC recruit J.P. Tokoto, Wisconsin pledge Sam Dekker, and heralded super soph Bronson Koenig. There were a number of other, gritty guys looking for low and mid-major offers that caught our eye and will make nice homes at that level. Of course, we’d like to say kudos to Ritchie for letting the SLAM fam in his gym to check out his private workout and get a sneak peak about what the Playground Warriors are all about.
Here’s a look at some of the top rising seniors that caught our eye during the Wisconsin trip:
Mitch McGary, 6-9, PF/C, SYF Players: In terms of sheer performance, there wasn’t a better player than McGary. After reclassifying to 2012 to sure up things with his books, the Indiana native has quickly become one of the hottest names in the class. You look at him and you immediately think of your typical burly, white big guy. Wrong. The Brewster Academy has no problem getting a defensive board, begin the break himself, and finish with a crazy dunk. You don’t see guys who can eat up space in the middle with those type of skills, which is why schools ranging from the up and down PAC-10 to the slower paced Big Ten are all throwing their names in the Mitch McGary lottery.
JP Tokoto, 6-6, SF, Wisconsin Playground Warriors: Yeah, it was just a practice but if you look to the video embedded on here, you’ll see what all the hype is about. As the video shows, the kid is a straight freak and there might be some money for you if you can find a more athletic player in the 2012 class. The UNC recruit is constantly polishing up his skill level too, giving us a taste of his smooth pull-up J and the potential that he has on the defensive end. Tokoto is just beginning to scratch the surface of the potential that he has and with the desire and strong family support that he receives, he’s a guy who should definitely be playing for money when it’s all said and done.
Elijah Macon, 6-9, PF, All Ohio Red: Always known as a guy who could basically do anything on the court when he wanted to, Elijah seems to realize how special of a player he can become going into his senior season. The one time West Virginia recruit used his 6-9, 230 pound frame to punish guys inside and out. When facing the cup, he showed off a smooth J with range out to the 3 point line and even put it on the deck a little. Of course, Macon had some of the sick dunks that he’s known for and that have made his name quite familiar amongst most recruiting circles as well.
Austin Arians, 6-6, SG, Wisconsin Swing: Going through lay-up lines, the Swing didn’t have anyone who really caught your eye as a dude who was going to put in work. Yet once the tip went up, Arians stole the show with his ability to shoot the rock from deep. The rising senior also showed the ability to put the ball on the deck a few times and pull up, surprising many scouts chilling in Milwaukee. With Arians size and picture perfect J, expect a number of mid-major coaches to be blowing up his phone by the end of the summer.
Sam Dekker, 6-7, SF, Wisconsin Playground Warriors: Like Tokoto, we didn’t peep Dekker in a full game but were crazy impressed from what he showed us in the practice. At nearly 6-8 (he claims he’s over 6-7.5 now), he’s a perfect fit for either forward in Wisconsin’s swing offense. Dekker can post, shoot the 3, and is a surprising athlete for a guy heading to play for Bo Ryan. Much love to Sam and his Father for being so accommodating to Ty Kish from City League Hoops and I during our time in Sheboygan as well!
Terry Rozier, 6-0, PG, All Ohio Red: A Cleveland native, I’ve been watching this dude since he popped up on Shaker Height’s varsity as a 5-5 freshman. Having grown 7 inches over the last two years and finally making the step to play on a national AAU team, the explosive point guard has quickly become a name on the recruiting trail. Rozier has no problems getting to the rim on just about everyone and can also keep you honest with his ability to shoot from beyond the arc. More of a scoring point guard, he can also slide over to the 2 in a hot second if need be. There were a few times that we thought that Terry should have got the ball inside a little more, but he was feeling it and kept putting up numbers. Akron, Kent State, and Cleveland State have already put schollys on the table and expect that list to grow once he makes his debut on the live AAU circuit this July.
Stevie Taylor, 6-8, PF, Mac Irvin Fire: No, this is not the YouTube sensation Stevie Taylor, but this Stevie Taylor has some serious game himself as well. During the high school season, he’s forced to play under the basket for Simeon. In AAU for the Mac Irvin Fire, we’re able to see him step out and show his full arsenal. The uber-athletic forward surprised many with his ability to step out beyond the arc and do damage. He looked just fine shooting the ball from beyond the arc or taking slower defenders off of the bounce to the tin.