Better and Better

by Jeremy Bauman / @JBauman13

“Every coach loves a kid who can do more than one thing,” AAU Coach Derrick Bobbitt said to 6-4 combo-guard Kelvin Amayo from Hillside, New Jersey.

Those words sunk in, and since then Kelvin Amayo’s game has gotten to this point as a response to those words.

The stocky scorer/playmaker set out to prove people wrong since he picked up a basketball in the sixth grade, after making the transition from an entirely different sport.

“I started playing basketball when I was in the 6th grade,” said Amayo. “Before that I played soccer for the Hillside Traveling Team. I used to watch my friends play [basketball] and I tried to play but at first I wasn’t so good. This guy named Victor Wells helped me a lot by taking me to the park and the gym, working on ball handling skills, and the rest my game like shooting, speed, teaching me things about the game. First it was for fun but then I got serious and Victor started taking me to the gym to work out and from there I never looked back.”

Amayo isn’t one to look back at his past. He has scholarship offers from Seton Hall, St. Johns, Colorado, Iowa State, USF, Western Kentucky, and Rutgers, but he’s still trying to push for more schools (especially elite schools) to take notice of him. He is not satisfied with just being noticed—he wants to be somebody that is sought after when the spring 2011 signing period rolls around in March.

It’s noteworthy that Amayo’s favorite player is Dwyane Wade, who was an under-recruited combo-guard coming out of high school but landed at Marquette, where he had academic struggles before launching his career into the spotlight by thrusting the Golden Eagles into the Final Four in 2003.

“He’s my favorite player because he came out of high school under the radar, turned his situation around in college, and became one of the premier NBA players today.”

Kelvin AmayoAmayo has switched schools three times during his high school career; he started off at Hillside High School his freshman year, transferred to St. Benedicts for his sophomore year “to play against better competition,” and finally landed at NIA Prep in his hometown of Newark, NJ for his junior and senior seasons.

When he got to NIA is when he began to take his game to the next level. Playing for Head Coach Rudy King and Assistant Coach Canty, and alongside Shaquille Thomas (a 2011 Cincinnati Bearcat recruit), Amayo strongly feels that NIA has helped him to transition into the player he is today, and the player that he will become at the next level.

“I think it’s going to enhance my game a lot coming from prep to college because it’s a different experience [from high school]. It should give me a chance to be an impact player right away because I’m gonna be ready for the college game mentally and physically.”

And just because the scouting services haven’t taken full notice of Amayo (periodically he’s mentioned for his potential) doesn’t mean that he isn’t worthy of being looked at as a prospect that can and will shine at the next level—his combination of power and agility on the offensive end makes him an absolute terror in the open court while his jump-shooting ability is something he is fully aware he needs work on. Defensively Amayo the power, quickness, and mind (he is a willing listener) to become an elite level defender at either guard slot in college.

“I feel that sometimes the flaws in my game over shadow the good things that I do on the court,” says Amayo. “My belief is that I should be in the upper range of the rankings because I’ve always shown up for games when put up against the better players and competition in my class.”

Amayo might be creative with the basketball in his hands on the court, but when it comes to Twitter, the dominant-but-soft-spoken guard is one of the most active basketball players under the sun.

“I just tweet what I feel that day or if I read something or somebody say something really good I like to post it on twitter and everybody who follows me always tell me they love my tweets.”

Keep tweeting, Kel. Something tells me that you’ll have a lot more followers in the future than you have now—as long as you keep working hard on your game and doing your own thing.