AAU basketballTeam Cal

Team Cal Tourney Finale Mixtape

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A G1 Elite guard pushes the rock during the 2017 Team Cal Summer Finale Tourney held at John Burroughs High and Reseda High.  Image by PopScout.



Check out the Tourney Mixtape from the last day of action spotlighting a few clubs.  The summer has come to a close but it doesn’t mean you have to.  Keep working on your game as if you have none.

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Big Foot Hoops

Dapper Dandy’s

Part 1 of our look at Dapper Dandy’s that stood out this summer on the AAU circuit.


Summer has come and gone.  It was a time to showcase your skills, beginning your journey towards stardom.  Many feel the AAU circuit may be watered down with Adidas, Under Armour, and Nike all having their own summer circuit extravaganza of some sort. With many teams not able to compete against each other because of this, it’s hard to determine who truly is the cream of the crop – although Nike Peach Jam – won by the Oakland Soldiers –  gives us about as close of an indication as we are going to get.


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PopScout hung out at The Las Vegas Classic, hosted by BigFootHoops, which held a mini tournament featuring 8 of the top AAU clubs in the country called ‘The 8’.  Once the tourney was complete, teams then moved to the championship rounds of the Las Vegas Classic. We spotlight some of the Dapper Dandy’s that stood out during ‘The 8’.  California Supreme won the 17u Platinum Championship Division behind strong play of G Joshua Christopher and F Shareef O’Neal.


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Josh Christopher  – Guard
California Supreme
Class of 2020
Dapper Dandy in the making.  Scores from all levels of the court.  Intermediate ball handling skills but has the craftiness and demeanor to get to the bucket. Solid defender who looks to make plays on both ends of the court. Pogo stick who jumps out the gym and shows decent 3pt range. Needs to limit mistakes at times by not forcing the issue. Class of 2020 stud will be on everyone’s radar when its all said and done.  If the kid continues to excel and stay in the lab, sky’s the limit for this young soldier.


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Shareef O’Neal – Forward
California Supreme
Class of 2018
Arizona Verbal

Development of this young man’s game is flourishing under the tutelage of his dad and Cal Supreme.  Word on the street is that Kobe Bryant has been the lab instructor – giving Shareef knowledge beyond his years, that’s truly paying dividends on the hardwood.  Shareef has a nice tool-box set of skills.  Although he doesn’t do one thing spectacularly good, he’s well rounded and should be a monster when he hits the campus of Tucson, Arizona – after one more year of high school ball.  At 6’8 205lbs, he needs to add some muscle to his frame and fill out but that shouldn’t be an issue considering his dad is ‘The Big Diesel’.  PopScout loves, and we mean loves the upside of this kid and feels as though he’s a lock to garner NBA recognition after a year or two of collegiate ball.


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 Javonte Smart  – 6’4  Guard
Houston Hoops
Class of 2018
This young man has benefited greatly from the Wear and Tear of the AAU circuit over the past several years,  being that we first saw him balling for Elfred Payton Elite as a sophomore.  This year, he took his game to the Houston Hoops during The Las Vegas Classic and showcased advanced skills at the point.  At 6’4 (typo in the image above) he has the size, craftiness, and handles to get to the rim. While making sound decisions with the rock, he is an ultimate floor general showing the willingness to get his teammates involved.  Very good passer, lights out from 3pt range, and seems to play at a high level against tougher competition.  Concerned about players taking their skills for granted, as we noticed a few times Javonte on cruise control. Javonte will catapult himself to the league after one or two years fine tuning his skills at LSU.


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William Richardson  – 6’4  Guard
Each 1 Teach 1
Class of 2018
Point Guard U.  If you’re looking for a floor general, then look no further than William Richardson.  Garnering offers from 16 Div.1 schools, this young man seems to be born to run a squad.  Built in the mold of PG Jalen Brunson of Villanova, William possesses all the skills required to be an extension of the coach.  As we look for him to develop that killer instinct a bit more and become a cold assassin in addition to his leadership skills. He truly was one of the Dapper Dandy’s that stood out among the rest.


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Kihei Clark  – 5’10  Guard
Oakland Soldiers
Class of 2018
It’s tough being undersized against some of the better competition in the country.  At 5’10, UC Davis commit Kihei Clark has to juggle this balancing act.  He does a very good job handling the ball despite his stature – as many defenders try to push your buttons, seeing if they can ‘break the little guy’.  Playing valuable minutes for the Oakland Soldiers, (Oakland Soldiers won the 2017 Nike Peach jam Championship) his experience as a floor general  – from that experience alone –  should allow him to outperform the competition when he suits up for Taft and Coach Derrick Taylor in the Fall.   We like what we see from Kihei and look forward to his development as a senior and when he suits up for the Aggie’s of UC Davis.


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Leaving so soon?


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So the tourney is winding down and your club didn’t make it to the ‘ship.  It was a tough tournament, taking your bumps and bruises as a unit.  What’s the focal point of your participation in tournaments? Trophies?  Prestige? Swag?  PopScout is a bit concerned because many of the clubs aren’t sticking around to see the championship game after they get bounced in bracket/pool play.  Why not stick around for the ‘ship and truly take this time to be a learning moment?


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Many coaches, such as CBC Head Coach Andre Chevalier, prefer to take their bumps and bruises by playing up a division.  Although it may make for a very long tournament, at the end of the day, it may pay huge dividends for the development of players.  Image by PopScout.


We understand how difficult it is to stick around after a defeat.  Coaches giving their post game talks and parents ready to vent on their way home from the game. No one wants to stick around with such a bad taste in their mouths after a tough defeat. But what if your team stuck around and watched the next several games as a teaching tool?  Aren’t we in this for the long haul and for the benefit of the kids?  I mean, if you made it to the ‘ship, you were going to stay anyway.  What better way to gauge your play than by watching those who have made it to the big dance, put in some work?  It’s not all about playing on the court, but being a student of the game as well – this applies to players and coaches alike.  Something to consider family.



All you 12u and under young bucks, take a look at the 2017 Platinum Division Championship Game of the Las Vegas Live Tourney hosted by Big Foot Hoops.  Good way to gauge where your teams are and what you guys should focus on during year round play.

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Sending a Message


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Does it come down to wins and loses or do you have another philosophy behind your AAU program?  Image taken during the 2017 Las Vegas Live Tourney hosted by BigFootHoops.


The Summer circuit has come to a close.  Some teams have done very well, while others must head back to the drawing board – possibly to tweak or make some minor adjustments – while others must scrap their whole system and begin from scratch.  Whatever the case may be, it’s going to boil down to a very simple question for your program:

How are you approaching the game of basketball?


 

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Many clubs look for the support of parents to create a program that’s beneficial for all.  What happens when a kid has the talent but parents can’t afford the AAU grind?

 


Financial Standpoint
If it’s financially based, because if it is so, chances are you’re finding that there isn’t too much profit in the AAU circuit from the get go.  Teams have to generate income for start up costs,  practice facilities, tournament fees, uniforms, etc.  Expenses across the board – from gym time to tournament entry fees just to name a few – seem to be rising, as everyone’s getting their hands on a piece of the AAU pie.  Many team managers and presidents have spoken of just breaking even, sometimes dipping into their own savings to keep operations afloat.


 

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Many AAU programs start because dad has the best interest for his son so he decides to start a program.  Without the proper knowledge of the game, this can lead to a dead end road for your kid and your program.  Image by PopScout.

 


The Next Best Thing
Maybe you’re looking for the next big thing.  That star player that will take your program to the next level.  Chances are he/she has already been contacted by all of the top programs so, although you may have them on your squad for the time being, as soon as an opportunity arises for them to jump to a major AAU club, it’s adios amigos.  Would you blame them, consider they may have a shot at a free education and chances of pursuing their dreams of playing in the league.


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It’s great when we can give back and see the development of young players over the course of their development. 


Your passion for the game
We’ve played the game before and feel as though we could truly make a difference in the lives of youths.   Many of us have horror stories growing up, dealing with coaches who didn’t have our best interest at heart. For those of us who really care, it becomes a challenge because of the grind, associated with AAU basketball.  Practices, tournaments, conditioning, and the list goes on and on.  Those who don’t have the time and luxury of developing a grassroots program find themselves between a rock and a hard place, unable to fully handle the commitments associated with running a program that has become a full time job for most.


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 This summer there were over 2,000 teams in Las Vegas at various tournaments – all trying to stake their claim as the best of the best.


One things for sure is that the excitement and buzz of AAU basketball is at an all time high.  The stakes are big:  win that elusive college scholarship that will change the scope of your life forever, staking your claim as one of the true ballers from your hood  It’s coming down to much more than wins and loses these days on the AAU circuit.

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Las Vegas Live 2017

A chip off the old block.

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Former UNLV PG Dedan Thomas reacts to a call during the 2017 Las Vegas Live Tourney hosted by BigFootHoops.  Image by PopScout.


So you had game growing up huh?  Developed your skills and catapulted yourself to D1 status.  You made a name for yourself – whether it be overseas, NBA, or just the Drew league.  It all came down to putting in hard work, your passion for the game, and sometimes just someone who was willing to believe in your abilities and take a chance on your game.  You’ve done your part.  But will that translate in your kids being able to follow that same path?


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DJ runs the point for West Coast Basketball’s 12u AAU Club.  He has the luxury of learning from his dad, Dedan Sr., who’s the head coach.  Image by PopScout.


Isn’t it sweet when the cake has already been mixed?  Ingredients added, pans buttered, and oven heated.  All you basically have to do is put the pans in the oven and watch it rise. Kids whose dads have played on a high level, have the luxury of having their cake and eating it too.  Being afforded the knowledge and experience handed down from pops.


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Finding the right mentor in the game of basketball, at an early age, can be a lonely road.  It’s cool that some kids have dads showing them the ropes.


It was a blessing to see young DJ putting in work, taking the reins from his dad during the 2017 Las Vegas Live Tourney hosted by BigFootHoops.  In terms of parenting, it sometimes comes down to having an open relationship with your son (or daughter) and developing the communication lines that will enable the two of you to accept and trust each other.  It’s a slippery slope these days, dealing with kids and just how touchy it can be, when trying to give advice.  It’s safe to say that DJ has been listening to his dad and shows the ability to translate that into court success. Priceless you feel me.



Take a look at a few clips of Dedan ‘DJ’ Thomas during the 2017 Las Vegas Live Tourney hosted by BigFootHoops.  The kid has some swag.  We wish him the best of luck as he continues to develop his game.  With the help of pops, sky’s the limit.


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Chelsey Gipson: PopScout 2017 City Section Player of the Year


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2017 Senior Guard Chelsey Gipson gets a high five from fans during the 2016 Palisades Beach Invitational Tourney.  Image by PopScout.


Chelsey Gipson is PopScout’s  2017 City Section Player of the Year.  This young lady – time and time again – showed why she was selected the MVP of the Western League by CIF voters, leading her team to a 25-10 record.  She scores from all three levels of the court and was able to play at a high efficiency, even though he was asked most of the time to play a full 32 minutes.Chelsey also gained valuable experience at the 2G position, while allow her teammates to get experience running the Point.  Showing the ability and humbleness to defer to her teammates, will only help her development when running the PG for LMU next season.  The ESPN 4 Star, 95 Grade player was a joy to watch.  O yeah, did we mention her demeanor off the court?  Never walking around with her chest stuck out – staying humble among all the praise and accolades.  A super high character young lady indeed.



Take a look at some clips of Chelsey against Valencia during the 2017 Mater Dei Matt Denning Hoop Classic.  She shows why she deserves all the praise. She’ll be an instant impact player for the Lions next season.  God Bless you young lady and thanks for your commitment to the game we all love.  We wish you the best of luck  – not only on the hardwood floor – but in life general.


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2016-17 StudMuffins


PopScout was very impressed with the amount of talent this year on the Girls Cali’ BBall Hoop Circuit.  PopScout was out and about… filming games, taking pics, and evaluating the play of these young ‘soldierettes’.  We’ll be taking a closer look at many Stud Muffins that stood out in the weeks to come, so that players, coaches, and perspective scouts, can have an idea of what’s on the burner in Southern California – just in case you’re out of the loop.   One thing for sure is that you don’t (rarely) see character issues from the girls.  They tend to be focused, locked in, and willing to do what it takes to catapult their team to victory.  No coaching headaches for the coaching staff you feel me.



Take a look at a slideshow of some ballers who stood out at tourneys and league play from the 2016-17 season.  Make sure you young ladies get back in the lab real soon and continue to perfect your craft.  Stay thirsty my friends.


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Girls basketball

Troy’s Kianna Smith to represent West at 2017 McDonald’s All American Game


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Class of 2017 6’0 Senior Guard Kianna Smith looks to drop a dime during the Championship game of the 2016 Gahr Christmas Tourney against Palisades.  Image by PopScout. 


Cal commit Kianna Smith along with Long Beach Poly Center Ayanna Clark (USC), Bishop’s School Guard Destiny Littleton (USC), and Manteca 6’3 C Loretta Kakala (Louisville), will represent the West in this years 2017 McDonald All American Game.  The game will be played March 29 (5 p.m. ET, ESPN2) at the United Center in Chicago.  What stood out the most about Kianna is the fact that she’s got a basketball IQ that’s off the charts, plays the game on both ends of the court with intensity, passion, and a nice feel for the game. She has that uncanny ability to make players around her better – which is a skillset coaches just can’t teach you feel me.


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This young lady will fit in nicely in Cal’s rotation and be a standout player for the next 4 years. She grabs and goes – showing the ability to rebound and push the rock to start the fast break, has a nice mid-range game with the ability to step out to 3pt. land, and finishes strong the rim with poise and athleticism.  A true joy to watch this year.   ESPN has her a 5 star, 98 Grade recruit.  Yes sir!  PopScout won’t be surprised if she advances to the next level and tests her skills against the best of the best in the WNBA.  A lofty goal but PopScout feels that sky’s the limit for Kianna.  Thanks for playing the game the right way young lady.  We look forward to you having a great collegiate career.


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Girls basketball

HS Girls Hoops: Fairfax wins Legacy Tourney


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Look for Fairfax to be one of the favorites to win a City Section Title.  The Lady Lions are becoming battle tested indeed.


Coaching the right way.  Is there a formula for success these days?  Getting your players motivated to play the game of basketball is a challenge for any coach who’s ever picked up a clipboard.  Nowadays, with so much pressure on coaches to win – at any level from the YMCA, park league, AAU, to the NBA/WNBA, pressure – and stress –  is at an all time high.  How does one keep his/her cool amidst the storm?


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Coach Thomas does a tremendous job of keeping his cool and allowing his players to play through their mistakes.  Then does his teaching and scolding behind closed doors…during timeouts and in the locker room.  What you would label a players coach indeed.


We love what we see out of Head Coach Corry Thomas, and several other coaches out there on the Cali’ Hoops Girls BBall Circuit.  Coach Thomas has a different approach:  believe in his girls, let them play through their mistakes and not be quick to pull the trigger, as well as not screaming at them when they make miscues out there on the court. He then does his teaching during timeouts and in the locker room. Taking the bitter with the sweet you feel me.


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The guards for the Lady Lions are skilled and crafty. Look for them to continue to develop their togetherness and round out into good playoff form. Image by PopScout.


This was evident when Fairfax lost a very tough game against a powerhouse Windward team, only to bounce back and win the Legacy tournament the next day, beating Legacy by a score of 66-57. BTW… the team took off from the Legacy tourney to play Windward, eventually competing in 5 games in 5 days – with a team that had only been together for a few games.  We don’t like to make excuses  but Good Lord…5 games in 5 days!  They were also able to avenge a previous loss by getting the W over Redondo Union during the Legacy tourney.  We all know how hard it is for NBA teams to win back to back games, let alone 5 games in 5 days.  The Lady Lions went 4-1.  You might want to put an asterisk by this W Windward, knowing now that Fairfax competed in back to back to back games before giving you a run for your money.


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Sr. Guard Fatou Semebene shows true skillsets. She rebounds, blocks shots, pushes the rock, and stops and pops. Being a lefty, her game is naturally smooth as a baby’s booty.  She’s what we refer to as a ‘stocking stuffer’. Filling up the stat sheets you feel me.


Character counts and in the long run, Coach Thomas of Fairfax will be blessed by the basketball Gods for showing patience, staying true to his girls, and developing players who know what to expect from their coach on game day.  So many times you never know what to expect from your coach on game day. It’s like a Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde type of relationship.  Nice to see some coaches who don’t let the stress of the game change who they are as a person, come tip-off time.



Take a look at some highlights of Fairfax as they take on Windward January 5, 2017 during a close and very competitive game. We spotlight Super Senior Fatou Semebene.The lefty has game, going to work on players at will. She pulls the bow and arrow as well as runs the PG position with size.  Scouts will have to have this young lady on the radar when it’s all said and done. Fairfax plays Uni. tonight at 7pm (Jan 11, 2017).  Look out city section ’cause the Lions are for real.  The Lady Lions will get a test this weekend when they go up against Bishop Montgomery 6pm, Jan. 14 at the West LA Showcase (PopScout will be on hand providing media coverage for the tourney) and then travel to Serra High in Gardena Jan. 16 to take on Brea Olinda at 6:25pm.  We know the Fairfax boys team get much props, and deservedly so, but come out and support your Lady Lions as well.  Get some rest young ladies.


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Girls basketball

Senior Spotlight: Kayla Konrad


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Class of 2017 Sr. Kayla Konrad – seen here getting off a pass against Alemany – is the ultimate teammate.  She will play her collegiate ball at UC Davis.  Image taken during the 2016 Palisades Beach Invitational Tourney.  Image by PopScout.


The Valencia Vikings (12-4) take on Palisades (12-5) today (01/07/2017) at 130pm during the Matt Denning Hoops Classic at Mater Dei.  UC Davis commit Kayla Konrad will try to lead her team to victory and cement herself as a candidate for player of the year.  This young lady has learned to play the game the right way and is the ultimate baller on her team, currently ranked #26 in the State by MaxPreps.. Her motor is always going – Premium Unleaded indeed. She runs the court and moves without the ball better than anyone in the Southern Section.  Passes extremely well and does the dirty work for her team – willing to go after loose balls and rebound with authority.  The lefty is as crafty as they come.  She’ll make an immediate impact on the campus of UC Davis.  Whoever taught this young stud-muffin how to play the game of basketball, we want to say thank you, thank you, thank you.  She’s a joy to watch, showing us a passion and feel for the game that the basketball Gods are sure to reward her, every time she steps on the court. They have no choice. There’s one word that sums up her game:  Special.



Take a look at some footage of Valencia vs Alemany during the 2016 Palisades Beach Invitational Tourney.  Valencia beats Alemany at the buzzer.  Guess who got off the shot in time to win the game for her club?  Like we said, the basketball Gods have no choice but to bless Kayla whenever she steps on the court.


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