The travel season is finally upon us and competition has begun to heat up; the who’s who of shoe-circuit teams are beginning to separate themselves from the pack while many of the top non-shoe-circuit programs have been at our events and playing in front of dozens of college coaches. Team Winston, Team Trezz, Juice All-Stars, New Light Disciples, the Greensboro Warriors, and numerous others have become must-see entertainment this summer. Over the next week, we will take a deeper dive into the cornerstones of each program and look at what makes these teams worth the watch.
Today, we will highlight the New Light Disciples, one of the most tenacious, underrated, and well-rounded programs in the state. They do an impeccable job of locating talent within the Greensboro-High Point area and making it into a cohesive group. Few teams are able to match their downright resiliency and unwavering intensity, which is a big part of what makes this organization special. Take someone like Jay’den Turner, a guy who starred for them last summer, flew under the radar, and now looks likely to be a major building block for Queens University. This team is simply brimming with guys like that, who could easily become difference-makers going forward. They have an abundance of talent with prospects ranging from DI to DIII and the necessary coaching to properly unleash their abilities.
Many of these guys were on last year’s team, but 5’11 ’21 Jamarii Thomas remains the most exciting and productive player on the roster. He’s an extremely smart, quick-witted guard that embodies toughness, leadership, and unselfishness at all times. Thomas is a high-level athlete with a noteworthy amount of skill, which allows him to go toe-to-toe and hold his own against any point guard in the state. He scores the ball efficiently on all three levels, but touches the paint at will and typically looks to attack the basket whenever possible. Thomas is a great playmaker and an intense defender that should look even more appealing as the summer carries onward.
Meanwhile, 6’4 ’20 Trent McIntyre serves as their other main ball-handler and is capable of alternating roles in an instant. There are various other prospects that garner more attention but, in many ways, McIntyre is the heart and soul of this team. He approaches the game with unselfishness, intelligence, and understands how to play the right way on both sides of the ball. McIntyre is a true team-first guy that will sacrifice his offensive touches for the betterment of his team. He scores the ball well from all levels, but doesn’t necessarily always look to score, as he has the cutting and playmaking skills to make his presence felt in other ways. McIntyre is also a quality defender that could help a variety of different programs at the next level.
The main wing/forward threat on this team is almost certainly 6’5 ’20 Joseph Staton-Ray, who possesses a very useful blend of tools. He’s a long, wiry shot-creator with poise and efficient scoring prowess. Staton-Ray has a quality handle and understands how to effortlessly create scoring opportunities for himself or others. He does a nice job of making smart, conservative decisions with the ball in his hands, but won’t hesitate to seize easy chances in transition. Staton-Ray rebounds the ball at a quality rate and has solid versatility on both ends of the floor, given his ability to switch between three positions defensively while showcasing the full arsenal on offense.
It would be difficult to find a better duo of complementary big men than 6’10 ’20 Kuluel Mading and 6’7 ’20 Tyler Young. Beginning with Mading, one of the longest, thinnest, most uniquely built and skilled prospects to walk through our doors. He’s so fluid and moves incredibly well for his size, able to protect the rim, attack closeouts, and recover in a timely manner. Mading does a lot of useful things defensively, but his rebounding stands out as his most translatable skill right now. One might not assume that he’s a polished rebounder, but upon watching his consistent timing and positioning, it becomes clear. Mading shoots the ball nicely from the perimeter and is capable of working the two-man game quite effectively. He possesses athleticism and touch with either hand around the basket, but also looks guaranteed to continue his development into a two-way stud.
On the other hand, Young is about as unstoppable as they come on the low-block, given his tremendous size, polish, and unmistakable productivity. He is so impressive at clearing out space and forcing opponents out of his area, which typically allows him to be the best rebounder on the floor. If Young establishes position on the block and then receives the ball, defenders would be better served just simply getting out of the way—as he’s going to score. He passes extremely well out of the post and displays consistently strong IQ when slotted near the basket. Young is a useful defender that runs the floor well in transition. Expect him to be a very enticing prospect for scholarship-holding coaches going forward.
Depth is a very overlooked part of this team and their terrific year-to-year success, but this year’s team could be as deep as any team in recent memory. 5’11 ’20 Jordan Jones is a quick, slashing guard prospect with quality vision and the ability to attack the basket. He’s also capable of scrappy contributions on defense and rebounds the ball nicely for his size. 6’2 ’20 Traevon Guinyard is a long-bodied wing that can score effectively from inside the arc offensively while forcing on-ball turnovers on defense. Both of these guys understand how to maximize their touches while operating within their role on either end of the floor.
The amount of size this team has is simply ridiculous. We’ve already looked at two of them, but they readily are stocked with four more capable prospects. 6’8 ’20 Emmanuel Jatto is the tallest and arguably most athletic guy from this group of bigs. He is a useful rim-running post prospect that utilizes his length well to alter shots and finish above the rim. 6’4 ’21 Zion Crutchfield has an intriguing blend of inside-out skills and is among the youngest players on this roster. He possesses clear long-term upside and could become a matchup problem if he continues to develop. 6’7 ’20 Davis Blackwell has sneaky bounce and plays with terrific two-way energy at all times. He has a useful, developing offensive skillset and could be one to watch progress over the summer. Finally, 6’5 ’20 Miles Taylor is likely the most productive and versatile player from this group, given his ability to shoot, handle the ball, attack the basket, and make plays defensively. He’s a smart, skilled, strong-bodied big man that should only continue getting better with more opportunity.
The New Light Disciples have been intense, exciting, and worth every second of viewing time so far this summer. They have a team full of talent and toughness, which is one of the many reasons that college coaches should continue to line their baselines throughout the coming months.