Another excited year of travel basketball has started. Last week, Tyler and I had the opportunity to lead a practice with Strong Center Elite 2023. One thing that stood out with this team is that they are all made up of players who are from the same area and have been playing together for years. Let’s take a closer look at this year’s roster.

5’10 2023 Micah Jones (Holly Springs)
Micah Jones leads the way at the point guard position. He is a quick, crafty guard who can get into the paint and find open teammates. Jones does a really good job of facilitating and making plays for others. With that being said, he is also able to finish in the paint over taller defenders and shot blockers, showcasing nice touch on his floaters.

6’1 2023 Jake Hart (Fuquay Varina)
Jake Hart is a tough, fundamentally sound guard who does so many things on the court that contribute to winning. He is always going to give you maximum effort and fill up the stat sheet. He sets the tone on the defensive end and has a knack for coming up with 50/50 balls. As a junior this past season at Fuquay Varina, Hart averaged 9 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals per game. He is a good decision maker with the ball in his hands and can also knock down the perimeter shot.

6’1 2023 Dylan Setzer (Fuquay Varina)
Dylan Setzer will provide this Strong Center squad with a knock-down perimeter threat. The lefty shoots the ball at a high level off of the catch. When he gets hot, he can knock down several in a row. Setzer is coming off a junior season where he averaged over 10 points per game while knocking down over 60 three-pointers.

6’2 2023 Aden Taylor (Princeton)
Aden Taylor is coming off a junior campaign in which he averaged a double-double of 20 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 4 steals per game while shooting 56% from the field. Taylor will provide a lot of valuable athleticism out on the perimeter. He excels getting downhill where he can finish above the rim and through contact. In addition, he is capable from behind the arc when in rhythm. On the defensive end, he is able to utilize his length and athleticism to pressure the ball, create steals in the passing lanes, and guard multiple positions. In addition, he is able to make highlight reel chase-down blocks in transition.

6’5 2023 Jesse Mitchell (Grace Christian Sanford)
Jesse Mitchell is the definition of a tough competitor. He is a strong guard who makes plays on both sides of the basketball. This past season, he averaged 21 points and 4 rebounds per game while shooting 57% from the field and 48% from behind the arc. Mitchell has really good size at the guard position. Mix this with his ability to create off the bounce, knock down both off of the catch and off of the bounce in the midrange, he is a guy who is worthy of more interest from college coaches.

6’7 2023 Collin Kuhl (Holly Springs)
Collin Kuhl is on the verge of a breakout travel ball season. The skilled forward is coming off a junior season in which he averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds per game. With his size, he has the ability to make plays off the bounce and finish above the rim. But more importantly, what really stands out is his motor. Kuhl plays extremely hard on both ends of the floor. He crashes the glass hard every single possession and creates second chance scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.

6’8 2023 Derius Hodges (Grace Christian Sanford)
Derius Hodges will provide another strong interior presence for this Strong Center squad. His length and athleticism will be useful on the defensive end where he can contest shots and clean up the glass. On the offensive end, he finishes strong through contact and crashes the glass hard, creating second chance scoring opportunities. Hodges has been sidelined over the past few seasons due to injury, but he is healthy now and is ready to make an impact this season.

6’9 2023 Sam Martin (Apex)
Sam Martin is one of the more skilled post players in his class in North Carolina. At 6’9, he has the ability to score with his back to the basket, but also is capable of stretching the floor with his shooting ability. He has nice touch around the basket and from behind the arc. Defensively, he does a really good job of walling up to contest shots. Martin averaged a near double-double this season of 15.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, and an astounding 5.5 blocks per game. Expect Sam Martin to have a tremendous travel ball season.

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