After the successful opening portion of the first-ever 'Virginia Live Period Shootout' the other weekend (6/21 ' 6/23), I returned back to the grounds of Blue Ridge School (St. George, VA) for the event's 'second half'; held seven days later (6/28 ' 6/30). Structure occurred in a similar way, with 18 teams participating throughout the three days and using up three different courts in the school's athletic facilities. Ten teams returned from Session I and I fortunately had the chance to get a first-look at eight new programs in attendance. Also, in a likewise method to the previous weekend, I was able to see each team play at least 1-2 times for a strong evaluation of what's working (or not) already in this month of June. I can't stress enough how beneficial this two-part showcase has been for schools amongst the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York. My hat goes off to the efforts made by Blue Ridge varsity head coach Cade Lemcke and his staff.

The two-part 'Shootout' officially wrapped up on Sunday, following a morning/early afternoon filled with final games. Several underclassmen had shining performances in the games I covered'showing that they still had some fuel left in the tank after a long and competitive weekend. Of course, we should expect an extra wind from the young ones, right'

 

 

 

Sunday's Five Standouts

 

Maliq Brown '22 ' Blue Ridge School (St. George, VA): He showed promise last season as a freshman but the 6'8' Brown has now become even more of an absolute workhorse for the Barons ahead of his sophomore campaign. He rebounded just as well as anyone during Sunday and pretty much displayed the same trait for the showcase's other two days also. A physical build and lengthy arms help in that area but Brown's presence on the glass mainly just stems from his all-around toughness. Whenever he spots an opportunity to cause a second-chance scoring attempt for Blue Ridge, he seems to win that battle every time. Aside from his tenacious rebounding and stick-backs, I thought the young forward showed off his passing skills very well on Sunday morning as well. He can find others around the half-court while in the post and works really well with 6'11' teammate Sasha Glushkov '20 in high-low scenarios. Having Brown at the top of the key (or around the free-throw line) leads to him throwing easy passes down low over smaller defenders; he spots the mismatch quickly and keeps the offense moving. He continues to do a lot of things well, not to mention his defensive versatility, and maintains a calm expression at all times while on the floor. Old Dominion University extended an offer back in Session I of the 'Shootout.'

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Trey Gillenwater '22 ' Eastern Mennonite HS (Harrisonburg, VA): One of the new faces to the Eastern Mennonite crew, Gillenwater brings youthful talent and a game that completely fits right in with the Flames. As I've mentioned before in the past, head coach Chad Seibert has a group of returning guys who can really shoot the ball and quite frankly, after seeing the team compete in a few games throughout the weekend, I felt their rising sophomore showed he can hold his own against any other shooter he faces. His shot contains range and releases with such a nice form; defenders realize quickly that they're in trouble if they end up leaving Gillenwater wide open for a look beyond the arc. The 6'1' prospect also holds value in his ability to play at either guard spot, something that will likely prove as imperative for the Flames' future success. He had a good pace to his game on Sunday, recognized the right plays to make, and got downhill for strong takes at various moments. I saw some maturity in his play, as he finished with 20 or more points against Middleburg Academy (did not get final stats). Expect to start hearing his name a lot more in the city of Harrisonburg!

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Landry Palata '21 ' Teays Valley Christian School (Scott Depot, WV): Acknowledged as one of the top programs in West Virginia, The Teays Valley Christian Lions caused heads to turn immediately upon arriving at the school's grounds due to their collective appearance. They had great size on the roster with five guys standing at 6'5' or taller; three of which surpassed 6'8.' The team won a hard-fought 56-46 contest over Life Christian Academy mainly by giving superior effort in different areas. Palata, a 6'8' forward, initiated that approach and continued that relentless production for all of the game's 32 minutes. He looked like another one of Sunday's top rebounders, especially on the offensive end. His athleticism and smart way of keeping the ball high resulted in stick-backs scored quickly; Life Christian struggled the most at keeping him off of the glass in the second half. One simple, yet necessary, skill that I liked the most shown by Palata had to be his effective shot fake. It worked multiple times for finishes and/or drawn fouls underneath the rim. Often, we see players try to rush close shots and forget how well patience in using fakes can work. Major props to Palata for recognizing that particular notion.

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Jacob Rice '22 ' Blue Ridge School (St. George, VA): During the course of this event, Rice played a reliable game for his team and definitely demonstrated two-way ability during the Barons' Sunday morning win over Takoma Academy. He's 6'4' and has solid skills already in footwork and shooting. When Blue Ridge decides to push the ball at a fast pace in transition, the 6'4' wing knows how to run the open lanes and becomes hard to keep up with. Rice has that type of game in which he uses frequent off-ball movement to get his scoring looks; defenses typically never have a fun time dealing with this. He always gave a spark whenever checking onto the court and showcased very good understanding of how to play to his strengths. One doesn't commonly see that from just any underclassman'I think he has a chance to become a useful option with continued development. Defensively, he stuck to his man well and blocked multiple shots taken on the perimeter. Two things he should keep working on to improve pertains to pass entries into the post and tightening up his handle a bit. The majority of his turnovers happened from attempting to feed his post teammates at a bad angle. As far as his ball-handling, he does well enough to get from point A to point B currently. Still, with his footwork, I think an improved handle could result in the emergence of greater isolation play and shot-creating abilities. Another piece of Blue Ridge's special young core!

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Yedidia Mubiayi '22 ' Middleburg Academy (Middleburg, VA): Well, firstly, Mubiayi has some serious leaping ability for a 6'0' guy. I remember tweeting this when he threw down a windmill dunk in the open floor during some point of the weekend. That type of explosiveness always causes excitement in the crowd but the guard also uses his hops for more than just highlight dunks. He looked like THE best rebounder at his position and height on Sunday, without question. I loved his effort to go get it off of teammates' misses, along with hustle for 50/50 balls. Mubiayi showed a lot of heart on the defensive end too. Personally, I feel that his combination of lateral quickness and killer mentality on that end could make him the team's defensive anchor moving forward into next season. Every program benefits from a guy who takes on that role and relishes it. With the ball in his hands, Mubiayi completed some of the morning's nicest assists; I think he realized his teammates were open underneath the rim a few times before they knew it themselves. He's still learning how to control his explosiveness, as he attacks a bit too hard at times, but should reach that point without any major issues.

 

 

 

 

Make sure to check out my Day 1 (6/28) and Day 2 (6/29) standouts of this second session also!

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