The talent in the state of Virginia is so deep and spread out that at times the 540 and Roanoke area can be overlooked. Don’t get it confused however, there is plenty of next level talent out there, and we…
The talent in the state of Virginia is so deep and spread out that at times the 540 and Roanoke area can be overlooked. Don’t get it confused however, there is plenty of next level talent out there, and we saw that first hand on Sunday at Northcross School. The trainers at DR1VEN Timesland put on a one day event for a select number of coaches that featured 14 of the best players in the area, and Vantage Hoops was given exclusive access to it. It was a terrific day of basketball, and here's some of what we came away with.
Brody Hicks is a Scoring Machine
The Cave Spring wing comes in to his senior season with close to 900 points already, and it shouldn’t take him too long to eclipse the 1,000 point mark the way he can score the ball. From the get go, Hicks’ was vocal and energetic in drills, and his energy carried over to the game where he was aggressive looking for his shot and was efficient in scoring it at all three levels.
Hicks showed the entire arsenal, and was arguably the top performer at the event. The son of former Cave Spring coach Billy Hicks, he was smart and calculated getting to his spots, and was able to get his shot off with little to no space. He has a high IQ, knows what he needs to work on and doesn’t try to play outside of himself.
Lord Botetourt Wings Impress
The Botetourt duo of Joe Mikalauskas and Trey Hornback turned heads from the jump, and were two of the more consistent players throughout the event. At 6’3, Mikalauskas is a deadly shooter off the catch, and always has his feet set and is shot ready on the pass. Defensively, he showed great anticipation and moved his feet well, and he played the passing lanes well for easy steals.
Hornback, a 6’5 wing with a similar game to Mikalauskas, also showed deep range on the catch and a knack for getting to spots to be found for easy shots. He ran the floor, showed the versatility to play both on the perimeter and in the post and guarded multiple positions. The two players fed off of each other well, and they could make some noise for Botetourt in the 3A West region.
Nick Price a Star in the Making
The Northside point guard played a pivotal role in the backcourt with rising senior Kendrick Tucker, leading them to the 3A State Semifinals at the Siegal Center. He had a solid summer playing up with Spectrum 16’s, and his improvement shows he’s ready to take that next step and make his name known as one of the better guards in the western part of the state.
Price is a play making lead guard that can break his defenders down off the bounce and lives in the lane. He reads the pick-and-roll well and initiates contact when he’s in the lane against bigger defenders, getting him to the line for a lot of easy points. Defensively, he prides himself in sitting down on opposing ball handlers and is able to use his quickness to avoid ball screens. He is in a situation to take a big leap next year and solidify himself in the talk of rising prospects in Virginia.
Malik Johnson a Point Guard Maestro
The 6’4 point guard out of George Wythe (Wytheville) continues to impress with his feel for the game and translation to the next level, and was possibly the best next level prospect at the event. Johnson was especially impressive with the ball in his hands in transition, where he was able to blow by defenders and finish at the rim, or making them commit and delivering a solid pass when his team had numbers. His vision and decision making were exceptional, and as he improves his ability to score it on the perimeter he could be a division one point guard prospect.
Versatile Bigs Put on a Show
There weren’t many true bigs in attendance, with the tallest player coming in at 6’6, but the forwards that were there showed great versatility on both ends. Baker Haviland, a 6’6 junior from Cave Spring, impacted the game defensively with his length and showed great fundamentals when boxing out, and also showed a smooth stroke from deep.
The most productive big, however, was 6’5 Dominique Joyce of Patrick Henry, a combo forward who worked well in the middle area. The junior lefty ran the floor well and showed a few fundamental and effective post moves, including a jump hook over the right shoulder that was money throughout the event. He has to work on his feel of the game, knowing when to attack and when to give it up on the double, but is improvement is noticeable after a good summer with Spectrum.
- Salem senior guard Trevon Hill was one of the best shooters in attendance, with a pretty stroke from deep and a quick trigger on the pull. The 6’0 combo guard is an above average athlete who is always looking for the next opportunity to let it fly.
- Reigning state champion Jay Dandridge of Martinsville was pesky and scrappy throughout the event, this just two days after playing on the football field. A high motor and athletic 6’1 point guard, Dandridge was one of the better on ball defenders in attendance, turning opposing ball handlers the length of the court and giving them fits. His toughness will be big for Martinsville as they look to repeat this season.
- Ryan Drippel, a 6’6 senior out of William Byrd high school, showed good athleticism on the glass and the ability to stretch the defense with a couple threes. He’s a long and smooth big that can work both inside and out, and should be a go-to guy for Byrd his senior season.
- Matt Palumbo, a junior from St. Anne's Belfield School in Charlottesville, showed a quick release and good looking perimeter stroke. STAB will look to get up and down, and his ability to stretch the floor will be vital for his team's success. He is a knock down shooter and must be accounted for on the perimeter.
- Jefferson Forest's Chase Van Horn showed a terrific motor. He's a skilled 6'4 scoring wing who produces on both ends. He's a good play-maker with the ball in his hands too. He's a name to keep tabs on as his stock is on the uptick.