Soccer is over and it's time to focus on what's important...the Kenner League is about to start! Now that the schedule is out, my plan is to attend all the games this summer (we’ll see if that ambitious plan actually comes to fruition!), and provide some unofficial stats and amateur analysis for the blog each week.
ROSTERS blurb (courtesy of Georgetown Sports Information Director Extraordinaire Mex Carey):
Nike Pro-City Jabbo Kenner League Set to Begin on Saturday, July 5
WASHINGTON - After celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks on Friday night, area basketball fans can enjoy some of the best summer action when the Nike Pro-City Jabbo Kenner League starts on Saturday, July 5 at McDonough Arena on the campus of Georgetown University.
The Nike Pro-City League (formerly the Kenner League) is among the top summer college basketball leagues in the country and is annually held at Georgetown, affording basketball fans a chance to see current, future and former college basketball players competing head-to-head over the summer.
The schedule for the 2014 season is set to begin on Saturday, July 5, with five games opening the season. Action starts at 1 p.m. when On Point takes on Premier Athletics. Teasley Assist will play A. Wash Associates at 2:15 p.m., followed by The Tombs playing Team Takeover (3:30 p.m.), Symonds All-Stars against Clyde's (4:45 p.m.) and Higher Level against Team Oohhs & Aahhs (6 p.m.).
Five games will be played on Sunday, July 6 as well, beginning at 1 p.m.
Georgetown players will be spread out among six teams in the 12-team league, which will feature two divisions, Air and Flight.
Freshmen Isaac Copeland (Raleigh, N.C./Brewster Academy) and LJ Peak (Gaffney, S.C./Gaffney) will play for The Tombs, while classmates Tre Campbell (Washington, D.C./St. John's College HS) and Paul White (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) will play for Clyde's.
Seniors Jabril Trawick (Philadelphia, Pa./Abington Friends) and Mikael Hopkins (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha) will play for Team Takeover, while senior guard Aaron Bowen (Jacksonville, Fla./QEA [N.C.]) and junior center
Bradley Hayes (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) will play for DCX.
Junior guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Indianapolis, Ind./Oak Hill) and freshman Trey Mourning (Miami, Fla./Ransom Everglades) are on the roster for A. Wash Associates, while junior David Allen (Dallas, Texas/Dallas Baptist) and sophomore Reggie Cameron (Hackensack, N.J./Hudson Catholic) will play for Symonds All-Stars and junior Riyan Williams (Dunkirk, Md./Archbishop Carroll [D.C.]) will play for On Point.
The Air Division includes Premier Athletics, Clyde's, On Point, Teasley Assist, A. Wash Associates and Symonds All-Stars. The Flight Division will include Lincoln Park, DCX, Team Takeover, The Tombs, Higher Level and Team Oohhs & Aahhs.
Regular season games will be played every weekend through the end of July. There will be games on Friday starting on July 18 and the final day of regular season play is Saturday, Aug. 2.
Quarterfinal games will be played on Sunday, Aug. 3 beginning at 2 p.m. Semifinal games will be played on Saturday, Aug. 9 (1 p.m., 2:20 p.m.) and the championship game will be played on Sunday, Aug. 10 at 3 p.m.
All parking for Nike Pro-City Jabbo Kenner League games will be in the Southwest Garage off the Canal Road entrance to the University.
To kick things off, let’s take a look at some of the key player development points to keep an eye on this summer. Of course, any summer basketball assessment is pretty hard to project forward into real games - the level of intensity, talent, and defense is a lot more inconsistent in summer games. But as a Kenner league veteran, I do believe that there are definitely signs you can see in summer play that provide some helpful sense of player development. Note that these thoughts are more delusional than cynical - might as well keep things fundamentally positive while making barely informed assessments of glorified pickup summer hoops!
-Ballhandling: without an experienced true point guard on the roster, the Hoyas are likely to need to lean on Trawick’s ball handling more this year than they have in the past.
-Outside shooting: Trawick shot much better after coming back from his injury last year, approaching 40% from 3. If he shoots 3’s in this 35-40% range, it will provide the kind of floor spacing that the offense struggled to achieve last year.
-Finishing inside: Hopkins failed to convert a lot (and I mean a lot!) of opportunities at the rim last year. He is a solid offensive rebounder, and is able to put himself in position for these good scoring chances. He needs to continue to get stronger, to allow him to finish through contact.
-Decision making: Hopkins hurts the offense when he hunts for his own shot too often. This leads to a lot of turnovers and bad misses. The Hoyas should have more offensive depth and balance this year, alleviating any need for Hopkins to force his own offense. If he can play within the flow of the offense and limit himself to the good shots that this offensive flow creates for him, he can be a much more valuable offensive player. It will, however, be pretty difficult to assess this in the loosely structured summer league setting.
-Defense: Hopkins fouled at a very high rate last season. The defense can’t function real effectively with the high volume of fouling the Hoyas produced last season, and Hopkins was one of the main issues here.
-Weight: this is pretty much what it all comes down to with Joshua. If he has lost enough weight to allow him to move his feet better - he can be very effective offensively, and less of a weakness defensively.
-Defense: a few more words on this - Josh did demonstrate quick feet and hands last season. He was actually pretty good at getting in front of big men in the post to knock away entry passes. He also has decent instincts on defense. But he just could not cover any ground on rotations or close outs. Losing weight would (at least in theory) improve his movement ability enough to make him less of a detriment defensively
-Rebounding: Joshua had surprisingly poor rebounding numbers last year (especially defensively). He had been a pretty good rebounder at UCLA, even at elevated weight. So it is hard to know how much of his rebounding struggle last year was weight, how much was scheme, and how much was effort. Losing the weight would be a good start on both the rebounding and defense points - but he will need to also show the kind of consistent intensity of effort that has not always been part of Joshua’s game.
-Even with the excitement about the freshmen, Smith is still the guy I am most interested in seeing this summer. He has some pretty rare talent, if he loses weight and keeps his head in the game (both on and off the court). It is hard to be too optimistic about either, given his history. But if Josh does manage to put things together, that increases the potential of this team exponentially.
- Update - it appears Smith will not be playing in Kenner League this summer.
-Outside shot: Bowen hit a few threes last year, but he has never been a consistent outside shooter. If he could get up to that 35% level on 3’s, it would force teams to come out and defend him, something that did not happen often last year. This would give him a chance to attack the basket and use his high level athleticism more frequently. And if defenders need to cover his outside shot honestly, it would create space on the interior/in the lane for our skilled offensive players that was rarely there last season.
-Ballhandling: In the final Florida State game last year - Aaron put the ball on the floor and attacked the rim effectively a few times. This is not something he did often in the half court offense in the past. An improved outside shot threat and better ball handling would provide more opportunity for Bowen to make these athletic basket attacks moving forward.
-Defense: Bowen has the physical skill package to be an impact defender, but has been inconsistent in his ability to make the right rotations, too often leaving significant holes in the defense. If he can become more consistent in his defensive decision making, his size/length/athleticism combination can add a lot of value defensively.
-Ballhandling: It looks like DSR is going to be our primary point guard this year. His handle has been solid, but he is going to face more pressure as the lead guard this year. This is another one of those things that will be very tough to assess from summer league play, as the defense played in these games does not remotely approach the intensity of real game defense.
-I can’t really think of much else that I would be looking for specifically in terms of DSR’s growth. His overall game has developed nicely over two years, and I guess the main goal would be to see this steady development continue.
-Offense: the ability to get post position, catch entry passes, and produce solid shots from these post touches. Hayes showed a little bit of this last summer, especially a promising jump hook that he even pulled out a couple of times in the regular season.
-Defense: when Hayes got some playing time in a couple of late season games, he fouled at a very high rate. For Hayes to earn playing time, he needs to show that he can defend effectively without constant fouling. He showed some shot blocking instincts last summer, it would be nice to see his defensive game develop.
-Conditioning: Cameron lost a lot of weight between high school and his freshman year of college. He needs to take the next step and develop more muscle/better overall conditioning. DSR can be a good model for him - he followed this path, getting into excellent condition between his first and second years.
-Defense: Cameron does not have quick feet, and he struggled to stay in front of ball handlers and make quick rotations last year. He is going to need to be in peak physical condition, and sharp on his understanding of the defensive design in order to maximize his ability to move defensively.
-Shooting: Cameron showed throughout high school and last summer that he is a top level outside shooter - deep range, quick release. But he did not shoot particularly well during the regular season last year. Cameron will probably always struggle to create his own shot because of his athletic limitations. But in a better offense, he can get a lot of clean catch and shoot opportunities. He needs to show that he can knock down these open shots at a high rate (40%+ on 3’s would be great) to have real value at the high division I level.
-Mid-range game: Cameron is never going to be the kind of player that consistently pump fakes and then takes the ball to the rim. But he has the potential to be very effective shooting pull up jumpers and floaters off the dribble. He showed some of this last year, hopefully he’ll continue to develop this part of his game.
-It is difficult to project too much regarding what to look for from the freshmen. Mostly, we just want to see them in action to begin to get a sense of their games. But I’ll take a shot at identifying a few areas of focus for the freshmen, based on the small amount of video I have seen on each.
-Copeland added some good muscle this past season, and it would be nice to see this physical maturation continue. Copeland clearly is a very good athlete with strong skills for his size. If he can add additional strength, he’ll really be in position to become a very complete college player.
-White was quite thin in high school He was very good at absorbing contact and finishing for such a skinny kid, but additional strength is going to be necessary for him to thrive in a college setting
-I saw more of White last year than any of the other freshman, because a lot of Whitney Young games were on TV/on-line (because Jahlil Okafor was playing, and you know the media needs to promote those Duke guys!) White was often the best player on the court in these games, combining a high skill level with excellent court vision. I am most looking forward to White’s passing - he makes very quick decisions, making aggressive but smart passes. He is really well-suited to play the point forward position in our offense.
-Peak has a strong college-ready body and the athleticism to be a pretty explosive college player. He should be a lot of fun to watch in a more wide open summer league setting. It is pretty clear that he can run the court and finish really well. But it may be hard to learn much this summer about the half court and defensive skills that he’ll need in order to maximize his impact as a college player.
-another skinny kid - developing more strength for the college game is important
-Campbell played a very up-tempo offensive game in high school. I am looking forward to seeing how well he can push the tempo and create for others in both transition and the half court. He also has potential to be a good defender - long for his height and quick.
-Given the shooting issues the Hoyas had last year, it will also be good to see how all the freshman look from college 3 point range. They all seem to have the potential to be solid shooters, but it will be nice to see them shoot in person. Remember - Domingo was supposed to be a knock-down outside shooter based on his high school reputation!
-It will be so much fun just to see a Mourning playing in McDonough! While Mourning had a great senior year of high school, he was considered only a 3 star recruit by the rating services. But it seems that he was recruited pretty seriously by Duke and Florida for scholarship roster spots. So the main question with Mourning this summer is how he performs when playing with and against some seriously talented college players and former college players. Hopefully he will look like he can compete with that level of talent.
-Mourning was a really good mid range shooter in high school, the kind of stretch 4 that has become so central to modern offense in both college and the NBA. So I am looking forward to see how Mourning shoots as he moves towards the next level
-He had some good moments in Kenner games last summer. Looked like a decent shooter, and he flashed some athleticism as well. He is unlikely to ever play a minute of meaningful time in a regular season game, but he could be an entertaining summer player to watch
-Even further from real game playing time than Williams. Always fires up a bunch of long 3’s in his summer playing time, so that is kind of fun to watch.
ADDITIONAL PRE-KENNER NOTE: if anyone is planning to come out to McDonough this summer to watch our Hoya guys, try to make the time to hang around and watch Marcus Thornton for a game or two. Thornton is a rising junior at William & Mary, and he is a very talented guy who is super entertaining to watch. He usually plays in the Kenner league, so I encourage you to make the time to watch him play at least once this summer.
SCHEDULE (thanks to @dcprocitykenner):