The District Basketball Club held their first combine of the summer at the District basketball gym located in Alexandria, Virginia. An old school sweat box type of a gym that was the proving ground for District players eager to show that they haven't been slacking during the months long shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The heat inside the gym (it was hotter in the gym than it was outside, which was 97 degrees when I arrived), really tested the mental toughness of the players on hand and gave a good look at who was willing to push through adversity when things got tough.
Structure of the practice was great with players being taken through shooting drills, shell drill, full and half court offensive and defensive set's and much more. It was more then just rolling the balls out and scrimmaging. The combine led by co-directors Devin Williams ( Gonzaga College High School assistant coach) and Walter Booth ( St Mary's Ryken head coach) , emphasized fundamentals, consistency, teamwork and maximum effort.
With that said, here are some notes (and highlights) of what went down during Saturdays combine:
Garrett Brennan/ St Stephens & St Agnes/ Combo Guard / 6'2/ 2022 -
Brennan wasn't shy about letting shots fly from all over the gym and he hit an efficient amount too. Brennan can shoot it from three levels, he's solid as a play-maker and defender, yet most importantly, he competes. He battled on both ends, against bigger more athletic guards throughout the combine, and won his fair share of those battles. Expect to see his all around game flourish this upcoming season.
Ryan Cornish/ Sidwell Friends / Combo Guard / 6'3/ 2021 -
Sneaky athletic, smooth guard that can play both guard spots effectively. Cornish scored well from all three levels, finished well at the basket and made timely plays defensively, especially with getting a hand on the ball during dig downs on drivers. He has all of the tools, just a matter of putting it all together game in and game out.
Dylan Edwards/ St Andrews / Combo Guard / 6'2/ 2021 -
You can see Edwards put in a lot of work when things were shut down. He's matured in many ways. Physically, he's more explosive, bigger and confident as a player. Edwards got by defenders at will with a great first step and scored effectively utilizing runners and floaters. Defensively, he was a big surprise. He was strong on that end in every aspect, defending on ball, coming from help side where he stole the ball numerous times when the opposing team reversed the ball and most importantly, he communicated non stop so his team was on the same page. His outside shot was off, but that was an aberration. He's a decent shooter with range. If Edwards continues to bring what I saw on Saturday, St Andrews will be in very good hands next season.
Nick Evans/ Gonzaga / F-C/ 6'8/ 2022 -
Highly skilled young big with a great amount of potential. Evans is still growing into his body, however, he ran the floor well, was a consistent threat from outside and rolling to the basket to score inside off pick & roll sets, and was solid at defending out on the perimeter and in the paint protecting the rim. Don't be shocked to see him be a force on both ends in the area very soon.
Mike Gray/ Landon/ 5'11/ PG / 2022 -
Relentless, strong, scoring guard. Despite being so young, Gray at times bullied some of the older District players driving to the basket. A streaky shooter, but he can become unconscious fairly quickly if he see's the ball go in a few times. He's a solid passer, tough on ball defender and isn't intimidated by anyone. Gray is definitely a player to keep an eye on moving forward.
Aaron Jasper/ St Mary's Ryken/ Point Guard / 6'3 / 2021-
Hands down the best defender at the combine and it wasn't close. Jasper gave opposing guards fits, harassing guards full court, not allowing any daylight when guards tried to set up the offense in the half court and he was always in the passing lanes getting steals or deflecting the ball. Needs to work on his shooting, although, he is a crafty play-maker and scorer.
Ryan Prather Jr / Clarksburg / SG-SF/ 6'4/ 2021-
Solid all around player. One of those players that may not be elite at one thing, yet, is good in a variety of ways. Prather Jr scored from all three levels, showcasing college level range. He also passed the ball well, got stops using his college ready body and strength and isn't afraid to mix it up with the trees and get rebounds. Prather Jr is the type of player you win with and one college programs should take a strong look at.
Will Scherer / Gonzaga / C/ 6'9/ 2021 -
Fundamentally sound big man who excels in his role doing the dirty work. What he lacks in overall athleticism, he makes up for in tenacity, low post skill and IQ. One thing that stood out was how great of an offensive rebounder he is. Scherer either came down with the offensive board outright, or found a way to tip the rebound to himself or an teammate, giving his team extra possessions. No reason why he shouldn't be a double-double big this upcoming season.
Mohamed Toure / Sandy Spring Friends / SG-SF/ 6'6/ 2021 -
Promising wing displayed good skill, athleticism, versatility and length. His 6'8 wingspan caused problems defensively for a number of players when he was on ball and nearby in the passing lane. Toure is a streaky shooter at this point, yet, at his most dangerous in the open court and slashing to the basket. Adding consistent range to his jumper will open up his game tremendously and make him difficult to slow down. Lastly, adding strength is a must for Toure to fully reach his potential. It's a given that he will be matched up against both guard spots and at times small forwards at the college level, maybe even power forwards (4's) depending on the situation and opposition. He will need to get stronger and bulk up a little bit to be able to get the job done consistently.
Thomas Whitley/ Eleanor Roosevelt/ F/ 6'6/ 2021 -
Versatility. That's what Whitley displayed on Saturday and that's what his game is based off of. 6'6 forward can defend pretty much every position depending on the match-up, step out and hit a 15 footer as well as he can score inside from the block. Whitley runs the floor like a small guard making him a hard match-up for traditional big's. He will play a pivotal role in the success of Eleanor Roosevelt next season.