Monday, January 7, 2013
A Very Young 15th Region has a Bright Future
The Road to Rupp was in Pikeville this past weekend for the 15th region All A Classic and I was able to see a lot of good basketball from a lot of surprisingly young talent.
It seems as there is hardly any upperclassmen in the Mountain region, as every team had an 8th grader or freshman making positive impacts for their respective schools.
Let's take a look at the young talent that stood out and helped dwindle the 15th region All A from 13 teams to 4 in 36 hours.
The Pikeville Panthers are 1 of the 4 teams that have made the semi-finals, and actually have two seniors in Ethan Rowe and Ray Kasongo that are two of the best in the region, but this team wouldn't be going anywhere without their freshman.
Bart Williams plays a ton of young guys, which include Blaine May, Ryder Johnson, Steven Silvers, and Cody Charles.
The two of these freshman that really stood out were Blaine May and Ryder Johnson.
May hit a couple of 3s and finished with 8 points in the win over Prestonsburg, with 6 of those points coming in the 4th quarter to help fend off a late charge by the Blackcats. Ryder Johnson runs the point for the Panthers, makes some freshman turnovers, but battles and hustles and is not afraid to attack the basket when the situation presents itself.
The Lawrence County Bulldogs, who I would say is the favorite to win the 15th region All A, has several young kids that could be really good for a long time in the Mountains.
Freshman Robert Dalton and 8th grader Timmy Dalton were two of the most talented players in the tournament in the Expo Center this weekend. Robert Dalton might be a top 5 guard already in the region, making great decisions and his vision of the floor were impressive in the wins over Magoffin County and Betsy Layne. The Bulldogs love to push the ball and keep the tempo at a premium and the older Dalton is the perfect jockey for the race head coach Josh Cook's team plays very well.
Eighth grader Timmy Dalton is a very nice shooter, knocking down several threes off the bench, including a buzzer beater in the first quarter yesterday in the win over Shelby Valley. He offsets his brother well and definitely seems to have the confidence to hit open jumpers when given them.
For some reason, and I am known to mess up every now and then, but I left off Austin Chaffins thinking he was a sophomore. He is a freshman, so I felt I should add him because he is definitely worthy of one of the top young players in the region. Chaffins is a very clutch shooter, displaying that when he busted a three to stymie a late surge by Shelby Valley in the quarterfinals. He is just another young piece to a Bulldog team that at this very second is not only a favorite to win the 15th region All A, but the 15th regional tournament as well.
Magoffin County 8th grader Trenton Russell, who happens to be the coaches son, is also one of the best players on his team and has a great upside. Russell scored 8 points in their loss to Sheldon Clark, but looks very confident with the basketball and isn't afraid to shoot it in pressure situations. He also has great court presence and doesn't mind getting in the paint to try and score.
Paintsville's Bill Mike Runyon is playing several freshman and as no surprise they are playing at a high level for the legendary coach. Freshman point guard Luke Trimble sticks out the most to me because of his confidence running the team. Trimble might play a little over his head sometimes and try to make plays he has no business trying to make, but you have to admire his belief in himself and the trust he has in his talent. Trimble, son of former Johnson Central head coach and Tiger's assistant coach Les Trimble, definitely has a high basketball IQ and is great point guard in the making for a program and a coach that is used to playing for championships.
Sheldon Clark's 6'3" 8th grader Dylan James(pictured above) probably impressed me the most of all the young talent in the tournament.
Most coaches in the Mountains, and I guess I say this as a cliche, but if they have players that are over 6'2" they throw them in the post which doesn't give them a chance to play in a position that will give them more of a opportunity to play on the next level. Well, Coach Franike Smith hasn't done that to James, as he has the sharpshooter out on the wing.
James scored 18 in a last second loss to Shelby Valley, but showed he can be the guy for the Cardinals as a middle school kid. He has to get stronger when he drives in the paint, and continue to work, but this kid could be a Mr. Basketball candidate by the time he is a senior.
These are just the players that stuck out to me personally during the 15th region All A Classic this past weekend and I know there are several sophomores, like Shelby Valley's Corey Hamilton, that add to the great youth movement in the 15th region.
The Mountains are definitely full of young talent and makes me think The Road to Rupp could be traveling up the Mountain Parkway in the next 3 or 4 years.