Inspire Courts Middle School Tourney Round-Up

by Justin Vargas | Posted on Sunday, February 11th, 2018

I was in attendance for this past weekend Pre-President’s Day Middle School Tournament at Inspire Courts. As per usual, there was some very good talent on hand over the weekend in all age groups.  The following players were some that stood out to me while I was able to catch some action on one of the seven courts . . .

#23 Elijah (last name not legible), 8th grade, Ventura Vipers Black - is a great athlete who can run the floor extremely well for a kid with his size. He leaks to the basket without the ball very well and crashes the boards with aggression. Very active and in-tune with the game and a very good defender with some lateral mobility. Also has the ability to knock it down from the perimeter and put the ball on the floor to penetrate. Elijah is a 6-foot-3 wing/forward who will be attending Rancho Solano Prep next year.

#24 Alonzo Cummings, 8th grade, Ventura Vipers Black - was one of the more impressive players on the tournaments best team. A very strong rebounder and understanding of defensive rotations and his roll within them. Protects the paint like a thick coat of wax and is athletic enough to disrupt and change shots. He is 6-foot-2 and moves his feet on defense with great mobility and squares ball-handler’s up squared on his chest the majority of the time. Plays with good intensity with a good mid-range jumper. Needs to be able to see the court a little better offensively as he has a habit at times of making ill-advised passes. But all-in-all, he is one to watch moving forward. Cummings is planning on attending Washington High School next season.

#8 Tayan Thompson, 8th grade, Ventura Vipers White - is a player I saw in the last event I attended at Inspire Courts. Thompson’s 6’3″-6’4″ frame just makes him look like a big-time type of player when he walks in the gym. Something I was able to see out of him this time around, that I did not the first time, was his understanding of the pick-and-roll. Even when the guard that was attempting to execute it with him didn’t see something, Thompson was able to easily point out what should have been done. He was in a great match-up in the semi-finals against Elijah and both did their thing. Would like to see him work on his game on a perimeter but the state has one to watch for the next four years. Thompson is contemplating on attending a very talented Desert Vista program.

#42 Calvin Cooper, 8th grade, Divinity 14U - is long at about 6-foot-2 and runs very well in transition. He has the look for sure. He is very in-tune with the game, especially on the defensive end. He definitely needs to get more aggressive and more physical inside but he has a nice touch on his mid-range jumper and is a great athlete. Cooper is also contemplating on attending Desert Vista next season.

#0 Isaiah Velez, 8th grade, Divinity 14U - is undersized but, man, is he quick with the ball in is hands. A pure point guard that can push the ball in transition and is as active as they come on both ends of the floor. A high energy player that gets in your jersey on the defensive end and plays with a chip on his shoulder. I would like to see his shooting ability a little more, as he did not shoot many on Sunday when I was able to watch him play.

#11 Daylyn Martin, 8th grade, Divinity 14U - is one of the more intriguing players I saw on Sunday. Very athletic and runs the floor a notch higher than most on the floor. A really good finisher in the paint and in transition. Plays with an edge of competitiveness but needs to channel his emotions on the floor a little bit.

#53 Johnny Simmons, 8th grade, Powerhouse Roadrunners (14U), has a really high basketball IQ with a nice looking outside stroke that spins a little funny but is highly-arched and effective. Very long and uses his length on defense well. He definitely needs to get more physical and work on his explosiveness. However, he definitely has some tools in that shed of his.

#6 Rajon Carmichael, 8th grade, Powerhouse Roadrunners (14U), is another high motor guy in this program. Very strong and aggressive and takes the ball to the rack fearlessly. Intense player that is very in touch with the game and how to attack the defense. He needs a lot of work on his left hand and could use some work on his outside game as he gets older and other players catch up to him physically. But he is a bulldog that can possibly go get you a bucket on any given possession.

#55 Fabian Benitez, 8th grade, Powerhouse Roadrunners (14U), does not look the part but don’t let the look fool you because he will sneak up on you. Has a very high understanding and feel for the game and displayed the ability to dribble at full speed in transition with his head up and able to see all his teammates. Good playmaker and passer. Would like to see him look for his shot a little more, but he is a player in every sense of the word.

#10 Elijah Velez, 6th grade, Divinity 12U - is in the mold of his older brother Isaiah (above). Lightning quick with great ball handling and playmaking ability. Loves to push the tempo and weave around traffic with the ball in his hands, looking for an open man like every true point guard should.

Mason Magee, 4th grade- is just special. Playing up in age groups and still being a standout player. The young phenom just gets it. He is a gym rat that loves working on his game more than he loves any video game. At the very least, he is a kid that you can see making a lifelong career out of basketball even at this young of an age, just because of how much he is obsessed with it. He makes the right pass, his shot from the outside is butter even though he usually is being guarded by somebody with 5 or 6 inches on him. He is a great ball-handler that loves to push the tempo. I am looking so forward to following Mason for years to come.

Note to players, coaches and parents.  Please make sure that your players/kids names are accurate with their jersey numbers when you fill out your roster at the desk. Also, please make sure everything is legible so I can be as accurate as possible in my scouting reports and recaps. Thank you.

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