With expectations as high as ever for the start of the 2009 Generation Next All-Star Camp presented by NY2LA Sports, action finally tipped Friday afternoon with some notable performances on the camp’s opening night. It is clear that camp director Antonio Curro is out to make this event the premier venue for the nation’s top junior high prospects. With an emphasis on organization and hospitality, the camp provides both exposure and skill development opportunities from players ranging in grade from as young as rising sixth to rising high school freshmen. It’s truly refreshing to see a pre-high school event run with such precise detail and passionate staff.
Decked out in camp attire from head to toe, with everything from reversible jerseys to camp shorts to sneakers, all of the prized young student-athletes committed to attend have arrived. And while no games were played Friday night, the skill sessions provided ample opportunity for a glimpse of what is to come throughout the weekend in three age/grade divisions.
Starting with the youngest players, it’s easy to see why rising sixth grader Vijay Blackmon has received about as much ink as anyone in his class of 2016 nationwide. Nearing 5-foot-9, Blackmon displayed a quick release and smooth handle in the skill sessions, and proved to be one of the best in the camp thus far during transition drills. Meanwhile, Indianapolis-native Kenneth Walton, who at six feet, is capable of playing all five positions on the floor in the rising seventh grade group. Franklin, Indiana post player Branden Hardesty is a skilled 6-foot-5 four man who showed considerable mobility during the agility drills. It will also be exciting to see how Racine, Wisconsin forward Darion King responds to the national competition present, as he has a growing in-state and regional reputation, but must give maximum effort at all times.
The rising eighth grade group looked just as promising on Friday night as left-handed big man Dillon Bruxvoort finished well around the rim. Additionally, it is worth noting that local post Ricky Landers possesses the largest frame for a young big man we’ve seen in quiet sometime; and more importantly, he appears to be getting better with every game and competes. Lead guards like Malik Brown, Kamali Chambers, and Tyus Mason each excelled on opening night. However, it’s clear that the player to watch among the class of 2014 prospects is combo forward Jonathan Carson who looked more like an NFL linebacker as he powered his way to the top of the list on opening night.
The oldest group is perhaps the deepest and most talented at first glance, which is a tribute to the event, as it provides evidence that the rising 9th graders think a lot of the camp in order to return for games and instruction. Several prospects already on NY2LA Sports national radar such as 6-foot-5 wing Jabari Parker, 6-foot-4 guard Riley Dearring, and 6-foot-4 guard Keith Langston should make the game play explosive. Add to that several new prospects now on the radar such as 6-foot-8 forward Akoy Agau of Nebraska, 6-foot-5 wing Vinay Reddy of San Antonio, Texas and 6-foot-6 Richard Freeman of Indianapolis, Indiana and it is easy to understand why we are excited for the start of action for Saturday.
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