After going into extensive detail about Team Loaded’s squad of high-level recruits, it became more and more obvious that Hoop State Elite could be poised to enjoy great success in Spartanburg. Why? There is reason to believe that this team is just starting to scratch the surface of their capabilities on either side of the floor. They have a roster full of scholarship-worthy prospects and this team has the necessary talent to match up with any team in the region, but something has been brewing. The team was incredibly impressive throughout this past weekend at Phenom’s Champion Showcase, but their record didn’t really mirror that notion. After getting past the warm-up period, this Hoop State Elite team looks ready to start accumulating scholarships.
Like most teams, the players with size will probably draw the most attention, which would include the trio of Josiah Shackelford, Zach Shumate, and Aymeric Toussaint. Starting with Shackleford, who has built his foundation as a player through incredible athleticism and phenomenal physical tools. He stands at a long, 6-foot-9, displays a next-level frame and moves like a fluid athlete. Offensively, Shackleford doesn’t try to force things out of his comfort zone and is pretty reliable when looking to finish above the rim. He’s shown many signs of a blossoming post-game, including with his baby hook on either block, which continues to improve with each new viewing. That being said, the majority of his production comes on defense, where he is a polished rebounder and shot-altering domineer. The odds of Shackleford ending up as a Division I player continue to increase by the day, especially now that he’s going to the prestigious Word of God academy next year.
Alongside Shackleford, the hard-nosed Shumate and smooth-shooting Toussaint fit seamlessly, though usually only two of the three share the floor together. Shumate is a true blue-collar, workhorse type of guy and takes genuine pride in the little things. His offensive game has effectively expanded out beyond the three-point arc, and he’s gradually becoming a multi-tool player on that end of the floor. Shumate is an excellent rebounder and frequently outworks opponents for loose balls. Few big men will sacrifice their body like Shumate, but he’s made it clear that all he cares about is winning and doing whatever he can to help the team. He’s a one-of-a-kind teammate that will do whatever is asked of him and should certainly carve out a niche at the next level.
While Shackleford and Shumate have clearly defined roles on this squad, Toussaint has the ability to change his approach from one minute to the next, depending on what his team needs. He’s a really intriguing prospect, given his length, offensive capabilities, and remaining upside. Offensively, Toussaint is an ideal partner for the two-man game, given his ability to pop or roll with great success. He shoots the ball fairly well from midrange and three-point territory, but can be streaky at times. The same goes for his post-game, which has continually improved over the last few years. Make no mistake, there are a lot of tools evident in Toussaint’s arsenal and this could be the perfect time for him to break completely out of his shell.
If those three don’t get folks excited for this team, then something is wrong, but there is also a plethora of guards and wings for college coaches. This team doesn’t hurt for versatility between Chazz Banks, Kaleb Brooks, and Jason Thompson. The newest addition is Thompson, and he is arguably their most college-ready wing/forward prospect, given his size and ability to apply pressure on both ends of the floor. He’s athletic and stands at a strong 6-foot-6, which allows him to defend two or three positions quite comfortably at this level. Thompson demands attention as an interior scorer and rebounder, even though he has the ability to play on the perimeter whenever he desires.
The aforementioned duo of Banks and Brooks has been on this team from the beginning and make a pair of very interesting prospects. Banks is the most perimeter-oriented amongst this group, given his ability to catch-and-rip from the wing and play as a secondary ball-handler when necessary. He has all the tools and makings of a Division I prospect, but he has to get more aggressive while still remaining intelligent. Once his ability to lead starts shining, his recruitment will follow directly in suit. Meanwhile, Brooks stretches out the defense with his three-point shooting ability, which throw opponents for a loop, given his big, strong frame. He also has the ability to create mismatches, but doesn’t look to force things on this team and waits patiently for his time to attack. Brooks is arguably the most unique player throughout this roster, which is another reason why this team is must-see entertainment.
We finish up with a technically sound guard-trio of Manrique Alvarado, Jordan Lynch, and Landon Sutton. These three prospects complement each other exceptionally well, given that Alvarado is from the true point guard mold, Sutton from the scoring guard mold, and Lynch is somewhere in between. Alvarado has such an incredibly natural feel for the game and his teammates, making him a terrific natural leader who doesn’t look to score unless it’s available. His vision and overall court sense are both truly phenomenal, and he’ll likely impress some college coaches this week with his playmaking ability.
Sutton has made the most drastic improvements over the last year as a creator for others. His scoring ability has always been evident and efficient on all three levels, but he’s made massive strides as a passer, defender, and overall playmaker. He isn’t going to blow you away with athleticism or polarizing measurements, but his game is smooth and efficient.
Last but not least, Lynch is the first option when this team is in need of a nice change-of-pace guard to enter the game and wreak havoc for opponents. He’s wiry, but possesses great quickness of the bounce and will frequently take defenders with him to the basket, where he’s capable of finishing through contact. Lynch is a disruptive defender and knows how to hurt teams in transition. All three of these guards, wings, and bigs are worth a hard look, and they’ll all be on display this Wednesday through Sunday in Spartanburg, South Carolina.