Ah, an event I’ve been anticipating all month has finally tipped off: The first ever ‘Virginia Live Period Shootout.’ Taking place here on the beautiful campus of Blue Ridge School (St. George, VA), around 18 teams from both in and out of the state constitute the three days full of hoops. Being a break from travel ball, I see this two-part showing as a great opportunity for the players to both receive exposure and build up a collective feel amongst their high school guys. This working of camaraderie doesn’t always emerge in the summer time; a mere couple of months after the (very) lengthy winter season concluded. Once again, Blue Ridge has proven themselves as a bunch more than capable of hosting an excellent and competitive showcase. I plan to see every team play at least 1-2 times and will have daily tweets/articles releasing out on my social media feed. Stay tuned…there’s a lot of basketball occurring.
The opening evening brought a handful of coaches to the gym as soon as I arrived, including the likes of Delaware, NC State, Old Dominion, Liberty, James Madison, Charlotte, Radford, Elon, and others. I ended watching four games total; three of which went down closely to the very end!
My Seven Standouts of Day 1
Malachi Poindexter ’20 – St. Anne’s Belfield School (Charlottesville, VA): I’ve personally known Poindexter dating back to when he was entering middle school; and I can firmly say that the scoring guard has ALWAYS been a natural at putting that orange ball in the basket. Last night demonstrated great improvements made in his playmaking, especially in how he dictated the pick-and-roll. It also seemed like the rising senior has added a couple of inches…now around 6’3.” His solid frame and control with the ball allowed him to maneuver easily past defenders and resulted in one of the best scoring performances of the night when his St. Anne’s Belfield team earned a 70-67 win over Blue Ridge. Poindexter can get it done from all three levels and has made great strides in his efficiency. The St. Anne’s Belfield team has a strong core of players all-around and I have a feeling that Poindexter will play one of the most crucial roles in their scoring production. He’s a gym rat that next-level coaches need to make sure not to miss the boat on in this 2020 class.
Elijah Roye ’20 – Carmel School (Ruther Glen, VA): In terms of players I’ve seen in the past, nobody looked more improved than Roye. He played well last year as a reliable piece for the Wildcats but appears on the verge of taking it to an entire new level now. He EXPLODED for a dominant performance in Carmel’s first game, which resulted as a blowout 79-43 win over Williamsburg Christian Academy. I loved the energy that the 6’6” forward brought to the floor; it became contagious. He rebounded and blocked shots like an animal, igniting Carmel’s stellar defense from the very start. On the other side of the ball, his entire approach to offense gave off more of an aggressive mindset. Roye took a greater number of shots with range from the outside than I’ve seen from him in the past. When you add that notion to his finishes and how he drew more fouls than anyone else in Game 1, he pretty much demonstrated an all-around game. If he can keep it up, we might see him break out onto the scene as a top forward in the 804 area next season.
Logan Washington ’20 – Life Christian Academy (Chester, VA): Ok, so folks could’ve argued last year that the 6’7” Washington played as the best shot-blocker in the Richmond, VA area. Now, however, with Izeah Parker ’19 having departed for Coppin State University, I can’t think of anyone else who would give him a run for his money. Washington’s rim-protecting prowess completely changes everything in a contest. I saw him pick up four authoritative blocks in less than two minutes during Life Christian’s nail-biting 64-61 victory against St. Christopher’s School (Richmond, VA). He holds ELITE status when it comes to swatting away shots; had about 9-10 total in that same aforementioned game. His quick slips to the basket also works well in the Eagles’ execution. They know that they can throw the ball pretty much anywhere near the paint where Washington sits and he can use his length to grab it. If he can consistently show more comfort on the outside, coaches should start ringing his phone. One of the most underrated forwards in the 804, who earned my personal pick as a first team all-defense member.
Jermaine Taggart ’20 – McQuaid Jesuit HS (Rochester, NY): I haven’t scouted any New York hoopers up until Friday, but man, am I glad I got to watch Taggart’s Game 2 showing. Similar to Poindexter, he went on a second-half tear offensively. In a different type of fashion, however, I left impressed by how he put the Knights on his back to take the lead and eventually win a hard-fought matchup against Takoma Academy (Takoma Park, MD), 62-60. The game-winner also emerged from Taggart, off of a fast-break layup with less than two seconds on the clock. He has a very good build at 6’4” that makes him hard to match up with physically. I remember watching him muscle through multiple defenders after getting the ball in an ISO situation. Taggart’s shot-creating stood out in a significant way, as he showed a capability to heat up and take over stretches. This clearly took place when he score 11 points in a row during the second half of the game versus Takoma. A superb game effort by the New York native that I honestly really enjoyed watching.
Houston Emory ’21 – Blue Ridge School (St. George, VA): With 6’9” Jaden Frazier ’19, a Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division II second team all-state pick last season, having moved on to play his college hoops at Chattanooga, we can expect the younger Emory to step up even more now in holding down the interior. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, in terms of weight, but uses his 6’9” height advantage to a great extent and competes with some of the most grit for the Blue Ridge Barons. I love how focused he always appears on both ends. In the game against St. Anne’s Belfield School, the upperclassman performed everything his team could ask for in rebounding, defending, and running the floor. He does the latter some of the best of any forward I’ve seen in the state at his size; gliding across the court likewise to a guard. I saw more patience from him around the rim too, as he can spot those mismatches and back them down for easy buckets. Emory will still need to stay in the weight room, which obviously comes with time, but the valuable forward already stands out in a plethora of ways. His offer from Old Dominion University last Saturday is likely the starting point of his stock taking a boost.
Jedidiah Danaher ’20 – Carmel School (Ruther Glen, VA): Danaher looked like a great addition to the Carmel Wildcats mainly due to his overall confidence out there on the floor. There wasn’t much that he didn’t look comfortable in performing at. At 6’5,” he’s a capable shooter, good finisher, can rebound, and intercept steals. I deemed him more of a wing but his versatility may result in him fitting into multiple positions if needed at certain times. That ability primarily stems from toughness and passion, as it’s hard to stop a guy like him who plays with heart before anything else. Like his teammate, Roye, Danaher also took it upon himself to play with some of the best energy in Carmel’s first game. I’ll make sure to keep an eye out for the Wildcats’ newcomer.
Mike Brown ’20 – Takoma Academy (Takoma Park, MD): Returning as Takoma’s leading scorer from 2018-19, when he poured in 17 ppg a night during his junior campaign, the 6’3” guard wasted no time to show his deadly shooting once his squad started off their second game against McQuaid Jesuit. I took notice of the pure form on Brown’s shot. It looked just as pretty, if not more, than anyone else on this list. He rose up with great elevation, scoring it from both distance and the mid-range areas. It looked like he had the right idea on some of his pass attempts but they ended up as turnovers more times than not. That’s something I’m sure Brown can fix, as most scorers tend struggle with that issue at times. His length at the two-guard spot also can make him a solid attacker at the rim also, if he chooses not to settle for the outside shot all of the time. He has a good overall pace to his game and played as one of the most poised scorers I saw on the day.
Don’t forget to also look out for my standouts from Day 2 and Day 3 of Session I!