It felt good to once again check out some high school hoops last night, as the 2019 L.C. Bird High School Summer League continued in Chesterfield County, Virginia. There’s a couple of different summer leagues occurring throughout the 804 for these next six weeks; I’m hoping to get a look at each one. I’ve had various individuals urge me to check out L.C. Bird’s hosted two-week event, however, as the staff has done a great job marketing the entire league on their website and social media accounts. Unfortunately, my work schedule only allows me to attend two days total (yesterday evening and one more time next week). Nevertheless, a good slate of games take place each night, Monday through Friday, and I had the chance to see some talented guys looking to break out onto the scene once their school season arrives later this year. Summer leagues are always a good early opportunity to build up chemistry within a group; something that proves essential once the balls start to roll in the winter.

Game 1:

King’s Fork HS – 77
L.C. Bird HS (2) – 62

Game 2:

L.C. Bid HS (1) – 82
Prince George HS – 63

Game 3:

King’s Fork HS – 79
Colonial Heights HS – 27

 Game 4:

L.C. Bird HS (2) – 69
Carver Academy – 35

 

Some Team Notes

  • As the hosts, L.C. Bird came out ready to play from the initial jump and refuse to slow down at any given point. They did a tactic of splitting their team up into two different groups; evident by the (1) and (2) listings above. Both of the Skyhawks’ teams have young members with enormous potential to become something special as a whole. They did the best in executing team ball in the half-court, as their rotating passes got opponents in a scramble and led to open perimeter looks. Several different guys can shoot the rock with ease. However, I personally feel their collective defense can become their most dangerous asset. They play with a pesky approach and caused turnovers at will, which usually led to easy scores on the other end. They’re simply a fun team to watch because of their balanced attack. It worked well for them last year and I don’t see it changing a bit next season.
  • Members in the Suffolk, VA area should start taking notice of King’s Fork quite soon…they have the chance to really make some noise down there. I felt they secured the most impressive win of the day in Game 1, considering they had to battle back from being down a notable margin. Pretty much all of the Bulldogs’ players share that ‘attack first’ mentality; leading to consistent paint touches and drawn fouls. In addition, they shot the ball solidly also, more so as the night went on. The key for them involves making sure to not get out of control during their play. They looked at their best when slowing the game down a tad bit and achieving better offensive looks that weren’t rushed. That ability to regroup and focus up specifically led to the Game 1 win.
  • Well, the Prince George Royals definitely have a different look this year after losing seven seniors. However, a few key veteran pieces return back to the program and I’m starting to see other underclassmen step up to fill big shoes also. I could tell that the team’s still trying to figure some things out in their half-court offense but they looked like one of the best teams in pitching the ball yesterday. That fast strategy in transition can work well at an extreme rate when guys have a feel for each other. To demonstrate it already in June stuck out to me, so I know Prince George will end up just fine. One thing is for sure, they live in the gym.

 

My Seven Evening Standouts

Tyler Henderson ’20 – L.C. Bird HS: Seven seniors may have departed from the Skyhawks 2018-19 group, with the majority of them going on to play in college, but the team still remains in good hands with Henderson running the show. He earned my personal pick as the best defensive point guard I saw in Richmond, VA last season and continued to show that prowess last night. The 5’8” floor general does a lot of things well but his approach to defense separates him from the rest. Henderson’s court vision also hasn’t missed a beat, especially once he gets in the open floor. He has this way of delivering in various categories that makes him arguably L.C. Bird’s most important returning piece. It’s definitely his team now. The rising senior posted nine points, seven assists, and four steals in a Game 2 win.

Quentin Livingston ’21 – King’s Fork HS: When strictly talking about offensive production, nobody looked better than Livingston yesterday. His physical frame jumped out to me initially; I tweeted that the athletic wing appears stronger and taller now. It seems like he’s gone from 6’3” to around 6’5.” The physical improvements were only one eye-catcher, however, as the newly King’s Fork Bulldog has clearly been in the gym perfecting his craft. I liked how he attacked the lane to find open teammates underneath the rim, showing off his facilitating skills. Early on in Game 1, he played with some of the most energy to earn quite a few free-throw attempts and forcefully grab rebounds. An explosive second half outburst, during that same opening game, led to him finishing with a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds, along with four assists and three steals. Much of the same occurred for Livingston during King’s Fork’s Game 3 blowout win: 25 points, nine rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. There wasn’t much that he couldn’t do out there on the court; others around Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic Region should be hearing about him even more quite soon. That stock has a chance to blow up dramatically.

 Curtis Allen ’22 – Prince George HS: Last night brought another viewing of the younger Allen brother; my second one in a little over two weeks. Again, he showed everybody in the stands that he can get the job done. He shot the ball best from three-point territory for the Royals; going 4-8. If he can continue that stellar shooting to go along with aggressive play, it’s going to take multiple defenders to stop him. There’s still some areas of improvement, however, starting with finishing better around the rim. His muscular 6’2” frame helps him get to the basket pretty easily but he’ll just need to keep working on body control and learn how to slow down so he can complete the finish. Maintaining a focus on that area and his handle could lead to him becoming one of Prince George’s most dangerous prospects as only a sophomore. His ceiling has looked as one of the highest in Richmond’s 2022 class. He had 16 points in Game 2.

Amari Gray ’22 – L.C. Bird HS: Being my first time seeing Gray, I felt my jaw drop when I discovered he also fit in the 2022 class. Based on the way he maturely played, one would’ve deemed him as one of the oldest minds on the L.C. Bird squad. No other player in his class got to the charity stripe better than Gray, who took 10 free-throw attempts in Game 2. With some good shooters around him, I feel the young 6’2” Skyhawk can hold a strong role as one of the team’s best slashers, especially if opponents play L.C. Bird’s shooters tightly at times. He recognized open gaps quickly and attacked with a relentlessness. He’s also capable from producing on the outside a bit and put up a near double-double of 17 points and nine rebounds in L.C. Bird’s win over Prince George. He very well may be taking over as one of the go-to guys this upcoming season.

Chris Allen ’21 – Prince George HS: The elder Allen, Chris, had good moments in his first full varsity season with the Royals last year and now appears even more imposing. His big body and sneaky quickness make him very hard to contain at different levels of the floor. He’s the type who can smartly catch opponents slacking and physically bully his way past them for fouls and/or contact finishes. His frame helps him out in certain ways but transforming it to move better laterally and jump higher could increase his defensive/rebounding presence. Prince George may need him to relish crashing the glass, as he contains the tools to do so. With Chris and Curtis on the floor, they’re an assertive duo and should play a huge importance moving forward. Likewise to his brother, Chris had 16 points his team’s Game 2 loss.

Promyse Ferguson ’21 – L.C. Bird HS: In my eyes, the lengthy wing had the best shooting performance of the entire evening, totaling six three-pointers for a game-high 18 points in Game 2. Ferguson looked very good at relocating to different spots in L.C. Bird’s half-court game for quick triggers on his smooth shot. In addition, he also played really hard on the defensive end to make shots difficult for Prince George. Combining shooting and defense could easily transform the 6’3” Ferguson into one of the team’s most valuable ‘3&D’ guys. He should keep working to expand his overall skills and contribute in other areas like rebounding and playmaking but that sharpshooting makes him a deadly weapon once he checks into the game.

Ryan Hite ’23 – King’s Fork HS: As one can probably dictate by now, I saw a handful of noteworthy young guys in the league yesterday. One of the youngest in attendance, Hite was no exception. He hasn’t even began his first year of high school basketball yet but took on older opponents with zero fear. It quickly became apparent that he’s already a special one on the rise, who already contains a high IQ and feel for things. He can make shots, defend, draw fouls, and rebound at the two-guard spot. As he continues to learn under his coaches and older teammates, the rising freshman should only become better by the day. He’s already showing a handful of intangibles. Hite had six points and two assists in Game 1, followed by a performance of 13 points and seven rebounds in Game 3.

Looking forward to returning back to the league next week!