From the Bleachers
George Glymph Fall League (Columbia, SC) Part 2
The Game Changers
By Eric Dawkins
The date was October 10, 2017. The venue – the Cardinal Newman High School gymnasium in Columbia, South Carolina. The scene was electrifying as players from a few of the Midlands top high schools competed in the George Glymph Fall League. The schools represented were Blythewood, Cardinal Newman, Heathwood Hall, Ridge View, Spring Valley and Sumter.
From the bleachers, it was hard to decipher if these were regular season or fall league games. The wins or loses do not count towards the season but try telling that to the players. Many of these ballers live in the same neighborhoods yet attend different schools, compete against one another during the summer, or play together during travel ball. They compete for school pride, personal pride and for a general love of the game and that makes it fun to watch. Basketball in the Midlands is in good shape now and for the near future.
The gym was filled with talented young men who were equally deserving of a mention in this article. With so many players to choose from, today the focus will be on game changers. Webster’s dictionary defines game changer as a “…factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way.”
From the bleachers, it was easy to see how the following players could significantly change an existing situation:
6’9” 2018 Robert Braswell (Blythewood HS, Blythewood SC) Team United
A long, springy, athletic 6’9” Small Forward; Braswell currently sports at least 9 D1 offers. With a high basketball IQ that is matched by a high skill set, he presents a match-up nightmare for players. Mr. Braswell shoots over smaller defenders and blows by equally sized players. Tonight he changed the game by displaying a broad range of skills. He rebounded and went coast to coast for dunks. He led the break and set up his teammates. He shot the ball from all spots on the court; connecting from the elbow, short corner, and the from behind the arc. Defensively he chased downs plays. He has great anticipation and a quick second jump that allowed him to block shots and efficiently rebound. One gets the impression watching Braswell that he is a selfless player who likes to involve his teammates but can quickly take-over a game when needed. More offers will come.
6’2” 2018 Daniel Dunlap (Cardinal Newman HS, Columbia SC) SC Kings
Currently with offers from Coker College and Benedict College, Mr. Dunlap is a human highlight reel. Long known for his freakish athleticism, he did not disappoint the fans. Several dunks were made and a few bodies were caught tonight. What’s scary is his game is catching up with that bounce. He displayed very good court vision; picking up multiple assist. He shot the ball very well. This kept the defenders on their heels and opened up the game for his teammates. Defensively, he changed the game because he never gave up on a play and chased down multiple fast breaks. He altered several shots because of his leaping ability and out-rebounded taller players. He also provided excellent help side coverage. This allowed teammates to put a lot of pressure on the ball. Dunlap plays both sides of the court equally hard and is going to be a steal for someone at the next level.
6’0” 2018 Julian Smith (Spring Valley, Columbia SC)
Fresh off winning the Mr. Station award at Phenom’s SC Top 80, Smith changed the game in ways that are not reflected in stat sheets. From the bleachers you can see the intensity by which he approached and played the game. He constantly kept a ball in his hand before his game. If you were looking for him, he could be found in the corner warming up and building up a sweat. He takes it serious. At tip-off he is ready; hot out of the wrapper – no warm-up or break-in needed. He ran around the court and moved without the ball like Rip Hamilton. Defensively, he frustrated ball-handlers, chased every loose ball, and mixed it up with the Bigs while rebounding. While doing all of that, he managed to lead his team offensively as the PG. He was hard to keep out of the paint and showcased a very good pull-up jumper. He is a next level player.
5’11” 2019 Joseph McKenny (Ridge View HS, Columbia SC) Upward Stars Columbia
Defensively, he is like that. Mr. McKenny aggravated ball-handlers all night to the point where you started to feel bad for them. His on ball pressure changed the game and led to several fast break lay-ups. He was the fastest player on the court and used his speed to dig the post and recover to the shooters. Offensively, he is very skilled. It was hard to keep him out of the paint; where he both finished and created for others. He has a smooth left-handed jumper and demonstrated the ability to knock down the 3. In a two-minute stretch, McKenny had 2 steals, dove on the floor for the recovery, finished a hard foul lay-up (foul wasn’t call though), and knocked down a pull-up jumper. That’s tough. Most impressive was the fact that he ended the game the same way he started; playing hard. His steal with 4 seconds left sealed the game for his team. If asked “buy or sell” on McKenny; he is a definite buy. He is one to watch.