During the high school season, I remember interviewing and conducting articles on a few 2019 players who touched upon how they had spent the previous spring/summer playing in the VA Havoc AAU program. Their words reflected nothing short of praise about the organization, as they explained it playing a role conducive to their overall development and success. While that talk centered on the 17u group, I still had a chance to officially meet VA Havoc on Tuesday; checking out their 15u team. The youngest team I’ve done an ‘AAU open gym tour’ on thus far, I had to keep reminding myself that these guys were only still freshmen in high school. Once others get a good look at the team, they’ll see what I mean by this. They’re still youthful, but already stand out in SEVERAL areas.
VA Havoc 15u
Head Coach: Chris Johnson
Assistant Coach: Bernard Jefferson
The coaches explained to me how most of the group has played together for up to 6-8 years, gaining much success last year, especially. In addition, three players suited up for the Benedictine College Prep School (Richmond, VA) program (where Tuesday’s practice was held). Acknowledging all of that, it’s no surprise to see how comfortable the crew acts around each other. They showed very good enthusiasm, high confidence, and an overall feel for the game during my visit. Those intangibles will carry them a long way throughout this travel season and beyond. I also liked the structure of their practice and how both the players/coaches approached it. The 90-minute get-together began with drills implementing scenarios of attacking the rim, shooting, and full-court competition that started off 1v1, ultimately ending 4v4. VA Havoc spent the rest of their time going over sets, before concluding with a remaining few minutes of full-court 4v4.
Plenty of Possibilities
An initial impression that most will likely have of this 15u group pertains to their solid height. I noted this mainly in their perimeter players; the team has several tall guards on the roster. Those who know me well can confirm that I’ve always been a fan of guards with notable height/size. I always see it being an advantage in different ways, such as seeing over defenses, making pitch-ahead passes easier, and using mismatches over smaller defenders. VA Havoc has the potential to excel in such areas, as it seems everyone on Tuesday played either in the guard or wing spots. I don’t recall seeing any true post players, so this may create a 5-out style of offense. Having a lineup full of guards and wings should also result in fast-paced play; something I’m sure VA Havoc plans to execute the majority of the time.
Want to Get an Early Look?
Those curious to check out the team can do so this upcoming weekend (4/6 – 4/7). VA Havoc will participate in the ‘Zero Gravity Southern Showdown’ tournament, held at the U-Turn Sports Performance Academy in Richmond, VA. They’ll play back-to-back games (2:30 p.m. and 4:40 p.m.) on Saturday, returning to partake in a 2:10 p.m. Sunday matchup. I plan to cover the two-day event and look forward to seeing VA Havoc in game action, along with many other talented teams.
Meet the Team
Amari Bailey ’22 – Varina HS: Bailey’s a strong-shouldered athlete who should do well in earning transition points whenever the team decides to operate in a fast-break offense. He runs the floor well and has a good nose for the ball. I didn’t see him shoot much on Tuesday, but showing off a reliable jumper will indeed benefit him greatly in producing scoring numbers.
Alphonzo Billups III ’22 – Varina HS: I remember Billups from my viewings of his accomplished Varina High School team back during both the preseason and regular season. The 6’4” freshman showed promise then and should likely play a major role as VA Havoc’s most versatile player. Already tall for his natural position as a guard, Billups has the tools and skills to play in many other spots on the floor, which the coaches held optimism about. Definitely a 2022 prospect to keep on your list; his time should arrive quite soon.
Jaden Daughtry ’22 – Benedictine: Resting a banged-up knee, Daughtry was limited to his involvement in the practice; participating in only a few drills and run-throughs for sets. Nonetheless, I’ve heard and seen some good things on tape concerning the 6’4” wing/forward, who has a strong frame and confident ability that enables him to do damage both inside and out. He’s had some big scoring games already and appears hungry to make sure his name becomes widely known on the radar. I liked everything about Daughtry’s demeanor.
Anthony Fisher ’22 – Benedictine: One of the team’s primary ball-handlers, Fisher has great quickness and a string on the ball that makes him difficult to slow down when he steps onto the floor. This combines nicely with his way of finishing around the rim; finding difficult angles and using touch. It’s satisfying to see his on-court confidence and energetic personality, as he gives off an impression that he relishes taking over the important point guard position. The team’s offensive pace starts with him.
Andre Greene ’22 – St. Christopher’s School: Greene stepped on to contribute nicely for St. Christopher’s this season; often checking in to give the team toughness and make plays. On Tuesday, he was on fire from behind the three-point line and shot better than anyone else for the evening. If the 6’1” guard/wing can continue this type of shooting throughout the summer, while continuing to use his strong frame as an advantage, I’m confident he’ll start attracting more attention and become an even more valuable piece returning to St. Christopher’s.
Quincy Jefferson ’21 – Varina HS: Another strong guard, Jefferson had a day similar to Greene in shooting the ball quite well. Like one of the coaches noted, he definitely passes the eye test before anything else with his frame that looks beyond that of a typical underclassmen. Right now, he’s continuing to focus on sharpening up his skills; becoming more of a shot creator would help him make a jump in development. Keep an eye on the duo of him and Billups this summer and next semester at Varina.
Raquan Lee-Bryson ’22 – Armstrong HS: Another ball-handler, Lee-Bryson has a job similar to Fisher’s as a guy who will importantly dictate VA Havoc’s offense. He has solid athletic tools, which makes him capable of pushing the ball at a great rate and bursting fast off of screens. Right now, I feel his competitiveness and attacking mentality makes him most dangerous; two assets that he should continue to use fully.
Wendell Tomlin III ’22 – Benedictine: Tomlin III looked like one of the best athletes in the gym, undoubtedly having the most length in his frame. He covers the ground well with strides and can get up to finish above the rim at 6’4.” The wing played a big role on Benedictine’s varsity team this year in his first freshmen campaign, leading the Cadets in scoring multiple times. Right now, I’d classify him more as an athlete who should continue to improve in his skills as the weeks/months pass by. He also has a great chance to emerge as a lockdown defender with his physical traits and athleticism on the perimeter.
Christian Young ’22 – James Monroe HS: The forward has a big body and gives VA Havoc a reliable presence; being a guy who can muscle up opponents in the paint. I’m still trying to figure Young’s game out, but he nevertheless showed no fear in aggressively driving to the rim and going after rebounds. With his size and recognizing that the team contains little inside players, expectations may center on the freshman to take control of the interior whenever he steps on the floor. His tough mentality makes me confident that he could handle that type of role comfortably.
Three other players: Maurice D’Alessandro ‘22 (Fork Union), Trent Hendrick ’22 (St. Christopher’s School), and CJ Mosley Jr. ’22 (Highland Springs HS) all could not make Tuesday’s practice for various reasons. Still, the trio will contribute in different ways and importantly so, evident by the coaches’ words.
VA Havoc looks ready to wreak… well, havoc, again! I also hope to come across the organization’s other age groups at some point.