*Photo taken by ‘Big Shots Basketball’*
During my coverage of the ‘Big Shots Team Loaded’ tournament this past weekend (5/4-5/5), like any other event, I came across several familiar faces in the gym and also looked to find new ones. While the majority of Team Loaded AAU’s different teams filled up the age-division brackets, I and others couldn’t help but take note of another impressive program who’d made the trip down to Richmond, VA: Mid-Atlantic Select 17u. Founded in 2010 and primarily based out of the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area, Mid-Atlantic Select put on a strong showing throughout the weekend with a group that definitely ‘passed the eye test.’ The roster contains plenty of prospects with length/height and good skill; scoring can emerge from multiple players. On ‘Championship Sunday’ of the two-day tournament, Mid-Atlantic Select made their way into the semifinal round of the Gold (winner’s) bracket, taking on the talented Team Loaded VA 17u squad. Although the final result ended in Loaded VA’s favor, 63-55, spectators still acknowledged a great fight brought by Mid-Atlantic Select. One of the team’s youngest members, Noah Batchelor ’22, especially attracted attention for his standout tournament play. The Maryland product’s notably playing up, but clearly knows how to more than hold his own. One might have already seen one of the many online posts stating that he’s “a guy we’ll be hearing about a lot more in the years to come.”
The 6’6” Batchelor’s career of playing against older competition traces back to this past winter season at Goretti High School (Hagerstown, MD), when he made an impact on the Gaels’ varsity roster. Even with his undeniable young talent, Batchelor did well in refusing to play with a bloated head and using his freshmen season as a learning period.
“Some challenges (last season) were definitely trying to keep up with the seniors we had,” Batchelor admitted. “My coach had me guard Abdou Tetchueng Tsimbila ‘19 (6’8” forward committed to Penn State University) and RJ Blakney ‘19 (6’5” unsigned guard) every single practice. He said it was for me to get stronger and become a better defender by the end of the year. Once that (end of the year) arrived, I definitely found myself stronger and defending a lot better. I was around 160 lbs coming into Goretti and gained almost 30 pounds; I’m 187 now.”
While the staff had their own plan personally set up for Batchelor, Goretti indeed went on to have a very good season at 25-8 overall. The Gaels made appearances in the Baltimore Catholic League (BCL) championship and Alhambra Catholic Invitational tournament; both in March. When discussing hoops in Maryland and other counties within the surrounding DMV, Batchelor, like most, sees surrounding competition that can hang with just about anybody they come across.
“In my opinion, it (the DMV) has the best ball players you can find around the United States. I have traveled pretty much around the country, and also to Denmark, but I think the toughest competition rests in our area.”
NOTE: Batchelor plans to enroll in Glenelg Country School (Howard County, MD) for his remaining three years of high school.
Now, in full travel ball mode, Batchelor brings that competitive edge to Mid-Atlantic Select; making him one of the most valuable pieces of the team, based on what I saw last weekend. He did well in setting a tone early on the floor by playing physically, taking advantage of any spotted mismatches, and scrapping after 50/50 balls. At the conclusion of the ‘Big Shots Team Loaded’ tournament, however, the freshman still realized his squad has room for growth before finishing at the top where they desire.
“This summer, two main goals for our program are to get all of the 2020 kids signed for college ball and to get better both as individuals and as a group. Right now, I think we can improve on talking more on defense, boxing out, and grabbing rebounds. We also should work to do better moving on offense and creating space. For me, the coaches said this spring/summer is more of a learning experience and not so much trying to get seen by college coaches.”
The vision of Mid-Atlantic Select’s coaching staff seems to reflect that of Batchelor’s coaches at Goretti High School in a way. When you have a special young prospect in your hands, it often becomes easy to get wrapped up in making sure his or her name’s known on the college recruiting radar immediately. Nevertheless, taking small steps, starting with a primary focus on daily improvement, proves essential to that player’s development. It’s all about getting better to make sure one doesn’t pan out early at a young age. The college interest and offers have time to flow in.
Obviously in good company with his travel group, Batchelor already shows signs in fitting a mold of players we’re starting to see more and more of in today’s game: tall wings/forwards who can shoot the ball. At his height, he has great-looking form on his shot that stretches out to all three levels of the floor; making him a dangerous spot-up threat. He contains a strong motor that results in constant activity around the paint in rebounding and protecting the rim. Whenever he sees an opening, Batchelor also has solid athleticism to rise up for easy jams. That natural feel for on-floor production is a special trait to have at his age, which also may result in others confusing him as an upperclassman on the 17u scene. When remarking about his own image as a player, Batchelor notes a frequent comparison typically made by his peers.
“Tyler Herro from Kentucky. People say he’s like my twin. Everyone says we play the same and look the same. I model my game after him because he’s a lethal shooter, can put the ball on the floor, and isn’t afraid to dunk on someone.”
Not a bad comparison at all. I mean, Herro did play a big role for the Wildcats this past season as one of the team’s leading scorers (14.0 points per game) and likely should hear his name called in the NBA Draft next month. I definitely can see some resemblance in Batchelor’s game already. Still, he himself knows a lot more work needs to take place in his daily grind.
“Mainly, I’m working on my ball-handling, being able to take a defender off the dribble to the basket, using that one dribble pull-up, and making quicker decisions coming off of screens. I also work on understanding the game as a whole to improve my overall IQ.”
The more Batchelor becomes comfortable with the ball and his own shot-creating ability…he’ll turn into a matchup nightmare for opposing teams. His size and perimeter shot already fuse together to help him shoot over smaller defenders on the wing. Adding in more moves off of the bounce should transform him from being a good scorer to an exceptional scorer. The spring’s still early and there’s quite a few tournaments to play, but Batchelor already has one session in mind, about two months from now, that he’s looking forward to.
“I’m looking forward to when we head to Atlanta, because that’s the last live period. I can’t wait to show the college coaches what I have to bring to the table.”
Sounds like he definitely has that date, in mid-July, marked down on his calendar. It should emerge as another great opportunity for Batchelor, who’s just getting started in truly becoming a next-level target. Some college programs have already approached him and expressed interest. Like I pointed out earlier, however, the recruitment process always seems to happen when the time is right. For now, Batchelor can just maintain a dedicated commitment to the gym and enjoying life as a regular kid outside of the entire basketball aspect.
“When I’m not busy with basketball, I like playing mini golf with my family and going to the beach with my family and friends.”
Sounds like relatable talk from a high school underclassman. Outside of just his skills on the hardwood, I see a bright future ahead for Batchelor in his intangibles. He appears to have a good head on his shoulders and very thankful for any support given; shown when I approached him for this feature. Onward, he’s a name to remember in the class of 2022; you won’t want to miss out early.
Ah, the classic question: where does Noah Batchelor see himself in ten years?
“I see myself playing either in the NBA or playing professionally overseas. If that doesn’t work out, I would like to pursue a career in training while coaching the game.”
Hope to come across Noah and Mid-Atlantic Select again soon! They’re a group to watch… trust me.