|5 New York Ballers The NBL Needs To Look At|
From the moment that 'Mean' Al Green first suited up for the West Adelaide Bearcats in 1981, New York ball players have had a heavy influence on Australia's premier competition. Green still holds the record for most points in an NBL game with 71 and over the years more of Gotham's finest have graced our shores including, streetball legend Corey 'Homicide' Williams - 2010 winner of the NBL MVP - and Brooklyn's own, Gary Ervin, who captured the 2011 MVP with his spectacular season for Wollongong.
2012 was no exception, Jamar Wilson, a Bronx native, established himself as the best all-round point guard in the league, while the most dominant player to emerge from the blacktops of NYC in some years, Adris '2 Hard 2 Guard' DeLeon, displayed the skills for Gold Coast that earned him his moniker back in 'The City'.
Of all the players to come through the NBL via New York, none have been more decorated than Darryl 'D-Mac' McDonald. The Harlem magician will be remembered as, arguably, one of the top three greatest imports in league history.
But, New York City has more than just point guards to offer. As the season enters it's final stages, guys are preparing to wind up their summer circuit commitments and head back to their respective clubs. Even though most NBL clubs have filled their import rosters for the 2012-13 season, here's a list of guys that clubs should be keeping an eye out for.
With all due respect to Homicide, Gary Ervin and Adris DeLeon whom NBL fans already know, we have focused on guys that are not familiar to Australian audiences.
1) Kavon Lytch, Forward - Brooklyn
Kavon Lytch is widely considered one of, if not the, best big men in New York City these days. The burly 6'7 forward owns the low block. Feed him the ball down low and watch the man dubbed, 'Happy Feet' when he plays for Team Nike 2, go to work with an array of post moves and spins that will leave your head spinning as well. At 240lbs, Lytch is tough to move once he establishes position.
When the opposition decides it's time to send an extra defender to negate Lytch's influence, the big guy has incredible vision and is able to hit the open man out of a double-team. Defensively Lytch stays active, whether it's grabbing an offensive board, or reaching out in the passing lane to force a steal or turnover.
Although slightly undersized for a power forward in the NBL, his agility and basketball smarts will serve him well against taller, craftier, big guys in the league such as Shawn Redhage and Cam Tragardh. Lytch spent 2011-12 playing in Colombia.
2) Al Sheppard, Guard/Forward - Harlem
What can you say about the versatility of 'Shep', the guy is a flat-out baller. That's why when it came time for Nike to select the best streetballers in New York, Shep's name was right near the top of their list. Shep is a 6'6 swingman, but his game isn't defined by position, he does whatever is needed on the basketball court. Need a rebound? Shep's got you. How about locking down an opposition defender? Shep's your guy.
And the guy can flat out score too, as evidenced by his 50-point outburst at Bronx tournament Hoops In The Sun just recently - a tournament that he leads in scoring with a 29.7 ppg average.
His size and athleticism would give any NBL defender fits trying to contain him. He creates mismatches, big enough to back down smaller guards and he is strong enough to handle physicality in the paint.
3) Brian Laing, Guard/Forward - Bronx
'The Hitman', as he is known is NY street ball circles, is a product of the famed Seton Hall college program. The solidly built 6'5 Laing can play both guard and forward positions, his bigger frame giving him the advantage over smaller guards, and enabling him to bump chests with the bigger forwards when need be.
Laing spent four seasons as a Seton Hall Pirate and has been plying his trade overseas since then - although he has been close to an NBA roster spot with the New Jersey Nets a few years back. 'Hitman' can handle the ball too and his size allows him to back down defenders but his preferred method for scoring is the mid-range shot, which has become one of the most improved in NY streetball. Doesn't matter who's defending him, if Laing has a shot, best believe he will take it.
He's no slouch on the boards either, grabbing almost 7 per game in his final year of college, and rebounding with a vengence on the summer circuit as well.
4) Justin Burrell, Forward - Bronx
Justin Burrell is one of the most versatile players on the NY summer league circuit. Would be a welcome addition to any NBL club, his size (6'8, about 250lbs) and ability to also play outside the paint would be a defenders nightmare. A double-double each night he steps on the floor is almost assured with 'Megatron' (dudes nickname).
Burrell's post-game is impressive - relies mainly on strength - but his mid-range game is no joke either. Burrell will make sure his defender respects his game, or pay the price. He's quick for his size and it is not unusual to see Burrell block a shot, then be the first guy down the other end to finish the play as well.
Megatron is currently part of the Team Nike 2 stable but he has spent time in Japan, where he earned league MVP honors in 2011, and was recently invited to spend time with the Golden State Warriors summer league team and attend pre-season camp. His intention is to play in the NBA but if that fails, his size and athleticism could benefit an NBL club looking for a quality big.
5) Dwight Hardy, Point Guard - Bronx
Dwight Hardy, aka 'Top Shelf' is one of the best guards in New York City. Slightly built at 6'1, Hardy would be perfect in an NBL league that favors top point guard play. Dispelling the myth that NYC point guards can't shoot, Hardy can put big numbers up on the board in a short amount of time, and also has a killer handle. He's able to blow by defenders and get to the rim, or dish out to open teammates when defenders collapse.
While playing in the Italian Second Division last year, the Bronx native put up 22ppg (46% F/G) earning himself a new contract, this time with a Serie A team for this season (SS Felice Scandone Avellino). Able to read the ebbs and flows of a game with aplomb, Hardy also drew the attention of NBA champion Miami Heat, and got a Summer League spot with the champs.
Whether an NBA call-up in the near future arises or not, Hardy may be drawn to weekly battles against the likes of top notch PG's in Jamar Wilson, Adris DeLeon (provided a return occurs) or Kevin Lisch in the NBL in season 2013-14.
|Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 May 2013 14:46 )|