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IndiHoops Tip-Off Saturday

04/15/2018, 10:00am EDT
By Horace Neysmith

AOT, Nightryders, Celtics trio's shine

The transition from a dominant 16U team to a dominant 17U has been a difficult task for many over the years. AOT has been dominant in their age group over the last two years and go into this Spring as a consensus top three team in the country. They are loaded with talent at each position on the floor and have high major players coming off the bench, so you can appreciate the expectations. If the way they've played pre-EYBL is any indication they may be one of the few to turn 16U success to 17U success.

Battle tested leaders

It all starts with Sharife Cooper, the skilled point guard with creative vision and craftiness, one of the top passing guards in the country. Isaac Okoro, the glue guy that can score inside, dynamic on the break and is one of the top defensive wings nationally. The rich got richer when they added high level shooter Charles Smith IV but the biggest addition is 2020 wing Brandon "BJ" Boston. He was a perfect fit to a team that didn't need a ball dominant player as Boston is one of the  best at making his available for his spot jumper, slashes to the rim or the recipient of one of many lobs from Cooper. You add Jared Jones and Babatunde Akingbola to that mix and you have a team ready to challenge on the tough EYBL circuit.

Celtics 16U have tough backcourt

Dwon Odom is universally considered one the most athletic guards in the class. He has stayed in attack mode all weekend and has shown his much improved jumper. The thing I like about Odom is his willingness to rebound on both ends and his toughness on the defensive end. Devion Smith (Grayson HS) is the newest addition and his athleticism is not far behind Odom, almost unrecognizable. Thats a mouthful but when you watch the 5-11 guard you quickly see the explosiveness and his ability to attack and finish in the trees. He had some huge blocks in the hotly contested battle with the Nighryders (FL) against bigger and equally athletic players. Smith has a nice pull-up and can shoot it deep. The glue to the team is 6-5 PG Justin Powell (Montverde Academy). Powell can do most everything on the court and although a reluctant shooter at times is the teams best deep threat. He is a calming influence on the court and does a great job of blending his cerebral play with the high energy attacking style of Odom and Smith.

Nightryders will be force on 16U EYBL circuit 

This will be the Florida's program first on the EYBL circuit and there ready to challenge. In a close win over the Celtics three players emerged. 6'4 G Leonard Manuel (Vanguard, FL), 6'4 G Antwan Burnett (Lanier, AL) and the teams best prospect in 2021 6'9" PF Moussa Diabate (F;oriya Prep).

Manuel is a physical, attacking guard with high level defensive capabilities. He was tough to keep out the lane in the 2nd half comeback over the Celtics and did a very good job of slowing down the high scoring Odom. Burnett has a good feel for the game, does a nice job of moving without the ball, can score it deep or create his own off the bounce. Diabete is a long, athletic, high energy big that shows tremendous promise. He was a distraction defensively in the paint, has good feet to defend pick and roll, has a nice touch to 15-feet and runs the court well. One to watch as 2021 takes shape as potential top 25 player.

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