Thursday, September 29, 2011

Houston St. Thomas' Christian Sanders To Stanford

We've been so busy, we didn't have time to congratulate Christian Sanders of Houston St. Thomas on his commitment to the Pac-12 and big time academic school, Stanford.  Sanders, paired in the backcourt with 2012 G Chase Brogna and 2012 P Jeremy King led Coach Danny Evans to the TAPPS 5A State Championship last year.  They've got all the pieces to make another run at it this season as well. 

Sanders is a lights out shooter who played for the Houston Defenders.  The loaded Defenders squad was one of three Texas teams to come away with National Summer Titles winning the Orlando Super Showcase. (Texas Assault-Adidas Super 64 and Texas D1 Ambassadors-Las Vegas Live) were the others.  Congratulations to the Sanders Family.  Did you know?  Christian's dad, Brad played for the Kansas Jayhawks back in the day.
You can see Sanders game on display November 25-26th in Houston at the D1 Nation Thanksgiving Jamboree.

Friday, September 23, 2011

All American Prodigy Camp-Arizona 2 On 2

The All American Prodigy Camp will be held in Austin, TX on Saturday, October 1st, 2011 @ Concordia University.  Register online now at  Get on the radar!

At last week's All American Prodigy Camp in Phoenix, Arizona there was plenty of fresh new talent on hand.  After the skills stations in the morning session, the players set about to implement their lessons in the 2 on 2 tournament.  Champions were crowned in several divisions.
2017 Parker Farley (left) and 2017 Jacob Ries (right) were top dogs in the 7th grade class
 2015 Tyler Motley a 5'9" WG from Scottsdale Desert Mountain 2015 (left) and Sumeet Khara (right) a 6'1" G from Gilbert Highlands captured the 8th-9th grade 2 on 2.
 2014 G 6'1" Kris Lamberson (left) of Arizona Lutheran and 2014 G 6'0" Christian Harris of Mesa both kncoked down shots and moved well without the ball to win the 10th grade division of the 2 on 2 competition.
 2012 W 6'7" Austin Cooke of Scottsdale Desert Mountain (left) and 5'9" Caleb Maguet of Mesa took care of business amongst the 11th-12th graders.  Once again, Cooke shot lights out while the scrappy Maguet got every loose ball.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

All American Prodigy Camp: Mr. Hustle

One of my favorite acknowledgements to hand out after camp is the "Mr. Hustle" designation.  My own son would win this award several times at camps over the years as a youngster. I always believe it's a great barometer of where a player is headed as the fomula of "work in, and results out" is a pretty reliable indicator of a player's capacity and desire to work hard and to be able to continue to improve.

Class of 2017: Patch Nelson         Mountainside MS
From the time of his arrival, (at 7AM!) to the time he left the gym, this youngster never stopped.  He competed hard in drills and competitions.
Class of 2016: David Cummard    Taylor MS
Cummard was all business and showed a maturity you don't expect from an 8th grader.  He never skipped a beat.
Class of 2015: Parker Dippel        Scottsdale Desert Mountain
Dippel is a machine.  Does whatever is asked of him in double time and with zeal.
Class of 2015 Sumeet Khara         Gilbert Highland
Khara was the co-Mr. Hustle for the Class of 2015. Once again, he was all business. His mouth was closed and ears were open to instruction. Then he went out and busted his tail.
Class of 2014: Will Goff                Desert Mountain
Goff went conscientiously about every drill with a blue collar, no fanfare fundamental approach.
Class of 2013: Jordan Thomas      Mesa
Thomas was tough, inside and out.  Played with a chip on his shoulder, backing down from nobody.
Class of 2012: Isaac Vogan           Avondale Agua Fria
Vogan played like he had something to prove. (And as an unsigned senior, he does.)  Easily the most physical player in camp, playing every play like it was his last.
These are the kind of players who will continue to improve and have success.  Not only on the basketball court, but in life.  There is no substitute for hard work and these kids brought it in droves.  I could take these 7 guys and go to the park and they'd win game after game. They are my "All Sweaty Team"....What's that smell, it's the smell of victory!

Austin, TX All American Prodigy Camp at Concordia University, Saturday October 1st, 2011.  Register now!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

All American Prodigy Camp Lifts Off In Arizona

From all reports, a new brand of camp debuted yesterday in Phoenix (Mesa), Arizona. With the gym of storied Mesa High with it's great history of Division One players and State Championships as a backdrop the campers went to work.  With a capacity of 60 campers, 50 actually attended the inaugural Arizona Camp and were treated to a day of "blood, sweat and knowledge".  The NCCA defines recruitable athletes as beginning in the the grade so we had an assortment of players from the 7th-12th grade in attendance.

The camp was headlined by motivational and informational speakers as Coach Max Ivany of D1Nation, Coach Shane Burcar of Mesa, Coach Mark Nelson of Grand Canyon University and Coach Dedrick Taylor of Arizona State University spoke about recruiting and basketball in general.  Parents walked away with significantly more knowledge about how to maximize their child's chances for success at having an opportunity to reach the next level of play. The staff included several high school coaches; Coach Velaszco of Mesa, John Ortega of Desert Mountain and Bob Henige of Joy Christian.  Coach Henige handled the bigs and was an NAIA All American and overseas pro back in the day.  I can't thank these coaches enough for sharing their experience and expertise with the players and their families.

A big thank you also goes out to my friend, former Harlem Globetrotters GM Chad Groth. Groth was on hand writing for  He also runs Area Codes Scouting Service and puts on an excellent Academic Showcase in Phoenix.  It will be held next Sunday, September 25th at Copper Canyon High School in Glendale, AZ.  Be there!

The All American Prodigy Camp is a teaching model and not a showcase style event.  The players had plenty of opportunity to showcase their skills through the series of stations and drills in the morning session. When the afternoon began it turned to competitions as 3 on 3 "no dribble" champs were declared, 3 on three champs, 2 on 2 champs and finally a hot shot shooting contest where an overall co-champion was declared after 4 rounds of shooting.  We'll recap the camp and some of it's top performers over the next couple of days.

The three on three "No Dribble" competition requires most players to totally re-evaluate their game and their thinking.  Most of today's youngsters are so in love with their dribble that when you take it awa from them they're like a deer in the headlights.  Credit to this group though as most of them made a noticable improvement as the drills went on and began to understand that moving WITHOUT the basketball is a huge part of being a success in this game.
From left to right: The trio of 2014 Christian Harris, 2013 Jordan Thomas of Mesa and 2014 Hugh Coles of Coronado combined lights out shooting, along with Thomas crashing the boards to win the "No Dribble 3 on 3".
In the regular Three on Three competition, a whole new set of players prevailed.  From left to right: 2014 Will Goff of Desert Mountain,  2012 Austin Cooke of Desert Mountain and 2014 Carlos Medina of Peoria rode the hot perimeter shooting of George to take top honors.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Part Two of our All American Prodigy Camp Report-Day 2

Friday, September 16, 2011

San Antonio Stevens Uche Ofoegbu To SMU

This morning I received a call from Pastor John Ofoegbu telling me his son had made his decision on where to attend college.  His son Uche Ofoegbu's choice, Southern Methodist University in Conference USA.  In the end, it came down to a combination of high end academics and an opportunity to play for a coach who really wanted him.  Matt Doherty was there at every turn of the recruiting period showing Ofoegbu that he was the guy they just had to have.  
2012 G Uche Ofoegbu shown below with the Texas D1 Ambassadors
 There was a history with SMU as Coach Doherty had Uche's older brother Ike as a player when he first came to SMU.  Ike is a big Matt Doherty fan.  That's 4 for 4 now for Mr. and Mrs. John Ofoegbu of San Antonio as their eldest son John, along with Uche's older sister both played at Texas Tech.  They also have represented Nigeria in international play and are overseas pros.

At 6'5" Uche Ofoegbu is a physical, fearless guard. He is a streaky shooter from the perimeter, but when he's hot he's HOT.  He is strong and fearless when going to the hole, and rebounds relentlessy.  If you don't put a body on him he will throw it down on you.
Below: Ofoegbu is matched up against his old D1 Ambassadors team mate Rasheed Sulaimon who is committed to Duke.  Ofoegbu got the best of Sulaimon on this day as he led the D1 Ambassadors to the Las Vegas Live Championship over the Houston Hoops.
SMU also gets a player of impeccable character, has very good academics and old school values.  How many teenagers do you know who don't even own a cell phone?  Uche has come by this honestly as Pastor Ofoegbu and his family work tirelessly in their native Nigeria bringing relief, building schools and supplies from Texas twice a year.-Congratulations Uche from Coach Paul Josephs and Coach Max Ivany and the D1 Anbassadors Family

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Top 100 G Alex Caruso To Texas A&M

As I tweeted yesterday at noon, 2012 G Alex Caruso of aTm Consolidated High School in College Station, TX has given his verbal commitment to the hometown Aggies.  That has to have a bunch of crazy Aggies yelling "WHOOP". Alex and his family had visited Colorado last weekend and up until mid day yesterday was conflicted about which was the best option for him.  In the end, the draw of playing in his hometown was the deciding factor.  Caruso grew up as the Aggies ball boy, when Coach Billy Clyde Gillispie (now at Texas Tech) was the Head Coach so it was ingrained in him.  Coach Billy Kennedy and Assistant Kyle Keller (who came over from Kansas) did a great job of recruiting him.
Alex Caruso shown below at the Texas D1 Ambassadors training camp in Galveston, TX

What are the odds of two of the top guards in the country in the Class of 2012 growing up within 5 miles of each other in two separate, small Texas towns? Of being alumni of the same club team, the Texas D1 Ambassadors?  And of course playing in the same district?  Apparently those odds are better than average as he joins Bryan's J.Mychal Reese in the Aggies 2012 backcourt sweepstakes.
Caruso throwing one down at the Pangos All American Camp in Los Angeles.  Photo compliments of ESPN.

Caruso, at a shade under 6'6" can play the one, two or three.  He rebounds exceptionally well, has great court vision and is the best off ball defender (ability to read passing lanes) than anyone I've had the pleasure to coach.  Perhaps the thing that shocks folks about the wafer thin Caruso is his rise.  With the exception of Shabazz Muhammad there is not a guard in the country that brings that kind of explosiveness.  He's above the square and perhaps one of the most dominant prep dunks I've ever seen was when he went baseline against the Australian 19U team in Houston this past spring and threw it down on the head of a 6'9" MAN who had no idea what hit him.
Caruso at the NBA Players Camp in Charlottesville, VA

Unlike Reese who's had national attention since he was 10 years old, Caruso is a late comer to the party.  We knew he was pretty good last year at 6'3", but it was his overal maturity this past spring which shocked a lot of folks.  An outstanding spring at the Las Vegas Easter Classic and at the Denver Spring Showcase had his name on everyone's lips.  He followed that up with an outstanding Pangos All American Camp in Los Angeles which garnered him an invitation to Dave Telep's NBA Top 100 Players Camp in Charlottesville, VA. 

Alex is the son of Mr and Mrs Mike Caruso of College Station, TX.  Gotta give props to Papa Mike who was a player and later a coach in his day at Creighton under Coach Eddie Sutton. Mr. Caruso is now the Associate Athletic Director for the Aggies.-Congratulations Alex from the D1 Nation Family-Coach Max Ivany

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pflugerville's Next Great PG: T.J. Williams

The tradition of great point guard play runs deep with the Texas D1 Ambassadors program. Nowhere is it more entrenched than in Pflugerville High School's succession of outstanding floor generals.  The PG legacy at Pflugerville, an Austin suburb began with Bryan Beasley (Rice), Jonathan Garza (Lamar) and recently departed Deon Mitchell (Northern Iowa).

The heir apparent is 2013 PG T. J. Williams.  I first met T.J. and his father, Tim when he was in the 4th grade and can remember this little kid who just had a sixth sense for how to play the game.  He not only understood the next move two passes before anyone else saw it coming (very similar to an accomplished chess player) but even more importantly even though he was the best player on the court his first thought was to make a pass to involve other players for easy baskets.  In this day of me first basketball, Williams was a mature thinking basketball player at only 10 years old.

For years, Williams was the undersized thinking man's player...that is until this past spring when he began to sprout.  He's now a legit 6'1" in his bare feet.  Of course we'll list him at 6'2".  The doctors say his growth plates are still wide open. We initially had him playing 17U as a freshman and he took his lumps but this past spring and summer was a different story.  Paired in the backcourt with cat quick 2012 PG Michael Hardge of Georgetown allowed Williams to alternate time playing off the ball and taking on combo duties.  His passing ability and ballhandling were never in doubt, so this summer he showcased the additional ability to shoot the three ball, mid range and a new found strength in finishing around the goal.

This season Pflugerville will be led by longtime Assistant David Raigosa as legendary Coach Mike Murphy steps down to do a little bit of broadcasting and to work on his potent golf game but don't expect any fall off from the Panthers.  They've got too many talented young players and a healthy tradition of being winners.. Expect T.J. Williams to lead the way and then head off into the sunset to play D1 basketball like his fellow Pflugerville and D1 Ambassadors alumni before him.

The D1 schools are already calling and visiting his high school workouts.  At the moment he is being courted by Texas State, San Francisco, Denver, Evansville, Albany, and Missouri State.  LSU has even made contact.  If Williams continues to grow you can expect more of the power conference schools to come calling. T.J. is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Tim Williams of Pflugerville.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Colorado's Roberson Projected High In NBA Mock Draft

This afternoon I received a call from Papa John Roberson of San Antonio, TX preceded by a text with a link to the 2013 NBA Mock Draft.  He asked my thoughts after seeing that his son, Andre was the #4 overall pick in that publication.  I replied the following:
1. Get an insurance policy
2. Looks like the Roberson Clan would be living large
3. Make sure his boy sponsors a D1 Ambassadors team out of his native San Antonio!

"Who'd a thunk it?" Roberson was a standout player at Converse Wagner High School in the suburbs of San Antonio who along with Tulsa's Jordan Clarkson twice led his team to the Texas 5A Final Four.  Papa John played at New Mexico State and then followed it up with a 13 year pro career. When Roberson left high school he was razor thin but had a reputation of rebounding fiercely against much bigger players.  I sat with the UCLA coaches during the 2010 Texas High School Playoffs and all but begged them to take a flier on young Andre.  They were intrigued, but resisted as they didn't think he could help them immediately.

Colorado Buffaloes Soph Forward 6'7" Andre Roberson
(Photo compliments of Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Andre was scheduled to visit Penn State in late April of 2010 when he travelled to Denver for a spring tournament (Best Buy Spring Showcase) when he joined his Texas D1 Ambassadors team mates for an unofficial visit to Boulder.  He immediately fell in love with the campus.
Time moves on.  Roberson (far right) enjoyed his unofficial to Colorado in April of 2010.  That was a pretty good crew. From left to right: Coach Max Ivany, Jake Kocher (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Alex Caruso (who just returned from his official visit to Colorado yesterday), Jalen Washington (Kilgore JC), Jaleel Williams (San Jose State), Deon Mitchell (Northern Iowa), Big Dave Hahn, Reinier Strobos (the brains of the operation who is now a freshman at M.I.T.). Missing from picture is Dylan Elias (Northern Colorado)
Just in case Andre starts getting a big head, his older sisters will rein him in.  Ashlee played basketball for Texas Tech and then professionally last year in Romania leading her team to the Romanian Cup and the Central European Championship and sister Amber is s 4 year starter for the Texas Longhorns nationally ranked volleyball team.  As the Buffs 6th man last season as a true freshman, Roberson averaged 22 minutes, 6.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

D1 Nation Recruiting Visits

Three members of the D1 Nation head off on recruiting visits.  2012 G 6'2" Matt Gramling will finish quarterbacking San Antonio MacArthur tonight and then he'll hop a flight to beautiful Charleston, South Carolina birght and early Saturday morning to the Citadel.  Gramling has offers from Citadel, Army, Navy, Air Force, Monmouth, Lafayette, Bradley, New Hampshire and UT-Arlington where his godfather, Scott Cross is Head Coach.  Frankly, any of these schools will be fortunate to land Gramling who is tough as nails and a winner.  He went head to head against the country's top guards all spring and summer leading the Texas D1 Ambassadors -San Antonio to the 17U Las Vegas Live Platinum Championship.
2012 G Matt Gramling of San Antonio MacArthur
Stretch 3/4 man Connor Lammert continues his official visits.  After visiting Vanderbilt and Texas A&M last week he made the 90 minute drive up Interstate 35 from San Antonio to Austin where he'll enjoy an official visit with the Texas Longhorns, tour the facilities, watch the football game and listen to Coach Rick Barnes' plans for him.  Lammert has already taken two unofficials to The 40 Acres. Lammert will take a week off for homecoming and then take his final official visit to Texas Tech on September 24th.

2012 F 6'9" Connor Lammert of San Antonio Churchill
After literally walking across the street from his College Station home for his official visit at Texas A&M last week 2012 G 6'6" Alex Caruso a versatile, high flying guard who can play either the one, two or three will visit somewhat familiar territory as he heads to Denver and then up to Boulder, Colorado to the University of Colorado.  After being hosted by Tecas D1 Ambassadors alum Daniel Alexander last week in Aggieland he'll be hosted by another D1 Nation alum as Colorado soph Andre Roberson (Converse Wagner) shows Caruso the ropes. Caruso made an unofficial to Colorado last year while playing an April tournament in Denver with the D1 Ambassadors.
2012 G Alex Caruso of College Station Consolidated shown below at the D1 Ambassadors training camp in Galveston, TX

Thursday, September 8, 2011

D1 Nation Alumni Report: Alex Ellis

The Class of 2010 D1 Ambassadors squad coached by Jon Lindsey was one of the most feared teams on the circuit.  As back to back winners of the Houston Kingwood Classic they sent many a big name squad back hone scratching their heads as to what happened.  Some great players off that crew went on to play Division One basketball including Cody Doolin (San Francisco), Daniel Alexander (Texas A&M), Trey Lindsey (Louisiana-Monroe), J.J. Avila (Navy), Jordan Clarkson (Tulsa) and Chris Clements (Princeton).
Perhaps the purest shooter of that group, Alex Ellis of Austin High took a different route.  He is the first D1 Ambassadors alumni to earn a scholarship to play Division One golf.  He's at the beautiful College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. He may be the smartest one of the bunch as he's picked a lifelong sport in golf, a game that opens up many doors and the links are reknowned as the best place to close business deals.

Alex is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Ellis of Austin, TX and played his high school basketball for Austin High School under Coach Tres Ellis (now at Austin Westlake).
Celtics great Ray Allen (left) tees it up with Texas D1 Ambassadors alumni Alex Ellis
Alex's favorite sport growing up was basketball.  He told me he always aspired to be like J.J. Reddick.  He played golf because he was good at it, but spent 10 years struggling with his love for basketball.  He liked shooting three's more than he did making birdies.  (What the heck Alex???? I'm lucky to get one birdie a round!)  Ellis loved the team aspect of basketball, especially the camaraderie of travelling to different states with his D1 Ambassadors Family.

"The best decision I ever made in my basketball career happened in Florida in my 8th grade summer… It was a 3 on 2 fast break and I decided to step in the lane with Jackson Jeffcoat (now the starting defensive end for the University of Texas). At the time he had me by almost a foot and at least 100 lbs, and he used every bit of it. The only thing I remember was looking straight into his waistband and the ball hitting me in the head after he dunked on me. It was awful at the time, but I say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me because that dunk really put things in perspective.

That’s is when I started realizing that I may not have been athletic enough, and I definitely wasn’t big enough. So from that point on I knew basketball wasn’t for me, I was meant to play golf. I played two more High School seasons and then gave it up for good. I still miss it every time basketball season comes around, but looking back on it I know I made the right choice in playing golf. Golf has given me opportunities like playing golf with Ray Allen and Colt McCoy as well as a Scholarship to play in one of the greatest cities in the world, Charleston, South Carolina.-Alex Ellis"

Alex, we are indeed proud of you as are your folks and your hometown of Austin, TX.-Coach Max Ivany

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

D1 Nation Alumni Spotlight: Robert Griffin III

Baylor's Robert Griffin III
The D1 Nation's alumni are primarily Division One basketball players but over the years we've had some great track men while others have gone on to football glory.  Robert Griffin III could have been all of the above and then some.  His last season of basketball was his freshman year as a member of the Texas D1 Ambassadors.  Hailing from Copperas Cove High School Griffin was a heck of a hooper.  A long striding wing guard with great hops he was also a straight A student and ended up entering Baylor a year earlier than expected.  Man, are the Baylor faithful ever happy that he did.
Photo courtesy of Baylor Bears
Griffin is also a world class 400 meter man and a hurdler.  Many of you remember that Baylor was 400 Meter U back in the day with several Olympians, including the great Michael Johnson who was World Record Holder as well as Olympic Champion.  Who knows what Griffin's future could be on the cinders?

Griffin is making his biggest splash on the gridiron however as the highly touted Junior QB ran for 38 key yards but passed for 359 yards and 5 TDs without throwing a pick.  Even more impressive is it was on National TV against the BCS longest regular winning streak as the broke Texas Christian's run at 25 straight W's.

Congratulations Robert.  You were a joy to coach and be around. -Coach Max Ivany and the D1 Ambassadors Family