Category: PLAYER FOCUS

Aquan Smart’s ridiculous start

Niles North’s, Aquan Smart, is putting up video game stats to begin his senior season. The East Tennessee State verbal commitment has his team off to a hot start while being the focal point for every opposing team.

How ridiculous has Aquan been the past few games?

How about this…

30 point game — 27 points in the 3rd quarter alone!
34 point game with 6 steals!
38 point game — 20 in the 4th quarter alone!


Aquan’s Niles North squad early success is in large part to his hot start. These wild scoring games are coming against tough opponents, too. Aquan would be the first one to tell you that this a team effort, but we can’t ignore the gaudy numbers he’s posted recently.

Aquan’s grassroots team, Pure Prep, played in our RecruitLook Hoops League in 2019 — we know that he’s one of the best guards in the country. He began last April with a few Division One programs interested and stating they’ll keep tabs on him. At the time of his verbal commitment to Coach Forbes at ETSU, Aquan had 10+ division one offers!

His stock was high then… and it’s only getting higher! Take a look at these highlights from those 3 games.

Rowe Leads Chrisman In Thriller

In a game where seemingly nothing was going their way, Chrisman never wavered. After building a 13 point lead after one quarter, Deer Creek battled their way back with great defense and even better offense, closing the deficit to 4 at halftime. 

The two teams battled back and forth throughout the rest of the game, eventually needing OT to settle it once and for all. 

That’s when Chrisman decided to lean on one of their most experienced guards, Zachariah Rowe, to get the job done. 

With the final seconds waning, and Chrisman holding the ball, Rowe drove the lane to the basket for the game-winning layup all while finishing through contact with 1.7 seconds left. The crowd erupted after the ball went through the net, but it looked like just another shot for Rowe.

Like he’s done it time and time again. 

Rowe missed a crucial free throw late in the fourth quarter that could have given them a one point lead and possibly the win, but he made sure not to miss his second chance. 

“My teammates rely on me in big moments, and counted on me to step up,” said Rowe. “And that’s exactly what I did. Stepped up in the big moment. I just thank my teammates for having the faith in me to take the last shot and I finished the game.”

A lot of teams could give up huge runs to opposing teams after having a second quarter like Chrisman had, but the veteran leadership kept everything under control. 

That’s why the message coming out of halftime for Chrisman was simple, keep your composure and slow things down. 

“Coach told us it started on defense and that’s exactly where it started. Got us all buckets,” said Rowe. 

Rowe finished with 20 points to add to his game-winning shot, with his backcourt running mate Isaiah Jackson finishing with 16. Deer Creek’s Jerry Tullis finished with 28, and multiple three-pointers. 

Chrisman faces cross-town rival Truman today at 2:30pm for the Phog Allen Invitational Championship, which will certainly have tensions high and a high energetic atmosphere from the crowd.

 “Play our game. Defense is our main focus. Just start on defense and that’s going to win us a championship.”

Springfield Lanphier duo shine on opening night

Springfield Lanphier knocks off the defending state champions, Belleville West 55-44. Lanphier Lions were led by their young guards, Mekhi Phillips and Tevonta Jackson.

Mekhi Phillips – 2022 – 6’1 – Guard
Mekhi Phillips was already one of the best shooters in the Central State Eight Conference is off to a scorching start in 2019. Phillips buried 3 triples in their opening round win over Belleville West.  

Tevonta Jackson – 2023 – 6’2 – Guard
The highly-touted freshmen, Tevonta Jackson, displayed why he will be a difference maker for the Lanphier squad. Jackson’s skill set on offense is advanced for his age — his mid-range and ability to hit floaters is tough to defend. He has quick hands on defense and has the tools to be outstanding all-around defensive player.

Intro To 2022 Standout Aidan Shaw

2022 wing Aidan Shaw had himself quite the performance at the Pangos All-West Freshman/Sophomore Camp, which turned the heads of several recruiting analysts and college coaches across the country. Shaw’s performance was enough to earn himself Co-MVP honors with Kijani Wright, another 2022 standout from California. 

The Blue Valley sophomore standout heard about the camp through twitter when a director of the camp reached out to him. The Freshman/Sophomore Camp is held nationwide in only 4 areas. Typically the areas are the West, Midwest, South, and East. Shaw went to the West camp which was held in Lynwood, California. Shaw knew to boost his stock he had to attend the west camp.

Shaw had actually attended the Midwest Freshman/Sophomore Camp in Chicago last year but wasn’t selected for any of the Top Player games the camp normally holds on the final day. Shaw felt slighted by the fact he didn’t get the recognition, but knew coming into the camp in 2019 that was going to change. 

 “I figured if I was going to get noticed, then I had to play against elite players and that’s why I chose to attend the West camp.”

“I knew I would be playing top ranked players and social media giants so my initial thoughts were to not worry about any of them and to play to my best ability, knowing my hard work would eventually pay off.” 

Shaw originally had an unofficial visit set up to Missouri for the weekend of the camp, which he knew he had to make a sacrifice and reschedule the Missouri visit. Which it certainly worked out in Shaw’s favor. Shaw earned himself Camp Co-MVP, but also punched his ticket to the prestigious Pangos All-American Camp in 2020 in California. 

“I was extremely excited,” said Shaw regarding being named Co-MVP. “Heck, it still blows my mind in regards to being named an MVP. I know I played well.”

How does a sophomore like Shaw, almost a virtual unknown to everyone in attendance prepare for such an event? “I didn’t want to be over confident so I told myself, ‘At least I will leave here actually leaving my mark.’ I work hard so I’m excited about the award, but I’m not complacent in my work moving forward.”

Shaw left the camp with MVP honors, but also an offer from USC and Coach Enfield. USC joined Vanderbilt and Oklahoma State as the only schools to have offered the rising sophomore, but that won’t stay the same for long. 

The USC offer felt surreal to Shaw, who still can’t believe all of the interest that’s following him around after his breakout performance.

“Vanderbilt was my first offer and that was before the camp, and Oklahoma State had been recruiting me for a few weeks but officially offered when I went on an unofficial there last weekend.”

Vanderbilt has first year head coach Jerry Stackhouse leading their program, Stackhouse has seen success at both levels as a college basketball player, professional basketball player, and in the coaching ranks. Shaw offered high praise for Vanderbilt, saying that it’s a great school with a great captain leading the charge. 

“Coach Stackhouse knows the game at the highest level, so he knows what success looks like.”

Last weekend saw Shaw visit Oklahoma State unofficially, and the staff made sure to show he will be a priority for them moving forward as they offered him a scholarship. Coach Boynton and his staff made sure the standout sophomore felt at home during the visit. 

One school that was made wind of his performance? Kansas. The local school with the historic program has begun to show interest in the local kid. Shaw will unofficially visit Kansas this weekend for their Late Night At The Phog event. He’s looking most forward to touring the facilities as a recruit for the first time, rather than as a fan. 

All of his success isn’t by luck, he’s put the time in day in and day out. He attributes some of his success to his trainer, Marcus Walker. Walker, a Kansas City native, played professionally overseas for years, and now trains the cream of the crop talent in the Kansas City Metro and nationally ranked players across the nation. “He’s been pushing me hard for the last twelve months,” said Shaw regarding Walker’s training. “He says ‘you want to be great, you’ve got it, but no one is going to give it to you’.” 

“He pushes me every day, mentally and physically. Marcus doesn’t sugarcoat it.”

The 2022 rising sophomore is popping up on coaches radars all across the country, the blue bloods will be chasing, and he’ll be the next great talent out of Kansas City. Shaw’s looking to change the narrative about the talent level in Kansas City, and he’s certainly going to do it.

Gavyn Elkamil Looking To Rebound From Injury

Gavyn Elkamil burst onto the scene in the spring garnering attention from schools all across the country, all due to his play. Those schools included Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, Utah State, Northern Colorado, South Dakota State and more. Those schools had planned to watch him at a regional camp, but that ended up changing.

He had all the momentum in the world, until an injury derailed it. A broken wrist to be exact. It was a freak accident as he pinned a shot off the backboard and landed on top of the player and fell on it wrong.  “It was at the beginning of June, but it set me back tremendously,” said Elkamil about the injury. “I had a lot of momentum heading into July with the live period and the regional camp.”

Elkamil was originally down about the situation but turned to a familiar source to help him get out of the rut that he was in. “At first I was really down about the whole situation but after awhile I started to trust in god that he was doing it for a reason and my faith started to get better.” 

The rising senior attacked his rehab and now feels hungrier than ever. “I’m ready to show everyone that I’m the best player in the state.”

“Seeing how fast it can be taken away from me has shown me to not take any games for granted, and my grind has been on another level.”

University of Missouri-Kansas City, Southeast Missouri State, and Southern Miss have all offered the senior, with him earning those offers before heading into his junior year. 

Ending your recruitment and choosing a school for the next level is usually what senior’s have in mind at this point in the year, but not for the Pittsburg native. He’s got a looming decision that could change his course and help him achieve his next goal of playing college basketball at the highest level. That decision? Reclassifying and attending a prep school. 

“Evangelical Christian School in Memphis. They’ve talked to my dad. They’re supposed to come watch me play this season,” said Elkamil about potential destinations. 

Although Elkamil has a prep year on his mind, that hasn’t stopped a slew of college coaches paying him a visit this fall since the live period started. “They all just want to see me play before they offer, which is understandable,” said Elkamil. “Just trusting God, staying patient, and continuing to work.”

Whether that decision comes this year or next, Elkamil knows that he wants to feel at home, and has a strong relationship with the coaching staff. 

“Just play every game like it’s my last. Know that I’m the best player on the court at all times and just have fun.”

A fine mindset to have heading into his last high school season. A chip on his shoulder? Indeed. Whether Elkamil heads to college next year, or takes a prep year. One lucky program will be getting a steal and wishing they took the chance on the kid from a small town in Kansas, who’s been fighting through adversity and showing why he needs to be the most sought after kid in the state.