The inaugural edition of DMVelite RISE tipped off on Saturday morning in Salisbury, bringing teams from throughout the DMV — and North Carolina and Canada — under one roof on the Eastern Shore.
With new scenery, a “road trip” feel to a venue near the beach, and a four-court convention center setup, RISE offers a unique platform to prepare for the bustle of the July Live Period.
Day 1 saw a handful of strong individual performances, as well as a few teams separating themselves from the pack heading into Sunday’s win-or-go-home bracket play.
At the 17U level, FBCG Dynamic Disciples had an impressive first day with two wins, while MD D-Fenders emerged as a dark horse by earning hard-fought wings over their two Saturday opponents. At 16U, local club Glen Riddle — made up of Wicomico HS standouts — emerged as a potential favorite, while the Maryland’s Finest program had strong a day at both the 15U and 14U levels.
Jamarko Pickett, Prep WF, Metro All-Stars 17U
Pickett — a recent Eastern (D.C.) grad — is headed to Massanutten Military (Va.) for a prep year, and looks to be one of the most intriguing prep prospects in the area. At about 6-foot-7 with impressive length and bounce, Pickett continues to impress with his ability to handle the ball and attack the rim. While his frame is slight and adding muscle will be necessary before heading to the college level, Pickett is tough around the rim and uses his lower half effectively, eliciting some Brandon Ingram comparisons. —EW
Dayvon Cuffey, 2017 WG, Maryland 3D 17U
Cuffey is an athletic wing who is at his best in transition, leading the break. He uses his athleticism to finish over and around defenders when in the lane and brings a quick first step and impressive leaping ability to the table. The slashing wing prefers putting the ball on the floor and getting to the hoop, but also show that he can knock down an open three when the opportunity presents itself. —AB
Jaden Baker, 2020 PG, Glen Riddle 16U
Baker was one of the day’s major standouts — not only because he is a talented, active point guard prospect, but because he was impressive playing two age groups up, and hasn’t yet logged a minute of high school basketball. Standing around 6-foot with nice length, Baker has a real shot to start as a freshman at Wicomico next season. More than any particular skill that popped out, Baker played a solid floor game, changed speeds well, and facilitated for teammates. He also showed off a nice long-range jumper, with a quick release. —EW
Keve Aluma, 2017 F, Maryland Supreme 17U
Aluma has continued to blossom and come into his own over the course of his high school career, and now looks the part of a versatile Division I forward who can hold his own at the 4 spot on both ends of the floor. Playing with his local grassroots team this weekend, the Stephen Decatur forward’s timing and IQ continues to improve, and a spring of playing in major events with Uncommon Bulls has helped add a dose of toughness. Aluma really impressed by flashing the addition of a smooth three-point jumper that he connected on both in the rhythm of a secondary break, and within a halfcourt set. He continues to improve his conditioning and frame, and looks poised for a strong July. —EW
Dyrel Johnson, 2017 CG, Hoops Canada Elite 17U
Johnson is an intriguing lead guard that can both run an offense and seemingly score at will when he gets hot. He is a very impressive long-range shooter — he had eight three-pointers in his first game of the day — who excels as a rhythm shooter but also shoots off the dribble exceptionally well. As his team’s primary ball handler at times, he did a good job of controlling the pace of the game and made sure to get teammates involved. Johnson also displayed a knack to anticipate his opponents passes on defense, as he was very active in the passing lanes and constantly tipping passes. —AB
Will Harrod, 2019 F, Maryland’s Finest 15U
Harrod is a strong, broad-shouldered forward who showed good touch around the basket. He has a good a feel for the game, is consistently in the right spot on offense without the ball in his hands and is particularly good in transition for his size. Harrod also regularly alters shots and makes his presence known on defensive end. He has all the tools to develop into a high-impact player at the 4 spot. —AB
Tyler Tillery, 2019 F, Team Metro 15U
Physically, Tillery was one of the most intriguing prospects in the younger age groups, carrying a thick, 6-foot-6 frame into 15U competition. After turning heads as a freshman at Gerstell this year, Tillery played significant, high-impact minutes for Team Metro, making his presence known on the boards. While he must continue to add polish and improve his positioning on the offensive end, Tillery is skilled and flashed good hands, suggesting that he can continue to improve as a low-post presence. The development of a strong face-up game will be crucial for Aluma to take the next step forward, along with his continued growth as a passer out of the post. —EW
Larry Clayburn, 2018 WF, Southern Maryland All-Stars 16U
The lanky, left-handed 6-foot-4 wing takes full advantage of his size offensively. As a slashing wing he uses his length and athleticism to score over defenders in transition and in traffic. He displayed a capability to score in a variety of ways, including his ability to knock down the open 3, and also impressively with his back to the basket on a few separate occasions. —AB
Antonio Cockerell, 2017 CG, Maryland Defenders 17U
Cockerell’s combination of being a knock down three-point shooter, and an above average facilitator makes him a very dangerous combo guard, despite standing only 5’10. He’s a shifty guard who has a tendency to lull his defender to sleep, often times to set up a step back three for himself. The combination of his above average three pointing shooting ability, and quickness with the ball makes him a tough matchup for just about any defender. He is also a solid ball handler, and does a very good job of finding an open teammate, particularly in the drive-and-kick. —AB
Churchill Bounds, 2020 F/C, Maryland Supreme 14U & 17U
Another very intriguing 2020 prospect on the Eastern Shore, Bounds stands about 6-foot-5 and will likely continue to grow. Headed to Stephen Decatur next year, Bounds was consistent and made an impact in the first game of the morning with his 14U team, and later contributed to a short-handed 17U Maryland Supreme squad. He showed off a decent turnaround and mid-range jumper, but really impressed with his ability to run the floor and body control around the rim — on both the offensive and defensive ends. —EW