The summer season can make or break you. Some players will lock themselves in a gym and work on their game alone waiting til the season comes around to see whether it has paid off, whilst others put themselves out there, compete and try to cement their status as the best of the best.
Summer 2010 was no different with both Midnight Madness and the international programmes seeing a few select players make names for themselves. Without further ado, and in no particular order here are my 7 Breakout Players of Summer 2010;
1) Ogo Adegboye
Guard, 6’0″, 180lbs, 23/09/87
Now this is a great story. Ogo has never played international ball before with England or GB. After a more than stellar season at St Bonaventures he was selected to the GB U23 roster. The newly formed team, coached by GB Men’s Head Coach Chris Finch was provided to bridge the gap between U20 level to Senior and it has done a great job of that. Finch liked Ogo’s game and bought him to the Men’s training camp-where, so I’m told, he KILLED. Next thing we know, Adegboye has got the starting spot on the GB Senior Men’s team!
Though his statistics haven’t been mind blowing, he has bought an athleticism to the guard spot that has been sorely lacking in previous years and has helped GB get out and run, leading them to a 6-2 record and qualification for next year’s Eurobasket. A great summer for Ogo.
2) Ovie Soko
Forward, 6’7, 215lbs, 07/02/91
Who knew about Ovie Soko before this summer? Here’s a guy who averaged 1.5 ppg last season in his Freshman year at UAB and like Ogo, had never played for any of the National teams in England before. He comes home for the summer after being named to the initial GB U20 roster and put in WORK! After making the final cut, his averages in the Division B FIBA European Championships? 19.1 ppg (4th), 6.3 rpg (20th), 2 assists, and 2.3 spg (3rd) including a huge 31 point outburst in the final game of their campaign against Israel.
After his big European campaign, you think he’d take a break but he came back and absolutely destroyed both the Midnight Madness Leyton and Bristol qualifiers. The guy is crazy good-expect to hear a lot more about him on Hoopsfix next season; breakout Sophomore season anybody?
3) Josh Ward-Hibbert
Guard, 6’4″, 182 lbs, 25/01/1994
Tennis?! It’s hard to believe Josh Ward-Hibbert’s primary sport is actually tennis-the kid is ranked 180th in the world in his age group! But trust me, he can ball too and this summer he has firmly put himself on the map. A member of the England U16 team at the Division B FIBA European U16 Championships, he was named to the All Tournament Team after averaging 18.1 ppg (4th), 6.1 rpg, 1.1 apg and 3.6 spg (3rd).
Providing he sticks with it and doesn’t choose the tennis route, I expect Ward-Hibbert to remain a stalwart of England and GB international programmes for years to come.
4) Teddy Okereafor
Guard, 6’2″, 176lbs, 08/11/92
Of all the players in this list, Teddy Okereafor is the one who I have personally seen progress the most. He is worlds apart from the baller he was last year and his opposition are feeling it. Though he’s known by many, this summer he has made a statement. At Midnight Madness he has KILLED all summer, dominating in both the U18 and U20 divisions, breaking ankles, gunnin’ Js and even throwing down the occasional dunk on his way to being named the U18 MVP at Finals night.
His numbers with the England U18 team in Israel showed of his versatility and ability to contribute without scoring, averaging 5.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.4 apg and 2.1 spg including his 19 point, 6 rebound, 3 assist and 4 steal showing against Estonia. Taking his game stateside next year where he will be attending Christchurch prep school in Virginia, they better watch out-Team UK!
5) John Stewart
Forward, 6’5″, 200lbs, 19/08/93
John “The WorkHorse” Stewart puts in work every game and got it done this summer. From the much heralded Sheffield Junior Sharks programme, John has been doin’ his thing a while now but it wasn’t until this summer where he bought his name and game to mainstream-absolutely murking Midnight Madness and putting in solid performances with the England U18 team (where he still has one year of eligibility left) averaging 9.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, and 1.5 apg (in under 20 mins per) with 4 double digit performances in 8 outings.
Still undecided as to where he’ll be taking his game next season but whatever league it is needs to be worried.
6) Devon Van Oostrum
Guard, 6’2″, 24/01/93
It could be argued Devon didn’t really “breakout” this year as he has been on the radar for years. However, when he became the youngest player ever to be named to the GB Senior Men’s initial squad at a tender 17 years old he turned a lot of heads. Though he ultimately left training camp to rejoin his England U18 team in Israel (where he showed off his all around game averaging 14.3ppg, 6.1 rpg, 5.1 apg and 2.1 spg despite seeing sporadic minutes, including a huge 35 point, 7 rebounds, 8 assist and 4 steals game against Estonia), with that selection Van Oostrum ensured he is now known of by the entire British basketball community.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Devon Van Oostrum is the real deal and has the potential to go all the way. Big summer for the young gun, reaffirming his place as the best junior player we have right now.
7) Dan Clark
Forward, 6’10, 240lbs, 16/09/88
Who would’ve thought Dan Clark would be playing as big a role as he has been this summer with GB? Last year saw the ’88 born big man ride the pine with GB in Poland-not seeing a single minute of action across 3 games and not even being on the roster in the qualifiers. Fast forward a year and Clark is an integral part of the team that went 6-2 and finished top of their group in qualifying for Eurobasket 2011. His numbers-9.3ppg and 4.8 rpg whilst shooting an impressive 56.5% from inside the three point line, and 40% from outside.
Clark’s game against Bosnia & Herzegovina has to be mentioned; playing against a raucous away crowd in Sarajevo, Dan started the game 8/8 from the floor (5/5 from deep), finishing with 23 points on 8/10 shooting. I think it’s safe to say Clark has secured himself a place in the rotation for years to come.
Ryan Richards; Somehow forgot about him intitially-didn’t pick up a basketball this summer but got drafted. ‘Nuff said. Jamell Anderson; really impressed everybody at Midnight Madness, showing a renewed aggressiveness in taking the ball to the rack whilst keeping that sweet mid-range jumper in tact, Henry Wilkins; the improvement in his game from last summer to this summer is mad. Has added many offensive weapons to his arsenal and no longer just a three point shooter, Morayo Soluade; showed flashes with the England U16’s this summer despite still being a year younger (’95 born).
What about you?
Who are your breakout players of this summer? Agree with my choices? Think I’ve missed somebody? Hit me up in the comments and let me know your thoughts!