- National Teams
Following on from our Top 20 Under 18 Players at Midnight Madness Qualifiers 2009 we now move on to the Midnight Madness College Division, or Under 23s. As with the Under 18’s, the standard was high, entertaining basketball was played and many-a-highlight was produced! In no particular order, here are BDB’s Top 20 Under 23 Players at Midnight Madness Qualifiers 2009.
*Disclaimer-This is based solely on what I saw at Midnight Madness and not on any other performances elsewhere, it is my own opinion and does not reflect those of Midnight Madness Ltd.
**Note-Regrettably, I couldn’t attend Midnight Madness Glasgow, therefore if you feel you should be in this list and aren’t my bad and it won’t be happening next year ;).
1) Carl Josey: 6’4, 195lbs, SG, 31/10/86 (Portsmouth/Liverpool)
The former Solent standout, has been stateside developing his game since ’05. Boy does it show. Returning from his Junior year at Virginia Military Institute (check Carl Josey’s school profile here). Is there anything this guy can’t do? Reminds me of Jamal Mashburn the former Hornets player. Has an inside and outside game, being able to back smaller guys down and finish with a fadeaway and take larger players out beyond the 3 point line. Not only dominant at Portsmouth where he qualified first time round, but also in Liverpool in the over 24’s run which consisted of players such as Julius Joseph, Yorick Williams, David Aliu to name a few. One to watch.
2) Ogo Adegboye: 6’0, 185lbs, (Brixton)
Ogo Adegboye was arguably the best player overrall in Midnight Madness 2009. Dominant is an understatement. Returning from a season at St Bonaventures stateside, Ogo had the Brixton rec crowd ooohhing and aaahing all night. At a solid 185lbs (and cut to shreds!) Ogo is possibly one of the most athletic players in the country. He has the lightning speed, the strength, and the vert (if you haven’t already, you NEED to see this dunk at Nottingham) mixed up with the skills to possibly be the next big thing out of the U.K. In the words of Biggy, if you don’t know, now you know.
3) Carl Pearson, 5’10, 185lbs, D.O.B, PG, (Leeds)
Carl Pearson, a former Midnight Madness winner came back to retain his title. Did plenty to prove he’s not going down easily, dominating the PG position at Leeds. He has arguably the smoothest handle of any guard I have seen at Midnight Madness 2009, looking like he had the ball attached to a string. He teamed up with Jamell Anderson to dominate the Elite Court, making sweet dishes, easily getting into the lane and finishing and dropping 3’s. Has a great read of the game. The kinda guy that gets into the lane, goes up, meets two defenders, brings it back down and finishes on the other side of the rim. Great to watch.
4) Tayo Ogedengbe: 6’5, 210lbs, SF/SG, 15/05/87 (Portsmouth)
Tayo’s game have come on leaps and bounds from when I first played him at the Brunel Friday night runs a few years back. First off he got super athletic (resulting in a number of dunks in Portsmouth), then he got a jumpshot, being able to stroke it from as far as 3 point range and now he has the strength and length to be able to pretty much do what he wants on the court. A Midnight Madness winner last year, resulting in a strong season at Spain’s now famous Canarias Basketball Academy (averaging 27 ppg), don’t be surprised to see Tayo in the winning team again this year.
5) Albert Margai: 6’0, 200lbs (Portsmouth/Leyton/Leeds)
Albert Margai is a damn solid PG. Not overly flashy (though he did DROP someone in Leyton-again, didn’t have the camera rolling), he has the ability to run a team efficiently and dominate defensively, using his solid frame to lock up opposing PG’s. A former Midnight Madness winner, his experience was on show; every team he was put on seemed to win games a testament of his ability to handle the point guard position. Will be a more than decent BBL player one day, just a matter of time.
6) Clayfell Harris: 6’8, 245lbs, C, 05/07/87 (Leyton/Brixton)
Clayfell Harris like Illi of the u18s is the beast of the u23s division. Built like a bull, Clayfell WILL dunk on you. Probably had more dunks than any other player of the Midnight Madness Qualifiers 2009. Was well on his way to qualifying at Leyton but ended up colliding with another player and having his head cut open. Made sure of it in Brixton teaming up with Ogo (can you imagine?!) and straight up dominating the Show & Prove, and then hitting his free throw to qualify for Regionals. A true big man, who gets most of his points off rebounds and putbacks, was unguardable.
7) Jamell Anderson: 6’8, SG, 198lbs, 06/07/90 (Leeds/Nottingham)
Jamell Anderson has quite a story to tell. Since recovering from heart surgery a couple of years ago, his game has gone from strength to strength. The GB u20 player had his full arsenal of weapons on display at both Nottingham and Leeds, barely missing a shot from mid range (I think he hit about 6 straight at one point) and finishing more than a couple of nice dunks (including a reverse on someone when I wasn’t filming!). A team lead by him and the aforementioned Carl Pearson held court for over an hour in Leeds.
8) David Ajumobi: 6’5, 205lbs, SF, 20/11/88, (Portsmouth/Milton Keynes/Leyton/Leeds)
There possibly wasn’t more of an all around player at Midnight Madness Qualifiers 2009 than Dave Ajumobi. Being able to play the 2 spot right through up to the 4 spot and at times he was even seen running the point, versatility is a key part of his game. He has the height and strength to play down on the block, being a tenacious rebounder and defender as well as the agility and finesse to play on the wing, with range out the 3 point line and a solid enough skill set to handle the ball and take it to the rack. A regular on the circuit, the South Bank(BUCS)/London Met (National League) player backs down from no-one.
9) Ian Berry: 6’0, 168lbs, SG, 22/07/88 (Newcastle/Portsmouth)
Ian Berry is a pure scorer. On offence, there is nothing he can’t do. If he had finished his Midnight Madness 2009 experience after Portsmouth he wouldn’t have come close to making this list, luckily, he didn’t. After a disappointing Portsmouth run for the former Worthing Thunder guard, he came back for Newcastle and straight up dominated from start to finish. With great slashing ability, easily able to penetrate into the lane and finish, complemented with range extending beyond the 3 point line he is extremely tough to guard and gave opposing teams headaches all night. Will be moving up North next season to play for Northumbria-BUCS Premier North watchout!
10) Ladi Brown: 6’5, 190lbs, SF/SG, D.O.B. (Portsmouth/Leeds)
Ladi Brown has been a regular on the British basketball scene for years. After watching him, you can see why. The guard of Leeds Met uses the same length to get around defenders on offence finishing with one of the prettiest finger rolls in the U.K game, to lock up his man at the other end of the floor. An all around player, Ladi has range to the 3 point line to go with a great ability to get to the rack, take contact and still finish.
11) Ben Russell: 6’5, 195lbs, SG, 09/04/89 (Milton Keynes/Bristol)
Ben Russell is a baller. In his first run at Milton Keynes he showed glimpses, but it wasn’t until Bristol where he really shined. Having some serious quickness for a guy his size, he is an offensive force. If he doesn’t break you, he will gun a 3 in your face with range extending way beyond the 3 point line. After finishing his first season with London Capitals, Ben is undecided as to where he is playing next season. Whichever team it is, he’ll be a serious assett.
12) Orlan Jackman: 6’5, 200lbs, SG/SF/PF (Portsmouth/Leyton)
Orlan Jackman, the long, gangly forward playing at Junior College Seminole State across the Atlantic can flat out play. At 6’7, he must have the wingspan of someone at least 3-4 inches taller. With his length, he has no problems shooting over smaller players, blocking shots, or dunking on people. A hustle player, his game is suited perfectly to the Midnight Madness points scoring system being able to do a little bit of everything and never trying to do too much. Unfortunately, went back to the States before the Regionals so couldn’t make the team and gave up his ticket.
13) Courtney Van Beest: 6’5, 200lbs, PF, 09/07/88 (Portsmouth)
Courtney Van Beest is a versatile forward, the kinda player you don’t realise has killed you until you check the box score afterwards. Being able to do a little bit of everything, the lefty former Midnight Madness winner brings it every game. A real energy player, Courtney is an asset on both offence and defence, being able to lock his man up at one end and score/dish on the other, not to mention his rebounding ability on both ends on the floor. Putting his game to the side, Courtney is also one of the friendliest players I met this Summer and a pleasure to be around.
14) Darrell Bethune: 6’4, 175lbs, 03/09/88(Milton Keynes)
Darrell Bethune could be Courtney’s brother, their similarities are uncanny (turns out they’re cousins). Apart from the looks, another thing they have in common is they are both ballers! Darrell can shoot, gunning 3’s with regular occurence in Milton Keynes, he has a real nice handle for a guy his size (check the Milton Keynes video dropping next week) and can finish in the lane with ease. The GB guard is a force to be reckoned with and another one to keep an eye on into the future.
15) Mantas Drungys: 6’4, 205lbs, SF, 09/10/89 (Nottingham)
Mantas Drungys is a hard nosed player outta Lithuania. Qualified at SF, but I’d place him as more of a PG, testimony to his versatility. He is big and strong (6’4, 205lbs for a PG in the British game is far from common) and is another ‘back down from no-one’ type player. Has a solid jumpshot, handle, and vision. His strongest asset funnily enough, is his strength-allowing him to play physical defence giving his opponents hell all night.
16) Karolis Stepanavicius: 6’6, 210lbs, SF, 12/11/87 (Portsmouth)
Like Mantas, Karolis Stepanavicius is another hard-nosed player outta Lithuania. One of the most athletic players at Midnight Madness 2009, yes Karolis is a highflyer, however his game is much more than that. He can stroke it from 3 point range and penetrate the lane easily, having some serious strength to finish with his 6’4 frame resulting in a lot of and1’s. He plays aggressively and looks to take it hard to the rack on every possession, resulting in a lotta dunks!
17) Bode Adeluola: 5’10, 165lbs, PG, 03/05/89 (Milton Keynes)
My first impression of Bode Adeluola when I played him a couple of years ago, was a little guy with a big mouth. Luckily, the Barking Abbey product now playing at Kingston University, has the game to back up the talking. The diminutive guard dominated the PG position at Milton Keynes, with no opposing player able to stop him from penetrating and either dishing, or finishing in the lane. Bode has range beyond the 3 point line, and a pretty impressive vert for a guy of his size allowing him to take contact and still finish. Opposing defenders better watch out as if he doesn’t get you with any of the aforementioned skills, he also owns one of the nastiest crossovers seen at Midnight Madness this year.
18) Amir Boucenna: 6’0, 165lbs, PG, 29/12/89 (Liverpool)
Amir Boucenna, otherwise known as Speedy Gonzalez, was the fastest player at Midnight Madness 2009. The lightning quick Point Guard who credits his drastic improvements to Rob Orellena of the Gran Canaria Basketball Academy where he has been playing for the last 2 years, killed in Liverpool. Looking at him, you wouldn’t think you have to be too worried, but when the ball is thrown up it’s a completely different story. Amir is a gun from 3 point range, owns a lightning quick dribble, and has the vision to pass with the best of ’em.
19) Stephen Danso: 6’4, 200lbs, SG, 16/02/90, (Leyton)
Stephen Danso has been in the weight room-and it has paid off. One of the hardest working players at Midnight Madness 2009, Danso won’t give you an inch. Another London baller built like a bull (200lbs shredded), Danso is a defensive stalwart-locking up his man and getting a lot of steals, having the quickness to poke and strip the ball off opposing players. Not just a defensive player, also has range to the 3 point line and great slashing ability, using his strength to finish in the lane.
20) Matthew Bryan Amaning: 6’9, 240lbs, F, 09/05/88 (Nottingham)
Matthew Bryan Amaning does not need introducing. His performance at the Regionals in Nottingham was so good, there was no way he wasn’t going to make this list-being the overrall leading scorer of the night in the u23s with 104 points and having numerous highlight reel plays throughout-including this ridiculous anklebreaker and finish. The first British player ever to win an NCAA Pac 10 Championship with the Washington Huskies, Matthew Bryan Amaning is going places. At 6’9, he can handle the ball and shoot like a guard, and play in the post like a big man. Dominating the boards at both ends of the court, blocking shots and finishing on offence, Matthew Bryan Amaning is the future. NBA anyone?
Honourable Mention: Players that missed out by inches, Will Neighbour (Bristol), Devon Bailey (Liverpool), Ashley Baker (Newcastle), Tom ? (Liverpool), Yannick Bulambwe (Bristol)..there are others that will be added as I go through footage…
What are your thoughts?
What do you think of my selection? Are there players you think deserve to be here that aren’t based on your observations? Or am I bang on point? Let me know your thoughts by dropping a comment in the box below