Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Boykin Recalls Mayfield As Defensive Tactician

The game of basketball has taken Dave Boykin well beyond his White Plains roots.

He's plied his tried in courts across the United States, Germany, and even China.

A dish-first point guard by trade, Boykin took pleasure in pacing the offensive tempo and making the right reads.

At the University of Bridgeport, where he averaged 11.7 points and emerged into a 3-point ace, Boykin led his squad to an ECC championship as a junior.

As he took the professional route over the waters, Boykin progressed in all facets of his game.

He became a crafy off-the-dribble scorer, mastering a stepback. Boykin leaned more on his pull-up game and stormed into the driving lanes more than ever.

Of all the places hoops has taken him, Boykin's most cherishable memories of the game can be traced back to White Plains High.

It was at White Plains that Boykin absorbed the intricacies of the defensive game under head coach Spencer Mayfield.

With Mayfield recently released as a 2016 NYSSA Hall of Fame Inductee, along with Croton-Harmon's Billy Thom and Poughkeepsie's Robert Murphy, Boykin took time to hark back on the glory days.

Boykin On Mayfield's Legacy

"I tell this story to a lot of people. I have played at the Division-I level, professional level, streetball level. To this day, I haven't had a coach who knew tha game of basketball more than coach Mayfield. I've learned every aspect of the game under coach Mayfield. My greatest memory of playing under coach Mayfield was simply how great our defense was, every single year."

"We were like an army unit out there under him. Everything was always crisp. Coach demanded us to be nearly perfect. We would literally hold teams to single-digit quarters almost every night. When I reflect on how much we would practice on helping each other through coach Mayfield's staples of discipline, teamwork, toughness, and hard work. All of these are tools that will stick with me for a lifetime, both on and off the court.

On Mayfield's Influence On Him

"Coach Mayfield pushed me to be a leader at all times, in everything I do. He showed me how to be both a vocal leader and a person who can lead by example. There has not been a coach who I've learned more from about the game of basketball than coach Mayfield."

On Big Game Preparation

"During my four years on the varsity level, our greatest rivalry games were against Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Spring Valley, and a few very tough Poughkeepsie teams."

"We would prepare with the same hard-nosed practices that we would have against any other opponent. A lot of running. A lot of defensive drills, shooting drills, and game-situation drills, depending on the opponent."

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ohio The Latest To Offer Quick-Rising Culver

Ohio University is the latest program to offer 6-foot-5, 190-pound guard Rodney Culver a scholarship. The Class of 2016 prospect has seen an uptick in interest in the past two months.

Ohio has been recruiting Culver for a solid year and offered on Tuesday.

Culver, a multi-layered talent out of Columbus, Ohio, has offers from Coastal Carolina, Campbell, Hofstra, and IPFW.

"I know the coaching staff (at Ohio) and some of the players pretty well, as they've got a lot of local guys," said Culver.

"I'm familiar with the program. I actually didn't watch them growing up. Once I got a little older, once I got to high school and was recruited by them, I started paying more attention. I started taking closer note of them, watching games and really keeping up with them."

Fitting, as assistant coach Jason Kemp has been keeping up with Culver.

Buoyed by a rather workmanlike game for a guard, Culver's penchant for crashing the boards and blocking and manipulating shots separates him from others of his ilk.

The general consensus, the word around the local campfire is that Culver's an unheralded, unsung recruit which several in-state programs skipped out on.

His NCAA attention blew up as quick as he grew up.

"My body's changed a whole lot," said Culver.

"This time last year, I was a young 17-year-old. I got bigger, taller. My game's matured. I think I'm a smarter basketball player now. I've got a better IQ overall as opposed to last year, when I was playing off athleticism and physical ability."

The advantage Culver gives Elev8 is an ability to guard multiple positions.

This fall, he's displayed a defensive aggression and ability to sustain it for 40 minutes.

 Elev8 had its fair share of defensive lapses last season. Even in end-to-end drubbings, the defensive focus faltered during sequences.

Blessed with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, Culver is adept at finishing at the rim.

 Similar to most scorers of his fabric, Culver has a unique feel for finishing with contact and not shying away from big rim-protectors or brutal hits in front of the rim. This enables him to induce fouls in the act of shooting.

Ditching the set shot is critical for Culver, who is in the process of tweaking his form and developing a quicker release.

"We're working on making my shot more fluid," Culver said. "I'm just making a little tweak in my form."

Bordered by Ja'Sean Tate (Ohio State) and Connor Kern (Arkansas State) at Pickerington Central as a junior, Culver registered his imprint as a long, skinny scoring threat who could put the ball on the deck and create for himself and others.

Last season, he did everything but hand out tickets and peddle french fries at halftime.

He's worked at packing muscle onto that lanky frame, following a new regimen that includes early bird workouts on the beach.

At Elev8, Culver will once again be flushed into the role of supplementary scorer while sustaining waves of energy and thorough defensive pressure in all components of his game.

Baylor Offers Elev8's Eubanks (Again)

Baylor was the school highly-touted 6-foot-5 guard Kobie Eubanks initiallty committed to. It was the first program Eubanks had his eyes set on playing for.

 Now, following an arduous recruiting road in which Eubanks twice re-opened his recruitment, the post-graduate could potentially take a detour back to Waco, Texas.

"I spoke with (assistant) coach (Jerome) Tang and coach Scott Drew about coming in December," said Eubanks, who has now received a qualifying ACT score.

"It was the first school I wanted to go to coming out of high school, but I couldn't because of an academic situation that took place when I was at American Heritage (FL). Then again, Baylor was the first school I wanted to go to. It really didn't affect anything. I still have the same feelings about the program that I had when I was ready to go there."

Eubanks still values Baylor. His relationship with American Heritage, however, frayed over an alleged grade manipulation. Eubanks' father, Clayton Eubanks, filed a lawsuit against Plantation American Heritage, claiming the school put his Baylor scholarship in jeopardy by altering his grades.

Now at Elev8 Prep in Delray Beach, Fla., Eubanks is also entertaining interest from St. John's, Memphis, Georgetown, and Western Kentucky.

He's slated to visit Baylor within two weeks. Georgetown will be in South Florida on Tuesday to see the high-scoring guard, who creates a matchup difficulty with deep-shooting ability and a knack for knifing to the rim.

Eubanks penned with Alabama in June, as head coach Avery Johnson's most highly-rated recruit. In late August, the plot changed.

Eubanks was shocked to learn that he was declared ineligible. Right before the fall academic semester kicked off, Alabama did not receive Eubanks' ACT score.

The worst appears to be over for Eubanks, who has evolved from strictly a catch-and-stick threat to a guy who can create with both hands and change a game defensively.

Oregon, Kansas, UCLA, Texas, and just about every high-major you could jot down expressed interest in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native.

"Decommitting from Baylor had nothing to do with Baylor itself, they had nothing to do with it," Eubanks said.

"It was a situation I didn't have control of. I still look at Baylor the same way now as I did from day one."

Yorktown's O'Loughlin Growing Figuratively And Literally

Just two seasons ago, Yorktown's Glenn O'Loughlin was a bit hesitant and a bit rough-and-around the edges in the post.

 The potential was evident in spurts, albeit facets of his game needed to be finely-tuned for the varsity level.

With a new found love for the game and an immense work ethic, O'Loughlin has undergone a massive transformation. New Glenn resembles nothing of old Glenn, as one wouldn't even recognize the other as the same kid.

Showcasing a new level of awareness, a refined post game, and feathery jump hook with both hands, O'Loughlin has progressed.

Shooting up to 6-foot-5 has certainly helped in his progression. No player on Kevin Downes' roster will fill the void left by 6-foot-7 center Mason Dyslin, a 2015 graduate now at Vassar. A veritable walking double-double, Dyslin had several 30+ point explosions as a go-to option last season.

Should O'Loughlin continue to better all components of his game, she he sustain this sudden off-season appetite, he could potentially lessen the damage Dyslin's loss.

"I've increased at pretty much all elements of my game," said O'Loughlin.

"My leadership role has got to grow along with my skill-set, offensively and defensively. I've just got to be a leader on and off the court this year and help fill Mason's spot."

With a year of varsity experience now under his belt, O'Loughlin said he's grasped the intricacies and valuable tenets of Downes' system.

There's emphasis on speeding up the transition attack, a luxury they have with a heady veteran point guard Nick DeGennaro, now one of Section 1's elite.

 There's a high demand for rebounds and 50-50 balls. Downes also implements a defensive-minded approach, ensuring everyone applies Ziplock-tight defensive pressure from rim-to-rim.

After showing spurts as a junior, O'Loughlin appears well-prepared for the new challenge ahead.

"Glenn's been training three times a week, his mid-range game is almost a given now from 10-12 feet," said NY Pride AAU head coach and trainer Aldo Redendo.

"He's gotten much stronger around the basket. His hops are much better after the operation. He blocks shots, he does all the little things that win a championship. He's got a level of loyalty and coach-ability that's pretty rare to find these days. Glenn is a special kid."

Redendo has groomed a wealth of Westchester area talent, most notably former Kennedy Catholic star Donnie McGrath and legendary 6-foot-10 Peekskill center Hilton Armstrong. McGrath thrived as a heady guard at Providence, prolonging his career professionally in Europe.

Armstrong won a national championship under Jim Calhoun at UCONN, prior to a seven-year NBA career.

Few, as Redendo noted, have been as quickly adaptive as O'Loughlin.

"I took a kid that was nothing two years ago and he's turned himself into a ball player," Redendo said.

"He's come back from a knee injury, having not missed a beat. He's one of the hardest working and loyal kids I've ever coached. Personality-wise, you won't find a better kid to coach.

Now seeking opportunities to prolong his career at the Division-III level, O'Loughlin realizes he's on a race against time. As a late-blooming senior, O'Loughlin must put up impressive numbers steadily this year. The goal is to garner the notice of a high-level D-III program where he could contribute as a swingman or power forward.

O'Loughlin has reaped the rewards of playing with both DeGennaro and Brandon Redendo, a cerebral guard with a knack for accelerating the transition game.

Given DeGennaro and Redendo's mindful awareness with the ball, O'Loughlin has gotten the ball in the right spots and converted high-percentage buckets with ease this past summer.

 Like Dyslin, O'Loughlin has the chance to pose a major issue with his size and floor-spreading ability.

"He shoots the ball well and can stretch the floor, he has a solid post game and is very skilled," said Downes of O'Loughlin. "He has the ability to use the jump hook with both hands which gives him an advantage in the post."

With Downes, the former Westchester County Coach of the Year, O'Loughlin knows what is at stake.

"The goals are always to win the league, to see if we can win the Section championship and go from there," O'Loughlin said. "Coach preaches accountability. He tells us to be smart, be the best basketball player you can be. If your not ready to play with intensity by the second the ball drops, then get off the court."

O'Loughlin said playing against higher-level competition on the AAU circuit helped persuade him to pursue basketball in college.

"On the NY Pride, we played the New England Playaz in the Providence Jamfest and I remember that game because they were 6-foot-7 across the lineup," O'Loughlin recollected.

"Despite being vastly undersized, undermanned, and thin upfront, the Pride played eyeball to eyeball with the perennially potent Playaz until the final seven minutes.

"They were just giant, athletic guys. Nobody thought we had a chance but we only lost by four or five and we looked good all the way through. I rebounded, I did my job. Brandon was knocking down shots. Everyone was getting going. We almost beat a team everyone thought we couldn't compete with."

O'Loughlin must embrace the role of interior banger in 2015-16.

"We will need him to rebound for us which he did well last year," Downes explained.

"Only expect that to improve and with losing Mason to graduation we will certainly look for him to provide some scoring for us. I don't think he needs to try and replace Mason's scoring productivity but he will need to score and I am confident he will do that given more touches and more time on the floor. I expect Glenn to have a big year."

Bigger size, Bigger Impact For Law & Tech's Moreno

When Larry Moreno arrived at Brooklyn Law & Tech High as an undersized freshman with a rare overabundance of confidence, coaches Mike Levy and Kenny Pretlow were equally elated.

Impressed with Moreno's left-handed set shot and fearless forays to the rim against the bigs, Moreno showed promise. Promise and a level of maturity and hunger beyond his years.

The only issue was a severe lack of size. 

Then just 5-foot-6 and a generously listed 140 pounds, Moreno had a cartoonish look when paired up against big, formidable guards. Injecting him into significant playing time immediately would be a bit too much, too soon. 

Brooklyn Law & Tech's coaching staff was cognizant they must take Moreno's life jacket off first, before allowing him to swim with the sharks of the varsity level.

Sure enough, the pugnacious little lefty found his way to the starting lineup.

There were games in which mighty mouse Moreno prospered--bagging 3-pointers in succession, attacking the driving lanes, soaring for rebounds as if he were a foot taller and sprawling on the floor for 50-50 balls. There were other performances in which Moreno struggled and failed to crack the score sheet, showing his size and age.

The past is over. Now up to 5-foot-9 and leaving a rollercoaster freshman ride in the rearview, Moreno has displayed convincing handle and a new knack for creating his shot off the dribble. The sophomore will assume a prominent role, pioneering the Jets' back court alongside veteran junior Mikko Johnson.

A year can make quite the difference.

"Any time you tell Larry he can't do something, he tries to prove you wrong and comes right back and does it," said Jets head coach Michael Levy.

"He can shoot, he can get to the basket. He's improved at his decision making and intermediary game. This year, he'll be running the point. Last year, because of his size, he played off the ball."

Johnson has said since last year he'll be levitating above the bigs eventually, finding his springs and dunking on the regular. The result has been Moreno putting in extra hours in the gym, getting closer and closer to throwing one down.

"There's no challenge he'll back down from," Levy said.

"He scored 21 against WHEELS in the MTG and was the talk of the tournament. That was convincing. He wants to be the future of this program. He's had aspirations to play here at Law & Tech since he was in fourth grade, he eventually turned down catholic school scholarships to play here."

Moreno, the kid they call "The Dominican Mamba" in local circles, knows the history of prosperous Dominican/NYC talents such as Felipe Lopez and Luis Flores. Lopez (St. John's) was an All-American and an all-purpose reminder of when hotly-pursued homegrown talent actually stayed local, a theme which seems to be coming back. Flores was a high-horsepower, hard-driving scoring guard who led Manhattan on an improbable 2004 NCAA tournament run.

Moreno's relationship with Kenny Pretlow, whose fiery and relentless style appealed to him, led him to Law & Tech.

"Small but lethal," is how Pretlow describes the hyper-competitive neophyte.

"He will go by the first man guarding him. He's learning when to kick it or shoot the pull up. I expect double figures in scoring and at least five assists a game out of him this season. He's also a tough defender."

Now, Moreno will have to take playmaking matters into his own hands. The sophomore got his initial taste of the leadership role this summer, when Johnson was shelved for eight weeks with a broken hand. Moreno was green-lighted to pioneer the offense at the 1-spot, scoring and creating and evolving into a better defender.

Right now, the focus is on mastering the meshing process.

"The backcourt is looking good, we just have to improve on working and playing together more as a team," Moreno said.

"As for myself individually, I have to contribute more as a facilitator. I have to make the right plays and get everyone else involved. I got a little taller and stronger, so I've been able to finish a lot better."

Law & Tech has to finish a lot better as well.

Nobody wants to revisit the 2014-15 campaign, a downtrodden transition year which culminated without a playoff berth.

"As a team, we have to make the playoffs above everything else," Moreno said. "Our goal is go as far as we can
from there. Are biggest games are non-league games and opponents ranked higher than us. We're trying to prove that we're better than most teams in the "A" division this season."

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hastings Hoops Legend Eyeballing Triumphant Return

Now in his 40s, legendary Hastings Hall of Fame point guard Lewis Lefkowitz assures you he's "still got it."

Lefkowitz, enshrined in the Hall of Fame four years ago, says he's still got he handle on a string.

 He can still light up a gym, scoring in bunches and barreling to the rim on 20-somethings. The energy and the high-scoring motor, which enabled him to eclipse the 1,000-point milestone at Hastings High is still there, Lefkowitz said.

"Right now I'm just trying to get an agent and go overseas," said Lefkowitz, a 1987 Hastings graduate who averaged 23 points and shot a scalding 96 percent from the free throw line his senior season.

"I train three hours a day and I take everyday like it's my last day on this planet. I didn't hire one of these certified trainers to work me out because most of those guys suck. Most of them never played in high school or if they did play in high school, they made a minimal impact. Until this day, no high school team on the planet can stop me when they full court press me."

Lefkowitz starred at Elizabeth City State University, a Division-II program in North Carolina. At ECSU, Lefkowitz scored 1,143 points and shot 58.7 percent from the field.

"At the time, we were a Division-II team with a lot of Division-I opponents," said Lefkowitz. "We went up against Virginia Union with (former NY Knicks bruiser) Charles Oakley. We played against Yale with (former NBA veteran) Chris Dudley."

Lefkowitz said if a professional career over the waters doesn't pan out, he plans on running full time basketball camps and clinics in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla. area.

Known as "Lew Ice" in his hoops heyday, Lefkowitz' basketball journey is rather unheard of.

 He reclassified as a junior, spending the year in Florida rather than attending school.

 Remembered by former teammates as a maximum-level trash talker and relentless motor-mouth, few could ever match Lefkowitz' high-wired intensity.

"The level of basketball today is embarassing," said Lefkowitz.

 "Our team (under NYS Hall of Fame head coach John Costello) would trounce most of these Westchester teams by 50-60 points. The level of play is down throughout Westchester County. Anybody can make a team when your Daddy is the coach."

During his late-1980s era at Hastings, Lefkowitz always seemed more content to quarterback the offense.

 Lefkowitz possessed a flashy, flamboyant game, busting out behind-the-back passes and left handed shovel passes in traffic. With never ending trash talk and a willingness to get in anyone's face, Lefkowitz' cocksure attitude may have been his best attribute.

"Lew had the best handle of anyone I ever played with," explained former teammate Keith Fagan, a Hall of Fame receiver/quarterback at Division-III Western New England College (Mass.) during a 2013 interview.

"I literally don't remember him ever having a turnover. The only time he lost the ball was when a teammate couldn't handle his pass or never expected it because it seemed it would have been impossible for Lew to get him the ball, but he somehow did."

Fagan said Lefkowitz performed bigger in high-magnitude performances.

"We played Hamilton, which had three Division-I bound players at the time and Lew Ice killed them," Fagan said.

"Both games were in the 90s..the 90s! We lost both games, but Lew Ice had over 30 in each."

"People want to deter me because of my age, but they don't realize I played college ball at CCNY at age 28-29 and was just getting started," Lefkowitz said.

"I can still kill all of these guys and the competition is only getting worse. All these kids are so soft. (Manhattan College guard) Shane Richards and (Tampa Bay Bucs Guard and Hastings native) Ali Marpet are the exception."

If Lefkowitz was so gifted, why didn't he play at the Division-I level?

"I still have letters from Miami, Providence, Iona, and big schools," said Lefkowitz.

"My SATs were really bad, back then you needed at least an 800 I think. I scored less."

Lefkowitz said ECSU was a better choice than several Division-I suitors, given the strength of schedule and the conference.

"Marist and Wagner were horrible D-1 at the time," Lefkowitz said.

"CIAA had guys like Oakley, former Celtics star Sam Jones at N.C. Central, Cleo Hill at Winston-Salem State. Even back in the day, there were guys like Earl Lloyd out of West Virginia State. It was a no joke conference, equivalent to D-I."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Books and Buckets With: Tanner Eubank

In high school, Tanner Eubank was relied upon to shoulder a bulk of the offense. The onus was on him to create and score the rock in beast mode fashion.

Possessing an innate feel for the game, a sweet stroke from beyond the arc, Eubank averaged 20 PPG as a junior. As a senior, he shifted from the two-guard to the point on the fly, thrust into the role of facilitator. Operating offense and leading by action, Eubank averaged 18.6 points and 6.2 dimes, emerging into Paw Paw (Mich.) High's all-time leader in numerous statistical categories.

Eubank was a high efficiency threat, not requiring a ton of shots to rack up the offensive numbers he did (169 career treys 90+ percent FT shooter).

Now at Elev8 Prep, Eubank is bordered by high-caliber NCAA talent. He'll again embrace the game management chores, while relishing the challenge of producing against top-flight competition. A basketball old-soul built on discipline and a tireless work ethic (on the court and in the classroom), Eubank boasts a 3.8 GPA. With multiple workouts consuming his time, Eubank has also stocked up on highly competitive college courses.

In sun-baked Delray Beach, Fla., there are several seductive recruiting tools for pretty much any teenage male on the planet. Elev8 is only a mile from the beach, two miles from oft-popping Atlantic Ave., a 15-minute ride from a Florida Atlantic University campus laced with hotter-than-El Aziza young females.

Though those options will always be there, the most important aspect of Eubank's stay at Elev8 will be his academics and the game of basketball...It's fair to say he's your quintessential low-risk recruit.

Eubank on Transitioning to Elev8

It's obviously much closer to the college basketball experience than anything. Everyone is starting to mesh together and get a feel for each other's style of play, despite most of us having never played together before. It's going to be a great year. I feel like I'll be a lot more prepared going into college now.

I'm just maturing as a player as a person everyday. Being around each other so much as teammates, we're all getting to know each other off the court and on it. We're really building chemistry. Of course, we're still learning each other's games and style on the court. We'll be fine.

On His Academics

My parents always instilled a work ethic in me, schooling me on the importance of education. They've made academics a top priority for me since third grade. I've just always been focused on grades and time management. Right now two of my favorite classes are sports management and economics. Eventually, I'd like to get into the business field. I just don't know exactly what yet.

On His Workout Regimen

Ganon Baker's workouts are obviously top-notch, as he's one of the best trainers in the world. It definitely gives you some major advantages. He helps us on making reads, cutting without the ball. He's just helped me to become more aggressive and he emphasizes being aggressive with the ball. He helps a lot with the mental components, helping guys play through mistakes. He's still got the handle.

I like workouts with Tony (Falce) because it builds mental and physical strength. The beach workouts definitely give you a mental edge, because you have to labor through the heat and the sun hitting you. I just feel a lot stronger and cut up as a result. I was never injury prone, but I feel Tony's workouts help reduce your chance of injury.