Baltimore Assault was the new kid on the block during AAU play this summer. But it didn't take long for the first-year adidas-sponsored program to make a name for itself.
Led by St. Frances coach Mark Karcher (a former DC Assault player), Baltimore Assault was first recognized as a national player after making it to the championship game of the adidas It Takes 5five Classic in Cincinnati earlier this month.
After Assault's success in Cincinnati, a couple of five-star players from Baltimore signed on for the team's trip to Las Vegas for the adidas Super 64 Showcase. Oak Hill (Va.) Academy small forward Roscoe Smith and Lake Clifton point guard Josh Selby both brought athleticism and leadership to the team, according to Nick Myles, Baltimore Assault's director of basketball operations.
"It's like when you go on the circuit, you just have to have that marquee name," Myles said. "With Josh and Roscoe, it gave us two nationally ranked players. We had really good players all summer, but we didn't have those two. ... It took us from pretty good up to that next level."Scores of college coaches tracked Assault throughout the tournament, starting with their 60-plus point opening round win and ending with their loss to the New England Playaz in the championship bracket.
While Smith and Selby were added bonuses for Assault in Las Vegas, the core of the team more than held its own throughout the summer. Two post-grad players, in particular, stood out for Assault: Derrious Gilmore, a point guard from Princeton Day Academy, and former Aberdeen shooting guard Devon Saddler (Delaware).
Myles said Gilmore has scholarship offers from UAB and Morehead State. He'll visit both schools next month. Because Gilmore's a partial qualifier and will have to sit out his first year of college, he's also considering an offer to play for JUCO power Chipola College in Florida. Saddler, meanwhile, will spend a post-grad year at Winchester Prep in Massachusetts.
"I think Saddler is the most underrated kid in this town at that age group," Myles said. "I don't think people know how good he is. He never takes plays off. I think Delaware's getting a real steal with him."
Myles said Lewis is receiving interest from many ACC and Big East schools. Sparrow, like Saddler, is still a committed prospect. But both players continue to hear from high-major programs, according to Myles.
"I always tell the kids to stick with [their commitments], unless they really don't want to," Myles said. "[I tell them to] remember the reasons why they committed and stick with it. All our guys are still committed. Wayne's still committed to Richmond [and Devon's still committed to Delaware]. But they just had great summers. Those schools just did their homework early, and that's what mid-major [schools] have to do to get players like that. Both those kids have been getting ACC and SEC looks right now."
Thanks to his strong summer play, Holmes added an offer from South Florida to go along with scholarships from George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth, according to Myles. Temple continues to follow the 6-foot-3, 180-pounder. But Myles said Holmes' first high-major offer, from the Bulls, was long overdue
"Sometimes Baltimore just looks at the guys who are maybe one-and-done," Myles said. "But Dante can go and be a very solid four-year high-major guy. If Wayne wanted to, he could do that, too. Stay four years, get better and be those leadership guys junior and senior year."
Other notable Assault contributors this summer included Milford Mill combo guard Anthony Goode, St. John's Catholic Prep point guard Cedrick Johnson and Douglass junior forward Lamont Huggins. Myles said Goode's hearing from Mount St. Mary's, Campbell and Robert Morris, while Johnson has an offer from Loyola.
Huggins, 6 feet 8, 210 pounds, was one of the youngest members of Assault. Myles said Morgan State was the first school to show interest in the rising junior, while Norfolk State followed suit. Interest in Huggins, who averaged around 15 points per game as a sophomore, will likely increase after this season.
"He's probably going to be one of the best players in the city this year," Myles said. "He reminds you a lot of the kid Kevin Thompson that's there at Morgan now. [Lamont's] the same size but he's a little leaner. He's athletic, he blocks shots. He's definitely a lot better offensively this year. He's only a junior."
Any AAU program's goal is to get as many players noticed by colleges as possible. With that standard in mind, Myles said it's safe to say Baltimore Assault's first summer on the circuit was a success.
"For us to be a first-year program and go out there and have some top-notch kids [was really important]," Myles said. "Just getting our name out there for real [was huge]."