Some of the area's most impressive middle school players gathered at the second annual "Proving Grounds" middle school showcase at Mass Premier Courts in Foxboro, MA on Saturday, November 14th.
The players participated in full court drills, 5-on-5 and 3-on-3 game play over the two-hour session.
Brady McGowan, Canton, 6th Grade: One of the most exciting players to watch, McGowan put his playmaking ability on display all afternoon. Had the ball on a string all day, set up his teammates, has a nifty floater and is a capable 3-point shooter. The 5’0” 6th grader arguably played harder than any of his competitors. The tough guard from Canton had a field day in the 3-on-3 portion of the showcase, displaying his hustle, strong shooting ability and high basketball IQ. McGowan plays his AAU ball for the Boston Bobcats. McGowan is going to be one of the most exciting middle school floor leaders for the next few years.
Aiden Campellone, Bellingham, 7th Grade: A fundamentally sound guard, Campellone displayed very nice touch in the lane. He saw the floor very well and fed the post with effective textbook entry passes. Campellone was able to create his own shot and knock them down when given the opportunity. The 7th grader from Bellingham was very coachable and listened to the tips given to him by the showcase staff.
Spencer Mirken, Millis, 7th Grade: It was evident that this young man is a son of a bball coach, as he displayed from the opening drill that he has the individual tools. During game play, he displayed great court vision and hit the creases hard off the dribble. Mirken has a bevy of talent – plays good defense, hustles, can shoot the ball and has good vision.
Nico Scaringello, Franklin, 8th Grade: Nico has been well known in the Select Hoops area for years for his ability to handle the rock as well as anybody. Now he has expanded his game and proved that he is a knock down 3-point shooter, added a step back jumper to his arsenal and is a vocal floor leader. A returner to the Proving Grounds showcase, Scaringello showed vast improvement from his 7th grade year. The 5’2” guard runs with Mass Premier Courts in AAU.
Brian Gonsalves, Holliston, 7th Grade: Gonsalves stood out immediately in the full court ball handling drills with his explosiveness. He played a very solid point guard in the 5-on-5 session with his play making ability and willingness to advance the ball with the pass. He moved extremely well without the ball, which is something rarely seen in showcases. The 7th grader from Holliston is quick to flash and cut to the hoop, and can handle the ball. Gonsalves plays his AAU basketball for Mass Premier.
Brady Olson, Bellingham, 7th Grade: According to one of the evaluators, “Brady was my favorite player to watch.” That statement is hard to argue with, as Olson displayed his slick ball handling skills and play making ability all afternoon. He made solid entry passes, was a feisty defender and finished well with both hands. This 7th grader from Bellingham had all the solid skills you look for in a guard. Olson showed good vision, solid defense and the ability to let it go from 3-point range. Olson plays for Mass Premier.
Sam Goodman, Sharon, 8th Grade: This guard from Sharon shot lights out all afternoon. At one point, I was told that Goodman had made “7 or 8 in a row” by an evaluator. Sam was the best outside shooter in the event. This 8th grader from Sharon was lights out from distance. Goodman plays for the Boston Warriors.
Gabriel Bastien, Seekonk 8th Grade: This smooth guard was as offensively capable as anybody in the session. Bastien had no problem getting into the lane at will. He showcased his own offense early on, and as the day progressed Bastien set the table for his teammates for easy buckets. Bastien has very quick hands defensively on the ball and in the passing lanes. Bastien plays AAU for RABC.
Tyler Warren, Bellingham, 7th Grade: This fundamentally sound big guard from Bellingham showed his willingness to do dirty work around the rim and had some creative finishes around the basket highlighted by a nifty reverse in traffic. Warren plays his AAU ball for Mass Premier Courts.
Devon Hughes, Mashpee, 8th Grade: This high motor guard was a joy to watch as it’s evident that he’s been well coached. He is aggressive on both ends, physically strong, good shooter and makes the correct extra pass. This 8th grader out of Mashpee was frequently seen slashing to the hoop and didn’t let defenders breathe on defense. Hughes constantly showed his smarts and quickness, along with the ability to knock down the open shot. Hughes plays his AAU ball for Metro Boston.
Bryant Ciccio, Attleboro, 8th Grade: I think it’s fair to say that Bryant Ciccio was the best player on the floor. This explosive guard from Attleboro made highlight reel plays all afternoon. Ciccio is a strong guard that can get into the lane and finish in a variety of ways via pull-up jumpers, floaters and absorbing contact for “And-1s.” Nearly impossible to stop in the open court, Ciccio either scored or set up his teammates every time. Ciccio plays for BABC.
Caleb Blackburn-Johnson, Natick, 6th Grade: One of the two 6th graders in the event, Caleb certainly proved he can play with the big boys. Blackburn-Johnson kept many plays alive with his relentless hustle and showed the ability to knock down shots from deep. The Natick native plays his AAU basketball for the Boston Bobcats.
Will Morrison, Foxboro, 8th Grade: This slasher from Foxboro proved to be a very capable offensive player. He has great court vision, a nice pull up jumper and knows when to score and knows when to set up a teammate. The 8th grader from Foxboro did a solid job reading defenders and had the ability to move around on offense with screens and cuts.
Jacob Cohen, Franklin, 8th Grade: This athletic, lefty swingman has a game reminiscent of fellow lefty James Harden of the Houston Rockets. Cohen relentlessly got to the rack and showed the ability to finish with both hands. Defensively, Cohen plays the passing lanes very well and overall is a very exciting and entertaining player to watch. The 8th grader from Franklin could shoot the ball and had good ball handling skills. Cohen plays his AAU ball for Mass Premier.
Steven Karayan, Franklin, 8th Grade: Steven Karayan is a bigger guard that looked to penetrate and score. He showed the ability to get to the rim and score on some creative finishes. He also displayed his distance shooting. In the second round of 5 v 5 games, Karayan became a more willing passer and had some nifty assists. Karayan was strong with the ball and was quick. A versatile player, Karayen could shoot, rebound and drive to the hoop. He plays his AAU ball for Mass Premier.
Ben Kelsey, Brewster, 8th Grade: Kelsey was a great facilitator often times displaying the ability to play “Point Forward.” Kelsey proved to be a great passer with smooth moves. He also showed that he can knock down open 3-pointers. On the defensive end, he was vocal which is sometimes a rarity at these events. Kelsey plays AAU for Cape Cod Bulls.
Jack Breslin, Hopkinton, 8th Grade: The 8th grader from Hopkinton has a good shot for his size. A multi-dimensional player, Breslin can let the three ball fly and bang in the post. He can finish well with both hands. Breslin plays for Middlesex Magic.
Drew Rancatore, Hopkinton, 8th Grade: Rancatore showed the skills that make a good post player – solid defense, hustle and good back to the basket post moves. A strong presence inside, Rancatore plays his AAU basketball for ASA.
Jason Weir, Attleboro, 8th Grade: This 8th grader from Attleboro was strong inside. Weir had a nice touch and aggressively crashed the boards. He did a nice job of reading defenses in the pick and roll situations and made defenses pay for giving him open outside shots.
Trace Gotham, Medfield, 8th Grade: Gotham, an 8th grader out of Medfield, had a nice showing in the 5-on-5 portion of play. Gotham could shoot from the outside and take it to the rack. This smooth nearly 6-footer had some nice pre-dribble moves highlighted by a shot fake from 3 then one long dribble slash all the way to the rim during gameplay. Gotham is a member of ICE AAU club.
Ryan Hughes, Foxboro, 8th Grade: This post player from Foxboro was a dirt dog offensively, constantly gaining good offensive position down low, but not always getting the rock. Once he got some touches, he showed off some nice touch. Hughes always ran the floor hard. He plays AAU for Boston Bobcats.
Brandon Borde, Foxboro, 8th Grade: One of the strongest performers of the day, Borde was able to use his size inside and had impressive ball handling skills for a player that’s 6’0”. The 8th grader from Foxboro was vocal on both ends of the floor, and was able to knock down shots from 3-point range. Borde plays for Mass Premier.
Lorenzo Wilson, Attleboro, 8th Grade: This 8th grader from Attleboro was strong inside. Wilson was relentlessly crashing the boards and could finish at the rim. Wilson displayed some great footwork in the paint and is another weapon for the top-ranked Attleboro 8th grade metrowest squad.
Ernesto Oliveiri, Millis, 7th Grade: Oliveiri has the size of a forward and vision of a guard. A willing passer, Oliveiri also showed the ability to score and bang with players bigger than him.
Qualeem Charles, Attleboro, 8th Grade: Another strong performer on Saturday, Charles was all over the place on both ends of the floor. The tallest player in the showcase at 6’3”, Charles had quite the effort in the 3-on-3 portion of the event and displayed that he is a very capable ball handler. A strong presence inside, Charles plays his AAU ball for BABC.
Martin Wilson, Boston, 7th Grade: This guard from Boston signed up at the start of the event, and we are sure glad he did. This stud was a pleasure to watch as he played the game the right way and with high energy, enthusiasm and skill level. He was a great creator off the dribble, could finish with both hands, a good communicator and had great court awareness. Martin Wilson is a name to remember moving forward. He plays AAU for Icemen.
Sophie Bradbury, East Bridgewater, 5th Grade: One of two 5th graders in Saturday’s event did not let her age deter her from making an impact in the showcase. The East Bridgewater native showed she was very savvy for her age and was able to knock down shots when given the opportunity. She is a good finisher and fit in seamlessly with the older players. Bradbury plays for Mass Attack during the AAU season.
Reese Colon, Carver, 6th Grade: Another young player, being a 6th grader, Colon showed she has some potential. Colon is a very fast player that has a good shot and takes it to the hoop well. When handling the point guard duties, she did a great job of advancing the ball via the pass to her teammates. This Carver native plays her AAU basketball for BSME.
Olivia Forbes, North Attleboro, 8th Grade: A real standout during the event, Forbes impressed much of the staff with her high basketball IQ and great passing. A cerebral player, this 8th grader from North Attleboro did a great job of being vocal when on the floor and played solid defense coupled with the ability to hit open shots. This crafty guard was always under control. Forbes is a member of the Honey Badgers AAU club.
Selina Monestime, Framingham, 5th Grade: The second of two 5th graders at the Proving Grounds showcase also did not let her youth define her. The Framingham native displayed her good ball handling skills, a nice shot and solid defense in the 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 portion of the event. She shot with confidence, was a pesky defender and is strong beyond her years. Monestime plays her AAU basketball for the Bay State Jaguars.
Amanda Kaiser, North Attleboro, 7th Grade: Kaiser showed a solid ability to hit both contested and open mid-range shots. The 7th grader from North Attleboro has a good first step and can cover some ground with her dribble. She penetrated and looked to score or dish and supplied a lot of effort on the defensive end. Kaiser plays for the Boston Bobcats.
Abigail Martin, Hanson, 6th Grade: The 6th grader from Hanson showed off her hard work and solid shot from inside the arc. Martin has good rebounding ability for her size (5’3”) and is a physical, athletic player. Martin is a good slasher and displayed quick hands defensively. Martin is a member of the Bay State Magic.
Jordan Hue, Mashpee, 8th Grade: Hue was impressive from the start of the individual dribbling drills, putting the staff on notice at the beginning of the event. An 8th grader from Mashpee, Hue has good court sense along with speed and great ball handling ability. She is explosive offensively and an absolute menace defensively. The most exciting player to watch in this event. Hue plays her AAU basketball for MCW Starz.
Rebecca Hottleman, Mansfield, 8th Grade: The Mansfield native showed off her toughness and was strong with the ball. Hottleman impressed the Select Hoops’ staff with her ability to attack the basket with a purpose and knack for getting to the free throw line. Offensively, she wanted to score and was a great attacker. Defensively, she did a great job getting steals and tipped passes. The 8th grader plays for MT Elite.
Vienna Monestime, Framingham, 8th Grade: A veteran to the event, Monestime came back this year and displayed marked improvement and a visible growth spurt. This long forward was one of the most athletic players at the event and did a great job attacking the rim on offense and challenging shots on the defensive end. Monestime plays AAU for Sting Elite.
Michaela Emond, Attleboro, 8th Grade: Emond was able to read the screens well and showcased her great shot. The 8th grader from Attleboro was extremely fundamentally sound. She can play both guard spots, as she showed the ability to run a team and was probably the most consistent shooter at the event. She also is not afraid to mix it up on the glass and grab boards. Emond plays for the Boston Bobcats.
Alison Giambanco, Norwood, 8th Grade: Another strong performer in Saturday’s event, Giambanco showed off her speed and strong ability to take it to the basket. This Norwood native is a consistent shooter and has great court sense and made great decisions all night. This super athletic and long combo guard was one of the most impressive two-way players on the night. Giambanco plays AAU for MT Elite.
Nyah Thomas, Attleboro, 8th Grade: An ultra competitive player, Thomas was working hard for the duration of the event. Thomas was seen diving on the floor after loose balls, knocking down shots or beating defenders off the dribble to take it to the basket. One of the best slashers we saw at the event, Thomas could score or set up teammates.
Olivia Martin, Hanson, 8th Grade: This 8th grader from Hanson showcased her fundamental play and her competitiveness. This veteran of the showcase continued to have good things happen when she’s near the ball. Always under control, Martin picks her spots to attack and score or set up her teammates. She has great inside-outside game and is an amazing competitor. Martin plays her AAU ball for NEX Elite.
Harshita Valluri, Canton, 7th Grade: This 7th grader from Canton is a bigger guard and was bashful early, but once she gained some confidence proved that she has some potential. Valluri is a good defender with great length and growing offensive confidence. Valluri plays her AAU for Mass Premier.
Emma Sousa, Franklin, 6th Grade: Sousa displayed quite a versatile arsenal and was able to do a little bit of everything. This 6th grader from Franklin showed nice potential with her ability to pump fake and ability to get to the basket, and was physical inside grabbing a lot of rebounds. Sousa is a good finisher and not afraid to mix it up in the paint and on the glass. Sousa plays her AAU basketball for MPC Swish.
Kaitlyn Rapose, Bellingham, 8th Grade: Rapose was frequently seen cutting to the basketball and really creating a lot of space for the offense to work. An all-around player, Rapose displayed her great athleticism and was able to read defenders very well. She knocked down shots and showcased some effective post moves. She ran the floor extremely well, played great defense and was a great finisher in the lane. Rapose plays AAU for MT Elite.
Victoria Russian, Milford, 8th Grade: This 8th grader from Milford did a good job of finishing when she got to the basket, and was strong with the basketball. A tough guard with good ball handling skills, she displayed great court vision and played with relentless effort and energy on both sides of the court. Russian plays AAU for MA Huskies.
Tayja Sallie, Framingham, 8th Grade: Sallie was all over the floor on Saturday – whether it was playing shutdown defense, diving on the floor for loose balls or crashing the boards. This guard from Framingham was working hard all day and really took it hard to the basket. Sallie also had a nice touch on floaters from inside the key. This tenacious competitor displayed amazing breakaway speed in the open court. One of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen, it appeared that she would run through a wall for her teammates/coaches. Sallie plays AAU for Sting Elite.
Fiona Mannion, Dorchester, 8th Grade: This 8th grader from Dorchester had a strong inside post presence and could execute multiple moves when she got the rock. Mannion was frequently seen corralling rebounds in the paint and going up strong. This relentless rebounder had great moves in the paint and was a great finisher. Mannion plays her AAU basketball for the KSC Ducks.
Camden Schweitzer, Wrentham, 7th Grade: This tall inside-out player certainly gained more comfort as the event went on. She made defenses pay on mismatches and displayed a nice touch around the basket. Schweitzer plays her AAU ball for the Boston Bobcats.
Sadie Hunt, Sandwich, 8th Grade: Another strong presence inside, the 8th grader out of Sandwich displayed her post moves inside and did a good job boxing out and rebounding. A veteran to the showcase, Hunt seemed visibly faster this season and displayed a more versatile game than a year ago. She is confident playing face up or back to the basket and finished well with both hands. Hunt plays AAU for the Bay State Magic.
Katherine Greenwood, Canton, 7th Grade: This 7th grader from Canton was another solid inside post player. Greenwood used her height to snag many rebounds and could knock down the open mid-range jumpers. When on the block with the ball, Greenwood displayed good footwork. Greenwood plays her AAU ball for Mass Premier Courts.
Anna Wietrecki, Medfield, 8th Grade: This long post player from Medfield proved to be very effective in pick-and-roll situations during 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 game play. She displayed an effective offensive game and was an extremely tough defender. Wietrecki plays her AAU ball for Boston Bobcats.
Breanna Atwood, Franklin, 8th Grade: This 8th grader out of Franklin was quite possibly the most polished post player in the event. This 5’10 forward displayed her toughness inside and strong post game all night long. Atwood also impressed with her ability to handle and dribble the basketball. She has a strong face up game and can also punish defenders with her back to the basket. As a screener in pick-and-roll situations, she was extremely effective scoring. Atwood has a tireless motor. She plays for the Gym Rats during AAU season.
Bella Hamdan, Westwood, 8th Grade: Hamdan displayed her speed and smarts during Saturday’s event. This 8th grader from Westwood has a high level basketball IQ and has good size at 5’10”. This stud forward could run the floor and was solid in the post game as well. An all-around strong athletic player, Hamdan added an improved face up game offensively from a year ago. Hamdan plays AAU for MT Elite.