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Preview: West Oaks vs. Aspire Academy

By Zach Smart, 12/17/17, 9:45AM MST


One of the more intriguing matchups of the upcoming prospect-spangled Amusement Park Classic will be the Wednesday Dec. 20th matchup between local Orlando power West Oaks Academy and Aspire Academy out of Louisville. Any prognosticator breaking down this highly-anticipated matchup would likely conclude there's an intriguing subplot to it all. That would be West Oaks' vaunted backcourt vs. Aspire's formidable frontline.

Spearheaded by 6-foot-11 behemoth Charles Bassey, Jeremy Kipness' team has been an arduous task for frontlines across the country. Bassey's refined post moves, vertical explosiveness, and ability to manufacture points at the free throw line has made him one of the country's elite Class of 2019 prospects. Versatile and possessing a skill-set most players his size lack, Bassey boasts a feathery mid-range touch and can take rim-protecting bigs away from the bucket. He's also expanded his overall skill-set by putting the ball on the deck and creating for himself while simultaneously showing a 3-point game as well. The combination of his man-child build and relentlessness inside has catapulted him into one of the country's most hotly-pursued recruits. Not bad for a kid who was selling chicken on a highway in Nigeria just five years ago.

Aspire also implements a high-low game with 6-foot-8, jack of all trades point guard Joel Ntambwe. Since transferring mid-way through the season from Believe Academy (TN), Ntambwe has displayed deft dishing and a knack for feeding the post. In addition, he's capable of finishing with either hand around the rim and backing smaller defenders into the post. A mismatch nightmare, Ntambwe has offers from UCLA, Providence, Tennessee, Arkansas, Wichita State, and a handful of others. Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh are the latest to inquire about the heavy skill-set guard/forward.

Aspire guard Nygal Russell showed his ability to play instinctively, take the ball into the rim amid traffic and hit timely 3-pointers during Aspire's 100-79 win over Believe in the Memphis Classic. He wound up with a game-best 28 points and hasn't tailed off since. A mid-major target, Russell is severely underrated.

Meanwhile, West Oaks features arguably the most underrated guard in Florida in bulldozing 6-foot-2 guard P.J. Person. A defensive catalyst first, Person is a major piece in West Oaks' hazardous 94 feet of pressing and knack for converting turnovers into quick and uncontested transition leak-outs. Tyrell Jones, a high-motored 6-foot-4 guard who could potentially tip the high-major scales, is another major backcourt threat. Jones boasts a downhill game, can hit transition 3-pointers, and is particularly adept and getting into the nooks and crannies of the defense and finishing. The recent inspirational play of Tyrieke Blakeney, a transfer from Agape who authored a 34-point outburst this month, adds depth.