LOCATION: Atlanta, GA
HEAD COACH: Aljami Durham
2015 EYBL RECORD: 3-14
KEY RETURNEES: Aljami Durham, Zach Cooks, Jay Estime
The Stampede were young and inexperienced last season, which led to a 3-14 finish, and nowhere close to a Peach Jam berth. Although they had talent, especially in the backcourt, the pace of play caught them by surprise during the first session and they never seemed to recover throughout the summer grind. Lack of size didn’t help, as the Stampede struggled to compete on the interior.
Looking at 2016, the Stampede will be extremely reliant on its backcourt, as they will likely have a guard-oriented lineup with a ton of talent in that regard. Aljami Durham, who has committed to Indiana, leads a talented, albeit inexperienced, crop of guards into the first weekend. Unlike last year, they have a few promising prospects in the frontcourt that should contribute immediately. They were absent from the Peach Jam last year, but their 2016 rotation has the talent to make 2015 a distant memory.
Durham is the unquestioned leader and star of this team. A coach’s son, he’s highly skilled and has a great basketball IQ, and truly makes others around him better. The Berkmar (GA) guard has the ability to consistently find his perimeter shot early and often could go a long way toward setting the tone for the rest of the team. Look for Durham to show out as one of the better scoring prospects in the EYBL.
Collin Sexton, a guard from the Pebblebrook (GA) that produced one of last year’s best shooters in Jared Harper, is a deadly marksman himself and will be depended on to light it up from deep. Sexton is a great ball-handler as well, which allows him to create his own shot in addition to moving well off the ball. He was lights out in 16U last year and has drawn rave reviews during the high school season, so expectations have been set in 2016.
In addition to Durham and Sexton, veterans Jay Estime (6’5”) and Zach Cooks (5’8”) will provide some more scoring in the way of perimeter shooting. Forward TJ Massenburg is a versatile forward who has had a big spring so far and will really help on the defensive end. From a size standpoint, Chris Agbo will really help the Stampede on the interior. At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Agbo is a force underneath, and will need to be a viable defensive-stopper. Also look out for New York City’s Rheaquone Taylor to make noise on the wing.
Learning how to win in the EYBL is much easier said than done, but that is exactly what stands between the Stampede and significant progress from the last few seasons. Building some type of consistent rotation early on will help, as will more productivity than anticipated from their frontcourt. Their guards will lead the way, but an identity will be need to be developed quickly in order to reach North Augusta.
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