Master P. Diary Part II: DeMar Derozan and And 1 Mix Fame Brandon Jennings
You fans of the P. Miller Ballers probably are waiting for an update to hear about the success level of the team at the fourteen and under nationals played in Florida last week, right? Well, we are proud to report that the kids came in a very respectful 3rd out of nearly 200 teams in all. The most important thing learned at the tournament as quoted by Malik Story’s dad,” The kids went down there and went 9-1 among some very talented teams, many other coaches came up to me and said we had the most talent individually, I don’t pay much attention to the compliments or put downs by others- but my son was seen by some very good colleges, played against tough comp, and they had fun.”
Kenny Story like so many of the parents of the kids on the team are a very humble in general, but to be honest, I know that most of the kids on the team have been getting A LOT of recruitment attention from the best PAC-10, ACC, and elite collegiate programs in the country who naturally covert great prospects at an early age. Besides being a writer for basekt-ball.com I’m a college scout and it goes without saying in recruiting circles: If you have 4 or 5 games in a tournament to take notes and watch, you’re going to see the team that has the most prospects you want to recruit- no other team on earth has better individual prospects than the P. Miller Ballers. There were fun times had by all the kids at the nationals, and Yes, there were “low lights” in the form of other players at the tournament who called out an occasional “boo” at the team, why? “Haterism”, that’s the new age term used to describe a person who is jealous of someone else- the kids of the P. Miller Ballers are too class y to listen to the haters that try to get a rise out of them, they have too much class and they won’t go down to the level of people who are just not cool and trying to provoke an incident. This diary is bigger than an AAU Nationals tournament chronicle, it’s about family, so as I write these very words on Sunday August 15th the family of P. Miller Ballers is at Percy Miller’s house having a fun time like usual – all 14 players on the team, their parents, the brothers of the players and maybe everyones family dogs are sitting down together to celebrate just one thing as a team: Percy “Romeo” Miller’s 14th birthday as a family, his mom Sonia dishing out the cake to everybody having a great time.
Whether Team Allen Iverson won the this year’s national title is irrelevant in their lives- Rome knows the most important times of his life are blowing out the candles on his cake with his family -the wins or losses are just icing on the cake. Many of the kids on the team are already talking about wanting to play together in college, a fourteen year olds experience will be a treasured memory as kids have new goals in life to achieve like playing for a NCAA title or graduating with honors in for their M.B.A. in business, or to get drafted by the N.B.A. for some of these kids to make moms and pops proud. Last week, I was hanging out at M.J.’s camp down the road in nearby Santa Barbara, Californiawatching the top 15 college basketball players get together for some scrimmages and work outs before going to mentor as camp counselors the kids at the camp of the vaunted Flight School run by George Raveling and M.J. himself, I talked with JJ Reddick, Mustafa Shakur, and Sean May about their thrilling victory over Puerto Rico to win the championships for the United States at the under 21 World Champions to what Chris Paul the tremendous guard from Wake Forrest said, “Yeah, that was tough tourney, but there’s nothing like repping your country, we just had to play together and stay like a team to win.” Well articulated, but I predict here and now that the U.S. sends at least three members of this team to rep the country when the time comes for them in about 4 to 6 years- you can just see in the P. Miller Ballers have too many outstanding kids and people around them to fall short of the high expectations put on them by myself and other writers. Also, while I was checking out the Flight Camp I asked my good friend Hassan Adams who is a star at the University of Arizona and former McDonald’s All American from Los Angeles what he thought of Master P. to which he stated, “Master P. is a great guy, when I was at Westchester we used to go at it with 100%, that’s what made up better as players, if those guys stay together it seems they have a chance to do something special as a team.” I asked Hassan if he’d lend an afternoon and talk to the kids and he replied, “Sure, it’s important to give back, D-Miles and Quenton Richardson helped me get better and spent some time on me in high school, those kids sound like they’re cool and I’d like to help.” Resources. That one word describes what the P. Miller Ballers have, in a perfect world every team would have access to these kinds of resources, but we don’t live in a perfect world. I imagine the kids will turn out like the kind hearted Hassan Adams and realize that so much went into making them outstanding players and people- I see many of the P. Miller Ballers being “a good dude” and future All American like Adams and giving back to the community as they get older. Brandong Jennings and DeMar Derozan are featured today in the team diary, they remind me A LOT of two NBA pros with similar yet much more refined games: Rafer Alston of the Toronto Raptors (of And 1 fame) and Jason Richardson of the Golden St. Warriors. Jennings looks like a younger version of Alston who I had the pleasure of going to Ventura College with back in the early 90’s. Jennings with his ultra advanced court sense and sometimes flashy moves, Jennings has already been featured in the And 1tapes but is never too shy or humble to talk about the experience, “Yeah, I was on those tapes. I never watch them though, no time to check yourself out when you can learn how to be better watching someone else, I got a hold of some Kenny Anderson tapes and see them out over and over again trying to pick up some hints, that’s who I want to be like as a players, and it will take tons of work before I get to his level- but I’ll get there.”
Jennings is brash, confident, and a very talented player. Personally, he has the stuff that “point-gods” are made of, but to be fair he needs to be more focused and less in a rush to grab greatness- patience, patience, and patience will do him well as this incredible young man can do things with the ball that make you shake your head and just wonder. I should mention that he is a kid just like any other in America, he plays video games, listens to rap music, and puts his pants on one leg at time, but the gift Jennings has to dribble the ball is the same that Denzel Washington has to act: amazing and special. Jennings is set to play for Compton Dominguez high school, a place where great players come out like a rushing water fountain: Tyson Chandler, Tayshun Prince, and many others.
Both Jennings and Derozan are excited about playing on the same team this year and Jennings states about this, “We play really good together, I just throw up the ball in the air to DeMar and he finds a way to cup it in the rim for a jam, in Vegas I threw a really bad ‘alley oop” and he still found a way to extend out 3 feet to grab it and do a full 180 degrees for a jam that had people running out of the gym. Yeah, we are going to have fun together for the next four years.”
This diary knows it’s basket-ball.com fans deserve the best we can give them, I will try to have Brandon Jennings and DeMar Derozan attend a basketball camp at the end of August that happens to feature Rafer Alston and his guest speaker Jason Rich, it will take place at the Warrior Center in Orange County, the gym is an appropriate name for all four of the players I hope to get together at the camp, then we can play my favorite game called “game recognizes game”, we can see what J-Rich thinks of D-Derozan’s vertical jam, and what my friend Skip to My Lou thinks of Jennings handle- no promises for this event however but that’s the plan.
What makes DeMar Derozan such a special young man? Everything. He is so humble and kind with his mannerisms off the court, and he’s such a man among boys in the battle of a game. This human spring board/ jumping jack averaged about 9 intense dunks a game at the Vegas tournament last month and nearly as many jams at Nationals, he must have a 40+ vertical jump but glides to the rim and much as he explodes off the ground. His brother Jermaine Derozan was a real stand out at Lynwood high school and in college before playing for the Los Angeles Clippers a couple of years back and states about his younger brother, “I was not nearly as coordinated as DeMar at the same age, he already gives me comp when playing with us big boys, with him keeping up the workouts and attention right he can go all the way to the top.” The whole Derozan family is athletic, Frank Derozan, DeMar’s dad was a talented player growing up in the segregation filled south, he lead the charge by being one of the first African Americans allowed to play with whites on his high school and went on to play for the San Diego Chargers for a while before being injured. He’s now an expert video cameraman and production technician taking care of his family in Compton, Calfornia, “I love all my kids, sports do them right and it’s kept them on track, DeMar is a good kid. If he wants something he’s going to get by doing it the right way and through work and more hard work, he’s a single sport athlete who is humble, focused, and attentive because he stops and listens to what his teachers and coaches are saying- he knows that’s the key to success.”
I can’t begin to describe just how athletic DeMar Derozan is, the adjectives haven’t been invented to do justice to his gazelle cut body, he is also a pretty tough and good mid range shooter as well. For example, in one work out in the San Fernando Valley earlier in the year DeMar was playing with a lot older players in the 17 and 18 years of age range, everyone was being a little playful yet playing extremely tough defense throughout the session- DeMar turns the corner on his defender and goes up high, High, and HIGHER as he put the ball through his legs in mid air a la Vince Carter to jam it through the rim so fast that the ball bounced on the floor and hit him in the head before he landed, the grown men on the sidelines watching had their jaws drop, and DeMar’s defender simply walked out of the gym stating, “That ain’t right, I’m not going to play ball ever again.” To his credit, that player was convinced to come back and give it another shot two weeks later. DeMar Derozan is the kind of prospect that a real strong Big East conference team paid the airfare to fly out to see him play personally at a recess break almost a year ago when DeMar was in junior high, they left in amazement of the skill set of this unique young man and told his father they’d be watching him very closely over the next few years. Over a dozen NBA players and trainers I’ve talked to about DeMar have said they’ve never seen anything like him- he is in a word “special.” It is important to remind everyone that he is also a kid that made the academic honor role at his Compton junior high and has the kind of family that will sit him out of basketball altogether if he brings home grades that are less than “B’s.”
For the future basketball star that Derozan and Jennings will be, I’ll always remember them as the kind, soft spoken, and incredibly beautiful type of person that makes you proud to be associated with a them: I just wish my own daughter turns out to be like these kids who are already shaping up to be 1st rate citizens.