(Pictured is Leonardo “Leo” Lara)
For the first “Live” period in July, our staff was on hand at the George McClellan Invitational (GMI) being held at various facilities, tracking a handful of tri-region (Central/South/West Texas) teams that made the trek down I-10. The HD Toros, STX Hoopsters, Vipers Academy, Cen-Tex Attack, Corpus Christi Bruins, STAT Elite, and SA Hardwork all represented the tri-regions.
Talent on the courts ranged from low major prospects, to nationally ranked high major targets. With Coaches from the SEC, Big XII, ACC, Mountain West, American Athletic, Conference USA, Southland, and many more, all court side evaluating prospects.
The GMI featured highlight reel dunks, competitive play, and some out of nowhere surprises. It was one of the players on a tri-region team that was the talk of the tourney. Here are some notes on those clubs that were representing Central, South, and West Texas.
Leonardo “Leo” Lara, STX Hoopsters 2017 (Santa Rosa HS)
The 6’3″ sharp shooting two guard stole the show with his deadly accuracy from beyond the arc, athleticism, high basketball IQ, and non-stop motor. Coming into the event, the only thing lacking for Lara was the exposure. His consistent play took care of that quickly. In one game he nailed 7 three-pointers, following it up with another 5 treys in the next contest.
In a Sunday bracket game, one of the few times his jumper wasn’t falling in the first half, he came out on the very first play of the second half, blew by his defender and got to the hole for a layup, the rest was history. He helped lead the STX Hoopsters to a Silver Bracket Championship.
His play caught the attention of several D1 programs, UIW, UTRGV, Sam Houston State, Hartford, and A&M-Corpus Christi. Before you knew it, even onlookers from high major programs as Kansas State Head Coach Bruce Weber asked, “Who is that kid.” A Georgia Tech assistant also was impressed in seeing Lara rain in shot after shot.
Jordan Wilson, STX Hoopsters 2017 (Sharyland Pioneer HS)
Combo guard and teammate of Lara, helped form an unguardable 1-2 punch in the back-court for the Hoopsters. Wilson showed great quickness, above average ball handling skills, the ability to hit from outside, and attack the rim at will. Despite a thin frame, he played with a toughness that allowed him to consistently finish in traffic.
In a quarterfinal win over the Master Hoops Elite, Wilson lit the nets on fire with 27pts, leading the charge for STX. Inside or out, the Hoops Elite did not have an answer for him.
Joshua Pitts, HD Toros 2017 (Memorial HS)
On more than a few occasions, a couple of college coaches commented on Pitts’ size. He’s a solid 6’9″, 240lbs, and getting into better shape as he gets back to form from injury.
When down low, the big man would not be moved from the paint. He uses his size well in close and to finish at the hoop. He showed the ability to get up and down the court in transition. His size and length also made an impact on opposing teams shot selection, and the glass. Plenty of potential in the big man, and following the tournament as of Monday evening, our staff confirmed Pitts was up to 3 offers: UIW, Sam Houston State, & Southeastern Louisiana University.
Marco Pena, SA Hardwork 2018 (Laredo Alexander)
The sharp shooting two guard from Hardwork showed that he can fire away with the best of them. In their first “Showcase” game Sunday, it was the 6’1″ guard who led the team with 21 points, the majority of them coming from behind the arc, to edge out the Lake Charles Cavs, 39-35. In the absence of Gerald Liddell, he provided enough of a scoring punch for Hardwork to chalk up the win. More than just a shooter, he plays tough, doesn’t say much, and gets after the next play. On each of his makes from deep, Pena would hurry back for his defensive assignment.
Tristan Green, SA Hardwork 2018 (Boerne Champion)
One of two bigs down low for Hardwork, and he showed off some nice footwork when operating on the block. His skill set in the paint is impressive. He can make a move with either left or right hand, and is an underrated athlete who can finish above the rim more often than not. He used his length well to also clean the glass.
Kobe Thompson, Cen-Tex Attack 2017 (Leander)
A do it all type player who stands 6’5″ for the Attack, showed the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the hole. He used his length to constantly battle for rebounds and loose balls on both ends. Also stepped out to the mid-range, 12-16ft, and showed he could hit the jumper.
Dalin Williams, Corpus Christi Bruins 2018 (West Texas)
Has a solid, strong frame, and the 6’8″ four man was the definition of tough and rugged. In one game, after some contact and a tumble that sent him to the floor left he got up with blood streaming down his face. He sustained a gash above his right eye and to his chin. He was tended to by the trainer, bandaged up and continued to bang in the 2nd half for the Bruins. Uses his strength to back down defenders on the block. Has a nice touch around the hoop, and shows good lift in rising to throw it down. Also, anchored the glass and altered some shots with his size and length.
Ryan Garza, Vipers Academy 2017 (Ediburg Vela)
Has the ability to be a next level player. Showed good handles, even when being pressed. When open and with a little room, the 6’0″ PG was effective more times than not with his jump shot from mid-range and deep. Will have to work on creating his own shot when being guarded by quicker, bigger defenders. Was the catalyst of the Vipers in getting to the semifinals of the Silver bracket.
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