As a diehard football fan, I can honestly say that AAU hoops in the summer is the only thing that keeps me from going crazy as I await the return of football. With that being said, I can declare that the summer of 2013 featured more local basketball players being showcased on the big stage than ever before in our local history.

I don’t think these players are necessarily the best to ever come through our city. However, considering the age in which we are in, with these big showcase events and the media to highlight them, these kids are getting the most exposure of any group of players to play locally, and they have fully taken advantage of the time while shining brightly.

The Texas Ambassadors Carlton team is comprised of four kids from the greater Killeen area. Rashard Odomes (Copperas Cove), Josh and Cameron Delaney (Harker Heights) and Rodderick Taylor (Heights).

In the State of Texas, Odomes finds himself as one of the top five players in the Class of 2015. The Delaney twins are also ranked high; Cameron is No.16, while Josh is No. 37 in the Class of 2014.

Following close behind is Taylor at No. 57 in the Class of 2014. State. Odomes is a scout’s dream: long, athletic, and coachable. He can stroke the 3-pointer and can dazzle the crowd with his bounce to the rim. he Delaneys are fierce competitors on both ends of the court and they both shoot extremely well and feature a high basketball IQ. Taylor is 6-foot-8, enough said.

Celneque Bobbitt (Heights) plays for the traditionally strong Texas Pro team based out of Houston. Bobbitt has traveled the country getting a glimpse of the bright lights on this team. As a result, he has made his way slowly up the charts and is perched at No. 66 in the Class of 2015.

Brian Long has found a spot on the Texas Ambassadors –Danny Granger’s team based out of New Mexico. Long has seen his exposure increase and played a major role in his team’s success in the recent Great American Shoot Out in Duncanville. Long ranks No.71 in the Class of 2014.

He is better than the rankings suggest, however, and is a rising player on the radar of scouts. If Killeen is to return to prominence, Long must be a MVP candidate in the district.

Demarius Cress has found his way into the ranking of the Class of 2015 at No. 83. Making shots from 23 feet is always a good thing, and Cress has a knack for doing just that.

He is a player that could truly shine once surrounded by talented players. Although known for his shot making, it is his court vision that makes his future bright.

A few players who have not enjoyed the same primetime stage as the above mentioned players, but have definitely shown they will be a force in the fall, are Shane Johnson (Shoemaker), Torenzo Sanders (Shoemaker), Patrovick Everette (Heights), and Fred Jackson (Ellison).

Johnson is a scoring stud who will be in the race for the District MVP. He dropped a mean 39 on a team in a recent showcase event in Duncanville. Sanders is a 6-5 post that has developed a nice low post game that is complimented by a jumper.

He also has a passion for throwing down vicious dunks. The entire district will know him by first name very soon. Jackson is another 6-7 kid that has yet to realize his potential. I expect him to lead Ellison back to the playoffs this year.

I see Jackson as the top prospect in the city and possibly the best prospect in the city when it is all said and done. Everette is a fierce competitor that gets overlooked on a talent-rich Heights team. He is what I call the ideal ‘trash man’ player.

He has developed a shot from the perimeter over the summer, but his claim to fame is a mean streak for rebounding and defending the post. He is extremely athletic, and jumps out the gym.

In a nutshell, the local kids have represented themselves well in the high profile scene of AAU basketball.

What they have also done, is place a lot of pressure on their respective coaches to perform with players that have garnered a lot of attention as playmakers in the hoops world. Enough of hoops until October or November… it’s FOOTBALL SEASON!

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