Grind Session national championship has 24 of nation’s top 100 players

Josh Jackson (Caleb Lowndes/CJ Correspondent)

Josh Jackson (Caleb Lowndes/CJ Correspondent)

“The Grind Session” is excited to announce the field for their national championship in Lawrence, Kansas at Free State High School.  The field includes the top teams and players in the US and Canada. First, the teams are broken down and that is followed by highlighting the top players participating in the event.  We feel that with 24 of the top 100 players in the nation participating that the event will be a must-see for fans across the nation and Canada.  The brackets for the event will be following soon.  Stay tuned and please check out and


Athlete Institute, CAN

Athlete Institute features 7 foot big man Thon Maker, who is considered to be one of the top players in the 2016 class (Former no.1 player). As versatile as a guard, he has picked up offers from every major school in the country, but is being most heavily recruited by Arizona State, Kansas, and Indiana. He returns to play for the Bears this season with his brother, Matur, a 6’10’’ junior who is beginning to pick up offers. AI also features seniors Nikola Djogo, a Notre Dame signee, and Cole Long, a UMBC commit. The Bears lost point guard Jamal Murray due to his reclassification into the 2015 class, he is now playing for Coach John Calipari at Kentucky.

Prolific Prep, CA
Prolific Prep will look to 6’8’’ senior Josh Jackson (No. 1 by Rivals), who is down to his final three schools (Kansas, Arizona, and Michigan State), to lead their squad. Seniors Vance Jackson (No. 49 by ESPN, UConn signee) and Devon Daniels (Utah signee) will be effective from the wing. The Crew expects to see juniors Abu Kigab, a Canada native holding offers from Kansas and USC, and Ira Lee (No. 34, offers include Arizona, California, Texas…) also contribute significant minutes. Sophomore Khaleem Bennett and freshman point guard Pierre Crockrell will also be players to keep an eye on.

Sunrise Christian, KS
Sunrise is a team stacked with mostly seniors, and they return senior point guard Roman Young who will be looked upon to provide leadership for the Buffaloes. A team of many transfers, the Buffaloes roster features Oklahoma signee Kameron McGusty (No. 37 by 247Sports). Every player on this year’s roster has drawn Division 1 interest and most have picked up offers. Among the list, Terrell Turner’s offers include Rutgers, Minnesota, and Georgia. Center Isiah Jasey, is ranked No. 32 (ESPN) in the 2017 class and has offers from Kansas and UCLA. Junior Bryan Trimble and senior Rakym Felder, also with many offers, will look to contribute in the backcourt for the Buffaloes. Sunrise alum Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn was a part of the 2015 Michigan State Final Four team.  The Buffaloes have also picked up Valdir Manuel from Angola.

22ft Academy, SC
22ft Academy of South Carolina features Sedee Keita (No. 78 by ESPN), a South Carolina signee, and Eli Wright (No. 94 by Rivals), a Mississippi State signee. Keita is a consistent threat on defense where he easily guards at any position and moves like a guard laterally. Wright, who is dominant at both ends, easily maneuvers his way to the rim and shuts other players down on the defensive end. As the only seniors with college pledges, Keita and Wright join a handful of seniors on their team that hold college offers. Among those is 6’5’’ combo guard Jordan Bowden, who recently picked up offers from EKU, Southern Miss, and Utah. Others to keep an eye on are Darius Hicks (2016, offers include Miss. St., Miami, Providence…), Clifton Powell (2016, offers include UC Santa Barbara, Hampton, Tulsa…), and junior Tyler Scott.  

Hillcrest Prep, AZ
New program, Hillcrest Prep, quickly gained national attention when the No. 1 ranked junior, DeAndre Ayton, announced he would be joining the team. Ayton, a native of the Bahamas, holds offers from every major program in the country, but is being most heavily recruited by Duke, Kansas, and Kentucky. Hillcrest also features other top talent in a handful of guards. Senior point guard Julian Payton, who holds an offer from Texas Southern, is the son of former NBA superstar, Gary “The Glove” Payton. Junior guard Dontez Thomas and sophomore guard Jaden Lee both have offers from Texas- Rio Grande and Prairie View A&M.

Advanced Prep International, TX
Coach Ray Forsett brings in a well-rounded team full of talent who pride themselves on their work ethic. With goals of a national championship, key seniors Terrance Ferguson (No. 10 by ESPN,) and Mark Vital (No. 55 by Rivals, Baylor signee) hope to lead their team just there this April. With high-flyers Ferguson and Vital, API will be one of the most entertaining teams in high school hoops this season. Cincinnati signee Nysier Brooks and No. 6 junior Billy Preston will do nothing less than dominate in the paint. The Bulldogs welcomed in the top guard of the 2017 class, Trevon Duval, who is being heavily recruited by Maryland, Louisville, Baylor and UCLA, and senior Stevie Jordan who has signed with Rider. They will be playing in memory of teammate Kneiko Ketchens, who passed away in October

Word of God Christian, NC
Word of God Christian includes No. 9 (Rivals) ranked senior forward Rawle Alkins, who is down to his final nine schools. A New York native, his list includes New York based St. John’s, NC State, Kentucky, and North Carolina. The Holy Rams will also look to knock-down shooter senior Jaylen Fornes (UNC-Wilmington signee) and point guard Jalen Harris to be consistent threats. Word of God, whose alumni include current NBA point guard John Wall, will look to standout guard Blake Harris (No. 91 by 247Sports, offers include Wake Forest and LSU) to help Jalen Harris in the backcourt. Others to key in on include seniors Brandon Huffman and Mikeil Watkins and junior Jordan Whitfield.

Quality Education, NC
The Fighting Pharaohs are a veteran-heavy team this season with ten upperclassmen. QEA, always a powerhouse, will be run in the backcourt by senior Deshawn Corprew (No. 91 by 247Sports) and junior Renathan Ona-Embo (No. 71 by Rivals). Corprew is an under-ranked guard and is being targeted by high major programs like NC State and Virginia Tech. Ona-Embo is an up-and-coming shooting guard who already holds offers from USC and Cincinnati. Senior Keith Stagg will also be looked upon to provide help in the backcourt. Quality Education is a powerhouse that features many dominant post players. Standing at 6’9’’, senior Papa N’Diaye is arguably one of the teams’ most prevalent scorers. N’Diaye’s college offers include Oklahoma, Mississippi State, and Rhode Island. The Fighting Pharoah’s other two main big men are 6’9’’ senior Malik Brevard (offers include Chattanooga, Middle Tennessee…) and 6’7’’ senior Marsellis Purvis (offers include UNCG, Robert Morris…).

Victory Prep, TX
Victory Prep is led by No. 7 ranked junior Jarred Vanderbilt, who is being heavily recruited by Kentucky, Kansas, and many Texas based programs. The Cardinals are the reigning Texas Charter School State Champions. The Cardinals are a team made of mainly seniors and juniors, including seniors LaJuan Hardy and Antonio Terrell. They are coached by former NBA and Louisville star, Rodney McCray, who won an NBA Championship with the Chicago Bulls in 1993. Assistant coach, Moochie Norris, also has NBA experience, after a 10 year stint in the league.

Victory Rock Prep, FL
Victory Rock Prep includes 6’11’’ big man Gorjok Gak, who will join the Oklahoma State Cowboys next season. The Blue Devils also feature point guard Loren Christian Jackson (Long Beach) and 7’1’’ center Khadim Gueye who holds offers from Long Beach and South Florida. Starring alongside Gorjok Gak for VRP will be senior guard Blake Morrow and junior Mayan Kiir. Morrow is a guard who has drawn Division 2 offers and Kiir is a 6’9’’ forward who is drawing Division 1 interests. Head coach Loren B. Jackson has coached a slew of players who have went on to play in college and the NBA, including current Louisville center Mangok Mathiang and former Kentucky/current New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis.

Oldsmar Christian, FL
Oldsmar Christian features 6’8’’ forward Troy Baxter (No. 72 by 247Sports) who has signed his letter of intent with South Florida. Point guard Eric Hester (No. 87 by Rivals) and forward Dontay Bassett have both signed with the Florida Gators. Others to keep an eye on for the Eagles are junior L.J. Figueora (No. 63 by Rivals, offers include from Louisville, Miami, VA Tech…) and sophomore Elijah Weaver (offers include Louisville, Florida, Nebraska…). 

Potter’s House Christian, FL
Potter’s House is led by senior center Udoka Azubuike (No. 22 by ESPN), who is a dominant player down low. With a body that could compare to a young Shaquille O’Neal, 6’11’’, 270lb, and 7’8’’ wingspan, Azubuike aggressively attacks the basket and dunks with authority. He narrowed his list of colleges down to Kansas, Florida State, and North Carolina, and he plans to make the decision by the end of January. The Lions also feature two elite junior forwards, Louis Dorsey and DJ Russell. Russell is an elite forward who committed to Miami his freshman season. Now, a junior, he will be a key force for the Lions this season. 6’7’’ Dorsey currently holds an offer from Illinois State and is beginning to gain interest from others.

Breakdown of players participating in “The Grind Session National Championship

Thon Maker (former No. 1 player before moving outside US)

Josh Jackson (No. 1  Rivals 2016)

DeAndre Ayton (No.1 Rivals 2017

Trevon Duval (No. 4  Rivals 2017)

Billy Preston (No. 6 Rivals 2017)

Jarred Vanderbilt (No.7 Rivals 2017)

Rawle Alkins (No. 9  Rivals 2016)

Terrance Ferguson (No. 10  ESPN 2016)

Udoka Azubuike (No. 22 by ESPN 2016)

Matur Maker (No. 25 2018)

Isiah Jasey, No. 32 (ESPN 2017)

Ira Lee (No. 34 2017)

Kameron McGusty (No. 37 247Sports 2016)

Abu Kigab (No. 52)

Mark Vital (No. 55  Rivals 2016)

L.J. Figueora (No. 63  Rivals 2017)

Ona-Embo (No. 71 by Rivals 2017)

Vance Jackson (No.72 Rivals 2016)

Troy Baxter (No. 72  247Sports 2016)

Sedee Keita (No. 78 by ESPN 2016)

 Eric Hester (No. 87 Rivals 2016)

Deshawn Corprew (No. 91 247Sports 2016)

Blake Harris (No. 91 by 247Sports 2016)

Eli Wright (No. 94  Rivals 2016)

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