Tyler Simpson | Lead Writer
The Top Rank Showcase provides great exposure and allows kids from several states to compete against each other with the highest level of competition coming from each state. What makes the showcase a great event is the amount of local prospects that get brought in, and are able to hang with the best of the best. Ranging from Division One kids to the top Junior College talent, the showcase never disappoints from the local aspect of it.
In Kansas City, the best of the metro area were on hand in Blue Springs for the event in October, which had a handful of Division One players in attendance. Two stand out players from the Kansas City event were Dru’ Smith and Zack Andersen, both of whom will attend the Orlando event in March. Smith’, a crafty scoring guard from Parkville, Mo, made the top 20 game in Kansas City and looks for a repeat performance come March. Andersen, another guard who can score in bunches, looks to improve upon his performance from Kansas City and hopefully get his name out there more. Both have a great ability to score the ball and will not go unnoticed at the Orlando event.
Ashton West, Top Rank Showcase founder and president had great things to say about them both, “Zack is fundamentally sound, a great shooter, and extremely unselfish. Dru’ is a playmaker, great slasher, and is also very unselfish. Both have tremendous potential and will be great additions to any college program.” I was fortunate enough to catch up with both Dru’ and Zack and get their thoughts on several topics and what makes the Top Rank Showcase such a special event.
How’s the season been going for you two thus far? Dru’ I noticed you’re from Park Hill and played in the Basehor tournament this year, which normally has a lot of talent in it, how was the competition?
ZA: My season is going pretty good so far. I’m averaging about 25 a game, we’re 13-3 on the year and tied for first in our conference.
DS: Season has been going good, we won our first ten games and first two tournaments, we are 12-3 on the season after a weird weekend at Basehor. I feel like we didn’t play to our full potential, the competition was okay, I feel like we played down to the level of competition, but we have regrouped and are ready to make another run. The season has been going well for me, I am averaging 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists a game. We’re currently first in a tough conference.
Your guys’ high school seasons have both respectively been going well, what are your main goals to finish out your senior year?
ZA: Win our conference tournament and state tournament, then be first team all-state and first team all-conference.
DS: Win conference, win districts, and then win a state title.
Have you guys been hearing from any colleges about playing for them at the next level?
ZA: Yes, I’ve heard from two schools in Kansas, Calvary University and Kansas Christian College.
DS: I’ve heard from Southern Illinois, Missouri State, South Dakota, Drake, Central Arkansas, and some top juco schools.
Awesome. What are you guys working on to improve before playing basketball at the next level?
ZA: Being a better defender and getting stronger. Also, just being more vocal, take good shots, and not try to force anything.
DS: Getting stronger and faster, being a better leader and being more efficient.
For the people who haven’t been able to watch you or see your guys’ game, how would you describe yourselves? Give a little insight on the type of player you are.
ZA: I would say I can attack the rim very well and finish at a high percentage, I can also knock down open shots and create for myself when needed, I can get hot quickly. I look to get my teammates involved and am also very hard working and try to lead by example to my younger teammates.
DS: A playmaker who can finish around the rim or over it. I can knock down open shots, create for myself, and am very good in transition because of my speed and getting others involved in transition. Very good in ball screen situations, good on-ball defender, and a great rebounding guard.
Both of you attended the TRS in Kansas City, what did you guys think of the event? What’d you like about it?
ZA: I thought it was a great event and good experience. I liked the competition there and the exposure that you get from the event.
DS: It was a great event. I had fun playing against some great talent, it was a great learning experience for me.
What are you guys looking forward to for the Orlando event?
ZA: Playing with and against people from different parts of the country, and just playing against all of the talent there.
DS: Playing against all of the talent.
It’s awesome what we’re doing with these events, then all of the talent we bring in for for everyone to compete against is great. Do you have any specific goals for Orlando?
ZA: Mainly just try to play well and try to get my name out there more, and try to get all of my teammates involved as much as possible during the games.
DS: Play great and just get my name out there on that side of the country.
What would you say makes the Top Rank Showcase so special?
ZA: The competition level and playing against the people I’ve heard about but never got the chance to play against them.
DS: Going against great competition from all over.
Who do you guys have winning the Super Bowl?
ZA: I would love to see the Patriots win because I love Tom Brady and the type of player he is.
DS: I want the Patriots to win the Super Bowl because Tom Brady is my favorite quarterback.
Tyler Simpson | Lead Writer
Koreem Ozier is no stranger to the art of what some would call, getting buckets. Ozier, a 6’0” guard from Racine Case high school in Wisconsin is a prolific scoring guard who can get to the bucket with ease but also hit shots from outside. Ozier has been scoring in bunches all season long while currently averaging 32 points per game in the state of Wisconsin which is good enough for number one in his division.
Ozier has quite an accomplishment to add to his already impressive resume this season. Ozier scored in bunches in a game against Kenosha Tremper weeks ago in which he scored 50 points, a new career high with a previous career high of 38. Ozier outscored the entire Kenosha Tremper team 50-47. Impressive nonetheless, “I outscored the entire team, but I missed my first shot of the game and then rattled off 7 in a row after that.” Ozier said. “None of my teammates thought anything of it, because they’ve seen this before in practice.” Ozier preached that his teammates kept finding him for easy and open looks that led to more points coming in bunches. This scoring outbreak isn’t new to anyone that’s watched him before.
“At halftime I had 30 points, so when I came back out I stayed aggressive but also continued to find my teammates.” Ozier finished the game against Kenosha Tremper with 8 assists, 11 rebounds, and 5 three’s. His aggressiveness paid off as he got to the free throw line 17 times to finish with an amazing 16/17 from the line.
Ozier has received interest from a handful of Division One schools and a handful of the top junior college programs in the country. When asked who had been in contact with him, Ozier said “Ball State, Western Illinois, New Mexico, Florida A&M, and Wisconsin recently reached out to me.” Ozier said he needs to study hard and improve his test scores before they offer him, which he said he’s capable of doing. Ozier was asked about what he wanted to improve on before he reached the next level, “Being equally effective with my left as I am with my right, and outside shooting because you can never have too much range.” With Stephen Curry sort of revolutionizing the three point shot these past couple of seasons, adding range to the arsenal is a must.
Ozier, a Top Rank Showcase Kansas City alum, made the top 40 game and played against some of the best competition Kansas City has to offer at the event that was on display in October. “It was great competition, playing against kids I had heard about but never got to compete against them. I didn’t play my best, in my opinion it was just an off day, plus the ten hour drive to get there. I definitely got better basketball knowledge and more exposure.” Ozier responded when asked about the competition at the Top Rank Showcase event in Kansas City.
Winning conference and then making a deep state tournament run are the goals Koreem Ozier wants to accomplish this high school season before heading off to the next level. While Ozier stays as no stranger to the art of getting buckets, it will be interesting to see if he keeps up his prolific scoring throughout the rest of the season and then accomplishes the goals he has set.
Tyler Simpson | Editor
Tyler Simpson | Lead Writer
Being under the spotlight is no new task for 2018 PG Rahsaan Lewis out of Windermere Prep in Florida. Rahsaan, the son of future hall of fame linebacker Ray Lewis of the Ravens is used to people expecting the most out of him, as he’s been followed closely for years now. Once a two sport athlete, Rahsaan saw that quickly come to an end when he had a major knee injury that derailed a year of athletics for him. With that quickly behind him and recovery finally over he made the switch to focus solely on basketball. Rahsaan and Windermere Prep are 8-5 on the season and are finally starting to get a feel for who they are as a team. The team competed in the high profiled early season tournament called the Tarkanian Classic, named after legendary UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian. Rahsaan has been invited to our Orlando event on March 18th and will showcase his abilities that have several Division One colleges calling him. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Rahsaan and talk about his season, his goals, and what it’s like to be the son of such a historic football player.
First off, I’d like to thank you for taking your time to talk to me, I really appreciate it. How’s the season been going for you so far?
All good, and thank you as well. It’s going pretty good, we started off a little rough with a new team and different chemistry but we’re getting it all together now and looking a lot better!
You guys played at the Tarkanian Classic this season, right? How was the competition there? It’s normally a pretty high profiled tournament, how’d you do as well?
Yes sir we did. The competition was really pretty good. It was still high profiled this year and as a team we did pretty good. It was a different type of play that we were used to and our whole team was sick and all but we finished 2-2. I played pretty well actually, the first game was a little slower, just such a change, but after that I played pretty good. Overall I had a good tournament and really enjoyed the trip, and getting to experience high level competition with a different play style than what we’re used to.
Awesome, that’s good. I see you play with David Nickelberry, a Division One kid, what’s it like playing with him? Surely it has to help being a point guard and having another great player on your team to pass to.
Yes sir, I do. I’ve known him for years now. We both love playing with each other, but it’s really nice and helpful playing with him, he can play, especially once he gets going and he is a big help. We have some other kids as well that are a great help!
Yup, basketball is a team sport. Two great players can still be beat by a team of 5 that play hard on both ends and excel at it. You’re a 2018 kid, son of Ray Lewis, do you play football as well or are you trying to focus mainly on basketball for the next two years?
Yes sir, and I’ve played football my whole life as well, but not too long ago I suffered a major knee injury, which I’m fully back and recovered from. Now I’m just focusing solely on basketball for the next two years. I have no time to waste!
Since you’re focusing on basketball, what are you really trying to improve and work on, to show that you have what it takes to compete at the next level?
I’m trying to grow and excel at the things point guards need at the next level in all areas such as running the team, and being vocal and always leading. Defense, especially with being smaller, as well as less turnovers. With the fast pace we play a few turnovers will come. Just continue working on different things, my shot, shot off the dribble, and free throws. My dad always told me even with strengths and weaknesses you must have a complete game, so you always work to get better at everything.
With being the son of Ray Lewis, does it add any extra pressure or spotlight when you play? Or do you do your best to just tone it out and kind of build your own legacy?
It doesn’t add any extra pressure but people do expect a whole lot which is understandable. They still try to compare me to him and all even in a different sport, but none of it gets to me. I’m pretty strong minded and purpose driven and I’m trying to make my own name so I’m known as Rahsaan Lewis not as Ray Lewis’ son. I love my dad and am so thankful for everything he’s done and his legacy and everything no doubt, but I’m my own person and want to be known as that. I don’t feel pressure from people comparing me to him or any of that. I just play the game that I love and the goal is to like I said, be me, be who I am, and make my own name!
That’s incredible, love your answer. What’s been your dad’s biggest words of advice to you, from playing basketball or sports in general while growing up?
He’s always said to just play your game, trust yourself, and it’s nothing new. He’s always stressed the fact to give it your all because effort is between no one but ourselves and at the end of the day take it personal, never let another man outwork me.
Have you been hearing from any programs? If so, who? Have you received any offers yet?
I’ve heard from UNF, Maryland, and VMI directly or through my coach. The UNF head coach and assistant came to see me at practice and talked to me and have been in contact with me. VMI has just been in contact with me, and Maryland has called my coach about me and says they will be by to see me play.
What are your thoughts on those programs? Obviously Maryland is Maryland, they’ve got a good track record and Turgeon is a great coach.
Maryland I’ve followed, and like you said they have a great coach and are always doing pretty well during the season. I do like Maryland a lot, of course would like to go see the campus and all of it rather than just following them and researching, but I have always followed Maryland. UNF I researched on and it seems actually really nice. They’ve done pretty well the past couple of seasons, but I would also like to get up there and see it as well.
Absolutely. You’re coming to our event in Orlando in March, are you excited about that? What are your goals for the showcase? There’s going to be a lot of talent there and I can’t wait to watch you compete.
Yes sir, I am very excited about that, I really can’t wait! My goals for the showcase are to just come and be me, play my game, and showcase who I am so people know Rahsaan Lewis. Not going to do anything out of who I am or out of my game just because of how big the showcase is. I’m going to be me and who I am. I love to compete, that’s what I’ve done my whole life, I love great competition, I’m built for it and have never been known to back down from a challenge. I truly love and can’t wait to play verse all the talent!
Awesome, can’t wait to watch you come March. One last thing, who do you have tonight, Clemson or Alabama?
Can’t wait to be there! And ahh, I got to say Clemson. I have a good friend from my old school that plays there and a close friend that went there that’s now on the Falcons.
Tyler Simpson | Editor
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