The Covid 19 pandemic has preempted everything in sports including in-person recruiting and AAU Basketball. Its something that has forced many to scramble looking for options while others became more creative and used technology to broadcast open runs and workouts via live stream at open places.
Queens Native Kaamil Dillard who has run the Diamond in the Rough showcase in his second year, decided to get creative and have his second annual showcase outside at Ajax Park in South Jamaica Queens on Sunday, August 9th.
Dillard came up with the idea of the showcase to honor his friend Darryl Adams an up and coming basketball prospect who was killed near South Jamaica Houses ( also known as 40 projects) back in March of 2012. Adams who played his high school ball at Thomas Edison HS used basketball to move further away from the rough streets of South Jamaica Queens. Dillard felt that he needed to make a platform for unknown players in NYC to get a chance to show coaches that they can play at the next level. “A couple of friends should have made it out of the hood to play college ball, myself included so I felt it was right to create a platform for players not a lot of people know about” says Dillard.
At the Showcase on that sunny Sunday afternoon, approximately 30 players from queens and all over the tri-state area ranging from high school upperclassmen to JUCO transfers came through to play in front of a handful of coaches from JUCo’s, prep schools, and small College programs.
Most coaches watched the games on Instagram live, well known local scouts such as Nate Blue of real scout basketball and coach Tom “Tippy” McTernan made their appearance on that day to check out some players. There were also a few prep school and JUCO coaches in the area from Herkimer Community college and Prestige Prep just to name a few.
The extension of the NCAA dead period deferred many coaches from attending events but Bronx native Leshawn Hammett head coach of Penn-State Wilkes-Barre (DII-USCAA) took the opportunity to attend the event and shared his thoughts. “The showcase was a solid event and there was a lot of talent that was there. I come to this event every year and recruit players from this event”. Hammett also named talked about a few players who have impressed him. “Shamel Grant was the best PG there, Dian Wright-Ford is a strong athletic wing. Greg Thurman is one Juco transfer to watch, I also liked Alex McClain and Leon Nicholas they are two big aggressive guards”.
When it came to how the games went Hammett added “It was competitive and all games were dog fights.” Andrew Lara and Teequan Holley are two undersized bigs
Having the event at Ajax park was the last-minute decision after the rims were taken down at the original location in South Ozone Park. Despite that Dillard and his staff still made things work. In the end, many of the participants have either gained offers or signed with school and will be heading there this fall.
Notable Participants who have received offers or committed to schools since the event on August 9th.
Shamel Grant’21 6-2 PG, Brooklyn, NY – Committed to Chaffey University (JUCO) in California
Michael Graham’21 6-6 PF, Queens NY On Point Academy ‘21 Offer from Penn State University-Wilkes Barre as well as other schools.
Jeremiah Green 6-0 guard, Queens, NY
Currently attending St. Joseph Academy in Vermont.
Dian Wright-Forde 6-4 shooting guard Upper Room Christian Academy ‘21
Offer from St. Francis Brooklyn
After the event on August 9th, Dillard explained in the interview that he received many calls from coaches asking him to do the event again. This inspired Dillard to make the event bigger and better. Over the past two months Dillard and his staff have worked hard to get players to sign up to participate in their fall version of the Diamond in the Rough showcase that will be going on tomorrow at the Brooklyn Stuydome.
Coaches from over 30 colleges across all levels and 20 plus prep schools will be in attendance most of them will be watching virtually.
With some uncertainty of the High school basketball season starting, and the recruiting dead period being extended to January, events like Diamond in the rough showcase will be beneficial for the athletes looking to get recruited.
As for the next steps, Dillard and his staff will looking to get more athletes from across the tri-state area and other places to attend as well as put on more exposure events in the future.