The NIKE SPARQ Team Challenge (NSTC) kicked off around the country in mid-September and for the last month the NSTC trucks have been testing many of the country's best boys basketball teams and individual players.
SPARQ is always looking to aid basketball players of all skill levels in their quest to be better and more well-rounded athletes. So far the four NSTC trucks have spread across different regions of the country and have tested 2,510 athletes* in the five testing protocols that make up the SPARQ Basketball Rating.**
Testing protocols for the SPARQ Basketball Rating that gauges an athlete's overall speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness (SPARQ) include the Agility Cone Drill, 20-Yard Dash, Power Ball Toss (3 kg for male athletes), one-step vertical jump and the 30-second Endurance Jump test. The five testing protocols are then calculated into a proprietary formula to produce a single numeric value that guages the overall athleticism of basketball players of all skill levels.
In regards to the NIKE SPARQ Team Challenge, every athlete within a school's program is encouraged to test. In order to win the challenge, however, the Team Rating is the cumulative average of the five top individual SPARQ Ratings from that particular team.
Among high school boys teams, the NSTC leader (so far) is
Farragut Academy in Chicago, the alma mater of new Boston Celtic and 1995 Student Sports National Player of the Year Kevin Garnett plus his old running mate Ronnie Fields, one of the greatest players ever in the Chicago Public League.
Although none of the players on this year's team can leap like Fields used to, many of the Admirals are quite athletic to say the least. Three players on Farragut's team recorded SPARQ Ratings in the 80's, led by Troynell Adams with a 83.25, which is one of the 10 best individual ratings on the 2007 NSTC tour so far. Darius Stowers was second on his team with a 82.61 SPARQ Rating while Marvin Thigpen checked in with a 80.45.
Over two years and three SPARQ testing sessions, each of these three Admirals players' individual ratings climbed. Thigpen improved his rating from 66.59 to a 76.56, which included a nine-foot improvement on his Power Ball Throw, a 0.59 second improvement on his Agility Cone Drill time, a 0.7 foot increase on his vertical jump with six more jumps during the 30 seconds allotted for the Endurance Jump Test. Adams, meanwhile, was second to Stowers last year but improved his SPARQ Rating from 71.92 to 83.25 by adding nine feet to his Power Ball Toss and improving in every other category as well.
Bolingbrook (IL) checks in at No. 2 on the list for now with a 79.50 but the NSTC tour trucks are in the process of testing Rivals.com FAB 50 powers such as Oak Hill Academy (VA), Helen Cox (Harvey, LA), Campbell Hall (North Hollywood, CA) and Duncanville (TX) so the leader board might change in the near future. The Raiders' Team Rating was aided nicely by the 86.52 SPARQ Rating posted by Julius Verdun that included a 37.6 inch vertical jump. Bolingbrook's football team is also competing in the NSTC, but the Raiders' hoop team can definitely brag around campus that their SPARQ Rating easily outdistanced the football team's rating.
Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA) is another team that not only recorded a high team SPARQ Rating but will be highly ranked in the upcoming preseason Rivals.com FAB 50 National High School Basketball Rankings. The Monarchs are coming off a season in which they won the CIF Div. II state title and one of the players whose expected to pick up the slack for graduated California Mr. Basketball Taylor King is Jamaal Trice. Trice recorded a 84.45 SPARQ Rating and improved marks in the Agility Cone Drill and his vertical jump led to an increase in the 70.04 SPARQ Rating he recorded last year.
Dillard High in Ft. Lauderdale is known for producing quality athletes such as the St. Louis Rams' Isaac Bruce and you can definitely include Kore White in the category of elite athlete. His excellent 87.34 SPARQ Rating helped the Panthers record a 77.04 Team Rating. The Lady Panthers basketball team also performed well with a 59.68 Team Rating.
Back East, New Yorkers believe their brand of basketball is the best and they is always an abundance of talent within NYC's five boroughs. We expect Rice High to be one of the top 15 teams in the Rivals.com FAB 50 and they will be testing towards the end of the month. Rice features star guards such as Kemba Walker, but Thurgood Marshall is a squad that relies on good old-fashioned teamwork. The Panthers basketball team practices and competes in a gym on the sixth floor of a building in Harlem and recorded a 63.73 Team Rating led by the 75.05 SPARQ Rating of junior Jason Givens
"We're all good players," Givens remarked. "We know our roles and there isn't one star out there. We are a team."
Wadleigh High's team is known as the "Harlem Hellfighters" and one player on the team that definitely fits that nickname is senior Curtis Loving.
At the PSAL Sullivan Games in New York during late September, Loving recorded a 62.71 SPARQ Rating but improved his score to an excellent 84.25 when testing in the friendly confines of the Hellfighters' gym.
Loving calls his talent "a God given gift" and boasts to be, "The best athlete in New York" and the "Second best athlete in the country behind Demar Derozan."
Speaking of Derozan, the Compton (CA) High product, also SPARQ Tested with his Tarbabe teammates and predictably he tested well. A top-five national recruit and arguably the best dunker at the high school level since 2006 EA SPORTS All-American Bill Walker, Derozan's 79.71 helped the Tarbabes to a 73.66 Team Rating.
Other national level recruits who tested well include Monteverde Academy'sDashan Harris with a 77.48 and top-notch junior Dexter Strickland from FAB 50 power St. Patrick's (Elizabeth, NJ) with a 82.57. Another top-notch junior from a traditional power, Josh Kemp (Northside, Columbus, GA) turned heads with a 41-inch vertical jump that helped him record a 79.63 SPARQ Rating. Make sure to check back on StudentSportsBasketball.com later to check out all the individual SPARQ Ratings that will include many of the nation's Hot 100 recruits!
To learn more about the NIKE SPARQ Team Challenge CLICK HERE.
To view the updated NSTC tour schedule CLICK HERE.
To read more blogs from the NSTC tour, CLICK HERE.
*Number accurate as of 10/15/2007
**The goal of the SPARQ Basketball Rating is to give coaches, trainers and athletes the tools to assess the overall athleticism of a basketball player with tests that are designed to reflect the specific physical demands of the game. The SPARQ Rating is not designed or intended as a measure of basketball skills or an athlete's potential success on the court. SPARQ realizes that the intangibles of desire, hard work, teamwork and knowledge of the game all contribute to ultimate success in a complex skill sport like basketball. To learn more about the SPARQ Basketball Rating and compare SPARQ Ratings with teammates, training partners and competitors, go to www.sparqtraining.com.