The D-1 Ambassadors basketball program has several Texas-based teams that have participated in the Great American Shoot-Out summer circuit. The Ambassadors team coached by Mike Hardge won the 13th annual Bryan/College Station GASO two weeks ago at Texas A&M.
Three Ambassadors teams will take the court this weekend at the GASO, as the event makes its first-ever summer stop in Pearland. Roughly 90 teams will play at five sites in the Pearland area. Pool-play action starts at 5 p.m. Friday and continues through Saturday afternoon. Bracket play starts early Saturday evening and runs through Sunday afternoon.
Here are 10 teams to watch, in alphabetical order.
AUSTIN ICE Coaches: Johnny Moore, Fred DeLoach Players to watch: Jordan Roach (Bastrop), Paul Baxter (Austin Bowie), Yolonzo Moore (Austin Akins) Notable: The Ice is riding confidence after taking the USSSA state title last week. Connor Robinson had a great showing in College Station, and Quincy Russell is a high-major football recruit with excellent basketball moves.
DERON WILLIAMS ELITE 2011 Coach: Randy Feemster Players to watch: Austin Chatman (The Colony), Caleb Feemster (Addison Trinity Christian), Aaron Wyatt (Prestonwood Christian) Notable: This well-coached squad can play an up-tempo offense or a half-court offense effectively. The team has several players with high basketball IQs, which can be huge on the AAU circuit. Look for Tyler James to play a major role.
GALVESTON HORNETS Coaches: Terry Petteway, Alfonzo Ruiz Players to watch: Terran Petteway (Galveston Ball), Mike Evans (Galveston Ball), Dedrick Archie (Galveston Ball) Notable: The Hornets used a menacing press and long-distance shooting to place second in College Station. If guards Marcus Ruiz and Darrian Johnson get hot from deep, expect the Hornets to be in the hunt once again.
HOUSTON HOOPSTARS Coach: Keith Howell Players to watch: Cameron Ridley (Fort Bend Bush), Ryan Manuel (Fort Bend Austin), Trey Pinkney (Katy Seven Lakes) Notable: There's a lot of talent at all positions on this team. Throw in a fire to avenge an early loss in College Station, and the Hoopstars should be a dangerous team to watch. Aaron Durley, at 6-foot-8, should help the 6-foot-10 Ridley inside.
HOUSTON LYNX-SCHUDY Coaches: George Schudy, Walter Gordy Players to watch: Nevin Johnson (Spring), Jonathan Benn (Fort Bend Foster), Tyler Guidry (Houston Westbury Christian) Notable: Tthe Lynx, if nothing else, will play from the opening tip until the finish. Johnson did not play with the team in College Station but should be a difference-maker. Michael Dison is an impact point guard.
SAN ANTONIO ROHAWKS 17 Coach: Ed Johnson Players to watch: Jonathan Holmes (San Antonio Antonian Prep), Darrious Hamilton (San Antonio Antonian Prep), Marshall Harris (San Antonio Taft) Notable: The RoHawks had an unusually early loss during bracket play in College Station. Expect the team to bounce back with a fury. Guards William Knowles and Eliot Mills are consistent X-factors.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS Coaches: Bob Briseno, Clay Click Players to watch: Karl Wacker (Converse Judson), Jeremy Espinoza (Uvalde), Raynell Ishman (Converse Judson) Notable: The Spurs are coming off a NBA consolation championship in College Station. The team plays smart basketball and, because of its savvy, is capable of beating any team in the tournament. Don't be surprised if the Spurs are around on Sunday.
TEXAS D-1 AMBASSADORS-CRESS Coaches: Darrell Cress, David Pawsat Players to watch: Eric McClellan (Austin), Jaleel Williams (Killeen Ellison), Brooks Pawsat (Austin Hyde Park) Notable: There is good size on this ball club, as the shortest player is listed at 6-foot-2. Expect the tall wings to shoot well from the perimeter and all of the players to use their length on defense to disrupt offensive strategies.
TEXAS D-1 AMBASSADORS-HARGIS Coaches: Michael Hargis, Michael Williams Players to watch: LaDarrien Williams (Manor), Dylan Elias (San Antonio Taft), Michael Hargis (Austin LBJ) Notable: The Ambassadors advanced to the semifinals in College Station. Williams, Hargis and Elias have been major scoring options, but keep an eye on rising guard Blair Williams, who can be a threat.
TEXAS D-1 AMBASSADORS-SAN ANTONIO Coaches: Paul Josephs, Dean Lammert Players to watch: Ansley Benjamin (San Antonio Clark), Connor Lammert (San Antonio Churchill), Jacob Palacios (San Antonio Clark) Notable: This Ambassadors squad won the Huntsville GASO in the spring and took the NBA Silver Division two weeks ago in College Station. The team, made up predominantly of players from Churchill and Clark, plays solid team ball.