The NSTC (NIKE SPARQ Team Challenge) figures to be a tight race until the very end as the Team SPARQ Rating leader board has already changed three times among boys basketball teams around the country.
Ten days ago, the South NSTC truck SPARQ tested Norcross (GA) High and the two-time defending Georgia Class AAAAA state champs recorded a 80.01 Team SPARQ Rating only to see the West NSTC truck test Taft High of Woodland Hills, California and beat their mark by 1.24 points earlier this week. Only two days after the Toreadors recorded a 81.25, the NSTC once again took a Southern flavor as Peabody High of Alexandria, Louisiana topped the charts with a 81.65 Team SPARQ Rating.
Greg Monroe and Helen Cox (Harvey, LA) High is getting most of the preseason attention among schools in the Bayou, but it's actually Peabody High that is the defending state Class 4A champions. The Warhorses finished No. 45 in the final Rivals.com FAB 50 National Rankings as they won the state title with a 59-38 victory over Washington-Marion in front of 15,300 fans as 6-foot-5 Desmond King pumped in 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds for a Peabody team that finished with a 36-4 record.
The Team SPARQ Rating is the cumulative average of the five top individual SPARQ Ratings and King's 79.1 SPARQ Rating amazingly was only the fifth highest on the squad as Peabody served notice that it won't relinquish its state title easily. Three players graded out with a SPARQ Rating* above 80 led by the 84.89 of 6-foot-3 Austen Baker. Baker's SPARQ Rating included a 5.25-second average during the Agility Cone Drill, a 2.95 20-meter dash, a 34.8 inch vertical jump, a three-kilogram Power Ball toss of 66 feet and a score of 63 on the 30-second Endurance Jump test.
Peabody's Team SPARQ Rating also included the 82.32 of 6-foot-1 Markel Brown, the 81.97 of 5-foot-8 Mychal Horn and the 79.95 of 6-foot-5 of Dominique Austin. Peabody traditionally wins without much height underneath as Austin is one of the main threats in the post. The Warhorses, however, have little trouble crashing the boards as five Peabody players recorded vertical jumps of 34 inches or higher, led by the 39.6 of Brown and the 37.6 of Horn. In fact nine Warhorses had verts above 32 inches and 11 above 30 inches.
Of course, not every team is going to test like Peabody, and really, testing off the charts is not the only thing the NSTC is about. The tour is a competition no doubt, but improving athleticism through training is the ultimate goal and few on the tour have driven that point home better than Allen Marshall from Thomas Jefferson High of Brooklyn, New York.
Last season was a tough one for Marshall and Jefferson as the Orange Wave compiled a 9-11 record. During last year's NSTC, Marshall recorded a SPARQ Rating of 68.00, but he was academically ineligible and wasn't able to help the Orange Wave on the hardwood. Marshall was determined to improve in the classroom and out on the court and mentioned to the Northeast TSTC team that he specifically trained during the past year with SPARQ equipment and its related drills.
Approximately a month ago at the PSAL Sullivan Games, Marshall showed what results hard work can bring when he recorded a 75.00 SPARQ Rating. When the NSTC team made their way through Brooklyn, however, the Orange Wave recorded the highest Team SPARQ Rating in the region so far with a 76.21, which topped the 74.53 recorded by the top five SPARQ Tested athletes for FAB 50 power St. Patrick's of Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Jefferson's Team SPARQ Rating was aided by the individual 86.72 mark of Marshall, the fourth best on the entire NSTC tour so far. Not only did the wing forward record the highest individual SPARQ Rating among boys basketball players in the Northeast, his mark was nearly 20 points better than a year ago. SPARQ Training does pay off and Marshall is a perfect example of that.
Read below to see Marshall's individual testing marks and the rest of the top individual boys SPARQ Ratings from all four regions:
*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.