Saturday, April 30, 2011

PR Playmakers Goes Against The Grain

The PR Playmakers program has worked with some of the best prospects in Puerto Rico over the last several years. With the Federations' announcement that they are starting a new youth development program at the end of the summer this could be the last year that club teams have access to the best prospects. Couple that with the fact that kids are playing year round without really seeing much improvement in their development suggests that it may be time for both parents and players to look at other alternatives.

"We have decided to refocus our attention on development both in and out of the classroom. Kids are already playing way to much basketball and we are contributing and participating in a flawed system. 2010 was an incredibly successful year for us and we want to capitalize on that. We secured scholarships for 4 student athletes who never played a game for us. We were able to help them individually without requiring that they play for us. We think our greatest work can be done on a one on one basis with a focus on skill development, increasing basketball IQ, test taking techniques, academic enrichment/support and placement at elite Nike sponsored high schools and colleges. There are plenty of teams players can play on but there are not any programs that are focused on the holistic approach to developing student athletes. Some of the best prospects are barely qualifying with the NCAA Clearing House and there is a long history of really good players who we unable to go to college in the states because they cannot meet the minimum requirements academically to qualify. We have spent a lot of time exploring how we can make more of an impact and this is clearly the way forward", said Todd Washington, Founder of PR Playmakers.

Washington confirmed that they have entered into discussions with some local coaches and clubs about developing a partnership but at this point he is focused on the new program offering and a series of events. Washington was the first to bring the "Combine" concept to the Federation in 2009 and has successfully operated two Middle School Combines.

"We are working on two major events for this summer and will also be focused on some digital media opportunities which are part of our plan moving forward. We are very committed to helping develop student athletes and are confident that our new strategy will allow us to reach more kids here in the Puerto Rico in the rest of the region."

Part of Washington's plan is expanding into other markets including the USVI, Leeward/Windward, Jamaica, Guadeloupe and Martinque. The talent pool in those markets is exceedingly strong and completely untapped but Washington stressed that PRP is not going anywhere.

"Like all successful entities expansion and growth are part the required evolution. Puerto Rico is my home, my daughter was born here and the kids we have been working with will be given a chance to participate in and benefit from what we are about to do," said Washington.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Giancarlo Santiago Signs With Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

Class of 2011 SF, Giancarlo Santiago signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Santiago is a big time D1 player who has yet to qualify. MGCCC has been successful in signing players from Puerto Rico including Puerto Rico National Team Players, Raymond Cintron and Angel Matias.

"Giancarlo has a bright future in front of him. He is a hard worker and has huge upside. He has the size and strength to play at a high major. Coach Weathers at MGCCC has done an exception job with both Raymond and Angel. We think this is going to be a great fit for Giancarlo, said Todd Washington. Santiago's performance coach and mentor.

A number of kids from Puerto Rico are taking a closer look at Junior College in recent years given the success of Cintron. Cintron was the #1 ranked player in Puerto Rico in 2009 and had a great career at MGCCC, where he was named a 2nd Team, All American. Matias who was redshirted this year which allowed him to focus on his academics and get in shape is getting recruited by several high major D1 schools has the opportunity to also be an All American.

Santiago should qualify with the NCAA Clearing Houuse later this summer allowing him to spend only one year at MGCCC and moving to a D1 program for the fall of 2012.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Badillo Plays Hard At Jordan Classic

Class of 2012 SF, Abidel Badillo played only 10 minutes but made the most of his time on the court at the 2011 Jordan Classic. Badillo who has been in Charlotte since Wednesday struggled a bit early in the week but never stopped working hard.

Nike Executive, Mark Bayne who manages the relatonship between Puerto Rico and Nike told IPRB," He's gotten better everyday and has been working really hard."

Badillo has been playing SF/PF for most of his basketball career in Puerto Rico. This week he has been playing his position at the next level which is SG. Badillo has the skill set to play SG at the next level but must work on his speed and quickness.

A player like Badillo would really benefit from playing in the states. As good as the system and coaching is in PR the style of play is not the same. There is a lack of size and athleticism so a player like Badillo who is 6'5 has to play in the post. This really hurts his development.

This was not lost on Badillo when we caught up with him via text after his game this evening. Badillo said, " This was an incredible experience for me. I promise myself that I am going to work harder then any other moment in my life. Even though I didnt score today, I had 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals."

Badillo showed his ability to bang with bigger players and has great court vision. Look for Badillo to end up at an elite prep school this fall. He is a 4.0 student and a wonderful young man. Look for him to do big thing in the future.

This is the second year that a player from Puerto Rico has played in the Jordan Classic International Game. Last year current Montrose Christian PG, Carmelo Betancourt played. Todd Washington, Founder of PR Playmakers an AAU program has been working with Mark Bayne from Nike to help showcase the talent from Puerto Rico and provide players with a once in a life time opportunity.

Trash Talking Is Part Of The Game

Larry Bird walked into a locker room before an NBA All Star Weekend 3-point contest and started looking around at other players. When other guys in the room started wondering what Bird was doing he asked," Which one of you guys is going to finish second?"

Bird, who was white and from French Lick, Indiana learned at an early age playing on "the other side of the tracks" with and against African American players that trash talking was fun and could provide an edge. Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson were known for talking trash all game. The thing about talking trash is it is an art form and there are rules to "talking trash". On the playgrounds in cities across the country trash talking is has long been a favorite past time of basketball players. Father's have used it as a way to develop mental toughness when teaching the game to their sons.

The rules to trash talking are clear. You don't talk about anything personal and never, ever do you make it a racial discussion. It doesn't matter where you are from or where you are playing the rules of the game apply. There is nothing better than playing against a player you respect and the back and forth of going at each other. Talking trash is an art and will always be part of the game.

See some clips on several Hall of Famers and how they enjoyed talking trash and having their opponents talk trash to them.

Betancourt Considers Prep School

Class of 2011 PG, Carmelo Betnacourt is considering enrolling in a post graduate program at an elite prep school. These programs have existed at elite New England prep schools for years allowing students to take an additional year to prepare for college after graduating. With most elite student athletes being reclassified in junior high school Betancourt is the youngest senior on his Montrose Christian team.

Betancourt decided to transfer to Montrose to play his senior season for a team that ended up being ranked as high as #2 in most nationally recognized polls. He played in the back court with Villaova commit, Tyrone Johnson. Betancourt showed flashes of greatness but failed at times to be as aggressive as he needed to be on the offensive end. Several mid major and small Division 1 colleges have expressed an interest but Betancourt knows he can play at a higher level.

A college assistant coach who tracked Betancourt this season had this to say about him," Betancourt was on many mid major recruiting boards at the start of the season and a couple of high major programs including a few Big East Schools. He failed to show night in and night out that he can compete at the highest level. The talent is there and everyone who has really watched him recognizes that. An extra year at an elite prep school will provide him with another chance to do that. Colleges want to see that he can consistently knock down an open jumper, put pressure on the ball full court for an entire game and blow by his man off the dribble. He did all of these things at different points during the season but in order for schools to take a chance on a player his size he must do it every night."

Betancourts' mentor and Founder of AAU program PR Playmakers said, "Melo's experience at Montrose allowed him to play at the highest level of high school basketball. For the first time in his career he had to fight for playing time and compete in practice against this level of talent. We suggested to him that he consider taking an additional year at an elite New England Prep School. I think Carmelo is the perfect candidate to play at an Ivy League School. Northfield Mt Hermon currently has 30 players playing D1 and will have 7 playing at Ivy League Schools next year. Carmelo, his mom and I spoke at length to Northfields' Coach, John Carroll yesterday. If we can get him admitted it would be the perfect place for him."

Northfield Mt Hermon is considered to be one of the elite prep schools which also has a nationally recognized basketball program. They return a team that has 5 players over 6'6 but don't have a PG to run the show. Betancourt could be the perfect fit.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Raymond Cintron Selected to NJCAA All American Team

One of the top prospects for the National Team in 2016 and current Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Sophomore, Raymond Cintron, received multiple honors this week including Mississippi Junior College Player of the year and NJCAA 2nd Team All American. The former Carmen Dol Sol star and nephew of former National Team Coach Manolo Cintron will attending Middle Tennessee State University "MTSU" in the fall.

Giancarlo Santiago Considering MIssissippi Gulf Coast Community College

Class of 2011 SF Giancarlo Santiago is considering accepting a scholarship to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, "MGCCC". Both Raymond Cintron and Angel Matias attend MGCCC with Raymond on track to graduate next month and attend Middle Tennessee State University "MTSU" in the fall. Matias was redshirted so that he could focus on his academics. Matias has done really well academically and based on reports from the coaching staff at MGCCC has high major talent.

Santiago has improved tremendously over the last year working with the coaches from Friagomar and UPR coaching staffs. They have done a great job developing him into a mid major talent with high major potential. Santiago and his father spoke with Cintron and Coach Wendell Weathers yesterday. IPRB confirmed that MGCCC has offered Santiago a full scholarship.

"Giancarlo is another example of a young man who will benefit greatly from attending Junior College. Not only will he get a chance to grow and develop as a player but his off the court experience at MGCCC and being part of that community will assist in his development as a person. Raymond Cintron is as good a player to come out of PR in the last 10 years and his success there has opened the door for others from Puerto Rico. Angel Matias is pretty darn good himself and the way we have set it up there will always be a guy there to welcome the next guy. So, Angel will do for Giancarlo what Raymond did for Angel. Coach Weathers has been there for 25 years and is more than just a coach to his players. He is like a father figure and has done such a great job with Raymond and Angel, said Todd Washington, Founder of PR Playmakers.

Giancarlo is expected to make a decision as early as next week.

Friday, April 8, 2011

PR Playmakers To Host "Unsigned Class of 2011/2012 Showcase"

With Joey Rodriguez becoming a household name basically overnight and Gary Browne signing with West Virginia there has never been more interest in recruiting Puerto Rico. The talent has always been here and programs like the Miami Tropics and Puerto Rico Pump and Run have been placing local kids at both prep schools and colleges for years. Those two programs laid the foundation and put Puerto Rico on "Summer Circuit" map. With over 30 Division I players of Puerto Rican descent currently enrolled, coaches at all levels are looking for players to sign for the Fall Semester.

"I think Puerto Rico may finally be getting the recognition it deserves as being one of the real hotbeds for talent. There are some great clubs and fantastic coaches in PR. They are doing a great job developing players on the court. With the Rodriguez kid at VCU having such a great season it has really helped to peak interest. This is most especially true at the Junior College level which for a lot of kids from Puerto Rico is the most realistic option, said Todd Washington, Founder of PR Playmakers.

Most of Puerto Rico's best recruits often do not speak fluent English and have done very little to prepare for the SAT and ACT. Many coaches and parents are not familiar with the NCAA Clearinghouse and the core requirements to qualify academically for a scholarship. Thus, Junior College is a real option as it allows players to spend two years at a Junior College working on the academics and getting accustomed to the style of play on the mainland. Upon graduating with an Associate Degree, players can then transfer to play Division 1,2 or 3 and have two years left of eligibility.

"There are still lots of scholarships available at all levels (D1,D2,D3 and Junior College). We will be announcing the date of the Showcase early next week. This will give players graduating in 2011 and those graduating in 2012 a chance to get a scholarship", said Washington.

For more information send an email to unsignedseniors@AT&

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Montrose Christian PG Carmelo Betancourt Is The Next Joey Rodriguez

With Gary Browne giving WVU a verbal commitment yesterday his teammate and childhood friend Carmelo Betancourt could not have been more proud. "I'm so happy for Gary. He really deserves this.", said Betancourt by phone from the house he lives in on campus at Montrose. It was Betancourt who introduced Browne to Todd Washington, Founder of PR Playmakers who now mentors both of them. Washington had been working with Betancourt and got him in the Jordan Classic International game last spring.

Betancourt and Browne have been playing together since they were kids. First at Bucaplaa (local club) and then on the National Team and Betancourt was the one who played PG. "Browne was the scorer and Betancourt was the pure PG", said a local coach who has watched both play since they were in their early teens.

Betancourt played in the Jordan Classic International Game last year and had a fantastic summer. He decided to enroll at Montrose for his senior season and while his stats don't show it he had a great senior season helping Montrose finish the season with one loss and winning the NHSI Championship against Oak Hill last week.

Betancourt is undersized but has proven time and time again that he can play against high major talent. Last summer at the World Basketball Festival, Betancourt dominated the games against both Brazil and the New York City All Star Team without scoring more than 10 points in either game. He controlled tempo, hit scorers with passes in scoring position and got in the paint at will. He and Oregon State Freshman, Devon Collier, dominated two day event looking like a young version of Stockton/Malone.

"Coach Vetter and every other coach who has had he pleasure of coaching Melo will tell you that he is special. VCU got to the Final Four with an undersized, high IQ, Puerto Rican PG named Joey Rodriguez. The University of Akron got to the big dance with a undersized Freshman point guard from Puerto Rico named Alex Abreu. The thing about kids from Puerto Rico is that representing their country is the biggest thing you can do as a young player so kids like Melo never get a chance to hit the summer circuit or attend elite camps. So he is not a household name like some of the kids on the mainland but he is going to be a steal for some school looking for a pure point guard during the late signing period, said Betancourts' mentor and Founder of PR Playmakers, Todd Washington.

Expect Betancourt to land at a high mid major or high major during the late signing period. Georgetown, NC State, Miami, Utah State and Duquense have all expressed interest in Betancourt and several other schools have expressed an interest since seeing him play last weekend against Oak Hill.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gary Browne Verbally Commits To West Virginia University

It's official! Class of 2011 PG Gary Browne Ramirez gave a verbal commitment to West Virginia University. Browne played for Bucaplaa and St Francis School before transferring to prep powerhouse Arlington Country Day "ACD", in Jacksonville, Florida. Browne has huge upside given he has only played the position since transferring to ACD.

Reached by phone this afternoon Browne had the following to say, " It's official I"m going to West Virginia! I want to thank all my coaches and all the people who believed in me. I worked really hard and my hard work has paid off. I cannot wait to get on the court with my new teammates and show everyone I can play at this level."

Many felt that Browne could not make the switch from scoring guard to point guard but his performance at ACD this year against some of the top teams in the country proved that Browne is a Top 100 player. Browne is only 17 had he reclassified he would have been one of the top 10 point guards in the Class of 2012.

" Let me start by telling the people in West Virginia that they just got the steal of this years recruiting class! Gary is a high IQ players who has had some great coaches teach him the game. Wichie at Bucaplaa and Charlie at St Francis are great teachers and did a great job developing him over the years. The credit for his development goes to them. I told Coach Morgan at ACD and Larry at West Virginia that Gary is a big time PG. It is his natural position and he will only get better. The thing about Gary is he is a gym rat and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He went to the ACD on a mission. He really had something to prove and from the first day of practice he set the tone for the team. The thing about Gary is he loves to play defense and is a pure shooter with range. On top of that, he is a quick study and loves to watch film. Put that together with his great decision making and you've got one heck of a player. We are so proud of Gary. He is a great player but more importantly, he is a wonderful young man", said Todd Washington, Founder of AAU Program PR Playmakers and Browne's mentor.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Monstrose Beats Oak Hill But Betancourt Gets Knocked Out of Game

Congrats to Stu Vetter and Monstrose for winning the 2011 NHSI Championship. In what many will regard as an instant classic the game went into doublle overtime with Montrose pulling out the win with stellar play from Class of 2012 SG, Justin Anderson and Class of 2011 PG, Tryone Johnson who will be attending Villanova next year.

Puerto Rican PG Carmelo Betancourt came in during the first quarter and made several assists and controlled tempo. He was doing much of the same in the third and four quarter when clearly fouled when driving to the basket even though the referees didn't call the foul. Betancourt was concussed and ended up getting stitches which prevented him from playing for the rest of the game.

Betancourt asked the Head Coach Stu Vetter to play him but the team doctor prevented Betancourt from playing given the possible concussion. Betancourt was going to the hospital to get his eyes checked and take some further tests to see if they are concussed.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Carmelo Betancourt and Montrose Christian vs Oak Hill Tomorrow

Not a lot needs to be said when you mention Oak Hill and Montrose Christian. Two of the most dominant high school basketball programs in the country play tomorrow at 2pm on ESPN. For Puerto Rican PG Carmelo Betancourt this is a dream coming true. High schools players on the island rarely get a chance to show that they can play at this level under the brightest of lights.

Betancourt has played two solid games so far in this years NHSI Tournament and has sacrificed his personal stats for the teams success. He probably had one of his best games against Oak Hill earlier this year against Oak Hill PG and recently selected All American Quinn Cook. He gave Cook fits in the 2nd half. Betancourt got in the paint at will on the offensive and crowded Cook on defense forcing him to shoot and miss most of his shots in the second half.

"I'm not really thinking about Quinn Cook. We are ready for him and Oak Hill and we just have to execute our plan. It's all about winning. It's the biggest stage possible for my last high school game. I'm excited about ending my career against Oak Hill and am ready after we win to focus on where I am going to college, said Betancourt via telephone from his hotel room.

Remember, ESPN tomorrow at 2pm! Montrose Christian vs Oak Hill! Carmelo Betancourt is officially in the building!


Carmelo Betancourt Is A Big Time D1 Point Guard

Sometimes when a player doesn't score more than 20 points or dish out more than 10 assists people who don't really know the game fail to recognize the impact a player can have without recording big numbers in those two areas. This is most especially true of the point guard position. A great point guard leads by example, makes those around him better, controls the tempo of the game, never takes a possession off and has the ability to knock down an open jumper. Most college coaches will tell you that finding a point guard who can do all those things is almost impossible to find. Especially in an environment where kids think that scoring points is the only way to help their team win.

With the success of VCU's Joey Rodriguez, USC's Jio Fontan, NC State's Javier Gonzales and Akron's Alex Abreu a lot of high major school are taking a close look at Montrose Christian Class of 2011 PG, Carmelo Betancourt. Puerto Rico has a long history of producing really good points guards and finally major colleges are recognizing that an undersized, high IQ point guard can be an asset.

Betancourt has been putting up numbers since he was a little kid in Puerto Rico. He recognized that in order for him to continue to get better and prove that he is a high major point guard he needed to go to a school that would test him and push him everyday. Betancourt selected powerhouse Montrose Christian recognizing that he would be sharing the ball with All American Tyrone Johnson who signed with Villanova. He understood that his stats would not be anywhere close to what they would be if he went to a different school or stayed in Puerto Rico but Betancourt wanted to compete against the best everyday and prepare himself for the next level. He knew that being battled tested and playing for a program like Montrose would benefit him in the long run. Betancourt wanted a challenge and at Montrose he knew he would have to fight for playing time but this experience would prepare him for the next level.

"I have so much respect for Melo as he is not the type of kid who is willing accept mediocrity. Melo could have stayed in PR and averaged 30 a game but he knew that he wasn't going to get any better playing in a league where he is the best player. He could have signed with several really good mid major programs. Melo wanted to keep his options open much like we did with Gary Browne and allow coaches to come in and see him workout after the season is over. Gary Browne will be making a verbal commitment to West Virginia next week. His season ended about a month ago and he benefitted from coaches seeing him workout so Melo will have a similar opportunity once his season ends to do the same", said Todd Washington, Founder of PR Playmakers and mentor to both Betancourt and Browne.

Betancourt and Montrose play today on ESPN2 at 3:30pm against New York City Public School Champs, Boys and Girls High School. This is the semifinals of the ESPN Rise, National High School Invitational. For those of you who have not seen him play you are in for a treat. Betancourt is the next undersized PG to rep Puerto Rico in a big way! The question is not if he is going to show up at the next level but where.