Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Freshman Aiken Raises Eyebrows at Showcase, Gets Props From Kyrie
WEST ORANGE, N.J. — Bryce Aiken is only a freshman at Pope John XXIII High School, but he already has Kyrie Irving’s blessing.
The 5-foot-8 Aiken posed for this picture with the former No. 1 draft pick at the Cavaliers-Nets game Nov. 13 at the Barclays Center.
Irving then Tweeted: “S/o to the little homie @Bryceaiken, keep killin em kid for jersey!! #nextgreatone.”
Whether Aiken turns out to be New Jersey’s next great one remains to be seen, but he is certainly a compelling talent.
Aiken put on a great show Sunday in the Hoop Group Showcase, putting up 24 points and seven assists (to go with nine turnovers) en route to MVP honors as Pope John lost to Syracuse-bound Tyler Roberson and Roselle Catholic, 71-58.
A school rule prevents Aiken from speaking with the media, but the adults around him are impressed with the quick little point guard with the great handle who already holds offers from Manhattan, Rider, Delaware and Detroit. Assistants from Cincinnati and Xavier also watched him Sunday.
“He’s very good,” New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski said. “He has nearly nonpareil command of his dribble, he has the best handle since Samsonite.
Said Roselle Catholic coach Dave Boff: “He’s a good player, man. He’s a really good player. We knew he was going to be talented, we knew he was going to be able to handle the ball. We thought we were going to be able to turn him over a little bit, but we really weren’t able to. He’s going to be some type of player moving forward.”
Pope John coach Jason Hasson, whose team is playing without injured 6-10 forward Jermaine Lawrence, said he expects Aiken to grow a few more inches in the coming years.
“He’s very quick and he’s very smart so he does things that a freshman point guard doesn’t normally do,” Hasson said. “Bryce has a chance to be one of, if not the best, point guars in the country if he continues to work and get better.
“If he gets to 6 feet he’s maybe if not the, maybe one of the best players in the country as a point guard anyhow.”
Photo: Courtesy Bryce Aiken
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.