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.
There can’t be many high school teams in the nation with a better 1-2 punch than Burlington (N.J.) Life Center Academy.
With the transfer of 6-foot-8 junior wing LaQuinton Ross of Mississippi to Life Center, coach Wilson Arroyo now can pair Ross with 6-3 Syracuse-bound guard Dion Waiters.
Playing in just their second game together, Ross and Waiters combined for 46 points, 20 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks when Life Center routed Hotchkiss, 72-54, Monday at the Big Apple Invitational at Baruch College.
“I was really happy with our play,” said Arroyo, whose team is an independent Christian school.
After he put up 25 points and 13 rebounds, Ross was described by one knowledgeable person as the best player at the tournament. Strong praise considering Tobias Harris (Tennessee), JayVaughn Pinkston (Villanova) and Eric Ferguson (Georgia Southern) were also at the event.
“He’s probably like a Kevin Durant type of player,” Arroyo said. “He’s all of 6-8, 6-9, has great handle. He can shoot. He has pro form when he shoots the ball. He’s really long. He gets by his defenders and attacks the basket but can also hit from outside. He’s really good from outside.”
In just two games since leaving Jackson (Miss.) Murrah, Ross is averaging 22 points and 12 boards.
“There’s no doubt he’s got pro material,” Arroyo said.
The coach said Ross’ family is limiting his interviews since the transfer but that he’s “really happy and really likes being here.”
Ohmar Carter, a Mississippi-based youth basketball coach, told The Clarion-Ledger Ross’ family wanted him in a more structured environment.
“I think Q’s family was looking for a situation with a stronger foundation and a more structured environment,” Carter told the newspaper. “Q had every intention of finishing high school in Mississippi, but he wasn’t going to be allowed to transfer in Mississippi again. It’s important for these kids to have everything in line, not just athletically but academically also. His family wants Q to be pushed to his ability.”
Arroyo said the schools that have been most involved with Ross so far are Texas, Memphis and Syracuse, but also listed Kentucky, Baylor, Mississippi State and Florida.
As for Waiters, he dropped 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 turnovers in the win over Hotchkiss.
Waiters is part of a vaunted Syracuse recruiting class that also includes 7-foot C Fab Melo of The Sagemont (Fla.) School, 6-7 SF C.J. Fair of Brewster (N.H.) Academy and 6-11 C Baye Moussa Keita of Oak Hill (Va.) Academy.
“Dion played the point guard position like we wanted him to, he ran the team,” Arroyo said. “He ran the offense like we needed him to. He distributed the ball and attacked the basket. His jumper was falling a little bit, too. He was explosive. He had three or four dunks, one alley oop. Defensively, he played good. I thought he played good all-around.”
With Ross and Waiters, Burlington should be a threat to win one of the independent Christian school national championships and Arroyo said the team is considering events in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Missouri.
(Photo courtesy Life Center Academy)
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.