The PowerGroup basketball program has established itself as one of the best youth programs in the country.
There are four teams in the program and the 2018 and 2019 teams, which each has two Topeka players, took home a national title for the second straight year at the MAYB Nationals held in Wichita over the weekend.
The 2018 team, led by Hayden point guard Jett Canfield (pictured), went 9-0 at Nationals finishing with a 106-15 record since September while quite often playing up an age division. Highland Park point guard Jerry Evans, known for his superb defense, also plays on the team.
The 2019 squad also had a very successful year finishing 119-5 winning 24 of the 26 tournaments they participated in. Shooting guard Jordan White, the younger brother of Washburn Rural’s Brayden White, was one of the team’s top players. Deceptively athletic point guard Savian Edwards is also on the squad.
Not only does PowerGroup have some of the most talented players in the Kansas City area, but they instill key values into their players.
“We are a lot more concerned to make sure these kids become good students, good servants to the community, good citizens, good brothers, good fathers, good coaches some day, and just doing the right thing,” PowerGroup head coach and co-founder Allen Skeens said. “If we can instill those values we think that will carry over to their lives and provide them to be positive contributors to society. It’s not rocket science, but we’re real big on grades.”
Excelling in the class room is imperative to play in the program and players are expected to have a 3.0 grade point average.
“We don’t get rid of them, but they can’t play,” Skeens said. “We just feel that they need to spend some time in the classroom at home before they get back on the basketball court.”
Canfield, the son of former Washburn standout point guard Jordan Canfield, is the best 2018 prospect in Topeka and he had a very good summer. The 5-foot-9 point guard is an excellent ball handler and 3-pointer shooter, who plays with great poise and will be a great addition to the Hayden program this fall.
“Jett is the leader of our program and that team,” Skeens said. “The kids look to him to stabilize what they’re trying to do. He’s an extension of me on the court, he’s just the ultimate point guard in terms of controlling the way the game is run and then he’s just a knockdown shooter. We don’t run a lot of plays, but sometimes when I do we run a lot of sets for Jett to try to get him some open looks and some shots. We have a big guy (Jontay Porter) on that team that creates some mismatches and some double-teams so a lot of times we do a lot of pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop stuff with Jett because he shoots so well. He’s just such a great kid; I’ve loved coaching him over the last couple of years. He’s just such a hard-worker.”
Canfield has basketball bloodlines, but also has been putting in a lot of work to develop as a player as evident by his countless work in putting up shots—even 500 on Thanksgiving Day.
“That work ethic is certainly going to provide him some opportunities moving forward in playing in high school and college,” Skeens said. “He has mentality needed to play that position and I look for him to have a phenomenal year in high school.”
Hayden made a late push last season advancing to the 4A-I state title game before wrapping up the season at 14-11. This year, they’ll be state contenders with key players returning in Jacob Head, Marcus Meier, Derrick McGreevy, and Brogan Heinen.
Although the Wildcats return a number of players, Canfield should figure into the mix.
“I don’t know they’re team really well, but I would be very surprised if a 4A team could keep him off the floor as the starting point guard just because he does so many things so well and on top of all that, he’s probably a better kid than he is a basketball player,” Skeens said. “He’s a really good student and a really good role model for our younger kids in our program.”
With Canfield being one of the top players on the 2018 team, White was putting up big performances for the 2019 squad.
“Jordan is amazing, that kid can play,” Skeens said. “He’s always been an inside player for us, but this past year we made a concerted effort to get him out on the wing and he’s really worked on his ball handling and now he’s just a man because he’s got such a strong body and he overwhelms those guards on the perimeter. He’s just so strong and finishes through contact so easily. In the championship game I bet he had six or seven steals for breakaway layups, he just anticipates it so well. He’s a physical kid who’s tough.”
Canfield, Evans, White, and Edwards are young players who will be ones to watch in the future especially if they continue to prioritize the values taught to them by Skeens and the PowerGroup program.