A number of the top 2016 prospects in Topeka are playing for Top City this summer.
Top City 16U went 3-1 advancing to the quarterfinals of the Kings of the Court Classic in Des Moines, Iowa in May.
They’ll be resuming tournament play in July and are coached by former Western Michigan standout Tony Barksdale.
“I’m just a guy that really just tries to help the kids be a better person and make it and get their minds off some of the things that they go through and we use basketball to do that,” Barksdale said. “I’m still going to give them the skills and teach them because I want them to get a scholarship paid for. My goal is to make these guys better young men so they can pass it down and we build a generation of leaders and better young men, more successful young men that can get out in the real world and maintain a job with some self-discipline.”
Shawnee Heights 2017 forward Poncho Freeman is the lone rising sophomore on the team.
Keith played in 16 games last season for Highland Park, which finished 23-2 and were Class 5A runners-up. He is expected to take over as the starter this season for the Scots.
“He’s coming along, Malik’s a tough kid that really wants to win,” Barksdale said. “He’s running the team and starting to become more of a leader. He’s shooting it a lot better. He’s always been a great passer and a great ballhandler, but he’s starting to shoot it a lot better.”
Emnuel is a 6-foot-3 natural scorer who is having a strong summer.
“He can score, we call him a.k.a Baby Melo because he can get it done,” Barksdale said. “His defense has came a long way too because he used to play no defense, but he’s really buying in and I think it’s because he’s gotten taller and stronger and he can see that it’s closer to time to go to college so he’s taking it a little bit more serious. He’s tough.”
Kahre had a 30-point performance in Iowa earlier this summer and also had a 23-point game as he’s showing vast improvements from last season and is one to keep a close eye on.
“He’s a shooter, he can really shoot it,” Barksdale said. “You can tell he’s Jahmal (McMurray)’s cousin. He can’t quite shoot it like Jahmal because Jahmal is a gym rat and Dante doesn’t have quite that work ethic, but you can tell shooting is in his bloodlines. He can really fill it up and run off screens. He’s got to get stronger with the ball and handle the ball, which he’s done a good job of and showed some things in Iowa where he made a couple strong moves to the basket. He’s starting to do that and he’s a good kid too. He works hard for me.”
DaiShoun Fox, who is 6-foot-4, has been a versatile player this summer.
“He’s our everything from the one to the four,” Barksdale said. “He’ll be playing some varsity this year. He probably needs to get stronger, which he’s getting because he’s in the weight room with me and we’re getting him with his footwork and taking contact. He’s one of our best players. He can shoot it, handle it, and kind of defend. He’s a long defender like a Scottie Pippen-type. He’s a good passer and he’s becoming a leader—he’s really impressed me this year with leading. He’s really a special kid because he can do it all. He’s like Paul George, can defend, can shoot. Just has to work on his strength like most kids.”
King is the only other player on the team that saw varsity action this past year as he played in one game.
“He’s doing good, he’s a scorer,” Barksdale said. “Mario is a scorer. If he puts the work in and gets locked in and focused, then he’ll be a starter somewhere or should be a starter. He just needs to buy in and do what coaches need him to do to get things done. He’s really talented and I look for him to really score. Him and Manny are probably are two best scorers. He’s as competitive as it gets.”
Ahmad Fox played in nine varsity games as a freshman, but only played junior varsity as a sophomore.
“He’s a hard-worker who can really shoot it, handle it, and can play the point a little bit behind Malik and he can also play the two because he can shoot it too,” Barksdale said. “He can really get on a roll and knock down as many as you let him. His big thing is that he’s going to have to get stronger because he’s skinny, but he’s been in the weight room, him and his brother.”
Freeman is one of the top 2017 prospects in Topeka and has held his own playing up in an older age division.
“If I was coaching at Shawnee Heights, he would be playing some varsity because he’s tough and strong,” Barksdale said. “He still does things that shows you his age, but overall with how strong and tough he is down there, I think if he continues to work this summer, he should see some varsity time from my standpoint and the way he’s played against the competition we’ve played against, which is way tougher than here in Topeka. He’s a big asset for us. For him to be a freshman, he came in scoring for us in some games, grabbing some big rebounds, and setting some strong picks. He has a soft 15-foot mid-range, which we’ll continue to work on where he can spread that out. Right now we’ve got him playing inside and bringing him outside because he can take bigger people to the basket because his ballhandling is coming along too and he’s got a deceptive first-step.”
Rayton is a 6-foot-2 forward who bounced between Highland Park and Washburn Rural last year.
“He’s our dirty work guy,” Barksdale said. “As a player, Daequan is tough. He’s one of those guys that you want on your team because he’s going to go to war with you. He’s an undersized post who can shoot it and can handle it. Because he’s so tough he can score down low for us. He’s guarding guys who are 6-5, 6-6 and he can really handle them because he’s strong. He’s not scared. He’ll get down there and bang with the best of them.”
|0||Poncho Freeman||F||6-2||2017||Shawnee Heights|
|1||Malik Keith||PG||5-10||2016||Highland Park|
|3||Dante Kahre||SG||6-0||2016||Topeka High|
|11||Ahmad Fox||G||5-11||2016||Shawnee Heights|
|22||DaiShoun Fox||SF||6-4||2016||Shawnee Heights|
|24||Harold Emanuel||SG||6-2||2016||Topeka High|
|30||Mario King||G||5-11||2016||Topeka High|
|Mike McCoy||F||6-2||2016||Topeka High|
|Daequan Rayton||F||6-2||2016||Washburn Rural|