What has made NGE so good?GAINESVILLE, GA – For a new program the early times of the travel season do not always go as plan. There will be some highs and lows but its how one travels the season will they understand how it all works out.
Well at the halfway point, North Georgia Elite boys program has put forth and effort worth commenting. The NGE Long eight-grade squad is making a name for itself on the travel circuit.
NGE has won several Georgia Cup championships, finishing in the final four of others, including the Elite Eight of the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions. These are results many people would not have guessed at the start of the season.
So, what has made NGE so good?
Let’s break the team down.
The focal point of this team is the interior presence of Bailey Minor. At 6-foot-4, Minor is a monster inside. He understands how to use his body and finish with contact. The big fella is also active on the boards and the defensive end of the floor, which is a rarity for most players his age. He has been the team’s leading scorer most of the season, also the MVP of the Georgia Cup Suwanee.
KJ Buffen is another player that really helps Minor on the inside. At 6-foot-3, Buffen is one the teams most versatile players. He is a matchup problem for most teams because of his ability to post up a smaller player or the quickness to explode past another player. His performance, for example, helped him secure the MVP of the Georgia Cup Cobb where the team won the 15U title. Impressive considering that is suffered some tough defeats in pool play.
While all of the attention can go to the interior presence the guards have played a major role in the team’s success.
At the point is Austin Long. He is the NGE’s primary ball handler and teams come at him in waves. The steady floor general handled the pressure, for the most part. He did handle things and helped steer the team through some close victories.
Then there is Hiram Maxey, a hard nose athlete who can score from all three levels of the floor. His ability to put the ball on the floor and knockdown a three-pointer is some of the things he’s capable of brining the team.
D’Angelo DeShields is easily the quietest deadliest player on the roster. The younger brother of National Freshman of the Year, Diamond DeShields, who is transferring from North Carolina, really makes his impact felt on the defensive end on the floor. DeShields can guard just about any position on the floor. Most of the time his plays end up with an easy layup on the opposite end of the floor. He does it all with a stoic face and you can never tell if he’s bothered or elated.
Now, with every success for many teams comes the role of the bench. You see, NGE has ten players on its roster for a reason. Everyone is capable of getting into the game at various points. The depth has been helpful because of the arsenal coming off the pine.
Donald Hartry, Will Rickett and Xavier Bledson are the deadly three-point shooters on the NGE’s roster. Given any little space – SWISH! They do not really force the action, a lot of times they just let it come to them. If a defender closes out on them they all know how to find the next pass available in order for the team to score.
Then you have Nick Lyles and Devin Vassell are solid contributors for NGE. They make sure to give the team minutes when needed the most throughout.
This program is one on the rise as these players develop and the tutelage of coach Zach Swansey. The value he brings to NGE is unquestionable. He has played on the national circuit when he played travel ball along with winning a state title playing at Georgia before transferring to Tennessee Tech. Overall, a coach who is teaching his players how to play with game at a high level. It is not just roll the ball out and play.