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2019 EYBL Preview: Drive Nation (TX)

By D1 Circuit Staff, 04/18/19, 4:00PM EDT

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Team Breakdown:

Drive Nation made their program debut in 2018, blasting onto the Elite Youth Basketball League scene with a terrific first season. Sponsored and coached by 18-year NBA veteran Jermaine O’Neal, the Dallas-based EYBL affiliate racked up an 11-5 regular season record and advanced to Peach Jam in their inaugural season. All eight rotation players are signed to play at the Division 1 level, with seven of them heading to high-major schools. The success O’Neal and company found in 2018 will lead to lofty expectations this spring and summer, and they have another immensely-talented rotation lined up for their encore EYBL campaign.

The Star(s)

RJ Hampton joins the fray in 2019, and the 6-foot-4 junior guard is a budding superstar, and likely future lottery pick. Hampton put up some eye-popping numbers in 2018-19, racking up averages of 32.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 3.9 steals per game. This was Hampton’s second straight season averaging over 30 points a game, and it resulted in him being named Texas Gatorade State Player of the Year and a First Team USA-Today All-American honor. Hampton (247 No. 6) passes the ‘eye’ test with flying colors and is eager to prove he is more than just an elite scorer. Hampton hasn’t had the luxury of playing alongside elite talent in high school or his previous grassroots action in UAA, so it will be interesting to see how his game translates. Hampton plays with an edge and is always locked in, and he’s undoubtedly a pre-season contender to lead the circuit in scoring.


Drive Nation junior RJ Hampton (photo credit: MADE Hoops)

The Backcourt

Hampton will have the ball in his hands a ton, and he’ll have a few talented players to help with the ball-handling and playmaking abilities. 6-foot-1 point guard Jamal Shead joins the fray, and he’ll be a major factor of Drive’s offense. Shead (247 Composite No. 117) averaged 19.3 points and 4.3 assists while helping Manor (TX) advance to the UIL 5A State Tournament for the first time in school history. Shead, a sturdy, physical guard who excels at attacking the basket, earned UIL 5A All-State honors while being named a finalist for the American-Statesmen Player of the Year. Shead will be a handful in transition alongside Hampton, and his ability to set up his teammates will be on full display.

6-foot-5 shooting guard Jake Milkereit is a big-time perimeter option, and his ability to stretch the defense should open things up for the rest of the rotation. Milkereit earned TABC All-State honors after averaging 19.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals in 37 games for Bishop Lynch (TX). Milkereit isn’t a ‘big name’ recruit, but his ability to put the ball in the basket will be impossible for scouts and college coaches to ignore. Sophomore point guard Juan Reyna III is the lone San Antonio-native on the roster, and the lefty guard should provide a major spark off the bench. Reyna averaged 20.8 points, 3.2 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.8 steals in 43 games for powerhouse Antonian (TX), and he will have every chance to prove he’s one of the most underrated guards in the 2021 class. 6-foot-4 swingman Josh Davis rounds out the backcourt, and the Knox School (NY) product offers versatility on defense and a super-athletic option in transition.

The Frontcourt

Caleb Lohner leads the Drive Nation frontcourt, and the 6-foot-8 swingman enters the EYBL loads of potential. Lohner (247 No. 50) transferred from Flower Mound (TX) to prep powerhouse Wasatch Academy (UT) in late January, averaging 9.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.0 assists after making the move. Most commonly known for his terrific shooting stroke, Lohner also offers plenty of athleticism and an impressive basketball IQ. Lohner will play a major role for O’Neal and company, so don’t be surprised if he finds himself with an All-EYBL award or two before the season concludes.

6-foot-8 juniors Donte Houston Jr and Malik Henry will enter the circuit as two of the most underrated prospects in the country. Houston is being recruited a high-major prospect, and he has a real chance of blowing up this spring. Listed at 225 pounds and operating with a non-stop motor, the uber-athletic Houston will provide Drive Nation with an above-the-rim finisher and another versatile defender. Henry will also see major minutes, and the Longview (TX) product is primed for a breakout spring. Henry is long and athletic, and his natural passing skills along with his above-the-rim playing style should be huge assets for Drive’s frontcourt. Junior Nana Antwi-Boasiako - also standing at 6-foot-8 - will see major minutes alongside Houston, Henry, and Lohner. Antwi-Boasiako just turned 17 years old, making him one of the youngest and most promising prospects in the 2020 class. The Nacogdoches (TX) native will be relied upon for rebounding and defense, and with Drive’s relative lack of size, his production will be crucial.


Drive Nation head coach & 18-year NBA veteran Jermaine O'Neal

Expectations

The state-of-the-art Drive Nation Sports facility will host an EYBL session for the second consecutive season, this time hosting the league’s Memorial Day event. By the time the third session comes around, the jury for Drive Nation will likely be in. Drive’s rotation will only go nine-deep, so they will need to stay healthy while simultaneously remaining out of foul trouble. Hampton was in midseason form at ‘The Warm Up’ in mid-April, putting up some impressive numbers including a 27-point, 12-assist, 8-rebound, 4-steal performance against Brad Beal Elite. Hampton will need to be at his best in order for Drive Nation to flourish, and if he gets the proper amount of help, O’Neal’s bunch should find themselves as a Peach Jam contender for the second straight season.

Full Roster

Drive Nation (TX)

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Season Schedule

Drive Nation (TX)

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Division A Previews

Division B Previews

Division C Previews

Division D Previews

Player Features

Division A Previews

Division C Previews

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Division B Previews

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Division D Previews

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Player Features

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Session 1

April 26-28

Atlanta

Session 2

May 10-12

Indianapolis

Session 3

May 24-26

Dallas

Peach Jam

July 10-14

North Augusta