Team Melo struggled to find consistency during their second season on the circuit, but they'll be back with a junior-laden group that should contend for a Peach Jam bid. Justin Lewis was a bright spot on last year's squad, and he'll be back to lead a talented group coached by Sam Brand, also the head coach for Baltimore Polytechnic (MD) high school. Team Melo features five players that play for Brand during the high school season, so team chemistry should be advanced for the Baltimore-based EYBL club.
Junior forward Isaiah Todd departed from Melo in a last-second roster shakeup, but Brand's rotation still features top elite recruits in Lewis and Che Evans Jr., who will now own the star duties. Both Evans and Lewis are longtime members of Team Melo, and their production will likely determine how much success they attain this season.
Lewis (247 No. 102) is fortunate to have the experience to pull from last season, a season that saw him average 7.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists after being called up from 16U. Lewis is a physical player down low but he's more than capable of seeing up his own offense from the perimeter. Lewis figures to be a consistent threat for a double-double, and if can improve his shooting percentages from a year ago, Lewis will inevitably a contender for All-EYBL status.
Evans Jr (247 No. 86) is a slasher with good handles, and his athleticism allows him to effectively score around the basket. He can score from all three levels and does a good job of creating contact when he attacks the basket. Evans is transferring to Neumann-Goretti (PA) high school in Philadelphia for his senior season, and his recruitment is down to Boise State, Florida, Ohio State, TCU, & Texas Tech. He became a one-thousand point scorer in February, and he'll be the main scoring threat in the backcourt.
Team Melo junior Che Evans Jr (247 2020 No. 86)
Six guards join Evans in the backcourt. Considering he has terrific size, he will undoubtedly see time at the small forward position. The same can probably be said for Poly (MD) junior guard Brandon Murray. A tough and aggressive guard, the 6-foot-5 Murray was a difference-maker this high school season. Murray finished with a team-high 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting, nine rebounds, and four assists to help lead Poly to their third-straight Maryland 3A State Championship. He is assuredly a Division 1 player and has a chance to turn himself into a high-major prospect before the EYBL is over. He shared a backcourt with Rahim Ali Jr, a 6-foot guard capable of filling it up from the perimeter. These two should have great team chemistry entering the season, and Ali has a chance to turn himself into a Division I recruit.
Sophomore Ryan Conway (247 No. 98) is a tough scoring guard who loves to play fast. Conway played with Evans this past season before Evans decided to transfer, and they both enjoyed standout seasons helping Dulaney (MD) rack up a 21-4 record. Conway is the only underclassmen on the team, and he's obviously given the coaching staff a good reason to play him up in age. The 6-foot-1 Conway plays with confidence and should be an integral part of the backcourt alongside Evans and Murray.
The backcourt is rounded out by Jimma Gatwech (6-foot-4), Jalen Willis (6-foot-4), and Teon Rushing (5-foot-9). Gatwech is an absolutely incredible athlete and he does his best work in transition and on defense. Gatwech makes a strong argument for best dunker in the EYBL, and he will undoubtedly throw down some jaw-dropping dunks on the break. He's a high-level defender, operates with a good motor, and plays within himself. Willis is capable of defending small forwards and shooting guards, and his overall versatility should allow him to be a great glue-guy for Melo. Rushing is the smallest member of the rotation but he should bring a nice spark off the bench. He plays hard and plays great on-ball defense, two characteristics Brand will be relying on in his reserve player.
Lewis will rarely leave the floor, while Evans and Murray will likely need to slide out-of-position more often than not. The only other forward on the roster is junior Ian Wallace. The 6-foot-7 looks the part of a top-100 recruit, offering up a physical, college-ready body in the frontcourt. Wallace has made massive strides in his game over the past year or so, and he's ready to show the country that he's a Division I recruit. He's an improving defender and his skill-set is coming along offensively. If he can consistently knock down the three, he will be a major asset in the pick-and-roll.
Team Melo junior Justin Lewis (247 No. 102)
Melo features three 4-star recruits in their rotation, but they will need to find a solution for their lack of size. Brand's group will play fast and loose, and with their athleticism and length, they have plenty of potential on defense. Losing Todd wasn't in the plans, but Lewis and Evans have more than enough talent to keep Melo competitive in Division B. They will need Murray or Conway to develop into a reliable third scorer, and the rest of the rotation needs to stay locked in on defense.