Coach’s Take: Colorado Fire Elite 16U Gold

Grassroots
Colorado

Posted On: 08/30/15 7:30 PM

Despite having no player taller than 6-foot-1, the Colorado Fire Elite 16U Gold squad coached by Lee Espinoza marched to a 34-16 record during this past grassroots season during tournaments in Colorado, Anaheim and Las Vegas.

“We’re a team full of guards,” Espinoza said. “But we can compete because we’re fast, we have chemistry and we can shoot. We average anywhere between 7 and 12 3-pointers per game.”

Espinoza took some time with Prep Hoops Colorado this week to break down his seven-man squad:

Alec Martinez, 5-9 junior guard, Mountain View: “He’s a fast guard. He sees the floor well. Shoots decent. That’s one of his improvements is he needs to become more consistent with his shooting. He’s a pass-first guard. He’s an aggressive defender, good one-on-one defender. He’s good at getting 50-50 loose balls. His biggest strength is that he’s the heart of our team. He’s the one that makes everybody get along and gets along with everybody. We seldom have new players, but if we have new players he’s the one who welcomes them to the team and makes them feel like part of the family.”

Brett Corona, 5-11 junior guard, Mountain View: “Brett is probably my most skilled player that I have. He does it on both ends. He’s one of those kids that has gifts that aren’t coachable. He’s a good shooter, a great finisher, can take anyone off the dribble. He’s got mid-range pull-up game, hits threes. Defensively, he averaged 1.5 blocks per game, and again he’s a smaller guard. Still, he averaged 5.5 rebounds per game. Most of the time he’s playing the four, so he’s having to guard kids that are bigger and he’s still outrebounding kids because of his determination and his will to get the ball. Any 50-50 ball he’s a part of, he gets.”

Elijah Espinoza Hartwell, 5-11 junior guard, Mountain View: “Elijah has great ball-handling skills. He has good change of tempo. He’s my best passer. He sees all spots on the floor, sees passes to be made within zones that other players don’t see. He’s a really good shooter. He could work on his consistency, but he’s a really good shooter. He improved a lot this year in rebounding. He’s never been one of my bigger players, but he ended up having to be this summer and he really filled in on the rebounding side a lot. His one-on-one defense really improved this year as well. Still needs to work on the lateral foot speed and be more consistent on the 3-pointer and looking for his own shot.”

Keyshawn Farmer, 6-1 forward, Cheyenne South: “Keyshawn is one of my top scorers, a really good finisher. He’s really good finishing with contact. He had a lot of and-ones this year and always seems to finish when he gets fouled. He’s our top rebounder, probably about eight per game. He has a good outside shot too, good 3-point shooter. Very, very athletic. He’s 6-1 and dunked a couple this year in a game. He needs to work on ball-handling. Because he was my big, he never came out of the game. If he did, it was because of foul trouble. So he has great endurance from playing all game every game.”

Julian Espinoza, 5-9 guard, Thompson Valley: “Julian is my best shooter. He’s an undersized guard, but he had two 35-point games this summer. One of them was was in California against a really good team. In that game he hit 8-of-10 3-pointers. The other game was against the top 16 Miners team. He had a 35-point game against them and hit 7-of-11 3s. That was at Gold Crown. Julian is just a competitor. He’s got great ball-handling skills. He’s a tenacious defender, even for his size. Once he get shooting, he shoots. He was actually our leading scorer, averaging 20 per game this summer. He’ll be a big part of Thompson Valley’s team this year. He’s a knockdown shooter.”

Deaunte Hunt, 5-10 sophomore guard, Roosevelt: “He’s a year younger playing up. He’s a really good shooter. That’s kind a theme we have, a team full of shooters. He can get hot and hit four or five a game. We probably had four or five games where he did that. Needs to work on his ball-handling with his left hand. He’s a good finisher when he’s going to the right. He’s a decent one-on-one defender, has good lateral movement, very athletic. His biggest thing is he’s a great spot-up shooter, great catch-and-shoot guy.”

Jeremy Wagonmaker, 5-8 junior guard, Thompson Valley: “Very fast. He can beat his man of the dribble, really good shooter. His biggest strength is his crossover. He can break down that first line of defensive. He’s good in the triple threat, makes the right decision to kick or take it all the way. He’s a decent defender on the ball. He’s another one of our shooters.”