Lelan Eackles 6’7″ , WF/WG, 2018. St. Mary Ryken HS. (WCAC)
Last season I got my 1st glimpse of Lelan when St. Mary Ryken played at St Johns in the Knights final WCAC game on 2-24-17. The previous game SMR defeated DeMatha 74-58. Despite losing to SJC 64-54 Lelan caught my eye with his athleticism & skill set. Last year Lelan was 6’5″,very long he impressed me a great deal. The last name Eackles was a very familiar one, since Ledell Eackles
played for the Washington Bullets from 1988 thru 1992 & averaged 13ppg. He was a very powerfully built at 6’5″ & had an excellent mid range game & jumper. I remembered Ledell was born in Baton Rouge, LA & graduated form the University of New Orleans where he had a stellar basketball career. Ledell would overpower his opponents & my guesstimate is that he played at approximately 235 pounds, but he was very agile & athletic. When I watched Lelan last year at SJC I did not think he could be the son of
Ledell Eackles. Lelan was very lean with a Kevin Durant type build & super explosive. He was very skilled, could shoot the 3 & attack the rim with his very long stride in the full court. Lelan got off a tomahawk dunk vs SJC & I wondered it if he was Ledell’s son or uncle, but I did not think so.
This pre season I went to SMR to watch 1st year Head Coach Walter Booth & SMR work out & scrimmage. In the 1st scrimmage Lelan was noticeably taller & had grown 2 plus inches to 6’7″. SMR had some very talented players scrimmaging who were 6’2″ 2018 CG Wynston Tabbs who is a Boston College commit, 6’3″ 2020 CG Mike Sumner, newcomers 6’8″ 2018 Severt Alpern Kurnaz & 6’4″ 2019 WG Wei-chieh Tang ,6’3″ 2020 WG Jules Bikoy & numerous impressive freshmen. Right out of the gates Lelan was outstanding. He did everything on both sides of the ball, rebounding, blocking shots, getting steals & the 50/50s. On many occasions Lelan would go coast coast in an amazing time frame with his even longer strides & speed converting on one tomahawk dunk after another reminiscent of Clyde Drexler. After the practice I chatted with Lelan about basketball, school, where he was raised & I finally asked him if he was related to Ledell Eackles. Lelan told me Ledell was his father, but for some reason I thought Ledell was Lelan’s uncle on the drive home. Nevertheless, it was easy to see that Lelan had inherited great basketball genetics.
On 12-2-17 I attended the Charm City Challenge which was a 4 game showcase at UMBC which featured 4 games in which 4 Baltimore Catholic League Teams from the BCL played 4 Washington, DC based WCAC teams. SMR played a very strong John Carroll Patriot team currently ranked at #4 in our week 5 DC DMV & MD/DC team Power rankings. Ryken played without Wynston Tabbs & Lelan was the only returning starter for Ryken. During the game I sat very close to Lelan’s mother who informed me Ledell Eackles was Lelan’s dad. During halftime I chatted with Ledell who was just as down to earth & polite as as Lelan. Ledell knew everything about basketball &
it was a conversation I will remember. In the John Carroll game, Lelan played a solid game, but I knew he could play better. As the SMR season progressed Ryken continually improved & Lelan was playing excellent basketball when SMR entered the Dunbar Holiday Showcase on 12-14-17 where The Knights were scheduled to play a very good Thurgood Marshall team. During games I stay neutral & want all the players to play well & free from injury. Lelan was spectacular vs Thurgood & earned Game MVP with a superb overall game, scoring 14 points on 5 for 8 FGs, 4-4 from the foul line, & adding 6 boards, 2 steals & 1 block. After
watching Lelan in preseason practice I called him a breakout player for 2017/18. He already possessed an excellent all around game with elite athleticism, but Lelan needed to translate his abilities to live games. This season Lelan is on his way & averaging over 12ppg while shooting a very high FG%. He is playing very well on defense & Lelan has always played with a very high IQ & great court vision . Lelan could be one the top 2 or 3 best sleepers & breakout players in the DC DMV & MD/DC for 2018. All Lelan needs to do is keep the pedal to the medal the reminder of the season.
This week I chatted with Lelan extensively about school, his family & basketball. Regarding last season at St. Mary Ryken, he said,” I took a back seat to to our starters. We were very talented. 6’2″ 2019 CG Wynston Tabbs, 6’6″ 2019 WG/WF Mekhi Long , 6’1.5 2019 CG Jahmir Young were all double digit scorers & 6’5″ 2018 WG/WF Chris Greene was an explosive jump shooter.” Mekhi Long has transferred to Massunutten Military Academy whee is having a great season, Jhamir Young transferred to DeMatha where he is an impact starter, Chris Greene is now playing at D2 power Wheeling Jesuit. Wynston has returned,but he has been in & out of the lineup with a nagging groin injury after a tremendous summer playing for DC Premier. The cupboard is far form bare at SMR, but Lelan has really excelled & has become a quiet lead by example leader. He is learning to become a more vocal & is beginning to display more leadership in the SMR huddles during timeouts.
We asked Lelan how long he has been this skilled. “I have had the ability, confidence & skill level going back to my freshmen year & my whole life. However, my dad & Coaches at SMR have wanted me to be more assertive every year. I told myself it is now or never for me. I want to play in college at a high level & make my dad proud. He is tough at times, but he makes me want it even more. Coach Booth is pushing all the right buttons & everything is beginning to click for our team & secondly myself.
This summer Lelan played for Thomas Stone HS in their summer league while Coach Booth was in the process of being hired. Many HS basketball people in the DC DMV know SMR made a great hire in naming Coach Booth as their Head Coach. Coach Booth & Gonzaga Assistant Devin Williams are co founders of the DC Basketball Club Grassroots Teams.Both are superb teachers of basketball who strive for fundamentals, High IQ, team play, toughness & conditioning on both sides of the ball. Lelan had an excellent summer for Thomas Stone, averaging 20 ppg,15 rebounds & 10 assists including a huge 32 point, 14 rebound & 10 assist game in a big win. For his outstanding play Lelan was awarded League MVP.
While scouting Lelan he proves to be a very efficient scorer at all 3 levels with a beautiful jumper. I asked Lelan about his offensive game & he said,” I have confidence in my 3 pointer which I can shoot on or off the dribble from both sides of the court. From anywhere on the court I can run a back or flex cut & go right up for a jumper. My dad taught me how to shoot & I get high elevation & a quick & high release. My mid range is a strength & I attack the lane off the dribble for pull ups in the half court or transition However, when I go coast to coast off the dribble coast my goal is to get to the rim & throw down a hard dunk.” Lelan is one of the fastest players in transition in MD/DC where he utilizes his incredibly long stride, wingspan & speed.
Lelan likes to keep his handle simple & his go to moves are the hesitation & go, in & out crossover & straight crossover. Lelan has an excellent change of pace & can explode from a near standstill. He adds ” I have a very good triple threat with a great jab step. I like to use ball fakes, pump fakes & reverse layins in the paint.
Lelan has the potential to become an elite defender & he is already a fantastic one.”One of my strengths is beating my man to his desired spot off his dribble. I rebound very well & I use my athleticism most of the time, but I can box out.” Lelan has superb closing speed & timing to block shots & grab rebounds.
Lelan worked very hard with his dad this summer & his dedication is paying obvious dividends this season. He says ” I trained & played in games 6 day a week. My workouts included defensive & offensives basketball skill drills, running, strength training, plyos (resistance bands, jumping rope & more), flexibility & agility work .My dad had me use dumbbells in many of the drills & it has helped me. I got to use the parachute which increased my speed power in my hamstrings & calf’s. My dad really helped me this summer in my assertiveness.”
Lelan looks tremendous this season & he has recorded 4 double/doubles in 4 of the 8 SMR games, He is averaging over 14 points per game & 10 rebounds with numerous blocks, steaks & assists.
In the classroom Lelan maintains an impressive 3.0 plus GPA & is very interested in majoring in Criminal Justice in college. He is very, very close to his mom & dad & names them as his role models. In his downtime Lelan likes to study DC native Kevin Durant of the NBA,