Posted On: 04/27/18 1:06 PM
Sophie B. Wright’s Gregory Hammond, Damiree “D.J.” Burns and Charlie Russell Jr. are so in-demand right now, I’d almost bet my life one of the three is tweeting out yet another offer as I type this. Prep Hoops Louisiana has been on board with the Warriors’ 2019 trio from Day 1 and college programs across the country are finally beginning to take notice after the group’s showing in Dallas last weekend with Louisiana Supreme.
The Boot’s newest circuit team based out of New Orleans went 2-2 during the first session of the Adidas Gauntlet series and Hammond, Burns and Russell Jr. all put their talents on display earning offers from multiple Division I schools over the last week.
We’ll take a look at their recruitment, accomplishments and skill sets before hearing a little bit from them in this piece, and here are a few things to keep in mind as you read:
— I’m often asked “who’s the best player for Wright” but the truth is these players are so close, it really just depends on what you’re looking for. They all bring something a bit different to the table, which is one of the reasons they mesh so well together.
— All three of these guys are good kids with a win-first mentality. It doesn’t matter who has the most points or who gets the credit, any of the three is happy to take a backseat when one or two of the others have it going offensively.
— Burns is the heart and soul of the team in many ways. He’s the most outspoken with the biggest personality while Hammond and Russell Jr. are more reserved. Don’t mistake their demeanor for disinterest, though — I’ve seen both Hammond and Russell Jr. compete with fire at a high level.
Hammond, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who’s the purest scorer of the trio, has seen his stock rise the highest in recent weeks. He was also the first of the three to reel in an offer from Tulane back in late March and has since received offers from Louisiana Tech, Richmond, McNeese State, Sam Houston State, Ole Miss, Stephen F. Austin, Texas State and UC-Santa Barbara — all from April 18-26.
Both Burns and Russell Jr. are hearing from many of the same schools and several programs have offered all three players including Sam Houston, McNeese, SFA and UC-Santa Barbara.
Georgetown, Seton Hall, Florida Atlantic, Denver, Lamar, UNO and UL have also all reached out to one, two or all three players. Louisiana Supreme begins the second session of the Adidas Gauntlet this weekend in Atlanta and this list is sure to grow in coming weeks.
Hammond, Burns and Russell Jr. have made Sophie B. Wright, which has only been in existence for seven years, a contender in just a few short seasons. They led the Warriors to the quarterfinals as sophomores and advanced to the semifinals this past season falling to then-defending champ Peabody in Lake Charles. They dominated throughout the season going 27-6 and topped the 80-point mark 15 times including their first three playoff games in a state with no shot clock.
All three were also selected to both the NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune and the New Orleans Advocate’s All-Metro teams and Burns and Hammond earned first and second-team LSWA All-State honors while Russell Jr. was an honorable mention.
They also racked up a plethora of titles on the grassroots level last summer competing with NOLA23 together but still hadn’t heard much on the recruiting front until last week.
Hammond (6-foot-5 SG) is the most prolific scorer of the three with his ability to put the ball in the basket at all three levels. He’s a plus-shooter from long range, finishes well with floaters when he can’t get all the way to the rim and is an explosive finisher when he gets doing downhill.
Burns (6-foot-6 W/F) brings the most versatility and gives the Warriors some attitude with his intensity on both ends of the floor. He’s an excellent defender with good lateral movement that allows him to guard 1-5 in high school and potentially 2-4 in college. His offensive game is also solid and he loves to bully smaller defenders in the post, but also converted to point guard in some of Wright’s biggest games. Burns is also a big finisher around the rim and can knock down shots from behind the arc even though his shot is a bit flat.
Russell Jr. (6-foot-7 W/G) is the prototypical 3-and-D wing who guards and makes shots at a high level. He has a long wingspan that allows him to make up ground in a hurry to block shots or deflect passes and he’s always looking to make plays on defense. Like Hammond and Burns, he finishes with authority above the rim and he’s also very comfortable pulling up in mid-range territory for jumpers. Russell Jr. was just as explosive of a scorer as Hammond at times throughout the season and says he hears from Sam Houston, McNeese and SFA the most.
Gregory Hammond — I hear from Richmond the most. I’m looking to get a lot of playing time as a freshman. I have a lot of confidence and even though I didn’t play my best in Dallas, I played well enough to get some offers. Once I went on the Adidas circuit I knew I could get some offers.
D.J. Burns — It’s definitely exciting knowing coaches want you to be in their program. I can’t speak for everybody but I just started feeling like ‘what else do I need to do? What am I not doing right?” It’s definitely a relief to know that people want you.
I talked to Greg the most about (playing together in college) and I talked to Charlie a little bit too. From my standpoint it would definitely be fun to play with somebody you played with your whole life but it’s all about who gets the best opportunity for themselves. If it comes down to somewhere we could all play together, it would be a definite plus.
Charlie Russell Jr. — I’ve been hearing from Sam Houston, McNeese and SFA. They’ve been telling me I’m the kind of guard they’re looking for and I could help the team a lot. They tell me I play very good defense and can make a lot of shots. I think it doesn’t really matter where we go (as far as proximity to Louisiana), as long as we get an opportunity to play in college.
Damiree “D.J.” Burns
Charlie Russell Jr.