Summer league players to watch: Sandra Day O’Connor Eagles

High School

Posted On: 06/13/18 12:39 PM

The Sandra Day O’Connor Eagles basketball team finished the 2017-18 season 18-9, accumulating the best record in 10 years, when the 2007-8 Eagles finished 20-6.

Though the team barely missed out on a playoff berth, O’Connor has looked solid in the Central High School Summer League, and a playoff berth seems like a reasonable goal for the 2018-19 campaign come winter.

The Eagles lost T.J. Connaker, their top scorer, to graduation, but return four of their top six contributors, all seniors, to make one last run:

  • Keaton Rodgers: Forward

Rodgers has a large, muscular frame, and uses every pound and muscle in it to get to the rim with the ball. In summer exhibitions, it appears O’Connor is happy to play a perimeter-oriented game with him as the lone man in the middle, as the team has trust in him to manufacture points on cuts to the basket, drawing fouls, and second-chance points. He also is a good passer out of the pose, frequently kicking out to the plethora of solid shooters the Eagles have on the perimeter. On defense, he serves as the one true rim protector in the starting unit.

  • Chase Morley: Guard

Morley is the primary ball-handler for the Eagles, tasked with making efficient passes around the perimeter and to Rodgers down low. Though not lightning-quick, he’s got nice footwork and a pretty good feel for the game with the ball in his hands, getting everybody involved in the offense and knocking down some open jump shots. On defense, especially on traps and the press, Morley will be the second man in a double-team to try and disrupt the opponent and cause turnovers.

  • Elijah Trice: Guard

For the starting unit, Trice is particularly effective as an on-ball defender, where he can use his quickness and lateral movement to both opponents’ lead ball handlers. This allows teammates to take chances on that end to come up with steals early in the defensive possession. On offense, he is one of the few perimeter players that seems to excel in driving to the rim to make plays for himself or other Eagles players. But, just like the other perimeter options, he can knock down a jumper if left open as well.

  • Justin Bailey: Guard/Forward

Bailey’s perimeter jump shot is a real weapon for O’Connor, as he can often hit a corner three to bail the offense out of a lackluster or otherwise-unsuccessful possession. Though often relegated to the corner, the offense benefits in that the defense cannot sag off very far, fearing he will hit a shot from distance. Thus, the Eagles see just a little less disruption for cutters at the rim, with one less help defender available. He also will throw in an occasional back cut and manages to find himself in the right spots to collect rebounds on both ends.