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Posted On: 10/4/18 9:31 PM
Many Murfreesboro-based athletes understandably competed at the first annual Above the Rim Gym / PrepHoopsTN Fall Combine, including two Riverdale-connected players in this article. Kai Crawford suited up for Riverdale’s team last season and so did Javontay Rollings. While Javontay transferred to Stewart’s Creek, Crawford is one of six returning seniors attempting to return the Warriors to the Class AAA State Tournament.
The third member of this trio is Kaleb Bunton. An I-24 roadblock delayed the arrival of Kaleb Bunton, Kley McGowan, and Cleveland Assistant Coach Reggie Tucker. When they arrived at lunchtime both Kaleb and Kley recorded their vertical leaps. Kaleb, the younger brother of Dustin Bunton (PrepHoopsTN 2019 #58), hopped to a 32.5″ one-step vertical.
Riverdale guard Kai Crawford played limited minutes with a junior-laden RHS team in 2017-2018. The Warriors return their entire team, save Javontay Rollings (transfer), and Kai’s role might be more of the same. Regardless, Kai does add to the Riverdale program. The slim 6-foot-1 wing weighed in at 155 pounds at the Fall Combine. Crawford is a strong two-foot leaper. He gives energy to each team he plays for. In the state quarterfinal Kai played just under a minute as Northeast dismantled Riverdale High.
In live action Kai contributed rebounding. He sees angles pretty well and doesn’t need the ball to contribute.
Defensively, Kai gets stuck playing some post defense as a wizened veteran. His upper body was stronger than most campers and just to broaden out his game Kai drilled with the bigs at our combine.
He projects as a fringe NAIA off guard. Crawford understands how to win and generally gives a great effort each time he steps into the gym. He does lack the smooth handle of a starting point guard, but doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses.
Last winter Javontay Rollings helped Riverdale High advance to Class AAA State Championship. In their state quarterfinal loss to Clarksville Northeast High, Riverdale Head Coach Michael Voss Javontay played 14 big minutes. In the process Rollings hauled down four rebounds, scored four points, and committed two turnovers.
During the Fall Combine Javontay Rollings was chatty and athletic. Rollings plays an assured brand of basketball. He believes in his talents and routinely plays above the rim.
Rollings’ one-step vertical leap was 34 inches. Javontay Rollings touched just over 11′ and possesses a +4 wingspan.
The Riverdale transfer intends to start at guard for Stewart’s Creek this season, replacing the departed Javonte Platt in the guard-heavy rotation at SCHS.
More athletic than the average participant, Kaleb Bunton will have an outside chance at playing college basketball. Bunton plays more like a wing than a point guard despite standing 6-foot-1 currently. The bounce and the mid-air flair are encouraging. Bunton recorded one of the higher verticals in the camp (32.5″), which shouts elite athlete. You might not see a ton from Kaleb this season as the Cleveland team returns much of their offensive weapons.
Bunton suits up for a loaded Cleveland High basketball program. Look for him to improve technically under wonderful coaching. At this early stage his skills trail his athletic gifts. Standing 6-foot-1 Bunton lacks the elite handle to be a trap breaker. Again, he has the speed and change of direction few his age possess, but the stickiness with the basketball needs to improve. And it probably will.
Though he has guard height, remember Kaleb’s older brother is closer to 6-foot-6 and Kaleb might still grow. Developing that handle will benefit him at any height and it would be a great place to emphasize in personal training sessions. Cleveland’s program is another program that plays well at high speeds. Just being in that gym works to Bunton’s advantage and obviously helps his development as a basketball player.
Athletic guards like Kaleb should develop into a top defender. Plus athleticism serves as a perfect beginning for nice defense. Of course, that athleticism must be coupled with mental devotion to the unglamorous task. Playing in a deeply talented program, as Cleveland High School absolutely is, rebounding and defense are the best ways to assure yourself of playing time. Scorers are common at Cleveland. Defending is never celebrated very often in individual player combines and still Sunday Kaleb provided a decent roadblock for steamrolling point guards.