Led by future NBA lottery picks Trae Young and Michael Porter Jr., MOKAN Elite captured first place at the prestigious Nike Peach Jam AAU Tournament in July 2016.
On Sunday, for the second time in four years, the Kansas City-based grassroots spring/summer hoops program again struck gold, upending Team WhyNot of California 85-84 in the 2019 Peach Jam title game, which was decided in overtime.
“It feels great. I just don’t know what to say,” Dajuan Harris, a 6-foot-1 recent graduate of Columbia Rock Bridge High School and current KU recruit told the Augusta Chronicle after Sunday’s awards ceremony, which included several members of MOKAN’s team devouring fresh peaches provided to the players.
MOKAN, as in 2016, was sparked by the inside/outside offensive production of a pair of players. N’Faly Dante, a 6-10 senior-to-be center from Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas, scored 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, while Kennedy Chandler, a 6-1 junior-to-be point guard from Briarcrest Christian High in Eads, Tennessee contributed 21 points, nine assists and six rebounds in the victory, MOKAN’s 17th in 21 games.
Dante is the No. 9-ranked player in the recruiting Class of 2020 by Rivals.com and may switch to the Class of 2019. Chandler is the No. 28-rated player in the Class of 2021.
“They were fantastic,” Harris said in an instant message to The Star on Sunday night. “Dante is the best big in the country and Kennedy is the best guard in his class.”
Team WhyNot was led by the 25-point outing of Jalen Green, a 6-5 senior-to-be from Prolific Prep in Fresno, California, who is ranked No. 3 in the recruiting Class of 2020 by Rivals.com. Like Dante and Chandler, Green has KU on his list of schools.
Green — he hit 5 of 6 threes — had a chance to win it in overtime. He accepted an inbounds pass in front of the basket with 1 second to play but his rushed inside shot didn’t drop through the hoop. MOKAN had taken a one-point lead on a late free throw by Dante, who told reporters he’s currently favoring Oregon, Kentucky, LSU and Tennessee if he decides to enroll in college for the upcoming school year.
He made a campus visit to Tennessee in late June.
As far as possibly leaving Sunrise a year early and entering the Class of 2019, Dante’s guardian, AJ Doyle, told 247sports.com: “He is still open to it and exploring it. When we talk about schools most important to him, Sunrise is the one he’s focused on the most but he’s still exploring it and still open to it.”
MOKAN has a 7-footer on the roster in Davion Bradford, a 260-pound senior-to-be from Mehlville Senior High in St. Louis, who is ranked No. 132 in the Class of 2020 by Rivals.com. MOKAN’s Dylan Branson, a 6-5 senior-to-be also from Mehlville Senior, is unranked but has already received offers from Nebraska and others.
Other rotation players on the MOKAN team who figure to play college basketball include Luke Kasubke, a 6-4 senior-to-be from Chaminade High in St. Louis, who is ranked No. 142 in the Class of 2020 by Rivals.com; Michael Peake, a 6-7 unranked senior-to-be from Blue Valley Northwest, and Coban Porter, a 6-3 unranked senior-to-be and brother of Jontay and Michael Porter, from Columbia’s Tolton High..
“Just to be able to do what they (current team) did under the condition that they did it in, and honestly without the star power the 2016 team had, it says a lot about their connectedness. I’m really proud of them,” MOKAN coach Chris Neff told the Aiken Standard on Sunday.
The team was a close-knit squad, which was evident at the awards ceremony.
“Those are my brothers, I love my brothers,” Peake of BV Northwest said as quoted by the Augusta Chronicle.
Noted Bradford: “We deserved this. We went through the trenches for real. All the fighting, all the tears and stuff, it feels real good, real good.”
“Everybody was happy,” Harris told The Star.
Harris to Class of 2019?
Dajuan Harris, a former Missouri State signee who asked out of his letter-of-intent in May, is enrolled at Sunrise Christian Academy for the 2019-20 school year. He recently took a campus visit to KU. It’s possible he will play college basketball in 2019-20 now that he’s been offered a scholarship by blueblood Kansas.
Missouri, Tulsa and others also reportedly are involved.
“I have an offer from KU,” he told 247sports.com at Peach Jam. “I talked to Texas the other day, still talking to Missouri State, talked to Mizzou.
He told Rivals.com that he’s thinking about enrolling in college after the summer.
“I have to take some classes this summer, through July and August,” Harris told Rivals.com. “I’d like to go 2019 but I’ll go to Sunrise if I need to.”
Of asking out of his Missouri State letter, he said: “”I wanted to see if I could go somewhere big and get the major schools involved. I wanted to prove myself at the highest level. I’m just bringing the defensive side out and I’m attacking. I don’t know where my passing ability comes from, I just like getting everybody involved and making the right plays.”
Cade Cunningham, the No. 2-rated recruit in the Class of 2020 by Rivals.com, told ESPN’s Paul Biancardi at Peach Jam he’s not a lock to attend Oklahoma State despite the fact the Cowboys recently hired his brother, Cannen, as assistant coach.
“I think I’m pretty far along (in recruiting) he told Biancardi at halftime of the Peach Jam final as reported in an article at Zagsblog.com. “My brother getting hired doesn’t speed me up too much. I’m just happy for him getting the job.
“I’ve always put out there and said that whenever I’m ready to commit, I’ll commit. If that was the spot I wanted to go right now, I would’ve committed by now so my recruitment is still open. I’m still open to all my schools.”
Cunningham, a 6-7 combo guard from Montverde (Florida) Academy, originally from Arlington, Texas, has a list of 10: OSU, Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, Memphis, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
His Texas Titans reached the semifinals at Peach Jam.
“I’m probably going to talk with my family some more and get it down to five. That is the goal,” he told Zagsblog.com at Peach Jam. “I want to play for a coach that is going to let me play my game. Obviously, a school that is going to compete right away for a national championship. I want to win my first year.
“There are a lot of things. I want to play for a team that plays defense, for sure. Those are the teams that win. Good coaches. I feel that all the schools in my top ten have great coaches. Just a coach that is going to let me do what I do.”