Yanders Law Blue Elite (16u) - Homegrown, top-tier AAU squad

Today we spotlight the 16 & under Yanders Law Blue Elite team that is living up to their name and putting the AAU scene on notice.

The NY2LA Spring Warm Up over the weekend confirmed what many already knew: the Yanders Law program can claim many of the top sophomores not only in the state, but beyond. Yanders Law Blue Elite defeated the Green Bay Gunners, ET21 Buckeyes, Mac Irvin Fire EYBL, and Team Teague in the 16u platinum bracket.

Blue Elite fell to Meanstreets (another EYBL team), which went on to win the bracket. This Yanders Law squad is a team of guys from Southwest Missouri that have mostly been playing with each other for four or five years. Many of these other teams consist of new, recruited players from a wide area.

For Yanders Law Blue Elite to be able to hang with teams that have shoe deals or NBA players backing them is immensely impressive. With all the noise this team is making after just a couple weeks of practice together, a few of these guys are likely to be more heavily recruited themselves.

Every player on this team contributed in one way or another at the NY2LA Spring Warm Up. Scoring, defending, or being active from the sidelines are all important; we saw plenty of that this weekend. One player that has truly upped his game recently is Zach Howell, and it showed in Milwaukee.

“Zach has improved a ton” said Yanders Law founder and namesake, Rob Yanders. “He hit some huge shots this weekend and showed out.” Another player that was making things look easy against stiff competition was Anton Brookshire.

In a recap of early tournament action, the NY2LA website had this to say about Brookshire:

Brookshire really captains the ship for his team with his play and is efficient in his work. He picked up where he left off last summer with a solid opening game, getting to the hoop and finishing with good control, burying shots from both the mid and long levels and was otherwise operating as a facilitator for his teammates, pushing the ball up the floor and getting his guys scoring opportunities.
— NY2LAsports.com

One more player that has to be named is Isaac Haney. If you were paying attention to his season in Dora, you know that he has taken his game to another stratosphere. The kid can score with ease and had one of the prettiest shots in the whole tournament, regardless of age or association.

Things are just getting started for not only this team, but all of Yanders Law Basketball. To keep track of these guys, make sure to follow along on Twitter @YandersLaw and add them on Facebook.

One-on-One: Chris Ward, new Trainer and Coach

The Basketball Movement and Yanders Law are excited to announce the hiring of Yanders Law alum, Chris Ward as a Trainer and Coach.

The Basketball Movement is selective in it’s hires, and we know exactly what we are getting in Chris Ward. Chris has been coming around the gym and working with Robert Yanders long before Rob bought the facility and turned it into The Basketball Movement. Ward was among the first to play under the Yanders Law banner and has been involved with what Rob has been doing ever since.

“Being on Rob’s first Yanders Law team, it’s great to come back and get to be around the other generations” said Ward. He is not only a Yanders Law alumni, but a familiar face for many area hoops fans as well. Ward’s jersey is retired at Kickapoo High School where he was an All-District and All-State player.

Chris went on to play at Philander Smith College in Little Rock and even played professionally in the Republic of Georgia for a while. He knew that his passion for basketball was well-suited for training and coaching, so he came home and is now back where it all began.

Knowing Rob since he was 10 and playing with him since he was 14, Chris says that it is incredible to see what Rob has built since then. He recalls winning a lot of games with Yanders Law in high school. Those are times you don’t forget - especially with so many takeaways that come from working with Yanders.

Playing for Rob was and is worth it. He teaches you consistency and that hard work can take you lots of places. Summer workouts, everything, it all sticks with you. Rob is all about character and using basketball as a tool to give you a better life. It all stems from hard work.
— Chris Ward

Ward says that he is going to be giving lessons, doing strengths and conditioning, and helping to run clinics in addition to becoming a Yanders Law Coach. “It’s a job, but I get to be working every day with people that want to be better” says Ward. “Basketball is everything to me; it makes it easy to get up in the morning. So yeah, it’s a job, but it doesn’t feel like it to me.”

Asked about his training/coaching style, Chris says that he will naturally emulate Yanders. “I mean, I’m just going to do what I’ve learned from Rob over so many years.” He says that he is loud, energetic, and quick to relate to the players because he has been in their shoes. “As a coach, I like fast pace. I want to really see my players getting up and down the floor.”

Having played for Robert Yanders, Ward knows the meaning of “hard work” and it is probably not a term he would use lightly. Players that get to work with Ward will experience second-hand Yanders intensity, so they will need to come ready.

The Basketball Movement and Yanders Law are thrilled to help Chris Ward bring his basketball journey full circle. Watching players pursue their passion (basketball or otherwise) is one of the greatest feelings for coaches, trainers, and anyone else that is a part of our organizations. He will be another tremendous asset to our team.

Welcome aboard, Chris!

Multiple athletes gearing up for state push

With their teams preparing for the biggest stages of high school ball, we reach out to a few of our Yanders Law and The Basketball Movement athletes to get their thoughts.

Isaac Haney, Zach Howell, and Kanon Gipson are easy for us to get a hold of. These young men are staples of The Basketball Movement facility - always coming in to get work. Even now at the height of the season, their desire to stay sharp keeps them coming back.

Hard work is a constant with contributors on good teams. It is no surprise that each of these young men are still playing despite districts coming to a close.

Isaac Haney

If you have been paying attention, it won’t surprise you to hear that All-District selection, Isaac Haney has taken his team to the final four in class 1. Dora has been dropping a lot of points on opponents - most of which have been supplied by Haney. “It feels like the hard work has paid off,” said Haney. “We just have to make sure we stay together and do what we’ve been doing; put an emphasis on teamwork, defend, and jump on people out of the gate.”

As Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”. Dora has been jumping out to big leads early and will look to continue to gain that advantage. If that doesn’t work out though, Isaac says they will be ready.

Zach Howell

Springfield Catholic (28-3) played strong right out of the gate this year. That put a target on their back, but it hasn’t mattered as they are preparing to kick off their class 3 final four appearance against St. Paul Lutheran. Two of Catholic’s losses came in the Tournament of Champions, which hosts some of the best teams in the nation. Freshman Zach Howell says that if the team locks in and plays the way they can, that they are poised to win it all.

Howell says that being on one of the few teams in the state left playing is a great feeling. Unlike most teams though, he feels that they essentially hold a home court advantage in the final four. “We have played at JQH about as much as we have played on our home court this year. We’ll be familiar with the court and space, which will be very helpful.”

After putting in so much time with The Basketball Movement, Zach says he is ready for anything.

Working with Rob can be applied to anything, but on the court I am prepared skill-wise and mentally. Rob says basketball is 90 percent mental and I agree. I’ll be ready.
— Zach Howell

Kanon Gipson

The other of Springfield Catholic’s three losses came to Logan-Rogersville and sharpshooter, Kanon Gipson of The Basketball Movement and Yanders Law. LR is now preparing for their sectional tilt and Gipson says he is determined to make sure his senior teammates don’t hang up their jerseys early.

“At this point any team can get you because they are there for a reason. You just have to give it your best shot,” said Kanon. “Our mentality has been the same all season”. Gipson still has the green light from deep and says that his main takeaway from The Basketball Movement will be stepping up his defense.

Here I’ve learned how to apply more pressure but also how to handle pressure. I’ve learned to deal with every obstacle.
— Gipson's takeaways from The Basketball Movement

Good luck again to these and all of our high school athletes that are getting to continue their push towards a state title. We will be watching and hoping for the best for each of you. For those of you that are prepping for the offseason - remember the number one facility for not only staying sharp, but improving your skills on and off the floor.

Players from both Yanders Law and The Basketball Movement set to face off

With their teams gearing up for a Missouri class 5 sectional showdown, we talk to a few of our athletes as they prepare for battle.

Anton Brookshire and Elijah Bridgers play for perhaps Springfield, MO’s most prominent basketball school - Kickapoo High. They are also players that we have had the privilege of working with at The Basketball Movement and Yanders Law. Drew McMillin is another one, but he plays for a Republic squad that has exceeded expectations and finds themselves squaring off with the above Kickapoo duo in sectionals.

Kickapoo won their district title in dramatic fashion and are now hoping to go on a run. Following a workout at The Basketball Movement, we chatted with Brookshire and Bridgers to get a feel for their mindset as the stage continues to get bigger and brighter.

Perhaps no player in the state has made the splash to this point that Kickapoo’s Anton Brookshire has. That splash being a game-winning three pointer to take the district title over Nixa.

Anton Brookshire

During the final play of of the district championship game, Anton Brookshire’s adrenaline was pumping. “It was a dream come true. I knew that I would take the shot, but I also knew that I would make the shot.” Despite having such a huge moment already, Anton is poised to raise his stock, even as a sophomore as Kickapoo prepares for sectionals.

Brookshire says they have already watched a lot of film and will continue to scout Republic. He says that the team’s chemistry and bonding these last few weeks has grown exponentially and that they will be ready.

Being at The Basketball Movement almost everyday surrounded by good people has made me grow as a player and a person. The way my game has grown - I think that this is the greatest environment a player can be in.
— Brookshire on The Basketball Movement

Elijah Bridgers

Another Kickapoo player, junior Elijah Bridgers can confirm that the team is focused, determined, and willing to do whatever it takes to stay alive. “We approach every game the same way, but this time of year, you have to turn it up,” Bridgers said.

If they play the right way, Elijah says they can beat anyone. He pointed out that they have already beaten plenty of good teams this season. Asked about takeaways from Rob and The Basketball Movement, Bridgers said that the intensity will translate well into March basketball. Every time you take the floor at The Basketball Movement, you need to bring your A-game. The same will certainly apply at sectionals as well.

Drew McMillin

On the other side of things, we had the opportunity to chat with Republic’s Drew McMillin before Thursday’s big tilt. In his time with Yanders Law and The Basketball Movement, Drew said that he has learned how to deal with almost all possible situations on the basketball court. This experience will help as Republic locks in on the Kickapoo Chiefs; he says that their coach has stressed the importance of staying in the moment and focusing on taking this run one game at a time.

McMillan says that as they buckle down to face the stiffer competition that the offense has a renewed focus on getting smart shots as opposed to free-flowing ball that could lead to mistakes.

Asked about the biggest moment of the season, Drew believes the win over Ozark to seal the conference championship takes it so far. “We had lost several games before that win and it really helped us to come together,” he said.

A win over Kickapoo in the sectionals may be sweeter, but he’ll have to go through Brookshire, Bridgers, and company to do it.

Good luck to these and all area athletes as high school ball nears its conclusion. Keep and eye out as we talk with more of our successful athletes soon about their quest for a state championship.

One-on-One: Twilah Carrasquillo

Yanders Law’s Twilah Carrasquillo continues to do big things for Verona High School and is poised to carry over her success to the collegiate level.

Another staple of The Basketball Movement and a Yanders Law veteran, Twilah Carrasquillo is continuing her basketball career in style, breaking records along the way. We got to catch up with her in the middle of a great season for Verona High, where she recently broke the women’s scoring record - held by her sister.

She eclipsed the 2,000 point mark and is continuing to build upon a Verona women’s career scoring record. Asked if her sister was upset about her record being broken, Carrasquillo said “She would have been mad if I didn’t break it.” Not surprising then, that she credited her school, friends, and family for the support that helped her achieve this goal. She acknowledged the rarity of this scoring mark in her sport, but is determined to stay focused on team wins.

As Verona advances through their season, accolades will undoubtedly pile up for the Ozarks Sports Zone Player of the Week, who has already committed to continuing her hoops career at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

For Twilah, attending Benedictine is as much about lifestyle as it is about hoops. Many athletes forget that it is okay to remain passionate about more than just the sport you play - Twilah is a shining example of staying true to yourself.

“The coaching staff and girls were very welcoming” said Carrasquillo. “Benedictine is strongly Christian as a historic Catholic school. I knew it was the place to be because I could fit in as a teammate and also as a person.”

We have seen Twilah in action enough to know that she will be one of the team’s hardest workers right away. Her character and convictions will carry her through no-matter what.

Twilah Carrasquillo with Yanders Law and The Basketball Movement

Asked how she originally fell in with Robert Yanders and Yanders Law, Twilah recalled playing against his team. Her Dad was coaching against Rob in Springfield and was approached by Rob and Sly Yanders to discuss a change of scenery. The instincts of Rob to invite the Carraquillo’s into his organization were spot-on, as they have all been shining examples of basketball the Rob Yanders way.

Aside from playing for Yanders Law, Twilah has put in many hours at The Basketball Movement, honing her craft. She is a gifted scorer inside and out and is continuing to expand her range, shore up her handles, and round into a fantastic all-around player.

My biggest takeaways from working with Rob have a lot to do with having a better and deeper knowledge of the game. Knowing so many circumstances helps you see plays before they happen.
— Twilah Carrasquillo

After a successful Yanders Law tenure and as she winds down a fantastic high school career, we asked Twilah what advice she would give other players as they go through the process of picking a college. “Don’t get overwhelmed with what division school it is, just pick whatever is the best decision for you” Carrasquillo said. “Choose what fits with your life. You can’t play ball forever, so always pick something you love.”

With priorities in order, determination, and basketball skills for days, Twilah Carrasquillo is blazing into the next chapter of life armed to the teeth. Her time with us has been a pleasure, hopefully on both ends. We hope that when she makes trips back to see her family and friends that we can still put in some work together when possible.

We thrive on helping outstanding young players like Twilah along their journey. We wish her the absolute best and can’t wait to see what she’ll do next!

Angels of the Hardwood - Yanders Law, The Basketball Movement, and Jones Family YMCA

Yanders Law, The Basketball Movement, and the Jones Family YMCA are teaming up to bring Angels of the Hardwood to the local community.

This year will mark the first annual Angels of the Hardwood event put on by Yanders Law and its players. Yanders Law will be partnering with The Basketball Movement and its coaches to utilize the facilities and resources that The Basketball Movement can provide. The goal of this absolutely free event is to make a difference in the lives of children and let them know that people care.

During the Angels of the Hardwood event, 100 pairs of Nike shoes will be given to those in need as well as Nike shirts, basketballs, and more. The event will take place at the Jones Family YMCA on December 16th from 1:00 to 3:00pm. Angels of the Hardwood is an idea by Rob Yanders, born out of a desire to give back to the community using the platform of basketball.

“A night of basketball” will be taking place at the Jones Family YMCA in conjunction with the Angels of the Hardwood event. This evening will bring everything back to basketball, giving the players the opportunity to grow on the court through Basketball Movement skills and drills.

Full details for the event can be found on Yanders Law website here.

Follow Yanders Law and The Basketball Movement wherever possible to learn more about initiatives like this as well as some of the best basketball training and development available in the Midwest.