The summer is equally as important for basketball prospects as the regular season.
As he is catching the eyes of many schools and coaches, Natchitoches Central junior swingman Brandon Rachal will have the opportunity to turn more heads as he is competing in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C.
Rachal, who is playing for Elfrid Payton Elite with Scotlandville sophomore Javonte Smart and some of the state’s other top prospects, is relishing for the chance to face against some of the top talent in the nation.
“I’m just blessed to be here,” Rachal said. “I used to watch a lot videos about the Peach Jam. To be in one of the biggest AAU tournaments and to play against some of the best players is a great opportunity.”
The Elfrid Payton Elite team — named after the former UL Lafayette and current Orlando Magic point guard — is 10-7 this summer with Rachal averaging team highs of 14.7 points and 8.3 rebounds while also making 1.2 steals per game.
Rachal’s play this summer has him ranked No. 67 on Rivals’ Top 100 list of 2017 prospects and he has drawn interest from power conference teams such as Miami, Creighton, Kansas State and Wake Forest, along with in-state schools Tulane and Louisiana Tech.
“I expected it to happen,” Rachal said. “I’ve been working on my game this summer, watching video and learning how to be a better player.”
Rachal is also hopeful that his transformation this summer can lead to him taking another big leap this season with the Chiefs.
Ever since making a name for himself in his freshman year by holding former Byrd guard and Rice signee Chad Lott to no points during a regular season game, Rachal has blossomed to a key cog for the Chiefs. Last season, he earned second-team honors on the All-District 2-5A team and was named as an honorable mention on the All-Cenla team.
With Danny Cohen graduating and playing for the University of New Orleans this season and Cameron Lard rumored to leave NCHS, Rachal may have a bigger role in the offense.
“Losing Cam is big, but we have a lot of people that can play,” Rachal said. “We have five players on the court that can guard all five positions.”
The Chiefs held on to the No. 1 spot in the Class 5A power rankings for most of the season, but fell a game shy of a repeat as they lost to Scotlandville in a rematch of the 2014 Class 5A finals.
Elfrid Payton Elite will face the E1T1 (Each 1 Teach 1) Elite team — Amar’e Stoudemire’s team — at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
Each team in the competition will play five pool games from Thursday to Saturday, while the action shifts to bracket play on Saturday and Sunday. The top two teams in each of the four pools will advance to the quarterfinals Saturday night in a single-elimination tournament with the semifinals and finals scheduled for Sunday.