Team Final Basketball’s American Athletic Union program has had some talented players put on its blue, neon yellow and black Nike uniforms.
Former Philadelphia-area prospects and current NBA players Tyreke Evans, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Dion Waiters and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson all came through the Philly-based organization.
In 2014, Levan Shawn Alston, Jr. and Trey Lowe suited up for Team Final with several other top high school prospects including Lowe’s cousin and Syracuse-commit Malachi Richardson, ranked the No. 35 high school prospect by Rivals.com, Villanova-commit Donte DiVincenzo and Saint Joseph’s-commit LaMarr Kimble.
“At practice all the time it was very competitive,” said Lowe, now a freshman at Temple. “We were always going at each other no matter who was guarding us.”
Alston and Lowe both came to Temple ranked as three-star prospects by Rivals.com. Rivals listed Aslton as the No. 111 player in the country while ranking Lowe No. 127.
Alston, the son of former Temple player Levan Alston Sr., played at the Haverford School, and USA Today named him Pennsylvania’s Gatorade Player of the Year. Lowe was a 2,000-point scorer for Ewing High School in New Jersey.
After playing together on Team Final, the two decided to attend the same college. Along with Temple, Alston and Lowe said other schools they could have played together included Virginia Commonwealth University, Penn State, the University of Notre Dame, Stanford University and Marquette University.
Coach Fran Dunphy’s signing of the pair marked the first time since 2003, when center Wayne Marshall and small forward Dion Dacons committed, that Temple had multiple players ranked in the Top 150 by Rivals.com in a recruiting class.
“I thought it was going to be a little shaky because we were one of coach Dunphy’s best recruiting classes and some people on Twitter predicted us to start and things like that,” Alston said. “I thought that some seniors wouldn’t like that, but they’ve taken us in with open arms.”
Upon their arrival with the Owls this summer, Alston and Lowe were overwhelmed by the physicality of Division I basketball.
Both long and wiry athletes, Alston described himself and Lowe as “real skinny” before they joined the team. On the Owls’ roster, Alston is listed at 6-foot-4, 170 pounds, while Lowe measures 6-foot-6, 165 pounds.
“I got pushed around a little bit,” Lowe said. “But once I got used to it, I started pushing back, and I started playing more physical and being athletic. That’s the kind of player I am—a smooth athletic player.”
Senior forward Jaylen Bond said the two freshman have impressed him as they adjust to the physical play.
“That is definitely a transition that they will have to go through,” Bond said. “But they’ve been doing a great job of it. They compete everyday.”
The talent level of their teammates is something the two freshmen had to get used to in practices and scrimmages this summer with their new team.
Both Lowe and Alston had to transition from being the primary scorers on their respective high school teams to playing a complementary role for the Owls.
“On your high school team, not everyone is a Division I player, but here you have five Division I players on the court,” Alston said. “So you have to get everyone involved and everybody can do the same thing, so you have to show everybody’s talent.”
Spending time with players like Richardson, DiVincenzo and Kimble on Team Final helped aid in this aspect of the game.
“If I didn’t play with these guys on AAU, the adjustment to this wouldn’t be as fast as it is,” Alston said. “Because playing with guys like [Lowe], we had about four Top 100 players on our team, so we all wanted to score the ball. I learned how to play with good players.”
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.