Polite threw down his first live-action dunk early last winter when he became a starter in the post in his debut varsity season, and it has become easier to add to his personal highlight reel in the months since with his move to the wing. With more space to work, he can reach full speed more easily and rise to attack the rim.
Coach Lafayette Dublin said Polite has “been dunking everything” this summer, an addition to his game that has made him a more effective scorer in his new role.
“If I at least attempt [to dunk], it puts a little bit of fear into my opponents.” Polite said. “Maybe next time they give me an easier chance to get to the basket.”
College coaches are paying close attention to Polite’s expanding offensive repertoire as the July live recruiting period heats up.
After showcasing his skills on the wing at VCU team camp last month, Polite picked up an offer from the Rams and has added another from St. Peter’s. He’s had early interest from schools such as Cincinnati and Radford, and Dublin believes Polite, who doesn’t turn 16 until later this month, projects as a high-major recruit.
“When I first had him as a ninth grader [on junior varsity], I told people he’d be the best player in the county by his senior year and one of the best in the area,” Dublin said. “Obviously, his potential is really starting to show. He’s starting to figure it out.”
Playing in The Rock summer league at High Point with his high school team, Polite’s offensive role changed drastically.
Last season, Polite usually stayed in the post, getting most of his points on putbacks with his athleticism around the rim. On junior varsity, he had three games where he scored at least 40 points thanks to that relentless approach.
At times this summer, Dublin has called on him to bring the ball up, splitting point guard duties with leading scorer Michael Cunningham, who has offers from Towson, Quinnipiac and Elon. The coach wants Polite to get comfortable creating offense off the dribble and shooting from the outside if the defense sags.
Coming off a high school season in which he scored 9.2 points per game, Polite averaged about 19 points during the summer league, according to Dublin. The Tigers went 9-2 in The Rock, falling by a point to McNamara in the playoffs with Polite, who plays on the AAU circuit with D.C. Assault, away on a family vacation.
“I’ve got to go in with the mind-set that I can’t be stopped,” Polite said. “That gives me more confidence to take the jump shot and knock it down, think like I’m a guard instead of a big man.”
Polite’s role at the next level remains hard to project because of his current size and age. He said his doctor has told him to expect another growth spurt soon and Dublin believes he could top out around 6-8.
Polite could ultimately move back inside, where he’s shown solid skills, particularly on defense. As the team’s tallest player, he focused on rebounding and blocking shots, a challenge when he regularly gave up pounds to his opposition inside. He still has those rim-protecting abilities but most often checked guards during summer league, according to Dublin.
This summer, Polite has logged long hours at the Glenn Dale Community Center and other local rec centers, refining his revised skill set. In pickup games, he wants the ball in his hands on the perimeter, and other times, he simply shoots alone, hoping to take his range out to the three-point line.
Polite will be in front of recruiters this week when he attends the Hoop Group elite camp in Reading, Pa., another chance to showcase his hard work.
“I was like the hustle player who gets the steals, gets a lot of blocks and rebounds,” Polite said. “Right now, I’m hoping to show that I can also score and dribble and be a more assertive player.”
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