John Mooney is bracing himself for the day his older brother, Brendan Mooney, leaves home to play college basketball.
The daily training sessions together in the gym, the one-on-one battles outside their house, the long conversations about the game. Those moments will be gone when Brendan enrolls at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., in August on a basketball scholarship.
"It'll be different when he's not home," said John, a sophomore at Lake Brantley. "He's taught me everything I know, and he will keep telling me what to do."
As much as John, a key cog for Nike Team Florida 2016's AAU squad, will miss his brother, he's excited to prove he can be the focal point for Lake Brantley. John led Nike Team Florida with 13 points in its 74-43 victory against Philly Triple Threat on Wednesday, the first day of the AAU 9th Grade Super Showcase at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports.
John (6-7, 210) averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman last year. Lake Brantley coach Mike Cuff said John is the third player to make varsity as a freshman in his nine years at the school, with Brendan being one of the others.
Brendan's focus on grabbing rebounds and playing tough defense enabled John to move freely on the perimeter and work as a scorer.
"It's like he didn't miss a step, like he was playing at this level his whole life," Brendan said. "Playing with me and my friends throughout my AAU years has helped him out a lot.
"His outside game is a little more advanced than mine. I'm more of a physical presence; he's more of a playmaker."
UCF offered John a scholarship earlier this summer. Brendan thinks more offers will come.
"John has a special gift to shine and contribute to a Division I college," Brendan said.
Calif. team impresses
California Basketball Club's eighth-grade team journeyed 2,500 miles to Central Florida. The team will not return to Poway, Calif., empty-handed.
CBC defeated Team Thad Wareagles (Collierville, Tenn.) 65-38 in the eighth-grade Division I national championship Wednesday.
"The chemistry they have, the togetherness, it's something I haven't seen in a long time," CBC coach Andre Chevalier said. "Any time a team can come to another state and win a championship, it speaks to their maturity. To deal with all the traveling, it makes it that much more special as a coach."
Center Cody Riley, who holds an Arizona offer and is regarded as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017, finished with eight points and at least four blocks. Adam Seiko led CBC with 17 points.
The NCAA's basketball evaluation period started Wednesday at 5 p.m. and will go through Saturday before resuming from July 24-July 28.
College coaches and assistants will be allowed to attend games during those periods.
"[The AAU tournament] is a place where Midwestern and east-coast teams will have to stop," ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep said. "It's a big deal on the July calendar."
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