|Cincinnati Royals Blue-2021|
The 2017 AAU season is only a few weeks old and already teams are stating to make early statements. This past weekend, Dave Duco”s 2021 Cincinnati Royals Blue squad notched the first hole in their belt with a championship win at the Southwest Ohio Basketball AAU Super Regional Qualifier in Cincinnati. Out of a field of 6 teams the Cincinnati Royals Blue had to take down a program cousin with a win over Greg Johnson’s Cincinnati Royals White Team.
Although the White team raced out to a 12-2 lead including a dunk by Skylar Schmidt, in typical Blue fashion, Duco’s team stayed composed and cut the game to 25-23 at half, with strong gap defense and quick outlets that ignited their transition game. To start the 3rd quarter, Blue went on a 10-0 run, but White closed the gap and tied the game with less than a minute left. Matthew Smith and Isaiah Walker, son of former Xavier player, Tyrice Walker and brother to TJ Walker from Summit High School, both continued to put up big numbers throughout the tournament. Smith went 8-8 from the line in the 4th quarter and finished with 24 points, while Walker finished with 12 points. Schmidt led White with 21 hard-earned points.
Both teams have made roster changes for the 2017 season, but the Blue team, who finished 10th in Country in grade based AAU Nationals in 2016, added much needed size with 6’4” Joseph Eubank and 6’5” AJ Braun. These 2 additions enable 6’4” Walt Mattingly to play more of a 3 or 4 versus the 5 spot he’d played for the last 2 years. During the course of the tournament, Brandon McClendon, Wyatt Wachs and Will Downton were strong from beyond the arc, while holding down PG duties. Downton has a quick trigger and lit it up off the bench in the pool play game for 18 points vs the Ohio Blue Devils, going 5/6 from the 3-point line. Elijah Jackson played strong from the wing, brought strength to the defense and demonstrated a great mid-range and 3 point stroke.
In general, the Royals stick to strong man-to-man principals, thus preparing their boys for high school ball. They also work out 3 days per week on drills and skills and run numerous sets when not in transition. The entire Blue roster includes: Front Row -Brandon McClendon, Isaiah Walker, Will Downton, Wyatt Wachs, Elijah Jackson (son of Antwon Jackson who is Mick Cronin’s asst at UC), Back Row - Joseph Eubank, Walt Mattingly, AJ Braun, and Mathew Smith. The assistant coach is Tyrice Walker.
According to Coach Duco, his team is looking forward to playing a competitive schedule this year. “We look forward to a great season and will be playing in the Buckeye Prep Invitational, Nike Grassroots, Dru Joce Shoot for the Stars and the Bill Hensley Run & Slam in Fort Wayne over the next few months.” We did not follow the Royals much last season, but they are now firmly on our radar, and should be weel represented in our Power rankings when we release them in a few weeks.