Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nike EYBL Resumes in Houston

This weekend in Houston, Texas, the second session of the Nike EYBL tips off with much anticipation. All I can say, if the second edition of league play is anything like the first session in Hampton, Virgina, look for some very competitive play and exciting story lines to emerge. Two Ohio teams, All-Ohio Red (4-1 after session 1) and the King James Shooting Stars, will be making the trip to the Lone Star State. Although King James will head to Houston with their initial roster in tact, All-Ohio will make the trip with some new faces. Returning for All-Ohio are Trey Burke, Stevie Taylor, Cheatum Norrils, Nate Anderson and Bowling Green, Kentucky's George Fant. However, new to the squad are Cincinnati's Brandon Neel, Saginaw, Michigan's Tommie McCune and Columbus' Kyle Shriml. 6'3 Neel is one of the top wings in the state and will try and fill the void left by Treavon Jackson's departure, while 6'7 WF McCune is a scoring swing man who is expected to contribute scoring from the perimeter. All-Ohio will be without Elijah Macon who will not make the trip for the second consecutive weekend, and of course, as noted in a previous article, Treavon Jackson has moved on to the West Virgina Wildcats. Despite the roster change, All-Ohio Red head coach Benji Burke has high expectations for his team this weekend. "Our goal is to go 3-1 this weekend and finish 7-2 in league play and atop our division," said Burke. Burke continued, "I think we can go deep, we have several top 150 guys and I don't think we will miss a beat. The biggest challenge will be consistency," added Burke. All-Ohio Red will have to get off to a fast start to reach it's goal, as right out of the shoot they face off against a Tony Wroten-led Seattle Rotary squad with multiple high major prospects. Wroten is a consensus top 10 player nationally and is off to a great start this season despite the fact he is still recovering from a serious knee injury. In addition to Seattle, All-Ohio will battle against the King James Shooting Stars, the South Carolina Ravens, and Team Takeover. King James has some ground to make up this weekend after finishing the opening weekend a disappointing 1-4. With highly rated players such as Louisville bound James Price, Jakarr Sampson, Marcus Crider, Tony Farmer (2013) and Ricky Johnson, the expectations are high for the northern Ohio-based team to rebound. In addition to All-Ohio Red, King James will play Team Takeover on Friday night, Michigan's The Family (which they lost to in the semi-finals of the King James Classic a couple of weeks ago), and a tough Marques Teague-led Spiece Gym Rats on Sunday. By all accounts, the new Nike League is the real deal. According to All-Ohio Director Jerry Watson, "the new league is the greatest thing to happen to summer basketball in a long time." In terms of the merits of the league, Watson feels that because "the league requires preparation and scouting other teams in your division, as well as a shot clock and the college three point line, kids are better prepared for the college game." Drew Joyce, director of the Shooting Stars, will be attend this weekend for the first time, but is already a fan of the league based on what he has heard so far. In his opinion, "the idea (the league) is right," and although "they will tweak somethings after the season," the league is already meeting expectations. To see the current league standing and schedule, click on the link. Also, visit the site this weekend as I try to report whats happening in Houston.

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