Thursday, March 27, 2014

NYBL Session #1 Recap

Barrett, Lewis, Williams, Gary, Mitchell, Harris, Days & McGriff 
By most accounts, the opening session of the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL) was a huge success! In season 2 of the widely popular league, 32 seventh grade teams and 16 sixth grade teams will compete in 4 sessions (Washington DC, Atlanta, Louisville and Columbus) for a chance to win a NYBL National Championship. Session #1 resulted in several intriguing storylines both in terms of team and individual performance, and will be remembered for major early season upsets and jaw dropping plays.

With both teams from the 2013 6th grade AAU Nationals championship game scheduled to do battle early on day #1, there was a great deal of excitement in the New 24 facility in District Heights, Maryland.  CP3, (formally Carolina Preps) had only lost 1 game last year, and that was to the eventual NYBL champions, All-Ohio Red. Moreover, CP3 has already notched a handful of titles so far this season. Anybody who follows Josh Woodson’s Texas Express Elite (formally Deron Williams) squad understands that this early season rematch was destin to be a dogfight. Early in the game CP3 found themselves in unfamiliar territory, as they were down 7-0. Of course the defending national champions would make a run and get back in the game, but in the final analysis, Texas Express was the better team that day and would hold on to win 46-40. Texas’ relentless pressure disrupted CP3’s patented offense and would not allow them to get comfortable in their sets. Before session 1 could even get started, we already had a major story. Chris Harris Jr. was smoking hot from beyond the arc, to the tune of 4 treys and a game-high 16 points. De’vion Harmon finished in double figures with 10 points. Keyshawn Langley paced CP3 with 12 points, followed by Wendell Moore’s 10 points. CP3 would rally to finish the opening session 4-1.
Top 2019 Teams (Carolina Chaos Pic Missing)
There were a number of big games early on day one, including a match-up between All-Ohio Red and Team Rio National. The contest was very competitive, but Ohio led the entire way before claiming the 58-49 victory. Later in the day, All-Ohio would collect wins over Team Takeover (65-38), Academy Prep Hawks (60-51), Team Florida (72-58) and Upstate Elite (43-28).  If there were any doubts about All-Ohio’s chances of defending their title NYBL those doubts should have been erased after their performance in Session one, as All-Ohio looked like the team to beat. Team Rio bounced back after the All-Ohio loss and would finish the weekend 4-1, with wins over the Riverside Flyers (24-78), George Hill Rising Stars (56-22), Ohio Hoopsters (76-50) and Northern Kings (74-44).  Scottie Lewis was impressive all weekend and was featured in a couple of You Tube videos throwing down spectacular dunks and making athletic plays. This kid has high major written all over him!
Sidney Curry
New to the league this year is Mike Sanders’ George Hill Rising Stars team which is loaded
with elite talent. The Indiana-based team was welcomed to the NYBL with an early match-up with the hometown Team Takeover (formally ETU Select). This game was a barn burner from the tip and was contested until the clock showed zeros. In the end, George Hill began their NYBL campaign with a 44-42 victory over Takeover. Like a lot of teams over the weekend, George Hill would not leave town with an unblemished record, as they were later clipped by Team Rio (66-58). Later, Indiana enjoyed success over M.A.D.E. Elite (56-22), DC Assault (69-53) and Upstate Elite (66-51). 6’4 Sidney Curry is a new addition to the team and is already building his reputation in the league.

Just when it appeared that Texas Express had assumed the championship torch from CP3 earlier in the day, the South Carolina Hornets said “not so fast my friend!” Riding a 30-point explosion by Juwan Gary, the Hornets made an opening round statement with a stunning 68-55 victory over Texas. While Gary was making money in the post, Charles Jackson was torching the nets from deep, finishing with 5 triples and 15 points. Texas Express received balanced scoring from their guards with Tyreese Masey (17 pts), De’vion Harmon (16 pts) and Chris Harris Jr. (15 pts) all scoring in double figures. The Hornets solidified their place atop the league with a 5-0 finish in the

Brampton Warriors
Northern Invasion-The Canadians are Coming

As an example of just how successful the inaugural season of the NYBL was, the league added an international flavor in year two with the addition of 4 Canadian teams (Brampton Warriors 6th & 7th, Northern Kings & DC United).  For the record, our friends up north can play, as evidenced by the Brampton Warriors 4-1 run in DC. Led by super prospect Rowan Barrett Jr. (6’4 WF), Brampton demonstrated that team and individual fundamentals can still win games.  They are not all about trapping and pressing teams into submission, but rather using execution, passing and patient half court sets to get the job done. This team’s talent was on full display as the battled Team Takeover in the final game of the day On Sunday. That outcome of this game was in doubt until the closing seconds, as both teams were determined to end session one with a win. Team takeover was able to make a few more plays down the stretch to pull out a 50-51 win. Terrence Williams for Takeover and Rowan Barrett for Brampton were their team’s leading scorers with 21 points each. Guard play was crucial in this one, as Tyler Brelsford (8 pts) and Andrew Nembhard (9 pts) were the second leading scores for their respective squads. Did I say Barrett was the real deal? A quick review of the scorebooks indicates that Barrett averaged more than 20 points  in 5 games. He was a virtual unknown before the NYBL, but he now has an argument as the best player in the league, and possibly the class for that matter!

SC Hornets Sit at 5-0
The South Remains Strong

Last year the South division was clearly the most competitive division with heavyweights like Carolina Preps, Southern Stampede, SC Hornets, and Carolina Chaos. Different year, same situation, as the South is again leading the pack in terms of the league standings. Currently, 5 teams in the South Division are undefeated, with 2 additional teams with at least 3 wins. The true test will come when the South faces off against the North and East Divisions, as both divisions have very competitive teams. I had heard they were real good a couple of years ago, but Georgia’s Reach Higher Kings are still relevant with the acquisition of Chris Hinton who had previously run with the Southern Stampede last year in the NYBL.  Hinton brings size, rebounding and interior scoring to the table, and makes this team a legitimate contender. In a game against the Maryland Play Makers, Hinton dropped a nasty 29 points in the win. Team United is new to the league this year, and with big BJ Mack and Nicholas Emtimov in the post, the North Carolina-based team will cause problems for a lot of team.  Although Team United did not face the best the league has to offer this past weekend, 5-0 is still an impressive way to kick off an NYBL debut. A shout out goes to Mike Dobbins and his Carolina Chaos crew. Their lone loss over the weekend came at the hands of the Maryland Player Makers (38-37) who were “keeping the seat warm” for We All Can Go who could not make the trip this weekend. Evan Johnson is still counted on to get buckets for this team, and he delivered when he went for 19 against DC United in a 50-62 win. DC Assault’s John McGriff has been described as “special.” McGriff is a talented PG who is always in control of the offense and get get buckets. Poised and confident best described this dynamic floor general. The Northern Kings’ Isaiah Moseley made some noise in Session #1 and should be one of the better players in the league

I was presently surprised with the Lexington Hustle.  They entered the league without much fan fare, but what we found out this weekend is that they can hoop, and will be a tough out for a lot of teams. The 6th Man Warriors are big, and a 4-1 start says they are good again this year. Academy Prep Hawks are league rookies, but with 4 wins on the weekend, they have to feel good with where they sit in the standings.  Team Takeover had some monster matchups in DC, but their 3-2 record is a bit deceptive. They are good, and will upset some teams by the time it’s all said and done. Butler Elite’s 3-2 record does not tell the entire story. This team can play, and could be a sleeper by the time Columbus rolls around.

Morrow, Harris, Toles, Harmon, Ross, Walker, Dawson & Al--Amin
6th Grade Recap

The 6th grade division may be small in numbers, but there are some very talented teams and some big time players representing the class of 2020.  The best of the bunch, at least in the opening weekend, was the Oakland Soldiers. Powered by a hefty frontcourt, which includes the top player in the class in Shemar Morrow, a 6’2 phenom from northeast Ohio, the Soldiers went a perfect 5-0 in the nation’s capital. How good is this team? With Morrow, it’s going to take a lot to get a win. This kid can score at all three levels, is athletically gifted, can run the offense in a oinch , and is a big time rim protector. Case in point, during a dog fight with Team Takeover that required 2 over times to crown a winner, Morrow went for an eye popping 53 points to propel the Soldiers to a 77-71 win. Did I mention that Morrow is athletic? Would you describe a 6th grade throwing down a 2-handed dunk in transition as athletic! He did, and he is! Morrow is not the only kid on the team that can play; his new partner in crime is Kyree Walker who is always a big time threat when he gets it going.

Oakland Soldiers 
Any discussion about the top team in the division should include Mike Morris’ West Coast All-Stars. Having beaten the Soldiers in Portland last month, they have a legitimate claim to the title.  For the sake of full disclosure, Oakland was not privy to the services of Walker in Portland. Now back to the NYBL. The All Stars only defeat was a 55-67 loss to Team Takeover who was filling in for the Swish City Magic. The All Stars have a dominate big of their on with Jason Harris who returns to the league from last year when he ran with the 2019 Arizona Monsoon. Harris finished with a team-high 16 points in the loss.  Harris also added another 21 points in a 53-88 win over the Carolina Kings and 27 more in a 69-48 victory over CBC Elite. Speaking of the Kings, Hobby Ross’ 31 points against the All Stars has to be one of the best individual performances of the weekend, regardless of division! West Coast has great guard play with Parris Dawson and Tyrone Washington.  Both guards are fast, candle handle the rock and can score the ball  In a game against the World Wide Wildcats, Dawson was the man after a 24-point outburst.

DC Premier had a nice run that resulted in a 5-0 opening session record. The Banneker Kings took a couple of tough losses, but any time you have a top 5 kid on your roster you have a chance to win games.  The Kings have that with Jordan Toles who can get you 20+ points on the regular. Ask the Mansfield Cavs; Toles hit them for 20 for a 52-44 win. Another key match-up over the weekend pitted Toles' Banneker Kings and Zion Harmon's Team Glory.  This one was a good. The 2 elite players did not go head-to-head very often, but seining the on the same court at the same time was very intertwining! Check out Middle School Hoop's video for some perspective

One of the biggest surprises of the weekend in the 6th grade division was the competitiveness of the Ohio-based Mansfield Cavs, who not only collected more wins than expected, but also took some very good teams right down to the wire. One of those teams included Team Glory and a 42-41 win early on Saturday. Despite a monster 23-point game by Zion Harmon, the unknown Cavs gutted out the victory. Although Mansfield is a well-balanced team, Chance Mott appears to be the catalyst of the Cavs’ success.

There were a number of other noteworthy performances of the weekend, many of which were noted by the numerous scouting services who were in the house covering the event. Also, the buzz created by the standout performances in the league’s opening weekend has swept the country, and has created a significant amount of buzz and interest in the NYBL. Not only is all of middle school basketball paying attention to what’s happening in the league, more mainstream media and basketball fans have started to tune in. If the next 3 sessions are anything like what we saw in Washington DC, we are truly in for a special treat!

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