Thursday, May 29, 2014

Excel Takes Spiece Run & Slam

Excel-Spiece Run & Slam Champions
This past weekend, May 24-26th, several Ohio teams played in Ft. Wayne in the Spiece Memorial Day Run and Slam Tournament.  The was a 8th Grade Division was stacked with some of the top teams from all over Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.  The final four included The Family (Detroit) vs. King James with King James pulling out a squeaker winning by 2 points on a missed three pointer at the buzzer.  Excel played nationally ranked Chicago Select in their semi-final and came from behind in the second half led by Isaiah Speelman, Dane Goodwin and Braden Norris to win 48-45.  The championship was an All-Ohio mach up between NE Ohio King James and Central Ohio Excel.  

The game was back in fourth but Excel came from behind again in the last couple minutes to tie the game and eventually win in overtime 54-48.  The bulk of the scoring was again Speelman, Goodwin and Norris, but as with the Chicago Select game, there were huge contributions by the whole team defensively and on the boards.  This was Excel's fourth consecutive tournament win at the Run and Slam, which they were told may not have been done previously.  It also is expected to be Excel's last year of existence so they will likely not be able to defend their title next year.

This brings Excel's record to 22-1 for the season including winning the Nike Grassroots, Cincinnati Super Regional, Spiece Run and Slam among others.  Excel also has had two wins over nationally ranked teams (Chicago Select and George Hill) as well as two wins over a top 5 state ranked ninth grade team with their only defeat against an 8th grade team coming vs. 5th ranked DC Premier by 3.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

NYBL Session #3 Day One Note

W. Moore, RJ Barrett, B. Koprovica, M. Jones & B. Sanders
Session #3 of the 2014 National Youth Basketball League (NYBL) season tipped off at the beautiful Hoops Louisville facility in Louisville, KY on Saturday, and as is customary for the NYBL, there were some compelling match-ups, unexpected upsets and standout individual performances. With the championship session scheduled to tip off in Columbus in 3 weeks, coaches, players and parents are really starting to consider seeding as they compete this weekend.

In terms of storylines, there were several undefeated teams; several teams that are taking more losses than they are accustomed to, and teams that are just grinding it out trying to stay relevant and get better.  In terms of the big dogs, Team CP3 went 3-0 on Saturday against some quality teams like George Hill (62-59), Butler Elite (65-49) and Team Teague (66-43). So far this season, CP3 has played most of the top teams, are 12-1 overall, and still one of the favorites to win it all in Columbus

Team Florida has become a contender for the rings and their undefeated mark on Saturday supports that assertion. It took a Balsa Koprovica buzzer beater bucket to get the Memphis War Eagles (60-59) and to remain perfect, but Florida is playing some really good basketball right now. Their wins came against the Lexington Hustle (65-54), Memphis War Eagles and Memphis Preps (69-52). We know two things about Team Florida, Bryan Sanders is the anchor of that team and Koprovica is the real deal.  Both players shined on Saturday. Case in point, Koprovica dropped 33 points in their opening game against the Hustle, and Sanders had 21 points against Memphis.

The Northern Kings also had a lot of success and added 3 more wins to their resume on Saturday. The Canada based team notched wins against the Charlotte Rivals (72-59), Reach Higher Kings (65-57) and the Academy Prep Hawks (69-59). The War Eagles sit 2-1 after Saturday’s action with wins over Upstate Elite (74-53) and Team Rio (60-55), and a loss against Team Florida (60-59). A shout out to Team Takeover for their 3-0 finish on Saturday. Takeover has played an aggressive schedule and has won more than they have lost.

Team Teague is only a fill-in team this weekend, but they confirmed they are still one of the better teams in the country with a big win over the Brampton Warriors at the buzzer
(76-73), Team Teague also got a convincing victory over TNBC (94-78) before stumbling against Team CP3 (66-43).

Butler Elite was respectable yesterday, finishing 2-1. They beat Carolina Chaos (75-63) and KYA Magic (58-49) and their lone loss was to CP3 (65-49).  The Brampton Warriors finished with 2 wins and 1 loss. They beat Team United (68-50) and Carolina Chaos (62-52), but lost to Team Teague at the buzzer (76-73). Team Rio got 2 wins and a single loss on Saturday.  Their wins came against Texas Express (69-32) and Arkansas Soldierz (65-44), and the loss was at the hands of the Memphis War Eagles (60-55). Also at 2-1 were DC Assault, 6th Man Warriors, Academy Prep Hawks, Upstate Elite, TNBC and the Reach Higher Kings.

Texas Express’ decline continued on opening day with an uncharacteristic 0-3 record.   Josh Woodson’s team is unaccustomed to loosing 3 games in a season, let alone in one weekend. Texas took L’s against Team Rio (69-32), Team Takeover (58-54) and Upstate Elite (56-45). It doesn’t get any easier for Texas, as their opening game on Sunday morning is against Team Florida.

George Hill returned to NYBL action after missing Atlanta to participate in their AAU state qualifier. Unfortunately, the welcome home mat was not rolled out, as George Hill finished 2-2 on the day. Their losses came at the hands of Team CP3 (62-59) and Team United (78-77), but they got by the Charlotte Rivals (84-36) and the 6th Man Warriors (76-57).

Some of the individual standouts on day one include: Balsa Koprovica (Team Florida), Bryan Sanders (Team Florida), Korbin Spencer (Team Teague), Joe Cooper (Memphis War Eagles), Wendell Moore (Team CP3), Rowan Barrett Jr, (Brampton Warriors), Chris Hinton (Reach Higher Kings), Dominc Nealy (DC Assault), Jay Heath (Team Takeover), Kyle Rode (George Hill), Tyrese Maxey (Texas Express Elite), Chris Harris Jr. (Texas express), Sidney Curry (George Hill), Myles Pierre (Charlotte Royals), Isaiah Moseley (DC United), Joe Jones (Upstate Elite), Mikeal Jones (Team Rio), Bryan Antoine (Team Rio), Daniel Scott (Upstate Elite), Evan Johnson (Carolina Chaos), Chas Gwyn (Team CP3), Elliott Harris (Arkansas Warriors), Dexter Shouse (George Hill), Elijah Hicks (6th Man Warriors), JC Tharrington (Team United), and Branton McCrary (Arkansas Soldierz).

S. Morrow, Z. Harmon, K. Walker, J. Turner & C. Harris
In the 6th grade division, the juggernaut Oakland Solders finished 3-0 on Saturday, but had to hold off Flints Finest (66-53) and Mansfield Cavs to stay perfect (77-72). Their other win came against the Mississauga Knights (54-35). The God First Crusaders (GFC), continue to improve and a 3-0 finish solidifies their progress. GFC notched wins against the Brampton Warriors (66-45), Mansfield Cavs (64-55) and Flints Finest 62-51).

The Worldwide Wildcats are putting together a solid session and are undefeated heading into Sunday, their wins came against the Leesburg Basketball Club (61-60), Go Hard in The Paint (59-37), and Team Glory (58-43).

Enplay Elite deserves some love based on their impressive 3-0 mark after day one. The Nashville based squad took down Mississauga Knights (49-30), Brampton Warriors (50-37) and Flints Finest (45-34). Enplay has not got much ink, but keep an eye on this team.

Saturday 2-1 teams include CBC Elite, Banneker Kings and Team Glory. Some of the kids that caught my eye include Shemar Morrow (Oakland Solders), Zion Harmon (Team Glory), Chuck Harris (Leesburh Bball Club), Jacarrel Turner (Worldwide Wildcats), Justin Powell (Worldwide Wildcats), Josh Smith (Worldwide Wildcats) and Jordan McPhatter (CBC Elite). If Sunday is anything like what went down on Saturday, we are in for a treat. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

International Middle School Combine Loaded with Talent

Adams, Uyaelunmo, Marshall, Williams, Conner, Feinberg, Campbell & Barrett jr.
Last weekend the state of Texas was at the center of grassroots basketball, as Dallas played host to Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, and Houston attracted approximately 180 of the most elite 7th and 8th graders in the country to the John Lucas International Middle School Combine. When we walked into the gym Saturday morning it was very clear from the start that the event was well organized and the coaching staff was serious about developing skills and demanding effort from the players.

Early on day one of the event, skill development was the emphasis, as players participated in 8 different team and individual skill development stations, including combine testing. Later in the evening the first round of basketball games tipped off. Individual match-ups are always a key in big time camps, and right from the opening game the camp featured a matchup between one of the nation’s top 8th grade point guards (Chase Adams) and one of the top 7th grade point guards in the country (Tyger Campbell). Although Campbell’s scoring output was superior, Adams was the most impressive and the most productive player on the court. When you talk about playmaking, no one does it better than Adams.  If you are a wing or a big, you want to play with Adams, who threw numerous pin point passes that found cutting players. Guys who ran the floor and kept moving were rewarded with a pass that usually led to an easy layup. He’s small, but defensively, he does his job by getting up under the opposing points guards and bothering them to the point they have to turn their backs to the offense. People hate on the little fella because of his diminutive size, but the Chicago native simply gets it done.

As is the case with most elite basketball camp, especially when the cameras are rolling and scouts are in the house, an impromptu dunk contest broke out early on the opening day. There were no judges, nor were trophies handed out, but Ladarius Marshall (6’6 8th grader from Jackson, MS) was the clear crowd favorite, and star of the unofficial event.  Marshall is an athletic freak, is aggressive, and tries to dunk everything in sight.  It wasn’t just the dunk contest; Marshall was just as efficient and exciting dunking in games as well. Stanley Cassius (6’4 8th grader from Encino, CA) was in the dunk contest as well, and probably would have finished second if the contest counted. Cassius is another extreme athlete worth watching.

Watford, Jackson, Days, Mathis & Smith
By most accounts, Canada’s Rowan Barrett. Jr. was discovered while playing for the Brampton Warriors in the hot new National Youth Basketball League (NYBL). Not only is he dominating the NYBL, Barrett was seen handling his business against the older guys at the Lucas camp. He’s still athletic, he is still skilled, and he proved he could score against bigger, more athletic players. Also in the NYBL is Noble Days, a 6’8 C from Racine, WI. Days is not a big scorer, but defensively he is an asset to his teams. Days logged in a solid camp in Houston, as did fellow NYBLers, Jonathan McGriff (D.C. Assault) and Kyle Sturdivant (Memphis War Eagles).

Conner Vanover (7’1 C 2018 Little Rock, AR) may not have popped up in other post event reports, probably because he is so thin and not yet strong enough to be a force in the post, but he is skilled as hell, and he can step outside and knock down the midrange or 3-pointer if left unguarded. I have to believe a 7’1 8th grader who is skilled and can stretch the defense has to be drawing a lot of attention from college coaches! Vanover has the length, but 6’9 EJ Williams was easily the biggest player in the camp. While Vanover is more productive further away from the bucket, Williams gets it done close to cup. As his footwork and hands develops, Williams’ upside is a great as any bigs in this class.

Solomon Uyaelunmo (6’9 8th grader Miramar, FL) ran on the same camp squad as Adams, and was the second best player on that team. Possessing good size, athleticism and a solid motor, the Miramar product has a chance. Another kid who probably flies under the radar and is absent from the national rankings is Michael Fineberg (6’4 8th grader Chatsworth, TX).  Bottom line, this kid can play.  He shoots it well, and he’s just athletic and crafty enough to beat his defender and get to the cup. Fineberg plays with a lot of swag and confidence.

Below is a list of other players that caught our eye.  The list is not meant to serve as rankings, as we did not see all of the players in the camp. In addition, there were a number of other standouts at the event, but either we did not see them play, or they did not standout in the game(s) we saw. With that said, between all of the scouting services in the gym, most of the standout performers should have been accounted for between us.

 Standout Performers (alphabetical)

Chase Adams-5’2 8th grader Chicago, IL
Michael Barber-6’2 8th grader Jackson, MS
Russell Barlow-6’8 8th grader Plano, TX
Rowan Barrett Jr.-6’4 7th grader Mississauga, CN
Jomaru Brown-6’0 8th grader Raleigh, NC
Jamal Edmonson-6’4 8th grader Charleston, SC
Michael Feinberg-6’4 8th grader Chatsworth, TX
Earnest “EJ” Jackson-5’7 7th grader Los Angeles, CA
Cameron Johnson-6’0 8th grader Springhill, TN
Jonathan Kabongo-6’3 8th grader Toronto, CA
Jaedon LeDee-6’5 8th grader Spring, TX
Jonathon McGriff-5’6 7th grader Bowie, MD
Ladarius Marshall-6’6 8th grader Jackson, MS
Montez Mathis-6’4 8th grader Edgewood, MD
LutherMuhammad-6’3 8th grader Newark, NJ
Payton Moore-6’3 8th grader Los Angeles, CA
Qon Murphy-6’4 8th grader Charlotte, NC
Jermaine Patterson-5’8 8th grader Bluffton, SC
DJ Peevy-5’11 8th grader Cibolo, MD
Reginald Perry-6’8 8th grader Tallahassee, FL
Tommie Pope-5’11 8th grader Portsmouth, VA
Kyle Slater- 6’4  8th grader Richmond, TX
L’Christian Smith-6’5 7th grader Dayton, OH
Stanley Cassius-6’4 8th grader Encino, CA)
Atiba Taylor-6’3 8th grader Hackensack, NJ
Solomon Uyaelunmo-6’9 8th grader Miramar, FL
Conner Vanover-7’1 8th grader Little Rock, AR
Damon Wall-5’10 8th grader Philadelphia, PA
Trendon Watford-6’6 7th grader Hoover, AL
Zachary Watson-6’5 8th grader Plano, TX
George Wilkerson III-6’5 8th grader Houston, TX
EJ Williams-6’9 8th grader Middletown, OH

Buckeyes Receive National Recognition at Lucas Camp

EJ Williams and L'Christian Smith Excel at Elite Camp
After attending John Lucas’ International Middle School Combine in Houston, Texas last weekend, two Ohio players were recognized nationally. EJ Williams (6’9 C Middletown) and L’Christian Smith (6’5 WF Dayton) were both positively featured in Clark Francis’ Hoop Scoop post event report and were ranked among the camp’s top players.  Smith was ranked 3rd overall and was described as “the most versatile player in camp, as well as one of the best players we saw in the stations and drills” by Francis. Buckeye Prep attended the camp and observed Smith in both the skills and drills stations as well as actual games.  In both segments, Smith played hard and excelled.

Francis commented that Williams “has nice hands,” “a high basketball IQ,” and “off the charts potential.” Francis also noted that Williams is projected to reach 7’2 or 7’3 by the time he stops growing, and “has the heart and desire necessary to evolve into a very good player.” Williams was ranked 44th overall. We watched Williams in his opening game and noted that  he did a solid job with finishing close to the basketball and out letting the ball in transition.

The fact that Williams and Smith were lauded by Francis, one of the leading scouts in the country, is significant, as the elite camp attracted 180 very talented 7th & 8th graders from across the country, many of whom will attend high major college programs in the future. Congratulations to both players for their standout performances and for representing the Buckeye State well!

Buckeye Prep Wins Local Tournament

Buckeye Prep-Sport Plus Tournament Champions
Coach Aaron Brown and his 5th grade Buckeye Prep team recently went undefeated in route to the championship of the Sports Tournament in Columbus. 

King James Take 6th Grade Silver Championship

 King James Shooting Stars-Silver Division Championship

Congratulations to Coach Malcom Walters and his 6th grade King James Shooting Stars squad for taking the Silver Championship at the recent King James Classic in Akron. Before defeating Indiana MVP  (44-25) in the championship game, King James took down the Kentucky Playmakers (37-38), Charleston Cavilers, Boston Bobcats (39-49) and Made Elite (52-22). 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

NYBL Session #2 Recap Two

B. Sanders, D. Hudson, A. Hale, JC Tharington, KJ Thorn, C. Jernigan, G. Baker, M. Christmas
Since we published our initial Session #2 recap a few days ago we have had the opportunity to go back and review the scorebooks in order to identify additional individual standout performances. The books reflect several players who really had big time performances in a few games. Also, we attempted to identify players who were more “under the radar” and who deserve more exposure for their play in Atlanta. One such player is Joe Jones who runs with Upstate Elite.  We don’t remember him from Session #1, but his play in Atlanta was big time. In games vs D-Wade Future Stars and TNBC, Jones dropped 22 and 21 points, respectively.

The Ohio Basketball Club went 2-3 in Atlanta, but Alfonse Hale put up some big numbers over the weekend. He went for 28 points against the Arkansas Soldierz, then added another 21 points against DC United. His teammate, Raytez Roberts joined him with 19 points in the Arkansas game.  DC Assault’s Fred Crowell hit the Charlotte Rivals for 27 points in a loosing effort. Team Takeover’s Terrance Williams did the heavy lifting for his squad, scoring 24 points versus D-Wade and 16 points against the Reach Higher King.

The 6th Man Warriors finished 3-2 In Session #2, but LeVar Allen had a big game against Team United, to the tune of 22 points. Teammate Malik Anderson had 21 points in the same game, and went for another 19 points versus D-Wade. Not to be undone, Jamier Garrett went for 20 points against D-Wade as well. Everybody is talking about BJ Mack, but Team United’s point guard is a key piece to that puzzle. JC Tharington not only handled his PG duties well, his point production may have led his team. He dropped 21 points on the 6th Man Warriors, and 14 points on Team Rio.

The leading scorer for Session #2 was Brampton’s Rowan Barrett Jr., who unloaded 32 points against Texas Express Elite and another 24 points on the Arkansas Soldierz. Balsa Koprovica gets most of the ink for the retooled Team Florida, and he should based on the 27 points he hit the Reach Higher Kings with, 19 points against D-Wade and the 17 points he laid on Carolina Chaos, but the real workhorse was Bryan Sanders. Sanders consistently had double digit scoring, including 19 points versus the Charlotte Rivals, 18 points against Chaos, and 13 points against the Reach Higher Kings.

Charlotte’s Myles Pierre had another solid session in Atlanta, and so far, it’s clear he is a major factor in his team’s success (6-4 over all). Pierre exploded for 27 points against Memphis and 17 points against Academy Prep Hawks. Any discussion about Butler Elite eventually ends up with Noble Days; however, Demonta Hudson was the man in Atlanta, leading his team in scoring. Hudson finished with 16 points against Arkansas, and 19 points against Team Power. Teammate Quinn Cafferty added 16 points versus Arkansas.

Other members of the “20 point club” include DC Assault’s Dominic Neely who went for 20 points in a game; Malik Tolbert who finished with 20 points against the Lexington Hustle; KJ Thorn (Arkansas Soldierz) who hit Central Florida Elite for 20 points, Ohio Hoopster’s Gavin Baker who had 20 points against Future Phenoms; Chaz Gwyn finished with 22 points against Memphis; Evan Johnson’s 21 points versus Team Florida; Malik Tolbert (Central Florida) who finished with 20 points in a game, and Diablo Stewart (Lexington Hustle), who went for 20 points in a game.

Other standout performances included:

Chris Hinton (Reach Higher Kings) 18 points vs Academy Prep Hawks
Shaathon Walker (DC United) 18 points vs OBC
Kobe Langley (Team CP3) 18 points vs 6th Man Warriors
Chris Harris (Texas Express Elite) 18 points vs Riverside Flyers
Tyron Lott (Upstate Warriors) 18 points vs Carolina Chaos
Tanner Holden (Riverside Flyers) 18 points vs Future Phenoms
Eric Beckett (Northern Kings) 18 points vs Future Phenoms
BJ Mack (Team United) 17 points vs Memphis
Keyown Warfield (Enplay Elite) 17 points vs Ohio Hoopsters
AJ Bennett (Ohio Hoopsters) 17 points vs Enplay Elite
Juwan Gary (S.C. Hornets) 17 points vs Memphis and 17 points vs Upstate Elite
Nickelberry (Team CP3) 17 points vs Academy Prep Hawks
Tyler Brelsford (Team Takeover) 17 points vs Carolina Chaos
Anthony Edwards (TNBC) 17 points vs Academy Prep Hawks
Michael Christmas (Academy Prep Hoops) 17 points vs Team CP3
Jordan Beckett (DC Assault) 16 points in a game.
Jeremiah Keene (Ohio Hoopsters) 16 points vs DC United
Carston Kogelnik (Team Takeover) 16 points vs D-Wade
Emmanuel Adrloyin (Central Florida Elite) 16 points vs Future Phenoms
Daquan Berry (Northern Kings) 16 points vs Arkansas Soldierz
Brian Antoine (Team Rio) 16 points vs Team CP3
Marcus Bigsby (Future Phenoms) 16 points vs DC Assault
Colby Rodgers (D-Wade) 15 points vs Upstate Warriors