Monday, July 28, 2014

RNB Classic Brings Out the Stars

Like most large urban communities, Columbus has its fair share of charity basketball events.  On Saturday, Leon Rogers and his Rogers Neighborhood Organization (RNB) hosted the 8th Annual RNB Classic at East High School. Judging by the standing room only crowd that packed into the gym, Rogers’ event continues to grow from year after year. With major sponsors like the Columbus Dispatch, WBNS TV, Care Source, Radio One, Lifesaver, the Trey Burke Foundation and Team Sully, the event was able to deliver its powerful message of non violence and peace in the community, while bringing in quality entertainment like the Western Stars Drill Team to help entertain the crowd.

Although the celebrity basketball game is the main attraction, with notable NBA and European talent like Trey Burke, Jered Sullinger, John Diebler, Sconnie Penn, Terrence Dials and Estabon Weaver  returning to central Ohio to lend support for this very worthwhile event, the RNB Classic also includes a highly competitive 3-on-3 basketball tournament for middle school-aged players.  The 3-on-3 tournament annually attracts some of Columbus’ top young players in grades 4th-8th.  Some of the standout players we saw included: Sean Jones (Affiliated), Josiah Harris (Affiliated), Jalon Sullenger (Team Sully) Jayden Lipscome (Westport), Azaan Daniels (Buckeye Prep), Patrick Daniels (Buckeye Prep),  Jeremiah Francias (Westport), Jerome Hunter (J-Time), Bob Faller (Next Level), Gabe Towns (Next Level) and Tahleik Walker.  Not only did the RNB Classic provide the central Ohio community with a great day of basketball, the event raised  a lot of money for local charity. Congratulations to Leon Rogers, his family, staff and sponsors for organizing such a fantastic community event. Below are results for all 5 divisions.

Final Results

John Faller,  Gabe Towns, Gary Elder & Bob Faller 
8th Grade

Next Level-Champions

Jeremiah Francis, Jayden Lipscome, Keshawn Heard & JaJuan Rogers
7th Grade

Only The Family-Runner-ups

Fred Wilks, Marquise Moore, Kyle Tolbert & Demeatric Crenshaw
6th Grade

Treymendus Ballers-Champions
Dem Boys-Runner-Ups

Jalen Sullenger, Jaiden Guice, & Ian Schupp Dougherty 
5th Grade

Team Sully-Champions

Kollin Tolbert,  John Mobley, Josiah Harris & Sean Jones
4th Grade

Team Extreme-Runner-Ups

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ohio Well Represented in DII & D-III Nationals

Shining Stars-AAU Nationals 5th Place Finish
Like the D-I AAU Nationals, the 8th grade D-II nationals were held at the same facilities in Orlando, Florida. Ohio was represented by 5 teams, including the Shinning Stars, Dayton Metro, Buckeye Prep, Ohio Freedom and SMAC Flash. By the final day, both the Shinning Stars and Dayton Metro had finished in the top 10. The Shinning Stars’ 71-43 over Kessell Heat garnered them a 5th place finish, while a 55-48 win over Premier Hoops propelled Dayton Metro to a 7th place finish.

Although Buckeye Prep was still playing on the final day, a 72-41 loss in the 1st round consolation bracket put an end to their medal hopes.  All-in-all it was a good run for Ohio teams in Orlando.  Congrats to the Shining Stars and Dayton Metro for repping the Buckeye State well.  Congrats also go out to All-Ohio Takeover for winning it all at the D-III AAU Nationals in Hampton, Virginia.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

SMAC U Places at D-I AAU Nationals

SMAC U-AAU Nationals 9th Place Finishers 
Five Ohio based teams made the trek to Orlando, Florida to participate in the D-I 8th grade AAU Nationals, and by the end of the tournament on Wednesday, only the Cleveland based SMAC U had placed among the top 14 finishers.  SMAC U finished 3-0 in pool play and was cruising through the championship bracket until Sports U Izod upended them (68-43) in the 3rd round. Once relegated to the 3rd round consolation bracket, SMAC U got hot and ran off 3 straight wins on their way to a 9th place finish. To get to the medal game, SMAC U took down Hughley Elite Blue (81-71), 916 Select (67-62) and the powerful Kentucky Gators (62-72).

SMAC U is no stranger to success as evidenced by their 50-5 overall record this season.  Also, their run at the nationals was accomplished with a short roster of only 8 players.  According to Head Coach Gene Ready; the team’s success can be attributed to overall team play. “We took 8 guys down who were all incredibly unselfish,” Ready said. “We had 4 different guys leading us in scoring over the 9 games,” Ready continued. Ready also was proud of the play of point guard Sincere Carry who held Damon Hodge, one of the top PGs in the country, to only 4 points. SMAC U will finish the 2014 season with a return trip to the Gym Rats Nationals in Fort Wayne, Indiana in a couple of weeks. The SMAC U roster includes: Sincere Carry, Garrett Houser, Phil Jurkovic, Gavin Blunt, Greyson Green, Jaret Pallotta, Luke Brand and Tadas Tataranus.

The only other Ohio team to make it out of pool play was the Queen City Prophets (QCP).  After finishing 2-1 in pool play and making it into the championship bracket, QCP dropped their first game to Team Texas Elite (72-51).  From there, QCP defeated Hoop Heaven Elite (63-55), but was dispatched from the tournament after a 63-45 loss to Hughley Elite Blue. In the next round

The Ohio Hoopsters (2-1), King James (1-2) and All-Ohio Red (1-2) all failed to make it out of pool play and were forced to continue their run in the Classic bracket.  Once there, the Hoopsters got by Shooting Stars NY (63-58) and Atlanta Blackout (66-50) before being edged out by instate rival King James (59-57).  King James advanced one game further before going down to Baltimore’s Finest (61-46).  All-Ohio Red won their opening round Classic game against the Georgia Stars (72-45), but headed home after a 48-45 loss to CFL Magic 2018.

For the record, Georgia United Elite defeated Sports U Izod (47-41) in the championship game to take home the title. We All Can Go, MB1, Texas Select, NC Running Rebels, San Antonio Hardwork and LA-ATR Xplosion rounded out the final eight. Ohio has a long history of success at national tournaments, so placing only 1 team in the medal count has to be a bit disappointing. However, congrats to SMAC U for insuring we had at least 1 team “in the money.”

Friday, July 11, 2014

NYBL Extends Special Invitations to All-Star Weekend

By now, most every youth basketball fan has heard about the elite competition and maximum exposure offered by the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL).  Although many of the nation’s top teams and players participated in the league this year, there is a recognition there is still a lot of individual talent around the country waiting to be discovered. Consequently, the NYBL is extending “special invitations” to some of the top young ballers in the country to participate in the festivities, which are currently scheduled for September 13th & 14th in Columbus, Ohio.

These special invitations will offer an opportunity to play with and against the top players from the NYBL.  In addition, players will receive the same level of exposure afforded to the top players in the league. In addition, depending on the level of interest from the list of Special Invitees, a special “NYBL vs The Nation” all-star game could be added to the slate of featured all-star games. Interested players should contact Rob Taylor at 614-203-2929 as soon as possible. Also, below is a link to the invitation letter and registration forms (for invitees only). This event represents an excellent opportunity to compete against the nation’s most elite players and to get the exposure you deserve. Don’t miss out on the opportunity!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

NYBL Season Two-Random Thoughts

Now that season two of the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL) is in the books, and the  AAU Nationals has once again been dominated by NYBL teams, I thought it would be a good time to recap some of the major storylines from this past season. First of all, a number of youth basketball fans doubted the NYBL would return for a second season after several newcomers entered the market with similar plans for a middle school league.  Despite their efforts to duplicate the magic of the inaugural season of the NYBL, most attempts failed totally and/ or limped along in obscurity.  Undoubtedly, there will be newcomers to the market next year with bright ideas and proclamations about how they can do a better middle school league; however, the NYBL has set the standard and will field an even bigger and better league in 2015!

All-Ohio Red-NYBL National Champions
Secondly, hats off to All-Ohio Red for claiming back-to-back NYBL National Championships. Regardless of a team’s talent level, repeating as champions is a monumental task. It wasn’t a cakewalk for All-Ohio as they were down several times over the course of the championship weekend; however, the players never lost confidence, rallied to erase big defects, and continued to advance. What was most evident from All-Ohio this season is their relentless style of play, their reliance on depth and the emergence of role players. Jerimiah Francis and Jordan Mitchell receive most of the praise, but All-Ohio is a complete team with a lot of assets. Guys like Chris’Sean Stringer, Chris Payne, Amari Davis, Andre Gordon came up big for All-Ohio over the course of the season and Demarko Bradley Jr. Greg Tribble Jr. and Malachi Matthews come off the bench with production and were critical components to All-Ohio’s success.

Team CP3-AAU National Champions
Thirdly, while we’re mentioning back-to-back national championships, we have to give props Coach Keyford Langley and his Team CP3 squad for their second consecutive title at the AAU Nationals this past week.  Despite taking a loss in pool play, Team CP3 made serious run that did not end until they revenged their only loss to the California-based City Stars in the championship game (58-43).  NYBL teams joining CP3 in the final four were All-Ohio Red, and Team Takeover, with the Memphis War Eagles and George Hill rounding out the Elite 8.  All-in all, 6 teams that played in the NYBL finished in the top 12 (Texas Express placed 11th). From where we sit, that’s a dominating performance that highlights the competitiveness of the NYBL!

Year two of the NYBL was marked by significant expansion as we added a 16-team 6th grade division, while increasing the 2019 division from 24 to 32 teams. The growth was more than just numbers as the quality of the additions strengthened the league in terms of both team and individual talent.  In the 7th grade division, the addition of teams like the Memphis War Eagles, George Hill Rising Stars, Brampton Warriors, Butler Elite, Team Florida, Team United, Northern Kings, Reach Higher Kings and the Charlotte Rivals represented significant upgrades! Those additions also allowed us the opportunity to watch and evaluate the play of DJ Jefferies, Chandler Lawson, Joe Cooper, Sydney Curry, Dexter Shouse Jr., Kyle Rode, Simon Banks, Nobal Days, Balsa Koprivicia, Bryan Sanders, Isaiah Moseley and many others.

West Coast All-Stars-NYBL National Champions (2020)
Some detractors suggested that west coast teams would not support the NYBL; however, in the 2020 division, the West Coast All Stars brought a lot of sizzle to the league as they made their trek to the 6th grade title. Also, the Oakland Solders were magnificent and logged in dominate performances throughout league play. The Leesburg Basketball Club began the league without much fanfare, but eventually fought their way all the way to the title game. The Worldwide Wildcats are loaded with talent, and their 15-5 overall record solidified their spot atop the league.  Moreover, Team Glory and the Banneker Kings renewed their regional rivalry and brought a lot of excitement to league. The division-wining Mansfield Cavs had to be the surprise team of the league as the little known team from small town Ohio went head-to-head with some of the country’s top teams and did not flinch. CBC elite and the God First Crusaders round out the top echelon of the 6th grade division, and both teams had some exciting moments.

Morrow, Harris, Harmon, Toles, Walker, LeBlanc, Ross, McNeil & Harris
Although smaller in numbers, the 6th grade division featured a number of elite players who currently sit atop most national rankings. Shemar Morrow, the undisputed #1 ranked player in the country, started his NYBL campaign off with a bang as he dropped 52 points, including a transition dunk, during a game in the opening session. Morrow’s performance was captured on video that later garnered national and mainstream media attention. On par with Morrow‘s performance was Zion Harmon who, in session #4, exploded with multiple double digit-scoring games. Harmon, only a 5th grader, established himself as the clear # 1 player in the class of 2021. Jason Harris, Jordan Toles, Kyree Walker, Parris Dawson, Davion Ross, Isaiah LeBlanc, Chuck Harris and Montez McNeil were all consistent top performers this past season and will all continue to be ranked among the best in the nation in the class of 2020.

Year two for the NYBL was also marked by an international invasion that included 6 Canadian teams between the 2 divisions. The Brampton Warriors, Northern Kings, DC United and the Mississauga Knights were all competitive and added a nice flavor to the league. Of course the NYBL will take credit for the discovery of Rohan Barrett Jr. who took the league and nation by storm with his elite level and consistent play.  A virtual unknown heading into league play, Barrett is now considered one of the top 2-3 players in the class. In terms of other Canadian discoveries, you might want to add Isaiah Moseley and Andrew Nembhard to the list as both players put themselves on the map during league play.

Kporivica, Days, Lawson, Jefferies, Jones, Mack & Jones
The NYBL is also very proud of the size of the bigs we were able to attract to the league, with at least 7 players standing 6’6 or better.  In addition, there were at least 24 players who are at least 6’4. Those players include: 6’9 Balsa Koprivica, 6’8 Nobal Days, 6’7 Joe Jones III, 6’7 Jaden Campbell, 6’6 Brian “BJ” Mack II, 6’6 Taylor Currie, 6’5 Chandler Lawson, 6’5 Kyle Rode, 6’5 Hunter Dickerson, 6’5 Javon John, 6’5 Chris Coffey, 6’4 Bryce Okpoth, 6’4 Nicholas Evtimov, 6’4 DJ Jefferies, 6’4 Sydney Curry, 6’4 Michael Christmas, 6’4 Mikeal Jones, 6’4 Keion Brooks, 6’4 Rohan Barrett Jr., 6’4 Quinn Cafferty, 6’4 Che Evans, 6’4 BJ Joyner, 6’4 James Wiseman,  6’4 Nadel Mush, 6’4 Chris Bonds, 6’4 Jamel Boone, 6’4 Erik Penilla, 6’4, Sidney Okeke, 6’4 Shamar Brown and 6’4 Jervon Davis. With the above list of post players, undoubtedly, the league has the best collection of talent and skill of any league/event in the country.

Francis, Nembhard, Evans, Maxey, Brelsford, Cooper, Langley, Hale & McGriff
College coaches always target the bigs first, but the point guard position is a critical element in any championship level team.  The NYBL featured many of the top point guards in the class of 2019. At this early age, there will be a lot of the bigger, more offensive-minded guards transitioning to the point, but in terms of the most recognized floor generals at this point, the league’s best (2019) include: Jerome Francis, Andrew Nembhard, Evan Johnson, Tyrese Maxey, Joe Cooper, Keyshun Langley, Tyler Brelsford, Alfonse Hale, Johnathon McGriff, Kendrick “KJ” Thorn, Diablo Stewart and Simon Banks. Some of 2020’s elite included: Zion Harmon, Davion Ross, Jordan McPhatter, Devion Smith, Brock Williams, Tyrone Washington, Dominc Wynn, Alex Wade, Will Paige and several others.

Pierre, Langley, Antoine, Moseley, Moore, Harris, Gwyn, Moore, Tharrington & Green
The league was also blessed with a ton of talent at the off guard position.  Some of the top shooting guards included: Myles Pierre, Bryan Antonie, Kobe Langley, Isaiah Moseley, JC Tharrington, Chris Harris Jr. Chaz Gwyn, Justin Moore, Jay Heath, Eric Beckett, Anthony Edwards, Branton McCray and Michael Green. As lauded to earlier, many of the players mentioned above can, and/or will find a spot at the point guard position.

Barrett, Moore, Lewis, Jefferies, Sanders, Mitchell, Lawson, Sturdivant & Shouse
One of the most difficult positions to fill on a team is an athletic and scoring wing. The NYBL was blessed with a number of players who fit the bill.  Guys like Rohan Barrett Jr, Wendell Moore Jr., Scottie Lewis, DJ Jefferies, Jordan Mitchell, Isaiah Watson, Kyle Sturdivant, Quinn Cafferty, Dexter Shouse Jr., Justin Moore, Demonta Hudson, Armari Davis and Dashan McKinney were some of the league’s top- wings. In the 6th grade division, the top wings included Isaiah LeBlanc, Jeremy Roach, Jordan Toles, Domingus Stevens, Luke Stankavage, William McClendon, James Wilborn and Antwon Norman.

In an ideal world, every team that entered the league would attend each and every session; however, on a couple of occasions this season the league had to bring in fill in teams.  For the most part, the talent level of the replacement teams was very high. In fact, teams like Team Teague (2019), Arkansas Warriors (2019), Central Florida Elite (2019), DC Premiere (2020) and San Diego Select (2020) knocked off some of the league’s top teams and actually turned out to be great additions to the league.

In addition to the unmatched level of competition, the NYBL is pleased with the amount of exposure provided by our media partners. Our players are represented in every national top player list, and that can be directly attributed to the level of exposure the NYBL has provided over the last 2 years. Not only were new players discovered this season, many of our guys made huge moves up the national rankings. In addition to the Buckeye Prep Report, Bill Francis (Prolific Performance, DMV Elite & Basketball Spotlight), Mike Melton (Basketball Spotlight) and Spencer Pulliam (Dunk Dog & Future 150) all pumped out quality content about the league, teams and players.  Bottom line, the NYBL has the media piece on lock, as the leading middle school scouting services routinely cover the league.

The NYBL All-Star Weekend is fast approaching and is poised to be one of the most competitive events in the country.  In terms of the rising 7th and 8th grade divisions, the competition and the number of elite players committed to attend will be unmatched! Although many of the top guys have gone head-to-head for years, the NYBL All-star games and the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase will give them the opportunity to play together, which will give them an better appreciation for each other’s talent, while developing and strengthening new and existing relationships. Bottom line, top players want to play together and the NYBL All-Star games provide that opportunity.

In closing, plans are currently underway for a bigger and better league in year three. Once again, teams should expect great competition, upgraded facilities and even more exposure. See you in September!