|M. Price, B. Antoine, M. Mitchell, D. Harmon, K. Coulibaby, I. Okoro, C. Harris, N. Day & S. Lewis|
By most accounts, session #1 of the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL) was a huge success! From the feedback we received from coaches, parents, players and innocent bystanders, the talent assembled in Washington D.C. was unmatched by any middle school event in the country. Eighty-eight teams from as far as California, Texas, Florida and Canada battled it out in hopes of landing favorable seeding for the NYBL National Championship in June. Fortunately for us, we had the opportunity to evaluate a number of new players who have not yet received the national recognition they deserve. Although a few big name teams did not return to the league this year, it was clear to everyone in attendance that the league is absolutely loaded with talent! In fact, the 2019 division expanded from 32 to 36 teams this year, while the 2020 division went from 16-28 teams, and the league added a 24-team 2021 division. At the end of the day, there are simply more good players in the league this year than past years!
Anytime you match-up elite teams and players you’re bound to create a great deal of intensity and some special moments. Just like the storylines being played out in March Madness across the country, no team is immune from upsets in the NYBL. One of the biggest storylines of the weekend was the turnaround logged in by Mike Dobbins’ Team Loaded squad, who despite having been blown out by Team Rio 80-26 in the opening game on Saturday, came back 2 hours later and took down a stacked D.C. Premier 60-53. For those kids to dig down deep and turn it around in such a short time is both a testament to the players and their will to win. It also illustrates that in the NYBL if you have a let down and don’t come to play, you can get beaten regardless of your reputation!
It wasn’t an upset, put the Team Texas vs Team Teague matchup right out of the gate on Saturday was very competitive, required overtime, and really set the tone for the entire day. Despite the efforts of Mike Moreno (6’5/PF/KY/2019), the stellar guard play of Tyrees Maxey, Chris Harris and Devion Harmon proved too much for the Indiana-based Teague. Another good one on day one pitted 2019 D.C. Premier against Team Florida. This game featured 2 of 2019’s best post players in Balse Koprovica (7’0/C/2019/FL) and Makhi Mitchell (6’7/PF/C/MD/2019). The game was highly contested until the end, but D.C. Premier was ahead 42-47 by the time the horn sounded. Mitchell and Koprovica played well the entire day and did nothing but strengthened their national reputations.
|K. Walker, Z. Harmom, J. Harris, S. Morrow, P. Dawson, L. Manuel, T. Notarainnu, C. Ellis, & J. Pugh|
Bmores Finest’s James Bishop (6’0/PG/2019/Bmore) hit the ground running on Saturday and proved to be his team’s primary scoring option. The super crafty guard can get in the paint consistently and get others involved, but he can also put up big numbers if required to do so. Butler Elite returned for a second season in the NYBL and their two-headed monster of Demonte Hudson (5’9/SG/2019/Racine, WI) and Noble Days (6’8/C/2019/Racine, WI) gave teams problems all day. West Coast Elite’s 2021 team has a good one in Latrelle Moore (5’9/PF/2021/Houston, TX) and Chris Page (6’2/WF/2021/CA). Moore is an explosive athlete with a mature game that makes an impact both offensively and defensively. Also, we plan to follow E1T1’s Leonard Manuel (6’2/WF/2020/Ocala, FL) over the next couple of sessions as he proved to be a great looking athlete with a big upside. Team Durant’s Anthony “AJ” Hoggard (5’9/PG/2020/Philly) was one of the best 2020 guards we saw all day. A big guard with an elite handle, Hoggard has no problem breaking down his defender and getting into the paint for a score or dish. The Worldwide Wildcats are loaded with elite prospects including Dwon Odom (6’1/SG/2020/ATL), Chase Ellis (6’0/PF/2020/ATL) and Jeremy Roach (5’8/SG/2020/GA) to name a few and all three of them are worth tracking going forward.
In the 2019 division, several teams went to bed Saturday night with an undefeated record. Some of those teams included New World, Team Rio, Philly Triple Threat, Team Texas and Butler Elite. Some of the 2020 teams joining the ranks of the undefeated after day 1 included Team Durant and the Oakland Solders, while some of the 2021 teams included New World, Team Takeover and the West Coast All-Stars. In addition, Team Izod 2021 is absolutely loaded with elite talent with the likes of Trey Patterson (6’3/C/2021/Summerset, NJ) , Darnell Harris (6’3/PF/2021/Miami, FL) and Kahlil Farmer (5’8/PG/2021/Philly). Izod is long and athletic and will be tough to beat the rest of the NYBL season. We were also pleasantly surprised with teams like 2019 New World and Triple Threat who we had heard and read about but had not had a chance to see them play. Both teams have legitimate bigs with long-term potential. We wrote about Team Charlotte a few days ago and their play in session #1 confirmed what we had heard. They took a 72-66 hit from Bmores Finest in the opening game, but would not loose again the rest of the weekend.
|D. Patterson, J. Blackman, D. Harris, M. Branham, N. Peeples, D. Booker, S. Jones, C Houston, & D. Johnson|
The 2020 Mid-Ohio Pumas shocked a couple of teams with their team-oriented brand of basketball. They may not have a roster full of bigs or extreme athletes, but they excel at executing their offense and distributing the ball to open teammates. The West Coast All-stars found that out the hard way as they went down to the Columbus, Ohio-based team 72-66. Jack Pugh (6’0/W/PF/2020/Plain City, OH) is the primary stud on that team, but he gets big time support from a solid core of skilled players. Although the Pumas would take one on the chin against Steve Wade’s San Diego Select team later in the day, they would finish the nightcap with a comeback win over God First Crusaders. San Diego is well built with the requisite floor general in Alex Wade (5’5/PG/2020/San Diego, CA) and consistent scoring from Thomas Notarainni (6’0/SG/2020/San Diego, CA), but this team also has great post play and plays as a cohesive unit. San Diego is clearly one of the best 2020 teams in the league and has a solid chance at the title. We have to mention the Oakland Solders who were clicking on all cylinders on day one. If a roster of Shemar Morrow and Khari Walker wasn’t enough, the Soldiers have gone out and added more top 10 talent in Zion Harmon and Jaden Springer. Although a few teams manage to hang with Oakland early in games, by the time the horn sounds Oakland is often comfortably ahead. Simply too much talent on this team for most teams!
Day 1 featured far too many compelling games and match-ups to mention here; however, we will take a shot of highlighting some of the standout performers we saw. As we have often stated, we love seeing talented kids for the first time and digging out those diamonds in the rough. Add New World’s Karim Coulibaly (6’7/C/MD/2019) to that list, as Coulibaby was a straight beast in the games we saw. Long, with a nice touch around the basket and the ability to finish at a high clip, Coulibaby’s potential is through the roof. We also really liked AOT’s Isaac Okoro (6’3/PF/C/Atlanta/2019). Okoro has a strong frame, is very athletic and handles the rock well for his size. Although only 7th graders, AOT’s backcourt features the Cooper brothers, who despite their diminutive size, provide solid backcourt play to the Atlanta-based squad. We had heard about team Charlotte’s Zeb Graham Jr. (5’11/PG/Charlotte/2019), and he was as good as advertised. Justin McKoy (6’3/WF/Cary, NC/2019) was another intriguing prospect. McKoy has good size, is strong, and has a nice touch around the cup and great footwork.
Team Rio’s Bryan Antoine (6’4/SG/2019/NJ) had a huge day one and continues to make a case as one of the top players in the league. Antonie has continued to stretch out, is deceptively explosive, super smooth and has really perfected his outside shot. The elite shooting guard has turned into a big time scorer. In should be mentioned that on Saturday, Antonie had back-to-back breakaway dunks. Also really impressive on day one was D.C. Premiere’s Marvin Price (6’3/SG/2019/Bmore) who was in straight beast mode. Price is an elite athlete with loads of potential and represents serious matchup problems for most teams, as he is too big for most guards and is too quick for bigs. The Cincinnati, Ohio-based SWO Elite finished 2-1 on Saturday and was powered by a trio of players including Joey Edmonds (5’8/PG/2019/Wyoming, OH), Alec Pfriem (6’3/SG/2019/West Chester) and Nick Thelon (6’4/PF/C/2019/Edgewood, KY). Although none of the above have national reputations, they all are consistent performers with a chance to play college ball at some level.
With 88 teams in the league playing on 12 courts, it’s extremely hard to see every team and player. Over the course of league play, our media partners and we will do our best to provide exposure to every player that deserves it. We also plan to publish a day 2 report in a few days that will highlight the play of more players. Also, keep an eye out for highlight videos from Ty Kish and Middle School Hoops. If what went down in session 1 is any indicator, the teams and players in the NYBL are in for a serious treat!
2019: Bryan Antonie-Team Rio: Scottie Lewis-Team Rio; Makhi Mitchell-D.C. Premier; Karim Coulibaly-New World; Isaac Okoro-AOT; Donte Scott-Philly Triple Threat; Mike Moreno-Team Teague; Jay Heath-New World; Tyrese Maxey-Team Texas; Chris Harris-Team Texas; Devion Harmon-Team Texas; Bishop James-Bmores Finest; Zeb Graham Jr.-Team Charlotte; James Mungo-Bmores Finest; Joey Edmonds-SWO Elite; Alec Pfriem-SWO Elite; Nick Thelon-SWO Elite; Josh Burkhart-SWO Elite; Justin McKoy-Garner Road Bulldogs; Triston Miller-CBC Havoc; Jacob Ray-West Coact Stars; EJ Jackson-West Coast Stars; Horne-Garner Road Bulldogs. 2020: Shemar Morrow-Oakland Soldiers; Khari Walker-Oakland Solders; Jaden Springer-Oakland Solders; Anthony Hoggard-Team Durant; Gervon Dexter-E1T1; Cone-Worlwide Wildcats; Dwon Odom-Worldwide Wildcats; Leonard Manuel-E1T1; Chuck Harris-023 Feet; Chase Ellis-Worldwide All-Stars; Jeremy Roach-Team Durant; Alex Wade-San Diego Select; Thomas Notarainni-San Diego Select; Jack Pugh-Mid-Ohio Pumas; Chris Mayfield-Mid-Ohio Pumas; Matt Allocco-Mid-Ohio Pumas; S. Cooper-AOT; O. Cooper-AOT; Tramon Mark-God First Crusaders. 2021: Trey Paterson-Team Izod; Darnell Harris-Team Izod; Kahlil Farmer-Team Izod; Malaki Branham-Buckeye Prep; Jayden Hawkins-White-Buckeye Prep; Caleb Houston-S Elite; Latrell Moore-West Coast All-Stars; Chris Page-West Coast All-Stars; Blackman-Team Teague; Drake Booker-Oakland Solders; and Joshua Bascoe-S Elite.