John Lucas All-Star Weekend Day Two Recap
March 6, 2020 1am
Written by: Ani Umana
Championship Sunday consisted of some highly anticipated and close games. When bracket play came around, the intensity heated up and emotions were high.
Lets start with 2022 and Austin Nunez of Hardwork. He has gotten better every time I see him and he is such a threat from the perimeter that it allows his teammates opportunities to score. His IQ is high on offense and his ability to find the roll man on picks and to dribble out of presses was good to see.
Bryce Griggs had a solid showing as well although his team lost earlier than expected. Griggs had to lead the team or be top three in multiple categories this weekend. He was a do it all guard.
Harrison Alexander for GC Ballers is long and athletic. He is versatile on offense and defense which allowed him to play different spots on the floor and still be effective. I liked how he played on Saturday, but on Sunday he was being smarter with the ball and was crashing the boards better.
For Pray and Play, Adriel Smith impressed me on Sunday. The guard loves to push the ball and that makes defenders have to think quicker than usual. Off pick and rolls he was effective coming off and scoring inside or when help-side defense came he found the post on the opposite side. I like that he pushes the ball but sometimes he forces it and tries to go 1 on 2 or 3 when the smartest thing to do is just back it out and have the coach call the play.
Dariq Whitehead for 60 Elite help lead his team to the championship game. On Sunday he was aggressive with the ball and looked to initiate contact on drives. I was impressed by his performance against Flight Elite. For Flight Elite was again impressed by Jared McCain and his ability to create shots for himself. He is quick with the ball and he did a better job finishing around the rim with floaters. I think what hurt him on Saturday was he was trying to attempt layups on the bigger defenders, but on Sunday I saw him shooting floaters before the post-man heavily commits.
D1-Premier lost a close one on Sunday and Markiest Sykes’s motor was on display. I have talked about Sykes in the past and what I like about him is that even if he doesn’t know what’s going on or if a play breaks down, he finds a way to make a play for his team. When Drew Steffe came off away-screens he was able to get his feet set and score. Steffe playing like this showed me what he is really capable of doing. Isaiah Foster was performed at a high level as well. The guard is strong with the ball and found his teammates in transition. Defintley showed why he is a top nationally ranked kid in his class.
Kevin Garcia and Cam Amboree led their Gulf Coast Blue Chips group to the championship. After going 1-1 on Saturday, they bounced back on Sunday and went undefeated in bracket play. Garcia is a big post with good footwork. He can shoot from 10-12 feet and he can finish with contact well. He is slow still and you can tell he is just growing with his body but I like what he brings to the table now. Amboree did a better job at the end of games and he scored when his team called upon him to and created opportunities for teammates in transition. A job well done for Amboree.
Team Teague has a guard/post combo that I really like to see with Jalen Blackmon and Caleb Furst. It was hard to guard their pick and roll/pop action because if teams tried to traps Blackmon, he found Furst open, and if teams didn’t hedge, Blackmon found his way in the lane or was open for three. Furst plays with a high motor and he can come out to the top of the key and make a play. Blackmon in my opinion was the top player in the 2021 division.
West Coast All Stars were led by Tyrone Washington, who is tough to handle in the open court. Against God First Crusaders, he was able to be effective, regardless of the different defenses and matchups thrown at him. Brandon Perez did a solid job finding his points in transition and on offensive rebounds. He also handled the ball some and created shots for Washington. Isitua Chuks displayed his athleticism and he ran the floor well. He has a good motor but when he is tired he can become a liability due to fatigue. The main scorer Ricardo Sarmiento was on fire in the offensive end. He scored 30 points against Team Teague and his ability to shoot from deep and run the lanes in transition allowed him to gain open looks. God First on Sunday was competitive against that West Coast group and for a first tournament, there isn’t too much a coach can ask for. Chris Felix looked good on Sunday. He can shoot the ball at a high level but he showed that he can drive and be effective off the dribble.
Hardwork made it to the Semifinals on Sunday and they were in some tight games. Against Orlando Jayhawks, The trio of guards of Langston Love, Coleton Benson and Chance Felix came to play. Benson can handle the ball some and I think I underrated that aspect of his game. I like that he gives Felix and Love breaks and is able to run point guard from time to time. Felix is quick and I like that he knows when to become aggressive and score. Even when he needs to be aggressive, he knows that doesn’t necessarily mean to get his own shot but to create attention and sometimes find others for open looks.
Ballers Select Dimitrios Stragalinos is as explosive of an offensive player than there is. He was shooting the ball from anywhere on the floor. Yes his shot selection is questionable but when he is on, There MAYBE (that is a strong maybe) a few that can slow him down.
Raheim Sanders of Orlando Jayhawks is so scrappy and makes plays. He is tough and he loves to initiate contact on drives. He plays with a high motor and that allows him to score at a high rate. Sanders was the leader of his team against Hardwork in their overtime lost. He can tighten his handle more but Sanders a good prospect for 2021.
Louisiana Heat Elite had a solid showing this weekend. Darius Dawson and Raeland Johnson impressed me with their motor. Johnson locks down on defense and makes it tough opposing guards to bring the ball up the floor. Dawson is a forward that excels most in transition and he had most of his points from fast breaks.Louisiana Heat as a whole are very scrappy and I will keep track of them in the future.
2021 Duncan Powell played at a high level this weekend for Basketball Means More (BMM). His perimeter game has gotten a lot better and his inside game is strong as well. He has a strong fadaway on his post-ups on the left block and he is a one move and go type of player and he get’s inside easily.
Carolina Wolves came out victorious with a win against West Coast All Stars. Jai Smith plays with such a high motor that it helps his teammates play harder. Smith isn’t the most skilled but he knows how to finish inside and rebound which is important. He outworked opposing bigs he went against and that allowed him to be productive at the end of games when most players on the court are tired.
BMM did not have a strong showing on Sunday but I did want to point out how I was impressed by the play of Caleb Lohner on Saturday. Lohner is a 6’4 guard that is a good shooter off the catch. Against Team Blackout he was making threes coming off of transition. Micah Peavy came to play for BMM this weekend and he was solid. His shot looked like it has gotten better some, but he just needs to work on his in-between game or show it more. He is a problem when he is attacking the rim but defenses that know him, back off from him and force him to shoot.His form isn’t bad at all like I said earlier but he needs to make defenders play. Peavy physically is what you want from a guard but I feel that there is an extra gear he can go that can make him more of a serious threat for opponents.
Shout out to New England Playas. I’ll be honest I didn’t get a chance to get any of their players names but I did love how organized and disciplined they played. The coaching staff did a great job in their win vs God First Crusaders and got to the championship game this weekend. Excellent effort from top to bottom.
Back at it
God First Crusaders although suffered an early lost, They played well this weekend. Breon Thompson on Sunday is a versatile forward. Standing at about 6’5-6’6, he is still raw but I like that he can do a little bit of everything. He has potential. Isaiah LeBlanc had a strong game against New England Playas and he showed he has great range on his jumper. I would like to see him handle the ball more under pressure but in the half court setting he excelled the most this weekend.
Eric Butler for Blackout has potential as a guard. He is 6’3 and he has a take over mentality. He is aggressive with the ball and drives in the paint most times but he has a solid shot from the perimeter. Defensively he is aggressive and he is capable blocking shots from help-side defense.
Supreme Court were in two highly anticipated matchups on Sunday. RJ Hampton against Team Texas kept the lead for his team every time Team Texas made a run. Hampton can score the ball at a very high level and can handle pressure very well. His decision making needs to get better but overall, Hampton is the real deal and everybody that watched him knew that.. God Gift can be a very special player. His effort on the boards was tremendous again on Sunday and he outplayed any post that was guarding him. He has a nice jumper as well and once he has the confidence to shoot it, he will be hard to contain. He reminds me of a younger version of Frank Agunanne. Jaylin Posey also was big time and this was his first big staged tournament to participate in. At 6’ and a very long wingspan, Posey showcased his strong handles and finishing abilities. He has a lot of potential and is a sleeper in the Texas 2020 class. Arthur Kalumi is a 6’5 forward and I thought he was a 2020 player but he is actually 2021. He is a player that has a good frame, can shoot, handle the ball well although he didn’t show it much this weekend. Kalumi name may blow up this summer if he continues to play at a high level.
Team Texas’s Kade Anderson did a better job against Supreme Court. He scored well inside and he handled the pressure from the guards. His shot looks improved but he just needs to consistently keep his guide hand straight and have his follow through straight. He made a few threes this weekend I believe and I was happy that he is starting to shoot it. Jay Wilson gave God Gift fits on defense because he was able to score from the perimeter. Wilson has been working on his game a lot and I can tell. From being a 5-man to now becoming a 3/ 4 man and able to create off the dribble took his game to another level. Wilson now needs to work on his jumper more but his perimeter play improved vastly and that was good to see.
D1-Premier suffered a lost to Supreme Court 61-60 but they had a good show this tournament. Greg Brown did not do well at first against Supreme Court but in the second half he came alive with 17 points. He used step backs and crossovers to create shots for himself. Brown against BMM had two dunks and one he dunked on two defenders. I liked what Anthony Scott did on both ends of the floor. Scott averaged four steals on Sunday and offensively he scored on layups because he racked steals that allowed him to score in transition. He is getting better coming off screens and his IQ has gotten higher.
Texas Titans did a good job this weekend, playing in the semifinals. Against Select One Mike Miles played strong against Zion Harmon. He played him tight three-quarters of the court at times and offensively he scored well off the dribble and was finding his shooters that were coming out of off ball screens. Tyler McGhie has a nice game. I viewed him as more of just a shooter but he can do more. He can handle the ball some and he can score off the dribble. He was one of the reasons Titans stayed in the game. I liked what Kylon Owens did on the block on Sunday, especially against Team KC. He has a solid right handed hook shot and he showed counter moves on the block. He still looked a little robotic but he has came a long way.
Jabri Abdul-Rahim for Play Hard Play Smarter is a 6’6 guard/forward that has a strong mid-range game. His shot from three point range is still in works but on Sunday he showed that he can score from 12-15 ft range. He is more comfortable taking it inside and scoring in the paint. I like the potential of Abdul-Rahim, and he had a quietly effective performance this weekend.
Nola-23’s Antonio Warren was strong on Sunday. I like his length and the guard does a good job being patient with the ball. He can be aggressive and score inside. He also likes to get his teammates involved as well. I don’t know what position to label him but he can play some point guard, two-guard and his height at 6’3 allows him to play small forward as well.
Select One won the whole thing and Jordan Toles displayed his athleticism and perimeter game. Toles is a highly touted 2020 player and his jumpshot is solid. He can work on being stronger with his left hand but he is a high level player regardless. Toles defensively is strong off-ball and on the ball. He has his hands in the crossover lane and gets steals. Zion Harmon does a good job managing the game. He makes shots when other teams make runs during games. Against the Titans, every time they got close or tied the game against Select One, Harmon made a play to get his team up again. Cameron Byars had a strong championship game and I believe he had 27-29 points I believe against New England Playas.
Other Notable Sunday Performers
Karson Stastny SG - Texas Titans 2020
Brandon Lawrence PG - BMM 2020
Stayve Thomas Jr. CF - God First Crusaders 2020
DJ Stewart PG - God First Crusaders 2020
Rondel Walker PG - D1-Premier 2020
Vincent Rockwell SG - D1-Premier 2020
William McClendon PG - Play Hard Play Smarter 2020
Samuel Curtis PG - Select One 2021
Bijan Cortez PG - USA Elite 2022
Tobias Rolland SF - USA Elite 2022
Isaiah Mayo PG - Team KC 2022
Croix Cox G - D1-Premier 2022