NIKE Sweeps 2005 GymRat CHALLENGE
City Rocks and NY Gauchos Stamp SWOOSH on Third Largest AAU Field in Nation
Written by James Allen, GymRat CHALLENGE Evaluation Team Coordinator
and The Record
With input and information compiled by GymRat CHALLENGE Site Coordinators and Evaluation Team
ALBANY, N.Y. – Although the summer weather made a glorious entrance over the Memorial Day Weekend in New York State’s Capital Region, the best spots still proved to be indoor venues — Siena College, the University at Albany, and Union College to take in the 212 AAU boys basketball teams competing at the 2005 GymRat CHALLENGE.
The eighth edition of the GymRat CHALLENGE brought over 2,500 prep basketball players representing club teams from twenty-one states and two Canadian provinces covering a geographic reach from Portland, Maine to Houston, Texas to Madison, Wisconsin and beyond to compete in one of the largest and most prominent AAU events in North America.
In the end, two of NIKE’s powerhouse programs combined to provide the SWOOSH with its first sweep of the GymRat CHALLENGE in any single tournament year. The 2005 15U NY Gauchos became only the second team to DEFEND their GymRat CHALLENGE Championship. The only other REPEAT Champions in GymRat CHALLENGE history were the 2001 15U NY Gauchos who piggybacked on their program’s historic 2000 TRIPLE-CROWN championship. The Gauchos lead all other programs nationally with five GymRat CHALLENGE Championships. No other program can claim more than two GymRat CHALLENGE Championships.
After seven years of watching other national powerhouse teams come into their backyard to stake claim to one of summer basketball’s most coveted championships, the City Rocks took a stand in a big way in 2005 and became only the second PROGRAM to win more than one Age Division in the same GymRat CHALLENGE as they captured both the 16U and 17U Age Division crowns.
The action became so hotly contested during the early stages of the playoff rounds at Siena College, the lights actually went out for 10 minutes. That gave everyone time to catch their breath before some spectacular action at the end of the 17-and-under, 16-and-under and 15-and-under brackets.
A few of the elite players in three respective age groups enhanced their reputations, while some others who came to the 2005 GymRat CHALLENGE as virtual unknowns made a big splash.
In the 17-and-under bracket, the well-balanced and extremely versatile City Rocks took care of business on their home turf to capture the 2005 GymRat CHALLENGE championship. Fueled by the play of point guard Talor Battle, power forward Corey Magee, small forward Greg Nero, center Brad Sheehan and guards Mark Lyons and Melquan Bolding, the City Rocks breezed through the qualifying round and then withstood challenges from the Student Athlete Broncos, Stamford Express and NYC Jaguars to secure the title for head coach Carm Maciariello.
Jimmer Fredette is a definitely name to remember, and he has the game to match. The crafty guard for the City Rocks’ 16-and-under squad did it all for his team, including scoring a game-high 25 points in the championship game, to propel his team to the championship.
The New York Guachos entered the 15-and-under bracket as one of the top ranked units in the country. Paced by the superlative skills of Jordan Theodore, Jonathan Rigg and Doran Scott, the Gauchos defended their GymRat CHALLENGE championship, and generated comparative whispers to the 2000 15U Gaucho squad that used their GymRat CHALLENGE championship as a springboard to claim the AAU National Championship later that summer.
Here is a more in-depth breakdown of each age group, along with the listings of Most Valuable GymRats (MVG), All-GymRat CHALLENGE, and Honorable Mention selections.
17:U Age Division
The City Rocks, under the guidance of head coach Carm Maciariello, showed themselves to be extremely entertaining, potent and deep. That combination was enough for the team to produce seven victories and emerge with the championship. The City Rocks won their games by an average margin of 23 points, yet also proved they could win tight contests in the semifinals and title game.
The City Rocks, behind the stellar all-around exploits of MVG (Most Valuable GymRat) Talor Battle, erased a three-point deficit in the final two minutes to produce a stirring 54-51 triumph over the Stamford Express in the semifinals. Melquan Bolding, who contributed 11 points, scored the go-ahead basket in the last 20 seconds for the City Rocks.
The NYC Jaguars emerged to be the opponent in the championship game for the City Rocks. The Jaguars, led by superstar guard Kyle Wright, survived a rugged path through the playoffs, beating such quality teams as the Garden State Sharpshooters (67-62), the Jersey Shore Warriors (59-58), the Jersey Cyclones (52-44) and the Metro Hawks (63-44) to earn a shot at the City Rocks. Wright, however, was not available for the championship game and the Albany trio of Battle, Bolding and Mark Lyons controlled the tempo throughout the title game for the City Rocks.
A basket by 6-foot-7 forward Greg Nero with seven minutes left extended the City Rocks’s lead to 52-37, but the Jaguars put together a 14-1 surge capped by a bucket from Matt Galvin with 3:47 remaining. The Rocks used rebound baskets from Corey Magee and Brad Sheehan, plus five quick points by Lyons, to grab a 60-53 edge only to watch the Jaguars respond with two baskets by Aikeem Vanderhorst and one from Bryant Lassiter that shaved Albany’s lead to one point with 27.6 seconds left. Two foul shots each from Lyons and T.J. Czeski sealed the victory for the City Rocks.
Battle, who led the City Rocks in scoring, assists and steals during the tournament, produced five points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals in the championship game.
“This feels so great to win the championship, especially because we had been struggling a little bit lately,” Battle said. “This was a great game and (the Jaguars) really pushed us to the end.”
“Talor really provided us with a great floor game in all seven wins,” Maciariello said. “He is really going to be a great player. Talor was great for us, but we had so many players play well for us. Corey Magee provided so much for us, Greg Nero was solid throughout and (6-11 center) Brad Sheehan showed excellent improvement this weekend.”
17:U GymRat CHALLENGE-MVG-Most Valuable GymRat
Talor Battle (6-1 PG, City Rocks): In seven games over two days, Battle showed he is “The Matrix Unleashed.” The sophomore point guard earned the nickname “Matrix” a week before the 2005 GymRat CHALLENGE, based on a new shooting drill where Battle extended his follow through on his foul shot. The superstar guard from Bishop Maginn High School is the guy who ignited the City Rocks as they rolled over seven opponents to secure the championship. Battle’s junkets to the basket produced two results: points for himself or superior opportunities for teammates. Battle possesses a lethal first step and exceptional overall quickness. His superior assist-to-turnover ratio, along with his team-high scoring, might have been enough to garner Battle the Most Valuable GymRat award, but he also turned in a spirited defensive effort while consistently matching up with some of the top guards in the tournament. Battle also drained several clutch 3-pointers and showed off his own unique brand of basketball.
17:U All-GymRat CHALLENGE Team
Corey Magee (6-8 PF, Albany City Rocks-Maciariello): A high-energy performer from Fairport who provided the City Rocks extreme toughness inside. A tireless worker, Magee averaged double digits in points and rebounds. His points often came at critical junctures to help Albany maintain the lead. There were players who may have showed more flash, but Magee’s tenacious play is one clear reason why the City Rocks captured the championship. Magee is a guy others flock to compete with.
Greg Nero (6-7 SF/PF, Albany City Rocks-Maciariello): Nero delivered one of the defining highlights of the entire tournament during the semifinals vs. the Stamford Express — with a contested lefty, windmill slam dunk along the baseline in transition. Not only did the crowd roar its approval, Stamford forward A.J. Stevens even offered congratulations during a dead-ball break in the action. The Red Hook High standout did a number of things well, and more importantly, raised his level of production as the competition improved during the playoff run to the title. Nero’s inside-outside skills make his upside appeal intriguing.
Mark Lyons (6-3 SG/PG, Albany City Rocks-Maciariello): A long-range sniper with the ability to finish in traffic, Lyons saved his finest effort for the championship game with a team-best 19 points. Lyons took over portions of all seven games for the City Rocks, scoring in double figures six times in seven games despite often coming off the bench. The Schenectady High star is scratching the surface of a superlative skill set.
Brad Sheehan (6-11 C, Albany City Rocks-Maciariello): Blocked eight shots — in the first half — against the Stamford Express in the semifinals. Sheehan added six more rejections, to go along with 12 points and nine rebounds, in the championship victory over the NYC Jaguars. Sheehan displayed a quality baseline jumper and consistently knocked down 15-foot jumpers at the foul line. His rebounding skills, passing ability and shot-blocking helped teammates Talor Battle, Mark Lyons and Melquan Bolding start the City Rocks’ potent fast break.
Kyle Wright (6-6 PG/SG, NYC Jaguars): An exceptional ball-handling floor general and all-around standout, Wright fueled the Jaguars’ run to the final. Unfortunately for head coach Kevin Hamilton, Wright had to leave in order to prepare for an exam and missed the title game. Wright poured in 30 points in a 52-44 quarterfinal victory over the Jersey Cyclones. This lefty sharp-shooter showed off his three-point prowess, plus a unique ability to easily dissect defenders before his departure. Wright definitely displayed the right stuff.
Aikeem Vanderhorst (6-5 PF, NYC Jaguars): A quality inside force, this rugged standout runs the floor well and uses his body effectively to gain exceptional position to score, rebound and defend. The Bay Shore star completely abused defenders not willing to meet his physical CHALLENGE. His performance in the championship game against the much-larger Albany City Rocks was impressive.
Shaundelle Guinyard (6-2 PG/SG, Stamford Express): Plays the game with unbridled passion. He appears to enjoy defense as much, if not more, than producing in a multitude of manners on offense. Guinyard’s scoring, passing and defensive skills fueled one of the finest runs of the event, helping produce14 consecutive points to open the game in an eventual 68-30 triumph over the Ottawa Phoenix.
Leslee Simmons (6-7 PF/C, Stamford Express): Extremely athletic power forward that blocks shots, rebounds and scores with equal effectiveness, Simmons enjoys running the floor and plays with a quiet enthusiasm. A key component for Stamford’s run to the semifinals, Simmons is garnering plenty of Division I interest.
A.J. Stephens (6-4 SF/PF, Stamford Express): Plays bigger than his height suggests. A vital part of Stamford reaching the semifinals at the GymRat CHALLENGE IN 2004 and 2005, Stephens finds weaknesses in the opposition and exploits them. The rugged forward scored a game-high 21 points in the tough 54-51 semifinal loss to the Albany City Rocks.
Tyler Roche (6-7 SF/PF, NH Playerz): A repeat all-star selection at the GymRat CHALLENGE, Roche makes scoring look easy with an exceptional perimeter game and an all-around craftiness around the hoop. One of the smartest players around, Roche takes what is given and elevates the level of play of those around him.
Dan Werner (6-7 SF/SG, Jersey Shore Warriors): A chiseled physique and pure jumper make Werner a player to watch. There is no wasted motion here. Werner knows what he is doing on the court and produces offensively, defensively and in terms of intangibles. Coaches love working with players like Werner. There is a lot to like.
Jamal Robinson (6-0 PG, High Octane): Robinson’s style of play perfectly matches his team’s name — his game is high octane. He is slick point guard who isn’t afraid of contact showed superior ability to score in the paint and set up teammates for quality opportunities. Robinson also displayed the lost art of the mid-range jumper.
J.P. Gavinski (6-10 C, Wisconsin Swing Red): The lefty big man, who has already given a verbal commitment to the University of Wisconsin, showed why he was one of the nation’s most sought-after centers. Does all the little things well — setting quality picks, showing superior interior passing skills and using proper technique to establish solid rebounding position. Gavinski also displayed a soft touch on a 15-foot jumper he consistently drained from the foul line.
Trevon Hughes (6-1 PG, Wisconsin Swing Red): The University of Wisconsin and Iowa are fighting to get to the upper hand at landing Hughes, a second team all-state guard and rated among the top 100 players in the Class of 2006. Strong build is pretty suited for rugged Big 10. Gets to the basket with ease and drains jumper consistently. Points, assists, steals and leadership make Hughes an attractive package.
Darryl Ashford Jr. (6-4 SF/SG, Houston Lynx): Yet another in the long line of Houston LYNX swingmen with colossal upside potential, Ashford Jr. makes opposing players look slow, lazy and disinterested compared to his high-energy approach. A monster in the passing lanes
Nick Okorie (6-0 SG/PG, Houston Lynx): A blur going to the basket, Okorie also showed he can finish what he starts — polishing off foes with a diverse array of moves. A truly great passer who jumps well, anticipates at both ends of the floor and rarely makes mistakes.
Joe Mazzula (6-1 PG, Rhode Island Breakers): Mazzula, the 2004 GymRat CHALLENGE MVG, once again showed why Division I recruiters continue to follow his every move. The dynamic lefty star cripples defenders with his ability to blow by them for easy buckets. Displaying a soft touch from the perimeter, Mazzula is an extremely smart player.
Rakeem Sanders (6-5 PF, Rhode Island Breakers): A powerful inside force that is equally adept at hitting 3-pointers, Sanders showed why a number of prominent Division I powers in the Northeast are already keeping close tabs on his every move. Few can match Sanders’ combination of talent and tenacity.
Jaytorn Wisseh (6-2 SG, Student Athlete Broncos): Averaged 20 points per game, including a 34-point outing vs. the Rhode Island Breakers in the Round of 16. The Benjamin Banneker standout uses the dribble effectively to create space and has improved his long-range touch.
Adam Walker (6-7 C/PF, Student Athlete Broncos): The Christ The King power forward attacks the rim with a vengeance. Any defensive breakdown gets exploited by Walker with spectacular results. Walker tallied 23 points against the biggest frontline in the tournament, the eventual champion City Rocks, in the quarterfinals. Moves with ease and is a carom king.
Max Craig-Zuyderoff (6-11 C, Equipe Quebec-Blue): Sporting a muscular build and willingness to use his bulk, Craig-Zuyderoff moves exceptionally well and commanded a great deal of attention. While not as offensively polished as some of the other elite big men, Craig-Zuyderoff works hard, does not try to do too much and truly has chance to become a force in the paint.
Mike Massey (6-3 SG/SF, Connecticut Young Gunz): This 15-year old star is on the rise. Massey is the type of player who instantly grabs your attention with his ultra-athletic skills. Could not be stopped going to the basket and possesses a solid perimeter game. Handles the ball well and instinctively knows how to attack the opposition. Massey is a must-see player.
Jovan Robinson (6-4 G, Metro Boston): A player in total control, Robinson is blessed with outstanding court vision, precise passing skills and a flare for the dramatic. Robinson delivered several key plays in playoff victories over Massachusetts Premier and the Connecticut Young Gunz.
Vernon Teel (6-4 SF/PF, Metro Hawks): Buffed the glass at Siena College to a glossy shine with all the rebounds he snared against taller opponents. Teel also proved to be a remarkably consistent scorer for a squad advancing all the way to the semifinals.
Raymond Doyley (6-6 C/PF, Chase the Game-Barile): Solid post skills, Doyley displayed a dependable mid-range shooting game and a soft touch at the foul line. Doyley spreads out nicely to accept entry passes and polishes the glass. team advance to the quarterfinals. There is a lot to like here.
Honorable Mention Selections
Jake Eastep (6-6 C/PF, Chesapeake Bay Breakers)
Andre Whyte (6-2 SG/SF, Vermont Blizzard)
Ryan Knapp (5-8 PG, Westchester Hawks-Moses)
Robby Goo (6-1 SG, Colonie Conquest)
Melquan Bolding (6-5 SG/SF, Albany City Rocks-Maciariello)
T.J. Czeski (6-2 PG/SG, Albany City Rocks-Maciariello)
Ryan Foster (6-6 C, Southampton Renegades)
Tyler Etheridge (6-4 SF, Wisconsin Swing Red)
Austen Lanes (6-8 PF, Wisconsin Swing Red)
Paul Guede (6-4 SF/PF, Wisconsin Swing Red)
Bryce Welch (6-3 SG, Wisconsin Swing Red)
Monice Garrett (5-10 PG, Houston Lynx)
Jordan Alexander (6-3 SF/SG, Houston Lynx)
Jonathan Wilson (6-2 SG, Houston Lynx)
Brendan Barile (6-4 SG/SF, Chase The Game-Barile)
Alan Goodhoofd (6-5 PF/SF, Waterloo Wildcats)
Alberto Rodriquez (6-8 C, Waterloo Wildcats)
Andre Gullens (6-4 PF, MOF Jaguars)
Howard Little (6-6 C, MOF Jaguars)
John Byrnes (6-3 SF, CJ Jammers)
Pereese Jackson (6-3 SG/SF, Teaches Hoops-Hogan)
Pete Brown (6-7 C/PF, BC Eagles)
Connor Cornine (6-6 PF, BC Eagles)
Matt Stote (6-2 SG, BC Eagles)
Noruwa Agho (6-1 SG, Rockland Rockets-Dumas)
Carlos Brown (5-10 PG, Merrimack Valley)
Terence Grier (6-0 PG, Jersey Cyclones)
Marqus Blakely (6-4 F, Jersey Cyclones)
Nathan Hawkins (6-6 PF, Jersey Cyclones)
Brian Rudolph (5-11 PG, Bristol Stars)
Ryan Rodriques (6-2 SG, Bristol Stars)
Hasan Powell (5-10 PG, Redemption Christian Academy)
Anthony McClendon (6-5 PF, Redemption Christian Academy)
Patrick Carney (6-5 C/PF, Maryland DB Terps)
Willie Kerrigan (6-2 SG, Maryland DB Terps)
Kyle Yocum (5-5 PG, Newburgh Zion Lions)
Kaqmaal Mabry (6-1 SF/SG, Newburgh Zion Lions)
Mike Monroe (6-1 SG/PG, Newburgh Zion Lions)
Kareem Brown (6-0 SG/PG, Rhode Island Breakers)
DJ Carcieri (6-0 PG/SG, Rhode Island Breakers)
Brian Rouse (6-5 PF, Rhode Island Breakers)
Mark Alexander (6-1 SG/SF, Rhode Island Breakers)
Jamar Johnson (6-7 PF, South Jersey Express)
Adrian Galliard (6-8 C, South Jersey Express)
Jermaine Russell (6-2 SF/SG, South Jersey Express)
Charles Johnson (5-11 PG, South Jersey Express)
Ryan Bacon (6-6 PF/C, Memorial Park Playas)
Andrew Henry (6-1 SF, Memorial Park Playas)
Namdi Ahaneku (6-1 SF/SG, Memorial Park Playas)
Kirk Williams (6-6 PF, Connecticut Flame)
Alejo Rodriquez (6-7 C, Connecticut Flame)
Melvin Calhoun (5-8 PG, Connecticut Flame)
Manocl Lual (6-5 PF/SF, Ottawa Phoenix)
Kenny Small (6-2 F, Stamford Express)
Opong Agyemang (6-1 PG/SG, Stamford Express)
Tyler Lloyd (G, Chenango Vipers-Abbott)
Etoile Imama (6-1 SG, Equipe Quebec-Blue)
Hichem Benayad-chen’f (6-5 PF/SF, Equipe Quebec-Blue)
Brian Barry (6-5 PF, Pennsylvania Fire)
Zachary Hoover (6-0 SG/PG, Pennsylvania Fire)
Chris Paguin (6-1 F, Worcester West)
Josh Darragh (6-1 SF, ProCity)
Jared Willis (6-0 PG, Connecticut Young Gunz)
Kendall Walker (6-6 C/PF, Connecticut Young Gunz)
Curt Fitch (6-7 PF, Connecticut Young Gunz)
Josh Tate (6-4 SF, Connecticut Young Gunz)
Duran Velasquez (5-5 PG, Brooklyn Queen Warriors)
Dominik Goj (6-2 SF, Brooklyn Queen Warriors)
Charles Smith (6-7 PF, Jersey All-Stars)
Shawn Roe (6-0, SLF East)
Jelanie Whitfield (6-5 SF, NYC Jaguars)
Bryant Lassiter (5-8 PG, NYC Jaguars)
Chris Baltz (6-2 SF/SG, Southern Tier Rage)
Joe Cheslock (6-2 F, New Hampshire Storm)
Seward Joway (5-11 PG, Mt. Pleasant Bulldogs)
Sean Bapiste (5-11 PG, Monmouth Power)
A.J. Rudowitz (6-6 PF/C, Monmouth Power)
Tim Hunt (G, Detroit AFE Wizards)
Denzel Russel (G, Detroit AFE Wizards)
Aaron Crump (6-4 F, Detroit AFE Wizards)
Omar Keti (6-3 SG/SF, Garden State Sharpshooters)
Greg Harbeck (6-1 G, Garden State Sharpshooters)
Brian Frankoski (6-2 G, Garden State Sharpshooters)
Mike Owczarek (6-5 F, Garden State Sharpshooters)
Michael Hauser (Long Island Lightning-Harkins)
Michael Hopkins (Long Island Lightning-Harkins)
James Callaghan (Long Island Lightning-Harkins)
Greg Davis (Chase the Game-Murphy)
Matt Glass (6-7 C, Vermont Irish Cats)
Joe Visker (6-4 F, Vermont Irish Cats)
Joel Hafner (6-2 SF/SG, Frederick Netmasters)
Hamilton Woodfolk (6-1 SG, Frederick Netmasters)
Elbie Murphy (6-3 PG, Davies AC)
Jimmy Googas (6-2 SG, Davies AC)
Jamil Jordan (5-11 PG/SG, Davies AC)
Tyrell Thompson (6-3 SF, Westchester Hawks-Karger)
Marvin Billups (6-4 PF, Westchester Hawks-Karger)
Chris Joseph (Equipe Quebec Red)
Mike Shaw (Wisconsin Swing Black)
Shane Kieler (Wisconsin Swing Black)
Brett Valentyn (6-2 G,Wisconsin Swing Black)
Adrian Price (6-7 PF, CJ Panthers)
Khamell Braughton (6-5 SF/PF, CJ Panthers)
Marc Trason (6-3 F, CJ Panthers)
Sean Young (6-5 PF/SF, CJ Panthers)
Mike McNair (6-0 G, Rockland Rockets-Harvey)
Brett Harvey (6-1 G, Rockland Rockets-Harvey)
Justin Parker (6-2 SF, Nashau Shamrocks)
Chris Devine (6-3 SF/SG, Massachusetts Hoops Jaguars)
Jon Chaloux (6-4 F, Barre Jammers)
Paul Nelson (6-9 C, Jersey Shore Warriors)
Tim Andree (6-7 C/PF, Jersey Shore Warriors)
Liam McCabe-Moran (6-2 SF, Westchester Hawks-DiCintio)
Tim Monaghan (6-3 PF, Westchester Hawks-DiCintio)
Kevin Himmelwright (6-2 SF/SG, Wilton Hornets)
Paul Chergey (6-6 C/PF, New Hampshire Playerz)
Mike Chergey (6-6 SF/PF, New Hampshire Playerz)
Chuck Ileobu (Brentwood Ballers)
Chris Martin (6-1 F, Metro Hawks)
Wayne Turner (6-0 G, Metro Hawks)
Andre Hornes (6-3 SF, High Octane)
Richard Baymon (6-0 SG, High Octane)
Sullivan (Orange County Crusagers-Fazio)
J.R. Downey (G, Tri-State Dragons)
Andre Tarver (6-1 PG, Westchester Hawks-McEntee)
Geddes Robinson (Westchester Hawks-McEntee)
Tim Zephyr (6-7 C, Westchester Hawks-McEntee)
Sam Chadwick (6-1 SG, Queen Cobras)
Michael Ecceleston (5-10 PG, Queen Cobras)
Darren Reddish (6-1 G, Queen Cobras)
Devyn Erwin (6-7 PF, Albany City Rocks-Horne)
Andy Pelletier (6-6 SF/PF, Albany City Rocks-Horne)
Andy Heimbach (6-4 F, Lehigh Valley Vikings)
Joe Alfier (5-11 G, Lehigh Valley Vikings)
Chris Donald (6-5 F, Metro Boston)
Remy Cofield (6-4 F, Metro Boston)
Joe Zappone (G, Helderberg Hoopers)
Tim Pierce (5-11 PG/SG, U-Turn Warriors)
Gerry Carry (6-5 C, U-Turn Warriors)
Mark Rhines (6-2 G, Mass Premier-Rhines)
Bill Mitchell (6-3 F, Mass Premier-Rhines)
Ryan Greene (C/F, Oneonta Hoosiers)
Charlie Hepburn (6-4 C/PF, New Hampshire Cougars)
Bret Grenier (5-10 PG, New Hampshire Cougars)
Bryon Reaves (6-2 G/F, Connecticut Heros)
Travis Budkus (6-2 F, Connecticut Heros)
Lenny Martin (6-0 G, Firm AC)
Anthony Lessane (G, Student Athlete Broncos)
Trevor Charles (6-6 PF, Student Athlete Broncos)
16:U Age Division
In 2004, the 15-and-under squad for the City Rocks advanced all the way to the title game at the GymRat CHALLENGE. One year later — and featuring two prominent members of the 2004 15-and-under finalist team — the Rocks took care of business when the opportunity for a championship presented itself.
Fueled by the stellar all-around exploits 6-1 guard Jimmer Fredette, the City Rocks posted a solid 61-50 title victory over the York STARS. Fredette poured in a game-high 25 points in the championship game, including four 3-pointers. Not even five second-half 3-pointers by the STARS could smash the Rocks.
The City Rocks nearly didn’t survive a semifinal matchup against the Central Jersey Hawks. Led by five 3-pointers from point guard Vincent Rosario, the Hawks owned a three-point advantage with four minutes remaining. The City Rocks ultimately advanced on a foul shot by Mike Goodman with 0.6 seconds remaining to seal a hard-fought 65-64 triumph.
The York STARS, paced by center Jordan Gibbs and forward Grant Becker, impressed everyone at the GymRat CHALLENGE with their unselfish team concept — a style leading to several lopsided victories and one buzzer beating survivor contest over Connecticut NIKE Elite in the 16U quarterfinals.
16:U GymRat CHALLENGE-MVG: Most Valuable GymRat
Jimmer Fredette (6-1 PG/SG, Albany City Rocks): Unique name, superior game. This performer truly personifies the phrase, ‘looks can be deceiving.’ If Fredette walked up to any open run, he almost always would be one of the last players picked. This sharp-shooting wiz kid makes anyone who takes him lightly pay a heavy price. His 15 treys and team-best 17.0 point per game average throughout the 2005 GymRat CHALLENGE certainly are impressive, but Fredette is much more than merely a perimeter assassin. Not only does Fredette elevate the level of the players around him, he also comes through in the clutch when his team needs him the most. Fredette, a Glens Falls High star, delivered his two finest outings at the end of the tournament — netting 22 points in the semifinals and pouring in 25 points in the championship game.
Fredette, who carries an outstanding 3.6 grade point average in the classroom, has already received interest from Utah State, BYU, Georgia Tech and Fairfield. Fredette initially gained national exposure during the 2004 GymRat CHALLENGE when evaluators selecting him to the All-GymRat CHALLENGE Team rated him “the top outside-shooter in the 15-and-under tournament…Endless range, a lightning quick release and the ability to hit shots with defenders in his face.” Two months after that rating, Fredette lit up Vegas as the leading scorer at the Reebok Big Time Tournament. Fredette’s MVG performance in the 2005 GymRat CHALLENGE is sure to enhance his already rising stock with college recruiters.
16:U All-GymRat CHALLENGE Team
Lamont Jones (5-10 PG/SG, Metro Hawks): Ranked among the top 10 freshmen nationally, Jones only enhanced his growing reputation at the 2005 GymRat CHALLENGE. He will enter his freshman year in the fall at Rice High School. Glides to the basket effortlessly and scorches the net with an exceptional jumper, Jones also possesses a basketball IQ beyond his years. His teammates always must be ready to receive Jones’ passes, because he will find the open man.
Grant Becker (6-2 SF, York Stars): A fundamentally sound standout that has sinister basketball smarts, Becker’s team-first approach proved to be unwavering. When Becker had a good shot, he passed to a teammate with an even better opportunity. Showed off a solid mid-range game and managed to finish in the paint on contested shots against larger foes. Becker has a tremendous understanding of his own abilities and will always elevate the level of any team he plays for.
Jordan Gibbs (6-7 C/PF, York Stars): Remarkably soft lefty shooting touch, Gibbs is a huge reason why the Stars advanced to the championship game. Gibbs has strong body and he knows how to use it in half-court sets. Gibbs, who is a solid passer and finisher around the basket, has to the potential to become a special player.
Michael Goodman (6-6 PF/SF, City Rocks): A lean, mean physical machine, Goodman provided the City Rocks a great deal of energy and a definite presence at both ends of the floor. Swats shots away with ease — using outstanding leaping ability and timing — Goodman did a great deal of the dirty work for the championship-winning City Rocks. Tremendous understanding of when double-team tactics are heading his way, Goodman also doesn’t get the ball stripped away because he always keeps the ‘rock’ high. The Syracuse-area standout is someone the Orange knows all about. Soon, everyone will know Goodman is great.
Rodney Haddix (6-3 SG/SF, Central Kentucky Warriors): A fun player to watch, Haddix spends a great deal of time standing around — at the foul line. Haddix constantly attacks the lane and knows how to put defenders in vulnerable positions. A basketball and football star as a freshman for Scott County High School, Haddix has plenty of exciting times ahead.
Edmund “Scottie” Mcrae (6-7 C, LI Lightning): The Lightning big man brought the thunder around basket with a multitude of moves from the interrior paint en route to scoring 24 points per game and leading his team into the Championship Round Quarterfinals. Equal part points in the paint also incuded strong finishes and put backs from aggressive work in transistion and on the offensive glass. Most impressive in the offensive arsenal was “Scottie’s” consistent demonstration of the lost art of the mid-range game. Combination of athleticism and ability to score in many different ways gives this big man a BIG upside.
Marcus Robinson (6-3 SF/SG, Central Jersey Hawks): Versatile performer who can handle shooting guard or small forward equally well — offensively and defensively. Quick enough and strong enough to guard larger players, Robinson also displayed quality perimeter skills, exceptional passing instincts and a scorer’s mentality. Robinson is another player who is already excellent, yet you know he’ll make himself vastly better in 12 months.
Vince Rosario (5-10 PG, Central Jersey Hawks): ‘Look out, here comes Vince.’ Nobody actually uttered those words out loud in Rosario presence, but the exceptional point guard sure had defenders unfortunate to draw the assignment of guarding him muttering to themselves for two days. Saying Rosario is quick may be selling the word ‘quick’ short. Pushes the tempo every chance he gets and takes pride in his defense, Rosario also knows how to put the ball in the proper places at just the right time. Multiple scouting services have Rosario rated among the top 100 ninth-graders. Rosario is sure to move up the ranks soon, real soon.
Josh Owens (6-8 C/PF/SF, New Hampshire Falcons): Originally from Atlanta, Owens’ showed his ‘southern hospitality’ by dunking on anyone he could find. Owens, who registered 10 dunks in one game, is adept at all three front line positions — making himself even more attractive when it comes time to move on to the collegiate level. The most athletic player in the 16-and-under field, Owens likely upped his college stock more than anyone.
Charles Jenkins (6-3 SF/PF, Student Athlete Broncos): Played for both the 17-and-under and 16-and-under Student Athlete Broncos’ squads, excelling no matter where he played. Athletic and powerful, Jenkins attacks the rim and finds plenty of ways to finish around the basket when a chance for a slam does not present itself.
Damien Saunders (6-7, PF/SF/C Connecticut Nike Elite): Like Josh Owens, Saunders showed he can handle multitude positions and excel at all of them. Polished around the basket, Saunders also can pop out to the perimeter and knock down shots. Saunders takes pleasure in rejecting shots and preventing opponents from any opportunity at an offensive carom.
Rob Brown (6-3 SF/PF, East Coast Fusion): Currently projects at the Division I mid-major level, but Brown’s work ethic, relentless hustle and exciting overall skills appear destined to take him even higher. When the Fusion needed a 3-pointer, Brown delivered. When the Fusion needed a dunk or an acrobatic shot in the paint to fire up the team, Brown delivered. As for his outstanding showing at the 2005 GymRat CHALLENGE, college coaches must now be wondering, “What can Brown do for you?”
Rocco Rubino (6-2 G, NY Xplosion): Secured a spot on the 15-and-under All-GymRat CHALLENGE squad in 2004 and did nothing at the 2005 GymRat CHALLENGE to alter his status as one of the finest guards in the country at his age level. A superlative finisher, Rubino makes the difficult look easy and knows how to rub defenders off screens. Gives everything he has every time he takes the floor, Rubino averaged 17 points per game.
Honorable Mention Selections
Tomas Vazquez-Simmons (6-7 C, East Coast Fusion)
Mike Labanowski (6-2 F, East Coast Fusion)
Luke Weaver (6-4 F, Albany City Rocks-Moseman)
Mike Culpo (6-0 G, Albany City Rocks-Moseman)
Tyrone Butler (6-5 C, Albany City Rocks-Moseman)
James Marcellas (6-7 C, Bay State Magic)
Steve Aborn (6-4 F, Bay State Magic)
Fran Brzyski (6-7 C, Central Buck Hornets)
Malcolm Soaries (6-1 F, CJ Jammers)
Martin Soaries (6-1 F, CJ Jammers)
Tom Waszaj (6-0 G/F, CJ Jammers)
Mike Myers (6-1 G/F, Connecticut Nike Elite)
Courtney Simmons (5-10 G, Connecticut Nike Elite)
Mike Auriemma (G, Connecticut Nike Elite)
Cordell Galliard (5-8 G, Albany City Rocks-Alexander)
Derek Foster (6-3 F, Albany City Rocks-Alexander)
D.J. Johnston (6-3 F, Monticello Red Raiders)
Jared Pimm (6-2 F, New Hampshire Falcons)
Jon Pike (G, New Hampshire Falcons)
Brian Hunter (6-1 G, Lehigh Valley)
Korey Bauer (6-9 C, Lehigh Valley)
Adam Block (6-1 G, Lehigh Valley)
Daniel Page (6-4 F, BC Eagles)
Rob Estep (6-2 F, York STARS)
Doran Mitchell (5-11 G, Connecticut B-Ball Club)
David Gibbs (6-4 F, Connecticut B-Ball Club)
Chris Obi (5-11 G, NYC Jaguars)
Matt Sommerville (6-6 C/F, Jersey Shore Warriors)
Ryan Rossiter (6-7 C, Jersey Shore Warriors)
Will Grier (5-11 G, Jersey Shore Warriors)
Matt Doherty (6-3 F, Guilderland Blazers)
Wayne Waite (6-5 C, Connecticut Young Gunz)
Josh Catino (G, Davies AC)
Freddie Dorgler (6-4 C/F, NY Xplosion)
Sean Loftus (6-4 F, NY Xplosion)
Wesley George (6-2 F, CJ Panthers)
Khamell Braughton (6-5 C, CJ Panthers)
Aaron Boyd (6-0 F, Central Kentucky Warriors)
Trey Cunningham (6-0 G, Central Kentucky Warriors)
Robert Perry (5-11 G, Rhode Island Breakers)
Jarrod Awokande (6-0 G/F, Rhode Island Breakers)
Casey Peters (6-4 F/C, Jersey Shore Panthers)
Joe Grimes (6-0 G, Mass Hoop Jaguars)
Tim Dunn (6-8 C, Springfield Trailblazers)
Brandon Bryan (6-0 G, Franklin Force)
Logan Bolinger (6-0 G, Franklin Force)
Jaren Gembe (6-0 G, Franklin Force)
Conor Sheehy (Long Island Lightning-Sheehy)
Michael Cavateo (Long Island Lightning-Sheehy)
Scottie Payne (Morris County Bulls)
Lamar Leverette (Morris County Bulls)
Emmanuel Muderhwa (Vermont Irish Blues)
Steve Mejia (Metro Boston)
Ndobuisi Okereke (Metro Boston)
DeAndre Priester (D-Squad)
Elton Frazier (D-Squad)
Tyshon Goode (D-Squad)
Christian Morris (Metro Hawks)
Ned Parker (Middletown Bulldogs)
Marquise Jackson (Middletown Bulldogs)
DeAndre Little (F, Monmouth Power)
Greg Ford (F, Monmouth Power)
Norran McDonald (Student Athlete Broncos)
Reggie Davis (Student Athlete Broncos)
15:U Age Division
It took a South Carolina Hoopsters bus breaking down in Virginia for the New York Gauchos to get off of the Waiting List and gain a late entry into the 2005 GymRat CHALLENGE, but they certainly made the best of that advantageous opportunity–winning the 15-and-under championship for the second straight year. Paced by the disruptive trio of Jordan Theodore, Jonathan Rigg and Dorand Scott, the Gauchos produced two of most lopsided victories of the event with wins of 43 and 49 points, respectively, in pool play. The Gauchos, however, also showed they know how to win close contests as well — knocking off Metro NY rival Long Island Lightning (63-59) in pool play and the MC (Maryland) Bearcats (61-55) in the quarterfinals. In a hard-fought championship game against the Jersey Hot Shots, Theodore produced ten straight points down the stretch as the Gauchos registered a 49-47 title victory.
15:U GymRat CHALLENGE-MVG: Most Valuable GymRat
Jordan Theodore (6-0 PG, New York Gauchos): A BIG game performer with a BIG personality to match. The silky smooth style of this scoring point guard evoked memories of NY Gaucho and NBA alum Rod Strickland, as he took charge of his team by scoring the final ten points, including two free throws to seal the deal, of the Championship Game and led his team to only the second repeat championship in GymRat CHALLENGE history. Theodore was tireless both on and off the court throughout the event weekend creating scoring opportunities for teammates and creating engaging conversation with anyone that he could find with a notebook and pen. The combination of Theodore’s physical gifts and cerebral ability to showcase his offensive versatility by using his high percentage skills behind the arc to set up dribble penetration will make him effective and entertaining on any circuit.
15:U All-GymRat CHALLENGE Team
Kyree Sutton (6-8 C, Metro Hawks): This standout from Medgar Evers High School dominated the glass, blocked several shots and altered others, while displaying flashes of solid offensive potential. Sutton, who impressed the GymRat CHALLENGE staff by not bringing the ball down for smaller opponents to force tie-ups, definitely has a bright future ahead.
Junior Glover (6-4 F, Eddie Curry Running Rebels): This rugged lefty patrols the paint with confidence at both ends of the floor. Glover uses a variety of moves to generate quality offensive numbers, while also setting up teammates for easy opportunities with his superior passing skills.
Jonathan Rigg (6-3 SF, New York Gauchos): Showed off a wide array of offensive skills — scoring in traffic, coming off screens and when displaying his potent perimeter skills. Rigg has the kind of offensive upside college coaches crave.
Dorand Scott (PG/SG, New York Gauchos): A 14-year-old sensation, Scott caused the opposition a multitude of problems. Sliced his way to the basket with ease, and still found time to humble opponents with his jumper. Certainly showed to be one of the most exciting players in the 15-and-under field.
Chris Prescott (6-2 SG/SF, Connecticut Young Gunz): Always in command, Prescott appeared at times to be toying with foes. A top notch passer and scorer who is also adept at the defensive end. Prescott showed off a solid jumper from 17-feet in. If he can extend his range to a consistent at the three-point line, Prescott has the potential to become “scary good.”
Tyrone Gardner (5-11 PG, Connecticut Young Gunz): A lefty dynamo, Gardner sets up teammates for quality opportunities on the break or in the half-court offense. Uses his dribble effectively to break down defenders, Gardner kept opponents honest with his outside shooting and exploited those misguided enough who came too close.
Adam Salzmann (6-4 SF, Albany City Rocks-Carrasquillo): Loves to show off his baseline jumper, an arsenal of all-around skills and a zest for the game few can match. A player capable of notching five steals, five assists, five blocked shots and five drawn charges every time he takes the court. Salzmann’s relentless style makes any team he competes for instantly better.
Doug Hogue (6-2 SF/PF, New York Ravens): Soared over, around and even through his foes for positive results. Blessed with incredible leaping ability, Hogue proved to be a crowd pleaser because of his ability to finish, tenacious play on the glass and flair for the dramatic.
Michael Smith (6-4, PF/SF, New York Ravens): Punished anyone foolish enough to test him around the basket, Smith uses both hands adeptly in the paint to foil any attempts at stopping him. Enjoys running the floor and isn’t afraid to bang inside, Smith and teammate Doug Hogue are quite a handful.
Brian Hutchinson (6-5 PF, Long Island Lightning-Harkins): Uses his body well inside, Hutchinson can score by posting up or by attacking the rim off the dribble. He is a rugged two-way performer who could really elevate his game by improving his outside shot.
Spencer Liddic (6-5 C/PF, Hoop City Gold): An inside performer of note, Liddic scores, rebounds, defends and entertains. The upside potential is definitely there.
Malcolm Austin (6-2, SF/SG, Albany City Rocks-Carrasquillo): A complete player, Austin showed there are no limitations of what he can become by scoring inside, outside and in transition — with equal effectiveness.
R.J. Evans (6-1 PG, B.A.N.G.): A classic point guard with maturity behind his years, Evans achieves results as a playmaker with outstanding court vision, superior instincts and coolness when facing duress. Evans does operate under a ‘pass-first’ mentality, but don’t be fooled — he can score in a multitude of ways.
Jimmy Burke (5-10 PG, Jersey Hot Shots): You just can’t leave Burke any room to operate, as the diminutive floor general drained seven 3-pointers in one contest. Enjoys breaking opponents down, and making his teammates look good.
Honorable Mention Selections
Jack Keough (6-5 PF, Southern Tier Rage)
Brendan Doherty (5-11 PG/SG, Southern Tier Rage)
Tyseane Whitt (5-9 PG, Firm AC)
Evan Guignet (6-0 SG/SF, Firm AC)
Jamel Lyde (5-9 PG, Albany City Rocks-Carrasquillo)
Shane Gibson (SG, B.A.N.G.)
Aaron Hill (6-0 G, Chillies)
Zachery Zielinski (6-8 C, Chillies)
David Diakite (6-4 SG/SF, MC Bearcats)
Daryl Walford (6-5 F, Connecticut Young Gunz)
Antonio Monroe (5-10 PG, Pennsylvania Red Storm)
DeWayne Davis (6-3 SG/SF, Pennsylvania Red Storm)
Ezekeil Johnson (5-9 PG, Providence United)
Brian Katz (G, Long Island Lightning-Lyons)
Mat Cajuste (F, Long Island Lightning-Lyons)
Clayton Gray (6-4 C, Newburgh Zion Lions)
Mark Christian (6-1 G, Newburgh Zion Lions)
Luke Nawrocki (F, Long Island Lightning-Abruscato)
Sean Rogers (G, Long Island-Lightning-Abruscato)
Russell Ellington (6-0 SG, Eddie Curry Running Rebels)
Kyle Flannery (6-5 C, Jersey Shore)
Will Bayliss (5-8 PG, New Hampshire Falcons)
Georgio Milligan (6-0 G, Metro Hawks)
Dorvell Carter (6-3 SG, Metro Hawks)
Allen Forbes (F, Metro Hawks)
Alex Asher (6-4 C, East Coast Fusion)
Keith Moss (6-1 SG, New York Ravens)
Adam Sarraga (5-6 PG, Teaneck Youth)
Bill Baron (5-8 SG/PG, Rhode Island Bubba Ball-Anderson)
Manny Odugbela (Rhode Island Breakers)
Bryan Dougher (6-0 SG, Jersey Hot Shots)
Lordly Okarter (6-4 PF/C, Jersey Hot Shots)
Dejan Korac (F, Westchester Gauchos)
Masenga Kabongo (C, Westchester Gauchos)
Joe Jackson (G, Connecticut Uptempo)
Ben Cranca (6-8 C, Rhode Island Bubba Ball-Sabation)
Matt Peboles (6-4 F, Tornado Youth)
John Snead (F, Long Island Lightning-Harkins)
Dante Taylor (6-8 C, New York Gauchos)
Jeffrey Doret (6-1 SF, Montreal Bisons)
Ludovic Ndaye (6-6 C, Montreal Bisons)
Chris Diaz (5-7 PG, Teaneck Youth)
Jamal Campbell (F.Y.A.)