By STEVE AMEDIO
GymRat CHALLENGE Director of Communications
Now in its 18th year, the GymRat CHALLENGE has a well-earned reputation as a showcase, and a launching pad for emerging basketball talent. The event annually features the “NEXT” ones … the next Stephen Curry, the next Joakim Noah, the next Emeka Okafor, all of whom earned their GymRat stripes at one of the nation’s most competitive AAU basketball events.
In past years, the event has featured a future NCAA scoring leader (Jimmer Fredette), multiple NCAA rebound leaders including Michael Beasley, Kenneth Farried and O.D. Anosike, as well as several players who led their teams to NCAA national championships including, among others,, Cole Aldrich (Kansas/Minnesota Magic), Luol Deng (Duke/East Coast Cyclones), and Kemba Walker (NY GAUCHOS), Shabazz Napier (Metro Boston), and the aforementioned Okafor (Houston Lynx) who all led U.CONN to the National Title.
“The GymRat is an event that is second to none. Everyone would prefer to fly first class, and this is a first-class event” says Jacque Rivera who led his talented PSA Cardinals to the 2015 17U GymRat CHALLENGE crown. “The event is absolutely phenomenal, from the talent to the level of evaluation to the way the crowds get into the games, to the facilities, to the people who work the event who make us all feel so welcome. It is just a first-class event in every way” continued Rivera who also is the head coach at The MacDuffie School in Granby, MA. “With so many games in such a short period, success here requires toughness and the players learn what it takes to be competitive. This isn’t like some tournaments; This is like a boot camp. It takes a will and endurance to be successful here. It’s a great developmental tool in discovering or revealing who players really are.”
The GymRat CHALLENGE has become a trusted and respected proving ground among great players and college coaches. An “if you can do it there, you can do it anywhere” place where reputations have been earned for nearly two decades, and where young players wait their turn to be “NEXT”. As a matter of fact, the elder statesman among GymRat NBA alums, Okafor who was the 2004 NCAA National Player of the Year and the 2005 NBA Rookie of the Year, sent a text to his former Houston Lynx AAU coach Geroge Schudy in advance of the event. “He wanted us to remind the boys on this year’s team that the GymRat CHALLENGE was where he first made his mark” said Schudy. “He still says to this day that the GymRat is where he realized he could compete at a national level, and he wanted these young men to know that this year was their chance to do the same thing.”
Often, we won’t know just who the next break-out star to come out of the GymRat until several years later, when the stars begin to shine brightly on the national college scene and beyond. However, there isn’t much doubt about who sits at the top of the class of future stars from the 2015 GymRat CHALLENGE. One didn’t have to look long and hard to notice a still-slender but extremely talented 6-foot-11 Mohamed Bamba dominating play here at both ends of the court as he led his PSA Cardinals’ program to a championship of the 17-under division, the event’s top age grouping, this year.
Bamba displayed a rare all-around game with the perimeter skills of a much smaller player combined with a dominating inside ability that saw him score almost at will when he got the ball in the paint, and denied others from doing the same as a defender.
Bamba is already one of the most sought after prospects in the country with Arizona, Syracuse Florida State, and U. CONN leading the pack of suitors now, but with many more of college basketball’s most celebrated programs to surely come knocking this summer.
What makes that even more remarkable is that the slender center is only a rising junior, having played up an age level at this year’s event. Additionally, the best thing is that he is every bit as quality an individual as he is a basketball player, as anyone who had any interaction with him during the tournament’s two-day Memorial Day Weekend, will attest. “He’s one of the most talented players that we’ve ever had here and that puts him in some pretty rare company” commented GymRat CHALLENGE Executive Director John Kmack. “The depth of his skill set as a player was on full display for everyone to see, but his depth and intelligence as a person is even more impressive. The only thing that supersedes Mo Bamba’s potential as a player is his potential as a human being. He’s going to be a STAR at the next level, and beyond, both on and off the court. He will be a great ambassador for anything that he represents”
Bamba is a straight A student at Westtown School, a boarding school in West Chester, PA., where his favorite subject, he says, has been advanced placement biology. Someone once said about Bamba that he might first be a professional star and, later, become President of the United States. And, maybe, with a career as a particularly tall physician between all of that.
He most definitely is “NEXT,” with a bright future no matter what direction life takes him.
His play, along with that of some talented teammates, enabled PSA Cardinals to break away from a close championship game against the formidable Jersey Shore Warriors, a program that had won this event in three of the previous four years.
Bamba, though, wasn’t the lone talent here nor was there any less excitement on the way to championships won at the younger age brackets.
Dominick Welch, an athletic 6-foot-4 guard, helped spearhead a rally from a 19-point second-half deficit to lead the City Rocks to a come-from-behind victory in the 16-under division’s title contest.
The City Rocks also won at the 15-under level with a talented squad that had to play some tough defense along the way to get its division crown….one aided by the superlative point-guard skills of MVG (Most Valuable GymRat) Greg Dolan.
Another storied AAU program, the New York Gauchos, won at the 14-under level in the most-dramatic way. Down by two points with four seconds remaining, dynamic guard Joel Simpson took an in-bounds pass, took six dribbles, pulled up at the top of the key and drained a game-winning three-pointer just as the final horn sounded.
At 13-under level, a developing 6-foot-1 youngster, Khai Smith, played well beyond his years on the offensive end while teammate Odarhi Hibberts drew accolades for his defensive prowess to lift the Mass Commanders to a division championship.
At the 12U Age Division, it was total team play and superlative overall defense, a good portion of it directed by developing point guard Antonio Sellers who led the Gauchos to yet another GymRat title.
With the largest Waiting List in the 18-year history of the event climbing to 127 teams, there were many who wanted to be at the GymRat CHALLENGE but were stuck on the outside looking in. “The toughest part of the event each year is having to leave so many teams out” says Kmack. “We tell teams to register early each year, but some just wait too long. We’d like every kid to have the GymRat CHALLENGE experience, but there has to be an upper limit in order to make sure that we continue to provide the kind of evaluation services that have defined us over the past 18 years. The moral of that story, is GET IN EARLY.”
However, those that did make the cut, put on quite a show that was worthy of the GymRat recognition listed below.
17:U AGE DIVISION REPORT
SARATOGA SPRINGS — When asked about the attribute that best personified 17-under age bracket champion the PSA Cardinals here over Memorial Day weekend, the division’s Most Valuable GymRat, Mohamed Bamba, needed just a single word.
The word was “Will.”
As in a will to win, a will to endure, a will to succeed despite a grueling schedule of games over a short period of time.
“We played seven games in about 30 hours here,” said Bamba. “It took a collective will to get through that, to fight through fatigue. It was a lesson for us in learning what it takes to succeed in this kind of environment.”
Of course it didn’t hurt at all that the PSA Cardinal team could rely on Bamba, a rising junior at the Westtown (PA) School who is a slender yet extremely proficient 6-foot-11 multi-talented player on the radar of just about every high-major Division 1 program nationally.
And, Bamba’s play here, a combination of dominating inside production along with some long-range shooting and the quickness, athleticism and on-court skills associated with players considerably smaller, showed why he already has offers from, among others Syracuse, UConn, Arizona and Florida State with undoubtedly many more to come.
The school that eventually wins what is certain to be a highly contested recruiting battle will not only be getting a quality player but a quality person as well. Well-spoken, polite and an outstanding student, Bamba lists his favorite high school class so far as biology and expresses a philosophy about the recruiting process that belies his age.
And, he has a game far different than that usually associated with a 6-foot-11 player. “I grew up in Harlem and played at an outdoor court called the Big Park,” he said. “If you wanted to get picked for pick-up games, you better be able to dribble and shoot.”
Bamba did all of that here throughout the age-bracket’s games played at Skidmore College while leading a talented team to a 63-53 over a traditionally powerful Jersey Shore Warriors’ program that claimed the GymRat’s top age division’s title five times in the event’s previous 17 years.
The proud Jersey team didn’t go down without a fight. Its typically balanced attack got its deficit down to a single point at halftime, before the Cardinals took over in the second half.
Another potent big man, 6-7 Hassan French, led the winners’ offense with 16 points in the championship contest.
“They are a very good team,” said Jersey Shore coach Tony Sagona. “They’re good inside and they’re good outside.”
“We were just very determined to give a strong effort with good team play and we shared the ball well … better than we usually do,” said PSA coach Jacque Rivera. “We stress team play and toughness as what it takes to be successful. But we also stress that our players need to concentrate on academics in order to be a success beyond the court.”
17:U AGE DIVISION MVG – MOST VALUABLE GYMRAT
Mohamed Bamba, 6-11 center, PSA Cardinals/ Westtown School: A long, athletic, bouncy big man who is not only a huge defensive presence around the rim but can go out on the perimeter to guard some smaller players. Good rebounder and excellent finisher around the rim. Good range on shot. Handles the ball like a guard. Extremely versatile. Big-time spin move from the baseline. Played up an age level. Almost unstoppable here when he got the ball in the paint, shooting 81.6 percent from the floor. But, even more impressive on the defensive end. Already a high-major prospect being recruited by ACC, Big East, Big Ten schools. Ranked as a top 20 prospect nationally, Bamba possess straight-to-the-NBA talent if rules permitted. Among the current leaders to land Bamba are Arizona, Syracuse, Florida State, and U. CONN. More will certainly enter that race as the summer moves on.
17:U AGE DIVISION ALL‐GymRat CHALLENGE TEAM
Najja Hunter, 6-5 wing, PSA Cardinals/Westtown School: An athletic wing player who plays hard on both ends of the floor. Strong and quick, he can beat defenders off the bounce. Good finisher at the rim and can make pull-up mid-range jumpers. Class of 2017, starting to hear from A-10 and CAA-level schools.
Myron Gordon, 6-1 combo guard, Central Jersey Future Stars/ Bordentown Regional: A quick, athletic guard with a good handle, making him capable of playing either backcourt spot. Aggressive scorer who can get to the rim and finish. Pull-up jumper range is outstanding in the 15-foot range, and made several three-pointers here, as well.
Ben Eckstrom, 6-4 shooting guard, Locker 1/Olean H.S.: A deadly shooter with a smooth and quick release. Moves well without the ball to find opportunities to put himself in scoring position. Can shoot three’s off the dribble, and made some extremely deep treys in play here.
Jordan Vidal, 5-11 point guard, PSA Cardinals/Commonwealth Academy: A strong, athletic point guard who does a great job of running very talented team. Uses his size and quickness to get into the lane and make plays. Good outside shooter, too. Can shoot three-pointers efficiently with his feet set. Playing up an age level. Hearing from UMass, Iona, Buffalo.
Derrick Felder, 6-1 shooting guard, House of Sports-Pride/Saunders H.S.: A strong, athletic guard who plays really hard on both ends. He can get in the paint to score or make plays for teammates by drawing defenders and dishing. Plays defense very well and is an oustanding rebounder for his size.
Darius Chester, 6-3 shooting guard, LI Lightning Walsh/St. Mary’s: A skilled guard with excellent quickness and athleticism. Rebounds well for his position and can lead the fast break. Great passer in transition. Gets to the rim and gets to the FT line with ease. Very capable 3-point shooter with feet set. Playing up an age level.
Jimmy Boeheim, 6-6 shooting guard, Syracuse Nets/Jamesville-Dewitt: A guard with excellent size and dynamic perimeter skill set. Smooth stroke and quick release out to beyond the three-point range. Also, good with the ball, passing and/or creating. Runs the court well and has ability to score in transition.
Darryl Caldwell, 5-9 point guard, Jersey Shore Warriors-Blue/Connestoga H.S.: A quick, strong guard who can penetrate into the paint with ease. Good finisher at the rim and excellent drive & kick game. A little bit of flare in transition and is a capable 3-point shooter.
Hasahn French, 6-7 forward, PSA Cardinals/Commonwealth Academy: A big, strong and super-physical forward who can play in the paint or on the wing. A man among boys here. Built like an NFL tight end. He can “bully” opponents to get into the paint and finish through contact. Excellent and relentless rebounder. Can make shots out to 3-point range, but is at his best in mid-range and on pull-ups. Early interest from Big East, A-10 level teams.
Seth Stankiewicz, 6-2 point guard, East Coast Cyclones/The Hill School: A big, tough left-handed point guard. He has a great first step, and can really change speeds effortlessly to get past defenders. Great feel in the open floor to score at the rim or create for others. Great body control in traffic. Pure stroke with quick release and range to the bonus stripe.
Keith Brayton, 6-4 wing, East Coast Cyclones/Lawrenceville School: A big, strong and physical wing. Outstanding handle for a bigger wing. Great finisher at the rim through traffic and contact. Can make a set three. Competes hard at both ends. Has a knack for getting to 50-50 balls. Needs only to improve shooting range consistency to be a legit D-1 prospect.
Owen Murray, 6-4 point guard, House of Hoops-Williams/Westfield H.S.: A big point guard who is great in the open floor and pushing in transition. Finishes at the rim with either hand. Great change of speeds’ burst allows him to live in the paint. Good feel for the game with an extremely high hoops’ IQ. Always makes the right play. Needs only improved range to be legit Ivy/Patriot-level prospect.
Drew Gagnon, 6-5 wing, House of Hoops-Wilkliams/Pingry H.S.: A big, long and lean wing. Has deep spot-up range to three-point line with great elevation on his jumper. Attacks the offensive glass out of his area with effort and athleticism. Explosive athlete in space. Can get his shot off anytime with size and elevation. Needs only to improve ability to score in traffic.
Pat Andree, 6-8 forward, Jersey Shore Warriors/Christian Brothers Academy: A big, stretch forward. Has deep, deep catch-and-shoot range out beyond the 3-line. Great with the pick/pop in 2-man game. Can really handle it on perimeter for a forward. Great passer and strong court IQ. Very quick release on catch/shoot. Needs only to improve interior scoring to maximize his potential. Already offers from some A-10’s, Ivy and Patriot level.
Tommy Funk, 6-0 point guard, Jersey Shore Warriors/ Archbishop Wood: A tough, lefty point guard. A great playmaker, particularly in the paint. Outstanding at changing speeds and has a lightning first step. Smooth stroke to 3-point range with a quick release. Has a soft touch in the paint, allowing him to finish over bigger defenders. Offer from Army and interest from several other Patriots.
Sam Iorio, 6-5 wing, Jersey Shore Warriors/Parkland H.S.: A big, strong wing. Great slasher and finishes above the rim and through contact. Has set range to 3-point line and made open ones at a high percentage. Can finish with either hand at the rim. Needs only to improve shooting off the dribble. Played up an age level. Offers from Patriots to to some Big East interest.
James Williams, 6-5 forward, South Central Select/Bishop McDevitt H.S.: A long, tough and athletic forward. Great footwork in the paint allows him to seal and finish over bigger defenders. High motor on the offensive glass. Quick jumper off the ground for quick finishes. Great with both hands finishing. Good athleticism allows him to defend multiple positions. Needs only to improve shooting range.
Vinny Dalessandro, 6-8 forward, Jersey Shore Warriors/Conwell Egan Catholic: A tough, strong yet undersized post player. Finishes through contact in the post. Mostly a catch/finish scorer on penetrate/kick. Great rebounder out of area with effort. High motor on both ends. Can defend multiple positions. Can make a set three. Just a true competitor. Some Patriots expressing interest.
Lucas Jarret, 6-6 forward, Renegades/Northport H.S.: A lefty forward who has exceptional athleticism and sneaky explosiveness. Has frame to put on needed weight. Shoots to three line and can drive either way to finish at the rim. Has a motor to grab rebounds, and great timing to block shots. Has a mid-range face-up game and good vision to make teammates better. Hearing from Ivies, America East level.
Jordan Lee, 6-6 Wing, Castle Athletics/Cardinal Hayes H.S.: A long, athletic wing who finishes at the rim with either hand. Has a nice high rlease and can shoot out to the 3-point line. Has a nice mid-range game. Elite-level athleticism that should get him a D-1 scholarship. Defensively has ability to get deflections and rebound his position. Looking at prep, some interest from LIU and St. Francis (N.Y.).
Mike Lestor, 5-11 point guard, Castle Athletics/ICE School: A floor general with ability to make teammates better. He is left-handed dominant but can go right. Has an explosive first step going left and finishes at the rim. Shoots out to 3-point range with high-arcing shot. Changes speeds well and gets deflections on defensive end.
Acosta Kittles III, 6-5 wing, South Jersey All Stars/Glassboro H.S.: A very big and strong guard/forward with a nice-looking stroke. Attacks the basket and finishes with either hand. Very deceptive on offensive end with effective fakes and stops/starts. Vocal leader on the court. Very good on-ball defender.
Austin Kearney, 6-6 post, South Jersey All Stars/Gloucester County Christian: High motor/hustle guy who would run through a wall to get rebounds and defend the post. An athletic post who scores on the block with left-shoulder post moves. Can shoot out to 12-to-15-foot range, but needs a little more consistency on shot.
Maliq Sanders, 6-6 wing, South Jersey All Stars/Eastern H.S.: A very long, athletic wing scorer. He gets to the rim with either hand and showed an ability to hit the 3. Handles the ball well for his size and can defend his position with his length. Should be able to add weight and, possibly, be effective guarding the post.
John Bamford, 6-2 point guard, United N.J./Warren Hills Regional H.S.: A big point guard with a strong handle. Deceptively quick first step going left. Right-handed, but finishes well going left. Can step out ahd hit a 3 with his feet set. A real hustle player with high-level motor on both ends. High IQ player with good vision to make teammates better, but can also score.
Shakiel Ponnie, 6-4 forward, Wiz Kids/Martin Luther King H.S.: Played up an age level, and a bull of a post player. Loves contact and finishes well with it. Showed ability to step out to 3ppoint line, but is very good at a right-hand drive and finish. A very high motor who seeks out rebounds and also works hard as an effective post defender.
Rick Allen, 5-9 combo guard, RAP Livonia/Livonia H.S.: A true shooter. With just a little space he can knock down 3’s. Can also get to the paint and score with a floater. Very tight handle and strong with the ball. Had some stretches here where he hit multiple 3’s in succession. Very high IQ player who makes teammates better.
Todd Scottswood, 6-9 post, Anaconda All Stars/Schenectady H.S.: A big-body post with good hands and decent footwork. A good athlete for his size (250 pounds) who showed he can finish over both shoulders using his right hand. Runs well and is a great ball screener. Needs to expand his range. Can be an effective rim protector.
Joey Katz, 6-2 point guard, CWB-Alexander/Scarsdale H.S.: A long point guard who is shifty and good at getting defenders off balance. Very good in pick-and-roll and creating something. Possesses various skill releases, especially the floater. Awkward release from three, but it goes in. All-around very good D-3 point guard potential right now.
Steven Low, 6-4 wing, Mike’s Dogs/Albany Academy: A very scrappy, tough player who moves well without the ball. High motor at both ends. Showed an outstanding three-point ability here. Absolutely cannot be left open. Projects as a good D3 player right now.
Jonathan Stevens, 5-10 point guard, Prestige Patriots/Plainfield H.S.: Quick point who changes speeds well and is outstanding in transition game. Consistently beat defenders off the bounce to get to the paint. Pesky on-ball defender with the ability to bother his assignment over full 94 feet.
Josiah Cobbs, 6-1 shooting guard, East Coast Panthers/Briarcliff H.S.: A shooting guard with a strong and athletic frame. Capable of knocking down the three, but best going to the basket and in mid-range territory. Came up with strong showing against division champ PSA Cardinals where his athleticism and strength helped him finish vs. high-level defenders.
Malik Pouncy, 6-3 shooting guard, PSA Cardinals/Commonwealth Academy: Powerfully built guard with a consistent stroke from deep. A strong frame and good athleticism allows him to finish through contact. Adequate, but not superb ball handler. Looks to be a solid D-2 prospect for now with potential to expand his game.
Andrai Bailey, 6-3 wing, Dream To Achieve/Kingston H.S.: Big small-college guard potential who is a very good outside shooter. Showed ability to score in mid range as well. Far better suited to scoring off the ball than creating for himself with it. Nice prospect who had a good overall weekend here.
Joseph Santoro, 5-7 point guard, L.I. Lightning Rea/Island Trees: A small point guard who is very shifty and good at changing pace. Uses a tight handle to get defenders off balance. Gets into the paint effectively and creates for teammates. Has a nice mid-range floater to score among the giants. Also, capable from 3-point territory.
Justin Caldwell, 6-6 power forward, Long Island Select/Baldwin H.S.: Still a bit raw offensively, but impressive with a good motor and an ability to block and change shots. Really pursues the ball at all time. Did a good job establishing position in the post. Improved footwork would dramatically improve his conversion rate, but has good potential.
William Sessoms, 6-8 power forward, Prestige Patriots/St. Mary’s: A long athlete who gets up and down the floor well for his size. Has good hands. Catches everything throw in his territory. Also, good footwork that allows him to score effectively from 12 feet and in. Showed shooting range out to 15-to-17-foot territory.
Marcus Keyser, 6-6 forward, Houston Lynx/Cleveland H.S.: An athletic forward with great length. While he showed range out to 17 feet and is quick up and down the floor … he seems more comfortable closer to the basket. He rebounds effectively even out of his zone and finished consistently against contact.
Terrell Brown, 6-0 guard, WNY Braves/Amherst H.S.: A point guard with a great handle. Has a strong frame. Attacks the rim and is very good in the open floor. Sees the floor well. Gets guys open and creates shots for them. Overall, just needs a little more of a consistent shot from the perimeter. Overall, solid finisher but could use added muscle. Hearing from D3’s right now.
Gary Foster, 6-6 forward, WNY Braves/Early Middle College School: A strong and athletic frame that looks like it could get even stronger. Very good finisher around the rim through contact and above the rim. Rebounds well, even outside of his area. Needs work on perimeter game, but looks to have good upside. Has a high motor and goes to work. Ability to take it coast-to-coast.
William Watkins, 6-1 guard, Central Mass Swarm/Oak Hill Academy: A crafty shooting guard. He shoots lights out with long range and a quick release. He had a tournament-best 8 three-pointers in a pool-round game and five treys in another game here. Gets out and attacks in transition. Rebounds well for his size. Early D-3 interest so far.
Keandre Augustine 5-9 point guard, Long Island Lightning/Roslyn H.S.: Very quick point guard with great handle and speed. Very good finisher for his size, outstanding in traffic. Good in the open floor; finds and creates offense for his teammates. A threat coming off ball screens, getting his team into an offensive flow or knocking down a jumper.
Darnell Edge, 6-1 guard, Early Risers LaFrance/Saugerties H.S.: A point guard with a great handle. Strong frame. Creates his own offense and offense for others. A real floor general. Finishes well around the hoop and in transition. Great shot from anywhere. Outstanding shooting form. 2015 grad, looking to re-classify.
Justin Powell, 6-6 post, Early Risers LaFrance/Pine Bush H.S.: A long, athletic post player. He controls the paint with athleticism and length. He has great timing for blocking shots. Runs the floor and finishes. High-motor player. Very good hands and feet. Good rebounder and good shooting touch around the rim. Showed range to 3-point line.
Randy Bell, 6-3 wing, N.J. Soldiers/Timber Creek H.S.: A strong, athletic frame. Good in transition and at getting to the rim on the move. Attacks the rim and is a good finisher when he gets there. Showed an ability to shoot the three in games here. Looks to have a nice upside. Just needs to work on handle and overall decision-making.
Connor Laverty, 6-5 forward, N.J. Soldiers/Ocean City H.S.: Knows how to play. Gets his own shots and also sets up teammates. Good handle for his size, with maybe even a little room for improvement. Shoots well with range, and off the dribble. Adding a little built will only elevate his game more. Aggressive at attacking the rim off the catch.
Kian Dalyrimple, 6-4 forward, Crown-Black/Half Hollow Hills: A very versatile player. Good spring around the basket. Runs the floor and finishes at the rim. Ball-handling needs improvement and can work on defensive positioning. But, good overall potential and looks like he will fill out. Could be D-1, or D-2 player.
Zac O’Dell, 6-6 forward, 518 Team/Schalmont H.S.: His height and versatility enables him to play three or four positions. High motor, lots of energy and very aggressive on offense. He can also guard the paint and be an effective top-of-defense player in a full-court press. Has good shooting range and strong potential.
Cameron Jordan, 6-4 forward, Crown Black, Half Hollow Hills West: A long and lanky wing player. He can rebound the ball very well in traffic. High motor. Has a presence on the defensive end. Just needs to expand shooting range, but looks to have potential to be a very nice player.
Eric Johnson, 6-5 forward, Wayne PAL Wolfpack/Passaic County Tech Institute: A very athletic player. With his wing span and jumping ability, looks to play a few inches behind his listed height. Excellent rebounder and shot-changer on the defensive end. He can also score around the basket. Much potential. Ivies, West Point, UMass-Lowell showing early interest.
Jordan Harris, 6-1 point guard, Wayne PAL Wolfpack/The Lawrenceville School: A very good floor leader. Sees the floor very well. Has a strong handle and can get to the basket with ease in transition. Also a strong body with the will to play that will serve him well at the next level. Ivies, other academic schools involved.
Matt Latka 6-4 small forward, Wayne PAL Wolfpack/Ramapo H.S.: A very versatile player with good shooting range from the outside. He can also run the floor and finish at the rim with either hand. Needs to work on foot speed and defensive close outs, but still a very good all-around player. UMass-Lowell, Loyola showing early interest.
Rob McWilliams, 6-2 shooting guard, Metro Rockets Elite-Martinez/Tappan Zee H.S.: A good, all-around scoring threat. Exhibited an above average long-range and mid-range shot here. But, also showed ability to get into the paint and finish around the basket. Looks to have a good feel for the game.
Ryan Morrissey, 6-1 point guard, South Shore Wolf Pack/Plymouth South H.S.: A tough point guard with an extremely high motor; plays very hard on both ends of the court. Does a good job at moving and creating shots for his teammates. Also showed the ability to keep defenses honest with 3-point shooting range.
Sean Crowley, 6-7 post, CWB Gormley/Briacliff H.S.: Good back-to-the basket game. Great feel in the post. Also very good touch around the rim. Soft touch on jump hooks. Can step out and hit the occasional mid-range jumper. Showed an ability to get the ball on the perimeter and drive to and finish at the rim.
Max Bosco, 5-10 point guard, CWB Gormley, Scarsdale H.S.: A smart and tough point guard. A very good floor general/playmaker. Outstanding in transition. Also a good shooter. Showed an effective three-point shot while here, but also mixes in mid-range shooting off the dribble.
Jamel Holloway, 6-4 small forward, Philly Freedom Stars-Black/Camden H.S.: A strong, physical player who loves to drive to the basket and has the strength to finish vs. contact. Also showed ability to make open 15-to-18 footer, but his best work is done around the rim. A tough defender and rebounder. Getting football offers from Temple, Purdue and others.
Mansfield Warren, 5-8 point guard, CAS Panthers/St. Mary’s Elizabeth H.S.: A true point guard who makes his team go. High motor, plays hard at both ends. A “playmaker” who showed ability to create shots for himself as well as for others. Decent three-point shooter, but he is at his best when attacking the defense.
Jason Rebuck, 6-4 forward, York Ballers/Red Lion H.S.: Terrific competitor, a real warrior mentality. Competes in post effectively even though undersized Effective post-up scorer, best going to his left shoulder but also capable of going to right shoulder using left hand. Patient scorer, unrushed. Very good passer facing hoop as well as in the post High IQ. Good rebounder at both ends.
Morgan Keiser, 6-6 forward, York Ballers/ Red Land H.S.: Versatile offensive forward, ability to score inside facing hoop and off the bounce. Very good passer and high IQ player. Makes 3 off the catch as well as scoring off pull-up on drive-created by shot fake. Good finisher. Good bounce, good rebounder on both ends. Runs floor. Good timing enables him block shots, protect rim.
Jared Wagner, 6-0 point guard, York Ballers/Central York H.S.: Consummate winner, team first … whatever-it-takes player. Tough-minded defender on and off the ball. High IQ evident on defensive end as well as on offense. Very good passer and has ability to make the 3 or get to rim and finish with either hand. Ability to post up and score on iso play.
Alex Preston, 6-7 power forward, Academic Basketball Club/Darien H.S.: Developing athletic forward/center with good bounce and upside. Very mobile side-to-side as well as up and down floor. Great potential defensively. Work in progress on offense, still. Best results come easily on offensive board. Can catch-and-finish, and score in transition. Good release on perimeter shot, but needs time, space and confidence to hit that right now.
Makes free throws. Good ability to pass to weak side out of post.
Dom Cristiano, 6-6 forward, Academic Basketball Club/Green Farms Academy: Very live body, big-time bounce; very good mobility up and down the floor and side-to-side Offensive still developing. For now he scores best on offensive rebounds and catch and finish plays in transition. Did make a nice catch-and-shoot 18-footer, showing future potential. Confidence and skill in that area, though, still developing. Showed definite scholarship-level bounce.
Andy Resignac, 6-2 wing, Early Risers-LaRegina/Washingtonville H.S.: Good-sized wing with strength to be effective scorer inside and competing on backboard. Made 3’s off catch as well as attacked basket effectively with either hand. Uses change-of-seeds with dribble and head fake to create driving lanes. Exhibited ability to score in mid-range as well. Lets game come to him, showing high IQ for playing.
Anthony Johnson, 6-8 forward, Team Supernatural/Harrisburg H.S.: Good offensive player with ability to score inside and out. Makes 3 off catch. Can handle and finish in transition. Good shot fake to create drive right. Decent shot blocker. Has power game. Uses inside pivot effectively to score from block to 15-foot range. Unselfish with good passing instincts. Good offensive rebounder who finishes with authority.
Kobi Nwandu, 6-4 wing, Team Supernatural/Northeastern H.S.: Long, athletic guard with good ball skills. Uses change-of-speed to read and attack defense. Gets to rim and finishes with either hand. His length and athleticism aid his finishing ability. Cuts well on offense Shows good court IQ. More consistency with jumper would make him next-to-unstoppable.
Riley Collins, 6-0 point guard, Ocean Elite/Donovan Catholic H.S.: Good point guard with a good handle. Effectively changes speeds to create opportunities to attack basket. Patient decision-maker who reads defenses, adding to his outstanding passing ability. Competes defensively. High court IQ. Makes 3’s off catch and dribble, especially when defender goes under ball screen.
Michael Boice, 6-2 guard, Ocean Elite/Donovan Catholic H.S.: Strong guard with very good ball skills. Very good off dribble, scoring off ball screen. Competes defensively. Shows high IQ o both ends. More consistency with his perimeter jumper would make him a difficult cover due to his terrific ball skills, ability to read defenses. Attacks the rim and delivers the ball to open teammates.
Steve Ferebee, 6-6 forward, Ocean Elite/Absegami H.S.: A long and athletic wing who affects the game defensively and on both backboards. Very good at getting to and finishing at the rim due to his length and athleticism. Makes the three-pointer off the catch. High motor, helps him be a very good offensive rebounder.
Micahel Evans, 6-3 wing, Playmaker Academy Pumas/Walter Panas H.S.: An athletic and long guard who works it defensively. Uncanny shot-blocker for a perimeter player. Cuts effectively on offense. Very unselfish cutter as well as a passer that contributes to “team” offensive play. Can make the three-pointer. Just need a little more consistency on long-range shots. Very good offensive rebounder.
Matt Redhead, 6-5 forward, Fundamental Sports/Fox Lane H.S.: Good post-up scorer. Most effective to left shoulder and right hand. Good overall touch finishing around the rim. Competes hard on boards. Decent athlete. runs the floor well. Good with the ball in right hand in transition, mostly on straight-line drives, but not yet a change-of-direction finisher.
Lorenzo Williams, 6-4 forward, Next Level Youth/North Brunswick H.S.: Good left-handed forward prospect who runs the floor and finishes with authority in transition. Competes defensively individual and also has good team principles. Is a capable shot-blocker. Most effective on the offensive end in the lane around baskets. Did not show a face-up jumper here. Plays both ends with patience and high IQ.
17:U ALL‐GymRat CHALLENGE HONORABLE MENTION
Aishon Centino, 6-3 point guard, Philly Freedom Stars-Black
Alex Wright, 6-4 small forward, CAS Panthers
Veshawn Polite, 6-4 small forward, CAS Panthers
Brendan Fitzpatrick, 6-1 shooting guard, Plainview JFK
Charles Fisher, 6-3 guard, Stanford Peace
Anthony John, 6-3 forward, Ottawa Phoenix
Rich Kelly, 6-3 guard, Stamford Peace
Clevans Lans, 6-2 forward, Crown Gold
Andrew Evans, 6-3 guard, Team 518
Khalif Jackson, 6-3 small forward, NBAC Bulldogs Blue
Kevin Jefferson, 5-11 combo guard, Metro Rockets Elite-Martinez
Matthew Terras, 6-1 point guard, D. Athleticz Club
Quran Brickhouse, 6-2 small forward, CWB-Gormley
Broguen Nicholas, 5-11 guard, York Ballers
Kris Johnson, 6-5 forward, York Ballers
Elie Monyal, 6-4 wing, Sun Youth
Chile Larraguibel, 6-5 forward, Academic Basketball Club
Arty Gray, 6-1 guard, Early Risers-LaRegina
Dontae Proctor, 6-2 guard, Team Supernatural
Naja Fink, 6-5 forward, Team Supernatural
Shavar Reynolds, 6-2 guard, Ocean Elite
Sean Salmon, 6-5 post, Playmaker Academy-Pumas
Nick Fazio, 6-10 center, Fundamental Sports
Will Brady, 6-1 guard, Fundamental Sports
Kessly Feizor 6-7 forward, Fundamental Sports
T.J. Wilson 6-4 forward, Middletown Finest
William Atkinson, 6-2 guard, WNY Braves
Kyle Bradley, 6-4 forward, WNY Braves
Kyle Harris, 6-2 guard, WNY Braves
Daevon Ravenell, 5-7 guard, Mt. Pleasant Bulldogs
Hunter Schenkel, 6-3 forward, LI Lightning-Peck
George Riefenstahl, 6-6 post, LI Lightning-Peck
Kevin Callahan, 6-0 guard, LI Lightning Peck
David Campbell, 6-2 guard, Central Mass Swarm
Michael Rapoza, 6-5 post, Central Mass Swarm
Shaun McCarthy, 6-3 post, Central Mass Swarm
Joseph Lewis, 6-4 forward, Central Mass Swarm
Riley Hayes, 6-7 center, Early Risers-LaFrance
Evan Santos, 6-2 guard, Bay State Magic-Reardon
Greg Schulze, 6-5 wing, LI Lightning-Schneider
Michael Bizzoso, 6-2 guard, LI Lightning-Schneider
Tyler Reiger, 6-3 forward, LI Lightning-Schneider
Brandon Beloti, 6-2 guard, Bay State Magic-Reardon
Matthew Valles, 6-6 post, Bay State Magic-Rerdon
D.J. Smith, 6-1 guard, New Jersey Soldiers
Isaiah Boissard 6-2 guard, Early Risers-LaFrance
Ishmael Chisholm, 5-11 guard, Early Risers-LaFrance
Taj Thorpe, 5-9 point guard Long Island Select
John Grossi, 5-7 point guard, Long Island Select
Taijuan Carothers, 6-1 shooting guard, Advanced Hoops
Thomas Gonzles, 6-4 wing, Advanced Hoops
Jerraune Jenkins, 6-0 guard, Prestige Patriots
William Phelps, 6-6 forward, Prestige Patriots
Zack Nolan, 6-1 point guard, CWB-Alexander
Carson Jacobs, 6-5 power forward, CWB-Alexander
Caleb Cantu, 5-11 guard, Dream To Achieve
Mike Alert, 6-0 point guard, Dream To Achieve
Vincent DiCaterino, 6-2 forward, Mike’s Dogs
Ian Schultz, 6-5 forward, Mike’s Dogs
John Ambert Jr., 5-10 point guard, LI Lightning-REa
Phil Toon, 5-11 point guard, East Coast Panthers
Jesse Breeding, 6-4 wing, East Coast Panthers
Robbie Hopkins, 5-10 point guard, LC Ballers
Devin Rajza, 5-11 guard, LC Ballers
Tyler Motley, 6-0 point guard, Houston Lynx
JaQualin Greene-Duplechain, 6-1 guard, Houston Lynx
Mekhi Cannon, 6-3 wing, Houston Lynx
Chris Lyons, 6-5 post, Connecticut Elite
Brennan Whelan, 5-10 guard, Renegades
Alex Merhige, 6-5 forward, Renegades
Arvon Gordon, 6-5 forward, ABC-Hoyas
Cheich Kone, 6-2 guard, Castle Athletics
George Peng, 5-8 guard, Castle Athletics
Justin Williams, 6-2 guard, South Jersey All Stars
Robert Pcorelli, 6-3 guard, Renegades
Sam Dagon 6-1 guard RAP Livonia
Brad Bliss, 6-4 forward, RAP Livonia
Michael Mann, 6-0 guard Anaconda All Stars
Damonte White, 6-6 post, Anaconda All Stars
Andre Morgan, 6-3 forward, Nbac Bulldogs II-Black
Princeton Louis, 6-2 forward, Nbac Bulldogs II-Black
Michael Nolson, 6-2 guard, Mass Premier Elite-Vaughn
Alex Dubrow, 5-8 guard, Mass Premier Elite-Vaughn
David Corchodi, 6-1 guard, Mass Premier Elite-Vaughn
Giovanni Gabbiden, 6-2 guard Wz Kids
Anthony Lopez, 5-11 guard, Woz Lods
Dante Morgan, 5-7 guard, Wiz Kids
Conor Lane, 6-8 post, United NJ
Deandre Downing, 5-11 guard, Metro Rockets Elite
Vinance Zoungrara, 6-6 forward, Castle Athletics
Zach Howarth, 6-2 point guard, Central Jersey Hawks
Max Lampe, 6-3 wing, South Central Select
Jordan Purcell, 6-1 guard, Spouth Central Select
Eddie Hendrex, 6-5 forward, East Coast Cyclones
Donnell Hill, 6-8 forward, East Coast Cyclones
Derrick Rowland, 6-1 point guard, Latham Legends
Taylor Funk, 6-8 forward, Jersey Shore Warrios
Ryan Daly, 6-4 wing, Jersey Shore Warriors
Kyle Stout, 6-5 wing, Jersey Shore Warriors
Kevin Davis, 6-5 power forward, Syracuse Nets
Losini Kamara, 6-2 guard, PSA Cardinals
Deondre Bourne, 6-2 point guard, PSA Cardinals
Paul Person, 6-0 point guard PSA Cardinals
Parker Dortch, 6-6 forward, Central Jersey Future
Joshua Wright, 6-7 forward, Central Jersey Future
Ben Holding, 6-6 forward, Bay State Magic-JENKINS
Chris Longo, 6-3 forward, ABC Krumins
Zachary Lamag, 5-9 point guard, Locker 1
Carter Schneider, 6-6 forward, Locker 1
Edwin Shields, 6-2 guard, CD Raptors
Luuis Cartagena Jr. 5-10 point guard, House of Sports Pride
Parker Hess, 6-1 guard, Jersey Warriors-Blue
Cal Reichwin, 6-2 guard, Jersey Warriors-Blue
Malcolm Wynter, 5-9 point guard, LI Lightning-Walsh
Jake Passarette, 5-11 guard, LI Lightning-Walsh
Jack Gaffney, 6-2 forward, Wayne PAL Wolfpack
16:U AGE DIVISION GYMRAT CHALLENGE REPORT
SCHENECTADY, NY — City Rocks-Black coach Ralph Tucker probably didn’t quote Yogi Berra when things weren’t looking good for his team late in its 16-under division’s championship game at Union College on Sunday, but he could easily have recited the old Yogi-ism about it not being over until it’s over.
It certainly looked like it could have been over for the Rocks, who were facing a 19-point deficit early in the second half and a 17-point, 45-28, hole with about five minutes left in the game.
During a break at that juncture, Tucker just told his team that it wasn’t over. “That’s exactly what I told the team,” said Tucker, a veteran coach in the high-powered City Rocks’ program that early in the year held the spot as the #1 ranked 16U team in the nation. “I told them they could do it if they could get five stops, whether it was a defensive stop, or getting a steal or a turnover.”
The Rocks’ press began to bother UPlay Canada, the championship-game opponent, and the comeback began … a steal here, a turnover there, some straight-up stops. Little by little, it all started to add up. “When you put in an effort like that, the sky is the limit,” said Tucker.
As the deficit dwindled, the winners got a big-time momentum boost when the tournament’s MVG (Most Valuable GymRat) Dominick Welch broke loose for a monstrous dunk late in the game-turning run. “All it took was a couple of good plays to start and, then, we got Dominick’s dunk … that really turned the momentum,” added Tucker.
The comeback eventually was complete and the City Rocks earned a 65-63 victory over UPlay Canada. Welch, an athletic 6-foot-4 forward, had a game-high 21 points and made all nine of his shot attempts from the floor.
The Rocks needed every one to secure the victory. Several members of the team were champions a year ago as well, winning the GymRat event’s 15-under age division. “We’ve been in difficult positions before, both last year and earlier this year,” added Tucker. “We knew we could come back. We have before. We kept pecking away at it. We knew if we put forth the effort this could happen. We just had to believe. All it took was a couple of good plays to reclaim the momentum.”
The end result was the City Rocks learned once again that the game wasn’t over until it was over.
16-U GYMRAT CHALLENGE MVG-MOST VALUABLE GYMRAT
Dominick Welch, 6-4 shooting guard, City Rocks-Black/Cheektowaga H.S.: Scored a game-high 20 points, and had a momentum-turning dunk that helped his team overcome a big deficit in the championship game. An explosive athlete with deep range on his jumper. Plays above the rim. Smooth operator. Gets to the rim with ease. Natural scorer, but also a willing passer. Keys the defense on top of the press. Already hearing from Buffalo, George Washington, among others.
16:U AGE DIVISION ALL-GYMRAT CHALLENGE TEAM
Abraham Kromah, 5-9 point guard, Prestige Patriots/Linden H.S.: Quick and explosive, particularly going to his left. Consistently finishes with contact. Good job handling pressure and traps in full court. Very poised. Good ball control. Competes and never takes a play off. Consistent with jumper when open. Pushes the ball up court at every opportunity.
Kyle Loften, 6-0 guard, Prestige Patriots/Bridgewater-Raritan H.S.: Handles the ball well for an off-guard. Makes correct reads in transition and distributes for open shots. Anticipates passing lanes and gets steals, deflections on defense. Uses shot fake to get defense out of position. Moves well without the ball to get his shot and will knock it down. Outstanding distance shooter.
Marique Simkin, 5-11 point guard, Primetime Ballers/Webster-Schroeder H.S.: Excellent athleticism with ability to finish on either side of the rim with either hand. Excellent court vision in half court setting. Good decision maker. Unselfish and always trying to find open man after breaking down defenders.
Keith McGee, 6-3 wing, Primetime Ballers/Leadership Academy H.S.: Slight body frame with long arms, but way-above-average athleticism. Standout long-range shooter, particularly from beyond the 3-point line. Not a primary ball-handler but can get away with bringing it up court against moderate pressure.
Aaron Clarke, 6-1 combo guard, PSA Cardinals/Roselle Catholic H.S.: A strong lefty guard who pushes the ball in transition. Good use of euro step and finish in traffic. He hit numerous threes here when left open. Can put the ball on the floor with either hand. Loves to race the ball up court. Rising sophomore with good upside.
Isaiah Mucius, 6-7 forward, PSA Cardinals/St. James School: Very long and athletic forward. Has ability to put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim, particularly going left. Plays with high motor, lots of energy on the defensive end. Uses length to his advantage. Has 3-point range, but would benefit from a quicker release.
Emmanuel Anson, 6-2 wing, Future Stars/Bordentown Regional H.S.: Just an extraordinary athlete. Even at his height, he plays above the rim. Outstanding wing player who plays with a high motor and gets out and runs the floor at every opportunity. Works on the defensive end and creates pressure on opposing ball handlers.
Hayden Byrd, 6-2 wing, Berkshire Elite/Drury H.S.: A lengthy wing who has a nice touch from behind the arc, showed a nice scoring touch here. Give him space and he will shoot it … pressure him and he’s capable of putting it on the floor and getting to the rim. Good-enough athlete. Able to finish with either hand in transition. Very high motor.
Alex Gaudette, 6-5 post, NH Fire/Souhegan H.S.: A big guy who eats up a lot of space in the paint. Not overly quick or athletic, but moves well enough for a big man. Soft touch from foul line and in and makes the 15-footer consistently. Keeps ball above his head on rebounds, fundamentally sound. Nice drop step/counter move. Finishes with both hands. Averaged 15.5 points here.
Rasjad Wood, 6-5 post, Bay State Magic/Brockton H.S.: Runs floor well at times, particularly for a “big.” Very active player at both ends. Rebounds well even out of his area. Soft touch around the basket and out to 15 feet. Capable scorer (15.0 ppg. here) who could even better with additional intensity.
Jack Spencer, 6-3 forward, Playmaker Academy/Rhinebeck H.S.: A double-double machine; points and rebounds come with ease because of his hustle. Every team’s must-have player. Very unselfish workhorse. Great touch around the rim. Gets out on fast break, catches passes and finishes with either hand.
Kevin Townes Jr, 6-0 guard, Playmaker Academy/Our Lady of Lourdes H.S.: A scorer that has no problem getting to the rim. Once there he finishes well with either hands against contact. Double-figure point scorer with ease. Also has a high motor. Not afraid to go inside and mix it up. Gets more than his share of rebounds.
Hassan Shaikh, 6-1 guard, Centra Mass Tar Heels/Shrewsbury H.S.: A terrific spot-up shooter, one of the best from long range here in this division. High motor and hustles on both ends of the floor. Knows how to move without the ball to open areas. Uses his hustle and desire to be a standout defender.
Shamar Dennis, 6-1 guard, Central Mass Tar Heels/Abby Kelly Charter: A 7th grader, playing up a couple of levels. An aggressive guard can play and score with anyone. Very quick first step, which allows him to get to the rim and finish. Very quick hands on defense. Very poised for such a young age. If he continues to develop, has an extremely high ceiling.
Christian Ford, 6-2 wing, South Jersey Jazz/Trenton Catholic H.S.: A solid guard that plays very well without the ball; knows how to get open. Very solid and strong frame, and uses it well to get position. Creates shots for teammates by drawing defenders and dishing off. When he catches in an open area, knows what to do.
Chase Lewis, 5-11 point guard, South Jersey Jazz/Princeton Day School: A terrific point guard that uses dribble moves and quickness to get to the basket and score with either hand. A true floor general who has above-average court vision. He sees open teammates and delivers good passes. Strong enough so that contact does not affect his shot.
Robert Veith, 6-3 forward, Playmaker Academy/Rhinebeck: A slashing forward who also has a nice jumper. Great around the rim, but not afraid to pull up and consistently convert out to the 3-point stripe. Smart player who knows where to be on the court. His IQ leads directly to his team’s offensive success. Very versatile skill set.
Jebidiah Howley, 6-4 forward, South Jersey Jazz/Haddon Township H.S.: An all-out hustle player whose motor never turns off at either end of the floor. Very strong player, good solid build who is a great rebounder. Gets more than his share of rebounds on pure desire. Won’t be denied on offense around the rim.
Savion Boissard, 6-3 wing, Early Risers-LaFrance/Valey Central H.S.: An all-around player. Puts in hard work at both ends of the floor. Very smooth operator when the ball is in his hands. Has ability to penetrate and finish with a soft touch at the rim, even against contact. Showed ability to step out and make long range shots.
Malique Vaval, 5-11 point guard, Early Risers-LaFrance/Beacon H.S.: A well-baanced point guard that creates offense for everyone. Showed a nice long-range shooting touch here, but often looks to get others involved. Very controlled under pressure. Looks to push the tempo whenever he can. Gets to the rim and finishes with either hand.
Travon Ford, 5-9 guard, B2L/Pope John School: A great penetrater who also showed the ability to consistently sink mid-range shots here. A strong motor, really hustles on both ends of the court. He gets points for himself often strictly on hustle. Good finisher when on the move. A true scorer.
Rashaad Anderson, 6-3 wing, Philly Freedom-Rd/Harriton H.S.: A big-body guard that doesn’t mind going down in the paint to do some dirty work. Very good inside, around the rim. A big-time rebounder who can really get off the ground. Plays above the rim. Also showed ability here to step outside and make perimeter shots.
Brandon Redendo, 5-9 guard, House of Sports-Pride/Our Lady of Lourdes H.S.: A pure shooter, spot-up or off the screen … he’s just dead-on. Long-range shooter. Can play the point when needed. Outstanding ball handler. Very calm under pressure. He sees the ball and makes the right passes.
Ron Harper Jr., 6-3 wing, Ring City/Don Bosco Prep: Shows poise on the court. Has a very smooth handle, particularly for his size. Seems to have a knack for getting teammates involved. Embraces a leadership role. Dribbles and distributes. Already has good size, length. Great defender, who uses his reach to his advantage.
Kairi Jones, 5-10 point guard, Philly Freedom-Red/Connection Academy: A savvy point guard with outstanding court vision. A complete package at the point with a good mid-range jumper. Also a very good penetrator. Gets into lane and finds open teammates. High assist man. Often gets to the rim and finishes with either hand.
Erik Monroe, 6-0 point guard, House of Sports-Pride/Mount Vernon H.S.: Extremely poised on the court with a high court IQ. Really gets after it on the defensive end. True floor general on both ends, keeps his team calm. Layups come easy for him with either hand. Can start the break and, then even finish it.
Anthony Burgos, 6-5 forward, Team NYC/Martin Van Buren H.S.: Great size, which he uses to be a strong rebounder. Solid build and he uses it to work down low. An outstanding post defender with real good feet. Runs the floor well for his size. Almost a sure-thing double-double player every time he plays.
James Hines, 5-9 point guard, Philly Freedom-White/Lindenwood H.S.: A very savvy point guard with an extremely quick first step. Terrific ball handler that looks to get his teammates involved. Quick hands on defense, causes many turnovers Likes to get out and get transition going. Outstanding passer in any situation.
Elias Ezenekwe, 6-3 guard, Team NYC/Martin Van Buren H.S: The total, all-around package on the court. He can do it all. Above-average passer, outstanding scorer. He is an active and effective defender and he rebounds well. Plays both ends of the floor with a motor. Good defender whose quickness creates turnovers. Outstanding slasher to the hoop.
Thornton Scott, 6-5 wing, Team NYC/Holy Trinity H.S.: A long, lean defender that likes to cause problems for his match-up. On offense, not only a very good passer but can shoot the lights out, even out to the 3-point stripe. Not afraid to go inside. Good frame enables him to do some work inside and be an effective rebounder.
Luke Dagley, 5-11 guard, South Shore Wolf Pack/South Shore Christian: A pure shooter. He is deadly from long range range at any position beyond the arc. Very good with a head-fake and pop move. Also showed a very high court IQ. Not purely a shooter. Unselfish in terms of giving up the ball when he’s covered.
Alston Harris, 5-8 point guard, Ottawa Phoenix/St. Patrick’s H.S.: A smallish point that plays big. Great first step. Can handle the rock. Very calm when the ball is in his hands. Can get around most defenders with ease. Great passer. Non-stop on the defensive ends. Creates points off turnovers, getting steals with his hands and great defensive position with quick feet.
Cam Keefe, 6-5 post, South Shore Wolf Pack/Silver Lake Regional: A good-sized inside player with good moves around the rim. Very good with a left-handed hook shot. Great feet/footwork. Has long arms that he uses well to block and alter shots. Can start the break and get out and finish it, too. Scores in a variety of ways, and is a good rebounder.
Zekiah Owens, 6-3 guard, Monroe County All Stars/Spencerport H.S.: A long, lanky guard with a good handle. Sees the floor well. He can slide over and play the point effectively, if needed. Outstanding moves/decisions in open-court situations. Always under control and calm, never seems rushed. Monmouth is involved.
D.J. Frechette, 6-1 guard, Mass Elite-Frechette/Nashua South H.S.: A very quick and bouncy shooting guard. While here, exhibited nice range on three-point shots. Also gets to the rim and finishes well there, even against contact. Very quick first step. Still very slender and will get better as his frame fills.
Cameron Mulvey, 6-7 power forward, Albany Academy/City Rocks-Black: A physical, yet skilled inside player. Great passer out of the post, and strong help defender. Showed a nice touch around the rim and the ability to score with either hand. Does a lot of good things, but a little under the radar. Looks like he should be getting some D-1 looks.
Ethan Gabert-Doyon, 5-8 point guard, City Rocks-Black/Brooks School: A hard-nosed point guard. Won’t be denied when he goes to the rim. Gets into the lane and finds open teammates. Sneaky athleticism. Handles the ball well and distributes well. Scores at the rim with either hand. Early interest from Patriots.
Shai Alexander, 6-3 pint guard, UPlay Canada/Macnab H.S.: Sees the floor extremely well. At his size, can see over defenders. Drive and kicks effectively, finding open teammates. Great in pick-and-roll situations. Changes speeds very well. Good length, and uses it to great effect. Very good hands on defense.
Lucas Olsthoorn, 6-9 center, UPlay Canada/St. Francis: A real force in the middle on th defensive end. Starts fast breaks with great outlet passes. Knows how to get inside position and, then, seals big. Nice hands, catches well on the pick-and-roll play. Showed a nice soft shooting touch.
Malachi DeSousa, 6-5 small forward, Castle Athletics/Kennedy Catholic: Plays bigger than his size, particularly on the defensive end. Has a nice and advanced offensive game. Capable of playing guard or either forward position. High court IQ. Exhibited a well-developed mid-range game. Hearing from some Ivies.
Justin Connolly, 6-7 power forward, Mass Elite-Frachette/St. John’s Prep: A long and thin player capable of doing damage inside and outside. Effective and intelligent passer from the post. Drives well using either hand. Scores at all three levels, at the rim from mid-range and from 3. Just needs frame to fill out.
Victor Potter, 6-7 power forward, Castle Athletics/Monsignor Scanlon H.S.: Very high motor and very physical player. Dominates on the backboards, and finishes well around the rim. Gets off his feet and is an effective rim protector. High-level athlete. When he gets near the rim, he dunks everything. Played up an age level.
Jayson Oweh, 6-7 post, Team Nation/Rutgers Prep H.S.: A strong, athletic post who can move. Very active around the rim and on the glass. All his points here came in the point. Gets to the line by seeking contact. Comfortable in pick-and-roll situations. Good motor and alters shots on defense. Continued skill development will improve his game.
Brandt Roundtree, 6-4 guard, Team Nation/Patrick School: A long scoring guard with a quick release and deep range beyond the bonus stripe. Can score in bunches. Drives to get to the rim effectively, and finds the open man on drives. Thrives in an up-tempo game. Likes coming off high pick and roll to score. Need only to improve mid-range shot.
Pat Garey, 6-1 guard, Southern Tier Rage/Johnon City H.S.: A thin, long guard capable of playing either backcourt spot. Has deep range out to 3-point territory and has a quick release. Outstanding all-around player. Active and makes winning plays. Finds teammates. A real competitor.
Nate Freeman, 6-0 guard, B2L-Black/Beaver Country Day: An aggressive scoring guard. Good range out to the bonus line, or taking a dribble into a pull-up. Loves to catch and shoot the three-pointer, and does it effectively. Great in the transition game. Can finish or facilitate for others.
Ahmad Bailey, 5-11 guard, Wayne NJ PAL Wolf Pack/Hackensack H.S.: A smooth and confident combo guard. Will shoot the three-pointer, but would much rather penetrate. Loves coming off high-ball screens. Will post up smaller defender. Over dribbles at times, but attacks and finishes in contact. Really good when he gets in a shooting rhythm.
Lucas Curran, 6-4 forward, Academic Basketball Club/Croton-Harmon School: A thin, mismatch forward. Very crafty and with a high court IQ. Plays really hard at all times. Very good on elbows and with mid-post game. Good finisher around the rim and with his floater. Undersized but skilled and will continue to develop.
Jordan Hessin, 6-3 guard, Philly Freedom Stars-Black/St. Joseph’s H.S.: A long, athletic combo guard. He loves to drive right to penetrate for others or attack the rim. Seeks contact and gets to the foul line often. Good court vision. Plays at his own speed. Just needs a little more consistency on perimeter shot.
Drew Hohman, 6-4 wing, Philly Freedom Stars-Black/St. Joseph’s H.S.: A thick, scoring guard. Left-hand dominant. Looks to catch and shoot from three, or drive left. Hits tough, contested jumpers. Great at finding open spots in transition. Will find open teammates in the post.
Dan Masino, 6-1 point guard, Eastside Rochester/Fairport H.S.: A tough, crafty guard. Terrific feel for the game. Wants the ball in big moments. Not the quickest player, but gets to where he needs to go. Very high court IQ. Great cross-over move into a pull-up jumper. Always around the ball. Just a winner.
16:U AGE DIVISION ALL-GymRat CHALLENGE HONORABLE MENTION
Abu Kigab, 6-7 guard, UPlay Canada
Colby Moultrie, 6-2 wing, WNY Braves
Jeffrey Stockmal, 6-3 wing, CT Premier
Preston Taylor, 5-10 point guard, Albany City Rocks-White
Arashma Parks, 6-8 center, PSA Cardinals
Tyler Aquilina, 6-2 guard, WNY Braves
Pharoah Davis, 5-10 point guard, Bay State Magic
J.J. Conway, 6-2 wing, CT Premier
Chris Efretuei, 6-10 center, Albany City Rocks-White
Elijan Buchanan, 6-4 forward, CUCD Hoyas
Aaron Lewis, 5-11 point guard, CUCD Hoyas
Tyler Crosdale 6-4 forward, CUCD Hoyas
Bobby Hastings, 6-6 center, CT Premier
Joshua Jones, 5-8 point guard, Prestige Patriots
Ryan Maughan, 5-11 guard, House of Hoops
Fuquen Ford, 6-8 post, Albany City Rocks-White
Henry Roemer, 6-0 guard, Albany City Rocks-White
Mike Geisweller, 6-0 point guard, Long Island Lightning-Rothman
Carl Pierre, 6-3 wing, Bay State Magic
Vincent Smalls, 6-3 forard, Philly Freedom-Red
Kevin Eifert, 6-4 forward, Ring City
Tayquan Green, 6-6 center, House of Sport-Pride
Chase Barney, 5-10 guard, Team NYC
Logan Ruscik, 6-1 guard, Ring City
Jakigh Marcelin, 6-1 wing, South Shore Wolf Pack
Jonathan Michael, 6-1 guard, Ottawa Phoenix
Alec Beesmer, 6-1 guard, Kingston Komets
Miles Davis, 6-5 power forward, Monroe County All Stars
Jake Russo, 6-8 center, LI Lightning-Pavinelli
Eddy Lawson, 5-11 guard, Lone Wolf
Jordan Holmes, 6-2 guard, Eastside Rochester
Jacob Disanto, 5-11 guard, Eastside Rochester
Jon Lyons, 5-10 guard, Stamford Peace
Maceo Jack, 6-5 forward, City Rocks-Black
Owen DeGraffe, 6-5 forward, UPlay Canada
Jack Reilly, 6-2 guard, CWB-Seiden
Kevin Gibbs, 6-5 forward, Wayne NJ PAL Wolf Pack
Dylan Mahoney, 6-2 guard, MPC-Sasso
Jak Carrier, 6-0 point guard, Granite State Rockets
Matt Grochowalski, 6-7 forward, Mass Fusion
Jalin Hawkins, 6-2 guard, City Rocks-Orange
Jake Nedleman, 5-8 point guard, Jersey Force
Mitchell Phillips, 6-6 foward, Team Nation
Xavier Townes, 6-4 forward, Team Nation
15:U GymRat CHALLENGE REPORT
CLIFTON PARK, NY — When opposing teams tried to slow down a potent City Rocks-Black team that seemed to do its best work with an up-tempo offense, the Rocks responded with another way to win games: Defense.
The Albany-based squad got through tough games in the first game of championship-round play, in the event’s semifinal-round and in the championship game against opponents that tried to dictate a slower tempo contest. The response?
“We guarded,” said City Rocks’ coach Steve Seymour. “The kids defended the ball well and played their tails off on the defensive end overall.”
The Rocks held its five championship-round opponents all to 39 points or less on its way to the 15-under age-division championship that culminated with a 44-37 title-game victory over the Stamford (CT) Peace in action here at Shenendehowa High School.
The Rocks, though, had more than just tenacious defense involved in their formula for success here. The squad had plenty of talent, and its level of play was barely diminished, if at all, when its waves of talented reserves replaced starters. Seymour also praised his players for their inclination to play together and, often, sacrifice individual statistics for the betterment of the team.
“We’ve got a lot of guys with different skill sets who make up a cohesive group that stay together,” said Seymour, a former assistant coach at Siena College “They’re fun to coach. I’ve got a bunch of good kids who are like a good family.”
Seymour said his team has only been together since March, but has already played in nine AAU tournaments this year. “Unfortunately, we’ve got some players who come from a distance away so wer don’t get to practice often,” he said. “But our success is all on them. They want to play for each other. They do what they need to do. The entire group is very unselfish.”
They had to be, particularly when facing some slow-down tactics that almost eliminated the City Rocks in the semifinal round. The Rocks trailed by seven early in the second half of that contest before rallying to win and advance to the championship game. There, point guard Greg Dolan, a 6-foot-2 player from Buffalo-area Williamsville South High School, turned in a superb all-around game and was named the age bracket’s MVG (Most Valuable GymRat).
But he was far from alone in providing key plays for the championship team. In all, nine City Rocks averaged between 3.5 and 10 points over the event’s seven games. And the team was significantly efficient in scoring poitns, shooting 65.4 percent from the floor over the weekend.
15:U AGE DIVISION MVG – MOST VALUABLE GymRat
Greg Dolan, 6-2 point guard, City Rocks-Black/Williamsville South H.S.: Prototypical point guard who has good size and handles ball excellently. Ran division-winning team well, particularly in transition game. Sees court and makes others better; Very capable of finishing in transition. Anticipates nicely on defense, coming up with deflections and steals. Can have an impact on the game without scoring. Bright future.
15:U AGE DIVISION ALL‐GymRat CHALLENGE TEAM
Jahmeek Simpson, 6-3 forward, Runnin’ Rebels/Port Chester H.S.: Physically mature player who can score in the paint in a variety of ways. Uses his strength to finish strongly around the hoop. Combines his athleticism and strength to be a superior rebounder.
Fred Mulbah, 5-9 point goard, Central Pa. Elite/Northeastern H.S.: Perhaps the quickest guard in this division. He went through defenses like a hot knife through butter. Excellent ball-handler with a variety of dribble moves … hesitation, spin, cross-over and inside hand change. Sees court, penetrates and dishes. Makes others players. Rebounds well for his size.
Isaiah Stewart, 6-6 post, Primetime/McQuaid Jesuit: Excellent size already, yet funs the court well. A true rim protector on the defensive end. A real force in the paint at both ends. Nice ability to score when he gets the ball around the basket. Young and emerging post player with excellent potential.
Malek Williams, 6-2 small forward, Primetime/Churchville-Chili: Already a physically mature player. A true “scorer” who can step out and hit three-pointers. Runs the floor extremely well and capable of getting points in transition. Part of a nice one-two punch here with teammate Isaiah Stewart.
Adam Freese, 6-3 wing, York Ballers/Kennard-Dale H.S.: Extremely versatile player. Does not need to score to have a major impact on games. Already knows how to play; moves well without the ball. Smart an unselfish. Coach’s dream, a real team player. Runs well and makes outstanding decisions in transition.
Jordan McAlister, 6-3 wing, Castle Knights/Msg. Scanlon H.S.: Aggressive player who goes hard to the hoop and either converts or draws fouls. Strong player who uses his physical gifts to slash. Good scorer who is difficult to defend in the paint. Can finish at the rim. Showed ability to take over a game.
Andrew Funk, 6-1 forward, Jersey Shore WarriorsArchbishop Wood H.S.: Extremely aggressive player with a high motor. Plays hard at all times. Gets up and down the court and finishes well in transition. Good overall skill set. Showed ability here to take and make perimeter jump shots.
Jonas Harper, 6-1 guard, Stamford Peace-Bird/St. Luke’s School: Very athletic player who can get to the hoop off the dribble. Good enough passer in transition, and sees the court well. Can make perimeter shots with his feet set. Top player who led his team to the championship game.
Joe Girard, 5-11 shooting guard, City Rocks-Black/Glens Falls H.S.: Still just an 8th-grader, playing up a level, with an extremely bright future. Very nice for on jump shot with a near-perfect release. But, not just a shooter. He passes the ball well, works hard on defense and has a good overall feel for the game. An outstanding shooter, but he contributes in many ways. Clutch player, not fazed by pressure.
Sloan Seymour, 6-7 forward, City Rocks-Black/Christian Brothers Academy: Already outstanding size/length with small-forward skills. Good shooter, particularly from the corner. Nice touch on jump shot. Can score inside & out. Fundamentally sound player. Easy to see that he’s a coach’s son. Very bright future as his body continues to fill out.
Ethan Devoe, 6-1 guard, GT Elite/Newton North H.S.: A multi-talented guard who is a complete player. Good body control on the court. A decent shooter who hits treys with feet set. Sees court well; will drive, find open teammates and dish for assists. Outstanding at going to the hoop and finishing there, as well.
Cam Nelson, 6-6 center, GT Elite/Noble & Greenough H.S.: Already a strong inside player who has the requisite size to play in the paint. Standout defender who blocks and alters shots. Uses size and strength to be a superior rebounder. Also showed a nice ability to score around the basket.
Stephon Gabriel, 6-5 power forward, New Jersey Crusaders/Columbia H.S.: A long and quick player. Nice reverse lay-up moves around the basket. Uses size to his advantage to be a good rebounder. Hustles for rebounds, and is particularly effective grabbing missed shots on the offensive end. Looks to have nice potential for continued improvement.
Marcellus Earlington, 6-5 post, Rock Elite/Don Bosco Prep: Very strong player, in the post. Uses strength and height to be a major force around the basket. Knows how to use his body to draw fouls when he has the ball. Showed an ability to also step out and take mid-range shots. He has a significant impact on games.
Xavier Gibbs, 6-0 point guard, Rock Elite/Gompers H.S.; Very good ball-handler who showed an above-average ability at getting into the lane off the dribble. Finishes around the hoop nicely, yet also finds teammates when penetrating. Very quick with the ball in his hands. Showed a good-enough jumper here.
Mason Williams, 6-3 small forward, Philly Freedom Stars/William Penn Charter School: A key player here for a very good team. Versatile, and his skill adds to his overall value. A very active defender. Offensively, he can make perimeter shots yet also runs the court well and scores in transition game.
Riley Smith, 5-10 point guard, Vermont United/Essex Middle School: A young and emerging point guard who plays aggressively and hustles at all times. Advances the ball up court quickly. Makes his team go. Nice inside dribble-move hand change. Distributes well and makes teammates better. Can hit perimeter shot. Will improve with additional strength.
Tyrese Williams, 6-2 wing, City Rocks-Black/Cardinal Hayes: Smart player who sees what goes on and lets game come to him. Aggressive enough to get to the hoop and finish. Good shooter, particularly with feet set. Runs the court extremely well. A key member of an exceptional team here.
Andrew Simms, 6-3 forward, Jersey Shore Warriors/Lenape H.S.: A forward with a nice shooting touch from the wing. High motor, always plays hard. Not afraid to defend, particularly in the paint. Also a skilled perimeter player with size to work there, or in the paint. Valuable player who made a difference for his team here.
Will Barton, 6-1 forward, York Ballers/William Penn H.S.: A very versatile player who can drive to the basket or make perimeter shots. Scores the ball well in a variety of ways. Gets into the lane and finishes around the hoop, particularly well off the dribble. Just seemed to always make big plays in key situations here.
Souleymane Koureissi, 6-7 center, Castle Knights/Iona Prep: Already good size and looks to have strong potential. A developed shot-blocker who rejects or alters more than his share of shots on the defensive end. Clearly someone to watch. He has the potential to be a special player.
Greg Lawrence, 6-5 power forward, CT. Preier-Daniel/Fairfield Ludlowe H.S.: Very strong under the board. Goes up with poer in the paint. Has a great sense of timing, which he puts to good use to block shots. His best attribute is quickness, which he uses in a variety of ways. Good, strong hands. Doesn’t lose the ball against contact.
James Lustig, 6-2 post, Bay State Blizzards/Hamilton-Wenham H.S.: A hard-working force in the paint. Fundamentally sound player who boxes out well and finds the outlet man to start the fast break. Consistently a very proficient shot-blocker here. He is an “old school” blue-collar post player who is always working hard.
Jordan Davidson, 5-10 point guard, More Than That Inc.-Bulldogs/Gill St. Bernards School: A gifted ball-handler who brings the ball up court with authority. Dribbles well with either hand, using cross-over, between-the-legs and behind-the back moves with precision. Sees the court very well and makes difficult passes with relative ease. Jump shot needs improvement, but he gets into lane to make shots or find open teammates.
15‐U ALL‐GymRat CHALLENGE HONORABLE MENTION
Ryan Otto, 6-2 guard, Mass Premier-Rodgers
Henry Holzinger, 5-10 guard, Runnin’ Rebels
Rashawn Wright, 5-10 guard, House of Hoops
Jayshawn Grant, 6-1 forward, United N.J./DePaolo
Jacob Robel, 6-4 forward, United N.J./DePaolo
John Packard, 6-3 shooting guard, Central Mass Swarm
Paul Mahon, 5-11 guard, Mass Premier-Rodgers 2
Austin Monroe, 6-0 forward, York Ballers
Hason Ringer, 6-3 power forward, Castle Knights
Matt Cooper, 5-8 point guard, CWB-Gibbs
Will Lofredo, 6-4 power forward CWB-Gibbs
Israel Williams, 5-9 point guard, Newburgh Panthers
Mike Dunne, 6-1 small forward, Game 7 Sharks-Blue
Davin Sweeney, 6-3 power forward, NE Blizz-Fraioli
Kevin Garrison, 6-0 guard, Lone Wolf Athletics
Chris McDonald, 6-2 forward, Boston Warriors
Thomas Shaughnessy, 5-10 guard, GT Elite
Breizh Askew, 6-0 guard, New Jersey Crusaders
Nashiem Harte, 6-1 shooting guard, New Jersey Crusaders
Dylan Morrison, 6-5 center, Brampton Warriors
Miguel Camacho, 5-9 point guard, New England Storm-Kenneally
Tymir Spruel, 6-2 forward, Philly Freedom Stars
Semaj Woods, 6-4 forward, Philly Freedom Stars
Xavier Rodriguez, 6-2 wing, Rock Elite
Jason O’Regan, 6-4 small forward, Central Mass Swarm
Xavier Mayo, 6-6 center, City Rocks Black
JoJo Jones, 6-8 center, City Rocks Black
Skyler Sinon, 6-1 shooting guard, Stamford Peace-Bird
Noah Meyers, 6-4 post, Central Pa. Elite
Logan Monroe, 6-3 forward, York Ballers
Marcus Filien, 6-6 post, City Rocks Black
Hayden Roberge, 5-8 point guard, Next Level Athletics-Roberge
Mitch Barton, 5-11 point guard, Capital City Lightning
Dante Ralph, 6-5 forward, More Than That Inc.-Bull Dogs
Zion Perry, 6-5 forward, More Than That Inc.-Bull Dogs
Jason Lim, 5-3 guard, Mass Commanders
George Johnson, 6-5 center, Mass Commanders
Billy Whelan, 5-5 guard, Bay State Blizzards
Seamus Keaney, 5-3 point guard, Bay State Blizzards
Antonio Brancato, 5-10 point guard, CT Premier-Daniel
Greg Lawrence, 6-5 post, CT Premier-Daniel
Leonard Johnson, 5-10 guard, WNY Braves
Lamar Johnson, 5-10 guard, Wayne PAL/NJ Wolfpack
Daniel Modzelewski, 6-3 forward, Team NYC
Harrison Carlson, 6-3 forward, NE Blizz Maida
Khristopher Banks, 6-2 forward, Only NJ Bulls
Cherod Gayle, 6-1 guard, Early Risers-Jenkins
Isaac Downs, 6-2 wing, Evolution Ball-Evo Elite
Bryce Yencha, 5-10 guard, Valley Thunder
Andre Paul, 6-0 guard, Early Risers Garneau
Chris Wright, 5-8 guard, Early Risers Garneau
Hakeem Rasheeds, 5-9 guard, Early Risers Garneau
Mekhi Morgan, 5-8 guard, More Than That Inc.-Bull Dogs
14:U GymRat CHALLENGE AGE DIVISION REPORT
TROY, NY — In baseball, a game-ending deciding play is called a walk-off. In basketball, it’s simply a game-winner.
But, it might as well be called a pile-on play because when a player sinks a last-second game-winner it precipitates a rush from the bench area of teammates and coaching staff whose mission seems to be to jump the individual who delivered the clutch shot.
That’s what happened to Joel Simpson, whose clutch three-point shot that just beat the final buzzer gave the New York Gauchos the 53-52 victory in the championship game of the GymRat CHALLENGE’s 14-under age bracket over Team Ennis at RPI’s Robison Gymnasium.
The Gauchos needed Simpson’s last-second heroics, after falling behind 52-50 on a Team Ennis basket with just four seconds left to play. Gaucho coach Rob Ntiamoah then used a time out to talk over the plan for the closing seconds and to design a play that had to go the length of the court. “We drew up a play and the guys ran it accordingly,” said the Gauchos’ coach. “It was designed to in-bounds the ball to one of our guards. Simpson got open, took the in-bounds pass, took about three or four dribbles up court, got to the top of the key just beyond the three-point line and got off the shot.”
Actually, Simpson took six dribbles after taking the in-bounds pass near the sidelines at about the opposite end’s foul line. He dribbled past several defenders who didn’t want to commit a foul, got to a foot or two beyond the three-point line at the top of the key and got off a relatively uncontested shot. Simpson’s shot was straight and, true. Nothing but net, nothing but victory and, then, nothing but an on-court celebration. (See if for yourself at https://twitter.com/GymRatCHALLENGE/status/602937160912732162 )
“I was the first one off the bench to jump on him (Simpson), said Ntiamoah. First, but not the last. “When the shot went up, all of us on the bench were just hoping that it would either bank, or get all net,” added Ntiamoah.
It was all net, and a victory for the storied Gauchos’ program. Simpson had other strong performances in the tournament, including a 25-point effort in the quarterfinal round, and a 12-point game in the semifinal round, a two-point victory.
“Mostly, though, it was a different person for us almost every game,” added the Gauchos’ coach. “We basically had a different MVP in each game during the event.”
It seemed that whoever needed to make a key play over the weekend delivered for the Gauchos. And, as the final seconds of Sunday’s championship game it was Simpson who had all of four seconds to make the biggest key play of the tournament for his team … and delivered.
14:U GymRat CHALLENGE MVG‐MOST VALUABLE GymRat
Joel Simpson, 5-9 guard, New York Gauchos/I.S. 127: Sank a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to give his team the division championship. Also had a 25-point game early in a championship bracket contest. Showed scoring versatility here. Has good dribble penetration ability, as well as the long-range shot. Can score in any situation … fast break, against man-to-man or zone, good cutter. Does not turn the ball over. Powerful and strong player for this age level. Obviously, does not shy away from big-shot situation.
14:U ALL‐GymRat CHALLENGE TEAM
Evan Gutowski, 6-6 post, CT Premier-Bethea/Hillcrest School: Runs the floor hard. Plays both ends of the court with a high motor. Likes to challenge players defensively, and blocks shots. Aggressive rebounder. He starts the break with long, accurate outlet passes. Finishes and scores in the paint.
Timmond Williams, 5-10 forward, CT Premier-Bethea/Madison School: Great speed and athleticism, and uses it to his advantage. A real difference-maker. He can post up and turn around to score as well as step out and hit outside shots. Works the ball to score and will read the defense to get it done.
Erick Crawford, 5-6 guard, CAS Panthers/Economics and Finance School: Focused, and plays the game hard. Unselfish player who passes as well as drives to finish. Strong body, can take the hit and still score. Uses pull-up and can hit open shots, but prefers to slash. Works hard on defensive end.
Sam Adusei, 5-8 wing, Central Mass Swarm/Holy Name H.S.: Very aggressive competitor. Plays hard at all times and uses inside-out and body fakes to get by defenders and get to the rim. Takes it hard, strong finisher even against contact. Showed some range on his jumper.
Duncan Tallman, 5-11 wing, Prime Elite/Mohonasen H.S.: Plays with heart. Works hard on both ends. Can, and will, make the pass as well as finishing strong. Has 3-point range and is a consistently effective shooter. Plays hard defense and uses long arms and aggressive play to get his hand on tips and steals.
Joe Pazzia, 5-7 wing, Evolution Bennett/Arlington: Has a high basketball IQ and tremendous court awareness. Backs up his skills with a high motor and aggressive play. Gets everything out of himself. Plays hard at both ends of the court and succeeds because of it. Excels in “dirty work” aspects of defense and rebounding.
Cody Adams, 5-8 point guard, Central Mass Swarm/Holy Name School: An aggressive playmaker who works hard at both ends of the court. Just determined to get the ball on defense. Makes others better, finding open teammates with good passes. Takes it strong to the hoop, yet showed ability to hit the open three.
Dominic Wright, 5-9 wing, Mid-Jersey Mavericks/Franklin H.S.: Plays the game hard, and to win. Plays both ends with zeal. Wants the ball, and goes after it strong on the boards. Elevates and has great body control to get past defenders. Will look for and knock down open shots.
Ryan Ludwig, 5-7 combo guard, Evolution Bennett/Woburn School: A hard competitor. Plays with high motor on both ends. More than capable of knocking down open shots, but also sets up others. Has range, but also has the ability to get to the rim and finish against contact.
Isaiah Wong, 5-10 forward, Mid-Jersey Mavericks/Notre Dame: An athletic player that steps up his game when it counts the most. Has range, as well as an ability to sneak his way to the hoop, slashing and sliding past defenders. Just puts up points. He has a definite scorer’s mentality.
Travis Cumberz, 5-7 guard, Mid-Jersey Mavericks/Notre Dame: Plays hard and with obvious passion on both ends. Will set up others with deceiving look-away passes. Also, a capable scorer in his own right. Finishes strong off drives as well as keeps the defense honest by hitting open shots. Focused and strong on the boards.
Jacob Levy, 5-8 guard, Long Island Lightning-BEETZ/Rosyln School: Has a complete game and uses his body well, particularly when finishing drives. Capable of making a play, good court vision to see teammates ahead for passes, or finding cutters to the basket. Will drive, pull up as well as hit the three. Good court IQ.
Mike Smith, 6-3 post, Long Island Lightning-BEETZ/Holy Trinity: An aggressive rebounder who doesn’t stop until he has gathered it from others, or finishes with a bucket. Does his best work around the blocks and drives strong from the high post. Works the ball, good passes. But, at his best when finishing with power.
Jaden Campbell, 6-2 wing, Team Ennis/St. Marcellinus Catholic: A very athletic player who runs the floor with zealousness. Can shoot, can find the open player with passes and will take it to the hoop strong and finish vs. contact. Loves the challenge of blocking and/or altering opponents’ shots.
Jakye Womack, 5-11 forward, WNY Braves/Amherst Middle School: Likes to be involved in the mix. Works hard and rebounds strong, securing the ball away from opponents. Has all facets of the game … can score, will drive, has a pull-up shot and has range on his shot. Loves to play aggressively. Finishes at the rim with gusto.
Jervon Davis, 6-4 power forward, Team Ennis/St. Marcellinus Secondary: Rebounds and gets out on a fast-breaking team. Aggressive defender who loves to play hard. Uses his body to his advantage to finish shots. Likes to work on the block, nice turnaround shot. Also hits mid-range open looks, free-throw line extended.
Gmanuel Miller, 6-4 post, Team Ennis/Bil Crothiers School: Plays with high energy and does everything with great strength. Difference-maker on both ends. Slides and weaves from top of key to finish. Elevates and persistent in attacking for second and third attempts. Likes to mix it up in the paint.
Panayotis Kapanides, 6-2 forward, Mass Elite-Polli/John Glenn Middle School: A strong player who uses his size to rebound aggressively. Very active player who always seems to be around the ball. Finishes around the hoop with ease. A left-hander who can also step out and hit mid-range shots.
Nick Reggio, 6-3 post, Del Val Greyhounds/Central Bucks School: Runs the floor very well. Catches on the run and finishes for and-ones, and does it with strength. A lefty who passes and sees the floor. Will drive from the high post as well as from the blocks. Catches on the low block and goes up to draw contact.
William Fredericks, 6-0 guard, NY Dragons/Cornwall Middle School: All-around skills. An offensive threat who can score from three territory with pull-up jumper or off the dribble. Gets to the rim with change of direction and cross-over. Unselfish, makes the extra pass. Reads defense well. Aggressive with a high motor. Attacks defense to get open. Effective on defense, can block shots.
Wade Cooper, 5-8 wing, NY Dragons/Washingtonville Middle School: Patient and smart offensive player with a quick first step. Sees plays develop, and is a scoring threat. Can nail the three, or make a sweet shot-pass to open teammate and gets to the rim. Uses length effectively on defense. Great hands and anticipates passing lanes. Very quick going north-south.
Nazzir Holland, 6-3 post, NY Dragons/Newburgh Central: Long and lanky post, really brought game to another level in championship bracket. Good hands, uses his body well for inside position. Attacks the boards on both ends. Good on put-backs. Plays the screen-and-roll game well, moves to the hoop to create space and moves well without the ball.
Benj Pierre, 6-2 post, N.J. Crusaders: Solid back-to-the basket player with good hands. He has a quick dribble pull-up, a quick hook shot, power pivot moves and a face-up shot. Aggressive on both boards. He can block shots and has a nice feel on both ends in the post.
Michael Schmidt, 5-10 wing, Locker 1/Olean H.S.: Overall fundamentally sound. Plays like the coach’s son that he is. Can attack an offense from 3-point range, off the dribble, in high post and back to the basket. Very unselfish, draws the defense and finds open teammates. Variety of inside moves: quick hoop, spin, up-and-under and turn-around jumper. Uses his strength to protect the ball and create space. An outstanding scorer, and aggressive hustler on defense. High court IQ.
Jake Cook, 6-6 post, Albany City Rocks/Shaker Middle School: Uses his length on both ends of the floor. Great hands and finishes around the hoop. Heads-up player who tips passes to open teammates. Strong back to the basket and on the boards. Uses his body to work for position and asks for the ball. Reads defense well, and cuts well off pick-and-roll. Hustle. Goes after every rebound.
Michael Ortale, 5-11 guard, Albany City Rocks/Bethlehem Middle School: Smart, hustle player who can score from the outside and off the dribble. Steady handle, great passer and unselfish player. Can hit the three. Smart reading pick-and-roll. Glue of his team, works on defense to get steals. Makes great reads on offensive end. Does all the little things, as well.
Jaire Currie, 6-2 wing, Albany City Rocks/Albany Community Charter: A slasher who goes hard on both ends of the floor. Attacks the hoop with enthusiasm. Good cross-over move into a pull-up jumper. Has three-point range, but at his best going to the rim. Excellent on baseline drives. Nice shot-fake pull-up shot. Smooth player.
Damani Thomas, 5-11 guard, Albany City Rocks/Kingston H.S.: An aggressive guard who is always attacking the hoop. Plays both ends hard and excels in north-south game. Also impacts in half court. Good variety of moves off the dribble. Three-point threat. Unselfish player who reads the draw-and-dish well.
T.J. Magliozzi, 6-1 forward, Evolution-Carrier/Stoneham H.S.: Good ball skills for player his size. Sees the floor well, finds open teammates and delivers passes to them. Runs the break well, and finishes strong against contact. High motor on the defensive end.
Lee Mosely, 6-2 forward, Castle Athletics/ Lab School: A very athletic front-court player. Attacks the boards, particularly to great effect on the offensive end. Strong enough to catch and finish around the bunches. Showed an ability to put up points in bunches here. Plays with a high motor.
Tylique Rivers, 6-4 post, Castle Athletics/Scanlan School: A big man who runs the floor well. Gets out on the break, can catch and finish strongly against contact. Very strong rebounder who uses his length for a purpose on both ends. Showed good hands, catches everything thrown to him. Also already has good footwork.
Jordan McGraw, 6-1 guard, Central Pa.-Elite/Susquehanna Township Middle School: A tall guard who is a strong ball handler. Real floor general, unselfish player who is looking to distribute to open teammates. Also an above-average score and really gets to the rim well. High motor on the defensive end, a tireless defender.
Will Bowen, 6-5 post, Central Pa.-Elite/Lower Dauphin Middle School: A tall and ahtletic big man. Already has great footwork on post moves. Very strong rebounder. Knows how to use his height/length to be an excellent rebounder. Way-above-average shot-blocker here. Exhibited good hoops IQ overall.
Iasiah Danzy, 5-8 point guard, City Rocks-Orange/Green Tech: Showed a great handle here, both right and left hand. Real floor general who sees the whole floor. Makes strong and accurate passes to open teammates. Strong player in the open court, really pushes it on the break and is quick enough to get past defenders. Very good on drive-and-kick plays.
Zach Freemantle, 6-3 post, N.J. GymRatz/Bergen Catholic: Great hands, catches everything thrown to him. Very strong on the offensive glass. Runs and finishes well on the break. Surprisingly good passer. Strong player in the post, and uses that strength to be an outstanding post defender. Already has great feel for the game.
Dean Zambrotta, 5-4 point guard, N.J. GhmRatz/Northern Highlands School: Has a high motor, elevates his game with all-out hustle. Outstanding floor general who sees the floor very well and makes good passes to open teammates. Delivers unselfishly for others to get open shots. Uses quickness, hustle to be a strong on-ball defender.
Garett Warrecki, 6-1 forward, Kingston Komets/Kingston H.S.: High motor, plays with all-out hustle. Showed a nice shooting touch here. Uses his hustle and length to be a tough, effective on-the-ball defender. Athletic player who runs the floor well. Also not afraid to go into the post to rebound effectively.
William Peters, 6-1 forward, Evolution-Carrier/Dracut H.S.: High motor … a tough, hard-working player. Plays with physicality on both ends of the floor. Showed a nice IQ as a good help-side defender. Enough height to be a strong and effective rebounder. Yet, athletic enough to run the floor well.
Chris Nackley, 5-8 guard, ASA Hoops: A good combo guard who exhited the ability to sink three-pointers. Also has strong ball skills and showed a nice hoops IQ in terms of always making the right play. Good motor which makes him a very good on-ball defender. Also showed a strong mid-range game here.
Jahquel Harvard, 6-4 post, Early Risers/Poughkeepsie Middle School: Long and lanky big man. Uses his size to be strong on the boards, particularly on the offensive glass. Very aggressive in the paint. Runs the floor hard on both offense and defense. Has a knack for finishing around the basket. Already has good footwork.
Stephen Paolini, 6-0 wing, CT Premier-Carothers/Farfield Woods Middle School: Impressed with hustle, high motor at both ends. Those traits make hi a strong defender. Does all the effort things well. Goes hard to the boards, effective offensive rebounder. Goes hard to the hoop and produces points in the paint. Also a good passer.
Jalen Jackson, 5-6 point guard, Beyond The Lines Elite/St. Anthony’s: A tremendous ball handler all over the floor. Uses exceptional. quickness and ball-handling to get past defenders. Has 3-point range and exceptional scoring ability, but is primarily a pass-first point. Went 12-for-12 from foul line in final 2 1/2 minutes of a preliminary round game here.
Jay Dieterle, 6-1 forward, Mass Commanders: Primarily a prolific scorer with three-point range and accuracy. Great decision-maker, as well. Only takes shots he can make. Solid passer an ball-handler. Took over an early-round game here in the second half with seven quick points.
Daniel Sofield, 6-3 forward, Beyond The Lines Elite/Jackson Liberty: A very good scorer around the basket and has range out to the three-point line. Opportunistic dribble-drive threat. Disruptive physical defender for frame. Tremendous hands, catches everything thrown to him. Runs floor very well.
John Adams, 6-4 post, Bkackstone Valley Chaos: Very good inside-out game. Can post up and also step outside for jumper with 3-point range. Draws contact to get to FT line, and very good FT shooter. Does not turn the ball over, despite a lot of touches. Had a big second half to help produce a victory in pool-round play here.
Donald Hartley, 5-9 guard, New York Gauchos/All Hallows H.S.: Excels with the ball in open space. Seems to have extra gear getting from 3-point land to attack the basket. Can get through defenders and scores against contact to score or get to FT line. Has three-point shot. Might be a little too unselfish.
David Staughter, 5-10 combo guard, City Rocks-Utica: Has a very strong game in the lane for a guard. Powerful body allows him to create an advantage down low. Good dribbler with either hand. Outstanding second effort. Gets to foul line and makes points there. Very good defender in space. Competent ball-handler.
Ethan Tarte, 6-0 forward, Philly Freedom Stars-Black/Baptist Regional School: Has a powerful, explosive dribble-driving ability and good leaping ability that allows him to rebound his own misses. Draws contact and gets to the foul line and scores there. Tenacious on-ball defender. Very physical in the paint.
Spencer Aronson, 5-11 combo guard, Mass Commanders: Can score from anywhere on the floor. Has 3-point range; uses dribble penetration. Nice pull-up jumper from mid-range, and a floater. Gets to the line and gets points there. Good against contact at the rim. Thin physique, yet still strong. Dynamic player on offense.
Patrick Thomas, 6-3 post, RAP Knights/UPREP School: Has powerful game in the lane and works well block to block. Very strong to the rim with good touch there. Plays with outstanding effort, particularly on offensive glass. Good vertical explosiveness. Excellent hands, strong FT shooter.
Josh Gestosani, 5-8 point guard, Hoop Nation/St. Josephs Metuchen: Tremendous ball handler, particularly in open court. Can explode past defender in open court with either hand. Works to penetrate. Has outstanding hesitation move and change of pace attack in half court game. Can finish at the rim with either hand.
Nate Kocho, 6-1 post, Mass Commanders: Very athletic post who uses quickness at both ends of the floor to his advantage. Can step out and hit a 3-pointer. Also attacks offensive boards. Very good hands in the lane. Runs the floor very well. Has tremendous body control going to the rim and uses backboard on shots effectively.
14:U All-GymRat CHALLENGE HONORABLE MENTION
Marcellus Ross, 5-10 forward, Philly Freedom Stars
Lucas Green, 6-0 guard, Hoop Nation
Joe Nuttal, 5-10 guard, Blackstone Valley Chaos
Mike Simon, 6-1 forward, South Shore Wolfpack
Nicholas Johnson, 6-3 post, New York Gauchos
Zyheir Jones, 6-1 forward, Beyond The Lines Elite
Matt Panara, 5-8 point guard, RAP Knights
Matt Malone, 6-1 forward, South Shore Wolf Pack
Kevin Ryan, 6-3 forward, RAP Knights
Jordyn Kendrick, 5-3 point guard, Philly Freedom Stars-Black
Tyreese Jones, 5-7 guard, CT Elite-Cardona
Chris Camille, 5-8 guard Mass Commanders
Mike Green, 5-8 guard, New York Gauchos
Sadeeq Tarry, 5-11 forward, City Rocks Utica
Adam Cisse, 6-7 post, New York Gauchos
Luis Ortiz, 5-6 point guard, NY Dragons
Justin Regis, 5-8 guard, N.J. Crusaders
Keyon Pryce, 5-8 guard, N.J. Crusaders
Kelete Sherald, 5-8 forward, Stamford Peace
Darius Ervin, 5-6 point guard, B2L-8th
Joseph Weinstein, 5-9 post, B2L-8th
Shamar Dennis, 6-1 forwrd, Central Mass Tar Heels
Bobby Mossa-Letourneau, 5-8 guard, Central Mass Tar Heels
Miles Brown, 5-11 guard, Albany City Rocks
Tyler Parrish, 5-11 guard, Evolution-Clayton
Declan Nugent, 5-10 forward, Evolution-Clayton
Yassine Sakhi, 5-8 guard, Castle Athletics
Jake Vansteenburg, 5-7 guard, Malone Huskies
Tyler Preve, 5-4 guard, Malone Huskies
Alin Jones, 6-1 guard, Central Pa. Elite
Brian Swist, 6-3 post, Centra Pa. Elite
John Acker, 6-1 forward, City Rocks-Orange
Jalen Duck, 6-2 center, City Rocks Orange
Kameron Oyola, 5-6 point guard, Kingston Komets
Skilar Ryan, 6-1 forward, Kingston Komets
Gabe Perrault, 5-5 guard, Evolution Carrier
Matt Morganelli, 6-1 forward, Evolution Carrier
Tommy DeVito, 5-8 guard, ASA Hoops
Miles Mahoney 6-2 forward ASA Hoops
Jameel Carter, 5-8 guard, Early Risers
Josh Giannoni 6-3 forward CT Premier Carothers
Evan Vishno, 5-8 guard, CT Premier-Crothers
Malcolm Sidebottom, 6-0 wing, WSBA
Matt Faller, 6-0 wing, WSBA
John Sprofera, 6-1 forward, N.J. GymRatz
Kevin Ranaghan, 5-8 guard, N.J. GymRatz
Will Krebs, 6-2 forward, N.J. GymRatz
Juan Carlos Nunez Jr., 5-7 guard, Mass Elite-Poli
Scott Beattie, 5-9 guard, Mass Elite-Poli
Kevin Zawacki, 5-8 forward, Newburgh Panthers
Ian Woodson, 5-5 guard, Newburgh Panthers
Kyle Migliore, 5-7 guard, Del Val Greyhounds
Sean Blank, 5-11 forward, Del Val Greyhounds
Joshua Noton, 6-0 guard, Team Ennis
Jaden Bediako, 6-2 forward, Team Ennis
Isaiah Rhim, 6-0 forward, WNY Braves
Johhny Salone, 6-1 post, WNY Braves
Titus Beard, 5-10 forward, Mid Jersey Mavericks
Zach Crisler, 6-6 center, Mid Jersey Mavericks
Yoseph Hamad, 6-0 wing, Evolution-Bennett
Danny Saradarian, 6-2 wing, Evolution-Bennett
William Janowicz, 5-10 forward, Evolution-Bennett
John Walsh, 5-10 forward, Evolution-Bennett
Daniel Kalimian, 6-1 forward, Long Island-Beetz
Danny Cawley, 6-1 forward, Long Island-Beetz
Richie Whigham, 5-10 guard, Long Island-Beetz
Jared Ullstrom, 6-1 forward, Central Mass Swarm
Bam Bam Brima, 6-4 post, Central Mass Swarm
Omar Koureissi, 6-2 post, CAS Panthers
Tyrik Webster, 5-9 guard, CAS Panthers
Gavin Greene, 6-2 post, CT Premier-Bethea
Jordan Gallimore, 6-4 post, CT Premier-Bethea
Charles Clemons, 5-8 guard, CT Premier-Bethea
Saif Ullah, 6-0 forward, Prime Elite
Otis Branson, 6-5 post, Prime Elite
Tyrik Webster, 5-9 wing, CAS Panthers
13:U GymRat CHALLENGE AGE DIVISION REPORT
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY — Mass Commanders coach Rudy Crichlow Jr. came into the GymRat CHALLENGE AAU Tournament a with belief out of Rodney Dangerfield’s repertoire. Crichlow believed his team got no respect. “Teams we’ve been playing in other tournaments … no one respected us,” said Crichlow, who surely can’t hold that belief any longer. His Mass Commanders’ team got respect in the best way possible: by earning it.
The Commanders earned it with some hard-nosed defense throughout to secure the championship of the GymRat CHALLENGE’s 13-under division with a 55-53 victory over a very competitive Middletown’s Finest opponent Sunday evening at the Saratoga Recreation Center.
The Commanders did it with balanced scoring, getting at least six points per game from six players with division MVG (Most Valuable GymRat) Khai Smith leading the way with a 13.2 ppg. Average.
They did it in blow-out fashion in the early games and by the slimmest of margins, a two-pointer, in the championship contest. And, they did it with a lot of defense holding opponents to an average of just 25.5 points per contest in the four games leading up to the championship game. Odarhi Hibberts was the team’s primary lock-down defensive presence, according to Crichlow.
“If there could have been co-MVG’s, Odarhi would have gotten a share of the award,” said the Commanders’ coach. “Defense is what we’re all about, and he’s our top defender.
“We try to instill a defensively philosophy into our entire team. Is it hard to get kids this young to play good defense? Not really. They know if they don’t play defense then they don’t play. The bench is a great motivator.”
The Commanders, though, needed strong play at both ends of the court in the championship game. Offensively it came from Khai Smith, a strong 6-foot-1 forward who had a game-high 20 points in the title contest.
Guard Will Dorion added only four points for the winners, but three came in the final 30 seconds. The first on a free throw to give the Commanders a two-point lead with 20 seconds remaining, the next two on more free throws with about six seconds remaining to stretch the lead to four and make a last-second shot by the Middletown team inconsequential.
And, finally, the likelihood is that no one disrespects the Mass Commanders any longer.
13:U GymRat CHALLENGE MVG – MOST VALUABLE GymRat
Khai Smith, 6-1 forward, Mass Commanders: A post player who knows how to use his body to his advantage. Came up big when it was needed most here, scoring 20 points in the championship-game victory. Uses a variety of moves … power dribble, spin and drop step. Good use of ball and head fakes and a nice turn-around jumper. Boxes out. Works hard on both ends. Quick hands. Gets a steal and goes full court for a layup.
13:U ALL-GymRat CHALLENGE TEAM
Jacob Harris, 5-9 wing, Boston Bobcats: Can play and be effective anywhere on the court. Overall just a player. Extremely athletic and uses that trait and skill on the top of the press to create turnovers, to trap and to anticipate passing lanes. Smith and effortless on offense. Goes to the rim. Solid handle. Attacks north/south. Unselfish and reads the defense and dishes well. Can hit the 3. Works hard on both ends. Boxes and rebounds on both ends.
Ben Kazmerek, 6-0 forward, Boston Bobcats: Smart player with a high court IQ. Heads up on both ends of the floor. Can alter a shot with his defense. Works both boards. Good hustle, stays with the play. Offensive threat out to 3-point line. Can draw fake the drive and nail the three. Can score back to the hoop and power it in. Has a turn-around jumper and face-up moves. Uses his body well to create space and extend to the rim for lay-ups.
Quinton Sneed, 6-2 forward, D. Athleticz Club 134: A strong player who is only going to get better as he continues to learn the game. Boxes out and rebounds on both ends. Worker for position on the block. Uses his size well and works aggressively to alter and block shots. Has the ability to score. Can attack off the dribble or from the paint. Simply finds a way to finish. Plays with emotion. Has a nice 3-point shot.
Daequan Clark, 5-6 guard, Middetown’s Finest/Middletown H.S.: Strong, quick burst ability. Above average lateral quickness and footwork. Masterful on penetration, draws contact at rim and can finish. Confident ball-handler, utilizes body for positioning in traffic. Passes in tight windows, great court vision. Jump shot needs work, but serviceable for now. Uses both hands off the dribble. High energy and active on defense.
Keon Gill, 5-8 guard, Middletown’s Finest/Middletown H.S.: Left-handed, long-range shooting guard; demonstrates solid technique and shot fundamentals. Shot needs to be respected. Fearless trigger, yet unselfish. Passed up shots for higher-percentage chances for teammates. Has defensive capabilities when called upon. Has natural first-step quickness. Purest shooter in the age group.
Keyshawn Kennedy, 6-0 forward, Middletown’s Finest/Middletown H.S.: Impressive size and athleticism. Great mobility for a power forward. Nice touch on 15-footer. Solid frame, but could get stronger. Terrific elevation. Natural shot-blocking ability. Reads shot attempts well. Good court vision. Phenomenal hands catching in traffic. Finishes at rim with either hand. Rebounds well. Big upside.
Justin Fitzpatrick, 6-5 center, EVOElite/Burlington H.S.: Excellent size and length for a power forward; above-average shot-blocking ability. Terrific athleticism. Has room to fill out frame. Unique fluidity around the rim. Can create space using length/body to finish at the rim. Has a nice touch. Needs work on rebound positioning. Not a jump-shooter yet, but has ability to pass with touch.
Nick Perrotta, 5-8 guard, EVOElite/Wakefield H.S.: Quick, quirky, feisty point guard. Shows tenacity to get to the rim. Has an unconventional but effective jumper. Undersized, smart player who understands his strengths and weaknesses. Assured and focused; operates on the floor efficiently and conducts the offense well. Has a dedication to defense that frustrates opponents.
Aaron Lawson, 5-11 forward, Devv Carter Swarm/Cornwall Middle School: Physically aggressive small forward; good athleticism. Soft touch in the paint. Rebounds well. Uses his athletic frame to elevate on rebounds. A real hustler and a hard-worker. Finishes contested shots. Can break a defender down with his dribble and turn the corner. Can push tempo with the ball in his hands. Needs only a consistent mid-range jumper.
Casey Phinney, 5-10 forward, Metro Boston/Furnace Brook Middle School: Strong, gritty and tenacious small forward. A tactician inside of 10 feet. Driven. Demonstrates good lateral change-of-pace and body position. Achieves through sheer will power. Soft touch. Has a series of effective post moves. Can step out and hit mid-range jumper, but prefers to attack the rim. Impressive focus. Can defend faster PGs as well as the interior post positions. One of most fundamentally sound players in the division.
Dylan Ahearn, 5-11 forward, Metro Boston/Furnace Brook Middle School: Smart, composed, under control small forward who knows how to use his body to create space and opportunity for himself. Takes what the defense gives him. Nice floater. Reads passing lanes well. Has active hands. Facilitates the offense, yet finds his shot regularly. Proficient with either hand.
Kyle Peterson, 5-6 guard, Metro Boston/Hanover Middle School: Left-handed, long-range shooting point guard. Active on both ends. Shows good composure and court awareness. Has a propensity to be around the ball on offense. Conservative, but deadly on shot selection. Defensively he works hard to apply pressure on ball handlers.
Amare Marshall , 5- 10 guard, New Jersey Crusaders/Mt. Hebron School : Silky, savvy shooting guard with a smooth demeanor. Can knock down a shot from range or navigate inside for higher-percentage shots. Plays with an inner calm, yet shows a great self confidence. Skillful ball handler. Makes good decisions. Can break down defenders off the dribble. Creates own shot. Aggressive on-ball defender. Most well-rounded offensive package from off-guard position in the division.
Daveon Davis, 4-11 guard, New Jersey Crusaders/Patrick Healy School: Dexterious, electric point guard. Elite quickness off the dribble. Tight handle and great lateral movement. Changes directions with ease. Great sense of floor spacing and how to distribute the ball to open areas. A pass-first guard. Limited jump-shooting here, although decent shot mechanics.
Jake Nelson, 5-5 guard, Capital City Lightning/Shaker H.S.: Energetic, speedy up-tempo point guard with a high motor. Keeps defender off guard with long-range shots while also being able to turn tight corners to get to the rim. Intense style on defense where he routinely calls out assignments and rallies his team to inspired play. Penetration draws defenders and he dishes to teammates. Emotional center of his team.
Rahsen Fisher, 5-8 guard, Stamford Peace/West Rocks School: Long, agile wing can get up and down the court in transition. Composed on offense, uses shot/pump fakes, step thru, etc. Finishes through contact. Soft touch. Control over body when attacking. Active trapper on defense. Bothers passing lanes.
Alexander Gibbens, 5-10 forward, Stamford Peace, Saxe Middle School: Smart, hard-working forward who does everything well. Motor always running. Active on glass. Has a consistent mid-range jumper. Gets good rebounding position. Understands his role on the team. In right place at right time on nearly every play. Has a huge upside if he can continue to develop his skills. Extremely coachable.
Matthew Cammock, 5-9 forward, LI Lightning-Huyghue/OLL School: Raw, natural athletic ability best suited to smal forward. Fluid demeanor on the court. Can play either guard or small forward. Handles the ball proficiently. Good speed with the ball. Finishes at the rim with either hand. Holds his own on the boards. Hustler with competitiveness and willingness.
Jayden Belliveau-Ryan, 5-10 forward, New Hampshire Gym Rats/CV H.S.: Athletic, tireless small forward on both ends. Out works everyone on the floor. Wills his team forward. Jump shot could be better, but solid overall player who makes the right play and puts teammates in best position to succeed. Strengths revolve around making plays for teammates, rebounding and defensive intensity.
Isaiah Thomas, 5-7 guard, NYC Gauchos: Calm, smooth combo guard. Navigates through traffic effortlessly, especially in transition. Ability to alter own shot in the air with regularity. Effective around the rim, gets off the ground. Knocks down outside shot consistently. Active on defense, getting hands in passing lanes to disrupt ball movement. Confident ball-handler.
Jack Fleming, 6-0 forward, Boston Metro/BC Junior H.S.: A strong, gritty forward capable of playing in the paint or on the perimeter. Outstanding rebounder who also showed a solid offensive game here, averaging 17.8 points per game, mostly in the paint. Good in the transition game. Can shoot out to mid-range. Nice touch for his size
Kekoa McArdle, 6-5 post, City Rocks-2020/Reid Middle School: A huge body with great length. An imposing big man. Has decent mobility, gets up and down the floor well. Comfortable playing with his bak to the basket. Aggressive rim protector. Willing to work on defense. Displayed much hustle and tenacity here.
Odahri Hibberts, 5-9 forward, Mass Commanders: Just tenacious on the defensive end. Arguably the best defender on the best defensive team in the division. Uses length, quickness to be a defensive pest. Good with the ball on offense, Gets inside the paint and knows what to do with it there.
13:U ALL-GymRat CHALLENGE HONORABLE MENTION
Solomon Neuhaus, 5-10 forward, Lake Chaplain Lakers
Jordan Jennings, 5-9 forward, Middletown’s Finest
Jeff Norgaisse, 5-11 forward, City Rocks
Anthony Clayton, 5-4 guard, City Rocks
Riley Madison, 5-5 guard, City Rocks
Aaron Carter, 5-2 guard, Devv Carter Swarm
Caleb Simmons, 6-0 forward, Devv Carter Swarm
Quadir Scott, 4-11 guard, New Jersey Crusaders
Jake Sanford, 5-9 forward, Capital City Lightning
Preston Graber, 5-4 guard, Capital City Lightning
Phillip Dawson III, 5-11 forward, Stamford Peace
Jonothan Coffy, 5-8 guard, Stamford Peace
Quinn Kelly, 5-5 guard, Stamford Peace
Quaden Jonson, 5-4 guard, LI Lightning-Huyghue
Peyton Springfield, 5-9 guard, New Hampshire Gym Rats
Skyler Bell, 5-5 guard, NYC Gauchos
Travon Mack, 5-4 guard, NYC Gauchos
Amir Williams, 5-10 forward, NYC Gauchos
Nick Benton, 5-11 post, Capital District Ballers
Orlando DiBacco, 5-4 guard, Capital City Ballers
Jakai Robinson, 5-10 forward, House of Sport
Will Dorion, 5-2 guard, Mass Commanders
Kyron Robinson, 5-2 guard, Castle Athletics
Ryan Teaney, 6-1 post, Vent Fitness
Camaron Tongue, 6- center, Boston Bobcats
Njavan Stewart, 5-4 guard, Boston Bobcats
Miles Graham, 6-1 center, Boston Bobcats
Mileeq Green, 5-6 guard D. Athleticz Club
12:U GymRat CHALLENGE AGE DIVISION REPORT
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY — Those interested in seeing the benefits of well-balanced team play only needed to watch the New York Gauchos on their way to winning the 12-under age division championship of the 18th annual GymRat CHALLENGE AAU Tournament at the Saratoga Recreation Center.
“The kids support each other, they connect with each other … they play well together,” said team coach Dwayne Mitchell. “When you do all of those things, this is the end result.”
The surprising thing is that the Gauchos are doing all of that at such a young level. Despite their relative youth, though, the team-oriented style is already ingrained. “We start them off in second grade and work on all of those things,” said Mitchell, of the AAU program that is one of the most-storied in the Northeast.
The kids definitely believe in that style. “We all want to help each other,” said age-bracket MVG (Most Valuable GymRat) Antonio Sellers, a 5-foot-6 point guard. “We want to have fun, but we’re there for each other both on and off the court.”
Sellers might have captured the division’s top individual award, but he had plenty of help to secure the title for the Gauchos with their 62-38 championship-game victory over CT Premier Hoops.
Teammate Kyle Cuffe led the Gauchos in scoring (13.8 points per game) over five games here, while forward Jake Tavroff (10.2), guard Milachi Smith (10.2) and Sellers (11.0) all averaged double figures.
Sellers, though, helped run the show from his point guard position and exhibited a good court vision and delivered crisp passes, including some of the no-look variety that belied his years.
The Gauchos also had plenty of depth, and it showed in the final game against a CT Premier Hoops squad that only had six players and seemed to have been worn down by the finals.
“We did a lot of things well,” added Mitchell. “We hustled, we shot free throws well, we rebounded well, We blocked some shots. We started the AAU season on a good note, then struggled a little bit. But, this is the indication that we’re starting to get things right again.”
It’s also the indication that getting this right, playing like a team, has some very positive results.
12:U GymRat CHALLENGE MVG – MOST VALUABLE GYMRAT
Antonio Sellers, 5-6 point guard, New York Gauchos/St. Paul’s School: A strong versatile player capable of playing either guard spot, but really excelled here as a floor general. Outstanding court recognition, and already a little “flash” mixed into his game. Already strong of build, enabling him to succeed in traffic. Plays with passion. Embraces pressure and contact. Clearly loves the game. Hits the open 3 consistently, yet can create by getting to the basket or finding open teammates.
12:U ALL-GymRat CHALLENGE TEAM
Mallachi Smith, 5-6 guard, NY Gauchos/St. Charles School: A very fast and athletic guard who anticipates passes well. He finishes well in traffic. Has a nice feel for the game. Able to get into the lane, takes contact and makes the “and-one.” Good court awareness. Runs the floor well.
Jake Tavroff, 6-2 post, NY Gauchos/Oceanside Middle School: An effective “big” at this level, knew how to use his size and length on both ends. Got good positions for offensive put-backs, rebounded well on both ends, blocked shots here and altered others. Good free-throw shooter. High motor. Provided a necessary inside presence to a good team.
Shyheim Odom, 5-10 post, Boston Bobcats: A strong and athletic post player. Makes strong post moves around the basket. Already has excellent footwork. He does not get rattled by pressure. Showed a good ability to dribble the ball for his size. Elevates his game with game-long intensity.
Mekhi Bassett, 5-6 guard, South Jersey Jazz/Waterford Elementary: A solid build and a real hustler on defense. Blocks shots in transition. A good set shooter. Hits mid-range and 3-pointer consistently. Just needs to get shot off quicker. Plays with intensity, but needs to watch that it doesn’t get out of control.
Khalid Sanders, 5-9 post, Middletown’s Finest/Monticello Middle School: Good size for this level and uses it to get rebounds. Able to go coast to coast. Very athletic. Runs the floor well. Needs to learn to go after rebounds with two hands. Makes good decisions in transition.
Andrew Moon, 5-2 guard, Game 7/Thompson Middle School: Has a great feel for the game, and outstanding decision-maker both in half-court game and in transition. Excellent set-shooter, but can also drive to the basket and absorbs contact well. Has good court IQ. Accurate 3-point shooter.
Justin Jackson, 5-3 combo guard, Schenectady-Tucker/King Middle School: A knockdown shooter from 3-point range consistently. Makes good decisions when attacking the basket. Has a diversified offensive repertoire, with mid-range shot, drives and runner. Finishes with either hand on either side of the rim.
Jakai Washington, 6-1 post, CT Premier/East County Day: Possibly the most-talented player in the division. A man-among-boys here. Averaged 27.2 points in five games, including a 44-point effort in one contest. Only one basket came beyond the paint. Finishes well with contact, dribbles low and handles pressure. Goes coast to coast with ease. Sees the floor well and makes good passes. Excellent shot-blocker and rebounder. Needs only a consistent jumper.
Jakai Robinson, 5-10 post, House of Sport/Ossining School: Excellent rebounder and hard worker. Finishes well in traffic. Solid concentration when finishing with contact. Can guard every position. Moves his feet well for his size and has good hand-eye coordination. Very athletic. Can shoot off dribble for mid-range jumpers.
Christopher Rotiroti, 5-3 guard, House of Sports/Hasting On Hudson: Works very hard and has good all-around game. Hustles consistently and draws contact to get to the line. Does the intangibles, things that don’t show on the stat sheet but still make differences in games. Finds the ball on defense with active hands.
Nino Robinson Jr., 5-4 point guard, Schenectady-Tucker/Yates Middle School: Handles the ball well. Makes good decisions in the open court. Smart defender who anticipates dribble moves and passes to steal or strip the ball frequently. Upon receiving an outlet pass he’s already looking up court to find open teammates. Finishes well with contact.
Damani Barley, 5-2 guard, RAP Elite/Rush Henrietta: A gifted passer with the IQ to know how to pull off flashy and on-target passes. Sees the floor exceptionally well. A crafty ball-handler whose long arms and smooth moves are used to great effect. Can hit the open shot. Makes his passes, as well as his moves, look effortless. Cool customer on the court.
Andrew Saint-Louis, 5-4 point guard, Stamford Peace/All Saints Catholic School: A smart point that plays with intensity and toughness. Able to create for himself and others. Nice step-back jumper, and can hit an open shot from deep. Rebounds well for his size. Great in the open court. Calm and intense under pressure. Competitive streak is obvious.
Jahlikai King, 5-4 combo guard, Newburgh Panthers: Cam play any position. Very good slasher, has a knack for getting into the paint and getting between defenders. Finishes well in traffic. Very athletic and rebounds well on the offensive glass. Takes a lot of runners/floaters, but needs to develop a consistent mid-range jumper.
Elisha Teneus-Claude, 5-8 wing, Boston Bobcats: A diversified scorer who can hit the open 3, drive to the basket or shoot the mid-range shot. Tough for other players to guard because of his varied skill set. Must be a little ore disciplined on defense to avoid reaching and getting out of position. But, very aggressive both ways.
Alex Karaban, 5-10 post, Boston Bobcats: Soid rebounder who can also step out and consistently hit the open 3. Great size, already a solid build. Excellent at contesting shots. Can play any position. Hit a big 3 late in a game here to give his team a win. Not afraid to make the big play.
Luke Rothstein, 5-1 guard, Game 7: An aggressive guard with a solid all-around game. Attacks the basket with strength and stays low to the ground when dribbling. Very quick. Able to hit the 3 consistently and has a quick release. Good court vision, passing ability when playing the point.
Luke Murphy, 5-3 guard, CT Premier Hoops/Bedford Middle School: A c=very crafty offensive-oriented guard. A big scorer here, averaging 20.7 points over five games. Relentless when pursuing the ball on defense. Draws contact well and can hit the open 3. Nice high arc and follow-through on his jumper. Also gets shots off the dribble.
12:U ALL-GymRat CHALLENGE HONORABLE MENTION TEAM
Kenny Simons, 4-10 guard, Schenectady Basketball-Young
Ernest Elliott, 5-3 guard, Newburgh Panthers-RABESS
Matteo Sinon, 5-5 guard, Stamford Peace
Ryan Bowen, 5-2 guard, Central Jersey Future Stars
Sean Seymour, 5-3 wing, City Rocks
Tahi Hunter, 5-3 guard, Jersey Jazz
Elijah Williams, 5-3 guard, Jersey Jazz
Jakhi Parrinello, 4-8 guard, House of Sports
Avery Brown, 5-6 guard, NY Gauchos
Luke Jacklin, 5-1 guard, Game 7
Tyler Yablon, 4-9 guard, Game 7