Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gym Rats Presidents Day Tournament-Day One Report

West Coast All-Stars
One of the sure signs the AAU basketball season has begun is the tip off of the Gym Rats Presidents' Day Tournament held every year in Portland, Oregon. As is the case every year, this field features a number of very talented west coast teams in the middle school divisions. Some of the top teams this year include the Oakland Soldiers (7th & 8th), West Coast All-Stars (6th), and the San Diego Rebels (6th). In terms of numbers, the eighth grade division is the largest with 40 teams entered, followed by the seventh grade division with 42 teams and the sixth grade division with an additional 29 teams.  Since were covering the event as part of the NYBL, our coverage this weekend will focus on the 6th & 7th grade divisions primarily.

Daeshawn Wayne
Day one of the tournament started off like most of events, double-digit blowouts in pool play by more highly seeded teams. In fact, right out of the gate, I watched Seattle Rotary destroy a San Diego-based Triple Threat by a final score of 25- 60. Other than the fact that Seattle Rotary was a much more talented team and totally dominated, there was nothing else really left to say about this game. Both teams started slow, but eventually, Seattle shook off the rust and got busy. As the game progressed, the bigger, more athletic Rotary began to overpower the much smaller Triple Threat players. The only real bright spot for Triple Threat was the play of Solomon Davis (6’3 C Marietta, CA). Davis has good length, is skilled and appears to have a lot of upside potential. According to the score sheet, Davis scored almost half of the Triple Threat points. For Seattle, the point guard play from Daeshawn Wayne (5'7 PG Seattle, WA) was spectacular. Wayne is crafty, plays with a lot of poise, and does a great job of running his team and getting other players the ball. I was also impressed with Wayne’s midrange game, a lost art these days, and his ability to drive and dish the ball. I also really liked Noah Williams (6’1 C Seattle, WA), who's got good size, is very athletic and handles the rock well for his position. Williams has good long-term potential as well.

Obinna Anyanwu & Chibuzo Agbo

The second game of the day featured another blowout, this time the San Diego Rebels totally outclassed HD Rock 62-19. The Rebels are a well-built team that uses precision and execution to excel. Although the Rebels’ strength lies with their frontcourt, they are an all-around very talented squad. As if the Rebels were not already talented enough, this weekend, Jack Pugh (5’9 PF Hilliard, OH) is running with the team. Pugh is an excellent complement to an already talented frontcourt. As is his trade mark, Pugh is attacking the basket and finishing everything. The frontcourt includes Obinna Anyanwu (6’0 C San Diego, CA) and Chibuzo Agbo (6’0 PF San Diego, CA), both of whom are blessed with good size and athleticism and can finish at a high rate around the cup. It’s not just their bigs, the Rebels’ guard play is also solid with Kobe Sanders and Alex Wade. As a team, the Rebels are patient on offense and they pass the basketball extremely well while seeming to work as a cohesive unit. Team oriented play and talent will win you a lot of games.

Tyrone Washington
Blowout number three of the day featured a lopsided game between the West Coast All-Stars and Team Black out. Even without their best player, Jason Harris, who was apparently involved in an accident, the All-Stars had little trouble getting by and undermanned Team Blackout. In this game, it was all about run outs transition buckets for the All-Stars. The All-Stars effectively employed a 2-2-1 full-court zone trap to force turnovers and feast off of easy transition buckets. The top performers for the All-Stars were Tyrone Washington (5’5 SG Phoenix AZ), Nick Valencia (6’0 C Phoenix, AZ) and Paris Dawson (5’7 WF LA CC). Washington showed a nice little mid-range game in addition to the ability to push the rock in transition and find open teammates for easy buckets. Valencia is a big space eater who is not that athletic and is not a high flyer, but is very effective in using his size to protect the rim and gobble up rebounds. Bottom line, you simply can't turn the ball over on this team and expect to beat them. By the time the buzzer sounded, the final score was 58-16. Finally, look for the West Coast All-Stars in the NYBL this season.

Dexter Shouse
Later in the day, I had the opportunity to catch some of the I10 Celtics versus Prep Elite game. By the time I walked in the gym, the score was already 8-2. As was the case all day long, this game quickly turned into a blowout, and by halftime, it was already 39- 9 in favor of the Celtics. Although there was no drama associated with the game, of note, is the fact that the Celtics have added some firepower to their team in the form of Dexter Shouse (6’1 PF Indianapolis, IN) and Keion Brooks (5’11 WF Indianapolis, IN). Both guys are Indiana natives and are highly ranked nationally. With Brooks and Shouse holding it down in the post, an undermanned Prep Elite squad had little chance of scoring and/or rebounding around the bucket. With the addition of the Indiana guys, this Celtics team is extremely deep and extremely talented. In fact, they come off of the bench with guys who can score and defend. Not only does this team have an elite frontcourt, they enjoy great guard play. Specifically, Jovon Blacksheer (5’7 PG LA, CA) and Dominic Winbush (5’5 PG Oakland, CA) are 2 quality guards who can both score and defend. Add Makani Whiteside (5’11 G LA, CA) to the mix and his team is going to be very difficult to beat this weekend. Whiteside has good size for his position and showed the ability to get to the rack and finish. We (NYBL) rank him as a WF, but he may possess PG skills. I plan to watch him more this weekend. Hopefully, day 2 will offer in more competitive games and more compelling storylines.

Tomorrow, I'm looking forward to watching the Oakland Soldiers (6th grade) lace it up. From what I understand, they've added some significant talent for this weekend's tournament. I’m also hoping to see more competitive games on day 2. Some other results: I10 Celtics (8th) defeated Washington Elite 59-57; Oakland Soldiers (7th) defeated Rainer 60-19; and Team Balance (6th) defeated Yellow Jackets 45-37.

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