Now that season two of the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL) is in the books, and the AAU Nationals has once again been dominated by NYBL teams, I thought it would be a good time to recap some of the major storylines from this past season. First of all, a number of youth basketball fans doubted the NYBL would return for a second season after several newcomers entered the market with similar plans for a middle school league. Despite their efforts to duplicate the magic of the inaugural season of the NYBL, most attempts failed totally and/ or limped along in obscurity. Undoubtedly, there will be newcomers to the market next year with bright ideas and proclamations about how they can do a better middle school league; however, the NYBL has set the standard and will field an even bigger and better league in 2015!
|All-Ohio Red-NYBL National Champions|
Secondly, hats off to All-Ohio Red for claiming back-to-back NYBL National Championships. Regardless of a team’s talent level, repeating as champions is a monumental task. It wasn’t a cakewalk for All-Ohio as they were down several times over the course of the championship weekend; however, the players never lost confidence, rallied to erase big defects, and continued to advance. What was most evident from All-Ohio this season is their relentless style of play, their reliance on depth and the emergence of role players. Jerimiah Francis and Jordan Mitchell receive most of the praise, but All-Ohio is a complete team with a lot of assets. Guys like Chris’Sean Stringer, Chris Payne, Amari Davis, Andre Gordon came up big for All-Ohio over the course of the season and Demarko Bradley Jr. Greg Tribble Jr. and Malachi Matthews come off the bench with production and were critical components to All-Ohio’s success.
|Team CP3-AAU National Champions|
Thirdly, while we’re mentioning back-to-back national championships, we have to give props Coach Keyford Langley and his Team CP3 squad for their second consecutive title at the AAU Nationals this past week. Despite taking a loss in pool play, Team CP3 made serious run that did not end until they revenged their only loss to the California-based City Stars in the championship game (58-43). NYBL teams joining CP3 in the final four were All-Ohio Red, and Team Takeover, with the Memphis War Eagles and George Hill rounding out the Elite 8. All-in all, 6 teams that played in the NYBL finished in the top 12 (Texas Express placed 11th). From where we sit, that’s a dominating performance that highlights the competitiveness of the NYBL!
Year two of the NYBL was marked by significant expansion as we added a 16-team 6th grade division, while increasing the 2019 division from 24 to 32 teams. The growth was more than just numbers as the quality of the additions strengthened the league in terms of both team and individual talent. In the 7th grade division, the addition of teams like the Memphis War Eagles, George Hill Rising Stars, Brampton Warriors, Butler Elite, Team Florida, Team United, Northern Kings, Reach Higher Kings and the Charlotte Rivals represented significant upgrades! Those additions also allowed us the opportunity to watch and evaluate the play of DJ Jefferies, Chandler Lawson, Joe Cooper, Sydney Curry, Dexter Shouse Jr., Kyle Rode, Simon Banks, Nobal Days, Balsa Koprivicia, Bryan Sanders, Isaiah Moseley and many others.
|West Coast All-Stars-NYBL National Champions (2020)|
Some detractors suggested that west coast teams would not support the NYBL; however, in the 2020 division, the West Coast All Stars brought a lot of sizzle to the league as they made their trek to the 6th grade title. Also, the Oakland Solders were magnificent and logged in dominate performances throughout league play. The Leesburg Basketball Club began the league without much fanfare, but eventually fought their way all the way to the title game. The Worldwide Wildcats are loaded with talent, and their 15-5 overall record solidified their spot atop the league. Moreover, Team Glory and the Banneker Kings renewed their regional rivalry and brought a lot of excitement to league. The division-wining Mansfield Cavs had to be the surprise team of the league as the little known team from small town Ohio went head-to-head with some of the country’s top teams and did not flinch. CBC elite and the God First Crusaders round out the top echelon of the 6th grade division, and both teams had some exciting moments.
|Morrow, Harris, Harmon, Toles, Walker, LeBlanc, Ross, McNeil & Harris|
Although smaller in numbers, the 6th grade division featured a number of elite players who currently sit atop most national rankings. Shemar Morrow, the undisputed #1 ranked player in the country, started his NYBL campaign off with a bang as he dropped 52 points, including a transition dunk, during a game in the opening session. Morrow’s performance was captured on video that later garnered national and mainstream media attention. On par with Morrow‘s performance was Zion Harmon who, in session #4, exploded with multiple double digit-scoring games. Harmon, only a 5th grader, established himself as the clear # 1 player in the class of 2021. Jason Harris, Jordan Toles, Kyree Walker, Parris Dawson, Davion Ross, Isaiah LeBlanc, Chuck Harris and Montez McNeil were all consistent top performers this past season and will all continue to be ranked among the best in the nation in the class of 2020.
Year two for the NYBL was also marked by an international invasion that included 6 Canadian teams between the 2 divisions. The Brampton Warriors, Northern Kings, DC United and the Mississauga Knights were all competitive and added a nice flavor to the league. Of course the NYBL will take credit for the discovery of Rohan Barrett Jr. who took the league and nation by storm with his elite level and consistent play. A virtual unknown heading into league play, Barrett is now considered one of the top 2-3 players in the class. In terms of other Canadian discoveries, you might want to add Isaiah Moseley and Andrew Nembhard to the list as both players put themselves on the map during league play.
|Kporivica, Days, Lawson, Jefferies, Jones, Mack & Jones|
The NYBL is also very proud of the size of the bigs we were able to attract to the league, with at least 7 players standing 6’6 or better. In addition, there were at least 24 players who are at least 6’4. Those players include: 6’9 Balsa Koprivica, 6’8 Nobal Days, 6’7 Joe Jones III, 6’7 Jaden Campbell, 6’6 Brian “BJ” Mack II, 6’6 Taylor Currie, 6’5 Chandler Lawson, 6’5 Kyle Rode, 6’5 Hunter Dickerson, 6’5 Javon John, 6’5 Chris Coffey, 6’4 Bryce Okpoth, 6’4 Nicholas Evtimov, 6’4 DJ Jefferies, 6’4 Sydney Curry, 6’4 Michael Christmas, 6’4 Mikeal Jones, 6’4 Keion Brooks, 6’4 Rohan Barrett Jr., 6’4 Quinn Cafferty, 6’4 Che Evans, 6’4 BJ Joyner, 6’4 James Wiseman, 6’4 Nadel Mush, 6’4 Chris Bonds, 6’4 Jamel Boone, 6’4 Erik Penilla, 6’4, Sidney Okeke, 6’4 Shamar Brown and 6’4 Jervon Davis. With the above list of post players, undoubtedly, the league has the best collection of talent and skill of any league/event in the country.
|Francis, Nembhard, Evans, Maxey, Brelsford, Cooper, Langley, Hale & McGriff|
College coaches always target the bigs first, but the point guard position is a critical element in any championship level team. The NYBL featured many of the top point guards in the class of 2019. At this early age, there will be a lot of the bigger, more offensive-minded guards transitioning to the point, but in terms of the most recognized floor generals at this point, the league’s best (2019) include: Jerome Francis, Andrew Nembhard, Evan Johnson, Tyrese Maxey, Joe Cooper, Keyshun Langley, Tyler Brelsford, Alfonse Hale, Johnathon McGriff, Kendrick “KJ” Thorn, Diablo Stewart and Simon Banks. Some of 2020’s elite included: Zion Harmon, Davion Ross, Jordan McPhatter, Devion Smith, Brock Williams, Tyrone Washington, Dominc Wynn, Alex Wade, Will Paige and several others.
The league was also blessed with a ton of talent at the off guard position. Some of the top shooting guards included: Myles Pierre, Bryan Antonie, Kobe Langley, Isaiah Moseley, JC Tharrington, Chris Harris Jr. Chaz Gwyn, Justin Moore, Jay Heath, Eric Beckett, Anthony Edwards, Branton McCray and Michael Green. As lauded to earlier, many of the players mentioned above can, and/or will find a spot at the point guard position.
|Pierre, Langley, Antoine, Moseley, Moore, Harris, Gwyn,Moore, Tharrington & Green|
|Barrett, Moore, Lewis, Jefferies, Sanders, Mitchell, Lawson, Sturdivant & Shouse|
One of the most difficult positions to fill on a team is an athletic and scoring wing. The NYBL was blessed with a number of players who fit the bill. Guys like Rohan Barrett Jr, Wendell Moore Jr., Scottie Lewis, DJ Jefferies, Jordan Mitchell, Isaiah Watson, Kyle Sturdivant, Quinn Cafferty, Dexter Shouse Jr., Justin Moore, Demonta Hudson, Armari Davis and Dashan McKinney were some of the league’s top- wings. In the 6th grade division, the top wings included Isaiah LeBlanc, Jeremy Roach, Jordan Toles, Domingus Stevens, Luke Stankavage, William McClendon, James Wilborn and Antwon Norman.
In an ideal world, every team that entered the league would attend each and every session; however, on a couple of occasions this season the league had to bring in fill in teams. For the most part, the talent level of the replacement teams was very high. In fact, teams like Team Teague (2019), Arkansas Warriors (2019), Central Florida Elite (2019), DC Premiere (2020) and San Diego Select (2020) knocked off some of the league’s top teams and actually turned out to be great additions to the league.
In addition to the unmatched level of competition, the NYBL is pleased with the amount of exposure provided by our media partners. Our players are represented in every national top player list, and that can be directly attributed to the level of exposure the NYBL has provided over the last 2 years. Not only were new players discovered this season, many of our guys made huge moves up the national rankings. In addition to the Buckeye Prep Report, Bill Francis (Prolific Performance, DMV Elite & Basketball Spotlight), Mike Melton (Basketball Spotlight) and Spencer Pulliam (Dunk Dog & Future 150) all pumped out quality content about the league, teams and players. Bottom line, the NYBL has the media piece on lock, as the leading middle school scouting services routinely cover the league.
The NYBL All-Star Weekend is fast approaching and is poised to be one of the most competitive events in the country. In terms of the rising 7th and 8th grade divisions, the competition and the number of elite players committed to attend will be unmatched! Although many of the top guys have gone head-to-head for years, the NYBL All-star games and the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase will give them the opportunity to play together, which will give them an better appreciation for each other’s talent, while developing and strengthening new and existing relationships. Bottom line, top players want to play together and the NYBL All-Star games provide that opportunity.
In closing, plans are currently underway for a bigger and better league in year three. Once again, teams should expect great competition, upgraded facilities and even more exposure. See you in September!