Saturday, February 21, 2015

Team Rio Constructed to Win it All

Team Rio National
Widely considered as one of the elite teams in the class of 2019, Team Rio National has added the type of quality pieces that could result in a national championship.  Finishing with an impressive 16-4 record in last year’s ultra-competitive National YouthBasketball League (NYBL), the New Jersey based team has upgraded an already stacked roster.  Most everyone who follows the class is familiar with studs Scottie Lewis (6’4 WF), Brian Antoine (6’4 SG) and Mikeal Jones (6’6 PF/C), but guys like Jordon McCoy (6’4 WF) Jalen Gaffney (5’11 PG) and Ahmadu Sanor (6’0 SG/WF) are all solid contributors to the team. The addition of Tariq Ingraham (6’8 C New Castle, DE) adds size in the post and will allow Team Rio to compete with any team in the country.

Antoine and Lewis are playing some great basketball right now and college coaches have taken notice. In fact, the “big three” of Lewis, Antoine and Ingraham are all receiving high major interest as college coaches are flocking to the gym to watch the trio practice. Although he gets very little ink, Ahmadu Sanor is starting to make a name for himself and his play at the Winter Warz was impressive.

While many teams were forced to shut it down until the 2015 travel season, Rio has stayed busy. In fact, recently, the team dominated the competition at Mike Melton’s Winter Warz last week, finishing 5-0 on the weekend. In addition, Rio’s resume includes wins at the Fun Sport tourney at the Barkley Center, Fab 48 in Las Vegas last July, and the Nike Showcase in January. It should also be noted the Team Rio has only lost to 1 team since the NYBL concluded last season and that was a single digit loss to DC Premier. Team Spokesman Brian Klatsky is confident in his team’s ability to compete for a title this season. “We have been in the NYBL since day 1 and this is the year we can take home a championship,” said Klatsky. With only a few short weeks remaining until the tip off of the NYBL the excitement is really starting to build!

Lewis, Antonie, Jones, Ingraham, Gaffney, Sanor & McCoy

Sunday, February 1, 2015

King James Building for NYBL

King James Shooting Stars 2020

King James Head Coach Malcolm Walters is currently in the lab trying to assemble a 2020 team that can compete in the upcoming season of the NYBL.  With a solid core of elite players including Isaiah Kennedy (5’8 PG Beavercreek), Grant Huffman (5’9 SG Aurora), Devaonte Blanton (6’2 WF Nordonia) and Darion Henry (6’3 C Cincinnati), Walters feels real good about his team’s ability to compete against the best in the country.  Both Kennedy and Huffman pack national reputations, while Blanton is top 10 in Ohio and poised for national recognition and Henry is well respected statewide. In addition to their core, Kings James will return Montori Foster (5’8 SG Warrensville) Marvin Davies (6’0 PF Orange) and Nicholas Walters (5’7 PG Orange), all of whom have been with the team since the 3rd grade.

King James will be one of five 2020 Ohio based teams participating in the ultra competitive NYBL this season.  The other teams include: Mid Ohio Pumas, Ohio Basketball Club (OBC), Mansfield Cavs and SWO Elite. In terms of the pecking order in the Buckeye state, King James is widely considered the 2nd best team in northeast Ohio behind OBC and ahead of the Mansfield Cavs.  Statewide, King James may be top 5 good.  In terms of his team’s style of play, Walters emphasizes defense. “We are very aggressive; our defensive is our offense. We are in your face defensively,” said Walters.  

Isaiah Kennedy, DeVonte Blanton, Montoria Foster & Grant Huffman
Although statewide recognition is ok, Coach Walters feels that with the addition of the above mentioned key players, his squad can be elite nationally. “With adding [Isaiah] Kennedy and [Darion] Henry, we are top 10 in the nation,” said Walters.  Walters is equally confident about how is team will fare in the NYBL this season. “Exciting, we get to play against other top teams in the country and to see where we stand,” continued Walters.  “I hope they [NYBL teams] are getting ready because we are getting ready for them,” Walter said.There are only a few more weeks before the 2015 season tips off and the excitement is really starting to build.

Team Durant Heading to the NYBL

Kevin Durant Sponsors Grassroots Basketball Program
According to several credible sources, there may soon be a major shift in power in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area. Long known as a hot bed for basketball talent, with major shoe company sponsored programs such as DC Assault (Adidas), Baltimore Elite (Nike), Bmores Finest (Under Armor),  DC Premier (Under Armor), Team Mello (Jordan Brand) and Team Takeover (Nike), there may soon be a “New Sheriff in Town.”  Word on the street indicates the Team Durant (TD) is poised to explode onto the youth basketball scene with some very competitive teams and elite players

With sponsorship from one of the NBA’s most elite players in Kevin Durant, starting from scratch was not an option. Therefore, the fledging program has already attracted interest from several elite middle school programs such as the former 2020 Slam City Elite, 2019 DC Premier, 2021 Team Glory Elite and the 2021 Annandale Bulldogs.  In fact, each of these programs is rumored to be joining TD for the upcoming season as head coaches have already begun contacting their former program directors to inform them of their departures. It’s not just middle school aged programs as TD will be fielding teams in grades 2nd through 8th, with 8 total teams expected to hit the floor this year.

As most basketball fans know, the above middle school programs have stocked piled the type of individual talent not often seen in the area or nationally. Although the DMV is as talent rich as any area in the country, and annually pumps out anywhere from 60-75 D-I players per year, one has to wonder if there will be enough elite level talent to go around for all of the heavyweight programs in the area to remain viable.  TD’s emergence in the area could mean the demise of some much storied programs.  Only time will tell how the area will be impacted, but we won’t have to wait long to find out as each of the teams mentioned above will be participating in the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL) when the season tips off in DC in mid-March.

Although many may see TD’s arrival on the scene as a potential escalation of the local sneaker wars, Kevin Durant’s involvement in grassroots basketball should result in more opportunities for area youth.  A source close to the negotiations, which begin with initial discussions about 3-4 months ago, is impressed with KD’s commitment to giving back to the community where he grew up. “KD and his people want to be an example of what’s right about youth basketball,” said a member of KD’s team. “KD wants to provide role models, tutoring and other educational programs to the youth in the area.  He [KD] wants to bring a clean program to the area that’s run the right way,” continued the source.  Needless to say, things will be on and popping in the DMV for years to come, and only time will tell to what extent Team Durant makes an impact on the local and national landscape of middle school basketball.  Welcome to grassroots basketball KD!