AAU Nationals Comes to an End
Seven different New England teams finished in the top two of their pool and consequently advanced to the championship bracket at this week’s AAU u17 Nationals.
But no one went farther in the championship bracket than Metro Boston who put together a string of impressive wins en route to a trip to the tournament’s Round of 16.
Metro’s run began in pool play when they went a perfect 3-0, including an upset of Team Texas Elite 71-61, a top national program featuring numerous division I prospects including Phil Pressey.
Metro earned a bye in the opening round of the championship bracket and then knocked off Fastbreak NYC 74-67 in the second round.
The third round featured another match-up with a loaded national caliber team as Metro Boston locked up with Team STAT E1T1, who had advanced all the way to the Super Showcase finals a week earlier in Orlando, featuring the nation’s top ranked guard in the class of 2011, Austin Rivers (son of Celtics’ head coach and former NBA star Doc Rivers).
A day after getting the better of Phil Pressey, Shabazz Napier stepped up again, this time scoring a team high 24 points. Allen Harris scored 16 points on an assortment of strong drives to the hoop and perimeter jumpers while Ike Azotam had 15 points of his own. Mario Monroe and Marcus Grant led the team defensively as Monroe finished with 15 rebounds and 10 blocks while Grant locked up Rivers on the perimeter for most of the game.
Unfortunately their run would be stopped in the next round (round of 16) as they fell 60-57 to Jackson Tigers Select from Mississippi.
But for Metro the trip to Orlando was nothing less than a huge success. Not only did they go farther in the championship bracket than any other New England team, but several of their players have thrived in the process.
Yesterday we told you about all of the individual attention that Napier was getting. A day later he’s already starting to put together a list of big time offers as Miami, Rutgers, and St. John’s all offered the playmaking guard while Metro Boston director and head coach Mo Vasquez said he’s expecting an offer from Memphis to come very soon. Kentucky, Villanova, and Virginia all liked what they saw and plan to visit the Lawrence Academy campus this fall to follow up. Other schools in the mix are Pittsburgh, Providence, UMass, Boston College, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Tulane, and Houston.
Azotam has also helped himself tremendously. He currently claims six division I offers with additional interest from schools in the MAAC, Colonial, A-10, and America East.
Harris has some MAAC and America East interest of his own while already holding a number of solid division II offers.
Monroe, Grant, and Sarkie Ampie have all received interest from division I and II level schools this week as well.
In addition to the recruiting benefits Metro Boston saw this week, their stellar play also caught the eye of NBA All-Star Grant Hill, who watched the game versus Team Stat E1T1.
“He came over and said ‘Great job coach. Good win. Your kids are tough. They played hard,” Vasquez relayed. “He also said ‘the little point guard #3 is very good and can really stroke it.’”
While Metro Boston certainly led the way for New England, there were a number of other programs that showed well.
Connecticut Basketball Club joined Metro Boston in the third round (round of 32). Andre Drummond was the biggest catalyst of CBC’s second round victory over Gold Coast 64-49, but Majok Majok and Dominique Langston also shined this week.
Majok earned recognition in one of Rivals’ recaps for being a “rugged power forward with some surprising lift” who “plays with a high motor and just produces.”
Langston earned praise in Slam Magazine’s recap after putting up big time numbers in one of CBC’s wins earlier in the week. The incoming St. Thomas More post-grad had six dunks in the first quarter alone of the game and finished a number of other plays at the rim against contact while also starting the break defensively by crashing the glass and getting into passing lanes.
BABC joined Metro Boston and CBC as teams who went 3-0 in pool play, finishing in first place and consequently earning a bye in the opening round of the championship bracket. Unfortunately, the Atlanta All-Stars knocked them off in the second round.
Gerard Coleman continued to lead the way for BABC offensively as he reportedly shot the ball well from the perimeter, handled it well, and broke his man down off the dribble according to hoopsreport.com. Coleman was also given credit for turning in a good effort on both ends of the court, making places defensively as well.
Connecticut Basketball Academy, Connecticut Elite, Bay State Magic, and MBR all finished second in their pool and consequently gained entrance into the championship bracket. CBA, Bay State Magic, and MBR all scored opening round wins (while CT Elite got knocked off) but all three would fall in the second round.
MBR’s backcourt of Keegan Hyland and Indiana Faithful earned some praise from Scout.com’s Dave Telep, who noted the growing crowd of college coaches for Hyland including the full Vermont staff plus Northeastern head coach Bill Coen, and also classified the sharp-shooter as a “mid-major scorer”. Telep went on to note Faithful’s impact (as well as his cool name) and projected him as an America East level recruit.
Bay State Magic’s Dennis Clifford is another player who caught the attention of scouts and college coaches in the stands. Once again it was Scout.com’s Dave Telep recognizing the New England talent as he said Clifford would “wind up on the mid level.”
After falling in the championship bracket all seven local teams were sent to corresponding consolation brackets (Metro Boston & CBC to 3rd/4th bracket; BABC, CBA, BS Magic, & MBR to 2nd bracket; and CT Elite to 1st).
MBR advanced all the way to the semi-finals of the second consolation bracket before eventually falling on Thursday night to the Illinois Kings. In addition to Hyland (who has been playing through a leg injury) and Faithful, Jacob Moore and Dominic Borelli are also reported to have had played well.