Basketbull’s First Eight - Event Recap
Without their star and facing a seemingly insurmountable first half deficit, Connecticut Basketball Club (CBC) improbably rallied to capture the unlikely of tournament titles. With Andre Drummond attending to Team USA duties in Europe and Vince Van Nes out with an injury, CBC looked overmatched physically by the NE Playaz massive front line early in Saturday's championship game, falling behind by as much as 21 late in the first half. But the Playaz were running with a skeleton squad as well with Alex Murphy and Markus Kennedy both held out of the final after going down hard earlier in the day. As coaches from the SEC, Big East and ACC marveled at the individual talents of the NE Playaz high-major studs, CBC, a band of players unknown to that kind of stage, staged their comeback. The surge was keyed by CBC's dominance on the offensive glass (surprising due to the Playaz' size advantage). Deshawn Murphy led the charge as he swooped in for countless offensive rebounds while also knocking down several outside shots to tear into the lead. CBC still faced a 2-point deficit when Freddie Wilson rebounded an errant three with under five seconds left. Showing the basketball savy that has several college programs drooling, Wilson dribbled the ball out to the three-point line, threw a quick shot fake, and then drew contact as he hoisted a three as time expired. The shot didn't go, but the whistle was blown as Wilson marched to the free throw for 3 shots. With the line cleared and his team down 2, Wilson nailed all 3 free throws to give CBC their first lead of the game and a miraculous tournament win.
-Kris Dunn, CBC: Dunn was fantastic in CBC's semifinal win over Mass Rivals. On the defensive end, Dunn cooled down a blazing hot Jordan Laguerre (fresh off a "MOP" award at Hoop Mountain's Super Week II). Offensively, Dunn showed an ability to get into the paint, finishing several drives himself while also dishing off to open teammates on others.
-Nerlens Noel & Georges Niang, BABC: BABC had no problems taking the title in the u16 division, defeating a talented New Heights squad in the final. While the championship game featured a well balanced team effort Noeal continues to be the anchor of this team, especially on the defensive end, and a prospect who is rising rapidly on the national level. As for Niang, the physical 6'7 2012 post had a great Saturday scoring the ball. Niang is very agressive, relentless on the boards and looking to attack the rim on every post catch.
-Josh Turner, Connecticut Select: Formerly of Sacred Heart in Waterbury, CT, Turner is headed to Southern Carolina Prep for a 5th year. Turner's game is an array of pull-up jumpers. Lacking the ability to blow by defenders, Turner does sufficiently create space to rise for his jumpers. He does an excellent job of squaring his shoulders to the rim.
-Clyde Smith, New Heights: A Houston, Texas native who is set to be a junior at Hotchkiss School in the fall made his New England debut on Saturday and he did not disapoint. The smooth 6'3 combo guard weaved effortlessly through defenses on Saturday. Efficient with his dribble, Smith plays at a very fast speed while avoiding high turnover numbers.
-Khem Birch, Expressions: Although Birch's Expressions team was upset in the first round by CT Knights, Birch's dominant defensive performance cemented his title as the best shot blocker in the region, if not the country. Birch's 10 blocks took away countless layups in the back of Expressions' press. Birch's offensive game continues to show flashes; the play that had the college scouts raving was Birch's high flying dunk off an elbow catch.
-Scott King, Mass Rivals: Saturday was a good day for the New Hampshire native. Not only did King lead his team to the second round, but he also joined CBC's Phil Gaetano in earning his first division 1 offer from Sacred Heart. King's potential is obvious as a face-up 4 man who at 6'9 can stretch the defense with his ability to shoot the three.
-Tylon Smith, CT Knights: Smith's 24 points led his team in their first round upset win over Expressions Elite. Smith is a muscular 6'3 wing who can really shoot it from three. While he may lack athleticism, Smith's game is very North-South and he uses his strength to bully smaller defenders to the rim.
-Kaleb Tarczewski & Alex Murphy, New England Playaz: The duo attracted quite a crowd all afternoon with coaches from Pitt, Providence, Florida, Kansas, Wake Forest, Duke and Connecticut taking in the action. Neither disappointed as Tarczewski used his 7'0 frame to seal smaller defenders while dunking everything he got his hands on. Murphy showcased a versatile offensive game, stepping outside for jumpers while also putting the ball on the floor for blow-bys.