Connecticut Select Wins AAU National Championship
While many local kids were attending camps during the start of the July live period some where competing for a national championship. Connecticut Select, one of the most storied AAU programs in the region, brought 8 kids down to Clarksville, Tennessee for the division I National Championship from July 5th – 10th and ending up leaving with the title of the nation’s best.
Not only is Select the first Connecticut team to win an AAU national championship in basketball (division I) but they are the first Connecticut team to win a national championship in any sport.
“The kids were excited because they knew no other Connecticut team has ever done this,” said Select Coach and Director Wayne Simone. “They all stepped up, played with confidence, and believed in one another.”
No player was more impressive than Tyrone Gardner. The rising junior guard from Weaver High School was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player while demonstrating his full fledged offensive attack.
“He was terrific”, said Simone. “He had 25+ points in the second half alone of two different games.”
While Gardner led the way he was surrounded by a talented supporting cast including Josh Turner, Adrian Satchell, Steven Samuels, and Cornelius Brown. In fact, Turner was named one of the top ten players in the tournament earning him a spot on the All-American 1st team.
Simone credited Samuels efforts on the defensive end as a big reason for the team’s victory in the championship game versus Team Melo.
“Steve was guarding a 6’7 kid the entire game,” he said, “and the kid never touched the ball.”
Prior to this season the farthest Connecticut Select ever went in a national championship was when Ryan Gomes anchored the front line of a 17 and under team that went to the semi-finals. As it turns out Gomes played a pivotal role in this year’s run as well.
When Adidas, who had been a long time sponsor of Select, opted to not renew their relationship, the Boston Celtic came through with the financial support to allow his former team to continue to compete in these types of national events.
“Ryan Gomes stepped up to the plate,” said Simone.
And maybe ten years from now it will be a player like Tyrone Gardner who will be in a position to give back to his former program.