Expressions Take Summer JamFest Title
Abdul-Malik Abu made a triumphant return to his Expressions Elite squad on Saturday night, after missing the better part of the first four days while starring at the Nike Global Challenge.
His return gave the team the boost of momentum they needed to win four more games en route to the Hoop Group Summer Jam Fest u17 championship.
It began with a come-from-behind quarterfinal win over Mid-Atlantic Select on Sunday morning, where they ultimately escaped by a 56-54 margin. Next up was a 50-42 win over the same Jersey Shore Warriors team who they had fallen to just three days earlier, without Abu. But the second time was a different story as they were able to snap the Warriors’ 24 game winning streak.
The final brought a match-up with Brookwood Bounce and this one literally came down to the very last possession when Abu broke a tie with just six seconds left on the clock by elevating to dunk through contact, earning a three-point play the old-fashioned way and securing the title for Expressions.
Brookwood faced a curveball from the opening tap as Expressions opted to start their youngsters with Jesse Bunting, Donovan Love, Ikenna Ndugba, Kimani Lawrence, and Jermaine Samuels while bringing their normal starting five of Abu, Jared Terrell, Cane Broome, Aaron Falzon, and Idris Taqqee off the bench. Dimitri Floras missed the game after suffering a concussion earlier in the week.
While Abu’s provided the spark and ultimately delivered the title with the final play, Jared Terrell would again lead the team with 16 points while both Broome and Bunting would earn praise from the Hoop Group’s Steve Keller.
Here are a look at some of the other local New England products who stood out at the Summer Jam Fest:
Mike Auger, Mass Rivals – He was the engine that made the Rivals go all weekend long and he reportedly picked up several new scholarship offers as a result. While his toughness is his calling card, he also showed some offensive tools with a 23 point performance on Saturday.
Josh Sharma, Mass Rivals – With Jalen Adams out with a knee injury and Goodluck Okonoboh sidelined for the better part of the tournament, Sharma played significant minutes and ended up delivering one of his better performances in a long time showing his combination of size and athleticism.
Kealen Ives, Rhode Island Hawks – He’s had a strong summer so far and college coaches are taking notice. Perhaps the most telling game was a lopsided victory over the Kendall Madison Playaz where Ives noticeably outplayed opposing point guard Aaren Edmead.
Chris Baldwin, Expressions 16’s – Like Sharma, this was the best we’ve seen Baldwin play in quite some time. Playing at the U16 level, he was able to physically assert himself inside the paint in order to score and rebound at will.
A.J. Brodeur, Rhode Island Hawks 16’s – It’s been a breakout spring for Brodeur as he seems to be taking his game to new levels on almost a weekly basis. He continued to shine this weekend as the Hawks U16 squad played up in the U17 division.
Noah Daoust, Brookwood Elite – The Hotchkiss big man ran the pivot spot for Brookwood Elite on their way to the finals, and did more than a serviceable job, taking up space in the middle and drilling shots from behind the arc.
Romello Walker, Boston Elite – Team Boston Elite made a nice run, advancing all the way to the quarterfinals before they ran into the Jersey Shore Warriors. Walker, who will be a post-graduate at South Kent next year, stood out as an intriguing talent on the wing.
Samuel Dingba, Westchester Hawks – The Salisbury big man has returned to the AAU circuit for the summer and he wasted no time in making his presence felt. His world class motor was revving in first gear from day one, as he continued to assert himself on both ends of the floor.