Hall of Fame National Invitational - Event Recap
With action at the 2011 Basketball Hall of Fame National Invitational wrapping up on Tuesday in Springfield, Mass., over 100 college programs, including schools from all six of the major BCS conferences, saw action conclude in three highly-competitive age brackets featuring some of the elite prospects in New England from programs like CBC, NE Playaz, Expressions Elite, Metro Boston, RI Hawks, Middlesex Magic, Mass Rivals, CT Select, Basketbull, Prodigy, and several others. The New England Recruiting Report was anchored down on-location to check out the action at the state-of-the-art Mass Mutual facility to witness some of the local products who stood out in the loaded national field.
17u Elite Bracket Championship Recap
Championship 1: CBC 56 Lone Peak Knights 44
Overcoming a 10-point halftime deficit behind the sensational play of floor general Kris Dunn and a series of late-game, highlight reel finishes from Andre Drummond (10 points), CBC would showcase its supreme will to win in the first of Tuesday’s 17u Elite Bracket title games in a hard-fought, 56-44 victory over Lone Peak out of Utah. With the court surrounded at least two rows deep at every spot to see the match-up of the tournament’s most dominate team against its most surprising, Lone Peak would show early that two previous round victories over the Metro Hawks and Long Island Lightning were no fluke, jumping out to an early lead behind their scrappy style of play and the terrific long-range shooting of Nick Emory (23 points) and TJ Hawes (11 points). However, trailing 32-22 at half, CBC would storm back behind the driving ability and playmaking instincts of Dunn (23 points, eight assists), who showed why he is now a consensus top-50 player in the country with a series of acrobatic finishes in transition and pin-point assists through traffic to the likes of Ethan ODay and Timajh Parker-Rivera. Drummond would punctuate CBC’s comeback with two thunderous finishes near the top of the square before the local power would eventually hang on for a 12-point victory and capture the first of the Elite Bracket’s two tournament titles.
Championship 2: Mass Rivals 67 Middlesex Magic 54
While CBC’s comeback was causing a stir in the arena on one court, Mass Rivals and Middlesex Magic were locked up in an equally-competitive contest in the second of the 17u Elite Bracket’s championship games taking place on another. With Mass Rival’s 15 year-old phenom Noah Vonleh, who turned in a terrific event in front of the multiple high-major programs who made the trip to the Northeast to see him play, forced out of the game early with a cut that required stiches, teammates Dimitri Floras and Jamie Holder would counter the tough inside tandem of Pete Miller (14 points) and Joe Glynn for Middlesex Magic. Steve Haladyna and Ryan Hartung would get loose for some clutch threes down the stretch and the Rivals would eventually hang on for a well-earned victory over a Magic team that had a sensational run to the final behind the likes of Miller and Glynn inside and Kyle Reardon and Connor Mahoney on the perimeter.
Andre Drummond (CBC 17u)- With the boys from Connecticut drawing circus-like crowds all event long due to the drop-on-a-dime chance of an emphatic play from the man in the middle, Drummond impressed with a determined physicality on Tuesday, showing a heightened mean streak to go with his truly superior size and athleticism on the interior. The plethora of high-major coaches who filled the sidelines to see him, mainly a who’s who of college coaching elite, had to take notice of the top center’s growing maturation from a generational prospect into a college-ready player capable of dominating a game in a multitude of ways.
Kris Dunn (CBC 17u)- The purity on the perimeter to Drummond’s power in the paint, the New-London native is impossibly smooth with the rock in hand in the open floor, slithering though traffic with an ease that allows him to make both the easy and difficult plays look routine. When his outside jumper becomes a staple of his game rather than a rapidly developing part of it, Dunn should become absolutely lethal in the pick & roll and give opposing defenders little idea of how to contain his free-flowing offensive instincts.
Ethan ODay (CBC 17u)- ODay was a handful inside with his length and toughness in the second half against a hard-nosed Lone Peak’s squad, using his deceptive athleticism and strong will to convert offensive rebounds for scores from a variety of angles at and above the rim.
Egi Gjikondi (Expressions 17u)- The six-foot-eight, recent Malden-High graduate continues to see his stock soar as an available big in the class of 2011, as he continued his impressive play throughout the day on Tuesday by running with ease rim-to-rim in transition, mixing it up through contact on the offensive glass, and showing his soft lefty-touch out to 10 feet on either short baseline. A potential steal stretch-four for a program in desperate need of some late size, more impressive than his obvious physical tools was his ability on Tuesday to focus and play under control for long stretches without being forced to the sidelines with foul trouble.
KeAndre Stanton (Expressions 17u)- A super-long, ultra athletic wing defender at six-foot-six, Stanton is dynamite scoring the ball in transition with effortless bounce to finish well above the rim on the break and the ability to change ends in a hurry in the open floor. He impressed on Tuesday with an impassioned defensive effort against an impossible to contain Noah Vonleh of Mass Rivals, who, although got his, Stanton made him work and earn everything he got.
Robinson Vilmont (Expressions 17u)- Although undersized as an attacking lead with no fear attacking the rim in the open floor, Vilmont makes up for his slight stature with solid creativity and the ability to finish at the cup from difficult angles. While most guards struggle making high-percentage plays after leaving their feet, the Wilbraham Monson-product proved a rare ability to locate open teammates in the air at the last moment of a developing play with thread-the-needle ability deep in the lane.
Jarrod Neumann (Basketbull 17u)- A six-foot-four, stretch four with nice feel and a smooth stroke out to the line, Neumann spaces the floor with the ability to score the ball in front of an outstretched hand and also shows the willingness to mix it up on the interior with deceptive toughness and solid ball-pursuit instincts around the rim.
Noah Vonleh (Mass Rivals 17u)- With University of North Carolina assistant Jerod Haase in the building on Monday evening to catch a glimpse of one of the country’s rapidly-exploding national prospects, the six-foot-seven do it all forward had his versatility on full display on Tuesday morning, scoring it in every way possible and even handling lead guard responsibilities for head coach Vin Pastore with a series of smooth, effortless crossover exchanges to get himself heading downhill to finish with bounce at the rim.
Cedric Kuakumensah (Mass Rivals 17u)- Continuing with what has been a consistently strong summer for the six-foot-seven interior bruiser, the St. Andrew’s-product bullied his way to a double-digit rebounding performances in multiple games on Tuesday, bumped opposing bigs off their spots defensively, and drew contact to get to the free-throw stripe with a natural physical presence that not only handles contact, but welcomes it.
Jamie Holder (Mass Rivals 17u)- The long, lanky New Hampshire-native and Notre Dame Prep-bound combo guard continues to impress with his improved feel handling the ball and initiating offense from the lead guard spot, tangibles that will only enhance his appeal to scholarship-level coaches already enamored with his creativity and bounce attacking the rim off the bounce.
Dimitri Floras (Mass Rivals 17u)- Joining Holder to form a polished backcourt tandem that was outstanding handling the pressure down the stretch against a ball-hawking Expressions backcourt group, Flores is another New Hampshire-native with a tight, creative handle, excellent change of pace in knifing his way into the lane, and a player with a classic lead guard instinct of being able to locate open teammates for high percentage looks with pin-point passing ability on kick-outs and dump-downs.
Tevon Falzon (Metro Boston 17u)- Falzon continues to intrigue scouts with his upgraded frame and enhanced athleticism, which he combines with a hybrid four, inside-outside skillset that proves awfully tough for opposing defensives to match-up with. Heading into a prep year at Winchendon, he will only continue to improve as he realizes his full potential as a matchup problem capable of scoring in a variety of ways and locking down multiple spots defensively.
Maurice Taylor (Prodigy 17u)- The elder of the two Taylor brothers continues to get better and better every time out, and, with an expanding offensive skill-set that includes a much improved perimeter jumper to go with his long, six-foot-six frame he uses to create space around the rim, he’s becoming extremely difficult to deal with offensively with his ability to score the ball inside and out from areas all over the floor. Taylor was in full attack-mode off the bounce on Tuesday against Albany City Rocks, with coaches from NE-10s like Merrimack and St. Anselm’s paying close attention.
Travis Shelden (RI Hawks 17u)- A tough, gritty lead guard with solid playmaking instincts and the ability to take and make difficult shots, Shelden led his team with efficient decision making and set the tone with lock down defensive intensity against opposing team’s primary ball-handlers.
Alex Furness (MB Nation 17u)- Another prospect who continues to diversify his game and put himself on coaches’ radars heading into a prep year in the fall at Cushing, the long, lean lefty showcased a crafty ability to attack off the bounce with a combination of skill, length, and unique body control to slither his way through traffic and score at the rim from a variety of angles.
Joe Glynn (Middlesex Magic 17u)- The Abbington, MA-native and six-foot-seven big was the catalyst in Middlesex Magic’s sensational, 3-0 bracket performance on Monday, solidifying his Division II scholarship status with a monster 15-point, 14-point double-double performance in a huge win over Wisconsin TP Select with the likes of Bentley, Stonehill, Merrimack, and St. Anselm’s all on-hand to get a glimpse of his tireless motor and rapidly-expanding offensive skill-set.
Peter Miller (Middlesex Magic 17u)- Joining forces with Glynn inside as a game-changing presence on both ends of the floor in Middlesex’s victory over Wisconsin TP Select, the six-foot-ten fundamental center was an impact presence defensively with his size and length and showed grit in getting on the offensive glass to extend multiple possessions and covert put-backs with a soft-touch off the glass in traffic.
Kyle Reardon & Connor Mahoney (Middlesex Magic 17u)- Complementing the play of Glynn and Miller on the interior as staples of Middlesex’s solid group of wings, the respective Rivers and Brooks School- products were solid all day long en route to their squad’s 3-0 pool play performance, knocking down shots from distance, rebounding well from the wing, and locking down defensively.
Rohan Brown (CT Elite 17u)- If there’s a better motor in all of the region than Brown’s, you’d be hard-pressed to find it and prove it, as the East Catholic-product and Choate-bound forward gets after it tirelessly on both ends with a combination of natural athleticism and pure heart. The six-foot-five wing denies every wing entry, pursues every loose ball in traffic, and, with a rapidly developing offensive skill-set to match his long, bouncy frame, look for him to quickly develop into one of the elite breakout prospects next year in all of the NEPSAC.
Kaleb Tarczewski (NE Playaz 17u)- With the likes of John Calipari, Sean Miller, and Bob Hugggins sitting courtside, Tarczewski was ever-solid in the Playaz match-up with Terry Porter on Monday, finishing everything around the glass with a soft touch and staggering efficiency, running with ease to the center of the rim in transition, and displaying as deft a jump hook over either shoulder as there is the national class of 2012 that is literally becoming impossible for opposing bigs to defend.
Deonte Burton (TP Elite 17u)- Showing off his freakish athleticism and relentless go-get-it mentality around the rim, Burton continued his explosive summer with a stellar performance against Tarczewski and company on Monday, showing his patented quick-step explosion in tight space, pinning shots against the glass defensively, and proving to players and spectators alike that when he gets downhill in transition with his sights on the rim, its literally game over.