Hoop Mountain Invitational - Sunday Recap
Sunday was championship day at the Hoop Mountain Invitational. Here is a look at the guys who stood out when it mattered the most:
Thomas Rivard (RI Hawks 16u)- A highly-skilled face-up four at six-foot-six with solid ball skills , the Worcester Academy product can stretch the defense with a pure stroke out to the arc and is terrific maneuvering his way through traffic to score with either hand in the lane or distribute the ball in tight space.
Aaron Calixte (NE Cyclones 16u)- Another version of one of the several young Rhode Island guards to show well at this year’s event, Calixte is as talented as he is savvy with the basketball, exuding a certain moxie as a floor leader that fuels his ability to remain poised in critical situations and make high level plays in momentum-swinging situations with his elite playmaking creativity.
Aaron Falzon (Metro Boston 16u)- The six-foot-seven, hybrid forward was showcasing the elite shot-making from behind the arc on Sunday morning that makes him such a difficult cover for opposing players uncomfortable with pressing him out past the line, as he got loose for multiple catch-and-shoot threes and flashed a willingness to mix it up on the offensive glass to create second chance points with his length and natural ball-pursuit instincts.
Gabriel Pulliam (CT Mavericks 16u)- After a blistering three-point display in Saturday’s pool play match-up with the New England Ballas in which he connected on multiple shots from well-beyond NBA-range, the five-foot-seven lead guard was back at it again on Sunday morning, making defenders pay for giving him too much space behind the line by hitting a series of pull-up threes in transition off crafty, misdirection dribble combinations.
Alex McMurray (USAD 16u)- While possessing all the natural leadership qualities reflective of a stabilizing, makes-his-teammates-better presence at the point guard position, McMurray flat-out makes plays as a tough-minded, highly-skilled facilitator with the unique ability to make both the simple and more difficult plays appear routine sharing the rock off the bounce.
Zdahmond Dale (Rhode Island Hawks 16u)- An explosive athlete with a solid, strong frame and quick bounce around the rim, Dale makes up for being slightly undersized at just six-foot-two to be a game-changing presence rebounding and blocking shots defensively with his energy level and tenacity from block to block.
Eric Green (Mass Elite 17u)- Green’s supreme athleticism stood out from a variety of angles on Sunday morning, as he was nearly impossible to keep in front with his quickness off the bounce, a constant factor on the offensive glass with his unique ability to rise well above the rim in traffic, and brilliant in the open floor attacking the rim with a straight-line burst from the wing.
Jaymie Spears (Mass Elite 17u)- At his best attacking downhill in transition, Spears changes direction with explosive change of pace to lose his initial defender in the open floor, draw multiple defenders in the seam and finish plays with his trademark creativity off the bounce.
Joe Krongs (CT Gold 17u)- A knock-down perimeter shooter who hit timely shot after timely shot on Sunday morning, Krongs finished with five threes for the game and showcased his feel as a bona fide perimeter threat with an understanding of how to space himself off dribble penetration and work off quick-hit screen action for clean looks at the basket.
Mike Odenwaelder (CT Gold 17u)- Displaying solid versatility as a step-out four capable of knocking down an open 15-foot jump shot and possessing a series of face-up jab moves in the mid-range area, Odenwalder impressed as an intriguing hybrid forward posing distinct match-up problems for opposing defenses because of his high I.Q. and rapidly developing skill-set.
Zach Askew (Drive 4 Stardom 17u)- For the second straight day, the six-foot-eight Connecticut native impressed with his high motor on the interior, finishing plays in traffic with both hands, rebounding in high volume on both ends of the floor, and being a constant presence defensively with his length, lateral movement, and quick bounce in the lane.
Marquis Franklin (Team Providence 17u)- With opposing coaches consistently advising their kids that “this kid wants to go,” in reference to the fierce, attacking mentality of Franklin, he consistently forced the issue with this length and creativity off the bounce and his willingness to take and make difficult shots from the perimeter.
Victor Aytche (Metro Boston 17u)- One of the surprise, standout performers throughout the weekend, Aytche is a powerful, explosive combo-guard who scores the ball in a variety of ways with a smooth stroke from three, a tight handle through traffic, and a natural feel for absorbing contact in the lane, rising over multiple defenders, and finishing with either hand at the rim.
Tevin Falzon (Metro Boston 17u)- The elder of the two Falzon brothers who showed well for their respective Metro Boston clubs throughout the weekend, the six-foot-seven, face-up forward continues to show development as an effective high-post facilitator capable of recognizing various coverages and make sound decisions scoring or distributing the ball with his versatile offensive skill-set.
Baylen Easson (CT Knights 17u)- Just a freshman playing up in the 17u Division, Easson features terrific size and length at six-foot-five as a young big with rare agility and bounce around the rim and a motor to play through contact and make positive plays on both ends of the floor.
Michael Bonilla (East Coast Hawks 17u)- Exemplifying the effectiveness of a true wide-body post with a tireless motor to rebound, defend, and convert through contact, there wasn’t a more productive big on Sunday than Bonilla, as he consistently caught the ball deep on the low block to score over both shoulders and flashed a unique, all-important ability to control a frenzied ball in traffic, utilize a single gather-dribble, and convert off the glass.
Rony Fernandez (Metro Boston 17u)- A nifty, score-first point guard who loves to push the pace in transition and make plays threading the ball to open teammates on the move, Fernandez can also score the ball himself with a variety of floaters in the and deceptive athleticism to score over size at the rim.
Ricardo Ledo (RI Breakers 17u)- The six-foot-five, do-it-all wing was flat-out sensational in the Breakers’ early-afternoon match-up with Bay State Magic, dazzling the Mass Premiere crowd with a series of emphatic finishes above the rim in transition, multiple long-range jumpers off a devastating pull-back cross, and several draw-and-dish, look-away feeds showcasing his supreme ability to share it off the bounce. In the single most impressive play of the weekend, Ledo caught the ball in transition on the left wing, accelerated baseline off a hard rip, and elevated with no regard from outside the block for a tomahawk, knees-to-chest finish over a Bay State Magic defender two stories below.
Kalusha Ndoumbe Ngollo (RI Breakers 17u)- A bruising physical force on the low-block, the St. Andrew’s product never hesitates to enforce his physicality on the interior, simply out-working and out-muscling opponents for loose balls in traffic and blue-collar buckets inside, while also showing the ability to get out and run in the open floor and punctuate the break with thunderous, two-hand finish.
Rob Hazard (RI Breakers 17u)- After being challenged by an opposing coach with the ‘he can’t shoot’ advisory late Sunday afternoon, Hazard appeared to take it personally in rising to the occasion and hitting two crucial threes in front of an outstretched hand, showing signs as a developing outside threat capable of opening space for himself to use his elite quickness and leaping ability to attack the rim.
Matt Droney (Boston Warriors 17u)- A silky-smooth lefty with a devastating stroke from distance, Droney impressed not only with his ability to make shots in bunches from behind the arc, but with an expanded feel for facilitating in the open floor and capitalizing on the extensive amount of attention he commands as a high-level scorer.
Zach Gattereau (LOX 17u)- A long, lanky shooter on the perimeter with deceptive blow-by ability when pressed hard at the arc, Gattereau features a Tayshaun Prince-type demeanor in that he appears to lull opponents to complacency with an apparently passive, yet fluid, approach, before lighting up the scoreboard in a hurry with a series of long-range jumpers and efficient scores in the lane.
Jeff Amazon (LOX 17u)- Featuring a strong, sturdy frame at six-foot-four that he uses to bully past smaller defenders and maneuver his way through congestion in the lane, Amazon does an outstanding job of maintaining his vision through traffic, allowing him to assault the rim for his own offense or drop the ball down on a dime after drawing multiple defenders at the second level.
2011 Hoop Mountain Invitational Champions
11u - Albany City Rocks White 48* Albany City Rocks Orange 19
12u - Expressions 72* New York Dream Team 20
13u - Expressions 61 * Boston Spartans 60
14u - CT Select Blue 66* CT Select Blue 49
15u - Metro Boston 60* Albany City Rocks 49
16u - RI Hawks 81* NE Cyclones 74
17u - LOX 75* CT Gold 71 (American Division)
17u - RI Breakers 83* Metro Boston 74 (National Division)