NEHF - Saturday PM Recap I
The Northeast Hoops Festival this year is spread out at various Connecticut venues with each age group occupying its own home base. Hamden Hall was the site for the majority of the 16U action and NERR was on hand Saturday to catch all of the action. Here is a sampling of the players who stood out from the rest of the competition.
Kyle Williams (Team Underrated 2014) – Williams is a physical specimen who is just too big and strong for opponents on the 16U level. Standing at a thick 6’9” tall he bullied defenders in the lane while dominating the backboards on both ends of the floor. Offensively Williams didn’t do much outside of 3 feet because his strength allowed him to get position that low consistently. He still needs to develop his low post game and continue improving his conditioning to improve as a prospect.
Chima Azuonwu (Team Frenji 2014) – Another monster of a young man, Azuonwu is huge. His game is in its very early stages and he certainly won’t wow you with a developed skill set but he still has major upside. Azuonwu impressed by doing nothing more than running the floor and being big. His main highlight came on a 2 handed power dunk off a drop step but in reality basketball skill has very little to do with Azuonwu’s evaluation at this time. He needs coaching and practice but a man of his size certainly has a chance to play basketball for a long time.
Quarron Sturges (CT Select 2014) – Sturges is a big time athlete who excelled in transition when he could show off his physical advantages. He finished multiple plays above the rim forcing opponents into timeouts on two occasions after vicious dunks. His handle, jump shot, and overall offensive package need work but Sturges is one to watch in the 2014 class.
Roy Kane (TMT 2015) – A 6’5” forward who does most of his damage below the rim, Kane was dominant in his team’s early morning win. His best moments came after defensive rebounds when Kane started transition himself with the dribble and was able to find teammates for easy baskets on the break. He always seems to be around the action inside and was constantly tipping back offensive rebound chances.
Larry McKinney (CT Elite 2014) – After a difficult high school season playing out of position at forward, McKinney looked much more at home running the point for his CT Elite squad. The 6’2” power guard lived in the lane by using a tight crossover and once there kicked to open teammates for wide open shots. McKinney also took over down the stretch for his team and made winning plays to help secure a victory.
Isaac Vann (CT Elite 2014) – Vann provides energy and athleticism from the wing by running the floor hard in transition and crashing the offensive glass. He needs to improve his perimeter skills to become a full time small forward going forward but for now still makes an impact with effort and physicality.
Dustin Cole (MB Nation 2014) – The up and coming guard showed why he’s a legit prospect with two big games. He put up double-doubles in each contest and also get a big assist from Justin Zukowski, who had a pair of double-doubles of his own and has become a solid player on both ends of the floor.
Kevin Degnan (Team Frenji 2014) – Degnan didn’t excel in any one area but did a little bit of everything and ended up having a major impact on his team. The 6’6” stretch 4 made some shots, helped break press with his handle, showed solid vision and passing skills for a big, and competed on the backboards.
Brad Kong (BBN Premier 2015) – A developing 6’9” post Kong impacted the game mostly on the defensive end. He rebounded everything that came anywhere near him and also blocked and altered shots in the lane. Offensively he had very few opportunities and really was unable to show much of a skill set. Kong will need to develop on that end of the floor to continue improving as a prospect.
Eric Dammen-Brower (CT Elite 2014) – Dammen-Brower took two games to win me over as he is not the type of kid who passes the eye test at first glance. He does all the little things on the floor like boxing out, making outlet passes, grabbing offensive boards, setting hard picks, and not forcing anything. He’s a player who at 6’3” loves to mix it up inside and isn’t afraid to do so against much larger opponents.
Tremont Waters (NE Playaz 2017) – I’ve never evaluated a 7th grader before but I’ve also never seen one dominate a 16U game. Waters’ poise and feel for the game at his age is almost hard to believe. He never smiled, looked upset, or even seemed to be sweating and yet had his team in all the right sets and buried long range shots when he had his chances. Waters also needs credit for his defense as his lightning quick hands forced countless turnovers. It’s absurdly early and plenty can change over the next 5 years but Tremont Waters has a chance to be special.
Aaron Falzon (NE Playaz 2015) – Falzon serves as the most consistent scoring threat on this NE Playaz 16U team. The 6’6” small forward has range to the 3 point line but has more success when he attacks the paint and either converts midrange shots or gets to the rim. Falzon also rebounds at a high level on both ends and is learning to involve teammates. He projects as one of New England’s best in 2015.
Collin McManus (NE Playaz 2014) – McManus received some extra minutes today after teammate Djery Baptiste went down early with a knee injury and he made the most of his opportunity. While not an elite athlete or overly skilled offensively, McManus is an excellent rebounder. He clearly takes pride in it and really attacks the ball on both ends. Once he corrals a defensive rebound, McManus flashed the ability to whip ahead outlet passes and start transition for opportunities for his team.
James Jennings (CT Elite 2012) – The undersized point guard carried his team offensively by knocking down 3 point shots in bunches. Most of Jennings’ looks come off the dribble as he threatens defenders with the drive before pulling up from distance. Although only 5’7” he gets great elevation on his jumper and is able to get it off against most defenders. Jennings can become a bit shot happy once he gets going and can forget to involve the rest of the team but when they’re falling as often as they were today that’s not a bad thing.
Demetrius Thomas (CT Elite 2012) – An unknown name outside of Connecticut, Thomas took a step towards changing that today. The 6’6” forward impacted the game by flying up and down the floor and making plays above the rim on both ends. Thomas has large physical tools but is lacking in fundamentals especially defensively. He is in desperate need of coaching and more time playing basketball but could reap huge rewards down the road is his basketball catches up with his athleticism.
Wesley Dickinson (New Renaissance 2013) – Dickinson is a 6’6” combo forward who finished everything in the lane in his team’s afternoon win. He has range to 18 feet on his jumper but was best attacking and finishing around defenders in the lane. Dickinson also impressed me by being an excellent teammate and coaching up his guys on the floor. He was clearly a leader and had the full respect of his entire team.
Joey OConnell (CBC 2014) – O’Connell is a 6’4” forward who has a well rounded offensive game. He made multiple outside shots, attacked the rim with 2-3 dribbles, and scored with his back to the basket. O’Connell also served as a primary rebounder for his club and was able to break press with his solid handle. His overall ceiling will come down to how his body fills out and what position he eventually settles into.