NEHF Saturday Recap II
It was a busy day at Eastern Connecticut State University as some of the top 16u & 15u teams in the northeast region took the court. CBC, Mass Rivals, Expressions Elite, East Coast Elite, and RAP Elite were some of the top teams that impressed in the 16u division, while the 15u division was controlled by MBNation and Expressions Elite for the most part.
Here were some of the top individual performances of the day:
Moustapha Diagne – CBC – Diagne dominated the game every minute that he was in with his size, athleticism, and wide skill set. The 6’9” sophomore was very active both offensively and defensively, rebounded the ball in high volume, ran the floor well, and even showed the ability to push the ball in transition with the bounce off of the rebounds he secured. Diagne and teammate Sam Ibiezugbe form a very big and intimidating back line of the CBC defense that makes it extremely difficult for opposing teams to score at the rim. While CBC only got to play one game on the day due to a forfeit by one of the teams they were scheduled to play, they dominated and were the most impressive team to take the floor today. Hard to imagine that they couldn’t compete with, or possibly beat, any 16u team in the country.
Sam Ibiezugbe – CBC- Only a freshman and in his first year playing competitive basketball, Ibiezugbe is an intriguing prospect with a ton of upside. The 6’11” Ibiezugbe moved to America this past year from Nigeria and, as his father mentioned, is actually a better soccer player at this point in his life. However, one thing is for sure- If Ibiezugbe wants to work at basketball, he has all of the natural tools to be a star. His size, strength, and mere presence on the court already make him a very valuable asset to the CBC team. While he undeniably has a long way to go in terms of his skill set and basketball IQ, his physical attributes, knack for playing hard, and shot-changing abilities on the defensive end will certainly interest high level coaches this summer while Ibiezugbe takes his first trip around the AAU circuit.
Tyrique Jones – CBC – Was CBC’s best offensive player on the day in terms of production, pushing the break and getting a number of steals to create easy opportunities for himself and his teammates. Jones is smooth, can handle the ball very well, and, at 6’6”, has good size for a player at his position. It will be very interesting to see how Jones does versus better competition as the spring and summer progress. Jone could be someone who catches a lot of scholarship coach’s eyes during the live periods.
Marcus Blackwell – East Coast Elite – Was the best player on the floor from start to finish in an impressive win for ECE over Metro Boston. He hit outside jumpers, was very effective in transition, and played exceptionally hard on the defensive end, corralling a number of steals, blocks, and rebounds. It was a good day for Mr. Blackwell overall, and for his team to have chance at the championship tomorrow, he will need to bring it again as they will surely await a match-up with some of the best teams in the field.
Jay Sarkis – RAP Elite – The best pure floor general in the 16u field today, Sarkis did a magnificent job of controlling the tempo of the game, distributing the ball, and scoring when his team needed him. He made great decisions off both ball and down screens, and made a living in the middle of the paint by both finishing and kicking out to open shooters. Sarkis had an unofficial 16 points and 11 assists in a tough 74-68 win over a talented Connecticut Select team, and was equally as good in the night cap for his team.
Joey Wallace – RAP Elite – While Sarkis was RAP Elite’s best player today, Wallace was a not too distant second. An athletic scorer with good length and a pure shooting stroke, Wallace had a game high 21 points in their win vs. Connecticut Select by mixing in a good portion of jump shots, acrobatic finishes, and free throws before suffering a blow to the face that certainly affected his play in their second game of the day.
Juwan Gooding – Expressions Elite – Battled foul trouble in both games, but was still able to put together an impressive showing. He got into the lane early and often by using a tight handle and good athleticism, and once he were there, he was effective at scoring around the hoop. Gooding was also an absolute menace on defense causing a high number of turnovers that resulted in easy transition lay-ups for him and his teammates. In the half court, Gooding is currently a streaky shooter who can hit shots in bunches. He listed interest from St. Bonaventure, Umass, and Memphis after the game.
Tyonne Malone – Expressions Elite – Only a freshman coming off a very impressive freshman year at Williston Northampton that saw him earn First Team All-NEPSAC Class B, Malone is a high level athlete with a good motor and good overall skill set. He is best in a fast tempo game where he can get out in transition and finish at the rim, but is also effective in the half-court using a quick first step and a pure shooting stroke to score.
Saul Phiri – Mass Rivals – Another freshman playing up a division, Phiri had another good day for himself. He rebounded the ball in high volume, and has guard skills that allow him to push the tempo with the dribble. While Phiri had his fair share of points that came off put backs, athletic finishes, and a couple of open jump shots, his best attribute today was his ability to facilitate and get others involved. He distributed well, moved without the ball, and made the right basketball play more often than not.
Makai Ashton-Langford – Mass Rivals – One of the youngest players in the 16u field at only 14 years old, Ashton-Langford is a very talented young player with a high skillset for someone his age. He handled the ball well, got into the paint often, and made great decisions in terms of finding the open teammate at the right time. Most impressive, he has a court presence and demeanor that far exceeds his years. If Ashton-Langford keeps progressing and works hard to improve his jump shot, body, and overall skillset, he has a chance to be a special prospect down the road.
Eric Daguanno – Mass Rivals – The freshman from Marianapolis Prep hit open shots, converted easy buckets in transition, and ended up being the leading scorer for the Mass Rivals in their easy win over MYCW.
Shyheim Ulrickson – MBNation (15u) – Known in Maine as simply ‘Shy’, Ulrickson is one of the up and coming players in the state. What he may lack in stature or strength, currently, he more than makes up for with a great skillset. He has a very tight handle for someone his age, can shoot the ball at a high percentage, and is the floor general for an MBNation team that earned two easy wins in pool play today. Ulrickson is also sound in pick n’ roll basketball and is very effective in the middle of the paint using an array of finishes to score over bigger defenders.
Thomas Coyne – MBNation (15u) – One of the best shooters in the gym today, Coyne matches an absolutely pure shooting stroke with a heady approach to the game. In the second game of the day, Coyne caught fire early by hitting three 3’s that all barely touched the iron. Once defenders made the adjustment of closing out hard on him, he used up fakes and crafty jab steps to go by his defenders and finish inside the three-point line. Only a freshman, Coyne was a key contributor on his Falmouth High School team that captured the Maine Class B State title. Simply put, Coyne is a winner and a vocal leader for this MBNation team that is certainly capable of capturing the 15u tournament title come Sunday.
James Foye – Metro Boston – A versatile lefty who made a lot of shots on the day for a Metro Boston team that split two games. In the first game of the day, Foye did his best to keep his team competitive against a tough East Coast Elite team. He made five 3’s, finished a couple of tough shots at the basket, and also made some great plays to set up his teammates for easy shots. In the second game, Foye was more of a facilitator doing a lot of the little things to help his team win the game. He will be repeating his sophomore year at Phillips Exeter Academy next year. Foye will need to add strength and become a better, more vocal defender to be effective at the NEPSAC Class A level.
Ikenna Ndugba – Expression Elite (15u) – While Ndugba may have struggled to convert on as many shots as we have come to expect from him today, his skill and potential are undeniable. Coming off a successful freshman campaign at the Brooks School, he has a very strong handle to go along with one of the more developed and stronger bodies in the New England Class of 2016. He is great at using ball screens, usually makes the right decision when in the paint or breaking pressure, and has the potential to be a great on ball defender with his foot speed and anticipation.