Playaz take Platinum at Big Apple Summer Showcase
The New England Playaz were the big champions at the Big Apple Summer Showcase, taking the platinum championship with a win over another top Adidas Gauntlet program - K-Low Elite from Philadelphia.
For the Playaz, the entire tournament was a testament to their depth as they played without Davidson bound point guard Kellan Grady and rising junior Nate Laszewski, both of whom were nursing ankle injuries.
Those absences only created other opportunities for others to step-up and step-up they did. Kai Toews and Chuck Hannah, a pair of 2018's from Northfield Mount Hermon were models of efficiency. Toews' decision making, feel for the game and passing abilities were on full display all tournament long while Hannah's emergence continued fresh of his recent St. Joseph's offer as his toughness and productivity continued to be unmatched.
With head coach John Carroll even away from the team until the final, Jerome Desrosiers showed his leadership and emerged as a coach-on-the-floor type during the Playaz run to the final, while Shyheim Hicks' ability to make shots in bunches was critical in a number of moments, most especially the semi-final win over the New York Rens.
The frontcourt tandem of Darnell Brodie and Matt Dewolf both provided consistent contributions while the performance of Ethan Wright in the backcourt was one of the big themes of the event. A highly skilled guard with toughness and I.Q. to match, Wright is still only just 16 years old but proved his ability to exceed guys two years older as he made a series of high-level translatable plays throughout the event. He earned an offer from Colgate on Thursday and was also followed by Davidson and others.
The K-Low Elite squad that the Playaz out-lasted in the final, was tremendously talented and equally impressive. Koby Thomas is a highly athletic wing who is now a mid-major priority but is bound to get some higher level looks in the last week of the live period as too will junior big man Seth Pinkney, who emerged with his shot-blocking and quick finishing. Daeqwon Plowden, Izaiah Brockington and Anthony Ochefu all had a steady dose of division I suitors as too did juniors Damon Wall and Christian Ray.
K-Low Elite defeated the New York Jayhawks in the semifinal but C.J. Kelly was nonetheless one of the biggest break-out performers of the event. The local Queens product was at his best in both the quarterfinals and semifinals, putting the team on his back down the stretch in the Elite 8 and following that up with 19 first half points in the final four. Chris Coalman and Jaheam Cornwall make a "big three" of sorts for this club as all three were heavily recruited as soon as they walked in the door.
The fourth semi-finalist, the New York Rens, had a phenominal week with their 2018's playing up a class. Khalif Battle, a 6-foot-4 guard in the class of 2019 showed star potential and shot-making while landing his first D1 offer from Iona in the process while Sloan Seymour, Christian Hinckson, Malik Martin and Chris Childs all stood out at various times as well.
- The New Jersey Roadrunners made their presence felt with scholarship prospects at every position on the floor. Elijah Olaniyl was impressive not just with his athleticism and two-way playmaking ability but also with some three-point shooting. He was followed by Greg Herenda and the full FDU staff after landing that offer last week. Taj Benning was powerful and impactful in the backcourt with the likes of Rider, St. Peter's, NJIT and Wagner watching his every move while the frontcourt trio of Jordan Pierce, Rhona Eseyade and Calistus Anyichie was very intriguing and drew coaches from all levels of division I including the likes of California and Vanderbilt.
- The New York Ionians were popular with college coaches all weekend long. Wassef Methnani is a skilled 6-foot-8 big man who proved himself to be a mid-major priority while Laurynas Stonkus, Omar El Sheikh and Alejandro Minota combined to attract increasingly large crowds with every passing game.
- Beantown Bulls guard Dajour Dunkley, fresh of his recent Merrimack offer, had a steady dose of division II suitors following his every move and he didn't dissapoint as he burst into the lane and made plays throughout.
- Pomfret School's Christian Wilson suited up with Born Ready Elite and showed an aggressive driving game and ability to get down hill. Wilson already has an NJIT offer and was watched by head coach Brian Kennedy at every stop.
- Middle Tennessee State became the latest to come calling on CM3 swingman Kelvin Riley, a long and wiry wing with good size and athleticism to go along with a nice pull-up game.
- Crown Basketball's Thornton Scott helped himself as much as any player in the field as his perimeter size, shot-making and passing ability were drawing crowds of both division I and II coaches.
- Conor Harkins is a skilled and fundamentally sound guard from High Rise Elite who accumulated a steady following of college coaches this week.
- Incoming Bridgton Academy post-graduate forward Bobby Planutis was followed by Maine head coach Bob Walsh after picking up a recent offer from the Black Bears along with others including High Point and Mount St. Mary's. Seth Maxwell, his 6-foot-10 running mate, had eyeballs on him ranging all the way up to the Atlantic 10 and high-major conferences.
- Metro Boston had a pair of players earn new offers as Kendrick Gray landed an invitation from Wagner, while also being watched by Georgetown, and Ulyen Coleman picked up a Southern Connecticut offer after head coach Scott Burrell watched him on Thursday. Nick Timberlake and Carl Pierre helped themselves as well and are sure to see a bump in their recruitment as a result.
- A shoulder injury would keep Cormac Ryan out of action on Thursday but he was nothing short of spectacular on Wednesday when he made a number of high level plays to deliver a win for Middlesex Magic over a talented RYTES Warriors club from Pittsburgh. Owen de Graaf was a big winner for the Magic on day 2 as his versatility and positive energy helped him earn an offer from Pace University. Brendan Hoban's ability to score the ball from the backcourt earned him an offer from the nearby division II school as well.
- Open Season's Prince Hickson, an athletic 6-foot-5 forward, heard from Hofstra following an impressive performance on Wednesday night as he covered the court, showed his athleticism and scored the ball.
- Ron Harper Jr, a rising junior from Don Bosco Prep, started to make a name for himself as college coaches took note of his advanced scoring repetoire at a young age.
- The backcourt combo of Curtis Aiken and Christian Bentley was impressive for RYTES Warriors. Aiken already holds early offers from Pittsburgh and TCU with his good bloodlines, powerful body and well-balanced floor game while Bentley showed off some power of his own in the backcourt along with the ability to score with either his dribble or jumper. Jamier Fletcher joins Aiken in the class of 2018 and gives this club a strong foundation moving forward.
- Team Belief is loaded with big guys with high-major upside including Alexis Yetna, Daniel Mading and Christian Lorng. While Yetna landed an offer from St. Bonaventure on Wednesday night, iIronically though it was the backcourt of Jalen Gibbs and Derek Dixon that might have helped themselves most in New York. Gibbs was quick off the bounce and plenty capable with his jumper while Dixon made shots in bunches from long-range to propel Belief past the Ionians in a priority match-up for college coaches on Thursday afternoon.
- Collin Gillespie went down with injury for Team Final Black but that gave others a chance to step-up and Mike Millsip didn't miss the opportunity. A powerful 6-foot-4 wing who can make shots from behind the arc, Millsip had a large contingent of scholarship level coaches following him.
- Stony Brook, Dartmouth, Wagner, LIU and more were on hand to see incoming St. Thomas More big man E.J. Anasike, and he didn't dissapoint, but Kyle Lofton emerged as another major break-out of the event. The Firm's point guard is long and quick with an extra gear to his playmaking ability and division I coaches continued to take notice throughout the field.
- Tidjane Keita, an intimidating 6-foot-10 big man for Thetford Academy, picked up interest from St. Bonaventure this week while Quincy Guerrier, a 6-foot-7 rising sophomore looked the part of a future high-major prospect.
- USAD point guard C.J. Seaforth was one of the big winners of the event, walking away with new offers from Iona and Robert Morris, while intriguing numerous other schools with his fluid playmaking on both ends of the floor.
- Thomas Binelli, a 6-foot-8 forward with one of the softest jumpers you'll find, was a priority for coaches from all levels this week. An NE-10 priority, he was followed by every division II school in attendance but had division I schools all the way up to Davidson following his every move as well.
- Yale head coach James Jones was one of several to follow York Ballers' Jalen Gabbidon in New York but it was the backcourt of 2017 Matt Kachelries and 2018 Brandon McGlynn that proved equally impactful with their toughness, grit and productivity.