Playaz Win Adidas Atlanta Classic
The New England Playaz flew south this past weekend for the Adidas Atlanta Memorial Day Classic and came away with a championship, knocking off many of the east coast's top programs under a three stripes banner and finishing the weekend with a perfect 7-0 record. On their way to the championship they beat Team South Carolina 61-56, AC Georgia (who earlier attended our NERR Hoopsfest) 58-53, and GP Elect 89-76. In bracket play things became more challenging. Facing Showtime Ballers in the round of 16, they advanced 66-58, and then defeated Team Power TW in the quarterfinals 56-50. In their closest game of the tournament, the Playaz emerged from the semi-finals with a 64-62 win over a Game Elite squad featuring Zion Williamson, one of the top sophomores in the country. The Playaz downed Team Loaded NC and North Carolina commit Rechon Black 70-50 in the final.
The Playaz were led throughout the weekend by the play of Davidson commit Kellan Grady. Now finally healthy after an injury plagued July, Grady was both the team's primary ball-handler and play-maker all weekend long. Despite being face guarded, pressed, and trapped, Grady was the leading scorer during the weekend averaging better than 20 points, hitting contested shots from all three ranges, while also distributing the ball.
The Playaz frontcourt -- and Northfield Mount Hermon teammates -- Jerome Desrosiers, Nate Laszewski, and Chuck Hannah, were huge on the glass this weekend. The three forwards limited opponent's 2nd chances. Offensively Desrosiers was virtually unguardable, attacking the rim off the bounce with his strength and athleticism while throwing down some huge dunks throughout the weekend. Laszewski was back in top form after a brief shooting slump in April and again stroking it from 3 all weekend long, most impressively hitting 7 vs. Game Elite. Laszewski also was beating his man off the bounce with crafty spin moves and finishes. Hannah, who was guarding bigger players for most of the weekend, competed successfully with his strength, work ethic, and IQ helping him on both ends of the floor. The lefty Hannah scored in the post with both hands and hit consistently from midrange.
Jordan Mello-Klein left early Sunday to prepare for Thayer Academy’s final assessments this week, but not before playing some of his best basketball of the season. The lefty guard was shooting the 3 at a high rate while also attacking gaps and finishing through contact. With Mello-Klein gone for the final 4 games, Kai Toews played along Grady. Toews, who is originally from Japan is transferring into Northfield Mount Hermon next year and re-classing to 2018, showcased his upside this weekend. He attacked the gaps, hit threes, and showed he was clutch vs. Game Elite when he attacked the lane and got fouled with .4 seconds. Shooting 1 and 1, Toews buried the first and second and won the game for the Playaz.
Coming off the bench Shyheim Hicks and Darnell Brodie brought great energy and defense. Hicks stretches defenses with his shooting and ability to create off the bounce. Defensively his aggressive style – unaffected by injuries he’s dealing with -- forced turnovers. The big man Brodie continues to improve. Brodie who is 6’10 and 260 is a force down low and used his size effectively throughout the weekend. Grabbing rebounds and finishing with both right and left jump hooks, Brodie showed flashes of his considerable upside.
The Playaz championship comes on the heels of a 6-2 regular season record on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit and solidifies their place in the field of the Gauntlet Finale, held from July 6th - 9th in South Carolina.