Previewing the ZG Finals
This weekend, the annual Zero Gravity Finals returns to the greater Boston area. With over 550 teams expected across more than 50 courts, the event is attracting teams from Texas to Canada and promises to be one of the nation's biggest and deepest grassroots events of the year.
Last week we published an overview of the top local teams to watch. With the schedule set, we take a more detailed look at these teams as well as intriguing pool play matchups.
The frontcourt for BABC -- Marcus Santos Silva and Terrell Brown -- have been tearing up the EYBL circuit combining for 23.5 points, 15.9 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks. The 6-10 Brown has been on high-major radars for a while now, and Santos Silva, in the past 2 months, has seen his recruitment climb from low-major to high-major due to the numbers he has been putting up this EYBL season. Expect nothing less from these two this weekend. The head of the snake for BABC, Justin Mazzula, looks to continue his great floor play. Mazzula is averaging 6.6 assists per game, placing him third in EYBL in that category. With Santos Silva, Brown, Mazzula and a deep BABC team they will be ready to defend their ZG Finals championship.
Makai Ashton-Langford and Wabissa Bede are offensive forces who also get their Mass Rivals teammates going. These teammates include the outstanding frontcourt of Aaron Wheeler and Makhtar Gueye who use their length and athleticism on both ends of the floor. Yale commit Azar Swain comes has been hitting threes from deep all spring. Mass Rivals should contend – as they typically do -- for yet another ZG Finals. Expect Rivals to be right there on championship Sunday.
New England Playaz have had an eventful past two weeks. They captured the Adidas Atlanta Memorial Day Classic title and on Wednesday forward Jerome Desrosiers committed to Princeton. Davidson University bound Kellan Grady has been playing his best basketball after becoming fully healthy. Grady’s floor game will be a huge factor in how far the Playaz go this weekend. If Desrosiers continues to attack the rim hard, Nate Laszewski hits shots from three, and the team competes on both ends of the floor with the vigor they displayed during the Memorial Day Weekend, the Playaz will be in contention to win the ZG Finals trophy.
The DC Blue Devils has seen a lot of success this spring, highlighted by winning the NERR Hoopsfest and just this last weekend finishing runner-up at the Boston Shootout. The backcourt tandem of Caleb Green and Geo Baker has led this team all spring by making plays off the bounce. Their playmaking abilities have led to their recruitments hitting new levels. With a frontcourt of Tshiefu Ngalakulondi, an athletic forward who can score from all three ranges, and the paint-dominating Sukhmail Mathon, the Blue Devils look to be among the favorites to be right there on Sunday for the ZG Final Championship.
Guards Jarrod Simmons, Mike McGuirl, Keandre Fair, and Kewan Smoote have been averaging more than double digits in the Under Armour Association for CBC. The quartet will look to lead CBC this weekend. With these talented guards, CBC has a lot of depth and explosive scorers who come at teams in waves. With these four playing at the level they have this spring, expect CBC to be in the mix late on Sunday.
Two pools that are seriously intriguing this weekend are the Kentucky and South Carolina pools. With a lot of talented and deep teams, these pools and matchups should feature some quality and entertaining basketball on Saturday:
In Pool Kentucky, Metro Boston is led by 6'7 athletic forward, Kendrick Gray who, per Vermont Academy head coach Alex Popp, has most recently has heard from Georgetown. 6'3 shooting guard Carl Pierre features on the perimeter with his scoring ability. They will face off against a young and talented WrightwaySkills. WrightwaySkills will be led by the 2019 backcourt of Jordan Mason, with his deep range, and Noah Kamba’s court vision and playmaking abilities. Mason and Kamba are both coming off great performances at the Super Soph Camp in Atlanta. While these two teams have elite talent, Lightning-Morales and D.Athleticz, are well-coached and hardworking squads that should challenge in the pool, making it an extremely competitive one.
In arguably the deepest bracket, the South Carolina pool features six teams and two spots on the line for bracket play. Middlesex Magic-Cochrane has seen a lot of success this spring, including a run to the semifinals at the NERR Hoopsfest. Brandon Kolek looks to continue his hot shooting for the Magic, building on a successful NERR Super 16. CT Playmakers, led by Bryant commit Vin Baker Jr and Morissana Camaraderie, are safe bets for two guys who will lead CT Playmakers. Andrew Snoddy, of B2L is a scholarship level player and can shoot it from anywhere on the floor. With his 6'5 frame, Snoddy looks to lead B2L. Mass Premier-Reidy, Team W.H.E.E.L.S. and Team Synergy will bring their successes from the spring circuit into Saturday’s game, making the South Carolina pool a difficult one.
In the 10th grade division BABC looks to repeat as champions, but will be challenged without the talents of sharpshooter Cole Swider, who will be at the Nike Elite 100, and injured floor General Shandon Brown who is a couple weeks away from being cleared for full contact. Expect teammates Paul Durkee with his shot making, Brycen Goodine with his athleticism, and the front court play of Martin Mann and Darion Thomas to step up and lead an extremely deep BABC squad. Among the teams challenging BABC for the Championship will be Expressions led by Dana Tate, Philmon Gebrewhit, Preston Santos, Max Zegarowski, and Marcus Zegarowski. Mass Rivals with Keigan Kerby, Akok Akok, David Mitchell, Jovan Jones, Jimmy Yfantopulos, and Tanahj Pettway will be a tough out with their skill sets, length, and size. New England Playaz -- with the guard play of Ethan Wright, Noah Fernandes, Tyler Aronson, and Calvin Whipple and the frontcourt play of Chris Camille and Joey Luchetti -- have seen their fair share of trophies this spring and will contend this weekend. DC Blue Devils will be led by their big man, Travell Washington, who had a great showing at the NERR Super 16. With his size and skill he should cause problems for opponents on both ends of the floor. Thomas Shaughnessy looks to lead Middlesex Magic with his terrific guard play and ability to score the rock.
With so much depth and talent this weekend there will be quality basketball making for a fun and entertaining weekend. Make sure to follow us on twitter at @NERRHOOPS as we will be tweeting updates throughout the weekend.