Providence Jam Fest Day One Recap
The most difficult part of evaluating talent at the Providence Jam Fest is deciding which game to watch. With action taking place on 8 different courts in the 17 and under bracket alone, unfortunately it is nearly impossible to see everyone play. So here is a look at some of the players, who we saw, that played well.
Tyler Strange, CMBC & Jon Goldberg, Lone Wolf: One of the first games of the night featured CMBC (MA) against Lone Wolf (VA). While both teams are led by their respective point guards, the players have very different styles. Strange is an extremely aggressive lead guard who puts constant pressure on the defense with his dribble penetration. Consequently he was able to get himself to the free-throw line, stop on a dime for his mid-range pull-up, or kick out to shooters. Goldberg, on the other hand, is a cerebral and crafty point guard who gets his team into their sets and distributes the ball. He also showed he could put the ball in the basket when necessary including a smooth looking stroke from downtown and some nice moves inside the paint. Ultimately, both point guards were equally effective with their contrasting styles, although CMBC pulled off the victory.
Cody Otto and Jeff Pitkin, Glastonbury Hawks (CT) and Mike Marra and Greg Jacques, Expressions (MA): The Glastonbury Hawks AAU team is essentially the Glastonbury High School team. So when they took on a team of New England all-stars, no one gave them much of a chance. But thanks to Otto and Pitkin, the Hawks not only hung around but they gave Expressions a good battle. Ultimately however, the backcourt duo of Marra and Jacques proved to be the difference maker. Marra knocked down several long range daggers while Jacques made good decisions with the basketball while also demonstrating an ability to break his defender down off the dribble.
Dan Barwise & Ronald Abwoch, The Nation (ME): The Nation was another team that came into their Friday night game as a major underdog, as they faced national power Cecil Kirk from the Maryland area. And although they fell into an early deficit, the Nation wouldn’t give up. Thanks to a huge 22 points from Barwise and a supportive 12 from Abwoch, Cecil Kirk’s lead was only 4 with a minute to play. Although they couldn’t get over the hump, The Nation deserves a ton of credit for a gutsy performance.
Thomas Knight, MBR (ME): We haven’t seen Thomas Knight play since the fall and he looks like a completely different player. Not only was he showing off an improved body on Friday night but he was blocking shots, scoring with his back to the basket, and knocking down shots from the perimeter. Although MBR fell to the NY Boys Club, it wasn’t hard to see why Knight recently received a scholarship offer from Cleveland State.
Akeem Williams, Boston Warriors: The Warriors held a slim two point advantage at halftime before Williams’ second half onslaught. He hit four three-pointers in the final 16 minutes, including three in a row, to help the Warriors eventually overwhelm the GFS Tigers from Pennsylvania.
Theodore Boyomo, Upstate Basketball: The star sophomore forward from the Kent School is running with the Upstate Basketball Club from New York. We were amazed at the way he has transformed his body in the last six months. While he arrived at Kent with a naturally strong frame, he now boasts a powerful and chiseled upper body. Consequently, he has become a very disruptive defensive presence as well as a terrific finisher inside the paint. His Upstate Basketball Club has to be considered one of the early favorites to win this title.
Shabazz Napier & Ike Azutam, Metro Boston: When you don’t play your best basketball and still score 22 points, it is a pretty good indication that you are a special player. That was the case for Napier tonight as he managed to get 22 despite the fact that his normally lethal jumper wasn’t falling. Even more impressive, was the steady point guard wasn’t forcing the action and just finding ways to get his points within the flow of the offense. Meanwhile, Ike Azutam was a monster inside as he overpowered the opposition and dominated the paint.