It was a busy weekend of basketball across the country as the Nike EYBL was in Virginia, the Under Armour Association was in Houston, and the Adidas Gauntlet was in Indianapolis. New England was well represented in all three of the major sneaker events:
The New England Playaz had a short-handed 12 man roster competing across two different age groups but still made their presence felt at the Under Armour Invitational. The u17 squad was particularly depleted, but still managed to finish with a 2-1 record, knocking off Crossover Elite and Net Gain Sports in the process.
The u16 squad went 2-2 on the weekend, capturing a pair of wins over Under Armour sponsored programs in the Utah Prospects on Friday night and the Houston Defenders on Sunday afternoon. Scout.com’s Evan Daniels and Rivals.com’s Eric Bossi were both front and center for the Friday night tip, getting their first look at Tomas Murphy while Aaron Wheeler led the way with 19 points and five threes.
Murphy and Wheeler both earned write-ups from Scout.com as Daniels noted Murphy was, “competitive and active on both ends. Murphy has good awareness in the paint and is able to score with his back to the rim and facing it. He has sure hands, good touch and is also a talented passer.”
Wheeler [who was mistakenly called Aaron Miller] “shot the ball well off the catch, as he hit four three-pointers, plus another long-range shot with his foot on the three-point line. He’s fine athletically and has a good feel for the game.”
In Indianapolis, the Rivals began the weekend without Jalen Adams, Josh Sharma, and Curtis Cobb, but were led by 2017 point guard Makai Ashton-Langford, who scored a team high 19 points in a tough opening loss to Brookwood Elite.
Adams flew in Friday night and quickly became the big story of the event, scoring at least 30 points in each of the Rivals’ games and leading them to four consecutive wins. While he averaged over 32 points per game on the weekend, he also added over 8 rebounds, after finishing third in the league in assists
“There is no doubt he is a volume player, but Adams can flat out get buckets,” Scout.com’s Brian Snow wrote. “Adams is super-fast baseline to baseline and can fill it up going to the rim.”
Marcel Pettway and Wenyen Gabriel reportedly also played well this weekend, picking up consecutive double-doubles while Gabriel’s length and long-term potential was also recognized by various sources.
Ultimately, the Rivals finished with a 4-1 record on the weekend and currently sit atop the Howard division with a 9-1 record.
In Virginia, both BABC and Expressions suffered their fair share of bad luck right off the bat on Saturday morning. For Expressions, it occurred when starting big man Jesse Bunting went down with what appeared to be a high ankle sprain midway through the weekend opener, and was unable to return to action. BABC fell to CIA Bounce on a buzzer beating heave from about 35 feet after Bruce Brown played exceptional defense to prevent any penetration.
Later in the weekend, BABC lost a big man of their own as Jeremy Miller would be unable to play in the weekend finale. That game ultimately came down to the very last possession when BABC was called for a foul 25 feet from the basket with just two seconds left. Allonzo Trier, the EYBL’s leading scorer and free-throw shooter, preceded to knock down two free-throws and steal a one point win for Athletes First.
There were still plenty of bright spots for both teams however. Aaron Falzon averaged over 22 points per game on the weekend for Expressions, including a 31 point outburst against the Family while Ikenna Ndugba had a double-double with ten points and ten assists in that game. Expressions young talent came out in a Sunday morning win over Northwest Xpress as Jermaine Samuels had 15 points and 7 rebounds while Tyrique Jones added 14 and 7.
Bruce Brown (26 points against Meanstreet), Jeremy Miller (15 points against CIA Bounce), and Tyree Robinson (20 points, 8 rebounds against NJ Playaz) all stepped up at various points for BABC but Terance Mann was the consistent staple. He not only continued to handle the majority of the ball-handling responsibilities while also asserting himself on the glass and defensive end, but he also created his own offense to go for 15+ points in three of BABC’s four games.