AAU season tips off in high gear
For the first time all summer AAU teams will be out in full force. Though there have been some tournaments over the past few weeks, this weekend marks the first big weekend of play. Leading the way on this busy weekend is the Boo Williams Invitational which features the nation's top prospect, Mike Gilchrist.
AAU coaches, players, and parents all around the country are going to have a busy weekend for the first time in a long time. With the Final Four complete and the month of April in full swing, the AAU circuit is now ready to kick into high gear. This weekend there are six big time tournaments taking place.
Boo Williams Invitational
As always the top Nike sponsored AAU teams in the country are going to be invading Hampton, Virginia for the Boo Williams Invitational. This year the event is part of the newly formed Nike Elite Youth Basketball League in which the 17 and under squads will be playing five games apiece instead of being in tournament format. While that is a big change, the event should have the same intensity.
There are so many top teams and key matchups at the event that it is tough to single any out, but right from the get go the host Boo Williams Summer League will face off with the Playaz Basketball Club in a battle of highly thought of East Coast squads.
While Boo Williams star James McAdoo won't be available for the event, the host team will still have plenty of big time players. Fast rising forward Dorian Finney-Smith, underclass guard Justin Anderson, and the athletic Jamal Ferguson will all be on the roster and ready to go. The Playaz are also loaded. The duo of Derrick Randall and Desmond Hubert on the inside are formidable, while the guard tandem of Myles Mack and Myles Davis is one of the best around. Last season the Playaz came home with the title at the 16 and under level.
Those two teams might have the premier matchup on the first night of the tournament, but there are many other top squads in attendance. In fact arguably the most talented team on the circuit going into the spring is Team Final.
For Team Final most of the attention goes to Gilchrist, and as the number one player in the country that is much deserved, but they have a lot of other talent around him. Top five prospect Rakeem Christmas gives Team Final a shot blocking presence on the low block, and then in the backcourt they are expected to be joined by new addition Tyrone Johnson. Johnson is a top 50 prospect in his own right, and could be the glue that holds the talented frontcourt and sharp shooter Trevor Cooney together.
The top teams hailing from the Midwest would be All-Ohio Red, Spiece Indy Heat, The Family, and Mac Irvin Fire. While All-Ohio isn't the super squad like they were last season at the 17 and under level, they do feature a dynamic backcourt led by Trey Burke, Stevie Taylor, and Traevon Jackson. The frontcourt will be solidified by potential five-star 2012 prospect Elijah Macon.
Spiece has the number one point guard in high school basketball, Marquis Teague and the underclass trio of DeJuan Marrero, A.J. Hammons, and Rapheal Davis. Mac Irvin will be paced by Louisville commitment Wayne Blackshear, super small forward Sam Thompson, and power forward Mike Shaw. Finally The Family could be a sleeper behind the duo of Amir Williams and Carlton Brundidge along with the addition of 2012 wing Junior Lomomba out of Wisconsin.
From the East Coast the New York Gauchos always bring a solid team to the table. This summer the Gauchos will rely on Maurice Harkless and Angel Nunez on the wing with Derrick Wilson controlling the action from the point guard position. Next to Wilson in the backcourt will be 2012 shooting guard Omar Calhoun. Also Team Takeover could be a threat all season long. Big man Mikael Hopkins is one of the best in the class, and he is of course joined by guards Michael Gbinije and A.J. English.
While those are the teams from the East coming in with all the hype, the major surprise could be Albany City Rocks. Jim Hart's squad is always well coached, and now they have one of the best frontcourt's around. Small forward Eric Katenda could potentially burst onto the scene, and next to him will be Malcolm Gilbert and elite 2012 big man Dajuan Coleman. That front line can compete with any on the circuit.
In the South all eyes will be on the Kings. The Georgia Southern Kings have the Milton trio to lead them. Ohio State commitment Shannon Scott, the high scoring Dai-Jon Parker, and excellent combo forward Julian Royal are the stars of the show, but do not sleep on power forward Henry Brooks and big time 2012 center Tony Parker.
Also making the trip north to Virginia are the Arkansas Wings. The Wings have been a fixture in the finals at their age group for a while, and they have Hunter Mickelson, five-star Ky Madden, and Arkansas commitment Aaron Ross. They will be challenged by the Jackson Tigers who boast the talented trio of Tyler Adams, five star power forward Johnny O'Bryant, and wing Mychal Ammons.
Beyond that Each 1 Teach 1 will also be in the game because they can score. Recently de-committed Austin Rivers is the main man to watch, but also Trevor Lacey can put up buckets when called upon.
Coming all the way from the west coast is the Oakland Soldiers. The Soldiers had a very strong showing last year the event and the one-two punch of Nick Johnson, Jabari Brown, and Kyle Wiltjer are going to be tough to stop if they are both making shots. Add in the fact that the Soldiers will rely on 2012 inside force Brandon Ashley, and they will be a force to be reckoned with. They are joined by a strong squad from Seattle. Seattle Rotary is led by five-star point guard Tony Wroten and also they have the talented Gary Bell Jr. right next to him.
Those players and many more are sure to make an impact at what will be the premier tournament of the weekend. Rivals.com will have full coverage of the event from Jerry Meyer and Brian Snow starting on Friday evening.
While some of the top teams in the Midwest will be at Boo Williams, Indianapolis is going to be host to a very solid event put on by Mike Fox of Indiana Elite. The Indyball.com Shootout will feature Indiana Elite's teams at every level, Eric Gordon's EG 10's teams at each level, Spiece Select, and a few other talented squads.
The stars of the show will no doubt be Indiana Elite. At the 17 and under level, Elite will have one of the top teams in the country. The backcourt of Jeremiah Davis and Matt Carlino is solid, but up front is where they will be very tough. Marshall Plumlee and Cody Zeller will both be down low causing problems for opponents along with Indiana commitment Austin Etherington on the wing.
At the 16 and under level Indiana Elite should also be loaded. Power guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera is the man from the perimeter with Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin blocking shots and causing problems down low. On their other 16 and under squad, Ron Patterson is the man who gets the most attention.
For the Eric Gordon teams, the 16 and under Central Stars have added Jeremy Hollowell to the fold, and he is one of the most heavily recruited wings in the Midwest in the 2012 class. Joining him is Ronnie Johnson who is the very talented younger brother of Purdue signee Terone Johnson.
Eric Gordon's 17 and under team will have the services of Louisville commitment Ryan Taylor, and he is the one who will have to do the majority of the damage.
Norm Oden and the Michigan Mustangs are hosting the Motown Showdown this weekend in Detroit. Oden's Michigan Mustangs will be a top team, and they are joined at the event by D3 Heat, Team Detroit, and the Michigan Hurricanes.
As usual the Mustangs will have some solid performers with them at the 17 and under level. LaDontae Henton will be asked to do a lot of scoring and rebounding, but he won't be alone in the front court as 6-foot-10 center Trey McDonald is one of the more under recruited big guys in the country, and could explode with a strong spring performance.
Team Detroit will have the one-two punch of Michigan State commitment Brandan Kearney and power forward Percy Gibson. Kearney is one of the better wings in the Midwest while Gibson is a glass eater who loves to rebound the basketball.
At the 16 and under level there will be some star power with D3 Heat. They have one of the fastest rising guards in the Midwest in Gary Harris. Harris has offers from Xavier, Minnesota, Vanderbilt, and Illinois, and could emerge as a five-star level talent after the spring period. Also R.J. Hunter and Jacobby Bledsoe give them a very strong backcourt.
Maybe the biggest sleeper of all on the national level is Jordan Hare. Coming from Saginaw Arthur Hill High School, Hare has drawn a lot of attention from college coaches, but he isn't yet on the radar of most fans. He is a huge 2012 power forward who could have offers from coast-to-coast before it is all said and done, and he will be touring with the Michigan Hurricanes.
Big River City Classic
Down in the Magnolia state of Mississippi, there is yet another solid event taking place in Jackson. Teams such as MBA Elite, DFW Elite, and the Dallas Mustangs will be headlining a very solid field.
The Mustangs are going to be one of the better teams in the area, and they will have a big star to lean on. Small forward LeBryan Nash is one of the better players in the nation, and will attract a lot of attention. While Nash is the centerpiece of the squad, Keaton Miles and Devonta Abron complement him well in the frontcourt.
MBA Elite is a team that will have a lot of eyes on it all summer. After disappointing many last year on the circuit, LaQuinton Ross will look to re-establish himself as one of the premier players in the entire class. Next to Ross in the frontcourt will be power forward Rodney Hood who is a very good player in his own right. Also point guard Deville Smith is a prospect who could have a big impact this spring.
Knox Vegas Heat Invitational
Knoxville, Tennessee should be buzzing with a very solid event featuring some high powered teams. Team United, Queen City Prophets, CP3 All-Stars, and the Wisconsin Playground Warriors will all be in attendance.
Clearly the most talented squad at the event will be the Chris Paul sponsored CP3 All-Stars. CP3 is going to be one of the top teams on the circuit, and they are the favorites to come home with this event. CP3 is led by North Carolina pledge P.J. Hairston. Hairston is one of the elite players in the nation, and a big time scorer. Joining Hairston in the backcourt this year will be recent Virginia Tech commitment Marquis Rankin, and also the versatile and explosive Dezmine Wells is in the mix making the CP3 perimeter trio extremely tough to deal with. Inside CP3 will rely on the ultra athletic Jacob Lawson to handle the load and clean the glass.
For the Wisconsin Playground Warriors led by Coach Ritchie Davis, it is all about uber 2012 prospect J.P. Tokoto. Tokoto is one of the premier prospects in the country, and will clearly be in the discussion for a five-star ranking, and probably a spot in the top 10.
Team United also will bring a solid squad to the event. Point guard Jacoby Davis is a team leader who gets all of his teammates in the right spot, and on the inside Jervon Pressley and Bernard Sullivan give United a formidable duo who can compete with most teams in the country. Add in the fact that they are cohesive group, and Team United could be one to watch in the event.
Coming down from Cincinnati is the Queen City Prophets. The Prophets led by head coach Ozie Davis III have an athletic squad loaded that is loaded on the perimeter. Aaron Thomas at wing is a team leader and someone who is just wired to score. Also the ultra athletic Brandon Neel brings versatility at the forward spot, and steady point guard Charlie Byers is hoping to have a strong spring after an excellent junior season.
Fullcourt Press Easter Classic
Out on the West, Dinos Trigonis is once again putting together an impressive schedule of events and this weekend it is his Easter Classic that will be very competitive.
Trigonis' Belmont Shore team always has players, and point guard Cezar Guerrero is one of the better players in California. The talented and creative point guard is capable of making some highlight reel plays. For Belmont Shore Black, it is 2012 stud Grant Jerrett who will be on full display. Many on the West Coast feel that Jerrett could be an elite level player before it is all said and done.
Also Compton Magic should feature a talented roster. Recently de-committed Jahii Carson is the headliner, and he is a superb point guard who can run the show. Add in fellow guard Wesley Saunders, and the Magic could be very solid in this event and going forward.
Overall it is a busy weekend on the AAU circuit with tournaments spread out from coast to coast. Most eyes will be fixated to Hampton, Virginia, but all around there are solid events featuring supremely talented teams.