MEQUON, Wisc. - On the final day of the first evaluation period in July the NY2LA Summer Jam came to an end. At the 17-and under level the SYF Players won, at the 16-and under level it was Martin Bros., and then at the 15-and under Spiece Mo-Kan came out on top. Leading the way on the final day was Martin Bros. point guard Marcus Paige.
Thursday's Top Performers
Marcus Paige - Before his final two games, it was a tournament that Paige would have liked to forget. He wasn't getting to the rim like normal and also wasn't shooting the ball well. Overall it was just a bad event for him, and then the semi-finals and finals happened. That is when the light switch turned on for Paige and he began playing his best basketball. Paige completely ran the show for Martin Bros. and brought them through close win after close win. He did it by using his ability to get to the rim, and also his silky smooth game. On top of that his jumper began falling from deep. As if that wasn't enough, Paige is showing more athleticism than ever, and had two incredible above the rim moves in the championship win over Dream Vision.
Adam Woodbury - While Paige was doing a lot of the heavy lifting for Martin Bros., Woodbury was doing the work down low. He showed an ability to score over either shoulder in the post, and while he isn't super physical, he has enough to him that he can finish through contact. Woodbury also rebounded very well, and runs the floor for a young big man. He does need to get stronger as he got pushed off the block a few times, but Martin Bros. doesn't come home with the hardware without the strong play of Woodbury.
Tanner Williams - Yet again Williams proved to be an x-factor for Martin Bros. He completely changed their quarterfinal game against D3 Heat, and then again in the finals he made some big plays. Not a great shooter, the wing is more of a slasher/athlete type who provides energy. Because he has good size at nearly 6-foot-6, Williams can be a bit of a matchup problem, and with his play he will definitely get increased attention.
Branden Dawson - The MVP of the 17-and under level, Dawson was a beast all day long. He had a big time battle with Jakarr Sampson in the semi-finals in which he scored 21 huge points. In order to score as always Dawson did work on the glass, but his pull-up three off the dribble is now light years better than it was in April, and overall his entire perimeter game has made huge strides. Oh yeah, he is athletic as anything as well. He had several impressive dunks, many of which brought reactions from the usually docile college coaches.
Travis Trice - Dawson is the consistent for SYF, but Trice is the huge x-factor for them. In the semi-finals there is absolutely no way that SYF gets past King James if not for the play of Trice. He was making shots, getting to the rim, and setting up teammates very well. It was one of the best games that he played all summer. While offensively he did struggle in the championship game, Trice knew he had to step it up defensively and did. His play all tournament long was strong, and clearly he made a huge difference for SYF in clutch situations.
Jakarr Sampson - His matchup with Dawson is one to really remember. Like Dawson, Sampson also had 21 points, and several of them came on ridiculously athletic dunks. Outside of just dunking, Sampson is proving to be simply unguardable at times. His ball handling is very good, and now he is going left along with power drives to the right. He uses the bounce to get a little bit of space, and then with his long arms, high release, and leaping ability he simply rises above defenders and makes shots. When he is doing that in the mid-range, you can forget about it because it makes him impossible to stop.
Markus Crider - Playing against his good friend and high school teammate, Trice, must have fired Crider up as he played arguably his best game of the summer. Talent has never been in question with Crider, and that was made very clear in the semi-finals. Crider finished above the rim, made plays on defense, hit a jumper, and also scored off the dribble. More than anything he was aggressive and played with passion. When he does that he is a handful, and now he needs to show that fire consistently.
Nick Jacobs - Sure he is slightly undersized to be an interior post player, but Jacobs is as productive as any big guy in the country. During the final two games the J-Smoove Celtics basically just climbed on Jacobs back and tried to ride the big fella to the championship. He scored at will with his lefty hook, and then also ran the floor well for dunks in transition. Rebounding wise he is such a load that he snares double-figures each game. It was an impressive tournament overall, and even a more spectacular final day for Jacobs.
Gary Harris - He is still a bit more potential than production in terms of what he does on the floor, but that is slowly but surely changing. At 6-foot-5 Harris is now playing on and off the ball, and going against Martin Bros., he was asked to do a lot. Harris hit contested threes, used his athleticism to get to the bucket, and now that his handle is improving, his step back jumper is becoming a major weapon for him. He needs to be more aggressive at all times and realize he is usually the best player on the floor, but there wasn't much to complain about with the play of Harris in his team's only game on Thursday.
R.J. Hunter - With his dad, IUPUI head coach Ron Hunter, always in the front row looking on, R.J. had a solid game. As always he knocked in threes, but he also did more than just shoot the ball. Hunter rebounded against a bigger frontline, and also played solid defense getting steals and using his length to close down driving lanes. Not a great athlete, Hunter does struggle some to finish inside, but his shooting and long arms more than make up for things.
Matt Shrigley - Shrigley was forced to sit out on Wednesday because of what appears to be a facial injury, but he had a mask fitted and was back on the floor on Thursday helping Dream Vision's 16-and under squad. An excellent athlete at 6-foot-6, Shrigley had an impressive dunk off a drive, but more than anything he was knocking in threes. Shrigley was hot from deep, and his shooting really kept them in it until the end against Martin Bros. With his length, athleticism, and ability to shoot, Shrigley really raised his stock with his play, not to mention he showed a lot of toughness.
Tyree Robinson - Robinson continued his big time play for Dream Vision leading them to a finals appearance. At the 16-and under level his physicality and athleticism is evident for a 2013 prospect, and also he is showing that he can be a knock down shooter at a very high level. Robinson is an excellent defender to go along with his offensive skill, and that as much as anything has him grabbing the eye of college coaches.
Semi Ojeleye - Spiece Mo-Kan made a run and won a title, and Ojeleye was the biggest reason why. Currently he is more of a power forward than a small forward, but Ojeleye will be a tough matchup for most in his age group. He is physically strong, blocks shots well, is very athletic, and has long arms. As he gets older he needs to be better with his perimeter skills, but right now he is just a load to handle in the paint for opposing teams.