Orlando - Wednesday Recap
While Orlando, Florida is undoubtedly the capitol of the grassroots basketball world this week, there was a distinctive Bostonian type feel to Disney World on Wednesday.
With over 3000 perspective college prospects in town hoping to catch the attention of college coaches, arguably the two hottest players in any of the current national tournaments were Massachusetts’ residents.
Nerlens Noel’s second round performance against Houston Hoops had the town buzzing as he blocked 20 shots in the game. College coaches were effusive with their praise, calling it one of the most dominant defensive games in recent years as Noel used his tremendous quickness and agility to cover an amazing court radius. Perhaps his most impressive sequence came when he blocked one shot at the rim, swatting the ball out to the corner, only to pursue the ball and block the subsequent three-point attempt.
If Noel was the star of the u16 nationals, Pat Connaughton was the breakout performer of the u17 championships. While Connaughton’s success has been a gradual escalation throughout the month of July, it may have reached its climax on Wednesday as the St. John’s Prep forward led his Middlesex Magic team to a 3-0 record in their pool and scored scholarship offers from Notre Dame and Tennessee in the process.
While Noel and Connaughton were undoubtedly the stars of the day, a number of other players managed to impress in their own right:
Dennis Clifford, Bay State Magic – He seemed to deliver every time his teammates got him the ball in the low post, showing polished low post moves when defended in single coverage and making the opposition pay with his passing ability each time they sent the second defender.
John Papale, Connecticut Hoopstars – With four three-pointers in the opening quarter, Papale spent the remainder of the game being the focus of the opposition’s box and one defense. Nevertheless, he still managed to finish with a game high 28 points.
OShawn Bannister, Connecticut Select – Bannister has developed a nice following of intrigued college coaches. He is (at least) every last bit of his listed 6’8” and has arms that seem to go on forever. That, in addition to his mobility, have college coaches coming in high volume to watch him play.
Domonique Bull, BABC – With BABC struggling to find their offensive rhythm early in their third round bracket play game, Bull was the sparkplug as he efficiently created off his dribble, making a series of strong drives and contested finishes at the rim.
Deshawn Murphy, Connecticut Basketball Club – Murphy came off the bench to give CBC a spark for the second consecutive day. In just 12 minutes of action, he drilled a trio of three-pointers, grabbed seven rebounds, and earned four trips to the free-throw line.
Ousmane Drame and Samir McDaniels, Boston Warriors – The New Mission duo served as the sparkplug for the Warriors earlier today. Drame continued to show his smooth skill set and seemed to score effortlessly from 12 feet and in while McDaniel overpowered smaller guards around the rim, both taking them to the low post and going through them off the dribble.
Terry Tarpey, Riverside Hawks - The Riverside Hawks were a perfect 6-0 and nearly scored a huge upset over Boo Williams. Tarpey has had his fingerprints all over the final product, making a series of winning plays for his club throughout their time in Orlando.
Best of the Rest
• Jake Layman, BABC – Layman changed the game defensively by creating a ton of havoc atop the BABC press and consequently helping them to force turnovers and get the tempo back to their liking.
• Myles Brilhante & Jared Fay, Bay State Magic – The backcourt mates made nice contributions as Brilhante handled pressure and got into the paint with his dribble and Fay hit a couple of deep bombs from well beyond the three-point arc.
• Derrick Wilson, New York Gauchos – While Kadeem Jack and Omar Calhoun are the big offensive guns for this squad, Wilson was a defensive playmaker inside their full court pressure and scored several buckets going to the rim.
• Andre Makris, Connecticut Select – With a long frame and emerging skill set Makris has made some plays while facing the basket that should, at the very least, have scholarship level coaches intrigued.
• Bryan Hurley, Middlesex Magic - Hurley put together his second solid day in a row with 15 points and 8 assists to go along with some lock-down defense.