Thursday, June 5, 2014

USA National Select 2020 Take Their Due Respect In NC

We feel confident saying this because it’s true every year, from Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke to Shabazz Napier and Russ Smith. So many of the best basketball players in the country do not receive the credit that they truly deserve - in part because of the transformative ability of the internet and in part because it’s a natural hazard for scouts to be more impressed by an athlete’s physicality than his will, skill and hunger.

This 2020 group of USA National Select Team members came together made a name for themselves; one that will long be remembered in Charlotte, NC.  Prior to their arrival in a 36-hour period 3-players unexpectedly could not make it into North Carolina ~ once the team came together, no one asked and it wasn’t discussed the sole focus was to continue the long standing tradition of USA National Select.

Charlotte Elite was the first team to step onto the court against a focused and determined group.  Qaadir Maneri (NY) set the tone early by controlling the paint on both ends, he played well in transition taking the ball of the glass to start the fast break and then running the floor and finishing on the other end.   In this contest Jeremy Roach (VA) one of the most underrated superstars in the country scored from all three levels with pinpoint precision.  His weekend display was nothing short of remarkable.  Montez McNeil (MD) battled early foul trouble to finish with double-double along with 3 blocked shots.  Zion Harmon (DC) controlled the pace coming off the bench with some key contributions – especially with all three bigs sidelined due to foul trouble all the guards including Will Paige (VA), who astonishingly did not commit a turnover the entire; led a late 1st half charge to blow the game wide open.  Nursing a 4-point lead the small line-up stole the ball and scored 5 processions in a row, using a spread offense and SA Spur like passing to get open three’s or lay-ups.  Josiah Hardy (VA) ran the floor with great fluidness in the second half  finishing and passing for easy scores taking the 4-point lead that had ballooned to 15 at half to 25+ as the  team coasted to a 72-48 victory.

The next game was played in front of a packed house of locals; who came to see a Carolina All-Star team playing under the AIA Hoya umbrella compete.  With players from various parts of Carolina the crowed was behind them as they attempted to upset National Select.  National Select opened with an 8-0 run to set the tone; AIA playing from behind went to the bench and knocked down some 3-pointers to cut into the lead.  Qaadir Maneri (11pts 13 rebounds) , Joshiah Hardy (VA)(7 rebounds 4 assist 2-blocks) , and Montez McNeil (10pts 10 rebounds 5 blocks) dominated the paint.  Maneri who can be considered one of the most devastating inside outside player in the country controlled the baseline and the paint off dribble drives, dropped in perimeter shots – adding two 3-pointers as well, and rebounder anything and everything that touched the glass.  Pinpoint passing that put all players in good scoring position - hometown super star Jaden Springer led the team in scoring dropping in a game high 15-point along with 9 rebounds.   Zion Harmon buried some deep three to open things up and handled the ball down the stretch in crucial situations as well as knocking down some key free-throws to maintain the lead at the end despite trying to be enticed into taking his mind off the game some rough play and a box and one set up.   Khalil Brantley (GA) who played up a year as well stepped on the court and maintained the pace playing solid defense on and off the ball; his defense was a major key to what turned into a 50-45 victory after a late run by the Hoya’s.  Jeremy Roach was a key player in this game thwarting any thoughts of a comeback with back breaking scores at the most crucial times.  Finally special mention has to be given to Paige whose timely defense, decision making, and floor generalship made a major difference – combine that with some big perimeter shots and you have great team effort that propelled the group into the Sunday morning semi-final.   

Josiah Hardy took early control of this affair with some easy finishes –the Georgia Stars one of the top programs in the country never recovered from the early pressure defense from Paige, Roach, and Harmon – the relentless attacking of Maneri and McNeil; the M&M Paint Brothers, or the scoring of Springer.  Brantley did a little of everything as Select cruised by easily 61-21 on what was deemed to be statement Sunday.

The victory took Select into the championship versus the Tidewater Wildcats out of Virginia Beach.  What proceeded was one of the greatest shooting and scoring displays in the tournaments short history.  Select went into half time blowing the game wide open with 5 consecutive 3’s all courtesy of Zion Harmon(21pts, 5 rebounds, 5 assist, 6 steals – 5 3-pointers) and Jeremy Roach (16 points, 5 steals, 4 rebounds, 5 steals – 2 3-pointers) and led 44-29.  With 4 players in double figures the team was impossible to stop Will Paige had a field day dishing out 9-assist in the contest. Both postmen Qaadir Maneri  and Montez McNeil finished with double-doubles for a second time, Maneri who also added a 3-pointer finished with 12 points 10 rebounds and McNeil finished with 10 points 11 rebounds.  Josiah Hardy who passed like a seasoned guar d all weekend gave out 6-assit in addition to his 9 boards and 8 points.  The final score made the statement Select set out to make as they took down the championship 70-27.

Jeremy Roach: America has a star on its hand with this player; he is a prolific scorer but so unselfish and humble that he doesn’t even know how good he is yet.  Tough with sneaky athleticism this combo guard is a fearless competitor. Roach has a very good feel for the game and matching basketball IQ. He also is a great decision maker when being pressured. He has an array of finishes in transition and in the half court he can flat out kill you with his trey ball as well as his mid-range pull up and floater package.  Roach is a pure scorer and assassin of the worst kind; he is doing it without even trying.  His growth pattern will lead to Roach being extra long and with that sweet stroke and deep range he is a problem. He plays both ends and can be a lockdown defender, he will make the steal to start the break, pass it ahead and the knock down threes on the break, his spacing to the open area on the side of dribble penetration and springs off screens is next level. He has a quick trigger and shoots over smaller defenders with ease.  Remember this name or he will make you remember.

Qaadir Maneri:  Maneri is a very skilled combo forward. He can score with his back to the basket   A super strong wide bodied forward, one of the strongest we have seen at this age group; he is a grown man without question, very good athletic ability and strength he plays with confidence and can get on a roll and drop multiple buckets from different levels before the defense knows what hit it.  Rebounding he has mastered the Dennis Rodman tip to himself which is a skill that many do not even understand, the subtle and quick jumps make him a multi-category contributor and allows him to play up to four positions well.  Not sure what he will be in the long term; but he will be a solid hard to stop basketball player that must be considered as one of the best no matter what label you put on him; Qaadir has star qualities.
with jump hooks with either hand, power drop step and turn shots. He can face and straight line drive and knock down the open 3 with time from the trail spot or wing.

Montez McNeil: McNeil is a center with excellent size. He is long, athletic and runs the floor well and on a consistent basis. He is excellent at facing the basket in the low post, trialing on the break and in screen and roll situations where he is moving towards the cup.  Montez is a tremendous prospect. He is only 11 and stands 6’4 with that size and length and has one of the most sought after skills in basketball – SIZE & HEIGHT.  Still a little raw, but coming on and quickly and looks like a different player from earlier this summer. The Maryland big man has all the physical tools as stated but that's not why he's going to make it big. In addition to the tools, he has coordination, explosion and an uncommon agility and feel for the game; PLUS he wants to be a star and will let nothing stand in his way of doing so.

Will Paige: Paige will not wow you with blinding quickness and speed, but he has a high IQ for the game as well as tremendous court savvy. Paige has a consistent stroke and jump shot and he changes speeds very well to keep defenders off balance-not to mention his head is always up while advancing the rock.  He comes from good stock as his father is a head coach.  Right now Paige is more facilitator than scorer but he affects the game in multiple ways; especially with his on the ball defense and passing. He is slippery while maneuvering his way to the basket and he has a variety of ways of finishing or setting up teammates.  An insane assist to turnover ratio, its shocking when he does turn it over he’s that steady; this is a player that  any team or coach wants on their team.

Josiah Hardy:  Hardy has good size, length, and quick feet to go along with precise timing and incredible mobility and agility. He is like a one-man zone with his ability to move in the paint and make up distances.  He runs the floor extremely well and has good mobility for a player his size, Isaiah Austin like, he has the potential to extend his game to the wing and be effective. He has excellent hands and finishes drop off passes and clear paths with great efficiency. He has become an consistent fisher with both hands and can be looked onto scorer in crucial situations.  He shoots a very high percentage and passes with great vision – stretch 4 and playing all 3 frontcourt positions is a real possibility for this well-seasoned high IQ player.  His upside has not even close to being scratched which means he will be doing big things for a longtime to come.

Zion Harmon: Harmon knocked down jumpers all over the floor with range past the arc all weekend
long. He also has a nice floater package when he gets deep in the lane where he is also a threat to deliver the ball to an open teammate when he draws multiple defenders which happens often.   With talent around him he is just as likely to have double figure assist as points, the scary part is that he able to often do both.  Flat out unstoppable at this age group there is no answer for him. A pure scorer with a powerful body in the backcourt; he attacks from anywhere on the floor without notice, absorbs contact without any problem, and gets himself to the free-throw line in high volume. He's absolutely lethal in the open court and also an excellent finisher who combines power, athleticism, balance, and body control.  The pound for pound champ for all age groups.

Jaden Springer:  Continues to be a man among boys; his frame is ideal for the dominating the game inside and out; he uses his frame, ball skills, length and tenacity to dominate games. He won’t be stopped in the open court where he utilizes his strength to power to dominate the painted area.  His defense is quickly becoming stuff of legends from blocks being pinned on the back board to them being sent in the front row – he is ESPN Top 10 Highlights and loves that side of the ball just as much as the offense.  He has no regard for his body and leaves everything on the floor every play – a star player that is the first one on the floor for a loose ball? That’s how special Jaden Springer he leads by example and that’s why he is tops in the country and a member of the team. 


Khalil Brantley:  Brantley is a creative guard who is capable of making plays for himself and others.
He's dynamic with the ball in his hands and able to change gears with tremendous quickness, both stepping on the gas with his first step as well as stopping on a dime to pull-up – he has three point range, is unselfish, and is improving quickly on his pace game and being effective at all speeds.  He is your new age PG who can score but loves to operate with flair; setting up teammates puts a smile on his face every time.  Very intense, he is an emotional leader who will be heard from.  The kid works hard, he wants it, and he exerts the necessary effort in the gym and out to get it.  He is a game changer.

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