Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Message to Those Not at The AC Showcase: SHUT UP!

There is a small contingent of middle school basketball teams and programs who throughout the course of 2015 will make claim to being the best in various classes.  The false bravado of these clubs will be built with flashy uniforms, sideline antics, brash boastfulness, and a desperate and insatiable hope for an opportunity to come across a quality team to validate themselves on the national landscape and circuit.  The fa├žade that true elite level competition will come to visit them is a simply a cop out and bag of goods sold to unknowing parents and players.  They will play in events and tournaments that no one has ever heard of and post jaw dropping margin of victories while claiming to be the best of best.  

Across the country there is a clear delineation of events, leagues, and tournaments at the middle school level – just as there are in high school; and if you aren’t playing in them your simply are not playing at the highest level and any victory when compared against the best of the best will have an asterisk placed next to it. “Making up” your own event to measure success is the equivalent of being President of your own fan club.

This past weekend in Atlantic City, NJ Mike Melton’s Basketball Spotlight Atlantic City Showcase tipped off featuring the best middle school basketball talent in the country.  Dubbed “The Showdown in America’s Playground”; it attracted 3 current and reigning National Champions, over 40 nationally ranked teams at various age groups, and a proverbial who’s who of top ranked players from coast-to-coast. 

Daniel Paragon, one of the nation’s top high school analysts, stated that Basketball Spotlights AC Showcase “…is the single best stand only middle school tournament in the county” and further advised that “any resume submitted with the current transition of AAU basketball that doesn’t include this Spotlight event must be viewed with a raised eyebrow”.  Very powerful statements for those not in attendance and still making noise about being a factor of any sort on the circuit.

Team CP3 2019, out North Carolina, who arrived coming off, back-to-back national championships defeated every opponent that faced finishing 4-0 in pool/bracket play made a huge statement without saying anything when they choose to forgo the actual championship game.  Citing the fact that they had already beaten everyone remaining in the Super Pool which included powers such as Team Rio National, DC Premier, Team Ennis, Team Takeover, and Team Florida; CP3 hit the showers early leaving Team Florida & Team Rio to fight it out for the championship title.  Team Rio led by the combo of Bryan Antione and Scottie Lewis prevailed 43-42.  Some of the elite talent on display in this game can be appreciated below with features on Antoine as Florida’s Balsa Koprovica.

In 2020, the “Terror Squad” who has made noise nationally since its inception ran into a buzz saw out of the mid-west as nationally ranked George Hill defeated them soundly in pool play - behind great perimeter shooting, cohesive offense, inspired defense, and coaching from one of the nation’s elite in head coach Mike Saunders Sr.; The Terror Squad regained its dominating form to defeat the #5 New York Gauchos and #9 Rip City to set up a rematch with George Hill. George Hill did not travel through unscathed as they too suffered from a 1-point loss to the 023 Feet out the Virginia in one of the more surprising upsets in the tournament, G3 who was down by as much as 13-point clawed back in the end hitting a 3 to cut it one with no time remaining.  In winning the championship 43-40 over George Hill the Terror Squad proved two things - when they play as individuals there aren’t a very good team but when they play together as a unit they very well may be the best in the country.  This is supported by a rumor that is picking up steam, which may have this group appearing on a major high school circuit as 7th graders (stay tuned for further news on that) showing the national profile and power of the AC Showcase.

Team IZOD who may arguable, from a talent perspective, have one of the most complete teams in the country with national super stars Trey Patterson and Donnell Harris who bookend new addition (PG) Kennedy Chandler got the job done at the 2021 level with a 40-30 victory over the Trevor Keels led Team Takeover out of MD/DC.  Trey Patterson the nations #3 ranked prospect looked the best he has looked all season; Patterson who has been battling injury due to vast and continued growth – show a very complete game impacting the team on both ends of the floor while putting up some very impressive scoring exploits along the way.  Patterson continues to grow in terms of reputation and skill, but the 6’6 and growing combo forward remains poised to be one of those special players at the next level.  Bigtime players make bigtime plays in big time games and Patterson putting his fingerprint on the championship for Sports U in the AC Showcase is simply another example of such.  

The “Rodney Dangerfield” of middle school hoops arrived in Atlantic City with one objective – to take their respect.  How the reigning national champs do not get mentioned is remarkable, two national championships in 3 years with a top finish in between should have been enough.  Needless to say led by one of the top coaches in the country at any level Steve Turner on the sideline – the DMV team has some studs, killers, and bigtime players on the court as well.  Defeating the Gauchos, who were led by one man wreaking crew Antonio Sellers 28-22 in the chip’s #1 guy Jaden Johnson got the job done.  With a stellar crew of running mates that included big Jason Moore, wing Antonio Hamlin, and new addition PG Sammy Scott who looked very comfortable on the black in red.  Please let it be said here and now – this team was so impressive in AC we can already predict another national title run for this squad come the summer.

Quietly the Riverside Hawks 2023 just keep on collecting wins and championships as they took down Team Takeover in the chip 32-29.  Jeremiah Dorsey continues to grow and impress with his outside shooting, ball-handling, scoring, and set up of his teammates.  But the team collectively plays so well together and is clearly dedicated to the process of the winning at the highest level.  A very talented 2023 talent pool left anyone claiming the crown at the age group to be looked upon with respect.

In summation, if you truly want to be in the conversation you have to be in the right places, otherwise at the end of the day all anyone else is running is there mouth.  It Went Down In America’s Playground and if you were there you were playing any where.

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