Josh Tec's Notes from a Busy Saturday at Bama Jam
HOOVER, Al—Remember yesterday when I said this was one of my favorite events of the year? Yeah, well, today was a shining example of why that’s the case.
Saturday at Bama Jam was incredible. What a show. Let’s take a look at what I took away from a loaded slate of games.
Young Canes Impress Early
We know there’s always going to be a healthy crop of hoopers coming out of the Peach State annually.
The 15U Georgia Canes reaffirmed that with a statement win to start their weekend on Saturday morning. The young Canes squad has some dudes to keep an eye on. I’ll give you a few who particularly interest me.
First, 2025 G/W Caleb Samples already has eye-catching physical tools. At around 6-foot-5 or so, the positional size is there. He can fill a combo role or be more of a playmaking wing. Samples brings a ton of length to the floor with his long, disruptive arms. As his skill set continues to sharpen, he could emerge as one of the more interesting prospects in Georgia’s 2025 class.
It’s impossible to not be interested in Dontae Crowder. He brings a forward’s size and physicality mixed with some guard skills. He can be a bruiser down low, and he can bounce it and make a play from the perimeter. When he gets going downhill, he’s tough to stop because of his build.
Let me hit you with one more guy for now. Point guard Connor Teasley. He’s a great floor general for this team. He breaks defenses down well and finds his way to the paint to draw help defenders. Teasley excels and finding open teammates and makes good decisions with the ball in his hands. When he needs to, he can take things over and score with the best of them. Another thing that impressed me was his willingness to mix it up on the glass. Teasley is a nice positional rebounder.
The Atlanta Allstars haven’t allowed more than 30 points in either of their games in Alabama this weekend. Wow, we’re used to seeing them be a stout defensive program, but this weekend is an emphatic statement from this team.
Eliminating paint touches, covering gaps and rotating well, defensive rebounding, and having rim protectors has stifled both of their opponents thus far. They are such a well-oiled machine on that end that I’ve already had at least five people come up to me and remake about how impressed they were with this group’s effort on that end of the floor. It’s a cohesive unit, and everyone knows where they should be. It’s like they’re all connected via a string or something.
There’s no drop-off with bench rotations either. Everyone is still connected no matter who’s out on the floor. It’s a testament to the team’s depth, balance, buy-in, discipline and coaching.
The Allstars have one more game on Sunday. Let’s see if their opponent can be the first to get to 30. At this point, I’ll err on the under.
From the Allstars to the STARS
Right after catching the Atlanta Allstars in the morning, I hopped over a court to see STARS Basketball’s 16U bunch. It felt appropriate because these programs mirror each other in a lot of areas.
Man, this STARS team is really fun to watch. They just play good, smart basketball, which is what fires me up the most. This group emphasizes passing and team defense.
They have plenty of individual star power too.
Daniel Cochran has had as good of a weekend as anyone to this point. On Friday he led them with 20-plus points, and he did it again on Saturday morning. The 6-foot-6 guard/wing does it all on both ends of the floor. A dual-sport athlete, Cochran looks every bit the star football player that I’ve been told he is. He uses that size, physicality, and athleticism to his advantage on the glass and on defense. Cochran’s stroke from the 3-point line is clean as well.
Watching Jett Montgomery right after watching Brandon Rechsteiner felt appropriate. Montgomery reminds me a lot of Rechsteiner. I think very highly of Rechsteiner, so the comparison is nothing but praise for Montgomery. He’s quick, he has a strong build, and he passes and shoots well. Montgomery has all of the hallmarks of a guard that emerges as a favorite among mid-majors.
An Explosive Guard Helps Pour it On
Alabama Fusion’s 2024 team has an uber-explosive scorer in Caleb White. The Pinson Valley guard burst onto my radar in December when the Indians came to Atlanta for a holiday tournament. He went off during the game I saw them in and caught my attention.
He replicated some of that magic again on Saturday at Bama Jam. White is a great shooter. He can shoot the lights out. I’m telling you, if you give him any space, he’ll pull the trigger and let it fly. He can create his own shot or catch and shoot equally well. White has a quick release, so he doesn't need a ton of time to get a shot off.
Aside from shooting, White is an athletic, quick guard that can fly by defenders in the blink of an eye.
This Fusion team is playing up a division and looking like they belong. They’ve been blowing teams out, and guys like White are the reason why.
We’ve become accustomed to tough performances from the Tennessee Tigers over here at HoopSeen. Regardless of roster, age group or whichever variables you want to throw out there, the Tigers thrive in gritty games. They don’t always win pretty, but they win consistently.
Their game with the Iron City Huskies was an example of that, and Bradin Nelson’s performance can be pinpointed to describe the Tigers’ program well.
Back-and-forth in the second half, the Tigers needed to bring their patented toughness to pull out a win. Where Nelson helped tremendously was on defense. He got some big-time, clutch steals, and helped generate additional turnovers via great help defense.
Nelson also led the team in scoring with 17. He’s crafty and knows how to get by his man and get to the bucket. He’s automatic at the rim when he gets there.