Justin Young's Best of the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions
SUWANEE, GA - With the largest Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions now in the history books, there are some questions that need some answers. I tackle these: What was the best game? Who was the best player? Who boosted their stock the most? What was the most impressive wow moment?
The best game I saw: If you were in the gym on Saturday night and Sunday morning, you could pick at least 10 games that could fit into this category. There were multiple times we had games four courts across that were one-possession battles going on. The intensity filled the square footage of Suwanee Sports Academy. For me, a quarterfinal game on Sunday morning between the Atlanta All-Stars and 1 of 1 was terrific. The pairing of two of the top teams from the HoopSeen Association was a back-and-forth contest of skill and shot-making. 1 of 1 had a 36-32 halftime lead and the second half was a tennis match on the scoreboard. It was going back-and-forth throughout with both of the HSA squads. Derin Saran of 1 of 1 and Brandon Rechsteiner of the Atlanta All-Stars are two of the best point guards in the country and their game of basketball chess was fun to play out. 1 of 1 held the edge for the majority of the game thanks to the balance of its impressive roster. But it was Mason Etter who scored seven of his 12 points in the clutch and the All-Stars sank free throws when it mattered to claim the 63-60 win to advance in the bracket. Not to be overlooked, 1 of 1 had tremendous games from Antonio Perkins and Graham Worland. The duo combined for 31 points.
The best player I saw: We tossed this question around a lot in our HoopSeen meetings quite a bit and everyone had a different answer. For me, I’m not sure I had one single favorite. There wasn’t a clear cut No. 1 kind of no-brainer kind of player from the weekend. The depth of talent made it such a predicament. But when we really drill it down, it was hard for me not to recognize the absolute value that Trey Byrd of Team Trezz is to his team. The class of 2022 unsigned wing has been brilliant all spring. He was brilliant all weekend on this historic stage. He and his Team Trezz mates were so good they knocked off the Florida Rebels and Alabama Fusion before playing the Georgia Stars EYBL team in the title game. Boyd posted 19 points a game over the course of six contests over the weekend. He hit threes, thrived in transition, played above the rim whenever he could and was one of the most explosive players throughout the action.
The best stock riser I saw: One of the best things of the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions is sitting on one court and seeing some magic happen a court over. Even when you are watching one court with two great teams going at it, there is someone on the court next door who makes you pay attention. No Guts No Glory 2024 wing Isaiah Otyaluk was running the floor like a man possessed. The 6-foot-6 prospect was an immediate eye-catcher. He’s all kinds of long and all kinds of intriguing. Everyone on our staff said it. He made us sit up a little higher in our chairs and move over to watch him a little closer. His spring resume warrants a deeper dive into his game for college coaches. The Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions has been the starting point for so many great players over the last four decades. For Otyaluk, this may be his start-to-finish coming out party on a national level.
The best wow moment: The way the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions is set up is designed as a replica of what post-season basketball will look like at the collegiate level. Bracket play brings out a different kind of energy on the travel basketball scene. And like March Madness, you find some magic in the moments that matter. For EAB, they had it twice. And from the same guy in Eddie Ricks. The 6-foot-7 forward knew what to do and how to do it. To do it in the semifinals and finals en route to the trophy was pretty cool to see.