SUWANEE – Teams are ascending onto Suwanee for the second Spring evaluation period. Many of the teams entered the first evaluation period last week and many did not perform to their highest level. This is a chance many get a do over.
Sixty-four teams are in the 17U age group looking to call themselves the top team of Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions this weekend at Suwanee Sports Academy and area gyms.
This is a field loaded with players and programs that have dominated the AAU basketball circuit for a few years now. The Tournament of Champions is making its first trip South and teams will jump right into bracket play from the time they step into the gym. For the complete schedule visit: Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions 17U Bracket
17U games and teams to watch Friday night:
What started in Las Vegas ended up with a Florida team taking home a title? The Florida Rams are one of the best teams in the country and they proved it last week winning championship of the Adidas VIP Exclusive Run in Sin City. Winning the inaugural event was monumental for a team loaded with Division I player’s basketball fans and coaches know like their social security card numbers. Kasey Hill (pictured), who was the MVP of the Vegas event, is a 6-foot point guard committed to Florida. Then there is Chris Walker, a 6-foot-10 do-it-all power forward who is being courted by just about any school with an available scholarship (the list would be too long to type out). This Orlando-based organization has plucked a Georgia talent to run with them this summer. His name is Brannen Greene, who attends Mary Persons High School. This 6-foot-6 forward has committed to Kansas in December. He is not the only Peach State talent hooping it up in the Sunshine state. Chris Davenport, an Atlanta native, is a 6-foot-7 forward who is getting interest from Florida State, Florida, South Florida and Georgia Tech. This team will play its first game Friday night on SSA Court 4 against the Orangeburg Express at 8:30 pm. The South Carolina-based organization participated in the King James Southern Exposure event in Augusta last weekend. Orangeburg forward Ricky Johnson will man the middle at 6-foot-7.
Georgia Stars Select enters the Tournament of Champions having captured the Silver bracket of the Big Shots Georgia Stars event several weeks ago. Many of the players on the roster are from the local Gwinnett County area, familiar with playing at Suwanee Sports Academy. Handling the ball for them is Shamus Goss Jr. who can knock down the three-pointer. They also have forward Ify Imachukwu a 6-foot-2 guard capable of putting a player on a highlight reel because of his explosive hops. Zach Vess will anchor the middle at 6-foot-6 after averaging 18 points for the North Murray Mountaineers. On the Select squad Vess brings a blue-collar work ethic to each game. This team will take the floor against E.A. Prep Sports from Charlotte. The North Carolina-based crew played in the King James Southern Exposure event in Augusta. They have 6-foot-3 guard JaQuavious McCoy, who is explosive and will cause some problems on the perimeter with athleticism.
Southern Select may want to call Suwannee Sports Academy home. The Georgia-based organization has had some recent success in the building winning the Norman Parker Showcase by beating the Georgia Stars Elite team and the Atlanta Xpress both considered the favorites at the event. Nevertheless, the Select did not let others opinion bother them as players like Augusta native Frank Booker. This 6-foot-4 sharp shooting guard has developed into a cold-blooded perimeter player who is not afraid to get his nose dirty on defense. Point guard Delano Spenceris a tremendous compliment in the backcourt as the big body guard has the savvy court skills to get teammates open while also having the ability to create his own shots. Manning the interior for the Select will be 6-foot-9 Marist High forward David Onuorah and 6-foot-8 forward Jaylen Reid, son of former NBA player J.R. Reid. Providing defensive intensity is Archer High guard Randall Smith, who does not shy away from playing any guard possible. Southern Select plays North Carolina Force at 7:10 on SSA’s Court 1.
D12 Warriors are coming off a ninth place finish at Hoop Group Jam fest in Pittsburgh. The organization, which bares the name of Atlanta native and Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, went 4-1 during the first evaluation period in the Steel City. Overall, they are 6-1 in the early stages of the travel basketball season with two wins at the Hoop Exchange Travel Team Jamboree. D12’s only lost is to the hands of the Atlanta Xpress, coached by Winfred Jordan. The Warriors play the Gainesville Wildcats at 8:30 pm Friday on SSA’s Court 2. D12, coached by Carlos Morales Jr., has a roster loaded with Division I talent. Some of the notable names are 6-foot-3 point guard Alan Baez, who is generating interest from South Carolina, Northeastern, and UTEP. Logan Hovey is a 6-foot-7 forward who has caught the attention of Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Jacksonville, Florida Gulf Coast, and North Florida who have extended offers. Wilfredo Rodriguez gives the Warriors a 6-foot-6 guard/forward combo, which has earned him offers from Campbell, Marist, UTEP and Jacksonville. The
Wildcats are a hard working bunch that will scrap for every possession. They will look to counter a lot of the Warriors depth and size with hustle. There is 6-foot-3 forward Brian Edwards (pictured) who battles on every possession. Hayden Chapman, a 6-foot-1 shooting guard, is deadly from the perimeter. Inside, the Wildcats will utilize the services of Tyler Dominy, a 6-foot-5 forward who can do a little of everything.
Each 1 Teach 1 South Blue come to the event with guard Ivan Canete was once committed to Florida International but has since de-committed when head coach Isaiah Thomas was fired in the off-season. The Florida-based team plays NC Red Storm, from Raleigh, in Lanier High School at 7:15 pm. Donte Samuels, a 6-foot-6 forward, averaged 18 points a game for Rocky Mount Prep. Point guard Josh Dawson, of Kingston High, is a 6-foot leader. His high school coach, Wells Gulledge, called him a natural leader after the junior guard won The Free Press 2012 Player of the Year award after leading the team to another 2A state title. The interesting thing about Dawson is that he is the nephew of basketball legends Craig Dawson and current Atlanta Hawks forward Jerry Stackhouse.
Westchester Hawks are coming off a trip where it finished in the Elite Eight of the Hoop Group Jam fest Pitts. The New York squad lost to the Houston Defenders. Westchester is averaging about 53 points a game. This is a gritty ball club that will not back down from anyone. The Hawks will play Georgia Team Threat at 8:30 pm on SSA Court 6. The Threat is lead by North Gwinnett High guard Alex Boyd. This floor general plays bigger than his 5-foot-10 frame would indicate. He has a defensive mentality taking 12 charges in a tournament this season, which the Threat won. Another player to watch is Gainesville High forward Shaquan Cantrell. The 6-foot-4 athlete is just that athletic. He causes problems with his length, strength and leaping ability. Offensively, he attacks the basket hard and can hit the mid-range with some consistency.
Each 1 Teach 1 Polk is looking to leave Georgia with another title. During the first evaluation period the Floridians won the 17U championship of the King James Southern Exposure event in Augusta. Shooting guard Alante Fenner led the Polk squad with 21 points. They will be tested early in this tournament when they play the Nashville Celtics on SSA’s Court 1 at 8:30 pm.
Worldwide Renegades are no strangers to the Tournament of Champions. They have always made the voyage to North Carolina when the tournament was held in the Triangle of North Carolina. This team is a scrappy talented bunch that will only get better as the team continues to gel with one another. Worldwide recently picked up the 6-foot-7 athletic forward Jordan Neff. The North Cobb High product WOWs coaches and opponents with leaping ability and has garnered interest from mid-Major college programs. Harold Givens, a 6-foot-7 forward, recently picked up an offer from Southern California, while Georgia, Michigan, Oregon State and West Virginia watched him play during the King James Southern Exposure last weekend. Guard Reed Dungan from Hiram High is getting some inquiry from UT Chattanooga, Cornell, East Carolina, George Mason, Jacksonville, and Rice. The Renegades play the Triangle Flight at 7:15 pm on SSA’s Court 3.