Fusion Takes 17U Hoop Group Southern Jam Fest & Sunday Recap

East Coast Fusion 17U Southern Jam Fest Champs

Championship Sunday produced a number of memorable games at the Southern JamFest. From the tip-off of the quarterfinal round games to the buzzer of the last championship game, the day produced nothing but memorable performances.

The early session pitted the Fairfax Stars against Team Loaded and it’s phenom point guard, Tyler Lewis, in an exciting and hard-fought game. Fairfax started strong, lead by class of 2012 big man Mohamed Alie-Cox, getting out to a double-digit lead by halftime, but it couldn’t last. Instead, Fairfax escaped with a 68-66 victory.

The second half was all about Team Loaded. Lewis was a magician with the ball and had little difficulty driving into the lane and finishing. He scored 34 points in the contest and also had 8 assists to help his team claw back in the second half; tying the game up late.

Fairfax matched their intensity, and players like VCU target Alie-Cox lead the way, scoring 9 of his 15 points in that half. 2012 guard, T.J. Huggins also stepped up in the second half to score 10 of his 12 points there, and 6’7” forward, Matt Murphy also had 9 of his 14 points in the second half.

Fairfax looked dominant in the paint all game. Alie-Cox said, “We got that big boy, number 44 [Aaron Scales] in foul trouble and we just had to go to work from there.” It wasn’t enough to just get a tough opponent out of the game, however, as Cox noted, “We got a lot of offensive rebounds and knocked down our free throws most of the game.”

VCU, Wake Forest, Delaware, George Mason and Nevada are some of the notable schools recruiting Alie-Cox. Shaka Smart’s Rams are on top of his list right now, and were even before their recent Final Four run.

Ultimately, a late foul called against Loaded sent the Stars to the free-throw line, where they sank both with just a few seconds left on the clock. Team Loaded would get one chance at a buzzer-beater, and they put the ball in the hands of their point guard – whose attempt from beyond the arc bounced off the rim.

Team Russia opened the day on the adjacent court, building on Saturday night’s success, they took on a tough Team UBA, who had three players who have committed to play at ACC schools. Russia built a lead early on, and went on to win the game, 80 to 71.

The star of Team Russia was small forward Vlad Trushkin, a 6’7” Small Forward who showed great explosiveness and scoring ability. Trushkin plays with swagger and confidence, while exhibiting a great all-around game. None of the Russian players were on American college coaches’ radar, but a few of them seemed to be good enough to play at Division 1 schools. Trushkin’s skills would translate well at the highest levels of college basketball.

After taking care of UBA, Russia moved on to face the Fairfax Stars, whose Ali-Cox was charged with trying to match up with the Europeans’ size inside. Ali-Cox had 10 points in the game, which Russia won 68 to 55, but did most of his scoring in the first half, before Team Russia pulled away.

In the loss, 6’1” point guard Daniel Dixon showed off his shooting touch, connecting on four shots from beyond the arc and leading his team with 9 points in the second half.

Russia, with its fundamental soundness and beautiful ball-movement was just too much for the Northern Virginians. Gleb Goldyrev, a talented shooter, lead his team with 23 points – he was so effective in the second half, that his team was feeding him the ball as much as possible.

The win against Fairfax booked the Russian’s ticket to the championship final.

Playing for the other spot in the title game were Team Takeover and East Coast Fusion. As the tournament progressed, it seemed that ECF got more and more comfortable playing together, and things were starting to click in this game, a 63 to 61 victory for Fusion.

Fusion put the ball and their trust in the hands of their point guard Jerome Hairston, who had a string of great performances over the weekend. The class of 2012 player scored 20 points in a very up-tempo game against Takeover.

On his performance, Hairston stated, “Once we lost Jordan [Burgess], I figured I had to go from passing mode to scoring mode. He does a lot of our hustle plays and he makes a lot happen for us underneath, so I figured I had to pick up some of his points.” Burgess had been in foul trouble early in the game.

Hairston is hoping to sign in the early period, but he hasn’t made a college decision just yet. He has offers from Liberty and James Madison and has also heard from South Carolina, UVA, Boston College, Yale, Navy and Colorado.

On how they would handle Team Russia, Hairston said, “We’re just going to try to get them to play to our game.”

The 17U title game saw the Team Russia face some of its toughest opposition of the day in a game that energized and entertained the crowd. After building a small lead by halftime, it looked as if the Russians were about to settle in and run away with the game, but Fusion fought back to tie the game, and ultimately to win it 59 to 58.

Marshall Wood, a 6’7” forward, lead the team with a big second half performance, recording 16 points during the game. He was joined by Jerome Hairston and Chase Cannon, who scored 11 points, and by Wake Forest commit, Andre Washington, a 6’10” center, who scored 10 points.

Russia was again lead by Vlad Trushkin, who scored 13, as well as 2-guard, Gleb Goldyrev, who also had 13. Russia’s point guard, Maxim Sakharov, scored 11 points and showed off a terrific handle and a few moves that helped him set up his teammates to make big plays throughout the game.

Neither team knows the meaning of the word quit. ECF fought their way back to tie the game up at 58 near the end of regulation. The Russians, however, matched each increase in intensity.

It was again a late foul that made the difference. ECF’s Marshall Wood was fouled while grabbing a pass from his teammate. He went to the line for two free-throws. He made the first and missed the second on purpose.

With just seconds to get a shot off, Russia couldn’t recover.

Fusion guard Daniel Ginsberg, a pass-first guard, noted that the Russians, “were big and fast, they all could shoot.” He added that, “They were very physical, they have a lot of tricks that I guess they learn over there, that I had never seen before.”

Ginsberg believed that Fusion’s key to success was playing full court defense that threw off the Russian game and forced a few turnovers.

Teammate Chase Cannon added that, “they were crashing the boards pretty hard, and with them all being so big, it was tough to get a rebound from them.” Despite the challenge of matching up, “We just all wanted to win it pretty badly. We’ll remember this in July and we’ll know we can do it and we can win the whole thing.”

Cannon has heard from the coaching staffs at Princeton, Cornell, UNC-Asheville, Davidson and NC State, and he hopes that the East Coast Fusion’s momentum will bring more attention from college coaches.

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Team Russia is Pacing 17U Bracket at Southern Jam Fest

Team Russia, a relatively new group from the Slavic nation, upset Garner Road in a comeback win at the end of Saturday’s action in Hampton. Despite a 42-point effort from T.J. Warren, Garner road could not overcome the size and athleticism of the Russians.

“It felt really bad. They kept getting buckets, it was a real long and disciplined team,” Warren said after the contest. Asked about the Russian’s size, he added, “ It’s kind of hard because they kind of deflect my shot, but I still tried to get it off.”

Warren played like the blue chip prospect he has developed into, scoring 28 points in the first half and 42 overall. He is being recruited by Florida, Kansas, NC State, Georgia, Tennessee and Arizona State. Things are pretty early with him, however, and he wasn’t ready to give a shortlist.

Team Russia at Hoop Group

Team Russia was unknown coming into this tournament but they've been the talk of the tournament with their height and style of play.

The Russian team, on the contrary, didn’t have any players who were currently mulling over scholarship offers. They came to the Hoop Group Jamfest for one reason. As Vlad Trushkin put it, “Always we have only one option and it is first place.” Team Russia puts a lot of stock in believing that they can and will compete with the best in the tournament.

After a slow start, their coach had some choice words for the team, according to point guard Pavel Khrebtov. “The guys had to wake up, slowly but surely, from down 15 to 1,” Khrebtov said.

Regarding the level of competition faced in the Hoop Group contest, Khrebtov offered, “It’s a great experience. The other team was individually great and we don’t always get to play against teams with so much talent.”

Before that, Team Final took the court against Express in a competitive match-up. Final took an 11-point lead into the intermission, but let their opponent chip away in the second half to finish with a score of 75 to 60 in favor of Final.

The loaded Team Final roster includes 2013 big man, Austin Colbert, who scored 11 points and was an intimidating presence in the paint. Despite that presence, Colbert is preparing to change positions. He told the Hoop Group, “I think big guys always want to play on the wing, but I’m working hard on my dribbling and my shooting. I want to be able to come out and guard the three, and stretch out to play the three in college.”

On his team’s ability to stay focused and win games, Colbert explained, “I think we have to have a no-nonsense attitude.”

Seton Hall, Xavier, Pitt and Oklahoma, as well as some other colleges from the ACC, Big East, SEC and even the Ivy League have been recruiting him.

Ronde Jefferson had 21 points in the game to lead Team Final. The 6’7” star can handle the rock, play on the perimeter or get inside for a bucket. He has made it a priority to prove the scouting reports wrong. “A lot of teams think I can’t shoot, but so far this weekend I’ve been proving it to them that I can shoot,” he said.

Jefferson has received interest from Philly schools, Temple, St. Joes and Villanova, along with Big East notables, West Virginia, Rutgers and Pittsburgh. His top-three schools at the moment are UNC, UK and Temple.

Boo Williams’ Elite team also was in action, scoring a big 82 to 59 win against Sampson County Gold. The BWSL team had a 16 point lead when they went into the half, and came out in the second, looking to expand upon that.

Sampson County’s stars, C.J. Ford and James Miller could only do so much to hold off their loaded opponent. Miller notched 14 points while C.J. Ford had 13 – they were the only Sampson players scoring in double-digits.

Troy Williams
scored 21 points for BWSL in another tremendous performance for him at the Hoop Group Jamfest. The super-athletic forward hustled on every play and put pressure on Sampson while on defense. Williams is the kind of player who always seems to be there when a big play happens.

Teammate Anthony Barber kept pace with Williams in scoring during the first half (both had 10), but the Sampson defense keyed in on Barber in the second half, holding his overall score to just 14 points. The talented point guard does more than scoring to help his team win, however. Putting defensive pressure on the Sampson guards and forcing turnovers allowed him to help teammates to get easy buckets.

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17U Southern Jam Fest Afternoon Update

As the afternoon began, so did East Coast Fusion’s tilt with Southern Maryland All-Stars on Court 2. Southern Maryland had plenty of fight to give Fusion, but ultimately couldn’t overcome the might of their opponent’s loaded roster. Fusion went into the half with an eleven-point lead, 44 to 33, and expanded on that some more in the second. It was an 84 to 68 route for the Virginians.

Fusion’s Andre Washington, a Wake Forest commit, was the tallest player on the court at 6’10” and he was able to use that advantage to own the low post. He had 8 points in the game and took control of the boards to help create opportunities for his team.

Jordan Burgess lead the Fusion team with a 20-point performance, and Jerome Hairston, a 2012 point guard, notched 19 points to come in a close second to his teammate.

Marshall Wood, a 6’7” forward, came on strong in the second-half, scoring 10 of his 14 points late. “I wasn’t going as hard as I could in the first half,” he offered, “but then in the second half I told myself, ‘you gotta get in the game.” Currently, he has two Division 1 offers from Liberty and William & Mary, and Richmond has also been in contact with him.

In the second half their strategy was to hit the boards and run and get back on transition defense, to stop the easy buckets that opponents had scored.

Hoop Group Southern Jam Fest

Great crowd on hand all day for the Hoop Group Southern Jam Fest.

The Baltimore Panthers went into the half leading by 12 points, only to let NJABC crawl all the way back and then some in the second half. NJABC got the win, 80 to 71, and Baltimore got an earful from a very disappointed coach.

It was a tremendous battle between stud point guards Aquille Carr and Montana Mayfield, and both put up a big number for their team. The 5’7” Carr (a 2013 prospect) logged 21 points in the contest for Baltimore, while Mayfield, out of Roman Catholic High in Philadelphia, scored 31 points after putting NJABC on his back for much of the second half.

It was not the result that Baltimore had hoped for or expected after a first half that made Carr and teammate Rodrick Harrison (who scored 14 and drained 4 shots from beyond the arc) look unstoppable. Second half adjustments for NJABC were able to slow down the athletic Panthers backcourt and help produce the thrilling comeback.

Cecil Kirk had something to prove, if only to themselves, when they faced DC Assault in pool play. Right from the tip, Kirk had their eyes on victory, and took a 43 to 35 lead into the break. DC Assault wasn’t about to go down without a fight, however, and was able to chip away at that lead in the second half. It was to no avail, however, as the Kirk kids ultimately recorded a 66 to 63 victory.

The previous meeting between those teams had resulted in a one-point DC Assault win. Asked about their prior meeting, Quentin Judd said, “It definitely motivated us.”

Judd scored 19 of his 21 points in the first half. “My team kept giving me the ball,” he said of the first half, “I was hot so they just kept giving me the rock.”

The 6’4” shooting guard has been a favorite of new Miami coach, Jim Larranaga, who also offered him a scholarship while he was at George Mason. He was also offered by Iona and has talked to coaches from George Washington, Clemson and Maryland.

The Sampson County All-Stars (Gold) weren’t willing to win small. With a five-point advantage at the half over Team Jersey Elite, the motivation rose for Sampson to really go hard in the second half, ultimately vanquishing the Jersey boys, 70 to 53.

The Southern JamFest is the first opportunity for these players to take to the hardwood as a unit. This group has never played together in a competitive game before.

According to James Miller, in the second half, “We really got hyped and we played together as a team. Our chemistry… it blended in.”

The 6’3” guard, who scored 15 points to lead the team, has received offers from the coaches at, The Citadel, UNC-Wilmington, and Campbell, and has also heard from ECU and a few high-major schools.

His teammate C.J. Ford, also 6’3”, sat out most of the first half in foul trouble, but still managed to record 14 points in the game after a big second half. On his foul trouble he stated, “I couldn’t help my team in the first half, so I told myself I’d bring it harder in the second.”

Ford has been on the radar at Florida State, Western Kentucky, UNC-Wilmington, VCU and Miami. He also noted that he plans to visit Clemson University this summer.

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17U Has Exciting Day 2 in Pool Play at Southern Jam Fest

Maryland’s Finest scrapped their way to a two-overtime victory over the Westchester Hawks, 62 to 58. Going into the half, Maryland carried a two-point advantage, but Westchester would not let them expand upon that – tying the score at the end of regulation and trading buckets with them again in the first overtime.

The second overtime was where Maryland was finally able to outlast their competition and take home the four-point win.

Westchester featured a 6’3” Junior guard Randy Stevens, a Division 1 prospect who heated up in the second half (where he did practically all of his scoring) and scored 12 points in the game. He is a versatile player who can handle the rock and run point or play off the ball.

Had it not been for some foul trouble – Peter Murphy fouled out early in the second half – Westchester might have been able to stay fresh enough to fight out the win.

Maryland’s Finest’s offense ran through 2012 point guard Davon Hill, who was impressive on the ball and scored 22 points, mostly from the free-throw line. On his game he said, “My thing is to put pressure on the defense, make two defenders come in and then kick it out to my teammates.”

Hill also said that the level of competition and exposure at the Hoop Group’s Southern Invitational has really helped him get his name out there.

In the second set of games, CT Select narrowly lost to Team Redemption, 48 to 49, in a defensive battle. Though they went into the half with a six-point lead, the Connecticut squad couldn’t prevent Redeption from overtaking them in the second half.

Without top prospect Kuran Iverson, Rohan Brown, a 2011 Power Forward, was left to shoulder the load for Connecticut. Brown lead his team with 16 points. 6’2” guard, Torrin Childs-Harris also came on strong in the second half, connecting on a pair of threes and finishing with 11 points.

For Team Redemption, however, it was James Ford’s game. The 6’4” guard has offers from Liberty, North Florida, JMU and Georgia State, and if he continues to perform at that level, the list should grow. Ford notched 23 points for Team Redemption at both guard positions.

On his performance he said, “I have an advantage over smaller guards and try to take advantage of the mismatches.”

Grassroots Canada rocked the house against Loch Haven, beating their opponent 85-55 behind a relatively-balanced effort. Trey Boutlier scored 18 points for Canada, while teammate Mike McIntosh added 16 to lead the Canadian entry.

Loch Haven was lead by the trio of Rowland Hailey, with19 points, Casy Groom, who had 13, and Tim Jarosinski, who scored 14.

Grassroots Canada took the lead early and never looked back.

Team Takeover was another strong performance against NEBC this morning, with a 31 point lead at half-time that only expanded in the second-half. Lead by Johnson with 18 points and Austin with 13, the Takeover crew cruised to the victory.

They had their foot on the gas from the tip off to the final whistle. According to Takeover guard Miles Tate, “We just keep playing defense, our coach likes defense, so we make sure we get stops and get a lot of easy lay-ups off that.”

Tate is being recruited by Ivy League powers, Princeton, Cornell and Harvard and has also heard from Iowa. Asked about the Ivy League, he thought that the talent level all around was a good fit for him and was very impressed by Cornell’s run in 2010.

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Boo Williams, Team Loaded, and East Coast Fusion Tip Off Southern Jam Fest

Home court advantage was in full effect for the Boo Williams teams in Hampton, Virginia. The home crowd was pleased right off the bat when the BWSL – Woods squad notched a 6-point victory over VA Assault – Red.

It was a tight game the entire way, but BWSL picked up their slim lead in the middle of the first half and never let it get away. The Boo Williams kids were able to capitalize on some first-half turnovers and convert them into easy buckets – a sign of their strong backcourt play.

Coach Woods told the Hoop Group, “We try to take advantage of turnovers and run . . . that’s our game.”

Rashaun Madison led the scoring with 16 points and has averaged over 20 points per game for his BWSL squad. The 6’1” guard has been on the wishlist of the VMI coaching staff for 2012. On his performance he said, “We just try to keep the ball moving and stay on top of things.”

Boo Williams at Hoop Group Southern Jam Fest

Boo Williams defeated East Coast Fusion in the opening night of Hoop Group Southern Jam Fest.

Boo Williams’ Elite squad was also in action against East Coast Fusion – Shields, notching another win for the hosts on night one. Fusion put up a good fight, but ultimately couldn’t overcome the explosiveness of the BWSL one-two punch of Anthony Barber and Troy Williams – both 2013 prospects.

The 6’6” Troy Williams has received interest from a number of high-major programs, including Georgetown, Virginia Tech, UVA, South Florida and Texas — all of whom have offered him a scholarship. North Carolina has also been in touch with the budding phenom.

The explosive forward has shown tremendous athleticism and an ability to connect on his jump shot or get to the hoop and score. When asked what aspect of his game he put the most work into, he replied, “defense,” and his efforts appeared to be paying off, as he showed a strong defensive presence and forced a few key turnovers.

In the final session of the day, Team Loaded took on DC Assault – scrapping their way to a victory. Team Loaded saw their star point guard, Tyler Lewis, who some in the building considered among the top guards in the country, struggle with his jump shot.

The long car ride up to Hampton may have slowed him down at first, but Lewis ultimately used his slick moves to get past defenders and get to the free-throw line. On the importance of getting in the lane and drawing a foul, he said, “its important, especially when I’m struggling from the field, it gives me confidence in my game, and it brings a lot of different defenders over so I can help and pass out.”

The NC State commit told the Hoop Group that he never waivered on his decision, even in the wake of a coaching change. “I just fell in love with the school,” he said.

Team Loaded came in second at the Hoop Group’s Pittsburgh JamFest, and according to Lewis, they really enjoyed the high level competition that the Hoop Group lined up.