HANNAN SCANLAN AND ALLY LASSEN…GIVE D1 VERBALS

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This year, more than any other year around the shore there are players sitting on the D1 fence. These are players who can find themselves one day signing a D1 scholarship or sliding out of the D1 conversation. This week two more SHORE players joined the D1 RANKS….They both had different journeys arriving in the world of D1 basketball.

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When you play for the RUMSON FAIR HEAVEN  basketball team, it’s easy to get lost. The list of D1 players from RFH is too long to list. Many times a player will see few minutes or are a role player and still receive a D1 schlorship. This list is mega long and this year it will be no different. HANNAH SCANLAN is one of the most improved players in all of New Jersey. If she played for just about any other team in the STATE, she would be a household name. When you play on talented teams like Rumson, it’s easy to overlooked. But the beauty of playing for RFH is that you also get tons of exposure as college coaches flock to the Jersey powerhouse. Under George Sourlis winning games and maybe more importantly playing quality competition has lead to millions of dollars of scholarship money being earned.

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Jonathan Parsons is a name, many may not know. But I can tell you a week does not go by without Jonathan Parson’s of BRYANT UNIVERSITY checking in on shore basketball. He also told me 2 years ago that he would make the shore a major recruiting ground. This week he proved he is not joking around. Hannah Scanlan verbal gives Bryant University two mega recruiting steals in back to back years. I believe as I type Hannah Scanlon is going to be the 2nd best senior post player in all of New Jersey next year. I believe she will be a NEC ROOKIE OF THE YEAR  leading candidate…she is that good. Hannah Scanlan is 6’1″ and maybe outside of Dezzy Allen the best athlete in the Shore Conference. She is also one of the best passers in the Shore conference…that includes guards. She also has the ability to rise her level of play against quality competition. It was she who made the go ahead basketball against Manasquan. Two weeks ago against the powerhouse BELLES I watched get 26 points and lord knows how many rebounds. Jonathan Parsons, saw all of this coming  and knows he is getting an ATLANTIC 10 type player. He is getting a major impact player for years. Jonathan Parsons has been a BEAST ON THE RECRUITING FRONT

Here is what Jonathan Parson’s, also knows. Hannah Scanlan, is not even close to what she will become. But the process has started. First Scanlan is playing for Mary Beth Chambers Jersey Shore Elite and that means serious skill improvement. It also means Scanlan will now be IN THE GYM 4 days a week. They when she get to college they will get her in the gym 7 days a week. Why is this so big…because with her talent and year round coaching…the sky is the limit. Bryant University led by it’s pitbull of asst coach now has two players nobody in there right mind could have predicted could have pulled this off…STEPHANIE LESKO AND HANNAH SCANLAN are players with skills sets rarely seen with players with such size.

 

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Now Hannah Scanlan will focus on her mission of having a great summer. She will prepare for her final season at  RFH and my guess is that she will be one of the best players in the Shore. Hannah doesn’t say a lot. But I had a chance to  watch her AAU team practice yesterday and found out a few things. She has jokes and more important likes to work when in the right environment. I believe she has  found the right ENVIRONMENT …BRYANT UNIVERSITY.

 

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Some players have all the built in benefits. They have a brand name, a visible high school team, a visible AAU team. ALLY LASSEN has had none of these advantages. What she did  have was the ST. FRANCIS COLLEGE BASKETBALL STAFF, who has always recruited with fate in their own ability to evaluate. No staff I know has done a better job of getting ahead of the completion. John Thurston and his staff have gobbled up shore talent in recent years that became HOUSEHOLD NAMES AFTER THE FACT. While Kat Phipps became the all time 3 point shooter in the state. It was ST. FRANCIS  who wrapped there arms around her before anyone else. Tori Wagner was nobody when St. Francis made the move on her. You see St. Francis gets them before they become household names. They also have a funny way of only recruiting good kids with good families that want, what they have to offer. They don’t like kids with egos, pushing parents and kids who are looking for belles and whistles. Maybe that’s why St. Francis has become a successful program in the heart of Brooklyn New York…Maybe that why ALL LASSEN IS A TERRIER THIS MORNING

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A SPECIAL STAFF…

 

How do you know a kid is special? Let me tell you how. Most times when a player gets a D1 offer, here is what happens. People write negative things on message boards. They send me nasty, nasty E-Mails, they are in many cases filled with jealously. But in case of Ally Lassen I receive about 20 texts about her verbal…ALL FILLED WITH JOY. They went something like this….”Ally is an awesome player, teammate and Friend, we love Ally and her family” her AAU Lighting/Lighting Hawks coach Gail Caverly called and what was the first thing she said to me. “everyone is so happy, because Ally is such a great kid and teammate” you want more? how about this quote  “Tiny I was worried this kid was going to get overlooked, but now it’s a great day” and finally how about this e -mail. “Tiny a lot kids in Ocean are now going to feel they can do anything if they work hard” ..People now do you understand why Ally Lassen is going to St. Francis of New York?

 

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Most don’t follow Pt. Boro basketball, unless they live in the town or attend the school. It’s been 3 long years since Kelly Hughes and company turned the shore conference upside down. So let me tell you about somebody that been doing a little upside turning herself…ALLY LASSEN last year had 3 games of 20 rebounds or more…let me repeat that 20 rebounds or more. Folks I don’t care if you are playing the little of sisters of St. Mary’s those are scary  numbers. But if that doesn’t move you, check this out, she had 14 games of double/doubles. Folks somebody check the records because that has to be some kind of record. Now just for fun here is a few other things you may not know…she averaged a double/double for the season and led the SHORE IN BLOCK SHOTS. Folks that’s just plain ole wrong on every front, when you consider she averaged 4.4  points and 5 rebounds a game last year.  Now the question is how can somebody do all this and not be a household name? Because it’s the shore folks, it’s a place where ACC AND BIG EAST players go unknown during their high school careers. Thank god college coaches only care about one thing….HOW GOOD A PLAYER IS AND NOT WHERE THEY PLAY. Reputations only matter when it comes to awards and getting your name in the paper. ALLY LASSEN is in the papers for all the right reasons today….she got things done the old fashion way ..she EARNED IT!

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Ally Lassen is now a D1 player and it’s not because of some special connection. She is not D1 because she played for some powerhouse program. She is not D1 because she played for the right AAU team or trained with a known trainer. She is a young lady who found her dream by not just by being a good basketball player. She is a D1 player because first she and her family are good people. They have figured it out that being a good teammate and friend. You don’t have to walk over friends and others for everything to end up beautifully,….ALLY LASSEN AND ST. FRANCIS ARE BOTH look beautiful today!

 

 

HOOP GROUP IS RUNNING A ONE DAY CAMP SALE TODAY UNTIL MIDNIGHT….LOTS OF SAVING FOLKS!

 

GEORGIAN COURT UNIVERSITY IS GETTING IT DONE!

COURTWhat Georgian Court is doing these days is rather impressive. My good friend Head Coach Jasmina (Jazz) Perazic and her trusty asst coach Derek Marchione  have gone to work. But it’s not until recently that I realized what my friends have done. They have figured out that the Shore is a hell of a place to find underrated talent and build a program. I would even be as bold to say Georgian Court signed 3 players they have zero business signing. I also can say they have had better recruiting year than some D1 schools. I will admit they did have some luck as the perfect storm helped them. But just as important, they understood how the shore conference works.

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KATIE SIRE IS SHINNING AT MONTCLAIR STATE

Each year the Shore Conference has D1 players who don’t make any ALL SHORE TEAM. There are players playing in  the BIG EAST AND ACC players who never made ALL SHORE. I can give you a long list of players who became stars in college that never made ALL SHORE. It’s a real tribute to the best conference in America. I can also tell you players without a big reputation who often have been overlooked in the Shore and then move on to D2/D3 schools and become superstars… What Katie Sire is doing at Montclair right now is looking like HALL OF FAME STUFF for example.

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Coach Jazz Perazic is a former asst coach at Monmouth University. Three years ago me and Jazz had a fallen out. I felt Monmouth University was not giving the Shore enough love. Then one day out of nowhere Jazz showed up at summer camp and we went to lunch. We both had our say about how we felt. We agreed to disagree and in the future work together.  It lead to a relationship which is great these days. A year later Jazz was named the Head Coach at Georgian Court and she immediately told me the Shore would be a priority…I believed her. She then hired as her assistant coach Derek Marchione . Folks this could have been the best decision she ever made. Because Dereck is one of the hardest working asst coaches for any level D1, D2 or D3.

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Last summer Coach Marchione  called and asked me could he work the Hoop Group summer camps and I wasn’t sure why. I told him it didn’t pay very much. He said he didn’t care. I should have known right there Coach Marchione had other motives. It wasn’t until I realized, everyday me and him were having private recruiting talks. I noticed that he was taking notes everyday of players. He was also planting seeds and most importantly watching players with zero reps out play D1 players and I could tell that was his focus….it was a flat out brilliant approach. It was not until I found out that he had offered kids did I have  to chuckle….DERRICK GOT SO AHEAD OF THE OF THE RECRUITING CRUVE IT WAS AMAZING. No college coach is more knowledgeable about Shore talent….NOBODY!

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KATILYN LISTER SHOCKED ME!

Two weeks ago and young lady showed up at Core Skills. She was blazing quick and at times took over the session. She was not one of the players going D1 in the building. But it was clear from the start, she was one of the best players in the gym. I could not believe how talented this young lady was. When I found out her name was Katilyn Lester I could not believe it. When Georgian Court signed  her.  Derek Marchione called me and said” I got another steal”. He was right. I have not seen Lister play last year, but I heard all about her. I also knew she made many ALL SHORE LIST. I did not put her on my ALL SHORE TEAM. I received a few not very nice E-Mails about this, and folks those people where right to complain. Katilyn Lister is as real a deal as there is and I don’t care what anyone says. Folks if this kid played at RFH, SJV or RBC,  Georgian Court wouldn’t get a sniff. But that’s where recruiting matters. Georgian Court knows the landscape of the Shore and understands the publicity machine misses so much talent its amazing. Lister didn’t play for a high profile AAU team but what she did this year in high school should have sent up a red flag to recruiters. Because her team had one of the best runs in state tourney. Katlin Lester going to Georgian Court is almost amazing but it happens when the perfect storm happens….like  when a great recruiter and under valued player meet.

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BORGHESI MVP OF DONAVAN CATHOLIC

There are so many reasons why kids don’t attend NBS…they say not enough reps, it too far away, they don’t feel the love or they are not matched up on the main court. I always say competitors what to play against competition always. Kaitlyn  Borghesi was named MVP last week at Donavan Catholic award banquet. I can assure you nobody said there words…HOW IN THE WORLD DID GEORGIAN COURT GET BORGHESI? Let me tell you, Borghesi has not just destroyed some of the best guards in NJ and the shore. She has the respect of almost anyone that has played against her. I will tell you that Georgian Court did not just get a D1 point guard…they got a impact player for years. Nobody loves competition and enjoys playing against the best, the way Borghesi does. Georgian Court trust me knows they have the steal of steals. Last summer the Georgian Court staff, sat quitely and smiled knowing that if he could hold on, he could give have the reward of rewards…and that’s exactly what her did…BORGESHI IS A BEAST AND A INSANE STEAL!

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TATUM EVANS UPSIDE IS SCARY

I am not hear to tell you that Tatum Evans is a gym rat. I will not tell you that she was the best post player in the shore. What I will tell you is this…she was one of the most talented players in the Shore Conference. What I will tell  you is this, she has more  upside perhaps than any player in the class of ’16.  Tatum Evans is a D1 talent. If she finds the focus to go along with her raw talent. Georgian Court may have picked up a future superstar post player. In case you didn’t know this…great post players at any level are hard to find. Tatum Evans is as athletic player as there, her quickness and speed are rare for such a young player. She had a number of D1 schools interested in her. She visited D1 schools but at the end of the day recruiting matters still. Georgian Court went all out and put the full court press on her. They convinced her to say “I DO”  before all those D1 schools dancing with her, knew what hit them. Just like that Georgian Court pulled off another heist. There third.. just by being sure of what they wanted…this one was big folks in more ways than one.

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Georgian Court doesn’t have the resources of other schools. They do not have the big budget of some other D2 programs. But they don’t allow these disadvantages to get in their way of building a programs. In fact they operate as a D1 program in some ways.  They have a real understanding of their recruiting environment. They also understand the value of working hard and evaluating talent. They are smart enough to know reputations sometimes don’t match the talent…because here is a funny conversation I once had with Derrick. We were talking recruiting one day about two kids. He said to me…”I hope they(a D1 school takes xxxx) because we want Borghesi more”… That D1 school got wanted they wanted and Georgian Court got exactly what they hoped for…..folks that’s called trusting your judgement…..GEORGIAN COURT folks have GREAT JUDGMENT!

 

 

 

Southern Jam Fest Recap: We R1 and Team Loaded NC capture 17U and 16U titles

The Southern Jam Fest — one of the East Coast’s strongest and deepest spring tournaments on a yearly basis was highlighted by strong 17U and 16U divisions, with a mix of the Northeast and Southeast’s strongest programs going head-to-head.

17U Champions: We R1
17U Runner-Up: Team Loaded NC
A month after the April recruiting period, We R1 came to Hampton and made a major statement. Capping off a dominant tournament run, We R1 took home the 17U championship with a 75-65 win over a talented Team Loaded VA squad. Even as star point guard Trevon Duval exited the game with a minor injury early in the first half, Eric Ayala and Tyrese Martin took command in the championship game, leading We R1 to an exclamation point on a memorable weekend. After jumping out to a 48-31 lead at halftime and a 24-point lead early in the second half, Team Loaded VA stormed back and brought the lead down to single digits with seven minutes remaining. The teams traded blows for the rest of the second half, but We R1 was able to finish strong and close out their five-game run — a run in which they defeated their opponents by an average margin of 27 points.

Before falling in the title, Team Loaded VA punched their ticket in the championship in one of the most highly-anticipated games of the weekend, scoring a big semifinal win over in-state rival Boo Williams. Although the game started out with a few intense exchanges, Loaded VA quickly opened up a double-digit lead and never looked back, advancing with a 59-49 win.

We R1 made their way to the title with a hard-earned 73-61 win over DC Premier, in a matchup of two teams who know each other well from their yearly battles on the Under Armour circuit. Duval’s 24 points led all scorers, as We R1 opened a small lead late in the first half, but the two teams found themselves neck-and-neck for much of the game before We R1 pulled away late. Duval electrified the crowd with a big dunk and some highlight-reel passes, to go along with his game-high 24 points.

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16U Champions: Team Loaded NC
16U Runner-Up: DC Premier
Team Loaded NC finished off an impressive run through the 16U bracket with a 72-65 win in the title game, fighting off a feverish DC Premier comeback in the final minutes. After jumping out to a 20-point lead in the first half — and holding an 18-point halftime lead — Loaded NC saw their lead fall to as little as three in the second half, after Premier picked up their defensive intensity and began to assert themselves on the boards. Despite DC Premier’s best efforts, a few timely buckets for Loaded — and strong free-throw shooting in the final minutes — sealed the win. Capping off a solid scoring weekend that saw his stock rise in the eyes of many scouts and media in attendance, guard Trey Wertz led Loaded’s offensive efforts with 20 points.

Team Loaded NC made their way into the championship with a dominant semifinal win over hometown Boo Williams, going up 17 at halftime and coasting to a 78-54 win behind a game-high 22 points from Trey Wertz. In their entire six-game run, the team outscored opponents by an average of 17 points per game, and also went home with wins over Baltimore Elite and Garner Road.

On the opposite side of the bracket, DC Premier faced a strong Final 4 challenge from We R 1, gutting out a 48-36 semifinal win after a back-and-forth affair. One of the rising stars of the weekend, Jermain Harris finished with 17 points and displayed a strong inside-out game in helping send DCP to the title game.

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15 & 14u Champions

By James Albano

Often overshadowed by the insane star power in the 16 and 17 year old brackets, the younger teams in the Southern Jam Fest don’t always get the recognition and love they deserve. This year’s Southern Jam Fest featured highly respected programs in our lower age groups, as Team Takeover and Boo Williams took home trophies. For both teams, the championship game theme was comebacks, trailing early, but rallying late to seal a win.

15U Champion: Team Takeover
15U Runner Up: New Heights

The most impressive piece of Team Takeover’s 15u championship run is that they were a 14u team playing up. The Nike club never once appeared a year younger, running through the 15u bracket and knocking off premier team after premier team.

After knocking off a Team Loaded team that showcased enormous size in the front court, Takeover seemed to have met their match in the final versus New York-based New Heights. New Heights attacked early and led by seven at the break; they led by as many as 10 in the first half. The second half was all Takeover, however. The younger club buckled down defensively and ended plus 12 in the second half, topping New Heights by 5 to take the championship!

Team takeover 15U

14U – Champion: Boo Williams
14U Runner Up: We R1

Boo Williams select refused to go down without a fight in their own gym. We R1 jumped out to a hot start, taking a lead of double digits over BWSL. As Boo chipped away in the first half, We R1 continued to match them shot for shot, and maintained a five point lead into the break.
It was not until late in the second half that Boo made a run, and what a run it was. Starting with a Bryce Steele turnaround jumper to make it 60-58, the Virginia based team went on a 21-8 run to close out the 14U championship game. As they say, it’s not how you start, but how you finish. BWSL definitely finished strong.
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Southern Jam Fest Players Who Impressed Saturday

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New day, same result here at Boo Williams, here’s a list of guys who impressed.

DeAndre Thomas | 2018 | Team Richmond Garner Road 17U

Thomas, who is a 2018 playing up with TRGR, looked as confident and productive as ever in their win over Maryland’s Finest in the Round of 32. Thomas played both guard positions depending on the look they went with, and he handled the basketball well and was aggressive looking for his shot. He has obviously been in the gym because he’s filled out, and Thomas was a great finisher through contact when attacking the basket.

Joe Bryant | 2018 | BWSL Chiz 16U

Sometimes it isn’t your star that shines down the stretch in big games, and while Boo Williams EYBL 16U team has been one of the best teams on the east coast, including winning the championship at the Pittsburgh JamFest, this was one of the first times Lake Taylor guard Joe Bryant really showed out the way he’s capable of. A 6’1” bully of a guard with a strong upper body, Bryant routinely found ways to get in the lane and convert in traffic, and finished with 20 points as he sealed the deal for BWSL Chiz over Uncommon Bulls to advance the quarterfinals.

Trevon Duval | 2017 | We R1 17U
Trevon Duval wasted no time reminding everyone why he is a top five player in the country. He is the ultimate floor general for We R1; he’s methodic in his scoring, dishes out sensational passes, and has a motor that goes forever. He helped sail the ship that got We R1 into the Elite Eight.

Kaleb Hunter | 2017 | Team Loaded NC 17U

There’s nothing more important than putting the ball into the basket, and while he only ended with a modest 14 points in their last game to advance to the quarterfinals, Hunter displayed the ability to score it in so many different ways. A long 6’4” lefty wing, Hunter was phenomenal finishing above the rim in the open court, and he was also good shooting it off the catch from deep. The Neuse Christian wing looks like he will continue to impress coaches with his ability to score it in bunches.

Oscar Tshiewebe | 2019 | Team Loaded VA 15U

Coming over from WV Wildcats earlier this summer, Tshiewebe had another stellar performance that shows great signs for him moving forward. The 6’8” freshman power forward from Mount Mission showed a ridiculous never ending motor as he got after it on both ends of the floor, and his brute strength allowed him to dominate slighter bigs their age. He still has a long way to go, but his ability to run the floor, crash the boards and finish above the rim are some of the reasons he was able to have breakout games like his 21 point outing to lead Team Loaded to the 15U quarterfinals.

Jordan Rider | 2017 | Crusader Nation 17U

Rider is best described as a walking bucket. The 6’1” guard can light it up in a number of ways, especially from deep in transition when he has time to set his feet and hold his pretty follow through. Rider scored it from all three levels, and was reliable throughout the game as a go-to guy.

Jamill Riggins | 2019 | Philly Pride 15U

With Philly Pride having dug themselves a 34-19 deficit at halftime in their game against Garner Road, Riggins took over and led a furious Philly Pride comeback as they squeaked by with a 46-45 win. The 6’2” wing set the tone on both ends, as they turned the defense up and held GR to just 11 second half points and creating easy baskets in transition where he thrived as he finished at and above the rim and brought a lot of energy back to Pride in their comeback.

Scottie Lewis| 2019 | Team Rio 16U
Scottie continues to get better and continues to impress as the stage gets bigger. He makes plays on both ends of the floor, with the ball and without the ball. His length and athleticism creates havoc defensively, where he blocks a ton of shots and lives in passing lanes. He was also able to create off the dribble and clean up around the glass for second chance points.

Alex Petrie | 2018 | River City Reign 16U

Reign had a tough weekend losing two controversial games, but their point guard Alex Petrie continues to boost his stock and play at a high level. The 6’3” lead guard has filled out and he’s shooting the basketball out of this world. He has a mixtape like handle, and is able to create space to get his jump shot off whenever he needs to.

Jaylen Dillard | 2017 | River City Reign Hill 17U

Dillard is becoming a popular name for college coaches, and he showed why in a win over WCBA when he went off for 26 points. The 6’2” guard from Clover Hill just outside of Richmond showed great range hitting four threes, and was big down the stretch recording 16 of his points in the second half. Dillard’s ability to hit shots translates well moving forward in his basketball career.

Noah Locke | 2017 | Team Melo
Despite a loss to Boo Williams, Noah showed his next level ability at the guard spot. An explosive first step got past defenders, and allowed him to make plays in the painted area all game. From there he showed his shiftiness by scoring over big defenders and facilitating to teammates.

Rasir Bolton | 2018 | Team Loaded VA 17U

Rasir is a skilled lead guard who mixed it up nicely on the offensive end, where he used his quick first step and hesitation dribble to attack the basket. He’s an efficient shooter off the dribble, where he has a super quick release. He was very focused defensively, where he showed solid instincts and quick reactions.

Prentiss Hubb | 2018 | DC Premier 17U

Prentiss is a smooth left-handed guard who showed a great feel for the game. He’s a sneaky athlete, and plays above the rim particularly in the open court. Defensively, he was active and alert in the passing lanes, and always looked to find his man and box him out. While off the ball, he spaces the floor well and is prolific from three-point range.

Jonathan Norfleet | 2018 | Team Loaded VA 16U

Jonathan is a strong, explosive guard who did a great job helping his team control pace. His ability to shoot from the perimeter was evident, particularly off the dribble. He exhibited good body control and touch when converting inside the paint.

Reese Mona | 2017 | Baltimore Elite 17U

Reese shot the ball very well off the catch from three point range, where he exhibited a quick and confident release. He moved well off the ball and was relentless off the bounce, where he aggressively attacked the basket and looked for contact. Defensively, he was vocal and did a nice job boxing out and took a number of charges.

Ejike Obinna | 2017 | Uncommon Bulls 17U

Ejike commanded the boards on both ends, where he was quick to react and used his strong hands to secure the ball tightly. He ran the floor and established position early, and showed a soft touch out to 15 feet. He’s an unselfish big with a good feel for the game, and is comfortable operating at the top of the key where he worked some high-low actions.

Keldon Johnson | 2018 | Boo Williams 17U

Keldon consistently competed at a high level throughout the day. He seeks contact on his drives, but more often than not is able to absorb and finish through it. Defensively, he was very engaged and did a great job getting off the ground and rebounding in traffic. He filled the lanes correctly in the open court, and where he likes to play above the rim.

Tahjay Jacobs | 2017 | Team Loaded 757 17

Tahjay got after it on the defensive end, but showed promise offensively as well. He demonstrated the ability to shoot with range from the catch and off the bounce. He was a vocal presence on his team, and displayed solid leadership intangibles.

 

Adam Ayalew (@AKayalew) and Jack Herron (@JWHerron10) contributed to this article

 

For full coverage of the Southern Jam Fest, follow the Hoop Group on Twitter: @TheHoopGroup

Southern Jam Fest Storylines: Day 2

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Southern Jam Fest rolled on in Hampton with a full day of Saturday action, capped off by a handful of thrilling late night matches, setting the stage for a memorable Championship Sunday.

Power programs holding court.
In a deep field featuring perennial programs from up and down the East Coast — and a few beyond — there has been very little shake-up as the brackets in each age group have played out. In 17U, a vaunted Elite 8 group is headlined by Boo Williams, Team Loaded VA, New York Jayhawks, Team Loaded NC, We R1, Baltimore Elite and DC Premier. Team Loaded, DC Premier and We R 1 have additional teams still contending for titles in the younger age groups (14U, 15U, 16U), while top younger squads like Team Rio 16U and We All Can Go 15U head into Sunday with serious eyes on a title.

Keldon Johnson backing up the hype.
Coming into the weekend nationally ranked in the Top 10 of some prospect rankings, 2018 Boo Williams wing Keldon Johnson has been superb for the hometown team. Playing up at the 17U level, Johnson has done a bit of everything for his team en route to a berth in the Elite 8 heading into Championship Sunday. In Boo Williams’ big 71-68 win over Team Melo on Saturday night, Johnson was a pest on the defensive end while scoring 22 points — 16 of which came in an intense, high-level second half.

New names emerging.
After the first two days of action, a crop of emerging players have made their names known with strong weekend performances. Donatas Kupsas — a 6-foot-8 2018 stretch forward — has been one of the main head-turners of the weekend, showing off an impressive offensive arsenal for the New York Ionians, who have played their way into the 17U Elite 8.

In terms of guys whose stock has considerably risen this weekend, local standout Jalen Ray (Team Loaded 757) has been the main contender. The 2017 guard strung together two consecutive 20-point showings, and showing a smooth stroke from three-point range. Baltimore Elite point guard Blake Francis came out of the gates strong on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, as he plans to head to prep school next year.

Derquan Washington has become a standout in the D.C. high school scene over the past two seasons, and is now beginning to build up his reputation on the grassroots circuit, as the 2018 scoring guard scored 19 second-half points for DC Premier in a Saturday morning comeback win. Another name popping up in conversations at the 16U level is Elijah McCadden (Boo Williams), who has displayed an intriguing blend of versatility and athleticism on his way to impressing scouts and media in attendance.

Underclassmen playing up, holding their own…
To go along with Johnson and Kupsas, there is no shortage of impressive underclassmen making their mark against older competition. DC Premier 2018 point guard Prentis Hubb acts an invaluable steadying hand for his team, while DeAndre Thomas of Garner Road had an impressive Saturday performance as a 2018 playing up at 17U. At the 16U level, two 2019 DC-area bigs are playing major roles for their teams, as Mahki Mitchell (DC Premier) has been dominant on the boards, while Qudus Wahab (Uncommon Bulls) cemented his status as an elite shot blocker with a major upside.