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.

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