Early Big East Predictions

An Early Look at What To Expect from the Big East in the 2017-2018 Season

Class may not be in session, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start talking about college hoops. With that in mind, let’s look at how the standings may shape up in the Catholic Conference this year.

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Bigger Than Ball Vol. 4: Souleymane Koureissi

Known as the mecca of basketball, New York City is home to a large percentage of the world’s top youth basketball talent.  In a one block radius in Harlem you’ll find one future NBA lottery pick in Mohammed Bamba, and at least two other high level Division I prospects (Jalen Carey & Anthony Nelson).  6’9” wing Souleymane Koureissi grew up in these same houses, but took a much different road to success than that of his peers.  

Souleymane, or Sal as his friends call him, was the definition of a late bloomer.  Two years ago Koureissi was three inches shorter, less skilled, and playing the Center position for his High School-Iona Prep in New Rochelle, NY.  Sal was forced to watch his friends be courted by college coaches and spoiled by shoe companies, while he struggled to make a name for himself in the basketball world.  His AAU team, Castle Athletics, was not a shoe sponsored team at the time, and he was playing in a limited role for his high school.  Koureissi had no scholarship offers.  

Both of Sal’s parents immigrated to United States from the African country of Mali in search of a better life for their children and Sal seems to have adopted the same attitude of personal advancement as his parents  He was very vocal about witnessing the success of others and aspiring to have a better life than he’s had.  Growing up and seeing his peers achievements inspired Koureissi to be better–to want more.  Sal had an impressive summer on the Adidas Circuit in 2017, proving his name belongs on the short list of elite basketball players.  He now holds more than a dozen scholarship offers, including one from St. Louis University.  He is an example to younger basketball players around NYC who have yet to receive their break, that hard work makes anything achievable.  We sat down for a brief Q & A with Souleymane Koureissi, the Most Outstanding Prospect of Hoop Group Elite Camp.

 

 

We saw you play a few years ago at the gotham league when you were relatively unknown.  You’re obviously a completely different player now..so what’s the motivating factor behind you wanting to take your game to the next level?  

 

Wanting to change my family’s lives and going to school for free…hopefully making the pros some day. I want my family to have a different lifestyle.  But, honestly it’s just fun for me.  I love to play so…

 

Over the last couple of years, your mindset on the court has grown to be more determined. What drives you? Why do you play?

 

I don’t have really have a set thing to think about — but I would say I play because my older brother played it before me – he was good and he always used to beat me.  So I was just always determined to beat him.  So, I play it because I’m determined to be better than him.  

 

What made you choose to go to Iona Prep to play high school basketball?

 

Honestly? I didn’t really have a lot of options at the time.  I was going to go to a school in Washington Heights – a public school called WHEELS, and then last minute I played for an AAU team – Castle Athletics, and my coach helped me get in there.

 

How has it been for you playing there?

 

They actually recently just got a new coach, he coached the JV originally.  He’s tough, he’s gonna make us run a lot, but it will be good.  

 

Do you have any teammates who are going through the same recruiting process as you?

 

Yeah its funny, me and my teammate Josh were both unknown – now we have a competition to see who can pick up the most offers.  I think I’m up two or three right now.  

 

Who’s the best player you’ve played against at hoop group camp so far?

 

Probably Adrian Nelson.  I didn’t know who he was at first – he was strong and athletic, and it was an early morning game so it was tough.

 

Your sophomore year of high school, you had no college scholarship offers.  How has your opinion of recruiting and selecting a school changed from then to now?

 

Then I just wanted to get an offer bad.  I was seeing everyone else getting offered and I just wanted one bad.  I needed one.  But, now that I have plenty, I’m looking at the schools actually, and looking into the academic and athletic aspect and where I can fit in.  So there’s a lot more thinking that goes into it.  

 

What are you looking for in recruiting? What do you expect out of the coaches and university?

 

Definitely a good academic school first – because basketball always stops and I want to be able to get a job after college.  After that, I want to go to a school where I can play and where I’m comfortable with the coaches and basketball side of it – just a good fit.  

 

How do your parents feel about you getting scholarship offers?

 

Honestly, they’re just excited that they don’t have to pay.  I was probably going to college regardless..they’re actually proud of my grades.  This year I ended up with an 86 average. I put in a lot more work in the classroom this year.  When I try hard, usually I get good grades so-   

 

What do you like to do when you’re not playing basketball?

 

When I’m not playing I’m usually just hanging out with my girlfriend – chillin with my brothers, my friends – a lot of stuff.  I play a lot of 2k…I’m the best in my house though.  I’m a Cavs fan but I usually play with Toronto, but as long as I know who the player is I get buckets.  Like the Nets..they’re from brooklyn and I can’t name half the players on their roster.  

 

Do you have any siblings or family that lives with you?

So there are five people in my house other than me and my parents.  There are two sets of twins – my brother and sister are older than me, they’re twins.  Then there’s my younger brother – he’s 16.  Then there are twins under him, and they’re 9.

 

Where is your family from?

 

My family is from Mali in West Africa.  We all speak mandingo.  I always get jokes…you know the movie, I never watched it – it was some movie where the guy is like “I’m the captain now”.  [laughing] I hate that.  

 

New York City is known for its basketball talent.  How does the talent level in your area compare to others? Do the better players ever play together?

 

We have the most talented basketball block in the country.  Jalen Carey actually lives there, Mohammed Bamba lives across the street, Anthony Nelson’s also from that block – so there’s a lot of talent.  We do something called midnight madness every once in awhile.  At like 12 o’clock at night everybody just comes out to the court and plays basketball.  It’s cool.  

 

What do you think the difference is between you and somebody who is ranked in the top 50?

 

Honestly I think it’s athleticism.  I think if I was able to take my strength and athleticism to the next level I would be right there.  I think skill wise I’m there already.  

 

Favorite Rapper?

 

Right now? It’s Jay kritch.  Listen to him.  He’s from my area.  He’s gonna blow up, remember the name.  

 

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

 

Probably my dad.  He’s a hard working guy – seeing him wake up every morning and go to work.  He drives a truck – so he wakes up at 4 am everyday and comes in at like 6 – he’s a hard working guy – seeing him go to work everyday motivates me.  

 

How was it playing on the Adidas circuit?

 

We didn’t play on it last year, so this was our team’s first year – just the amount of coaches that we’re there – the competition level was great all around.  It really helped me explode with my recruiting – I played great so that helped…I remember we had a game versus Exum Elite.  They had Emmanuel Akot I think his name was, who’s committed to Arizona and some 7’2” kid. They had a good team.  We ended up losing, but it was a good game for me.  

 

You grew up in an area in Harlem, the Foster Buildings, that had so much basketball talent. Growing up with these guys, seeing them grow and seeing yourself grow, what sets you apart from everyone else who’s not in your position?

 

I think I was kind of a late bloomer.  As far as them, they’ve always been pretty good, but for me I just started getting offers so yeah – but it’s been really competitive.

 

What advice would you give to someone else who’s also a late bloomer and is in the same position you were in a couple years ago; undiscovered, with no college offers?

 

Just to keep working.  You can’t hide talent – so if you keep working and keep putting in work day in and day out you’re bound to get seen.  Trust the process.  

 

You have had a huge jump in your game over the last couple years and have had to work extremely hard to take your game to the next level.   How do you plan on taking your game up a notch again when you reach college, playing against better competition?

 

I’m going to do the same thing that got me here. Keep working.   Getting in the gym as much as I can, putting up shots as much as I can, and hopefully I can continue to improve.  

 

-Thomas Hayden

Providence JamFest Championship Day LIVE Blog

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Keep up with this blog all day as we provide updates, photos, and more on all championship games and player performances!

Also be sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram by using #HGJamfest in your tweets and posts!

As we leave Providence we would like to thank everyone who helped make our 20th anniversary of the Providence JamFest a good one! Look for tournament recaps and player highlights later in the day!

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16U final is set: Mass Rivals will play Sports U IZOD for the championship. Plenty of talent in this game. Guard Breen Tyree will facilitate Sports U’s offense while David Lightfoot anchors down low. For Mass, Greg Kuakumensah is a guard with big time talent and Saul Phiri had a great semi final game, knocking down 4 three pointers.- @TheHoopGroup

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Going up! Jerome Desrosiers erupts for 23 points and this breakaway slam and NE Playaz advance to the 17U semifinal!

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Jackson Donahue (Northfield Mt Hermon ’15) continues to impress. His outside shooting along with Colin McManus’s (Northfield Mt Hermon ’15) rim protection has allowed Middlesex Magic to jump ahead of Connecticut Select by 9.

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Great games going on for the 17U quarterfinals!

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Championship Sunday is underway with 16U teams competing in the quarterfinals of their bracket. Kellan Grady is a player to watch for the NE Playaz in our morning match ups.
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Providence JamFest Day 1 LIVE Blog

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Keep tabs with us all day as we provide updates, photos, and more through our live blog!

Also be sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter, by using #HGJamfest in your tweets and posts!

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From stat to finish, day 1 of the Providence JamFest was full of excitement and stand out performers. Be sure to check out Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for recaps from today and coverage tomorrow for championship Sunday!

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After a long day of basketball, we did not leave disappointed. Mass Rivals hits a game tying three with six seconds left. An untimely foul however gave Middlesex Magic two free throws and allowed them to come away with a win in what was a great game.

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NE Playaz and House of Sports 17u showing that they both have a lot of talent on their respective teams. High energy contest is sure to go down to the wire

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17u Sports U IZOD showed why they were a favorite to win it all today.

Another convincing win for Sports U IZOD. Contributions came from everyone, but Levi Holmes (Rutgers Prep ’15) led all with 15 #HGJamFest- @TheHoopGroup

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Still loads of talent left to watch before this day is over.

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Could we have a Wayne PAL match up in the Elite Eight? Coach Halewicz’s team is one win closer, Coach Grimes’s team is still working to advance.
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Brandon Twitty kept his hot hand in 16u Boston Elite’s second game of the day. He scored 20 points, but still was not the high scorer. Castle Athletic’s Daraja Rodwell led all scorers with 31.-@TheHoopGroup

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House of Sports and Prestige Patriots each trying to win their second game of the day.

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NE Playaz and Boston Titans just tipping off. We will get our first look at Jarred Reuter (Brewster Academy) and Ian Sistare, who are two players to keep an eye this weekend for the NE Playaz.

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High Rise Team Up played a solid team game, making extra passes and scoring 80 points on their opponent. Player to watch Steven Enoch (Norwalk HS) led the balanced attack with 15 points.

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SHOOTER: Jordan Nwaro of Juice All Stars just knocked down NINE three pointers in a row! Somebody get a hand up! #HGJamFest –@TheHoopGroup

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Playing right next to Sports U IZOD was Team Albany, who may have had just as impressive as a performance. Steals led to transition lay ups and threes like the one right here.

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17u Sports U IZOD, a potential favorite in the 17U bracket, takes the floor for warm ups. Marquise McDuffee (St. Anthony’s HS) is just one player to watch on this team.
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Despite a loss by Blue Jays Elite (Hodge), a very impressive showing from 17u Darrick Boyd (Cathedral ’11). He had 26 points, made 6 three pointers, and was the floor general for his squad. Very good start to the weekend for the guard.

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Another close game took place between the 17u NJ Thunder and the Prestige Patriots. Both teams showed great defensive pressure and caused problems for their opponent, which resulted in a tight contest the entire way through. In the end, it was missed Thunder free throws and a Patriots put back that led to a Patriot win. Check out the last play here:

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Another impressive performance by a 16u player. Alex Sorenson dropped 32 points in Game 7 NY Elite’s 12 point victory. #HGJamFest-

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Fans were treated to a great first round match up between the Paterson Playaz and USAD. In a back and forth contest in which both sides impressed, the Playaz held on for a 4 point victory. Both teams showcased some great talent.

17u Paterson Playaz are a very balanced team. Scored 50 points and 4 players had 8 points or more in the win. Great team game. #HGJamfest-@TheHoopGroup

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16u Boston Elite had a strong showing in their first game by tallying an impressive 93 points this morning. Brandon Twitty is definitely a player to keep an eye on. He scored 40 points, fifteen of them coming from deep, in his team’s victory.

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Just one game in and already an outstanding performance. Tim Galloway-Burke of the 17U New England Storm scored 38 points and was a huge reason why his team held on for a one point victory over the New York Lions.

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And the weekend finally is underway! Our 20th year in Providence is sure to be a good one.

2013 Providence Hoop Group Jam Fest Champions

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17U Champs New England Playaz

Aaron Calixte and NE Playaz (Mass.) weathered a furious second-half comeback from Move Your Feet (N.J.) and held on for a 61-56 victory to capture the 17u championship at the Hoop Group Providence Jam Fest on the campus of Rhode Island College.

Calixte (5-11/Lee Academy, Me./2014), who finished with a team-high 16 points, was clutch from the free throw line in the final 30 seconds to ice the win.

After Move Your Feet pulled to within one at 56-55, Calixte converted four-straight free throws to secure the title.

“We just had to settle down (after seeing the lead disappear),” said Calixte. “We started making better decisions and it all worked out. It feels good to head into the next few weeks with a championship.

Move Your Feet’s Mason Jones (6-2/2014) led all scorers with 17 points.

Bracket Results

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16U Champs Northeast Shooters

The Northeast Shooters (N.Y.) exploded out of the gate, and in the end relied on clutch free throw shooting and tenacious defense to capture the 16u Championship by defeating CT Elite 62-57.

Northeast ran out to a 9-0 lead and built that into a 34-18 lead by halftime.

While Northeast was moving the ball crisply and knocking down shots during the first half, CT Elite couldn’t seem to get out of its own way, as highlighted midway through the half.

Thomas Nolan (Fairfield Prep/2015) nailed a 3-pointer to bring CT Elite within 21-9, but on the ensuing possession, a turnover followed by a foul on Northeast’s Joel Wincowski opened the lead back to 24-9.

Wincowski (6-2/Lake George, N.Y./2015), recovering from a concussion suffered at the Hoop Group Philly Jam Fest, would finish with a team-high 14 points.

In the second half a frantic comeback by CT Elite was stymied by not only the stellar play of Wincowski, but also the clutch shooting of Joe Shehadi (5-9/ Burr and Burton Academy, Vt./2015).

CT Elite, which never led, closed the deficit to 53-51 with 2:45 remaining when Shahadi took over.

Converting two free throws to up the lead to 55-51, Shehadi stole the ball on the next CT Elite possession and went back to the line to sink two more free throws.

In all he converted six free throws down the stretch on his way to matching Wincowski’s 14 points and helping to keep the CT Elite comeback effort at bay.

“His (Shehadi) play was extremely clutch,” Wincowski said. “It really was a great way to finish off a full team effort.”

Bracket Results

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15U Champs Albany City Rocks Black

Howard Washington (6-3/Canisus, N.Y./2016)  scored 14 points to lead Albany City Rocks (N.Y.) to a 46-34 championship game win over Metro Heat (Mass.) in the 15u bracket.

In a game which wasn’t always pretty to watch, for a four minute span in the second half Metro Heat recorded the only point, a free throw, it was the result in the end that mattered most to Washington.

“We did it as a team,” he said. ” This weekend a lot of teams had to tried to press up on us but we just didn’t get rattled.”

Bracket Results

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14U Champs Dream Team

13U Team Demi

13U Champs Team Demi

@pfebbraro