The 8 Tournament Recap

The Annual Jordan Brand “8” Tournament in Las Vegas brought out some of the best talent in the country. The event was even bigger this year, with two brackets of eight teams. Team Takeover, the AAU program based out of D.C., came out as the winner of the main bracket with respective wins over Team Final, Bradley Beal Elite, and Oakland Soldiers.

Takeover led for most of the game in their matchup with Team Final. The Philadelphia-based AAU program featured two of the best players in the country in Lou King and Cam Reddish, but they couldn’t keep up with the balanced attack of TTO led by Jalen Smith, Myles Dread, and Xavier Johnson. Team Takeover defeated Team Final by a final score of 85-70.

Team Takeover faced a familiar opponent in Bradley Beal Elite, who defeated TTO out in LA on the EYBL before losing to them in the Final Four of Peach Jam. Darius Garland, considered by many to be one of the best point guards in the country, had the hot hand early for his team. TTO managed to hold a two point lead heading into halftime, and began defending Garland more aggressively. Xavier Johnson and Anthony Harris were the two guards who primarily defended Garland, and each did a commendable job. Team Takeover controlled the pace in the second half, and defeated Bradley Beal Elite by a final score of 80-62.

In the much anticipated championship, Team Takeover faced Oakland Soldiers, the team who defeated them a few weeks back in the Peach Jam Finals. The first half, and most of the game was nip and tuck. Both teams played a relatively poor first half, but Team Takeover it up in the second. After trailing by 3 at the end of the first half, TTO opened up on an 8-0 run to take the lead. Once again led by Myles Dread, Jalen Smith, and Xavier Johnson, with contributions from Brandon Slater, Bryce Golden, Anthony Harris, Tre Wood and Miles Latimer, they were able to avenge their earlier loss and come out with a victory in the championship. Team Takeover won the game by a final score of 78-72, and began their well deserved celebration.

Xavier Johnson: HG Insider Player Spotlight

Xavier Johnson

Bishop O’Connell’s Xavier Johnson has come a long way in the last 12 months. The Team Takeover product is considered one of the most dynamic playmakers in the country, and this is not an accident. Ask any of his coaches, and they all will mention his incredibly strong work ethic.

Johnson earned the starting lead guard role at The Ei8ht, and played an integral role in his team’s run to the championship. Whether it was harassing top ranked PG Darius Garland, or using his explosiveness to push the ball up the and create for others, Johnson was up to any task. As he’s demonstrated before, Johnson was simply impossible to keep out of the lane, and very crafty when finishing around the basket.

“I am a point guard that has a lot of winning attributes. I play hard. Play good defense. I can score and facilitate.”

High Major Division One coaches have taken notice of Johnson’s ability. Josh Pastner, Greg McDermott, and Patrick Ewing are a few of the faces regularly seen at his games. South Florida, and UMass have also recently offered.

In the much anticipated rematch with Oakland Soldiers, Johnson came out very aggressive. He was one of four players on his team in double figures with 16 points, and also dished out 7 assists. Johnson played solid defense, and played a significant role on both ends of the floor.

This time last summer, Johnson held just two offers, from Manhattan and Towson. He’s seen his recruitment grow exponentially in recent months, and has solidified himself as a high major point guard, and one of the best in the country. With a decision looming, don’t be surprised to see Johnson to make an immediate impact wherever he goes.

Follow Adam on Twitter: @AyalewAdam

2016 Pittsburgh Jam Fest Champions

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The Pittsburgh Jam Fest was easily one of the best events of the Spring live periods. With its new home inside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the 2016 Pitt Jam Fest welcomed over 430 teams to this year’s tournament. Out of these teams, 11 were crowned champions within their respected brackets. Here are those winners.

Open Champions: USAD

How they got there: Defeated Lake Erie Defenders, Cambridge Elite, CBSA Hoyas, Connecticut Elite & RAP Stars

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17U Platinum Champions: Jersey Shore Warriors

How they got there: After a first round bye, defeated DC Blue Devils NOVA, Monroe County All-Stars, Team NYC Lightning, DC Blue Devils (NH) & Middlesex Magic

17U Platinum- Jersey Shore Warriors

17U Steel Champions: TMP

How they got there: Defeated Built to Last, Primetime, Philly Freedom Stars, L & L Running Rebels & VCC Nova Village

17U Steel- TMP

17U Gold Champions: Spectrum Sports

How they got there: Defeated JB Hoops, NJ Pirates, PG Bulls, ICC Truth and Bingo’s All-Stars

17U Gold- Spectrum Sports

16U Platinum Champions: Boo Williams Select – Chizz

How they got there: Defeated PYO, Crusader Nation, Michigan Gators Elite, Team Sizzle, District Basketball Club & JB Hoops

16U Plat- Boo Williams Select

16U Steel Champions: Randallstown Running Rebels

How they got there: Defeated Rock Elite, GT United, WV Flight, Team JLA & TTG Pittsburgh

16U Steel- Randallstown Running Rebels

16U Gold Champions: Hoop Dreams

How they got there: Defeated DC Blue Devils (DC), Game 7 Sharks, Team Work BC & LBA Attack

16U Gold- Hoop Dreams

15U Platinum Champions: Team Takeover

How they got there: Defeated Michigan Warriors, NY Gauchos, Team Loaded 757, Jersey Shore Warriors, MD Playmakers & Boo Williams Select

15U Platinum- Team Takeover

15U Steel Champions: Philly Freedom Stars

How they got there: Defeated East Side Escalades, College Park Rimrockers, Hangtime Basketball & East Coast Power

15U Steel- Philly Freedom Stars

14U Platinum Champions: Mid Ohio Pumas

How they got there: Defeated Boo Williams, Erick Green Premier, West Virginia Wildcats, Steeltown Basketball Club South & CIA Bounce

14U Platinum- Mid Ohio Pumas

14U Steel Champions: Team Final Red

How they got there: Defeated Steeltown Basketball Club South, ICE & Evolution Basketball

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Congratulations to all of our winners!

Spring Jam Fest 2016 Champions

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The Spring Jam Fest once again called Spooky Nook Sports its home for the 2016 season. No different to previous years, the Spring Jam Fest took place during the first live recruiting period, and saw a number of coaches come evaluate talent. While one major focus of the Spring AAU season is to be seen, the other is to compete and take home a championship against top-level competition. Eight teams were able to do that this weekend; here are our eight champions, and the LetItFly MVPs.

Open Championship: Jersey Coastal Academy

MVP: Sean Barksdale

How They Got There: Jersey Coastal Academy showed talent and scoring ability in the Open bracket. In their first three games leading up to the championship they scored 69, 86 and 75 points against Liberty Elite, ICC Truth and Wayne PAL, respectively. In the final they outlasted iWork, winning the Open Championship by a score of 64-54.

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17U Championship: Crown Basketball

MVP: Kian Dalyrimple

How They Got There: Crown’s run to the championship was an impressive one, as they knocked off some well known programs in the process. After defeating 4 Seasons Hoops, Erick Green Premier, and CM3 Elite, Crown went on to take down Team Loaded 757, Maryland 3D, and a scorching hot York Ballers team. This set up a final between Crown and East Coast Basketball, who had just defeated a very good DC Blue Devils team from New Hampshire. Crown was able to pull away in the final and walk away the 17U Spring Jam Fest champions.

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16U Spooky Championship: Erick Green Premier

MVP: Gus Wise

How They Got There: EG Premier was able to outlast 63 other teams and walk away with the 16U Spooky championship. After wins over Riverside Hawks, TNBA and BSA Select, it took a tough team effort to beat JB Hoops (won by 3) to get to the Final Four. Once there, a win over TNBA Ohio and a championship victory over a talented Team Final Black Team, gave the trophy to Erick Green Premier.

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16U Nook Championship: NY Gauchos

How They Got There: The well established Gauchos program showed early why they have been regarded as a fearsome team in NYC for years. With commanding wins over East Coast Power and ICC Truth, the semifinal featured a all-New York match up between the Gauchos and the NY Dragons. After a second half run pushed a close game in their favor, the Gauchos went into the final against Pure Basketball, where they kept momentum rolling and took home the title.

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15U Spooky Championship: Northern Kings

How They Got There: The Canadian program started with close wins over TNBA West (7) and Team Philly (4). Finally had a comfortable 11 point win over Central PA Elite, and was able to hold off Team Takeover (Orange) to advance to the final. In a great final game, the Northern Kings topped Maryland Playmakers and are the 15U Spring Jam Fest Champs.
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15U Nook Championship: Philly Freedom Stars

How They Got There: Came from the middle of the bracket and rolled through United (NJ), East Coast Power and York Raiders to get to the Final Four. Then topped Central PA Elite in a Battle of the Keystone State match up to reach the final vs Team PA. In the final, overcame a double-digit deficit to win the championship at the buzzer.

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14U Spooky Championship: Team Takeover

How They Got There: One of the “one seeds” in the bracket, nothing came easy for Team Takeover once they got to the Final Four. After beating Central PA Elite and East Coast Power to get there, they faced two tough programs in Erick Green Premier and Team Loaded Red to win the title. Takeover was able to flex their muscles all weekend long though, and show how talented their younger team is.

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14U Nook Championship: Central PA Elite

How They Got There: In a bracket that started on Sunday, Central PA Elite (Parise) came in on Sunday with nothing, and left with a trophy. With dominant victories over CBPA and the Pitt Nets, Central PA Elite sealed a great day by outscoring Team NYC Lightning, scoring 72 points in the championship game!

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Big thanks to all the teams, parents, players, college coaches, and Spooky Nook for making this weekend an overwhelming success. Special thanks to Let It Fly Performance for providing championship t-shirts for all the teams. We also would like to thank Be the Beast Recruiting, Krossover and Gatorade for helping make our events top-notch.. Next weekend we head to Pittsburgh for the pinnacle of AAU tournaments, the Pitt Jam Fest. We hope to see you there!