Philly Jam Fest: LA Rockfish Impress on “Business Trip”

Teams from all over the country travel to participate in Hoop Group events for the chance to play in front of hundreds of scouts. The 17U LA Rockfish, all the way from California, saw a different benefit when they traveled to Philadelphia for the Philly Jam Fest.

“It’s a business trip with cultural benefits,” LA Rockfish coach David Benezra said on Sunday. “That’s what you try to do on a good business trip, you try to give yourself a Sunday where you see some of the local places.

“I’d also add an academic dimension because seeing some of the universities has motivated our kids. They know about the basketball, but they don’t realize what the University of Pennsylvania, Villanova and these places are like. If they’ve been on a campus in L.A., they’ve been in the arena, they don’t see the other things.”

Benezra also said he took the team around the Radnor township around Villanova University to show that “if you’re good at whatever you do and you’re successful, you can live like this. A lot of these kids haven’t even seen that kind of area.”

Add 2014 point guard Robert Cartwright to that list, who was making his first trip to the northeast region of the country. The 6-foot-2 guard from Flintridge Prep School (Ca.) knows this kind of trip takes some getting used to, especially when the playing style and tempo change with the setting.

SONY DSC“It’s a different style of basketball, but it’s fun,” Cartwright said. “It’s a new experience and I was really looking forward to it. The travel, if you’re not used to it, can be a little daunting, a five and a half hour trip isn’t the most fun thing and then coming out to play when you haven’t had time to warm-up, it’s different, but it’s something we have to get used to, especially if we want to play college basketball. I think, now, we’re ready to go and we’re focused and we can keep it going.”

While getting to see the sights that Philadelphia has to offer is nice, the players were more focused on the reason why they were in Pennsylvania: to play basketball.

“For me, I’m looking at it as a business trip,” Cartwright said. “I don’t want to do too much; just watch some TV, rest. It would be nice to go out, maybe see the Rocky statue, but it’s a business trip, it’s basketball and that’s what I’m focused on. I want to try to get to sleep early and be focused every game.”

The focus was definitely on the basketball court, as LA Rockfish convincingly earned a bid to the 17U quarterfinals before falling to Sports U IZod 64-55 Sunday morning. But, with so many scouts and fans in attendance, coupled with the great play Cartwright, 2014 center Thomas Welsh and the rest of the team, everyone took notice of the California team putting their mark on the 2013 Philly Jam Fest.

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