Storylines emerging at Southern Jam Fest

Boo courts

Southern Jam Fest tipped off Friday in Hampton, and the first day’s competitive action set the stage for a gripping weekend of basketball.

As Day 1 came to a close, here are some of the storylines that were swirling around the gym…

SHOE BRAND BATTLES
With none of the major shoe brand (Nike, Under Armour, Adidas) circuits taking place this weekend, Southern Jam Fest yet again features an incredible mix of programs from each of the circuits. As teams have become increasingly tied to their specific brand circuit, this tournament offers a rare head-to-head comparison of some of the top sponsored teams on the East Coast — and beyond.

DAVID VS. GOLIATH
While the presence of shoe-sponsored programs like the hometown Boo Williams (EYBL), a vaunted Team Loaded program (Adidas Gauntlet) and We R1 (UA Association) loomed large on Day 1, the depth of this year’s field can be credited to a strong turnout of unaffiliated programs.

Throughout the weekend, many of these teams unaffiliated teams — in every age group — will get the chance to face off against perennial sponsored powers in games that will drastically impact the look of Championship Sunday. Whether we see a “David” emerge to down a grassroots Goliath, however, remains to be seen.

STAR POWER IN 17U

Five Star recruit Trevon Duval leads a talented bunch of players here at Boo Williams this weekend

Trevon Duval leads a talented bunch of players here at Boo Williams

The 17U field features some of the most sought-after prospects in the country, and we’re bound to see some big matchups between them, even before Championship Sunday. Versatile wings like Andre Rafus (Team Melo), Myles Cale (South Jersey Jazz) and Naji Marshall (DC Premier) — among many others — have the potential to take over big games with their scoring ability, while standout big men Ejike Obinna (Uncommon Bulls) and Nate Watson (DC Premier) will meet up in an exciting battle of productive 2017 big men on in the Round of 32 on Saturday afternoon.

And on top of that, a key storyline to keep an eye on as the weekend continues: elite point guards Trevon Duval (We-R1) and Matt Coleman (Boo Williams) may find themselves on a crash course to the 17U championship.

LIVE PERIOD PREP
While it may not muster the sort of buzz that a Live Period event might, it could be argued that the Southern Jam Fest comes at a pivotal time in the grassroots calendar. Teams are a month removed from the April recruiting weekends, and now have the chance to test themselves against some of the stiffest competition they will see until July. Not only does the level of competition bring out the best in teams, but the venue — Boo Williams Sportsplex — gives the event the feel of a major summer tournament, the week before Memorial Day.

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TEAM RIO PLAYING UP, MAKING A CHAMPIONSHIP BID
After a stretch of dominance at the middle school level in recent years, Team Rio has already begun making waves with a team made up mainly of 2019 prospects, playing up at the 16U level. After one of the most dominant showings of any team — regardless of age group — on Friday night with an 89-41 opening win, the young group looks to be a real championship contender in the 16U division.

In the opposite corner of the bracket, however, is Boo Williams 16U, who may be considered the team to beat after a 53-point opening round win Friday evening.

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

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