15U’s Excited to Shine in LIVE Spotlight at Pitt Hoop Group Jam Fest

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The Pitt Hoop Group Jam Fest might be the first opportunity most 15U players have had to play during the LIVE recruiting period.

“This is our second year playing in the Pitt Jam Fest. It’s always pretty good competition,” said Reggie Gardner, coach of a powerful DC Assault 15U squad. “We always use it as a gauge as to how your season’s going to go.”

“Everyone’s talented, really,” UPlay Toronto guard Koby McEwen said. “Our class is very deep, it’s good competition here.”

Now the 15U bracket is down to just eight teams. And while all eight have won their first three games–making it tough to say that any of them have done anything but play well–there’s always room for improvement, especially at this level.

“So far defensively we’ve played with a lot of intensity, we’ve probably gotten by on our athleticism,” Sports U coach Ed Jennings said. “I think the guys are starting to gel a little bit, but defensively is how we’re creating offense.”

There are plenty of great players to keep an eye out on as the top 15U teams in Pittsburgh battle it out for the Pitt Hoop Group Jam Fest title. One such young phenom is Showtime All Stars guard Damon Harge. At just around 5-foot-5, Harge is the only member of the Class of 2018 playing two grade levels up–and not just playing, but starting.

“I’ve always played up, since I was little,” said Harge, who’s been playing at the high school level since sixth grade. “I think the difference is stronger and more athletic players.”

Also advancing to the round of eight are D.C. Assault, with a stacked lineup that includes 2016 DeMatha forward Joseph Hampton and Bishop McNamara forward Sam Green, plus 5-10 jet Alani Moore, another DeMatha player.

D.C. Assault isn’t the only big-name AAU program who’s advanced this far. New Jersey’s Sports U Izod is here, as is Canada’s CIA Bounce (playing under the name UPlay Toronto), New York’s New Heights, the Ohio Basketball Club and Team Philly round out a rather well-traveled bunch.

Saturday certainly brought plenty of excitement, but maybe not moreso than for Team Work (Ohio)’s Preston Bullock. The 5-foot-11 guard hit a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Team Work past Team Loaded, setting off a pretty wild celebration considering there are three games left to win the title.

“I just got lucky,” Bullock said. “Just tried to get to the rim but I didn’t get a chance to, so I just pulled it.”

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