Team Russia is Pacing 17U Bracket at Southern Jam Fest

Team Russia, a relatively new group from the Slavic nation, upset Garner Road in a comeback win at the end of Saturday’s action in Hampton. Despite a 42-point effort from T.J. Warren, Garner road could not overcome the size and athleticism of the Russians.

“It felt really bad. They kept getting buckets, it was a real long and disciplined team,” Warren said after the contest. Asked about the Russian’s size, he added, “ It’s kind of hard because they kind of deflect my shot, but I still tried to get it off.”

Warren played like the blue chip prospect he has developed into, scoring 28 points in the first half and 42 overall. He is being recruited by Florida, Kansas, NC State, Georgia, Tennessee and Arizona State. Things are pretty early with him, however, and he wasn’t ready to give a shortlist.

Team Russia at Hoop Group

Team Russia was unknown coming into this tournament but they've been the talk of the tournament with their height and style of play.

The Russian team, on the contrary, didn’t have any players who were currently mulling over scholarship offers. They came to the Hoop Group Jamfest for one reason. As Vlad Trushkin put it, “Always we have only one option and it is first place.” Team Russia puts a lot of stock in believing that they can and will compete with the best in the tournament.

After a slow start, their coach had some choice words for the team, according to point guard Pavel Khrebtov. “The guys had to wake up, slowly but surely, from down 15 to 1,” Khrebtov said.

Regarding the level of competition faced in the Hoop Group contest, Khrebtov offered, “It’s a great experience. The other team was individually great and we don’t always get to play against teams with so much talent.”

Before that, Team Final took the court against Express in a competitive match-up. Final took an 11-point lead into the intermission, but let their opponent chip away in the second half to finish with a score of 75 to 60 in favor of Final.

The loaded Team Final roster includes 2013 big man, Austin Colbert, who scored 11 points and was an intimidating presence in the paint. Despite that presence, Colbert is preparing to change positions. He told the Hoop Group, “I think big guys always want to play on the wing, but I’m working hard on my dribbling and my shooting. I want to be able to come out and guard the three, and stretch out to play the three in college.”

On his team’s ability to stay focused and win games, Colbert explained, “I think we have to have a no-nonsense attitude.”

Seton Hall, Xavier, Pitt and Oklahoma, as well as some other colleges from the ACC, Big East, SEC and even the Ivy League have been recruiting him.

Ronde Jefferson had 21 points in the game to lead Team Final. The 6’7” star can handle the rock, play on the perimeter or get inside for a bucket. He has made it a priority to prove the scouting reports wrong. “A lot of teams think I can’t shoot, but so far this weekend I’ve been proving it to them that I can shoot,” he said.

Jefferson has received interest from Philly schools, Temple, St. Joes and Villanova, along with Big East notables, West Virginia, Rutgers and Pittsburgh. His top-three schools at the moment are UNC, UK and Temple.

Boo Williams’ Elite team also was in action, scoring a big 82 to 59 win against Sampson County Gold. The BWSL team had a 16 point lead when they went into the half, and came out in the second, looking to expand upon that.

Sampson County’s stars, C.J. Ford and James Miller could only do so much to hold off their loaded opponent. Miller notched 14 points while C.J. Ford had 13 – they were the only Sampson players scoring in double-digits.

Troy Williams
scored 21 points for BWSL in another tremendous performance for him at the Hoop Group Jamfest. The super-athletic forward hustled on every play and put pressure on Sampson while on defense. Williams is the kind of player who always seems to be there when a big play happens.

Teammate Anthony Barber kept pace with Williams in scoring during the first half (both had 10), but the Sampson defense keyed in on Barber in the second half, holding his overall score to just 14 points. The talented point guard does more than scoring to help his team win, however. Putting defensive pressure on the Sampson guards and forcing turnovers allowed him to help teammates to get easy buckets.

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