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June 2, 2009 New England Hoop News Staff
With teams battling out for bragging rights in the 10-14u age divisions of the inaugural Best of the Best, many players made a name for themselves as guys to watch in the coming years. It can be difficult to judge at such an early age, when kids haven't truly developed their games yet, but make no mistake there was plenty of talent to be seen this past weekend in Springfield, Ma.
Jeremy Miller (pictured), 6'6 - BABC 13u: Miller is gifted in the way few others his age are, he's 6'6. He can run the floor and finish at the rim. He obviously needs to expand his skill set, but he is a presence on the floor and is a game-changer.
Johnathon Joseph, 5'9 - BABC 13u: Joseph can flat-out play. He is quick off the dribble, does an excellent job of setting his teammates up for shots and can score when need be. He likes to score off the dribble, attacking the rim, but he has shown the ability to consistently knock down the 3-ball as well. Joseph scored 19 pts and 8 assists in the 'chip win vs. DC Assault on Sunday.
Tyree Robinson, 6'3 - BABC 13u: Robinson is athletic and long. He runs the floor like a deer, plays above the rim, as evidenced by his 2 dunks in the championship game vs. DC Assault, and can really finish the ball well. Robinson looks like he'll continue growing and developing and could be a scary player down the road.
Makai Mason - 5'6 - Indoor Action Elite 14u: Mason opened a lot of eyes this weekend. Some in the Western Mass area were familiar with Mason, but many weren't sure how he would do when facing stiff competition. Mason proved any doubters wrong this weekend. He has a little Steve Nash to his game. He has okay speed with the ball, but plays extremely crafty. Mason can shoot from anywhere on the court, and doesn't have much trouble getting his shot off either. He had big games of 17 pts vs MABC in a 1-point loss and 22 vs. the Boston Saintz.
Joey O'Connell - 6'5 - Indoor Action Elite 14u: O'Connell is a big body who isn't afraid to mix it up. He's very good around the rim, finishing when there's contact, and can step out to 15-16 feet to shot. He plays with a toughness that is much needed for his IAE squad.
Kahlil Dukes - 5'10 - CBC 14u: Dukes was as good a guard we saw this weekend. Although his shot selection wasn't always perfect, you feel like he's going to do something good when the ball is in his hands. He sees the floor extremely well, can get by you whenever he wants and is a capable shooter. The main thing for him to improve upon is his shot selection. Dukes is a name we should be hearing a lot more of. Tournament highlight: 19 pts in 'chip loss to Boston Saintz.
Levy Gillespie - 5'10 - CBC 14u: Gillespie, the running mate of Dukes, provides another settling influence for his club. Gillespie is a special player in that he waits his turn and when all eyes are on Dukes, he decides to take over. In battling with the Fairfax Stars (Va.) this past weekend, Gillespie went off for (4) three's and 18 points.
Luis Rodriguez - 6'2 - SECC 13u: Rodriguez is one of those players that you love to coach. He battles every possession, is always around the ball, and knows how to play the game. Right now, he is most natural at the 4-position, but could begin transitioning into a 3-man, depending on his growth and skill improvement. Rodriguez had some big games this weekend, 21 pts vs. MABC and 19 pts vs. Albany Dream Team, but none were bigger than his buzzer beater vs. the Fairfax Stars in the opening round.
Charles Baldwin - 6'4 - SECC 12u: Baldwin is a big boy for his age. He has a good frame, moves well, and is constantly improving. He makes everyone on the court look small around him, and is really beginning to use it to his advantage. His moves are becoming less predictable and more difficult to stop, he rebounds the ball well and has decent hands. Look for Baldwin to continue developing in the coming years and begin to get more and more comfortable with his body.
Jamal Allen - 6'1 - MABC 11u: As much as we wanted to avoid writing about kids that are barely in middle school, Allen is our exception. He was very impressive all weekend, leading his team to the championship game, before losing to a very talented F.A.C.E.S. squad out of New Jersey. The long, lanky lefty scored in a variety of ways; at the rim, with runners/floaters, and behind the arc. He goes predominately to his left, but that didn't seem to affect his game at all, as he scored 26 points in the 'chip.
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