by Sammy Newman-Beck
With some of the top colleges heading into the final rounds of the NCAA Tournament, high school hoopers all over the country have been watching, some of whom plan on attending these universities next year to play. While most of these kids finished their respective high school seasons, one basketball program (Basketbull, LLC) set up a talent showcase and All-Star game this past weekend at Springfield College in Springfield, MA—also known as the birthplace of basketball.
The Russell Athletics sponsored event which featured two different All-Star games, a dunk contest and a 3-point competition drew talented players including diaper dandies who will next year attend schools like the University of Connecticut, Notre Dame, Drexel and UPenn, to name a few. Basketbull extended an invite so I, as SLAM’s New England rep, checked out the scene.
1st Game- Public School Game North vs. South
North Teams Notable Players:
Thomas Knight (Dirigo HS, Maine) 6-9 — headed to Notre Dame
Luis Montes (Brockton HS, Brockton Mass) 6-4 — Marianopolis Prep
Ike Azotam (O’Bryant HS Boston, Mass) 6-7 — Marianopolis Prep
South Teams Notable Players:
Daryl McCoy (Hartford Public, Hartford CT) 6-7 — Drexel
Anthony Ireland (Crosby HS, CT) 5-10 — Undecided
Steven Samuels (Windsor HS, Windsor CT) 6-4 — Undecided
The Public School game featured some of the best non-prep products from Massachusetts and Connecticut. Primarily consisting of players searching for Division II and lower Division I scholarships, this game was close to the end. While these games were closed to Division I college coaches, Division II and III coaches were out in full force. Coaches from these schools (and more) were repped: Adelphi, American International College, St. Anslem’s College, Brandeis University, Williams College and Springfield College. While the game was close it was the play of Windsor HS (CT) Steven Samuels (19 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds) that made the difference for the South team who won 111-99. Samuels is currently receiving interest from Fresno State and UC-Santa Barbara. Leading the North team was little-known big man Ike Azotam (Boston, MA) with 14 points and 6 rebounds.
Between the Public School game and the Prep School game, a 3-point contest and an emphatic dunk competition ensued…
3-Point Winner: Scott Tavares-Taylor (5-10, Tilton School — U-Mass Lowell)
Dunk Winner: Kyle Casey (6-7, Brimmer and May — Harvard)
**On a side note the dunk contest was one of the most impressive displays of athleticism I have seen on a high school level. Casey, who won the dunk contest proceeded to in his first dunk jump over 6-9 big man Ben Crenca. With his second dunk he pulled 10 kids ages 8 and under from the stands and swiftly leaped them to catch an alley-oop. This kids athleticism is outstanding… Harvard must be extremely happy!**
2nd Game- Prep School Game East vs. West
After the fun-filled contests the second, and somewhat more publicized, the prep school game took place. While it didn’t receive the quite the same attention, the talent was actually more impressive. The game boasted the likes of Jamaal Coombs-McDaniel (UConn — pictured), Brian Fitzpatrick (UPenn), Kyle Casey (Harvard) and a bunch of undecided mid-major level players like South Kent’s Rashad Wright, Worcester Academy’s Austin Carroll and Winchendon Prep’s Preye Preboye.
With this game having some bigger players and more athletic ballers, it was more exciting than the previous game. Surprisingly though, it was the play of less heralded Sam Martin (Yale) and Marianopolis Prep’s Chris Flores (Undecided) who won the game for Team West. Despite a second half onslaught by Team East’s Jamaal Coombs-McDaniel and the solid play of Brian Fitzpatrick, Team West played a more team oriented game and came out with the win 107-100. Martin finished with 21 points and 5 assists for the West, while Coombs-McDaniel led the East with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists.
Overall the Basketbull LLC put together a great event for local high school seniors. Giving these kids (especially the ones still without scholarships) some exposure and providing a fun atmosphere was well appreciated by those in attendance. For more info on Basketbull visit Basketbull.org.