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Recruiting | ABCD Camp | Message Board

By Shawn Siegel

July 20th, 2006


2006 Playaz Ball


The Playaz Ball wrapped up in New York City this past Saturday.  Due to some technical issues, this article was supposed to go on-line Monday morning, but has been pushed back until this afternoon. 




After sitting in some unnecessary traffic on the way to Basketball City, I barely caught the last 20 seconds of the morning semifinals.  Juice All-Stars barely hung on to a close win over GC Ballers, as Malcolm Grant (6-1, 2007, Villanova) made a block at the buzzer.  The GC Ballers supposedly had been up by as many as 24 points due to the great play of Johnny Flynn (5-11, 2007, #29, Syracuse), but let their lead slip away, and Flynn couldn't convert in the closing possessions.


The other semifinal between Team Odom and Playaz Gold (the host team) was equally as close.  I walked in with Team Odom up a point with about a minute to go.  Odom PG Malik Boothe (5-9, 2007) seemed to clearly walk despite a no-call (brining out some anger in the crowd), and was then picked by Playaz point man Anthony Nelson (6-1, 2007).  Nelson fed the ball to Corey Raji (6-6, 2007, #133 for an uncontested lay up, which was followed by a short baseline jumper from John Banes (6-6, 2006) that gave Odom back the lead with just 7 seconds to go.  On in the inbounds from half-court, a complete defensive breakdown from Team Odom led to another open lay up from Raji, who cut down the middle of the lane without opposition after a pass from Nelson.


16U Finals


Playaz Red walked away with the win in the 16U championship over the Junior Celtics.  Playaz was clearly the more talented team, though a series of poor turnovers and missed layups kept the game closer than it should have been.  For Playaz, St Anthony's point guard Travon Woodall (6-1, 2008) was impressive.  Woodall is a quick player that is skilled on both offense and defense.  He showed off a nice pull-up jumper and quick hands guarding the opposition.  Woodall was the lone junior that would go on to get some decent playing time in the 17U finals as well.


Jamal Wilson (6-5, 2008), a wing player out of Philadelphia, flashed some high-major potential, but he still lacks polish and probably should be more effective than he currently is.  Perhaps it was a lack of focus, but Wilson was struggling to finish inside shots that he should have.  Regardless, Wilson has a solid body and is skilled enough to develop into a serious player.


Finally of note was guard Mike Rosario (6-1, 2008), who is a teammate of Woodall's at St Anthony's in New Jersey.  Rosario shoots the ball in the awkward style of Shawn Marion, but still manages to put the ball in the hoop, hitting a few threes and another jumper or two.  Rosario isn't quite the prospect of Woodall, but he's also a name to look out for.


For the losing Celtics, a few players showed some D1 talent.  Center Andrew McCarthy (6-7, 2008) showed some serious potential.  McCarthy is a long and lanky lefty, who runs the floor well for a big man, has a decent post game, and a better-looking jump shot.  McCarthy's biggest weakness is lack of muscle and strength, as he was occasionally outmuscled for rebounds and position in the paint.  On offense, despite the lack of muscle, McCarthy used good footwork and savvy to get to the foul-line often. 


The Celtic's other big man, Jake O'Brien (6-8, 2008) is less polished and less skilled than McCarthy, but played better and better as the game went on.    At first, he looked simply unskilled and out of place, but then he started hitting shots from the baseline and turn around jumpers, pulled in some rebounds, and proved that he belonged.  O'Brien still has a lot of work to do, particularly getting quicker and doing a better job of contesting shots on defense, but the most important thing for his development might simply be adding confidence.


Finally, wing-man Jamal Turner (6-3, 2008) stands out with good athleticism and a variety of skills.  Turner runs the wing well, can handle, has a decent looking shot, and is active on defense.  Despite all this, Turner just wasn't really being productive, and it was the play of the big men and the point guard that kept the Boston-based team in the game.  On offense, Turner often seemed to dribble around a bit to much and needs to do a better job of just passing it around if he's not planning on being assertive and going to the hoop.  He needs to develop a killer-instinct on offense and the ability to beat people one on one.


17U Finals


The final game was somewhat of a downer as Playaz Gold was simply too talented for Juice All-Stars. For losing Juice, who is filled with D1 prospects, no one played exceptionally well.


Nick Leon (5-11, 2006), who will attend prep school next year, was decent but not great considering his added age.  Leon's a point guard in high school, but in this game, he seemed to be a better scorer than a leader with the ball. He's got a nice-looking shot and can hit threes, though he seemed to tire after the game's first 10 minutes.  Some of his decisions were lacking as well.


Malcolm Grant, who came up big in their semifinals win, had a few moments but was unspectacular on the whole.  His stroke from downtown looks sweet, and he had a nice three and the foul later in the game.  Still, Grant is more of a complimentary player, and not the type pf player who can take over a game.


Melquan Bolding (6-4, 2008) was one of the only juniors to play in the game and deserves credit for holding his own.  Apparently Bolding showed up late to the games this morning and spent the beginning of the game on the bench.  Bolding is a wing-player that does a good job running the floor and finishing, though he did blow one wide open lay up.  It was simply that type of afternoon for Juice.  Bolding has interest from a host of Big East schools, though he's still more of a potential guy than a finished product.


Big man Brandon Walters (6-8, 2007) started the game well, but tailed off like most of his Juice teammates.  Walters has a good solid body, and looks athletic, but he still is never as productive as he should be.  One problem is that his footwork in the paint is a bit awkward, and on rebounds, he doesn't seem to jump very high and smaller players can fight with him for boards.  Walter has got some high-major interest, but he seems likely to end up at a mid-major school when all is said and done.


For the winning team, Chris Smith (6-5, 2007) has proven to me in recent weeks that he's the man.  Smith has the foot-speed to blow by players on offense, particularly when going baseline, but also has a good enough jumper that teams have to respect his shot.  Because of his good shot, opponents have to respect his good shot fakes, which he uses to blow by defenders.  Smith is nowhere to be seen in the national rankings, but after watching him here and at the Reebok Classic East, this is a Top 100 player with serious upside.


Jordan Costner (6-6, 2007), who was forced to play more of an inside role when I saw him last, was playing on the wings instead today.  Costner fell in love with his three-point shot today, and though he did hit one or two, he has no business spending so much time on the perimeter.  Right now Costner is stuck in tweener land, as he can do some damage on the wing and some on the inside, but doesn't really have a position.


Perhaps the player with the most potential on Playaz is Rashad Bishop (6-5, 2007).  Bishop is the type of player that will either turn into a complete stud in college or will be a complete bust, as he has such great tools, but hasn't put it all together.  About a handful of times a game, Bishop shows off a huge throw-down dunk, or a great drive to the basket, a good blocked-shot, or some other highlight play.  Other times, it seems like he's not trying.  I can't tell if he is one of those kids that just does everything with such east that it looks effortlessly, or he really doesn't try hard.  I expect Bishop (who will play with Smith at St Benedict's next year) to continue to improve into a star during the coming year.


Center Ryan Bacon (6-8, 2007), who often gets overlooked on this stacked roster, had a solid day on the defensive end.  Bacon is probably right between being a mid-major and high-major prospect at this point.  He had at least three blocks during the game, and did a good job grabbing a few rebounds, but he was mostly invisible on offense.




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