On paper the GC Ballers looked like the strongest team in the field at the 2005 Charlie Weber Fall Hoop Classic. Up close and personal, there wasn't a team in the event that could match their intensity and physical style of play. Rivals.com was there with the coverage.
GC Ballers 79 Team Amare 64
It was not a big surprise when the GC Ballers coasted to the championship game relatively unchallenged to meet up with a young, but talented Team Amare from Florida. The kids from the Sunshine State hung tough for a while in the first half, but Paul Harris and crew were just too much in the end.
Future Syracuse backcourt partners, 6-foot-4 225 lbs. Harris and 5-foot-10 junior PG Johnny Flynn, led the way for the Ballers, scoring 21 points each. The Ballers stretched their lead to 20 points after the break, and Harris and Flynn sat for a long spell in the third quarter before finishing strong. Gotta give Team Amare credit for hanging tough and cutting into the lead while Harris was on the bench, but they struggled all day trying to keep the Ballers from penetrating the lane at will.
It's not easy finding guys to take a charge from a player the size of Paul Harris, especially when he's moving at locomotive speed.
6-foot-3 junior Dominique Jones had 14 points to lead Team Amare. Kathleen HS teammates 6-foot-1 junior Idell Bell and talented 6-foot sophomore Miguel Paul had 13 and 12 points respectively in the loss.
One of the smallest players, 5-foot-10 Johnny Flynn from the GC Ballers, had the loudest dunk of the weekend when he freaked the funk on a pair of Team Amare defenders on the break, easily winning the crowd appreciation award. Hadn't seen that kind of athleticism from a little man since T.J. Ford, as a rising junior, put one down on 7-foot Josh Moore. Flynn and Ford have many similarities to their game, though Flynn may be a better shooter at the same stage. Both are tremendously quick players with excellent end to end speed, deceptively strong, and athletic enough to finish in traffic despite their size. He could be special at Syracuse in a couple of years.
6-foot-8 D.J. Wright from TAPS in Toronto, CN played well inside for the Ballers, as did 6-foot-8 Tyrell Lynch. Lynch, in particular, was impressive with his much improved game away from the basket as well. Although he is still inconsistent in terms of effort, he shows the ability to put the ball on the floor and knock down the 15-17 footer with regularity.
The Ballers put 105 points on the board in the semi-finals against the Student Athlete Broncos. Harris had 33 points in that game, and ultra-athletic, 6-foot-6 junior forward Lamonte Ulmer from Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts chipped in 20 points.
6-foot-5 190 lbs. junior G/F Jermaine Peterson from Boys and Girls HS in Brooklyn, NY is a physical specimen with big-time hops. He put up 26 points in the Broncos' loss to the GC Ballers, and was able to score several baskets with uber-defender Harris draped all over him. A name to remember, for sure.
Saturday belonged to Tywon Lawson, Chris Wright, and Triple Threat. In their morning game Lawson arrived late, and it was Wright who did the damage dropping 19 in a 27 point win over the Virginia Renegades. Lawson played in the second half and scored 11 as he found his comfort zone with his new teammates. In the second game, the future Tar Heel had 36 in the first half! On Sunday, Lawson did not play due to an injury to his jaw and Wright, who was also injured, played sparingly in a playoff loss. For one day, at least, we got to see, perhaps, the best prep backcourt in the country, and it was quite entertaining.
Triple Threat's Chris Braswell is a 6-foot-8 rising sophomore PF with skills beyond his years. More importantly though, Braswell understands rebounding, and always seems to be in great position to gobble up balls coming off the rim. As his body matures and he adds strength, he will be able to dominate games, but right now he's more of a complimentary player on this team. His move to DeMatha this year should help make the Stags the favorite again in the DC Catholic League.
It was the New York Skyriders who ended the party for Triple Threat on Sunday. 6-foot-9 future Connecticut Husky Curtis Kelly had 12 points before being ejected from the game, but it was 6-foot-6+ junior Afam Muojeke from Genesis One School in Mississippi who made the big defensive plays and led the team with 16 points in the win. Muojeke is an undersized PF who plays with a ton of energy at both ends of the floor.
6-foot-6 junior WF Darnell Dodson from Eleanor Roosevelt HS in Greenbelt, MD had 18 points to lead his Greenbelt Raiders team to a win in the American Division semi-finals. Dodson is a long multi-talented wing player who reminds some of a young Carmelo Anthony. Dodson is one of many outstanding high major junior prospects in the DC-Baltimore corridor, though he doesn't yet have the national reputation that some of his peers enjoy.
Many thanks to tournament organizer Charlie Weber who, once again, kept things running on time and put on a classy, talent-rich event.