Needless to say, what happened in the 2032 division of the Balling on the Beach Tournament this past weekend was nothing less than game changing! We’re not really sure where we should start, so let’s just jump in with the championship game, where the upstart and previously unknown CameronSports Academy (CSA) Elite shocked the “establishment” with a 52-49 upset win over #1 ranked BNU. As you might expect with a championship game, things were nip and tuck for most of the game, which included multiple runs and lead changes. By the time the clock ran to 00, CSA Elite had pulled the upset with a 52-49 shocker.
We all know the BNU story, which includes multiple championships and a roster chucked full of nationally ranked players, but the the CSA Elite story is fresh and intriguing. With only one player on the roster listed among the top 25 kids in the country, CSA rode impressive guard play and a big front court all the way to the title. CSA’s starting 5 includes: Jerimiah Poole (4’11”/PG/2032/Greensboro,NC); Zion Carpenter (4’10”/SG/2032/Salisbury, NC); Aiden Wright (5’3”/WF/2032/Columbia, SC); Carter Hayes (5’4”/PF/2032/Greensboro, NC) and Xavier James (5’4”/C/2032/Wilmington, NC). CSA’s trek to the championship included a 42-39 upset of Global United in pool play, and wins over Team United (56-28), Vegas Elite (56-31) and a 43-37 win over Righteous Elite on Sunday.
From our vantage, the CSA players were big, skilled and played with poise and maturity. We saw virtually no showboating, rather a group of players who played hard, played the game the right way and were determined to shake things up a bit. Speaking of maturity, there was a lot of talk about CSA’s origin, schedule, and the age of their players. Specifically, many wondered out loud, “…where have these kids been?; why haven’t we seen these kids in 3 years? Those kids have to be too old.” Well, we posed those questions to Head Coach James Rivers, and he categorically denied his kids were too old. “It’s terrible to hear,” said Rivers in response to the speculation about his kids. “We love to compete; everybody came to play, we prepped for this tournament for weeks,” continued Rivers.
In terms of the composition of his team, the CSA Elite roster is made up of players from 3 teams (Team United-Greensboro, Midland Playmakers & CSA Elite). There were also questions relative to CSA’s future schedule and to what extent they will compete nationally going forward. From what we understand, although the team may come together for a big tournament or two, there are no plans for a national schedule, as the 3 teams mentioned above will continue to “beat up on each other” locally. Rivers did mention that all three teams may participate in the upcoming nationals individually. Rivers went on to indicate that “we will see who’s too old based on who shows up to the AAU Nationals, because “you can’t cheat with ages there.”
For the record, the semi final game between CSA Elite and Righteous Elite was another thriller, as both teams shared the lead for parts of the game, Obviously, CSA Elite would go on to get the win to advance to the ship. In the elite eight, BNU got by a scrappy Decatur Blazers team (65-53); Global United beat Texas United (62-33); CSA defeated a very tough Vegas Elite squad (55-31) and Righteous Elite got by the Buckeye Prep Hoopsters (48-32). We have a lot of respect for Righteous Elite who has a well-built squad with solid guard play and quality bigs.
Clearly, in terms of stock risers, CSA Elite, Decatur Blazers, Vegas Elite and Texas United were all impressive this past weekend, while making solid cases for upgrades in their national rankings. In a later piece we will talk a little more about “what we learned” from the event. At the end of the day, Balling on the Beach was a great event and we are already looking forward to next year!