With 29 teams in the 3rd grade division alone, 11 of which are ranked nationally by Coast 2 Coast Prep, this year’s Ballin On The Beach event should be the most competitive and most highly anticipated tournament of the 2023 season. In terms of national rankings, the following 2023 teams are ranked: BNU (#1); Global United (#2); NYBA Elite (#4); Righteous Elite (#5); Buckeye Prep Hoopsters (#7); Texas United (#13); Decatur Blazers (#14); Charging Elite (#20); Team Tookie (#21); D5 Global (#22) & Vegas Elite (#24).

Because of the high profile of this tournament, we thought it would be “FUN” to dive into some of the key matchups and to make a few predictions. In addition, we hope to shed some light on a few roster changes/upgrades that teams are making in advance of the event and spotlight a few of the top players and teams.

Starting in Pool A, #1 ranked BNU sits alone as the only ranked team of the 4 and is poised to receive a 1st round bye in bracket play if they handle their business. Other than the Chicago, IL-based Blueprint Hoops, we don’t know anything about the other 2 teams in the pool (WGS & Bad Boys). Blueprint Hoops’ top 2 guys are Timothy Bryant and Amir Stevens, both of whom can go. What we do know is that Coach Montae Garth will be rolling into Ft. Lauderdale with a star-studded cast that includes multiple nationally ranked players such as: Aydin GarthChase WilliamsErian LoveTeran JenningsIsaiah Shands, Chris Downing Jr., and Jace Vanderbilt.

Pool B is headlined by #2 ranked Global United who will also arrive in Ft. Lauderdale with a roster full of studs. Nationally ranked players on that squad include: Trey ClemensKhalil BrooksDexter Turner Jr.Tre BrownKing Tari, Nas McCoy & Mason Alexander. Global United should finish first in this pool pretty easily, but the 2nd spot may be up for grabs. D5 Global with Penny KingMaddox Perry, Bobby Peebles & Cam Owens are good, and we understand that CSA Elite (aka Team United-Greensboro) has some talent as well and is led by Kason Hall. We’re predicting Global United and D5 will advance to Gold Bracket play.

Although they will not be playing with stud Cole Adams, the #5th ranked Righteous Elite is the clear favorite to finish first in Pool C. Righteous Elite will be formidable and has more than enough firepower to get it done. Specifically, Righteous Elite’s front court is formidable with Jibi Djibril and Xavier Hartfield. Other studs include: Tre Speight and Jayce Wilson. If that wasn’t enough, it’s our understanding that Carter Suchowesky will be running with this squad as well. We don’t have much information about D-Up Basketball, T3 Elite or the Florida-based Born Stars, but we have heard that D-Up is a scrappy bunch of kids who will bring serious defensive pressure and get up and down the court. According to the coach, D-Up is led by Taj Davis. We also understand that the Stars are the #1 ranked team in Florida and have beaten most of the Florida teams they have played this year. We’re going to give the edge to D-Up to advance to Gold Bracket play as the second-place team.

Pool D is arguably the toughest in the division, as it has two top 10 ranked teams in #4 NYBA Elite and #7 Buckeye Prep Hoopsters. Because these two powerhouses won’t meet in pool play and will likely win their pool games, 1st place will come down to point differential and points given up. Not only will NYBA Elite have their two nationally ranked studs in Cavalli Goldthreate and Keylon Thomas, but we also understand they have picked Cole Adams for the weekend. Consequently, NYBA Elite is an early favorite to make a run to the Final 4. Buckeye Prep has two nationally ranked players of their own in Jordan Taylor and David Johnson III, but the remaining starters (Tony Jones Jr., Will Harding and Alec Moore) can all lead the team in scoring in any given game, making Buckeye Prep a tough out. Unfortunately, the Hoopsters will be without their starting point guard due to baseball. For argument’s sake, we predict NYBA Elite will claim the top spot in the pool and Buckeye Prep should finish second. No disrespect to DGL Allen or Grass Roots Academy, we simply don’t have much information about those teams.

Pool E has #13 Texas United and #21 Team Tookie as the two favorites, as well as Garden State Bounce and SWFL. Although we don’t have much information about Texas United, we understand they have picked up Wi Shockem Elite’s Baby J for the tournament. Team Tookie is a scrappy bunch of kids and is powered by guards Preston Hamby and Elijah Mathieu. Also, we believe Ohio’s Lakye Berry will be running with the team this weekend. Because the likely 2 top teams in the pool don’t play each, it’s really a toss-up for who finishes 1st and 2nd. We predict that Team Tookie will get the top spot and Texas United will finish second due point differential.

Pool F has the #14 Decatur Blazers, #24 Vegas Elite, Team Arsenal, and Team Fly FLA.  Someone we respect told us to “watch out for Vegas Elite,” so we’re going to give them the nod over Decatur, especially since we heard their best player, Tre Brown will be running with Global United this weekend. Unfortunately, we don’t have any information about the other 2 teams.

Pool G is the only pool with 5 teams and features #20 ranked Charging Elite and Team United. Pool G will send 3 teams to Gold Bracket play. We’re most familiar with Charging Elite, who are coming off a big win at the T3TV Battle Royale event a few weeks ago. We’re guessing here, but we would not be surprised if Team United (Charlotte) and Grindhouse Hoops finish 2nd and 3rd, respectively behind Charging Elite.

Ballin On the Beach Bracketology

1st Round: Game #1: Team United vs Vegas Elite; Game #2: NYBA Elite vs D5 Global; Game #3: Team Tookie vs D-Up Basketball; Game #4: Global United vs Grindhouse Hoops; Game #5: Decatur Blazers vs Texas United; Game #6: Righteous Elite vs Blueprint Hoops; Game #7: Charging Elite vs Buckeye Prep Hoopsters.

Elite Eight: Game #8; BNU vs Vegas Elite; Game #9: NYBA Elite vs Team Tookie; Game #10: Global United vs Decatur Blazers; Game #11: Righteous Elite vs Buckeye Prep Hoopsters

[Thoughts: BNU is simply too loaded with talent to get much resistance from Vegas Elite; NYBA will out talent Texas United as well; Global United is as loaded as any team in the tournament, and they have Trey Clemens and no one else does! Just too much talent for Team Tookie; It’s really a toss-up between Righteous Elite and the Buckeye Prep Hoopsters. Righteous Elite has excellent bigs, solid guard play and execute at a high level, while Buckeye Prep has elite guard play, bring a lot of pressure, play great help-side defense, has balanced scoring and are well coached.  No disrespect to Righteous Elite, I just have to go with the home team lol!]

Final Four:  Game #12; BNU vs NYBA Elite; Game #13: Global United vs Buckeye Prep Hoopsters

[Thoughts: With the addition of Cole Adams to the roster, NYBA can more than hang with BNU. Our only concern are possible chemistry issues with the addition of Adams, while BNU has more experience with their current roster. We’re going to give the nod to BNU in this one; the second semi-final game will be a rematch from earlier in the year when Global United beat Buckeye Prep. Although Buckeye Prep played Global to within 8 points in the 1st half, they simply ran out of gas in the second half and Global won it going away. Global to the ship!]

Championship: Game #14: BNU vs Global United

[Thoughts: This is the matchup this division has been waiting for the entire season and is almost too close to call! Both teams are structured the same with the same approach and are loaded with nationally ranked players. The winner may come down to coaching and strategy. BNU may have a little more depth, but Global has Trey Clemens. We’re going to give the edge to BNU in this one, but it can go either way. Get your popcorn people!]

Winner: BNU