For teams seeking the smoke in their first tournament of the season, the Coast 2 Coast Presidents’ Day Palooza did not disappoint! A little over 100 teams descended on the Northern Kentucky area to be part of what turned out to be a very competitive event. Although our coverage centered around the 3rd grade division, we were able to catch some of the action in the older divisions as well, including a couple of 2nd grade games.
As expected, BNU 2032 did pretty much anything they wanted to in the 3rd grade division on their trek to the title game. With that being said, Carolina Elite gave a stacked BNU team all they could handle in the semi-final game, before running out of steam and falling by a score of 54-49. It should be noted that Trey Clemens logged in a monster effort in the loss.
In the other semi-final game, the Hoosier Phenoms jumped out to an early 8 point lead on the Buckeye Prep Hoopsters. Buckeye Prep would eventually cut the lead to 2 points later in the second half, but playing with a short bench and without their leading scorer, the Phenoms would make a final run before punching their ticket to the championship game with a 45-31 win. The Phenoms were led in scoring by Kevin Battle who dropped a game-high 18 points in the win, followed by Camden Day (11) and Kash Tolliver (8). Buckeye Prep was paced by Jordan Taylor who finished with a team-high 11 points, followed by Tony Jones Jr. (9) and Max Ratica (7).
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much drama in the championship game, as BNU jumped out to a big lead early in the opening period (14-4 1st half), before eventually getting a lopsided 42-17 win over the Hoosier Phenoms. In the first half, BNU’s full court press was simply too much for the Phenoms, and basically prevented them from getting into a half court offense. Although BNU would eventually drop into a 1-3-1 zone defense, by then, most of the damage had already been done. As previously note, the BNU roster is loaded with nationally ranked kids, but from we saw and heard, the heavy lifters were Chase Williams, Aydin Garth and Erian Love. As a side note, until BNU matches up with Global United, it’s going to be tough to beat them!
We also caught part of the second half of the 4th grade championship game, where Yung Bullz took down BNU by a score of 60-48. Despite the final score, the game was actually much closer. However, the big story of the game was the dominance of Amon Pickens (5’6″/C/2031/Kansas City, MO), who put up gaudy numbers and grabbed a ton of rebounds. Pickens was big, strong and athletic, and he looked like he was playing at another level relative to his opponents. You heard it here first; this kid has star power written all over him!
Speaking of stars, we pulled up to a great 4th grade quarter-final game between Tre Mann Elite and Young Pro Global, and although we love us some Zander Pughsley, the best player on the court that game was Kael Stock (5’5″/WF/2031/New Orleans, LA). Stock has good length, is skilled, athletic and has a certain smoothness to his game. He also ran the floor well and finished near the rim at a high rate. His upside potential is high, and we look for this kid to be playing college ball down stream. Oh yea, Tre Mann Elite won the game 39-35 before being put out by Terry Holt’s BNU squad in the semi-finals. One final note, that Tre Mann Elite is a good looking, well built team that is also well coached.
One of the best looking young teams we saw all weekend was the 2nd grade D5 Bulliez. Although every player on the court the game we watched was a stud, Brayden Boston (4’7″/SG/2033/Humble, TX) and Joshua Rutledge (4’5″/CG/2033/Moody, AL) caught our eye. Boston has good length, is highly skilled and can score at 3 levels. Because he has been playing up in the class of 2032, he is mature and he has a good feel for the game. We saw him drain a couple of long range jumpers and drive baseline for a nice looking floater. This kid has talent. In terms of Rutledge, he’s a bruiser, who is difficult to stop once he gets down hill. Not surprisingly, D5 went own to defeat Phenoms Elite in the 2nd grade championship game 28-17.
We also saw some promise from guys like Amir Stevens (4’6″/PG/2032/Chicago, IL), Aiden Manns (4’9″/WF/2032/Farmington Hills, MI), Rhett Bradley (4’5″/PG/2032/Big Walnut, OH), David Johnson III (4’7″/WF/2032/Worthington, OH), Max Ratica (4’11″/PF/2032/Cincinnati) and Germaine Moore (5’0″/PG/Chicago, IL). Below is a more extensive list of the standout performers.