Day 2 at Ramapo College proved to be good ones. The favorites, the Heat, stormed their way to the top of the standings with two convincing victories. Led by the strong play of 6-6 center Andrew Groll (Byrom Hills, NY) and 6-0 forward Peter Mahotiere (Princeton High, NJ), the HEAT finished the evening with a strong showing in the No-Dribble Tournament where they picked up two more victories. For Peter Mahotiere, that makes 4 games and 4 double-doubles in the books. Leading the way in the No-Dribble Tournament for Coach Sam Guest’s team was Justin Perez, a rising 8th grader from Riviera Prep in Miami whose pinpoint passing skills proved too much for the competition.
Coach Tony Jackson’s Spurs provided much of the drama for the day as they lost their opening game to the Thunder by only one possession. They would then win by one possession in a game that went to overtime against Coach Jason Armstrong’s Sixers. Leading the play was 6-2 forward, David Schechter (West Essex High School, NJ) who worked hard on the glass for rebounds and tough points in the paint. Averaging a double-double, his hustle and determination on the inside makes his team one-to-watch on the third day of camp during the playoffs. Combined with the razzle-dazzle play of Mazi Brickous, a flashy 5’4 lead guard out of Hammond HS, MD, the Sixers have the ingredients to make a strong run in the playoffs.
Other notable players during the day were 5-10 guard Jake Melnick (Staples HS, CT) of the Lakers whom Coach Todd Jamison describes as his “glue guy.” Melnick’s teammate, 6-3 wing Justin Winston (St. Benedicts, NJ,) also held his own after an early promotion to the NBA. At 12 years old, he is the youngest player in the upper league but making an impact with his tough play. His ability to finish against contact makes him a likely candidate for the All-Star Star team, but he has made it clear he wants the team championship more than anything else.
Rounding out the day’s standouts are Brandon Guest (Thomasville Prep, NC) of the Knicks, the Thunder’s R0quan Hopson (Wakefield High School, VA), and Jeff Visoky of the Sixers (Blind Brook High School, NY).
In the NCAA, Kansas (Coach Reggie Johnson) led by diaper dandies Dorian Hardy and Michael Copeland finished the first night with a 2-0 record and quickly became the early favorites to win the championship. Assisting their run to the top were guards Ryan Lee and Kevin Ranaghan who sliced and diced their way through opposing defenses.
Right on their tails are Kentucky (Coach Rashid Najeeullah) led by all-around guard, Shane Simon and lock-down guard, George Davis. Simon is tough as nails and will finish in traffic. Davis is a tremendous defender who frustrates the best guards on the other teams with his intensity and quickness.
The camp is loaded with young talent. The kids may be small in size but they are tremendously skilled, work hard, and are enthusiastic. Commissioner Al Eford Jr. acknowledges that “they hold their energy throughout the day’s games and activities.” The NCAA division has been the strongest one in the NYC-METRO area so far this summer with several players promoted already.
Stay tuned for the playoffs. The ALL-STAR game at the conclusion of Day 3 also has the makings of an exciting one.