Day 1 began with a wave. 160 campers were in attendance for tryouts. Yes, that is the highest enrollment at this camp ever, which means that each camper will work that much harder to catch the eyes of coaches before the evening draft. The night would begin with the traditional Five-Star evening stations, a camper’s chance to leave a strong impression with their coaches. With the majority of the campers being 8th, 9th and 10th graders, this camp is filled with young talent. The intensity was easily recognizable as campers were clearly determined and motivated not be lost in the shuffle.
Here are some of the images from the evening:
Day 2 was all about the games. With 16 teams in the camp, each camper was going to get his fair share of game action and have a chance to play against other campers in the NY/NJ area. The competition was intense from the opening whistle of the opening game. The best game of the opening round of play in the NCAA division was between Syracuse and Rutgers. The Rutgers team featured an up-tempo attack led by Jhadir Charles and Mehmed Terzic who combined for a solid 30 points. The Syracuse team fought hard behind great efforts from combo guard, Mark Scott and all-around talent, Justin Galea (a possible call-up to the NBA division). In the end, after a tight game throughout, Syracuse would pull away and win by a final score of 53-52 earning the first victory of camp.
The best game of the 2nd set (NBA division) was between Coach Vincent’s Pacers and Coach Storm’s Lakers. The game was close throughout. Never was a team up by more than five points. Led by Justin Polesuk (Randolph HS), the Lakers kept pace with the more athletic Pacers who was led by their own playmaking guard Jain Aaditya (Edgemont HS). Despite the strong play from Mario Gonzalez (Puerto Rico), the Pacers had no answer for Brendan Allen (LUHI) who controlled the point with grace and precision using his uncanny passing ability. But he came up with the big shot when he had to with the game tied at two and the clock going all the way down to the final buzzer. His shot would help the Pacers win the game 39-37 and get off to a 1-0 start to the camp season.
In the early evening match-ups, we had Louisville take on North Carolina. Louisville would win the game by a final score of 62-53. Despite several attempts to get even, North Carolina was never able to make the comeback. Louisville was led by Ryan Lee (Terrill) and Bryan Adon (Rich Hill). This guard-wing combination sliced and diced their way around North Carolina’s defense. North Carolina would fight hard throughout the game behind a strong backcourt that has Matthew Degaetano and Zack Foley. Zack has been a camper since he started walking and now his game is really taking shape. The game would also feature a lot of solid defense, which is a sign that these two teams will be competing late in the playoffs.
In the final game of the night, the Bulls faced off against the Nets. Having spoken to many of the campers, this one everyone expected to be a good one. It was highly anticipated as we had some of the top draft picks squaring off after solid performances earlier in the day. Throw it the right to remain undefeated and we had the making of a great game. But the game did not materialize as the Bulls came out strong, took a commanding lead early and never looked back. The favorites to win the camp championship, the Bulls featured a high-powered attack led by Deonte Rowland (Glassboro HS), Kevin Buron (Garfield HS), and Vincent Conn (Rye County Day). This dynamic trio of guards put relentless pressure on the Nets from the jump and turned it into a rout. Coach Guest’s team will respond, especially since a leader in Tyler Sullivan (Ridgewoord HS, NJ) was born. Tyler stepped up to lead his team in defeat to the tune of 23 points and asserted himself as a vocal leader. First round pick, Brian Haggerty (St. Francis Prep) will have better days ahead as he looks to live up to his draft grade.
Day 3 marked the beginning of what everyone already knew heading into the morning was going to be a competitive opening round in the playoffs. The game of the day was between Timberwolves and Spurs.
The player of the game was without question, Duane Causwell (Northview) who finished with 10 Pts, 10 Reb, and 8 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks for a terrific all-around performance.
While the NCAA started their playoff games, the NBA had its 3on3 tournament. In the end, the trio that came out on top was Andrew Fisher (Glassboro), Dumani George (Eagle Academy), and Losini Kamara (LUHI). The trio was simply lights out from the outside. And just when opponents started to step out to protect against the outside shots, they took it to the floor and attacked the rim with authority. They would win the tournament in the championship round by a final score of 3-0 by ousting 24 other teams. Congratulations to our winners.
In the marquee evening match-ups, Syracuse, the top seed put their undefeated record (4-0) on the line as they hosted Kansas in the NCAA semifinals while the top seeded Bulls hosted the Pacers in NBA semifinals. To no one’s surprise, the games were tight throughout. In the NCAA, Syracuse came out firing behind the hot shooting of Philip Georgio and Ryan Holder. Studs, Justin Galea and Mark Scott would use that momentum and cruised to a solid win over a strong Kansas team. In the NBA, for the first time all camp long, the Bulls went into the half with a 6-point deficit. But they were able to tie the game heading into the fourth quarter behind the leadership of Will Desatulle. Then Losini Kamara started to take over in the fourth. But even then, the Pacers would refuse to lose the game. Cameron Jordan led the way, trading baskets with the powerful Bulls team. But Vincent Conn would ice the game late with clutch free throws to seal the deal and send the Bulls with a final score of 44-38. The gym was certainly rocking during these games as the teams played for the right to compete in the Championship round for the coveted Five Star camp championship.
The finals match-up was between Syracuse and Indiana. In a close game, Syracuse who looked like it could have lost its first game of the camp, found a way to pull out a tough, hard-fought victory against a relentless Indiana squad. Carter McNeal paced Indiana with a near double-double (10pts, 7asts) and really was what kept Indiana in the game throughout. But despite his tremendous performance, it was not enough to help his team win the championship. Congratulations to Coach Max Huang (Binghamton) and Syracuse.
In the NBA, the heavily favored Bulls took their own undefeated record and put it up against Timberwolves. The Timberwolves smelled upset and played with intentions of crashing the Bulls’ party. Led by swingman, Duane Causwell and point guard, Canaan Donawa, the Timberwolves would lead for most of the game. Then came the forth and that’s when the Bulls turned it up, took the lead and never relinquished it again. Losini Kamara made a strong case for Camp MOP with game-breaking plays that had the crowd oohing and ahhing. In the end, the Bulls would win the championship by a final score of 70-65. Congratulations to Coach Jordan Sims (Riverdale) and the Bulls.