- Adam Finkelstein
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NEW LONDON, Conn. -- The first Memorial Day Invitational welcomed a small but selective field featuring a variety of top programs from the northeast with New England, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Baltimore all well represented. Ultimately, the Connecticut Basketball Club reigned supreme, capturing both the U16 and U17 crowns.
(Middletown, Conn./St. Thomas More)
2012, C, 6-10, 275 pounds | Team: Connecticut Basketball Club
It's becoming clear that Drummond's development isn't going to follow that of a prototypical big man. Always one to be infatuated with the perimeter, his insistence on handling the ball is now starting to yield some positive results as he was particularly impressive handling and passing the ball in the middle of the floor this weekend, often pushing the ball out to start the break after pulling in a defensive rebound or forcing a turnover. While he may not fancy himself as a true center, he did a nice job of finding a balance and still asserting himself in the paint, where he is absolutely unstoppable when able to catch the ball within 5 feet of the rim. He still lacks a consistent go-to move with his back to the basket, but he is attacking the rim through contact much more assertively.
Kris Dunn (New London, Conn./New London High School)
2012, G, 6-3, 180 pounds | Team: Connecticut Basketball Club
Dunn is easy to like because he knows how to win, impacts the game in a variety of ways, and flat out plays hard. He makes plays on both ends of the floor by forcing turnovers and getting on the defensive glass and then being an absolute blur in the open floor thanks to a lethal combination of speed and quickness. He has improved by leaps and bounds in the last year and is still only beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. While he's primarily a north-to-south player right now he has the frame and touch on his shot eventually to add a strong body and consistent jumper to his already dangerous arsenal.
Jaren Sina (Lake Hopatcong, N.J./Gill St. Bernard's)
2013, PG, 6-1, 175 pounds | Team: Hoop Heaven Heat Elite
There may not be a more debated guy in the Northeast … but that may be what makes him so good. People love to question his quickness and athleticism but for every whisper the chip on his shoulder just gets that much bigger and he gets that much better as a result. His killer instinct is second to none. He backs down from no one and plays the game with a noticeable swagger but still has the poise and presence to make terrific decisions with the ball. He has every shot in the book, can score it as well as distribute it, and is as efficient a pick-and-roll guard as you will find.
Kaleb Tarczewski (Claremont, N.H./St. Mark's)
2012, C, 7-0, 230 pounds | Team: New England Playaz
His spring has been a microcosm of the last two years as his development has been both quick and steady, but for a 10-minute spurt on Saturday he showed what he is capable of when putting everything together. He worked high-low angles, ducked into deep post position, and showed an unstoppable jump hook with a high release. Most importantly, he played with a fire and determination to impact each possession by challenging shots defensively, cleaning up the offensive glass for tip dunks, and running for slams in transition. His next fundamental lesson needs to be the art of kicking and reposting when he's pushed off his sweet spots. He also must become a more consistently dominant shot blocker and defensive rebounder to take his game to yet another level.
Noah Vonleh (Georgetown, Mass./Haverhill)
2013, SF, 6-7, 190 pounds | Team: Mass Rivals
It's hard to believe a player of his build is just 15 years old but ultimately that's what makes him so special since he is already incredibly long and powerful while only just beginning to grow into his body. He showed flashes of brilliance this weekend while also having his most consistently productive tournament of the spring. He was more assertive on both ends of the floor, challenging shots defensively, creating with his dribble in the open floor, and using his jab step to open up driving lanes and 3-point shots.
Chazz Patterson (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic)
2012, SG, 6-3, 165 | Team: Team Philly
Patterson did a nice job of letting the game come to him this weekend but seized the opportunity to make his mark whenever the chance presented itself. Whether it was slashing down the middle of a crowded lane for a one-handed dunk or knocking down four 3s in a game, Patterson stood out with his versatility scoring the ball from the perimeter, even showing a solid pull-up game and willingness to mix it up in the paint if necessary.
Daiquan Walker (Philadelphia/Constitution)
2012, PG, 6-1, 165 | Team: Players Teaching Players
Walker is a playmaking lead guard who balances his attacking nature with a poised court demeanor. He plays with his head up in the open floor and won't hesitate to throw it ahead but does his best damage with his bounce. He is a very effective draw-and-kick guard but plenty capable of getting his own offense, either by creating space in the mid-range area or getting all the way to the bucket.
Jared Terrell (Weymouth, Mass./Weymouth)
2013, SG, 6-2, 180 | Team: Expressions Elite
He was a man among boys in the U16 field as his combination of sheer power and athleticism was too much for any one defender to handle. He had no reason to be anything but a straight-line driver as he went right through contact to finish at the rim when pressured or pulled up for short mid-range jumpers when he caught his man backpedaling. The result was consecutive 25-plus point games in the semis and finals.
Dana Raysor (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick)
2012, SG, 6-3, 180 Team: New Jersey Elite
Raysor got hot with his jumper on Saturday and rattled off nine straight points on two separate occasions with a trio of long balls. A good-sized wing with a solid frame and soft touch, Raysor not only was consistent in catch-and-shoot situations but also willingly attacked closeouts and stepped back from 12-15 feet.
Brandon Taylor (Tabernacle, Pa./Trenton Catholic)
2012, PF, 6-8, 235 | Team: Team Philly
A stretch forward with a silky smooth release on his 3-point shot, Taylor is a classic pick-and-pop player who is already well schooled in that action. His size and high release point allow him to get his shot off without much separation. His low post game is still a work in progress, but he has made definite strides in the last year and has a chance to be a major mismatch problem down the road.
Players to watch
Dominic Hoffman (Gladstone, N.J./Gill St. Bernard's)
2012, PF, 6-7, 215 | Team: Hoop Heaven Heat Elite
He's unique in that he's a big man who can facilitate for scoring guards with his passing ability, and that's the key component to an incredibly efficient Hoop Heaven Heat Elite team. Hoffman has a high basketball IQ and feel for the game to match. He sees the court, passes instinctively, and has all the makings of a real steal for Bucknell.
Kamall Richards (Pocono Mountain, N.J./Pocono Mountain East)
2013, F, 6-5, 190 | Team: New Jersey Elite
The future looks bright for this rising junior. He has a wealth of tools being a southpaw with good size, a strong body, and solid athleticism. He's more of a combo forward now, but he can already put it on the deck, shoot off the dribble, and make open 3s in rhythm. If he can prove he can defend the perimeter and continue to polish those offensive skills he has a chance in the next two years.
Amdy Fall (Bronx, N.Y./Nia Prep)
2012, PF, 6-7, 190, Raising Champions
The Class of 2012 is lacking true big men in the northeast region so Fall will be a welcome addition with word that he is heading for a prep year at Nia after graduating from Wings Academy. Fall makes his biggest impact on the defensive end with his shot-blocking but has some developing complementary tools with signs of a jump hook over his left shoulder, some added cut to his upper body, and a willingness to play through contact inside.
Andre Walker (Clarksburg, Md./Clarksburg)
2013, C, 6-10, 195 | Team: Mid-Atlantic Select
This youngster is undeniably raw but when you see a 6-10 15-year-old you have to take a closer look. In Walker's case we found someone who could catch well enough, had good feet, soft touch around the rim, and already the ability to step out to 15 feet and make shots. He'll need to develop the strength to play through contact and some type of low post game, but he's got plenty of change in the meter to start.
• The Drummond/Dunn tandem may be the engine that makes CBC go, but it also has a mid-major tandem at the power forward spot with T.J. Parker-Rivera (Bridgeport, Conn./St. Joseph's) and Ethan O'Day (Mansfield, Conn./Northfield Mount Hermon).
• If you're an Ivy League school that is looking to add a little more dribble penetration to your attack look no further than Team Philly's Maurice Watson (Philadelphia/Boys Latin), but word to the wise -- don't wait too long or you could find yourself battling mid-majors.
• Mass Rivals' Alec Brennan (Weston, Mass./Milton Academy) is a skilled face-up four-man who shows early signs of being a potential high level recruit down the line thanks to his combination of size and skill.
• Metro Boston's Jesse Chuku (England/Kimball Union) missed the entire year at Kimball Union with a serious illness but has gotten better each weekend this spring and will be a frontcourt player of interest come this July.
• Terry Tarpey (Fairfield, Conn./Fairfield Prep) may be already committed to William & Mary, but he and his Riverside Church team looked more like VCU fans this weekend as they played the role of spoiler by knocking off a series of high-level teams.
• Mid-Atlantic Select has two under the radar swingmen who should both see a steady dose of recruitment this summer. Garland Owens (Rockville, Md./Magruder) is a long and smooth 6-5 swingman, and Nigel Pruitt (Potomac, Md./Bullis) is an explosive 6-7 athlete.
• Jarred Reuter (Rochester, Mass./St. Mark's) is a highly touted freshman who made his spring debut for the New England Playaz this year after missing all of the high school season at St. Mark's with an injury.
• Tyquan Goodlet (Brooklyn/Thomas Jefferson) and Jabari Peters (Brooklyn/Grady) were steady double figure scorers in the New Heights backcourt this weekend. Both are graduating this month as part of the class of 2011 but hoping to head to prep school and repeat to 2012.
• Jimmy Hall (Jersey City, N.J./St. Anthony) didn't explode for any big games this weekend but was a model of efficiency in the middle, hovering around double-double status all four games.
• Alex Furness (Wells, Maine/Cushing Academy) looked the part of a Division I player this weekend. A lanky and long 6-6 guard, Furness is starting to show the strength to play through contact and causes all kinds of match-up problems in the backcourt.
• Malcolm Richardson (Lansdowne, Pa./Pennwood) had one of the best shooting performances of the weekend when he knocked down five 3s en route to 28 points for Players Teaching Players on Saturday.
• Levy Gillespie Jr. (Meriden, Conn./Capital Prep) put down 30 points including six 3-pointers in the U16 final to lead CBC to its second championship.
• Basketbull took the U15 crown with an 80-64 win over Riverside Church.
Adam Finkelstein has been a coach or scout at the high school, college and pro levels. He was an assistant coach in Division I by the age of 24 and also worked as a scout for Marty Blake, the NBA's director of scouting.
Connecticut Basketball Club takes titles in U16, U17 at Memorial Day Invitational.