8 from IS8
Playaz and Sports U. set themselves apart from the rest
The door was wide open at the Variety Boys & Girls club of Queens in Long Island City, giving the cramped but (thankfully) air conditioned gym a welcoming feeling to those in attendance.
That is, welcoming for those who didn’t come in hoping to beat the Sports U. 17U or Playaz Basketball Club 16U teams on Sunday afternoon in IS8 action. Both clubs were dominant, with Sports U. winning a pair of games sandwiching the Playaz’ rout of Mountain Ball.
Sports U. 76 Panthers 69
Playaz 90 Mountain Ball 64
Sports U. 92 Brooklyn Rens (White) 52
And here are eight notes from Sunday afternoon’s IS8 games at Variety:
1. Sports U. freshman Karl Towns was not with the team on Sunday due to a prior commitment. It turns out that Towns is also on the St. Joseph Metuchen golf team and was hitting the links with them in a tournament this weekend. In basketball, Towns is getting looks from Rutgers, Michigan State, Baylor, Villanova, St. John’s and more.
2. The IS8 motto is “bring your game, not your name,” and that is exactly what Playaz guard Marques Townes did. He poured 33 points on Mountain Ball, to accompany his much ballyhooed teammate Isaiah Briscoe. Briscoe, however, wasn’t so bad himself. He finished with 16.
3. If you weren’t convinced that Townes and Briscoe are two of the more talented players in the tournament, one play should have eliminated all doubt. Coming off a defensive rebound against Mountain Ball, Briscoe took a couple dribbles, stopped at the opposite three-point line and threw a 3/4-court alley-oop to Townes, who dunked with two hands. The most remarkable part? Both turned around, ready to play defense, and acted like the play was nothing out of the ordinary.
4. While that alley-oop was amazing, the play of the afternoon came in the Sports U./Panthers game. With the outcome still in doubt coming down the stretch, Sports U. forward Dijon Allen-Jordan drove through the lane and threw down a one-handed, and-one dunk over three Panthers players. That made the score 68-62, and even though Allen-Jordan would miss the free throw, that dunk put the momentum on Sports. U’s side, and they were never threatened again.
5. Though the Playaz clearly had superior talent to Mountain Ball, Mountain Ball was not helped by only dressing five players. They trailed by 17 at the half, but cut the deficit to 13 just a couple minutes into the third quarter. After that though, the Playaz wore them down and eventually embarrassed them, resulting in a mercy rule finish.
6. I caught up with Sports U. big man Quadri Moore between games. He was frustrated by a sub-par performance in his team’s win over the Panthers, even though he hit a key three at the end of the third quarter to stifle a run. “I have to establish myself more down low,” he said. “Then I can step out and hit that three.” Moore also told me that Georgetown and Kansas came to watch him play during the high school season, but he is not ready to rank his preferences just yet.
7. Deshawn Richmond was the most impressive player for the Panthers. He scored 19 points in his team’s seven-point loss to Sports U., and kept them in the game throughout. Who knows — if Richmond can get some help, the Panthers might be able to surprise some people as league play continues.
8. Sports U. director of player personnel Eric Harrield was not happy that his 17U team is not in our Power Rankings, and after Sunday, he might have good reason. He argues that Sports U. has only gotten better from last year, when they finished No. 10, and that they have been snubbed. My response was simple: keep winning your games, and you will be rewarded.
Odds and Ends: Sports U. guard Spencer Weisz is looking at Brown, Yale, Princeton and Penn, and says he will place a high value on academics when he makes his choice. If that’s true, that’s not a bad list...Give credit to Mountain Ball and the Brooklyn Rens for battling the entire way. If you’re getting blown out against a much more talented team, it’s easy to give up. That didn’t happen...Sports U. guard Wade Baldwin was the youngest player on his team on Sunday, at just 15. But that didn’t stop him from scoring 16 points in his team’s win over the Panthers...The Playaz won’t be able to rest any time soon. They’ve played every weekend since the end of March and will keep playing each weekend through the end of May.