Atlanta and Hampton set to host major events; No. 1 vs. No. 2 on the horizon in Baltimore
Last weekend, the masses were treated to loaded events all over the country, in places like Kansas and Dallas. This weekend, the circuit somehow has even more to offer; in addition to the Spiece Run-N-Slam Classic, teams across the country will fly their best squads to the Southern Jam Fest in Hampton, Va., the Nike Baltimore Elite Invitational and the Wallace Prather Memorial Classic in Atlanta.
Nike Baltimore Elite Invitational
Five-Star No. 1 Team Takeover is fresh off an undefeated weekend in Dallas, and looking to continue their dominant play. 2012 standout SF Jerami Grant (son of NBA forward Harvey Grant, nephew of NBA All-Star Horace Grant) has been the catalyst for Takeover's strong play this summer with excellent defense and a knack for being able to get to the basket. Anchoring Team Takeover in the paint is 2013 man-child Beejay Anya, a 6-foot-8, 265 pound PF that is a major reason opposing teams, including those in the Top 25, have had an issue scoring inside against the DMV crew.
With three Five-Star rated players, the second-ranked Houston Defenders come into the tournament poised to take a shot at the title and the No. 1 spot. Twins Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison make up one of the best backcourts in the country. Add another Five-Star rated player—6-9, 280-pound C Shaquille Cleare—into the mix and you get arguably the best starting five in the tournament.
Look for Five-Star ranked teams No. 8 New England Playaz and No. 12 New Jersey Playaz to also make some noise on the 17U side.
In the 16U bracket, host No. 12 Nike Baltimore Elite looks to win its own event, building off of their recent tournament victory at Big Shots Baltimore this past weekend. Other top teams in the 16U division include No. 11 Playaz Basketball Club and Team Takeover, ranked sixth in the country.
Southern Jam Fest (Hampton, Va.)
Moving down the coast from Baltimore, even more Five-Star Top 25 teams will do battle, particularly in the 16U division. There, No. 1 Garner Road headlines a field that includes No. 4 Team Final, No. 15 Boo Williams and No. 25 D.C. Assault.
Favored to win the 16U bracket, No. 1 Garner Road comes into Jam Fest looking to solidify their perch. Leading Garner into this weekend is 2013 PF Isaiah Hicks, a flat-out athlete who makes a living above the rim. Silky-smooth lefty Anton Gill can also load up a scoreboard with his athletic drives to the cup, as well as his spot-up shooting from deep.
D.C. Assault is sending multiple teams to Virginia, with their top 16U and 17U teams having a chance to go far in their brackets. Set to make an impact in the backcourt for Assault's 17U is 2013 PG Nate Britt, a lefty floor general. Boo Williams' 17U team will pose a major threat as will No. 19 Team Loaded.
Wallace Prather Memorial Classic (Atlanta)
Taking place on 20 courts throughout the Atlanta area, the Wallace Prather Memorial Classic will have scouts and coaches driving all over the place trying to catch a glimpse at some Top 25 teams in both 16U and 17U brackets, including both Atlanta Celtics teams (17U/No. 5 & 16U/No.10), as well as the 17th-ranked 16U Atlanta Knicks.
The Atlanta Celtics 17U team will be led by Five-Star player blogger Shaq Goodwin, who will be back with the C's after moonlighting with No. 3 Memphis YOMCA last week in Dallas. He gives the Celtics his trademark blue-collar work ethic and immovable presence on the low block. The 17U team has another Five-Star rated player in 2013 PG Solomon Poole, a flat-out scorer with a high-level basketball IQ who recently made the permanent move up to play with the 17Us.
Another top team in the Atlanta area, the Atlanta Knicks hope to move up in the 16U Top 25 with a good showing this weekend. They fared well in the Next Level Spring Showcase, losing in the final against Houston Hoops 16U in overtime, qualifying for Nike Peach Jam in the process.