Chase for the Chip: Sports U Team IZOD
Sports U Team IZOD has been a major surprise this summer, shooting up the rankings in the past two weeks.
Five-Star Basketball will crown its inaugural Summer National Champion for 17U and 16U this August, and while following the Five-Star Top 25 is a great way to track the contenders, each week we'll take a closer look at one of the top teams in the Chase for the Chip series. This week for the 16Us, it's Sports U Team IZOD, who has used a late-season surge to put them in the running for the Summer National Championship.
Location: Fairfield, N.J.
Current 16U Rank:
Key Wins: Sports U spent a majority of the season flying under the radar, but after taking home the title at the Under Armor Summer Jam in Milwaukee two weekends ago they broke into our Top 25. They also recorded a number of marquee wins in early June at the Rumble in the Bronx where they knocked off No. 18 Playaz Basketball Club (N.J.), No. 8 Team Final and No. 15 L.I. Lightning. More recently they defeated No. 14 Mac Irvin Fire and No. 21 Seattle Rotary en route to winning the Fab 48.
Key Losses: Perhaps their toughest loss came in the finals of the Rumble in the Bronx where they fell to the New York Gauchos in a hotly contested overtime battle.
Standing in the way: Sports U is back on the court this week competing at the Double Pump Best of the Summer tournament in California.
Coach’s Take: “If you talk to anyone about our 16U [team], this is what everyone from college coaches to other programs says, they say they play the game the right way. They’ve got athleticism, but they really have a basketball intellect that is second to none...”--President/General Manager Eddie Bright on the team’s identity.
“It’s not just about basketball. Peter Harvey, the former Attorney General of the state of New Jersey comes in and he does modules with our young men about critical thinking, leadership, how to pick your friends, how to handle yourself when confronted by authority."--Eddie Bright on what his players learn off the court.
"I think it’s just a great program because not only do we teach them how to play basketball, but we try to teach them how to be good young men. We mentor these kids, try to help them get into college. We’re a close group. The reason I do hang out with kids is that it keeps me from getting old too fast...We also teach them ‘Hey, you may not be a professional basketball player, but if you can be a doctor a lawyer, a dentist, they’re pros too.”--Coach/Mentor Darryl Dawkins on Sports U's goals for its players.
What the players are saying: “We just play hard. We go to tournaments with a chip on our shoulder everytime. We feel like we’re not respected. We go to tournaments and we look for the best teams and we want to beat them. That’s what is helping us with our success right now. We want to be the best. We all have a dream of being the best.”-- Josh Brown
Team History: Eddie Bright founded Sports U Team IZOD back in 2006 and in the last five years he has steadily built a top program that after their success this summer will surely. Sports U now fields seven teams (10U-17U). Perhaps their most famous member is former NBA star Darryl Dawkins. Dawkins is often referred to as the “Ambassador of the Program,” but he also actively coaches and mentors the players across all age groups.