GLENN DALE, MD - The DMVelite Live Period Warm Up – also known as the “One-Day Run” - marked the official beginning of the 2016 travel season for many area teams, and gave them a chance to test themselves in a competitive environment before the first live period.
The April 9-10 event featured a total of 56 14U-17U teams, who each played a pair of games. Here’s a look at some of the action:
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TRANSFER PAYING OFF FOR STANLEY
After transferring from City (Md.) to Millwood (Va.) and running with Team Loaded last summer, 2017 forward Ben Stanley (right) has returned home for his travel ball, joining the new Baltimore United program.
The move south has been beneficial for Stanley, who reclassified from The Class of 2016. He’s added two inches and 10 pounds to his frame, and now checks in at a chiseled 6-foot-7, 210 pounds. He averaged around 9 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game this past season at Millwood.
“I knew [transferring] was going to get me better, so I was willing to make whatever changes,” he said. “I just want to get as much as I can out of this basketball thing. It was the first time I ever stayed more than three weeks without my Mom, so it was an adjustment, but it helped me grow as a man, too. It was a good move.”
The versatile lefty opened his weekend with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in a 64-34 in over Metro All-Stars. He said Robert Morris, Virginia Commonwealth, Nebraska-Omaha, Longwood and East Carolina have all reached out.
“I have a lot of interest; I’m trying to turn them into offers,” Stanley said. “So, I’m always in the gym 24-7. I’ve got an excellent opportunity to get my name out there with this team. I feel like we can make a real big push on the Under Armour circuit.”
On paper, Baltimore United’s inaugural squad definitely has the star power to do so. The 17U Under Armour Association roster also features Jalen Gibbs (North Point), Jayden Saddler (St. Benedict’s), Everett Hammond (St. Vincent Pallotti), Christian Evans (Mount Carmel), Jihar Williams (Friends), Terry Nolan (Mount Carmel), Albert Odero (St. John’s Catholic Prep), Christian Dyches (DeMatha) and Omar Habwe (St. James).
“We haven’t had a full practice where everyone’s been there,” Stanley said, “but I know when we get in the gym together and we start working on it and everybody knows the plays, we’ll be straight. Our chemistry is great out there; we were passing the ball, we were unselfish. We’ll be fine. We’re more than fine.”
JOHNSON MAKES IMPRESSIVE RETURN
Another player who made an impact in his return to the area last weekend was Metro All-Stars 2017 guard Tariq Johnson, who left Parkdale (Md.) for Kent Island (Md.) last summer and went on to earn All-Bayside Conference honors while averaging 19 points per game.
Johnson turned in one of the event’s top performances, going for 28 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 steals in a 55-43 win over Team Hustle DMV. He went 4-of-4 from 3-point range and got to the foul line an event-high 16 times.
“I think I picked it up a lot today,” Johnson said. “I was playing with more energy and more confidence in my shot, and just staying aggressive.”
Johnson said his recruitment has been quiet so far, but if he continues his strong play this spring and summer, he’ll continue to open eyes.
OBINNA CONTINUES ASCENT
Uncommon Bulls 17U big man Ejike Obinna (Virginia Academy 2017) has already established himself as one of the area’s premier post players, but he appears set to take his game up another level.
The 6-foot-10 Obinna’s offensive development was readily apparent on Sunday, as he displayed improved footwork and ball handling. In a 54-44 win over Baltimore United-Black, he caught the ball on the left wing, froze his opponent with a jab step, drove baseline and finished with a two-handed dunk. He finished the day with averages of 7.5 points, 11 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in two games.
“I’m trying to work on playing from outside, like driving the ball more and stuff,” Obinna said. “[I want to] kind of mix it up sometimes and shoot the ball and all that stuff. I think I’m actually getting good at it, but I need that confidence, and I think the more you do it, the more confidence you’re going to play with. I’m not going to force it, but it’s just going to happen because I keep improving on it in game situations.”
Obinna currently holds offers from Clemson, Cincinnati, George Mason, Georgia Tech, Howard, LSU, Miami (Fla.), Rhode Island, Seton Hall, St. Joseph, Penn State, Temple, Virginia Tech and Xavier, but said he hasn’t set a timetable for committing.
“I’m just working hard and just playing basketball,” he said. “I’m not deciding any time soon.”
BLUE DEVILS SHOW METTLE
The new-look D.C. Blue Devils 17U squad played one game in the event, but it proved to be one of the most competitive of the weekend. The Blue Devils rallied to hold off Uncommon Bulls in double overtime behind a game-high 22 points from Wise (Md.) 2017 guard Michael Speight.
“I thought I played good, I could have done better,” Speight said. “As a team we had four assists and 15 turnovers - we could have done a lot better. I mean, it’s our first actual real game, so we’re still learning each other and getting a groove together, but we’ll be alright.”
The Blue Devils Under Armour Association team feature’s Darron Barnes (Wise), Taija Blaylock (Tuscarora VA), LJ Bryan (St. John's), Jared Bynum (Georgetown Prep), JR Connell (National Christian), Stefon Fisher (IDEA), Matt Lewis (Bishop O’Connell), Myles Lewis (Middleburg), David Mishack-Haggler (Middleburg), Cam Norman (Good Counsel) and Lance Tebay (Atlantic Shores).
KNAPP READY FOR BIG STAGE
Team Legacy 17U guard Bryan Knapp has been of the area’s most under the radar stars while putting up big numbers at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville.
Knapp’s offensive skillset was on display as he helped Team Legacy earn a weekend split, combining with Bullis 2018 guard Lincoln Yeutter to form a potent backcourt duo.
“Recruiting-wise everything’s good,” Knapp said. “I’m going out to Dallas next weekend with Team Belief for the Adidas Gauntlet, so there’s some schools out there that will be looking at me. Then we have the Pitt Jam Fest the week after, and I’ll be playing with Legacy for that. So it’s various schools, and we’ll see where it goes.”
Knapp said Lafayette, Colgate, Davidson, Yale have all been in contact.
A RISING STAR: CHANDLER BROOKS
Erick Green Premier Rising Stars guard Chandler Brooks (right) was one of the more intriguing prospects in the 16U group, showcasing a nice blend of size, strength and speed from the perimeter. He finished with a team-high 15 points in a 57-48 win over Uncommon Bulls 16U.
The 6-foot-2 James Wood (Va.) 2018 slasher said he's heard from West Virginia and Miami (Fla.).
“[My strength is] Probably my quickness and ability to get up and down the court and go coast to coast," he said. "My driving ability and finishing."
Brooks said he's trying to improve his perimeter shooting and footwork, and seems primed for a big travel season.
“It helps us a lot to get ready for the showcase teams," he said. "There’s good competition around [the DMV], so that’s pretty good.”
CUFFEY STUFFS STAT SHEET
Glen Burnie 2017 forward Dayvon Cuffey had a busy weekend as he shuffled between both Maryland 3D 17U teams, but consistently found a way to produce.
The 6-foot-4 Cuffey opened with 18 points and 15 rebounds in an 54-44 opening win over Next Level Ballers, and followed it up with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and 9 boards against Metro All-Stars. He was tough for defenders to keep out of the paint due to his strength, and he showcased nice athleticism throughout the weekend.
Cuffey said Division 2 Wilmington (DE) has shown interest, as well as a host of Division 3 programs. He plays primarily in the frontcourt for Glen Burnie, so college coaches are looking to see him play more from the perimeter. As a result, he's focused his attention on improving his ball handling and attacking from the wing.
EDWARDS LEADS HUGE NLB RALLY
One of the weekend’s liveliest contests came on Sunday evening, as Next Level Ballers 17U rallied from 22 points down to beat Metro All-Stars in overtime, 68-64.
Mount Vernon (Va.) 2016 forward TJ Edwards led the rally with 19 points, while Carrington Brox (Hayfield) added 10.
The game was emotional and tense from the beginning, and Next Level quickly found itself battling foul trouble and a huge early deficit.
“[Being down 22] I was thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I need to get my team together, so we can play together as grown men," Edwards said. "Don’t let them distract us, we stay together and play as one team. - NLB Forever.’”
Edwards said the turning point was switching from zone to man in the second half. Edwards came up with one of the game's biggest buckets to force overtime.
“It was like, ‘Decision, decision,’" Edwards recalled. "I had my 3-point shooter [trailing], or I could get to the rack and hope for the foul or finish, and I finished it, Thank God.”
Lake Braddock 2017 guard Andy Ngo had the go-ahead basket in overtime to give Next Level the lead for good.
HABWE CONTINUES PERIMETER GROWTH
St. James (Md.) 2017 wing Omar Habwe made a nice Baltimore United debut, posting 10 points against Metro All-Stars while going 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
The outside shooting is an aspect of Habwe's game he's seeking to display to recruiters. He currently holds offers from Mount St. Mary’s and VMI, as well as interest from Robert Morris, Campbell and Wofford, among others.
“Coaches want to see me play a little bit more poised, handle the rock a little bit more, be comfortable outside and take good shots and knock down the 3 consistently," he said. "I get in the gym and I work on my ball handling and shooting every day. I get a lot of mid-range shots up and I’m working on my 3’s."
Eastern (DC) 2016 guard Izaiah Dickerson (Metro All-Stars 17U) turned in two of the event’s top scoring performances, dropping 23 points against MD 3D II and 24 against Next Level Ballers II to claim the event scoring title with an average of 23.5 points per game. … Javonte Sterling (Bladensburg 2017 guard) dropped 24 points in an impressive 10-of-11 shooting performance against Next Level Ballers II. … Uncommon Bulls 17U guard Jessiya Villa (Martinsburg WV 2017) led the way in his team’s double OT loss to DC Blue Devils, going for 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting. ... Mount Carmel (MD) 2017 guard Terry Nolan recently picked up an offer from Siena, to go along with Delaware, James Madison and Towson. Dayton, VCU, Central Florida, Loyola and Tulsa are also showing interest. “What they want to see is if I can excel at the point guard position and get bigger," Nolan said. "I’ve been working particularly on my ball handling and my jump shot, and setting my teammates up more."
Jalin Abbott, DC Blue Devils 16U (St. Johns 2019 Wing)
Buzz Anthony, Maryland 3D 17U (Archbishop Spalding 2017 Guard)
Milos Apic, Baltimore United-Black 17U (Sandy Spring 2017 Forward)
Trevin Armstrong, Next Level Ballers 17U (West Potomac 2017 Guard)
Darron Barnes, DC Blue Devils 17U (Wise 2017 Wing)
Jalen Barnes, MD D-Fenders 17U (Suitland 2016 Forward)
Shiloh Beale, Team Hustle DMV 17U (St. Charles 2017 Guard)
DaJuan Bellfield, Next Level Ballers 17U (West Potomac 2017 Forward)
Jalen Best-Payton, Team Hustle DMV 17U (Thomas Stone 2017 Guard)
Tim Bing, MD D-Fenders 17U (National Christian 2016 Guard)
Elliot Brown, Baltimore United-Black 17U (CH Flowers 2016 Forward)
Tom Brown, Hoop Hill 17U (Centennial 2016 Forward)
Bryce Butler, Maryland 3D (Gilman 2016 Guard)
JR Connell, DC Blue Devils 17U (National Christian 2017 Forward)
Justin Faison, MD D-Fenders 17U (Gwynn Park 2017 Guard)
Liam Harrington, Hoop Hill 17U (Herndon 2017 Guard)
Adnan Hussein, Bump N Run (National Collegiate 2018 Guard)
Jahlil Jenkins, Uncommon Bulls 17U (Virginia Academy 2017 Guard)
Cooper Macklin, Team Legacy 17U (Field 2017 Guard)
Aaron McCullogh, Maryland D-Fenders 16U (National Collegiate 2018 Guard)
Andy Ngo, Next Level Ballers 17U (Lake Braddock 2017 Guard)
Josh Page, Bump N Run 17U (Clinton Christian 2017 Guard) [BOTTOM]
Jaden Robinson, Maryland 3D 17U (Mount St. Joseph 2017 Guard)
Amin Sanya, National Phenoms 17U (Bladensburg 2017 Guard)
Da’Quan Simmons, MD D-Fenders 17U (Central 2017 Guard)
Jawan Spence, National Phenoms Blue 17U (Duval 2016 Wing)
Kenyon Stone, MD D-Fenders 17U (Duval 2017 Guard)
Marvin Trotman, Uncommon Bulls 17U (Atlantic Shores 2017 Guard)
Connor Van Kirk, Hoop Hill 17U (Yorktown 2017 Guard)
Jihar Williams, Baltimore United-Gold (Friends School 2017 Guard)
PICTURES BY RON BAILEY OF I95BALLERZ.COM