Weekend Preview

The grassroots travel season kicks off in earnest this weekend. Tournaments all over the country are going on, but the Nike EYBL in Hampton is the event that has the most star power.

EYBL – Hampton

For the second year in a row, Nike is running their EYBL travel league. While some of the teams are different from last season, the format is the same. There are three big tournaments during the spring, and then the Peach Jam in July to decide who is the EYBL champion.

As is to be expected, the EYBL is absolutely loaded with top talent. Just like last year, look for the Drew Gooden Soldiers to be loaded and potentially setting the pace. The Soldiers are scheduled to have high level 2012 prospect Brandon Ashley on the roster, but it is the 2013 crop that is what really excites people. Aaron Gordon, Jabari Bird, Tyrel Robinson, and Tyree Robinson are all expected to suit up for the Soldiers forming a high powered roster.

While the Soldiers come loaded from the West Coast, from the Midwest it is Spiece Indy Heat that should open up a lot of eyes. Indy Heat has re-loaded in a big way this year. Headlining the 2012 crop is D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Smith-Rivera is a five-star guard expected to make a huge difference on the roster, but he won't be alone. Super 2014 prospect Trey Lyles will also be on the team as will 2013 scorer Bryson Scott. On top of that a 2012 frontcourt of A.J. Hammons, DeJuan Marrero, and Raphael Davis make Indy Heat one of the most talented teams in the country.

A new team that could make a big impression on the EYBL is the Texas Titans. The Titans will be young for sure, but the 2013 duo of Matt Jones and Julius Randle is as good as it gets. Randle is the No. 1 player in the class and a re-incarnation of former Michigan standout Chris Webber. Jones is a slick shooting wing who is capable of really lighting up the scoreboard.

Another new addition to the league worth keeping a close eye on is CIA Bounce Canada. The team from north of the border has a great group ready to make an impression. Power forward Anthony Bennett is primed for a huge summer as is Louisville commitment Negus Webster-Chan. Add in massive center Sim Bhullar, and this group will make an impact in their first year.

While those are just some of the teams, many others will be worth watching. The Albany City Rocks feature top 10 prospect Dajuan Coleman. The CP3 All-Stars bring Rodney Purvis to the EYBL along with a host of talented teammates, Houston Hoops will be loaded as always with Duke pledge Rasheed Sulaimon and arguably the top point guard in the 2012 class, L.J. Rose.

Both analyst Evan Daniels and Brian Snow will be in attendance for the event and will have daily contributions from the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton, Virginia.

Fullcourt Press Easter Classic

Tournament director Dinos Trigonis seems to be confused on what weekend Easter falls on this year, but none the less he is running a very solid event in Sin City for some of the better teams on the West Coast.

Headlining the event is Dream Vision featuring five-star small forward Shabazz Muhammad. Muhammad is one of the premier players in the country and is one of the leaders of a high powered squad. Also with Shabazz is his brother Rashad. Rashad is a versatile guard who can play all over the floor.

Along with Muhammad, another five-star talent will be there in Grant Jerrett. Jerrett is a commitment to the University of Arizona and one of the most skilled post prospects in the country. He is joined on the team by fellow Arizona pledge Eric Cooper who can play multiple positions on the perimeter.

Also making an appearance at the event will be Compton Magic. The Magic could have five-star Baylor pledge Isaiah Austin with them. Austin played with Compton last year during the spring, and very well could do the same this season. Along with Austin, the Magic will feature Gabe York. York is an athletic scoring machine who is one of the top players on the West Coast.

Analyst Josh Gershon will be at the event posting daily updates.

IndyBall Shootout

In the city of Indianapolis a local tournament featuring some high level talent is on the agenda. Indiana Elite is hosting the event, and the program features one of the top 17 and under teams in the country.

Indiana Elite has five commitments to the Indiana Hoosiers on the roster. The top ranked of which is Hanner Perea, and he is joined by Kevin Ferrell, Ron Patterson, Peter Jurkin, and now Jeremy Hollowell who switched over from the Eric Gordon All-Stars.

Also on the loaded Indiana Elite squad is recent New Mexico de-commitment Abdel Nader who had a monster senior season and is now squarely on the high-major radar.

Along with Indiana Elite, Eric Gordon will be there. The Eric Gordon squad is led at the 17 and under level by Ronnie Johnson and Nick Osborne. Both prospects were considered mid-major prospects heading into their junior season, but now both are firmly on the radar of numerous high-major programs.

While the 17 and under squad is strong, it is the younger classes where the Gordon program is loaded. The 16 and under squad features Devin Davis and Collin Hartman who are both committed to Indiana as well as Basil Smotherman who is going to Purdue. Also Zak Irvin and V.J. Beachem are on the team and have multiple high-major offers.

On the 15 and under team it is Jaquan Lyle that is garnering attention. Lyle is considered one of the best 2014 guards in the country, and will get a chance to shine in this event.

Finally there is also D3 Pride. They were dealt a tough blow when R.J. Hunter suffered a foot injury, but still they have the services of Gary Harris. The five-star wing is one of the top prospects in the Midwest, and someone who is on the wish list of nearly every program in the region.

Knoxvegas Heat

Another event taking place this weekend is the Knoxvegas Heat Invitational.

The event, which is held in Knoxville (Tenn.) has a good mix of teams from the south, including teams from Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and North Carolina.

Among the top teams in the event are the Wisconsin Playground Warriors, Queen City Prophets, Dorian's Pride, Team United, Florida Assault, Florida Rams, World Wide Renegades, Atlanta Express and Garner Road.

The Playground Warriors are led by North Carolina commit J.P. Tokoto and talented 2013 prospect Bronson Koenig. Atlanta Express has top 50 big man Robert Carter, as well as highly touted sophomore Chris Walker. Garner Road has a number of talented prospects, including T.J. Warren, Anton Gill and Isaiah Hicks.

Games tip off at 6:00 on Friday and run through 3:00 on Sunday.

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