Spring is here – and despite a weekend where the Final Four was the main attraction, Jimmy Salmon got things started with the Playaz Basketball Spring Fling, which had most of the elite teams in the northeast.
Jordan Fowler, G, Playaz Basketball Club: Strong guard recently qualified, but still intends to head to prep school – most likely St. Benedict's – next year. He sank a pair of free throws to give the Playaz Basketball Club a victory against Cecil Kirk in double overtime. At the very least, Fowler is a mid-major guy.
Kiwan Smith, 6-6 1/2, WF, New Jersey Panthers: New York native will spend another year at Laurinburg next season. He's a big-time athlete who gets most of his points in the open court and on putbacks. Scored 25 against National Christian.
Sean McCurdy, 6-1 ½, PG, New Heights: The St. Anthony's floor leader played out of position all season because of need for the Friars, but he looks right at home running the show for New Heights. Can really shoot the 3-pointer, has good court vision and makes good decisions. Also gets to the basket, but needs to work on finishing better. Don't be surprised to see his name among the elite point guards by the end of the summer.
Ahmad Nivins, 6-8, BF, New Heights: He's still raw, but has a boatload of potential. Has terrific timing on blocking shots and can also put the ball on the floor. Needs to play hard all the time, but he'll get much better with repetitions. Missed the first 10 games this past high school season at St. Anthony's after transferring in.
Jaron Griffin, 6-6, WF, New Jersey All-Stars: Not a well-known name – yet. Strong body who can finish around the bucket and also showed he can hit the 3-pointer. Rebounds extremely well for his size. Scored 18 in a win over New Heights on Friday night.
Craig Austrie, 6-3, G, Stamford X-Press: Good scorer whose shot just wasn't falling on Saturday in a loss to the Metro Hawks (formerly Riverside Church). Austrie is long and a little thin. He's a good ballhandler who tends to settle for the perimeter jumper.
Tiki Mayben, 6-3, PG, Albany City Rocks: The Syracuse-bound point guard will need to get used to playing with a new cast – especially without Dayshawn Wright. Mayben is one of the more underrated floor leaders in the class. Gifted passer who will need to step up his scoring with this group.
Kendric Price, 6-8, F, New England Playaz: Had a rough night on Friday, but came out on fire Saturday against Sonny Hill. Sank the 3-pointer, hit a couple mid-range jumpers and was more active on both ends of the glass than we've ever seen from him. If he continues to show toughness, could be a big-time player.
Ricky Torres, 6-4, WG, New York Ravens: This sharpshooter, one of the best spot-up guys in the class, doesn't get enough credit. He's not the most athletic guy around, but if he's open, you can mark it down. Finished with 24 points – including four trifectas – in a win against Sam Rines. He's got good size, but needs to work on his ballhandling and quickness.
Hashim Bailey, 6-9 ½, C, Playaz Basketball Club: Big body who should make an impact and become a hot commodity. Needs to get in better condition, but he's a big-time rebounder who also has some power moves in the paint.
Kyle McAlarney, 6-1, G, Jersey Shore Warriors: Strong guard exploded for 29 points in a loss to the New Jersey Panthers. Put up big numbers in high school at Moore Catholic (N.Y.) and you can see why – scores from just about everywhere.
Derrick Caracter, 6-8, C, New Jersey Panthers: The agile and versatile big man had an up-and-down performance in pool play. He struggled and finished with just 6 points in a loss to National Christian, but in his defense, he was double-teamed every time he touched the ball.
Kevin Durant, 6-8, F, National Christian: If this kid adds some weight, he could be unstoppable. Even though he gets pushed around in the post and has trouble defending big guys, he is fearless taking it to the basket – and also showed a mid-range jumper and the ability to knock down the trifecta. Long, can handle it and hustles for just about everything.
Jawan Carter, 6-0, PG, Playaz Basketball Club: Showed his quickness and ability to get into the lane and to the basket on Saturday. Hit a huge trifecta and was also fouled on the play to help force overtime against Cecil Kirk. Can score in a variety of ways – and also knows how to get his teammates involved.
Chris De La Rosa, 5-11, PG, New Heights: Here's a name to watch. Smart, savvy floor leader is just a freshman at All Hallows, but you'd never know it. Plays with maturity and could develop into a big-time floor leader.
News & Notes
Playaz junior forward Brandon Costner deserves some credit for showing up Friday night despite leaving early Saturday morning on a flight to Germany for the Albert Schweitzer games. Costner had a quiet game – finishing with 7 points. Costner's teammate in Germany, Tyrell Biggs, was a no-show. … Providence-bound senior Anthony Ivory suited up for his old school, National Christian, in an effort to get into shape. Ivory's current school, Marriott Charter, was forced to shut down its season during the middle of the year after coach Lonnie Brooks was found to have a criminal record and several players were ineligible because they were living out of the area. … Lawrenceville Prep 6-3 junior wing guard Craig Moore knocked down five trifectas in the New Jersey All-Stars' win against New Heights. … Durant injured his leg on Friday night and gave it a try Saturday, but couldn't swing it in the afternoon contest.
Costner's list of coaches that called recently includes Kansas, Indiana, Michigan, Florida, UConn, Seton Hall, UCLA, BC, Providence, North Carolina and N.C. State. … Playaz 6-8 forward J.R. Inman still years for an offer from Maryland, but also likes Rutgers – the most active school in pursuit. Inman said he plans on taking an official visit to College Park sometime in April along with his good friend, Tyrell Biggs. … New York Panthers 6-6 ½, 215-pound junior BF Antonio Pena said that Villanova, Seton Hall and West Virginia all called recently. … Kendric Price is getting the most interest from Providence, BC and URI. He also mentioned Memphis and Florida. … Jonathan Mitchell's latest list reads Duke, UConn, Kansas, Georgia Tech and UNC. … Playaz junior Ryan Ayers, the son of former NBA coach Randy Ayers, is ahead of the game. He's already basically trimmed his list to a half-dozen: Notre Dame, Villanova, Maryland, Stanford, Virginia and North Carolina.