Final Day: Next Level

It was an all-New York title game all the way out in Dallas at the Next Level Ballers Tournament - and the championship game wasn't even close. Take a look at which NY team pulled a monumental upset by winning the crown - as well as plenty of news & notes.

With powerhouses like Boo Williams and host Team Texas in the field, it was a shock to see an all-New York championship game. The Gauchos used superior guard play from Edgar Sosa and rising junior Terrell McKenzie to knock off the Metro Hawks.

Sosa gets this writer's vote for tournament MVP. He finished the championship game, a 87-55 rout over the Metro Hawks, with 18 points and was consistently knocking down long range shots, penetrating for layups and also creating shots for his teammates throughout the entire Next Level Ballers Tournament.

The most astonishing thing about the Gauchos title is that it came without big man Curtis Kelly, who was home focusing on his academics.

``I'm surprised," Sosa said. "I didn't even think we'd get out of pool play to be honest."

This team was reminiscent of a few years ago when the Gauchos boasted a trio of backcourt guys in Russell Robinson, Ronald Ramon and Sundiata Gaines.

McKenzie, a 6-foot combo guard at Paramus Catholic (N.J.), led all scorers with 23 points. Darryl Crawford, an underrated rising senior shooting guard at All Hallows, chipped in with 19 points – including a trio of 3-pointers.

The Metro Hawks were led by Jonathan Mitchell throughout much of the tournament, but the undersized power forward wore down and managed just 8 points in the final game. Doneal Mack, who attends Statesville Christian (N.C.), led the Metro Hawks with 16 points.

It was a revenge game for Sosa & Co, who were blown out by the Metro Hawks a couple weeks ago at Boo Williams in the quarterfinals.

``I think we showed how much talent is in New York," Sosa added. "This was for bragging rights. Whoever wins gets to brag until the next time we play."

2006 CHECKLIST

Darrell Arthur, PF, Team Texas: "Slim Shady" got into early foul trouble and was a non-factor in the first half of Team Texas' morning matchup against Brandan Wright, but he came up big in the second half with a flurry of tip-ins and dunks that helped get Team Texas back into the game. He finished with 17 points, and fouled out on his last bucket – a dunk that the refs called him for slapping the backboard – which he picked up a technical.

Bryan Davis, PF, Team Texas: After Arthur was saddled with early foul trouble, it was Davis who picked up the slack – both offensively and on the defensive end. Always known as a big-time rebounder and shot-blocker, he looked for his shot more this tournament than ever before. Finished with 23 points, 8 boards and 4 blocks and did a nice job defending Brandan Wright. Plays extremely hard.

Brandan Wright, BF, Murfreesboro Stars: Not his best effort, but he was more aggressive and ended up making the game-winning shot on a putback as time expired to beat Team Texas. He was off the mark from mid- and long-range, but did some work around the basket and was also strong on the glass.

Jermaine Beal, G, Team Texas: Didn't do much on the offensive end except for distribute the ball, but he's solid and can really defend. He'll end up at a high-major because of his ability to compete and play both backcourt spots.

Ramar Smith, G, The Family: We may have to dub him "Mr. Inconsistency" because one day he's among the best in the country and the next he really struggled. When he's on – as he was at times on Sunday – he's nearly impossible to stop. Put up 40 against Metro Hawks and 30 against Athletes First.

2007 CHECKLIST

Leonard Washington, PF, Louisiana Select: Gary Clark, SG, Tallahassee Wildcats: He was arguably the most impressive player on a talented team. His shot was on the mark in a morning game, and he also battled for rebounds and is lethal in transition. He's going to be, along with Edwin Rios, the most recruited rising junior in the state. Clark 19 points in a loss to Murfreesboro.

Nick Calathes, SG, Team Florida 16's: The younger brother of Pat Calathes, a freshman at St. Joseph's, he's already got an offer from Florida in hand and with good reason. He's one of the most impressive kids in the Class of 2007. Great IQ, a good outside shot, an ability to handle the ball – and most of all, the gift to make teammates better. He had 10 assists in the FIRST HALF of a game in the afternoon.

Chandler Parsons, SG-SF, Team Florida 16's: Calathes isn't the only guy to watch on Team Florida's younger team. Parsons drilled five long balls and looked confident in doing so. He's at his best when spotting up, but he can also put the ball on the floor a bit.

Kalin Lucas, PG, The Family: Poised floor leader who can also score. Think Chris Paul. Put up 28 points and 5 assists in a playoff game on Sunday. Attends Orchard Lake St. Mary's in Detroit and will be a hot name down the road.

Devin Searcy, PF, The Family: Athletic, long frontline guy who blocks shots and runs the floor. Needs to gain bulk and add some post moves and if he does, watch out.

RECRUITING NEWS Leonard Washington's recruitment hasn't begun to heat up yet, but new Tulane coach Dave Dickerson will surely make a run at the Louisiana Select standout. Washington mentioned LSU, UT-Arlington and Georgia Tech. … Brandan Wright's top three haven't changed: Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky. … Wright's teammate, 6-7 Keith Ramsey, said that Western Kentucky was the lone school to visit with him at school thus far. He's getting some interest from Alabama, Tennessee, Marquette, Virginia Tech and Florida State. If the Crimson Tide offer, Ramsey said it would be tough to resist. … Kalin Lucas said that Syracuse, Illinois, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Michigan and Maryland are on his list. … Lucas' teammate on The Family's under-16 team, Devin Searcy, likes Illinois and Michigan State. He also mentioned Florida State and Michigan.

HOT NEWS

Kansas coach Bill Self made an appearance at Team Texas' final game. There weren't as many big-name head coaches who made the trip to Dallas. … Georgia Tech, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Kentucky all had assistant coaches watching the Team Texas-Murfreesboro matchup.


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