Playaz Have A Ball In N.C.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Say it loud. And say it twice. Tim Thomas Playaz. Tim Thomas Playaz. Jimmy Salmon's powerful Paterson, N.J.-based program swept the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions on Sunday afternoon, winning both 17-and-under titles here at the Smith Center.

The Gold team, winners of the National tourney, edged the New Orleans Jazz 88-83 in a Sunday semifinal at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium and then took care of the SoCal All-Stars 76-57 a bit later down on the other end of Tobacco Road.

The Black knocked off the Worldwide Renegades and Baltimore Select 72-59 in the Select bracket.

"We had too many guys for one team," Salmon said during the trophy presentations. "But we tried to do our best to be loyal. That's why we had two teams this year."

But two teams winning hardware at one of the more prestigious tournaments on the summer circuit? Especially after the Gold team's Jersey AAU championship was the only crown so far this year?

"I felt like we could," Salmon said. "We don't try to hide the fact that we want to be competitive."

The Playaz – both of their squads – were just that this weekend. And then some.

Gold star Sean Banks was named the National MVP. The 6-7 SF from Oradell (NJ) Bergen Catholic was terrific throughout the weekend. He had 28 points in the semis against the Jazz – a wide variety of jumpers from the perimeter and drives to the hoop – and wound up averaging 16.2 for the event.

Artie Bowers was the Select MVP for the Black. The 6-3 SG from Newark (NJ) St. Benedict's averaged 15.6 points on the weekend. Jamaul Warren, the 6-3 SG from Holyoke (MA) High, was excellent as well.

"All of our kids played great," Black coach T.J. Gassnola said. "You've got 20 guys here who are in the top 150 in the country. I mean, what are you going to do?"

Take the TOC and make it your own – that's what.

Sunny day for Floridians

Sophomore Taurean Green led the way as the Florida Hoopsters beat big-time Bennettsville (SC) Marlboro County C Ra'Sean Dickey and the South Carolina Ravens in Sunday afternoon's 16-and-under championship game.

The 6-0 PG from Fort Lauderdale (FL) Westminister Academy averaged 18 points a game on the weekend to lead coach Dexter Williams' Orlando-based club.

Not that emerging victorious is anything new for these guys. The Hoopsters won the YBOA 14-and-under national title two years ago, the AAU 15-and-under championship last spring and the 16-and-under state crown this spring in St. Petersburg.

They'll be at the Rumble in the Bronx next month at Fordham and at the 16-and-under AAU nationals in Detroit a couple weeks later. July brings Vegas Big Time 16s.

Notes

Larry Blair, a 6-1 PG/SG from Camden (SC) Military Academy, led the entire tournament in scoring, tallying 132 points in just four games – good for a clip of 33 per. … Brian Butch was No. 2 on the 17-and-under list. The 7-footer from Appleton (WI) West put up 31.7 a game. Wake Forest PG commitment Chris Paul was next at 27.3. Super soph DeMarcus Nelson was No. 4 with 26.7. …

Here's the exhaustive 17 all-tournament team: Butch; Paul; Terrance Roberts, Playaz Gold; Marcus Williams, SCA; Ray Ray Reed, SCA; Jamaul Warren, Playaz Black; Gerald Brown, Baltimore Select; Tyler Smith, Baltimore Select; Stefan Zimmerman, Utah Championship Sports; Daon Merrit, New York Ravens; Raymond Felton, Beach Ball; Tony Douglas, Atlanta Prep Stars; Keith Blanks, DC's Assault; Anthony Harris, Worldwide Renegades; Shaun Livingston, Ft. Sooy No Limit; Wilfred Fameni, Team Richmond; Mohammed Tangara, Georgia Elite; Tyrone Beale, Fairfax Stars; Shane Nichols, East Coast Eagles; Charlie Villanueva, Long Island Panthers; Jason Horton, Team Texas; Blake Adams, Houston Select; Ronnie Brewer, Jackson Panthers; Wesley Washington, Belmont Shore; P.J. Tucker, North Carolina Gaters; Travis Outlaw, Alabama Ice; and Rajon Rondo, Derek Smith All-Stars.

Michael Kruse writes for Basketball America and BasketballAmerica.com.


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