Riverside Captures Title
Prep school-bound Brooklyn Robeson lead guard Gary Ervin led Riverside with 22 points and showed continued improvement as more of a true floor general. Ervin's going to Fitchburg (MA) Notre Dame in the fall.
Brooklyn wing Gary Forbes tallied 14 points in the Church's well-balanced attack. Teaneck's Willie Irick scored 12. Prep school-bound shooter Quincy Douby added nine, Bishop Loughlin's Kojo Mensah had eight, and Long Islander Walter Murray pitched in six.
But the real story of the weekend up here at Fordham was a Sunshine State uprising – in, of all places, the Bronx.
Team Breakdown, coach Kenny Gillian's boys out of Fort Lauderdale, knocked off the Tim Thomas Playaz Gold in pool play and then stunned Sebastian Telfair and his Juice All-Stars in Sunday morning's quarterfinals.
Coach John Adkins' Tallahassee Wildcats, meanwhile, ripped through Pool C, blowing out New Jersey Rap, Bray Center and Willie Howie. They beat the New York Ravens in the quarters before losing in the semis on a buzzer-beating layup to their in-state rivals from Breakdown.
Renaldo Balkman had a bust-out weekend for the Wildcats. The 6-7 WF from Bradenton (FL) Pendleton School – IMG's Basketball Academy – has made clear and rather drastic improvement over the last six months or so. He's a high-major wing – period – and way better than his national rep.
Rising senior T.J. Bannister and rising junior Darius Washington – from Jacksonville (FL) Arlington Country Day and Orlando (FL) Edgewater, respectively – were super in the backcourt. Washington made 30-plus-point games a habit this weekend.
Sought-after SEC post prospect Chris Richard – a rising senior from Lakeland (FL) Kathleen – was great after arriving Saturday morning following late-week stops at Auburn and Alabama camps. He was unstoppable on the boards, he blocked shots, and he gave offensive firepower here and there.
"Both these teams showed that Florida really does have good basketball players," said Washington, the terrific sophomore guard out of the Magic Kingdom.
Breakdown, too. The Fort Lauderdale Dillard duo of Jimmy Tobias and Joe McCray was awesome. Both guards made huge threes all weekend long – and took the ball to the basket with a vengeance.
Dwon Youmans, Bannister's school teammate in Jacksonville, played his hard-nosed style off the wing. Combo forward Jerron McCiskill – likely headed for prep school after not qualifying for Georgia Southern – was his usual bouncy and active self.
"We're as good as any other state," Adkins said of Florida's role as an up-and-coming hoops hotbed. "I feel like people should know that already."
No question they do now.
Michael Kruse writes for Basketball America and BasketballAmerica.com.