Some of the Bluegrass State's top young basketball talent was on display this past weekend at the Kentucky Basketball Academy as the state AAU tournament drew quite a crowd to Lexington.
Here are a few of the highlights from each age group:
The Louisville Magic completed a dominant weekend by defeating the Shining Stars 79-44 in the championship game. Five-star point guard Quentin Snider, a Louisville commit, showed why he is the highest rated player in the state of Kentucky scoring 15 points in the championship game and making plays for his team throughout the weekend. But it was two-star point guard Chris Cunningham of Henry Clay who ran the show for the Magic, allowing Snider to play off the ball on the offensive end of the floor. Cunningham displayed great court vision as a creative passer and stayed active on defense, forcing turnovers and allowing for easy transition baskets for his team. The Magic played without two-star shooting guard Brandon Hatton of Dixie Heights, and three-star shooting guard Jordan Green of Henry Clay throughout the weekend due to injuries.
The Next Level Retros beat The Ville 62-52 to take home the state title. But the real story was with the absence of one team. The 2015 KY Travelers squad, who participates in the Nike EYBL, played with an altered roster in the under-17 division, giving some of the states top 2015 prospects a chance to go up against older competition. The Travelers were defeated in the quarterfinals of the 2014 elimination round.
The Kentucky Heat defeated Team Manimal 74-61 to take home the state title. The Heat had consistent guard play all weekend from William Olsen of St. Xavier, who dropped 25 points in the championship game. The Heat's Jon Jon Henry of North Oldham, an undersized combo guard, was one of the best defensive stoppers in the building. Henry exhibited the ability to remain poised and make big plays at the end of games when he drove the ball the length of the floor for a contested finish at the rim in the final seconds during the semi-finals.
Although it lost in the finals, Team Manimal played inspired basketball at the state tournament. Team Manimal is sponsored by Denver Nuggets star Kenneth Farried, who accompanied his young team during all of their games this weekend. Team Manimal's Perry Ayers of Bowling Green was one of the top young talents the tournament had to offer. He did not need to attempt a single jump shot, which is a flaw in his game, all weekend as he got to the cup with ease. Ayers is a willing facilitator and has a great motor for a kid just finishing up his freshman year of high school.
Team Manimal knocked off the Hoop Dreams club in the semi-finals in what was a double-overtime thriller. The Hoop Dreams were the favorites in the 2016 field, sporting a team loaded with athletes beyond their age. Carson Williams of Owen County was the best big man in the 2016 class. The 6-foot-5 forward has great athleticism and runs the floor well, beating opposing bigs down the court for several easy dunks in transition. His offensive game is mostly limited to 15 feet to this point, but he rebounds his area and is especially a force on the offensive glass. Keep an eye out for his development as his game and his body continues to mature.
Note: Quentin Goodin is also a member of Hoop Dreams 2016 squad, but the young star was out of action this weekend as he nursed a sore back. Goodin is one the higher regarded freshman in all of high school basketball. The 6-foot-2 point guard hurt his back while preparing for try-outs for the USA Under-16 national team.
Goodin is one player that the state of Kentucky should get to know as he has already obtained offers from "Indiana, Oklahoma State, Tenessee, WKU, and Northern Kentucky, along with interest from Louisville and Kentucky," the Taylor County product told Scout.com on Saturday.
Other players to watch:
Trey Grundy, 2014 Louisville Magic, Henry Clay
Kelan Martin, 2014 Louisville Magic, Ballard
Brent Bach, 2014 Hoop Dreams, Augusta
Chris Hudson, 2014 Hoop Dream, Hazard
Cameron Justice, 2015 KY Travelers, Knott Co Central
Matt Rose, 2015 KY Travelers, Lexington Christian Academy
Michael Stafford, 2015 The Ville, Trinity
Evan Hall, 2015 The Ville, Knott Co Central
Malik Dow, 2016 Hoop Dreams, Ballard
Eli Wright, 2016 WKY Sonics, Apollo
*Includes only players who were involved in 2013 KY State AAU Tournament
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