PF Justin Burrell, Long Island Lightning – Burrell was named the tournament's MVP in the 17U group after leading his team to the title. He had 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 blocks in the championship game against Team Breakdown and provided his team a lift when they trailed 23-5 to start the game. Burrell, a St. John's commit, is a phenomenal athlete and was the best player on the court in nearly every game throughtout the tournament. He outshined every post player he went up against including J.J. Hickson (Scout.com #10 ranked power forward) and A.J. Stewart (#26 PF).
Burrell (pictured right) was a flat out monster in dunking the ball all week, but there were two things that stood out to me. He did a great job attacking the boards with both hands and grabbing the ball at the top of his jump. And defensively, he was great in getting his chest square to defend his man with the ball.
Burrell, 6-foot-9 and 225 pounds, is not currently listed in the top 100 list of players in the country, but without a doubt he deserves to be. He is a great pick-up by the Red Storm and should continue to be fun to watch.
SF Alvin Mitchell, Team Breakdown – I want to be the president of the ‘Alvin Mitchell Fan Club'. He was phenomenal all week and is one of the most underrated prospects in the country. Mitchell can hit the outside jumpshot, pull up for a 15-footer, create for himself and his teammates, drive to the basket, finish in transition, and dunk with great athleticism. At 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds he is a natural small forward. He had at least three games in which he scored 15 or more points in the first half and set the tone for his team.
This was only the second tournament he has played with Team Breakdown, but he was consistent all week concluding with the championship game in which he scored a game-high 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting while making six 3-pointers. He is an uncommitted prospect that is certain to get a great deal of attention in the coming weeks. Every time Mitchell takes the court I expect more people to join the newly founded fan club.
PG Edwin Rios, Team Breakdown – Rios, a Miami commit, hit 10-of-11 shots (8 3-pointers) in the quarterfinals today finishing with 29 points. He made his last nine shots after missing a baseline jumper. He was 1-for-10 in the semifinal game with 4 points. In the championship game he was 3-for-11 from the floor scoring 11 points with 10 assists and 4 rebounds. Rios announced today that he is transferring from Chaminade-Madonna Prep (FL) and his likely destination is the Hargrave Military Academy (VA).
PG Corey Fisher, Long Island Lightning – Fisher, a Villanova commit, scored when his team needed him the most today. In the semi-final game he took the big shots to lead his team past the upset-minded Jacksonville Jazz. Fisher (pictured right) has good rotation on his shot and is a competitor. In the championship game he struggled to knock down shots (3-of-16), but did hit a number of key free-throws late in the game and finished with 15 points.
PG Rico Pickett, SE Elite – Pickett, an Alabama commit, was very smooth in his game today, but unfortunately his 17 points weren't enough as his team couldn't get past the quarterfinals. He is a strong finisher who can shoot the ball.
SG Nick Murphy, Long Island Lightning – Murphy scored 17 points to lead the Lightning in their semi-final game. He is an athletic 6-foot-4 slasher who gets to the rim and will elevate regardless of who stands in his way. He will be at Harmony Prep in Cincinnati this fall.
SG Rayford Shipman, Florida Rams – It's worth noting every time, but Shipman's 4.6 GPA on a 4.0 scale is phenomenal. His skills on the basketball are also worth noting as he gets to the rim with ease and gets his hands on a lot of loose balls as well. In the semi-final loss to Team Breakdown he scored a team-high 22 points.
PF Eloy Vargas, Team Breakdown – Vargas was named the MVP of the 16U tournament as Team Breakdown defeating The Ambassadors 76-54 behind a 15-point effort by Vargas.
SG Dante Anderson, Jacksonville Lee Bulls – Anderson is often the best player on the court for the Bulls. He also is not afraid to guard the opposing team's best player either. Today he was up to the challenge of going head-to-head against 2007 SG Chris Allen, a Michigan State commit. Anderson scored 15 points in a losing effort as Allen had 17.
SG Kenny Boynton, Breakdown South – Boynton would have won the 16U MVP had he played the final two games in the tournament, but he was saved for the 17U tournament. He starts at both positions. He showed no signs of being afraid of backing down from competition all week, which should not surprise anyone that he saved his highest scoring 17U game in the championship game when he scored 24 points on 7-of-15 shooting.
SF Jonathan Hall had a big game against the Florida Rams as he scored 24 points with 14 rebounds and 4 assists prompting one college coach to call him a "man amongst boys"…C Alex Rivas, Team Breakdown, hit a game-winning shot at the buzzer to give his squad a 68-67 over the Rams…PF J.J. Hickson scored 21 points in the quarterfinals before being overmatched by Justin Burrell in the semifinals…Burrell got the crowd excited all week long with his thunderous dunks, but none more than his one-handed dunk over PF Trevor Mbakwe—one of the best leapers in the tournament…Speaking of dunks SG Chris Allen dunked on the entire Lee Bulls squad with under a minute to go in a tight game and was fouled on the play…SG Cordell Pope had 11 points today in the quarterfinals while teammate PG Courtney Fortson added 19…PG Darius Gabriel continued to distribute the ball well and play solid defense, but needs to gain confidence in a mid-range jumper to be effective at the next level.
There were a total of 50 Division I schools represented throughout the week.
The following head coaches were in attendance today: Frank Haith (Miami) and Leonard Hamilton (Florida State).
Assistant coaches were represented from the following schools: Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati, Villanova, Tennessee, Kentucky, Clemson, Virginia Tech, LSU, Charlotte, Minnesota, Jacksonville, Stetson, St.John's, Gardner-Webb, FAU, and Bethune-Cookman.
Mitchell, a 3.0 student at Cardinal Gibbons HS in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is looking to find a school that fits with his up-tempo style of play.
There were a lot of good shooters in the tournament this week and it is important for players to continue to stay confident in their shots regardless of how the game is going. It will be important in the upcoming weeks for players to showcase their skills and not back down when things are not going well. Corey Fisher did an excellent job of this in the championship game and it paid off as he hit a momentum-changing 3-pointer late in the game after struggling all evening.
"I knew there wasn't anyone here that could hang with me and I played with a lot of confidence. It was a great win for our team after going deep in a lot of tournaments. There is no team out there that we can't beat once we get it going."
-- Justin Burrell, on his personal performance in the tournament as well as his team's performance.
Christopher Stock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org