Isaiah Miles at Hoop Group Fall Jamfest

Over the weekend, the Hoop Group Headquarters in Neptune, New Jersey played host to the 2011 Hoop Group Fall Jamfest.

Recent Saint Joseph's signee Isaiah Miles and his Crusader Nation team competed in the camp's Open Division. Hawk Hill Hardwood was in attendance for games both Saturday and Sunday.

Crusader Nation featured primarily players from Milford Mill Academy (MD), where Isaiah Miles will play his senior year of high school ball.

On Saturday afternoon, in their opening-round game, Crusader Nation took on New Jersey's Atlantic Arsenal. Arriving shortly before the tip, Crusader Nation was slow out of the gate. Trailing at the half, Isaiah Miles only had a bucket in the opening half, coming on a score in close. Unofficially, Miles finished the first half with 2 points, 3 rebounds, and his team trailing.

The second half was a completely different story for Miles and his Crusader Nation teammates. After missing his first jumper of the half, Isaiah began to take over, playing with a sense of urgency that was lacking early. After pulling down an offensive rebound in traffic, Isaiah went back up strong and was fouled. Hitting one of two from the line seemed to really get him going. On the next possession, Isaiah took the ball strong to the basket, finishing through traffic, getting fouled, and hitting the free throw.

From there, Isaiah and Crusader Nation were in cruise control. What was once a deficit ballooned into a sizable lead. Miles scored in close through contact on the break, knocked down a 17-footer from the wing, and then took his man into the post, scoring on a turnaround bank shot. At the buzzer, he threw down a powerful one-handed alley-oop, one of the day's highlights, that put the exclamation point on the victory.

After a sluggish start all around, Crusader Nation seized an opening-round win and got a solid 14 points and 7 rebounds out of Miles.

On Sunday morning, Hawk Hill Hardwood watched as Crusader Nation tipped off against a Beacon Prep (GA) team that featured a college-sized frontcourt. Beacon Prep also featured former Saint John's signee Davontay Grace.

Despite a disadvantage size-wise in the frontcourt, Crusader Nation jumped out to a comfortable early lead. In the first half, Isaiah continued his strong play from Saturday. Playing the first 12 minutes of the 16-minute half, Isaiah did most of his damage around the rim, an accomplishment considering the size of Beacon Prep.

In those opening 12 minutes, Isaiah had 11 points and 5 or 6 rebounds. Battling on the offensive glass, he scored his first nine points around the rim. Isaiah pulled down rebounds in traffic and knocked down his and-one free throws. Although he shot 0-3 from three in the opening half, Isaiah again showed off his stroke from the deep wing, knocking down a contested jumper from 17.

Isaiah sat the final four minutes of the first half and the opening four minutes of the second half. As Crusader Nation kept Beacon Prep at bay during the second half, Isaiah subbed in and out of the game. Although he was held scoreless on the second half, he continued to contribute on the glass and on the defensive end.

After knocking off Beacon Prep, Crusader Nation faced off against the NJ Demons in the Open Division finals. Behind more impressive play from Isaiah Miles and Chase Cormier among others, Crusader Nation took the Open Division championship home to Maryland.

In the two games that Hawk Hill Hardwood watched this weekend at the Hoop Group Fall Jamfest, Isaiah Miles demonstrated an ability to score both inside and out. Next year at Saint Joseph's, Isaiah will likely play the role of a face-up forward who can stretch the defense, but also battle on the boards. Behind his strong play, Crusader Nation brought the Open Division title south to Maryland.

Hawk Hill Hardwood Top Stories