Hoop Group Fall Jam Fest: Part A

On Saturday and Sunday, Hoop Group's Fall Jamfest brought many of the area's top teams to Hoop Group Headquarters in Neptune, New Jersey. In the first part of our coverage of the event, Hawk Hill Hardwood looks at some of the weekend's standout performers.

The weekend's top individual match-up paired Tyler Roberson's NJ Roadrunners against Noah Vonleh's Mass Rivals squad.

Roberson is one of the better small forward prospects nationally in the class of 2013, and the 6'7 forward didn't do anything over the weekend to hurt his reputation. Hawk Hill Hardwood caught Roberson three times over the two days and came away extremely impressed. Roberson has the ability to play both inside and out. On the perimeter, he handles the ball well for his size and is able to create off the dribble.

Going against Noah Vonleh, Roberson showed his versatility. On the defensive end, he blocked and altered shots. Despite a lanky frame, Roberson battles on the boards and is comfortable handling the ball on the break. Instead of instantly looking to outlet the ball, Roberson pushes it upcourt himself, and looks comfortable doing so. In his head-to-head matchup against Vonleh, Tyler knocked down jumpers from the perimeter, scored on the offensive glass, and threw down with authority on the break. In Sunday morning's performance against Mass Rivals, there wasn't anything that Roberson did not do.

Saint Joseph's was one of the first schools to offer the Roselle Catholic (NJ) standout. Due to performances like this weekend's, Tyler Roberson's recruitment is really only in the inception stages. Small forwards with his shooting touch, athleticism, length, and creativity on the offensive end are in great demand.

While the Roadrunners got the win against Mass Rivals, and Roberson probably got the best of their head-to-head battle, Noah Vonleh showed why he is one of the most talked about, intriguing, and impressive prospects in the class of 2014. Already 6'8 and 215, Vonleh, only a sophomore, plays with maturity well beyond his years. While Roberson is more comfortable on the perimeter, Vonleh appeared slightly more comfortable down low. That being said, he was more than an adequate ball-handler and also showed an ability to create for himself.

In Sunday morning's opening minutes, Vonleh had one of the weekend's highlight-reel moments when he snatched a shot attempt out of mid-air and raced down the court. Due to his strength and athleticism, Vonleh has the look of an elite shot-blocker. His blocks during this contest, and throughout the weekend, weren't just blocks. They were so emphatic and powerful that teams appeared afraid taking the ball to the basket against him. While most of his points against the Roadrunners came around, or above, the rim, he also stroked a smooth 16-foot jumper. After watching him over the weekend, there really is no doubt in my mind that Vonleh is one of the elite players nationally in the class of 2014.

On Saturday afternoon, Hawk Hill Hardwood caught the Keystone Blazers in action and got a look at Philadelphia's Keith Washington. Washington, a 6'1 point guard, played high school ball at Frankford and will be taking a prep year this year at Mont Clare Academy. Washington plays the game with some flash and possesses impressive court vision. Although the Blazers fell to the Raritan Roundballers, Washington put on an impressive performance. Quick in the open court, Washington pushes the ball with his head up and seems equally content distributing as he is scoring the ball.

While he struggled a bit with his perimeter shot in this game, he did knock down a jumper from three. Keith's strength is getting into the lane and either finishing himself or dishing to the open man. Although he plays fast and has some flash to his game, Keith did a nice job in the contest limiting his turnovers. Tennessee Tech, Chicago State, Colgate, Rice, Maryland Eastern Shore, Texas Southern, and Harvard are among the schools currently peeking around his recruitment.

In 16u action at Hoop Group Headquarters, both Team Philly and DC Assault had a number of players that stood out. One in particular was DC Assault guard Byron Hawkins. Hawkins is a 6 foot sophomore point guard from Olney, Maryland who showed excellent body control around the rim. Against Team Philly, Hawkins got to the rim with ease, and used his athleticism to finish around much taller defenders. Hawkins has the look of a player that will garner his fair share of high-major offers.

Speaking of talented underclassmen, one of the most surprising players of the weekend was Tyus Battle of the NJ Demons. Battle, a 6'3 point guard, is only an 8th grader at Woodrow Wilson (NJ). The 6'3 guard plays with wisdom, savvy, and a skill set well beyond his years. Playing against primarily high school seniors, Battle more than held his own. His is a name to remember over the coming years.

Part B of Hawk Hill Hardwood's coverage will go up tomorrow. In it, we take a look at the 17u Jersey Shore Warriors team.

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