- CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Earlier this spring, the Playaz double-dipped and won both the 17 and 16 and under divisions at the Providence Jam Fest. On Sunday, Jim Salmon's crew struck twice as Miles Beatty led the young guys and Corey Stokes and Wayne Ellington proved too much in the older division.
Playaz def. Boo Williams (17 and under) Playaz def. Ga. Stars (16 and under)
SEMIFINALS (17s): Boo Williams def. Philly MJC 16s; Playaz def. D.C. Assault
The Playaz run to the 17 and under championship was highlighted by the continuing emergence of Corey Stokes as one of the elite wings in the class of 2007. Toss in the fact that Wayne Ellington had a dynamite Sunday and the recipe for a championship was brewing.
In the final game against Boo Williams, Stokes paced the Playaz with 18 while Ellington and Gerald Henderson kicked in with 16 and 14, respectively.
Over in the 16 and under bracket, Corey Raji had the big Saturday for the Playaz but it was Miles Beatty (pictured) who carried them on Sunday. He came out smoking in the finale against the Georgia Stars and finished with a game-high 32. Raji scored 21 for the winners.
Wayne Ellington, SG, Playaz: In a one-point semifinal win over D.C. Assault, Ellington netted 21 points on 9-for-15 from the field. On the final day he was playing his best basketball of the event. When it comes to smooth, athletic guards Ellington is right there with the best of them.
Scott Reynolds, SG, Boo Williams: To play as well as he did under the circumstances (he lost a family member Friday night) is fairly remarkable. Reynolds was intent on winning the title and came up just short. However, for three days he was firing 3s, scoring off the bounce in greater numbers than we'd seen before and basically raising his game accordingly.
Marsharee Neely, SG, N.C. Gaters: Without he and Dominique Sutton the Gaters would have been goners. Instead, they made it to the round of 8 where they put up a fine showing against Assault. Neely's inbox is going to fill up quickly after he torched the nets on the grounds at UVa.
Corey Stokes, SG, Playaz: His transformation from high-major to big time elite wing is underway. He's gaining confidence and his stroke is zeroed in. He's taking an active role on a team with a pair of elite wings and making his presence felt. Who knows where he's going to be by the end of the summer but its clear right now that he's one of the best at his position in 2007.
Miles Beatty, PG, Playaz 16: In the games we caught from mid-day on Saturday through the finals, Beatty was smooth. He saved his best for last in the title game when he was red-hot early from deep and it was his touch that allowed the Playaz to get out of the gate quickly as they stayed up on the stars.
Kyle Griffin, PG, Philly MJC 16s: Without Griffin's scoring touch from behind the arc this group of young kids wouldn't have made it to the Final Four of the 17 and under bracket. Griffin is a heady guard with a big time touch from downtown. He had 26 in his team's final game.
Austin Freeman, SG, D.C. Assault: His 28 points in the quarters consisted of shots from all over the court. He quietly pieced together a terrific tournament. Freeman just goes about his business and makes shots from all over the floor.
Jeremy Price (pictured), C/PF, Georgia Stars: The term power dunker comes to mind after spending the weekend watching him. He's got a body like UVa's Elton Brown but he tends to explode to the rim. In overtime of the semis, he came out with a lot of energy and his dunks set the tone for the OT. He made 1-of-2 critical free throws late that allowed his team to advance.
NEWS & NOTES
Corey Stokes credits his recent advancements with his game to working out with the New Orleans Hornets J.R. Smith, a St. Benedict's grad. His current list of schools includes Rutgers, UConn, Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest and Villanova. Being close to his family is a priority when it comes to picking a school.
"I'm trying to stay close so my family can drive out to see me," Stokes said.