BOSTON – The Team Boston Elite Invitational was held this past weekend at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Boston. The tournament was held later in the month than usual, and featured a number of teams from around the area along with a few from New York and Canada.
One program that had a banner Sunday was the fast-rising Expressions program, which captured both the 15-under and 16-under titles. In the 15-under final, they knocked off the Mount Vernon Boys & Girls Club 47-32, and the 16-under team blew open a four-point game at halftime and ran away with an 85-55 decision against Metro Boston.
The 17-under final was a rematch of a semifinal game in the Massachusetts AAU tournament last month. This time, a healthier M.A.D. team beat Metro Boston after dropping one to them in Kingston in May.
Now we take a look at some of the players from this weekend.
Mike Accaoui (5’9″ Sr. PG-SG, Barrington (RI) St. Andrew’s School) He’s not a player who puts up big numbers, but on Sunday he had a nice game helping his team to a blowout win. He went for 16 points, including four three-pointers, while playing on a guard-heavy team. In the fall, he’ll do a post-graduate year at the Winchendon School.
Ike Azotam (6’7″ Sr. SF-PF, Roxbury (MA) John D. O’Bryant HS) Although he had a few good scoring games, including 19 and 15 points early on, you didn’t get the feeling he was the same player who had a great spring last year. He was far from dominant, had trouble the couple of times he guarded a wing on the perimeter, and didn’t play strong inside when he should have seemingly overpowered the defender.
Khem Birch (6’9″ Fr. PF-C, South Kent (CT) School) The long and athletic big man just keeps getting better and looks like a better prospect all the time. He continued running the floor, got several offensive boards and stickbacks, blocked shots even when he looked like he wasn’t in position to make a play, and shows little signs of progress at the offensive end all the time. Here, he was deadly on short corner jumpers.
Andrew Chrabascz (6’5″ Fr. SF-PF, Portsmouth (RI) High) A fundamentally sound player whose father played in Division I, he helped lead his team to the 15-under title. He battled inside, was active and a major presence on the glass, showed a face-up game to go with his post scoring, and the righty made a nice post move to his left and went up with the left hand to score.
Ronnie Fernandez (So. SG, Sudbury (MA) Lincoln-Sudbury Regional HS) A major reason his team got to the 16-under final was his hot shooting in the semifinals. Down by ten, they scored 12 unanswered points to take the lead, led by a couple of three-pointers by him, and he shot it well all weekend. That said, he needs to grow more for the shooting guard spot, and although his shot went this weekend, it hasn’t always done that, and it’s noteworthy that his release is more than a little unorthodox.
Eric Katenda (6’7″ So. SF, Cheshire (CT) Academy) One of the most intriguing prospects at the event, he’s long and doesn’t look to be done growing yet. Although he’s not a great athlete, he uses his length well and has solid ball skills for the wing position, as he finished well and showed a touch with runners and jumpers off the dribble. One nice play was when he got a rebound and took the ball coast to coast for a layup.
Ricardo Ledo (6’5″ So. SG-SF, Warwick (RI) Bishop Hendricken HS) It wasn’t his best weekend, but this fast-rising wing by no means struggled. He simply played more of a complementary role in helping his team to the championship, while still showing a lot of the tools he has, especially his ability to drive aggressively to the basket to make something happen. It’s the end of an excellent spring for a young man who has really emerged over the last couple of months.
Deric McCottrell (6’3″ So. SG-SF, Needham (MA) St. Sebastian’s HS) Active wing really seemed to find the right role this weekend by finding the ball. Playing like a classic wing that you don’t run plays for, he got several stickbacks and loose balls and was a solid reserve contributor for his team.
Alex Murphy (6’8″ Fr. SF-PF, Wakefield (RI) St. Mark’s School) It was another good showing for this skilled wing, as he shot the ball well from long range and scored a few driving baskets while running the floor. He generally made the right decision in terms of shooting or passing in the flow of the offense, and with his size there’s a great deal of potential.
Shabazz Napier (6’0″ So. PG, Charlestown (MA) Lawrence Academy) For the most part, basketball wasn’t a problem aside from playing too much for show, as he attempted to make highlight-reel passes that too often weren’t there and thus resulted in turnovers. He scored well, with his long range shots not falling as often as they have in the past, and he created for teammates. On the down side, he showed bad body language at times early on and looked to the officials for calls, and according to sources, was in an argument with a coach during a game that had people around the gym buzzing when he was nowhere to be found on the court or the bench. He played in all remaining games after that.
Showly Nicholson (5’10″ Fr. PG, Exeter (NH) Philips Exeter Academy) An excellent student, he’s an athletic guard who helped lead his team to the 15-under title. He has a good frame and good offensive potential, knocking down jump shots out to the three-point range.
Kyle Reardon (So. SF-PF, Salem (MA) High) A skilled and active forward, there’s no question about his effort on the floor as he’s always on the go and has a nose for the ball. Capable of playing either forward spot, he’s comfortable inside or out at the offensive end and can play bigger as he rebounded well. Next fall, he will repeat his sophomore year at the Rivers School.
Cannan Severin (6’3″ So. SG-SF, Marlborough (MA) High) An athletic wing with a good body, his best asset is that he competes every second he’s on the court. He won’t blow you away skill-wise, but he’s not lacking in that area, either, and he helped his team to the 16-under title.
Imoh Silas (6’9″ So. PF-C, Plymouth (NH) Holderness School) Well-built post player is a little raw offensively, but isn’t lacking in intangible areas. He has the tools to be an enforcer inside, as he’ll block and alter shots, runs the floor well, and is aggressive inside. His good motor makes up for some of his lack of skill, as does his quickness inside as on a couple of occasions he made a quick move to score on the post.
Jules Tavares (6’2″ So. SG, Wareham (MA) High) Here’s a great example of a player who kept competing through some struggles. Early on Sunday, he was forcing passes that weren’t there and thus committing turnovers, and he wasn’t shooting well. But by continuing to compete, he set the stage for a strong finish, as he shot the ball well in the semifinals and title game and was more like himself.
Roderick Tyler (So. SF, Lexington (MA) Minuteman Tech) Well-built wing works hard and is a plus athlete. He got out in transition and finished well, getting several baskets during a big rally by his team in a semifinal game they went on to win.
Akeem Williams (5’10″ Jr. PG-SG, Brockton (MA) Winchendon School) Thick guard continued to play well, hitting a clutch shot in a Friday night game before a big Sunday effort. There, he went for 27 points with good long range shooting.
Also noteworthy among the youngest players are eighth graders Carlin Haymon, a promising point guard headed to the Rivers School next fall, and Kaleb Joseph, a point guard with some length and a lot of growing left.