NEW YORK – The NCAA has long wanted to put an end to travel team tournaments. Various legislation in recent years has been aimed at it, with much of it not having the desired effect. While they haven’t killed off these events by a long shot, they have, unfortunately, weakened some of them.
Enter the 2012 Rumble in the Bronx, held this past weekend and memorable now only for the wrong reason.
A tournament with a great reputation and long the best one in the month of June, this year’s Rumble was not like the tournaments of old. The tournament name is a bit of a misnomer now, as NCAA regulations have forced the tournament away from Fordham as the central site and now into mostly New York City and across the Hudson River at City Sports on 4 in Englewood, N.J.
Anyone who has tried to get around New York City knows it is not easy, and several key sites are closer to Madison Square Garden than Yankee Stadium – and that’s a problem. It’s especially a problem covering the event since getting around is almost prohibitive, hence one does well to stay in one place, which means a lack of choice in terms of teams one is able to see.
None of this is the fault of tournament director Jim Hart. The NCAA forced him away from long-time sites Fordham and Manhattan College, which helped make this easier. Keeping the tournament near or in New York City might not be the best thing to do given the aforementioned difficulties. In fact, it might even be better to move it to Albany, home of the program he directs, since logistically life would be easier. (This is just my idea; I have not spoken to Jim Hart about any future plans he has for the site of the event.)
The 17-under silver championship game saw the Dallas Mustangs try to break open a close game in the second half. The Westchester Hawks tried to rally several times, and got within three on a couple of occasions, but they never had a possession where they could tie the game as Dallas held on for a 77-75 win. Soma Edo (6’5″ Jr. SF-PF, Richardson (TX) Berkner HS) capped off a big weekend for the Mustangs with 16 points, while Leyton Hammonds (6’7″ Jr. SF, North Richland Hills (TX) Richland HS) added 14 points. Danny Upchurch (5’10” Jr. PG, Fairfield (CT) Notre Dame HS) led the Westchester Hawks with a game-high 29 points.
The 17-under gold championship was a matchup of arch-rivals as the Playaz took on Sports U. The Playaz were fresh off a hard-fought semifinal win over the New York Lightning, while Sports U ran away from a banged-up and under-manned New Rens team. Sports U ran out to an early lead and was up by ten at halftime, and in the second half they led by as many as 12. But a 13-1 run, aided by Sports U holding the ball to try to run off the clock instead of continuing to be aggressive, gave the Playaz their first lead. The teams couldn’t settle it in regulation, and after a basket apiece in overtime were still tied entering a second extra session. After they were still tied, the teams played several minutes of sudden death with physical play and no fouls called, before Josh Brown (6’2″ Jr. PG, Irvington (NJ) St. Anthony’s), who had a chance to win it in regulation with a good look, drove through the defense for a layup to give Sports U a 57-55 win.
Scoring statistics were not available for this game, but that was secondary to other post-game activity. As the teams finished going through the handshake line, a scrum ensued, and just when it appeared the teams had separated tempers appeared to flair again. Security quickly cleared out the gym after that before it became serious.
Here is a look at some of the players we saw this weekend.
Deandre Bembry (6’6″ Jr. SF, Elizabeth (NJ) St. Patrick’s HS) Athletic forward had a nice weekend helping his team win the title. He scored 20 points in a pool play game and played a lesser scoring role in other games, finishing well near the hoop including with contact. As he gets stronger, he’ll be even better at that, and he also showed some good perimeter ability after earlier showing he could work inside and finish to score.
Kentrall Brooks (6’8″ Jr. PF, Bronx (NY) St. Anthony’s) Long post player has a body with a ways to go physically. He was well away from the first scoring option, so he didn’t get many touches, but he made a tough jump hook and ran the floor well. He also has a good frame, so he can carry more good weight as he fills out.
Josh Brown (6’2″ Jr. PG, Irvington (NJ) St. Anthony’s) An athletic point guard, the lefty showed once again that he can really finish and is adept at getting chances to do just that both in transition and the halfcourt. While he has a slight frame, he isn’t afraid of contact and finished with it, and he did a nice job of leading the offense and finding teammates in leading his team to the title. High-major/high-major minus prospect has committed to Temple.
Reggie Cameron (6’7″ Jr. SF, Paterson (NJ) Hudson Catholic HS) Known for his shooting, he had a big run in EYBL earlier this spring and continued it with five three-pointers en route to 19 points in the semifinals. A plus athlete, he rebounded well from his position and has a good frame, so his game off the dribble should get better as he matures more.
Jeffrey Carroll (6’5″ Jr. SF, Rowlett (TX) High) A solid glue guy all weekend long, he didn’t stand out among his teammates but was nonetheless essential to his team winning the silver title. His body isn’t there yet and he does several things reasonably well, but nothing exceedingly well. He showed he can pass and finish, and in the final he hit a run-busting three-pointer as the opponent was rallying in the second half.
Schadrac Casimir (5’9″ Jr. PG, Stamford (CT) Trinity Catholic HS) A talented point guard, he went for 20 points in a tough loss on Saturday and may have called his own number a little too much. While he shot the ball well and showed he could finish while getting fouled, he had a tendency to force plays and shots that weren’t there more than usual. Still a baby physically, there’s plenty of potential here.
Charles Correa (5’8″ Jr. PG, Pawtucket (RI) St. Raphael’s) In a tough loss for his team, he had a solid outing where he continued to show what he can do with the ball in his hands, although he wasn’t always the point guard this time around. He made a nice bounce pass through the defense one time and shot well, while being in the play a lot and that included hitting the deck from contact.
Soma Edo (6’5″ Jr. SF-PF, Richardson (TX) Berkner HS) One of the more impressive players this weekend, this well-built and explosive athlete was at times a human highlight reel. Possessing a good frame and a long wingspan, he’s very quick off his feet and showed that often when he got offensive boards or caught the ball right under the hoop and went up quickly for a dunk. Playing like an undersized power forward, he’s plenty athletic enough to play on the wing but mainly scored in close with dunks. His body control was terrific, another reason to think he can eventually play on the wing.
Marcus Foster (6’3″ Jr. SG, Wichita Falls (TX) Hirschi HS) After a nice game with five three-pointers in pool play, he cooled off a bit in later playoff games. He has a relatively mature body and isn’t the most athletic guard, needs to get stronger and had a tough time finishing close to the basket. His shooting helped carry him, though, as he was still a threat although he didn’t duplicate the early game, and in the final he made a big driving layup to seal the game.
Leyton Hammonds (6’7″ Jr. SF, North Richland Hills (TX) Richland HS) An athletic wing whose body isn’t there yet, he was a solid, unspectacular contributor to his team’s run in the tournament. He reached double digits a couple of times, finishing well including with the left (off) hand and hitting a couple of three-pointers, including in the title game.
Kuran Iverson (6’8″ Jr. SF, Hartford (CT) Northwest Catholic HS) Now that he has more talent around him, he seems to be settling into being a point forward type. While he doesn’t put up the kind of scoring numbers he once did, he’s impacting games better and proving more effective. Here, he drove and finished with contact, found open teammates for layups a few times, rebounded well and continued to be adept at drawing contact. He didn’t show much on defense, and his body isn’t there yet, but he’s having a clearly better spring than he did last year.
Zach Lewis (6’2″ Sr. PG-SG, Windsor (CT) Northwest Catholic HS) It wasn’t the best weekend for this solid combo guard, but in the second half of his team’s semifinal loss his three-point shots started going down. He played well considering he wasn’t one of his team’s first options as there was plenty of talent around him. Mid-major prospect has committed to Hofstra.
Jemal Mosley (6’1″ Sr. PG, Nanuet (NY) Don Bosco Prep) A quick point guard with a good body, he ran the show well and helped seal a game for his team with free throws. He also got a big strip at the defensive end late in the game.
Emmanuel Mudiay (6’4″ So. PG-SG, Arlington (TX) Grace Preparatory Academy) Athletic guard is shifty and showed the ability to drive effectively to create. While he looks like he has good scoring ability, he didn’t score often in a pool game where his team came back to win, but he was able to drive and dish so he’s capable of making things happen.
Chris Obekpa (6’8″ Sr. PF, Centereach (NY) Our Savior New American School) Well-built post didn’t have a sterling game all around, but he made a nice pass on the break and showed the ability to finish with his left (off) hand. He’s a good rebounding presence but is not a very good offensive player right now. High-major prospect signed with St. John’s a day after the tournament ended.
Shane Rector (6’1″ Jr. PG, Bronx (NY) St. Raymond’s HS) In the championship game, this quick point guard had a stretch where he took the game over during his team’s big run, as he was constantly getting inside for layups. Despite a thin upper body, he showed he could finish with the left hand and with contact. The questions are how much of a playmaker he is, as he looked to score more than pass on his drives, and his jump shot as he did not look to shoot. That said, he shot well from long range in EYBL, where he led his team in scoring, so his lack of jumpers here was probably more about how effective he was driving to the hoop. High-major minus prospect.
Colin Richey (6’0″ Jr. PG, Whitinsville (MA) Christian School) A point guard who continues to develop, he had a nice game in a losing effort. He hit a nice floater in the lane and continued to show that he can find gaps to drive through, a key since he isn’t overly quick. His body continues to mature, and he also knocked down a shot from long range. Next season, he will repeat his junior year at Choate Rosemary Hall.
Landon Russell (6’0″ So. SG, Ft. Worth (TX) Nolan Catholic HS) In helping his team to a comeback win on Saturday, he hit six three-pointers en route to 20 points, with five of those coming in the second half. The lanky guard took good shots in the flow of the offense and also hit a mid-range shot off the dribble for his other points, so all in all it was clear he can shoot the ball.
Jonte Rutty (6’5″ Sr. SF-PF, Newburgh (NY) Free Academy) Gradually, this well-built forward has been moving out to the perimeter, and on Saturday he seemingly didn’t miss from long range as he hit six shots from there in a 20-point outing. The lefty has a mature body and uses it inside, but his perimeter shot is getting better and it’s not coming from forced shots as the shots he took were good ones to begin with. Mid-major prospect.
Jeremy Senglin (6’2″ Jr. PG-SG, Arlington (TX) Bowie HS) The catalyst for his team, he scored 11 points in a comeback win on Saturday, with the two biggest coming on a stickback that won it. He quietly ran the show for much of the game and tended to create for others more than look for his own shot.
Jon Severe (6’2″ Jr. SG, Brooklyn (NY) Christ The King HS) An athletic guard with a good body, he made his mark primarily with his shooting, as he hit several shots from long range, mainly off the catch. He had games of 17 and 15 points, hitting four three-pointers in the latter effort, while also showing he could finish with the left (off) hand and while fouled, and was able to drive and dish even with a small passing window.
Kavon Stewart (6’0″ Jr. PG, Paterson (NJ) Hudson Catholic HS) Quick left-handed point guard used a hesitation move often and with some effectiveness. While thin, he drove with success, finishing or getting to the line at times and being able to go to his right. Not a big scorer, he mainly set up teammates, although he had 11 points in their semifinal win.
Harrison Taggart (6’5″ Jr. SF, Concord (NH) St. Paul’s) A solid glue guy, he was his team’s clear leader and battled all game long in a tough loss for his team on Saturday. An intelligent player, he passed well, hit a deep three-pointer and often seemed to be in a position to make a play at either end.
Danny Upchurch (5’10” Jr. PG, Fairfield (CT) Notre Dame HS) A very slight and active guard, he has some physical gifts and had a nice outing in a losing effort in the silver championship game. Still, despite 29 points with five three-pointers, flaws were clear: he didn’t shoot well early and settled too often for jumpers, seems to have just one speed he can play at, and while he attacked on the go he also tended to drive into trouble and turn the ball over. He’s quick and came alive shooting the ball from deep in the second half, and was able to draw fouls often.
Spencer Weisz (6’5″ Jr. SF, Orange (NJ) Seton Hall Prep) A nice shooting wing, he took good shots in the flow of the offense and contributed in that way, playing the way one might expect a Seton Hall Prep player to play. He shot well from long range with good shot selection, and also drew a charge one time down. On the down side, he lacks athleticism and doesn’t get much lift on his jumper, factors that will probably knock down what college level he can play at.
Michael Young (6’9″ Jr. PF, Paterson (NJ) Hudson Catholic HS) An athletic forward with a good body, one gets the sense he is leaving something on the court as he seems like he should be better than what he showed. He led his team in rebounding in EYBL, and while he scored well there he didn’t show much of it here. In fact, he committed an offensive foul late in the semifinal that was nearly costly and did most of his damage in transition.