Thursday, July 21, 2011

14U Nationals Final Four Preview (Presented By Hype Basketball)


What an exciting weekend of basketball it’s been at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Florida! Perhaps the best is yet to come on the event’s final day as the remaining teams in this year’s field are among the nation’s best and will not leave the Orlando area without placing nationally. Some of the top clubs and players here are familiar within the class of 2015 while others are beginning to make their mark on the grassroots hoops scene. HYPEBasketball is happy to be present in Florida for the conclusion of the premier junior high event in the country and has a glimpse of what to look for as the final day of action is ready to go. The remaining four teams set to participate in the 2011 Eighth Grade AAU D1 National Semifinals are as follows:

The Peach State squad is much improved since last year and have added a huge piece in guard Terrance Phillips. This young team not only cruised through pool play but have yet to be seriously tested in the championship bracket thanks in large to the play of their frontcourt that includes major pieces in Daniel Giddens, Kevin Murph, and Makki Brown. Wing Ty Hudson is battled tested for Worldwide and has been a major contributor for the team throughout the majority of the week as well. As their rematch with the Texas Titans approaches, it will be interesting to see if 2016 guards Jared Harper and Christian Turner handle the bigger and older Titans backcourt with the same poise that have carried themselves with thus far during the week.

Last year’s 13U AAU National Champions in the 2015 class, the Titans have long been recognized as a power in this age/grade division. A confident and well-coached group with plenty of chemistry, the Titans also have a number of standout players that take turns sharing the spotlight. Typically thought of as the main attraction, 6-foot-7 forward Mickey Mitchell is an impressive athlete with a developing skill set. He’ll have help on the wings from Jessie Pistokache and Soso Jamabo. Grant Troutt is the team’s main threat from the outside, while Dennis Hogg and Samir Sehic give the Titans even more size and offensive versatility in the post.

Call them the surprise of the tournament and you won’t hear many arguments. The Vipers have stormed through an unbelievably talented eighth grade field and made it look relatively easy for the most part. They earned their way into the semifinals after fighting back from a seventeen point deficit versus the Atlanta Celtics. A gritty backcourt led by Joshua Borders and Jose Morales, the Vipers have shot the ball well in this tournament, and are capable of going on big runs from deep as a team. On the wing, Greg Kaeprzak has provided excellent minutes for the team, and may be one of the most versatile rebounders and defenders in the field of nearly 130 teams. In terms of long-term prospects, there has definitely been a buzz in the gym about 6-foot-6 forward Alaowei Talent, and the Coral Springs native can make that buzz grow into a roar if he’s able to lead his team to a championship at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports.

The semifinal field concludes with a familiar squad in Team Texas Elite. A well-known program, and long respected team in the class of 2015, Team Texas has a lot of offensive firepower in their favor. Their backcourt is anchored by Matt McQuaid and Austin Grandstaff, two of the better shooters in the entire country who each take turns handling the ball for Texas. The frontcourt is just as imposing, featuring Elijah Thomas and Tony Lewis, two big-bodied post players who are capable of finishing at the rim with power.