Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tip Off Classic 12U Championship Top Performers By Spencer Pulliam

Markquis Nowell (Team IZOD)

It’s not unusual for New York-New Jersey clashes to occur at Basketball Spotlight events, and the 12U division at the first-ever Tip Off Classic was certainly no exception. A memorable championship between newcomer and potential rising, regional power New Renaissance versus a retooled Team IZOD/Sports U wasn’t as close as many expected, but players from both teams took turns showing off the improvements they have made since last year. Overall, the sixth grade’s orange division was easily one of the event’s most exciting groups.

Markquis Nowell – Guard – Team IZOD
As much as I despise player comparisons, it’s difficult not to have Erving Walker flashbacks when watching the confident young guard. Sure he has a long way to go, but Nowell is compact, fiery, has quicks and a handle, and isn’t shy about letting it fly from anywhere on the court. His lack of conscience as a shooter allows him to go on big scoring runs, which was evident as he finished with 37 points against Rens in the championship contest.

Shelton Applewhite – Forward – Team IZOD
Bringing a player as talented as Applewhite off the bench speaks to how loaded this Team IZOD/Sports U sixth grade group truly is. He effects the game with instant energy with some scoring ability from the wing, and is also an impressive and needed rebounder from his position. It’s difficult to come off the bench, but his expanding perimeter skills make him a more versatile player capable of immediate impact. An impressive prospect, Applewhite’s progression with this squad will be monitored closely.

Jalen Brooks – Guard – Team IZOD
An impressive young guard, Brooks has a patient approach, and has already has a few gears to his game. He’s the most seasoned of the Team IZOD prospects and his presence on the floor is vital to their success when the competition-level is equally matched. As he finds consistency with his outside jumper, people will begin to appreciate his playmaking ability more. Don’t be surprised if he becomes the steadfast leader for this team.

Daniel Klosk – Guard – Rens
The marksman had a lot of help as his newly formed squad made an impressive championship run, but Klosk’s touch from deep left a lasting impression in the event’s final 12U game. Normally fatigue gets the best of shooters at the end of a tough weekend, but Klosk showed excellent resilience by picking his spots and knocking in numerous perimeter jumpers. It’s hard to imagine a more pure outside shooter in the region than this young man.

And One (To Keep An Eye On) – The main question people were asking about the 12U IZOD group was, “who is the big kid?” His name Justin Winston, and while still more prospect than player, he manages to make a significant impact for this young squad on the interior. While guard play is key to victories at the middle school level, big men often mean the difference in championship runs, and Winston gives this 12U Team IZOD/Sports U group the exact ingredients necessary to compete amongst the nation’s best.

Tavon Jones – Guard – Team IZOD
Jones is the third piece to a devastating IZOD backcourt that wears opponents down with their relentless pressure. While Brooks and Nowell are the more recognized names, Jones is an athlete with raw but developing skills, who has an excellent feel for making plays in an up-tempo setting. His overall play and confidence level may be the ‘X-factor’ for this group to make a run on the national level as the season moves forward.