Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Playaz Spring Fling: Juice Allstars vs. Playaz Red

James, This past weekend, I attended the Playaz Spring Fling. The event featured some of the top talent from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. The games were for the U-13, U-15, and U-17 age levels. Saturday morning, I got to the RAC at Rutgers in time to catch a premiere U-16 squad, Playaz Red, playing up a level against the Juice Allstars, sans Lance Stephenson. The Playaz team featured numerous high-caliber players, including Jayon James, TJ Clemmings, Shaquille Thomas, and Fuquan Edwin of Paterson Catholic (NJ), as well as Cameron Ayers and Isaiah Epps. Juice, coached by Dwayne "Tiny" Morton of Lincoln (NY) boasted a top-notch freshman on its U-17 squad, 5'9 Isaiah Morton of St. Augustine (NJ). The Playaz seemed heavily overmatched at first, falling behind 15-2. Jayon James appeared lazy and sloppy at the beginning of the contest, though he did shoot the ball quite bit, yet not much seem to fall, as his range didn't seem to extend out beyond about 17 or 18 feet. Juice's big man was just that, big, and although he didn't move around that much, he was solid on the glass with eight-foot range. In addition, he hustled back to play D. The big's last name was Jospeh, though I'm not positive of his first name, as rosters were not handed out. Isaiah Morton was spectacular for his team in the first 15 minutes of play. He was not afraid to shoot, displayed impressive quickness, and good passing skills. Morton was a bit flashy at time, and is on the small side, but he certainly talented. Juice was taking lots of threes, and they were hitting quite a few. The Playaz' standout in the first half was easily TJ Clemmings. The big man is extremely muscular, with nice rebounding ability, and a solid jumper. The younger Playaz were able to cut the deficit to eight at the half, as they trailed 28-20. In the second 15 minutes of play, Cameron Ayers showcased his stellar jump-shot. Shaquille Thomas' play was inconsistent, yet he clearly has talent. Fuquan Edwin had a nice second half, displaying athleticism, a good basketball IQ, and evident talent. Clemmings continued to play well in the second half, using nice post moves on the blocks. In addition, he continued to grab boards and shoot well, and also showed that he is physical and strong. TJ Clemmings is the real deal. Jayon James, who struggled all throughout the game, was getting easily frustrated. Isaiah Morton kept it up in the second half. The lightning-quick guard is a heads-up player with great speed. When it was all said and done, the Juice Allstars came away with the W, by a final score of 62-58. After the loss, I talked with TJ Clemmings. I'll post that interview shortly.

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