The Real Deal on the Rock proved to once again be the jumping point from which the summer scene gets its liftoff for the grueling run that follows for the months of April and May.
No shortage of Tennessee squads in this year's field as many represented very well in one capacity or another.
Covering the event for another entity, I was not able to see as many of our teams as I could, but I creatively made my way into the gym for a great deal of them in the 17 and under division, since the event was spread out over the greater Little Rock metro area.
In the 17 and under division advancing past the pool play games into the championship bracket, I was fortunate enough to see all of these teams led by the Nashville Celtics, the Memphis Magic Elite, M33M and the Memphis Magic Black.
The Magic Elite drew the hometown media darlings Arkansas Hawks in their playoff opener and fell in overtime by one point. Chris Jones (Melrose) and Adonis Thomas (Melrose) were the go to guys but some outstanding play from the likes of Andre Hollins (White Station), who was outstanding on Friday night playing straight up with Texas signee Myck Kabongo. Nino Johnson (White Station) played well inside scoring and rebounding, while sophomores Cameron Golden (Ridgeway) and Martavious Newby (BTW) had their moments as well.
M33M made it past the first round of playoff action with a win against the Houston Superstars and then lost a close game to Grassroots Canada. Bobby Parks Jr. (Melrose) had an outstanding tourney scoring at a 25 per game clip and playing with excitement and energy that we saw from him in the past. Telvin Wilkerson (Melrose) played well showing a very nice stroke from mid-range that could lead to him being on many a recruiting board. Inside the combination of Cameron Clear (Memphis Central) and Jaylon Moore (Mississippi) turned some heads with their play.
The Memphis Magic Black playing basically up and age group made the championship round but fell in their game to the Compton Magic. The Black received solid performances from Adam Weary (Ridgeway), Kadario Fleming (Ridgeway) and Brandon Lewis (Ridgeway).
In the consolation bracket, the Memphis Select, who played in an ultra tough pool, got some very good play from their big boys Jarnell Stokes (Memphis Central), Octavious Ellis (Whitehaven) and Cedric McAfee (Melrose). McAfee really turned some heads with his performance in the playoff contest.
Team Nashville got some solid play from Andre Brown (Clarksville Northwest) and big new addition Cedric Williams (Siegel), who was a major topic of conversation among those in the know.
God's Chosen Few made their first big event a happy one receiving some solid play from Phillip "Tookie" Stanford (Knoxville West), Otis Littlejohn (Knoxville West) and Jamal Thomas (Fulton).
Malcolm Smith (Clarksville Academy) and Martin Smith (Clarksville Academy) both played well for the Drake Reed Basketball squad. Also drawing some praise for their efforts was Keenan Froedden (Sycamore).
Tennessee A-Game played hard and tough led by the scoring of Chris Dansby (Lancaster Christian) and the shooting of guards Tyler Irwin (LaVergne) and Chase Argo (Lancaster Christian).
Also playing in the consolation bracket were the Memphis Hawgs and the Memphis Elite.
In the 16 and under championship bracket the movers and shakers were Team Nashville, the Memphis YOMCA and the Memphis Stars.
Team Nashville finshed 2 and 1 in pool play losing to the Kansas City 76ers, who made it to the final four, and then fell to the eventual champions the Atlanta Celtics in a very close tight game. Cornelius Elder (Ensworth), Caymon Dial (LaVergne), Devin Robinson (Ravenwood), Vari Craig (Riverdale) and William Powell (Alabama) al played well and were a few breaks away from making a big run at the event. This team is getting better and will compete as the summer rolls along.
The YOMCA finished 3 and 2 battling to overtime with the tourney's eventual champions the Atlanta Celtics. Leading the way for the Y, Nourse Fox (ECS) was big in the Celtics contest scoring 13 points, dishing 7 dimes and grabbing 4 steals. Also contributing well all weekend were Jonathan "J3" Williams (Southwind), Austin Nichols (Briarcrest Christian), Sam Craft (Craigmont) and Dee Dyson (Brighton).
The Nashville Celtics 16 and under squad had an outstanding event finishing 3-2 overall garnering a couple of nice pool play wins and scoring a big win in the consolation bracket opener. David Howard (MBA) continues to improve his game playing well the entire weekend and also getting some run in the 17 and under games. He had a high of 18 points and 14 rebounds in the second pool play win. John Ross Glover (USJ) led the scoring with 13 in the final pool play game and the talented rising junior played well the entire event. In the backcourt the celtics got sterling guard play from Keilan Blanks (Spring Hill) and Daijon Williams (Clarksville). An outstanding team effort for their initial event of the summer. Also drawing some praise for his efforts was rising sophomore Mason Ramsey (Livingston Academy).
The tourney champion Atlanta Celtics featured some outstanding play from Jordan Price (McCallie), our DII/Class AA Mr. Basketball last season in Tennessee.
The other Chris Jones (Briarcrest Christian) made some noise with his game playing for the Alabama Celtics over the weekend.