It’s safe to say that Under Armour’s foray into the competitive world of Memorial Day Weekend grassroots basketball tournaments was a successful one, as the event concluded on Sunday afternoon in Duncanville, Texas. The stable of Under Armour’s burgeoning collection of sponsored teams shows a company that is making a concerted effort to build its basketball brand with an increasing share of talent.
Championships were earned in the 17U, 16U and 15U tournament brackets on Sunday, with the Milwaukee Running Rebels beating Net Gain Sports in the oldest age division, followed by Dallas Showtyme keeping the 16U title at home with a win over the Las Vegas Prospects, and Net Gain Sports won the 15U title over KC Run GMC.
To get to the 17U title game, both semifinal contests were decided by a mere point, as Net Gain Sports beat the Houston Defenders, and Milwaukee Running Rebels overcame DC Assault.
Aaron Harrison steps to the forefront
Things looked grim for the Houston Defenders, arguably the favored team in the 17U division, in their quarterfinal game against KC Run GMC. After their head coach was ejected, and with the No. 2 ranked prospect in the nation in Andrew Harrison icing his right foot on the bench, KC Run GMC held a 46-44 lead with 9 minutes left. With three future high-major guards in Travis Jorgenson (Missouri), Conner Frankamp (Kansas) and 2014 point Dominique Collier, their KC Run GMC opponent wasn’t the type of team to make mistakes.
Then again, top-10 ranked 6′-5″ shooting guard Aaron Harrison wasn’t taking no for an answer. In bullish fashion, he nailed a 3-pointer to give Houston the lead, which they never relinquished. From there, Kansas City Run GMC missed a 3-pointer, and Harrison immediately took the ball to the rack and scored the basket plus a foul shot. Harrison and company never looked back and pulled out a 70-59 win. Harrison racked up 29 points, and 6′-8″ post Jonathan Motley also added 24 points in the absence of Andrew Harrison.
Down a Harrison, the Houston Defenders were able to utilized some other players in offensive situations that typically don’t get touches because of the Harrison twins, which was interesting to observe. In particularly, Motley was a workhorse down low, and a legit big man.
Though the short-handed Houston Defenders lost in the semifinals to a tough Net Gain Sports team, it wasn’t for lack of effort from Aaron Harrison, who was credited with 42 points in the game (see the above video for more). Net Gain Sports reportedly got 27 points and 8 rebounds from 2014 shooting guard Rashad Vaughn in the win.
Rebels run to title
Going in to Sunday’s tournament play, wise guesses for the champion of the event might have included DC Assault, Illinois Wolves or the Houston Defenders. When it was all said and done, the Milwaukee Running Rebels snagged the title in impressive fashion, putting up 101 points against a typically tough Sports University/Team IZOD squad, overcoming a deep and talented DC Assault team in the semifinals, and blowing by Net Gain Sports in the title game.
The Running Rebels had a thin bench throughout the tournament, but had a nice collection of hard-nosed players, talented youngsters and explosive guards. It was hard not to be impressed by 5′-8″ guard Damontre Jefferson, a 2014 prospect from Hamilton (WI). Jefferson’s shot selection was not great at times, but he’s a sparkplug and gunner that got things going in the title run. He put up greater than 20 points in four out of five contests. Jefferson has a slight frame, but really has a knack for doing what it takes to score.
6′-6″ forward David Burrell, also a 2014 prospect, was also stellar as the third or fourth option. At times opposing defenses concentrated on Jefferson or top-20 national talent Kevon Looney, allowing Burrell to do his thing and grind out baskets with consistency. Burrell’s consistency might have been unsung in their title run, but it was key. Looney was also terrific at times, demonstrating why he’s an elite prospect nationally. Lastly, 6′-4″ 2012 forward DeAndre Harris had some solid moments, as he hustled and hurt opponents in his niches.
Names to know:
- Josh Level, 6′-4″, 2014, SF, Team Loaded/Christ School (NC): While it’s the three top-50 ranked players on his squad that receive the most attention, Level was completely on point as Team Loaded took a tough loss to the Las Vegas Prospects. With only six players making the trip to Dallas, Team Loaded was running out of gas against a deep opponent, but Level showed no signs of slowing down. He drained four 3-pointers in a brief second-half time period, showing some bounce on his mature frame. Previously in the event, Level did most of his damage inside, where he showed the ability to finish regularly. With apparently fresh enough legs underneath him, Level’s shooting kept Team Loaded in a close game, which they ultimately lost.
- Darryl Gaynor, 6′-0″, 2014, PG/SG, Las Vegas Prospects/Palo Verde (NV): Gaynor is a skilled combo guard that is worth a track for mid-majors and higher. His team is very strong, and opponents are often forced to collapse on other teammates as the Prospects attack the hoop. Gaynor is a consistent outside shooter with nice touch and form. He can also handle the ball and shows signs of being a competent on the ball defender. His height probably dictates time at lead guard at the next level, but Gaynor is also a consistent shooting threat. Gaynor and fellow 2014 guard Shaquille Carr are a difficult duo for opponents to defend.
- Damonte Dodd, 6′-10″, 2012/2013, C, DC Assault/TBD: When news of Dodd’s commitment to Maryland came several months ago, the response for even the most dedicated college basketball recruiting junkies was simply “Who”? While it remains to be seen if Dodd will land at Maryland this year, or take a year of prep school, it’s safe to say that he’s better than most of the reviews indicated. Dodd is a fluid and athletic big man that has a feel for the game. He’s by no means a finished product, but it isn’t as if he is a blank slate. He has some touch around the hoop, and can move. Maryland’s frontcourt picture is a bit crowded going forward, but it’s safe to say Dodd can be a part of it. His frame is in the right ballpark for a 2012 post player, with room to be solidified.
- D’Angelo Allen, 6′-6″, 2014, SF, Dallas Showtyme 16/Kimball (TX): It’s time to start putting Allen in the conversation as a top-100 prospect nationally. He’s a small forward that isn’t a finished product just yet, but has an offensive game that will be hard to stop when he puts the pieces together. Allen has terrific bounce, and can get to the basket from nearby with agile moves. He’s difficult to stop in transition, as he has superior athleticism. Allen needs to build his overall skill level and iron out his long distance shot, but he’s a guy that high-majors will want to get acquainted with this summer. Allen showed occasional flair on the defensive end of the court, as well.