Waterloo Warriors Hoopfeast 2014 kicked off early Saturday morning and these were the things I learned :
Motion East surprised me a lot at the tournament. This OBA team had a lot of strength, power and speed. Gene Spagnuolo runs the point guard position for the squad and is a very good shooter, had solid handles, and good length. Shaquille Harris and Osayende Omoregie are both big bodies but fast for there size, good defenders, and finishers around the rim. Shaquille Harris had some breath taking moments facing opponents at the rim. Kareem South really made his presence felt in the second game of the day, a 86-77 win against Waterloo. South poured in 21 points, in a variety of ways, and even had the Wolverines head coach Jeff Lyle singing his praises as he assured me on the sidelines South was “The best player on the team.”
Brampton Elite coach Leon Archer did something very unique when submitting the team roster – he listed as his players as guards. Whether or not that claim is accurate Brampton breezed through their first two games winning both by double digits. It was hard to really say who the standouts on the squad were because they dominated the two teams (Blessed Sacrament and Whitby) so easily that’s coach Archer had lines of substitutions going in and out of the game. They will be in the championship game however, and with a few tighter games Brampton Elite stars will show out. Coach Lyles also told me that Brampton, in his opinion, is the best team at the tournament.
The Waterloo Wolverines have a very talented squad that’s headed by recent verbal Massachusetts commit Tesloth Simon. T, as he is commonly referred to, as a variety of moves that includes a sweet jumper, good handles, and just overall knowledge of the game both offensively and defensively. Juwan Miller runs the point for the Wolverines and is as fast as they get in the open court. He change of speed at times is mind boggling, but his greatest weapon is that he is a great leader. Whenever a teammate would make a mistake, or coach Lyles would yell at them from the sideline, Miller would pull that player aside, talk to them, then embrace them and continue playing. Seems like a guy that just gets it to me.
A few standouts…
Andre Toic from Blessed Sacrament is a heady player. The lefty point guard has a very good concept of what action to take and when. He always seems to make the right pass, take and make the right shot, and be in the right position at the right time. Toic didn’t seem to be sped up by the Brampton defense in Blessed Sacraments first game, and time after time, would deliver three point blows, or slick passes to bigs on the pick and roll. He was essentially the reason that the game stayed around 10 points.
Murtada Khamis of the KW Vipers was also a an intriguing player. He is a quick point guard that has the speed to blow by any one at this tournament. His finishing at the rim is also very good as Khamis posses great body control and displayed in in the last game against the Waterloo Warriors contorting his body to finish lay-ups. The point guard also defended Juan Miller well, for the most part, and battled hard until the last whistle.
My last standout is a guy that really captured my attention during the The Hienbuch Classic. Jamari Stephenson of St Marys is a very interesting prospect namely because of his size and toughness. Stephenson stands at 6’6 and is one of the gritty guys on the court. He can shot threes and drive past guys his size but he also defends hard and dives on the court for loose balls. The only problem for the young man is academics, and he has been working with teachers to improve his grades because, as of right now, that’s the only thing stopping him.