Justin Jackson and Thon Maker Best AAU Tandem? Canada Elite 1st Place at UAA.
The third session of the Under Armour Association AAU League has come to a close in New York and Canada Elite’s 17U team finds themselves with a 4-0 record in this session which puts them at 9-3 overall; good for first place in their division to end off the regular season before heading to Atlanta for the Finals during NCAA Live Period. UNLV commit Justin Jackson and Thon Maker are one of the best tandems on the circuit and they look to bring havoc to their opponents in the finals.
Canada Elite is followed by Team Charlotte in second place, a team that they faced off with on day two of the New York session; Canada Elite came out on top 57-52 after a strong defensive outing by Thon Maker who blocked 5 shots in that game and added 11 points and 12 rebounds.
The addition of Thon Maker cannot go unmentioned as his dominance cannot be ignored. He is playing very angry and fierce, which in turn has added fire to an already gritty team.
Canada Elite’s 17U team were already considered a top three Canadian team before Maker’s arrival, however the addition takes them over the edge. The core of Canada Elite’s 17U team has been together for a long time and as they near closer to the end of their AAU careers someone new has entered their pack.
At first there was hostility that came naturally as Maker took away from others’ minutes and touches. As games went by and the personnel started to see what Maker was capable of, they became more accepting and welcoming to their new teammate.
I would have been concerned if there was no hostility or if they didn’t have any arguments. Its better for that to happen in their first session as opposed to having an argument occur in the final session.
It took a few scoring runs with Maker on the bench for him to realize that he was on a quality team and could trust his teammates and vice versa.
By the final game on Sunday they were clicking on all cylinders with all five guys getting touches in most possessions.
Marcus Ottey had his personal best game of the circuit in the last game of the weekend against JUICE All-Stars, with 20 points, 4 rebounds and 4 steals. He got his 20 on 8-11 from the field.
This team will need Ottey to be at his best defensively and be a lock down guy. He has all the tools to do so, it comes down to his will to do it consistently. The bonus with Ottey is that his defense directly converts into transition offense for himself, usually finishing with an areal assault and sparking energy from the bench.
Canada Elite Team Breakdown
As a whole the combination of this team’s primal instincts and composure makes them one of the best intangibly sound teams on the circuit. I’ll start with this because it stuck out when they were down as much as 14 in two games and fought back to win by six down the stretch.
Justin Jackson and Godwin Boahen have been captains since their days as YAAACE and maintain that role.
Everyone who is familiar with this team knows that Godwin Boahen is their rock. In two of the four games he played a vital role in the momentum change that turned in Canada Elite’s favour after this tough PG picked up a steal and finished, then following up with a three ball on the next possession.
Co-captain Justin Jackson is producing at every angle with an improved shooting stroke and aggressive defensive mentality. Some of the things he did this weekend were jaw dropping and left a pleasing thought towards his progress this year.
Seeing Thon abuse the rim has Jackson attacking with more force and lift. I’ve never seen Jackson dunk the ball in-game as much as he did this weekend.
Longtime AAU teammate to Jackson, Jordan Holness, splits PG responsibility with Boahen, On this team he has the best natural feel for the game, one can tell by the way he avoids defenders on the way to the rim and how he releases and works the ball off the glass.
There are other guys coming off the bench that are contributing as well. Another new addition to this team is Kevin “Big Red” Hamlet, who played with a motor and rebounded for Canada Elite.
Praise in this session’s success should also be given to Coach Jordan