The opening session of the Nike Signature league took place over this past weekend with some of the best programs in the grade 7 and 8 division facing off.
As with all first sessions, it was mostly a feeling out process with teams trying to figure out exactly who they are and what each individual player can bring to the table.
In the grade 7 division it was the two new comers, Stoney Creek and North Toronto Huskies that really impressed.
Stoney Creek is a very solid group of players, with great structure and all around creative play. Alex Difrancesco, Nathan Seppard and Sebastian Reyes lead the core attack for Stoney Creek.
Difrancesco (c/o 2024) is a very creative playmaking guard that continuously uses his change of pace and ability to read what the defense gives give to always make the right play. He is also a very efficient scorer as he has a knack of getting to his spots on the court and making almost everything he puts up.
Sheppard (c/o 2024) is the team’s sniper, especially from the corner as he was a perfect 5 of 5 on his corner jumpers. He also showed some glimpses of being able to put the ball on the floor and make push shots, particularly from the left side in the paint.
Sebastian Reyes (c/o 2024) rounded out Stoney Creek’s attack with his jack-of-all-trades type of play. He is able to defend, make the open shot and handle the ball through pressure. Overall, the entire team shares such an unselfish style of play, which makes them a real pleasure to watch.
North Toronto on the other end almost echoed this exact same sentiment with their structure, hard nose, and free flowing style of basketball.
The attack is lead by their point guard Jermaine Harvey-Hyatt (c/o 2024) a very solid, fundamental, floor general. Harvey-Hyatt showed a good command of the offense and overall flow of the game. He also impressed inside with some crafty “jelly” finished.
Marcus Babalow leads this team with his athleticism, length, and size. He moves very well off of the ball, and finishes in traffic overtop of the defense. Babalow also defended well, using his quickness and stature to deter opponents at the rim.
Lastly, Andrej Draskovic was impressive holding down the middle for the North Toronto Huskies. Draskovic is a good jump shooter for his size, and has very steady form, great follow through, and consistency on his jumper whether his is shooting from the perimeter or inside. A tough competitor, Draskovic also is a solid screen setter, not being afraid to be physical with the competition.
These two teams shared the game of the weekend for the grade 7 division as the Huskies were able to pull out a 45-42 in overtime.
As both coaching staffs let me know prior to tip off, they expected nothing but a close game, as both teams have met before and the results have always been within 5 points.
With a 1:30 left in the extra session it was North Toronto’s Justin Orridge who was able to tie the game, answering Stoney Creek’s Nathan Sheppard three with one of his own. It was eventually Babalow who was able to seal the win with a transition lay-up in the last 0.34 seconds of the game.
Both teams still have a number of prospects that I look forward to learning about going forward, as well as other strong teams such as Team Breakdown, Halton Basketball, and Mississauga Monarchs to name a few.
See the Signature leagues grade 7 full standing, player stats and game results here.
The grade eight division was highlighted by some incredible individual performances. To put things into perspective, the average points per game by the top 5 scorers in the grade 8 division rounds off at 29 PPG. The grade 7 average points per game by the top 5 scorers are an even 15 PPG. That is a 14 PPG difference between the two groups.
As of the first week, Anthony Wrzeszcz of the Mississauga Magic (c/o 2023) and Jacob Theodosiou of the Waterllo Wildhawks (c/o 2024) are tied at the top of the league in terms of scoring putting up a sizzling 33 PPG.
These two were also apart of the game of the weekend for the grade 8 division as the Wild hawks and Magic battled to the very end.
The game was not for some dramatics, as Wrzeszcz was able to will his team to overtime with this three, before the eventually fell 85-84 in the extra session.
Jacob Theodosiou has been especially impressive as the 5’4, 100lbs PG has a skill set, and shooting stroke well beyond his years. Just like a young Elijah Fisher captured the leagues attention last year, playing a year up and making it to the finals with his grassroots team, Theodosiou is a prospect that can do much of the same in his own way – very impressive.
Fisher was also up to his own antics, throwing down this ridiculous windmill during pregame warm ups. He also had two monster dunks in game, using two hands for safety.
— OnPointBasketball (@DrewEbanks) November 13, 2017
Mikkel Tyne (c/o 2024) also impressed with Grassroots as he sits at 14th in the league in PPG at 15 per contest. Grassroots easily cruised to a 2-0 lead in their division.
The Signature League has also invested in making every game accessible to their fan base, taping every contest and then publishing them on their Youtube page for everyone to enjoy.
So if you missed a game, want to relive a moment, or are a prospect looking to breakdown film and get a competitive edge on your opponents, look no farther then here for all the games played this weekend.
The next session for the Signature League will take place on December 9th 2017.