The annual GymRat AAU boys' tournament held throughout New York's Capital Region was bigger (276 teams in six age divisions) than ever before, and every bit as good as usual.
Below is a report on more than a few players who might eventually wind up at MAAC programs.
Why report on the GymRat?
Several reasons ...
First, it's in my own backyard and, secondly, I'm directly involved helping select all-star teams and writing the entire event's post-tournament report (which can be found in its entirety at www.gymratchallenge.com).
Mostly, though, it's an event that draws hundreds of eventual Division I players each year. Over the years nine NBA lottery picks have come through the GymRat, a couple dozen former GymRat performers have been in the NBA and literally hundreds have played at a high-major Division I level.
But, many more have wound up at mid-major level programs and the list of GymRat alum that have wound up in the MAAC is long and plentiful.
Hard to say for sure how any and which players will eventually migrate to the MAAC. But, there's no doubt that more than a few will.
Here's how we get an idea. The tournament, this year, had 15 individuals devoted solely to watching games and selecting the top players, ones who would eventually be written about for the GymRat's website.
At the higher age levels (rising seniors, rising juniors), evaluators ask players and their respective AAU coaches what schools are looking. That information is often included in the eventual reports.
Here's a fairly comprehensive list, with pertinent comments, about players who claimed to have received at least some interest from a MAAC program, in no particular order. The descriptions combine what was provided by the event's talent evaluators and, on occasion, some personal observations.
- Justin Robinson, 5-7 point guard from Kingston High School. Robinson played extremely well in the tournament and was selected as the MVG (Most Valuable GymRat). A real floor general who could also score. He had a game-high 14 points, along with seven assists, in the championship game which his team won. Said he was being heavily recruited by Marist and has heard from Siena. He's hoping his play on the AAU circuit brings higher offers. The GymRat was a big breakthrough for him.
- Jontne Rutty, a 6-6 forward (Putnam Science Academy) who could shoot from long range, yet was physical enough to contribute inside. He said he has been getting interest from several MAAC teams, as well as America East teas.
- Greg Noack, a 6-8 forward from Liberty (N.J.) High School. He played for the always strong Jersey Shore Warriors' program. A mobile, albeit slender power forward who made some athletic finishes round the basket and showed a nice mid-range jumper. Indicated that his interest has come from Siena, Fairfield and Monmouth.
- Dwayne Daniel, a 5-10 point guard from Lawrence H.S. (Long Island). Extremely quick guard who can get to the basket at will who also has good court vision. Solid outside shooter and excellent on-the-ball defender. He played at the highest age level (17-under), but is only a rising junior. Has gotten some interest from Iona and Hofstra.
- Sam Eckstrom, a 6-8 center from Olean H.S. He is a big-body (235 pounds) space eater and can finish around the basket. Good post moves and decent range from 15 feet. Only a rising junior. Definitely a mid-major level player, at least. Already has an offer from UBuffalo, but several MAAC schools are also getting involed.
- Bryson Lassiter, a 5-11 point guard fro Bayshore H.S. A lightning quick guard who can get to the rim and finish who also has a quick shooting stroke. Strong body. Excellent in transition game. Several MAAC schools showing interest.
- J.C. Snow, a 6-2 pint guard from Abington Heights H.S. Strong, tough and good size for playing the point. Physicall ready right now, yet is only a rising junior. Great vision and makes teammates better. Drives to the basket and finishes. Good shooting range out to the stripe, although not consistent yet from long range. A variety of schools, including St. Joe's, Boston University and some MAAC schools show interest But, he's also a high-major football prospect.
- Eric Lofton, a 5-8 point guard from Union (N.J.) H.S. Extremely quick, arguably the quickest guard at the GymRat. He got anywhere he wanted at any time. Shoots it well from mid range. A little small, but already hearing from a variety of MAAC schools.
- Edward Alede (Kemper H.S./Naval Academy Prep School). A 6-9 center who was one of the best true post players here. Long wingspan that makes him very effective around the basket. Extremely good inside defender. Also a nice mid-range jumper. Some MAAC schools involved, but he said he intends to go to Navy.
-Amur Stokes, a 6-2 combo guard from La Salle College H.S. (N.J.) A very good athlete who does a little of everything. Gets into the lane to pass or score. One of the better backcourt defenders here. Knocks down open shots. Has heard from Siena, La Salle and St. Joe's.
- Chima Azounwu, a 6-11, 255-pound center from Stepinac H.S. He only started playing basketball a year ago and is still raw offensively. But, already a solid defensive presence. Long with a pro body and might be the best long-range prospect to have played in the GymRat. Hearing from Siena, America East and Patriot League schools so far.
- Matt Staubi, a 5-8 point guard from Rye Country Day School. A natural floor leader with good court vision and a consistent outside shoot. Handles the ball well; great competitor. Has heard from Siena.
- Kevin Degnan, a 6-7 forward from Pearl River. A face-up power forward with great skill level. an shoot from deep, post up or attack on the dribble. Smart player who showed good passing skill. Has heard from a variety of mid-majors, including Siena.
-Eric Anderson, a 6-6 forward from Haverford School who plays for the Jersey Shore Warriors' AAU program. He affects the game in multiple ways. Extremely skilled with a high hoops I who can shoot from deep, dribble and pass and rebounds. Offers from Fairfield, Davidson, Princeton.
And, one for future reference:
- Jules Brown, a 6-5/200 pound point guard from Lower Merion H.S. (Pa.) who plays for the Jersey Shore Warriors and is only a rising sophomore. He is a long guard that is still growing. Great vision and an exceptional passer. Creates in the full court and always thinks pass first. Knows how to finish in traffic and on the break. Evaluators estimate he'll eventually get looks from the high major level.
Those were players from the highest age bracket who mentioned getting some MAAC interest. For sure, there were others who didn't reveal their suitors. And, there are many more at the younger levels already getting looks from colleges.
Some did mention the interest. For that ... take a look at the full GymRat report (www.gymratchallenge.com)