National Junior Circuit Standout Players – Saturday, February 25
Location: The Durham Sportsplex
Against the Six
Ran Wang was a bright spot in Against the Six’s Saturday. Although the team suffered tough losses in both their games, Wang pressured a stout FCBA defence and poured in 16 points against Jungle Prep. Perhaps encouraged by the raucous support in the form of cowbells and bleacher-stomps from their supporters, he appeared at times to have the ball on a string en route to the basket, where he was able to create—and finish—some tough buckets.
Every Bill Crothers player scored in their lone game, a blowout win over Victory Prep. Four guys reached double digits, but Ishmael Ira stood out from the crowd. His 16 points came almost entirely in the paint, where he showcased his agility to deftly maneuver around defenders and a soft touch to get the ball in the basket.
Brampton City Prep North
There were a handful of standout players on BCP North in their second game on Saturday against Canada Topflight Academy. Janoy Walkes led the team in scoring with 26 points (34pts in earlier win over St. Jude’s Prep) while Quinten Ethier (17pts) and Te’Ziah Malcolm (14pts) both put up double digit numbers as well. But, floor general David Bottomley was the one who took over down the stretch to lead his team to a comeback victory. His off-ball defence gave the CTA guards fits late in the game and his tight handle, shiftiness and silky pull-up jumper spurred him to a 19 point performance with 15 in the second half.
Brampton City Prep South
Anthony Whitter’s strong frame and explosive athleticism carried him to a dominant showing for BCP South. The big wing used his size and strength to get to the bucket where he finished some tough looks, but also showed flashes of a mid-range jumper to keep opposing defences on their toes. Whitter led his team to a 2-0 record on the day as the top scorer in both of their games, notching 23 points against Hodan Prep Silver and 17 points against Victory Prep Provincial.
Canada Topflight Academy
Christian Kouane is an explosive wing with a lightning-quick first step who already looks poised for success at the post-secondary level. Kouane can score at the rim, but also has a reliable outside shot, making him dangerous at the perimeter. He did the bulk of his scoring in the paint, but knocked down two threes en route to 19 points against BCP South in CTA’s first game and one in a 88-73 win over SC Academy which he finished with 22.
Excel Hoops weren’t able to pull off a comeback against SC Academy in their only game of the day. It wasn’t for lack of effort from guard Daunte Jones though, who led his team with 22 points. Jones might be the flashiest player on the circuit with his acrobatic layups and Globetrotter-esque dribble moves. He’s a true scoring guard who has a green light to attack the basket at will. A tight spin into a deep midrange jumper and an up-and-under circus finish were two of several eye-catching highlights that made Jones a standout player.
Full Circle Basketball Academy
Isaiah Coscarella-Knight was dominant in FCBA’s 27-point win over Against the Six. The big guard proved too shifty for the opposing defence, carving his way to the rim where he used his frame to score or get sent to the free throw line, where he shot 80 percent on the day. Coscarella-Knight led his team in scoring with 17, and did a good job using the attention from the defence to create looks for his teammates.
Hodan Prep Navy
Adam Sobel has the skill set of a wing, but plays as more of an undersized big for Hodan Prep Navy. He scored 15 points in their win over ONL-X with a clutch basket and pair of free throws down the stretch. He wasn’t Hodan Prep’s top scorer—Vlad Popa had 25—but the intangibles that Sobel brought to the table were key in securing a five point victory for his team. Not a loose ball or rebound opportunity went by without Sobel causing chaos, and his defence on players far bigger than him proved essential in Hodan Prep’s win.
Hodan Prep Silver
Hodan Prep Silver guard Ilyan Lalani displayed a smooth handle and automatic shooting stroke in his team’s loss to BCP South. He knocked down five threes in the game, scoring 15 of his 19 points from outside the arc. Lalani is a constant threat to pull up from deep, forcing opposing defences to step out to guard him and in doing so, spreading the floor to create inside looks for his teammates.
Liam Kelk is a sharpshooting guard with the speed and court vision to round out his skill set. In two tough losses for ONL-X, Kelk scored 12 and 11 points. He scored from deep in both games, but his impact greatly exceeded the score sheet. Kelk’s ability to be a three-level scoring threat while simultaneously running the offence and facilitating buckets for his teammates makes him a premier guard in the NJC.
Orangeville Prep is renowned across Canada for being a pipeline to the NCAA and NBA. On Saturday, Elijah Patterson looked like the program’s latest elite prospect. In their only game of the day, Patterson led his team to a comeback win against ONL-X. The big wing got to the basket at will, with all 28 of his points coming from inside the arc. He was far from the only contributor on a team loaded with elite young talent—viral guard Zach Walker scored 18—but when the going got tough, Patterson got going. He put up 12 points in the fourth to complete the comeback, seeming impossible to stop in the paint with his soft touch around the rim.
SC Academy split their games, going 1-1 on the day. In a 79-65 win over Excel Hoops, Sami Uraz did what he wanted in the paint, scoring 29 points inside the arc. At times, it seemed like the only way Excel defenders could get a stop was by fouling him, but that wasn’t the solution either—Uraz shot 7/9 from the line. Despite a loss to CTA later in the day, Uraz once again looked dominant. He seemed to flip a switch when his team went down in the fourth quarter, when he scored 13 of his 25.
Victory Academy Provincial
In a frustrating game against Bill Crothers, it’s better to judge the Victory players on their first game of the day. Ryan Jones looked like the most explosive player on the court in their matchup against BCP South. His role in Victory’s full court press saw him throw down a pair of explosive fastbreak dunks that sparked a big comeback in the second half, and although his team ultimately fell short, Jones’ 22 points led all scorers.
Next Up: The National Junior Circuit National Championships at The Durham Sportsplex in Oshawa, On.
Click HERE for directions to the Sportsplex