by Franklyn Calle
On the last day of the live recruiting period, the St. John’s University campus was full with college coaches representing over 60 division I programs who scrambled for one last time trying to get their final glimpse of prospects in what was the last major AAU tournament in the summer of 2009. The New Heights basketball program, also hosts of the event along with Team NJABC, dominated the playing pool and took home the championships in the U16 and U17 bracket at the Summer In The City on Friday night. It was a one-game elimination event that took place at the Red Storm’s practice facility, Taffner Field House, in which 32 teams participated. Four games were being played simultaneously with some of the elite players in the NYC Tri-State area on the floor playing since 9 A.M. all the way up to when the 17’s Championship finished around 10 P.M. But the long day inside the packed gym didn’t deprecate enthusiasm between college coaches as some of the top names in the business were on hand, from Kentucky’s John Calipari to Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl to Villanova’s Jay Wright and even Division II Queens College head coach Kyrk Peponakis and Div. III St. Lawrence.
The New Heights 17U group defeated the Rise Panthers, 58-52, to capture the title. They were led by Jayvaughn Pinkston who finished with 13 points. David Coley of Thomas Jefferson HS added 11 more while Devon Collier and Branden Frazier both chipped in 10 points each. For Rise, Isiah Stokley finished with a game-high 21 points. For New Heights, the win marked final AAU tournament for a group of guys that have been together every summer for quite some time.
In 16U division, New Heights also came away crowned champions thanks to an outstanding performance by Tyquan Goodlet that led them to a 61-60 win over the MetroHawks. Goodlet’s game-high 26 points led the way. Jermaine Sanders also had a strong performance as he finished with 19 points. Shaquille Stokes led the way for the MetroHawks with 17 points.
The following were some of the top performers.
Devon Collier, 6-8 forward, St. Anthony (NJ), Class of 2010: This lefty has a nice touch around the basket. He can shoot the ball off the pass very well. Collier is very active on the boards and does a nice job with getting the team second shot opportunities. The Bronx native benefits from his long arms and athleticism on the defensive end, giving his opponent a tough time in trying to get pass him. Although he is currently battling a recent injury to his knee, if healthy, Collier can make some major contributions at the next level.
Branden Frazier, 6-3 guard, Bishop Loughlin (NY), Class of 2010: The only thing you need to know about him is that he can shoot the lights out the gym, especially from behind the perimeter. Usually at the high school level, you will see a kid that can shoot the 3-ball very consistently and then not be so effective when shooting a mid-range jumper, but Frazier is one of those select players that can simply shoot from anywhere on the floor. His range has no limit. He can shoot off the dribble, off the pass and can very easily find the open man.
Corey Edwards, 6-1 guard, Christ the King (NY), Class of 2011: Edwards does what a point guard is supposed to do, run the team and control the game. Although he may not be a scoring threat, he is involved in every single play. The Middle Village product is one of the best pure point guards in the Northeast. Corey has outstanding ball-handling skills to go along with his superlative court vision. He does a great job creating shots for others and running plays in transition, fast breaks or on a half-court offense. Edwards is lighting-quick and can pass with the best of them. What impresses me the most is his ability to recognize when to go full speed and when to pull the breaks on offense, something that many high school point guards struggle with.
Ashton Pankey, 6-8 forward, St. Anthony (NJ), Class of 2010: This very skilled and athletic forward does a good job crashing the boards. He can get off the floor in a hurry and also does a good job running the lanes and scoring in transition. He is very active in the paint and has a nice soft touch with an effective mid-range shot. On the defensive end, Pankey is also active contesting shots and hindering the passing lane.
Jermaine Sanders, 6-4 Wing, Rice (NY), Class of 2011: This rising junior has little problem getting to the hole. The lefty can get to the basket at will due to his aggressiveness and agility. He is always on attack mode and gets to the free throw line often. He plays with the same aggressive effort on defense and does a great job staying in front of his man.
Chris Gayot, 6’1 guard, Cardozo (NY), Class of 2011: Your typical tough New York City point guard. His stocky body frame makes it hard for defenders to contain once he has already begun his drive to the basket. He plays with lots of aggressiveness and showed good footwork. Gayot can distribute the ball and get others easy looks. He has nice speed and demonstrated that he is capable of knocking down jumpers.
Micheal Taylor, 6-3 guard, Boys & Girls (NY), Class of 2011: This combo guard is quickly becoming one the best young prospects in the NYC area. Taylor can score in all type of ways. His quickness and agility allows him to get to the basket at ease. But if that is not an option then he can just beat you by shooting from anywhere on the floor. From shooting off the pick, to shooting off the dribble, to shooting off the catch, Taylor can knock down jumpers in any position and in whatever situation. And if that wasn’t tough enough for a defender, he must also be guarded when behind the arc as he has little trouble making 3’s after 3’s. I don’t quite understand why he hasn’t been getting more mentions on the national scene but look forward to hearing his name more often in his final two years of high school.
Jayvaughn Pinkston, 6-6 forward, Bishop Loughlin (NY), Class of 2010 (Left): Now that Lance Stephenson has moved on, expect for Pinkston to be the main attraction in New York City. The Brooklyn native will not be easy to contain this upcoming season. At 6-5 and 220 pounds, Pinkston is simply indomitable in the paint. His strength and aggressiveness is as prominent as any other part of his game. He runs the floor very well and has just enough ball-handling skills to bring the ball up the floor. He can score in the post as well as facing the basket. If given room, he has no problem knocking down jumpers. Some may consider him an undersized power forward but his strength and agility should help give him little problem when competing with other big men at the next level. The word out there is that St. John’s may be the leader in his recruiting list.
Omar Calhoun, 6-3 guard, Christ the King (NY), Class of 2010: Although Omar will only be entering his second year of high school, the recruiting process has started to heat up this summer. This streaky shooter can connect from anywhere on the floor, especially behind the arc. He can put up points in a hurry. Once he expands his game more, especially taking it to the hole, expect for Calhoun to be one of the premier players in Brooklyn.
Isiah Stokley, 6-4 wing, formerly Edison (NY), Class of 2010: This member originally of the 2009 class will be going prep next season at a school to be determined in the near future. But one thing is for sure, it’s only a matter of time before he signs with a good Division 1 program. The Jamaica, NY, native is a serious threat from behind the perimeter. You can count on him to be playing at full speed and effort every second he is on the floor. At this tournament specifically, he did a nice job getting to the free throw line time after time. His athleticism, agility and body strength should help him adjust more smoothly at the next level.
Myles Mack, 5-9 guard, Paterson Catholic (NJ), Class of 2011: This Jersey native has lighting speed to help him get to the basket. Although only 5-19, Mack doesn’t show any fear in finishing on bigger guys when driving to the hole, even in traffic. He possesses quick hands and does a good job running the floor. Mack does a nice job in setting up shots for others and getting everyone involved. His nice footwork allows him to stay in front of his man on the defensive end.
Fuquan Edwin, 6-6 forward, Paterson Catholic (NJ): The 6-6 Seton Hall-bound small forward has lots of athleticism. He has hang-time, which helps him adjust his shot. His body control is impressive. The Jersey kid makes strong drives to the basket and can get to the hole easily thanks to that quick and long first step. Edwin’s athleticism and aggressiveness allows for him to finish in traffic. He is very active on the boards as well as on the defensive end.
Isaiah Epps, 6-2 guard, Plainfield (NJ), Class of 2010: Another lefty, Epps does a nice job getting others involved and has great court vision. He is a good decision maker and has little trouble with finding the open man. It is no easy task to keep up with him, as his speed is superb. The Pittsburgh-commit can score in bunches specially once he has found a rhythm. The streaky shooter is most effective when shooting off the dribble. Epps can really hurt you from behind the arc.
Tony Chennault, 6-2 point guard, Neumann Goretti (PA), Class of 2010: Chennault shows his agility, athleticism and quick ball-handling skills. He does a good job distributing the ball and finding the open man. The Wake Forest-bound guard has little trouble in driving to the basket or even creating a shot for himself off the dribble. This combo guard has a combination of nice ball-handling moves and is good at changing speeds.
Trevor Clemmings, 6-6 forward, Paterson Catholic (NJ), Class of 2010: Contains the physique to play college ball right now. He is a very athletic small/power forward that can run the floor well and is very active on the post. Clemmings is also restless on the glass at both ends of the floor. He does a good job positioning himself for entry passes on the blocks. A sleeper.
Kyle Anderson, 6-7 forward, Paterson Catholic (NJ), Class of 2012: This rising sophomore had unlimited potential. At 6-7, Anderson can play the point if asked. He does a good job handling the ball and getting others involved. He has a very calm and smooth fashion way of playing. Kyle does a good job following his shots. He can get to the basket as well as drain mid-rangers. Has three more years to sharpen his game for the next level.
Sidiki Johnson, 6-8 forward, St. Raymonds (NY), Class of 2011 (Right): Johnson gave the Arizona Wildcats a verbal commitment this past weekend. The rising junior has quickly become one of the most promising prospects in the New York City metropolitan area. He plays with lots of aggressiveness and is able to finish at the basket with either hand. The Bronx native does a nice job drawing contact. He is very active in the paint on both ends of the floor and does a good job running the court.
Maurice Harkless, 6-6 forward, Forest Hills (NY), Class of 2011: Harkless, another sleeper, can get to the basket and finish in all type of manners. This rising junior has good ball-handling skills and can score off the dribble either by finishing at the basket or through a mid-range jumper. Maurice can get to the lane and do damage. He has nice athleticism and will continue to get better over the next two seasons.
Tyquan Goodlet, 6-3 guard, St. Anthony (NJ), Class of 2011: One of the biggest surprises of the day was the outstanding play by Goodlet. The rising junior really impressed, especially with the amount of confident he was showing. The kid was simply on fire in the championship game as he drained jumper after jumper. He showed the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim at will. Proved to have a quick first step to go along with a variety of ravishing moves to the basket.
Shaquille Stokes, 5-10 guard, Lincoln (NY), Class of 2011: Another typical city tough point guard that shows no fear when attacking the rim. Stokes is always on attack mode and does a good job drawing contact. He is at his best when in transition. The junction of good ball-handling and lateral quickness makes it hard for defenders to stay in front of him. If given room, the Jersey native can knock down the 3-ball.