King of New York Basketball Classic
The classes of 2011 and 2012 battle for New York supremacy.
by Franklyn Calle
Last weekend, the Boogie Down Bronx played host to some of the top prep players in the tri-state area. The King of New York Basketball Classic hosted by the AAU powerhouse New York Gauchos was held in over 10 different venues simultaneously throughout the Bronx. When it was all set and done, the Gauchos 16U & 17U squads both made it the championship game. The 16U took home the trophy after defeating New Heights (BX) 73-56 behind 19 points from Javon Thomas and Brian Bernardi. In the 17U bracket, the Playaz Club from New Jersey met the Gauchos. Paterson Catholic’s Myles Mack was just too much for the Choz’ to handle as his 33 points carried the Playaz to a 100-88 win. His teammate at P.C. High Kyle Anderson added 22 points. For the Gauchos, Shaquille Stokes of Lincoln HS finished with a team high 19 points while guards Omar Calhoun and Anthony Givens contributed 18 and 14 points respectively. After attending the championship games on Sunday, the following were some of the players that stood out.
Jevon Thomas, 2012- The rising junior was visibly the leader on the court for the Gauchos. A pass-first point guard, Thomas was the Choz’ playmaker throughout the game. He possesses great court vision and uses his quick feet to the best of his advantage. The 6-0 Queens native has great agility and upside. Thomas is very confident in letting it go from behind the perimeter, where he is very effective. But it was his ability to get to the basket and run the floor that struck the most.
Dashawn Suber, 2012- Suber showcased his ball-handling skills throughout the day. He loves getting out on the break where he does a good job keeping the defense guessing whether he will finish it off at the rim or dish it out for an assist. For the most part, he plays in a nice and smooth controlled pace. He’s expected to continue to develop.
Brian Bernardi, 2012- All you basically need to know about him is that he can flat-out shoot. The 6-2 shooting guard was hitting jumpers from NBA 3-point range. Some say that he is arguably NYC’s best shooter at the moment. Composed with a picture-perfect shooting form, Bernardi was hitting 3s left and right. He has a great basketball IQ for someone who’s only a sophomore. Although he could hit shots from anywhere on the floor, he was terrific with his shot selection. Aside from his shooting, the Brooklyn native runs the floor well and demonstrated his ability to get others involved.
Melvin Johnson, 2012- The 5-10 point guard is what you refer to as a scorer. He is very quick and creative with the ball, thus doing a good job creating the necessary room to get off quality shots. He showed no hesitation in getting to the basket or shooting it with a defender on him. Johnson looks to see what the defense gives him, and does damage from there. If given room, Johnson can drain it from distance.
Myles Mack (left), 2011- The 5-10 Jersey native was without any doubt the best player in the gym. No one could contain. He can slash to the basket with the best of them. Despite his height, he is fearless at the rim and can finish on anyone. Mack had a few acrobatic moves in mid-air on display that afternoon. His lightning quick speed is unmatched. In the defensive end, his hand are always active and does a good job defending the passing lane. Although accurate stats weren’t really available, Mack had at least 4 steals from my count.
Kyle Anderson, 2012- Anderson has a very smooth game and can turn up the pace at any given time, catching the defense unexpectedly. His shot was on from behind the perimeter. The 6-6 wing demonstrated outstanding court vision and his ability to find the open man.
Omar Calhoun, 2012- Although he should technically be playing with the 16U squad since he is still only a sophomore, Calhoun has little problem getting his at 17U level. The 6-4 shooting does a good job with his shot selection and can score in a variety of ways. He has terrific basketball IQ for someone his age. Taking what the defense gives him, Calhoun makes defenders pay for their minor mistakes. He can shoot off the dribble as well as off the catch. If he can’t get a shoot off, then he uses his agility and quickness to finish at the basket or get to the free throw line. Look for him to make some serious noise at the national level this summer.
Anthony Givens, 2011- Givens seemed like one of the few players from the gauchos that came ready to play. For a moment, Mack and him were having an interesting back-and-forth match-up. Just like Mack, Givens has lightning speed and shows no hesitation or fear when driving to the basket, despite being listed at only 5-8. He can adjust his shot in mid-air when traffic is heavy in the paint. Givens possesses a very strong physique and knows how to use it when driving strong to the hole. On the defensive end, he’s always active and looking to strip the ball.
Desmond Hubert, 2011- This 6-8 forward showed tremendous upside. The long and lanky Jersey native got some serious hops. Hubert ran the floor well and consistently was in the paint ready for tip-ins. On the defensive end, he did a good job contesting shots and playing off the ball.
Shaquille Stokes, 2011- As he takes over the reins at famed Lincoln HS, Stokes will have some high expectations nest season. On this night, he showed glimpses of what can be expected from him as senior. The 5-10 point guard ran the floor well and was able to move the ball around to the open man. He is very effective off the dribble and can create shots for himself. He is a streaky shooter and can get in a rhythm very fast.