North vs South Challenge: Top Performers
DC serves as battleground for top prep teams.
The NCA North vs South Challenge puts bragging rights on the lines for teams from multiple states. In efforts to create a Civil War of hoops, National Christian Academy coach Trevor Brown matches some of the finest teams from the North against some filthy ones from south of the Mason-Dixon line. Starting off with only four teams a few years back, the event has popped off to the point that it now has 10 teams and had to shut some out from the Washington, DC, event.
From the second you step foot in the gym at NCA, it screams SLAM Magazine. Totally encompassing the urban basketball/hip-hop vibe, National Christian Academy has a vibrant gym that you’ll see in just about every inner-city in America. You know, that small gym with the murals on the wall and stage in the background? The one where you can’t dive on the floor for loose balls too close to the wall because you might bust your head on the wall? Yeah, that kind of gym. The aesthetics of the gym were just as dope as the basketball was, if not more
With that said, here are a number of guys who did their thing at the North vs South Challenge:
Rodney Purvis, 6-3, PG/SG, Upper Room Christian Academy, 2012
The most high-profile player in the event did not disappoint the DC fans who came out to see the McDonald’s All American. Starting off the first quarter right, dropping 12 points on Princeton Day including two bombs from NBA three-point range. The North Carolina State commit slowed a bit as the game went on as far as getting buckets were concerned, but was able to create open looks for his teammates on a consistent basis. The dominance shown here only furthered the legend of Purvis, who just recently did his best Reggie Miller impersonation with 6 points in 5 seconds in a W in Ohio.
Manny Taylor, 6-6, PF/C, Life Center Academy (NJ), 2015
Jotting down notes thinking he was a senior, I was shocked when Life Center assistant David Paul Boudwin let me know that Taylor was just a freshman. With productivity and a body resembling a senior, the burly post straight up dominated the paint against Upper Room with a 20/10 performance. A deceptive athlete, he catches guys off guard with his unorthodox game and motor that doesn’t stop. Knowing that he’s still got three years of hoops left at the prep level, Manny is a big fella who cats need to keep an eye on because of his remarkably efficient play down on the blocks that you just don’t see that often out of a youngster.
Deandre Thomas, 6-5, SF, National Christian Academy (MD), 2012
The best player from the most winning team, Thomas showed a lot of potential for a guy who has apparently slid under the radar by most, until now. The 6-5 lefty has a bit of a hitch in his shot, but that didn’t stop him from drilling three after three against CFCA. The best part of Deandre’s game has to be his athleticism and the potential that he has on both ends though. There’s just so much that you can do with a player like that to where he’s almost like a blank canvas, and surely someone that a DI school is going to take a chance on.
Jalyn Pennie, 6-7, PF, CFCA (NC), 2012
If you were looking for the best available senior big man in DC, Pennie was the man of your dreams. The athletic four man was dominant on the defensive end against National Christian and continued to show off an emerging offensive game facing the basket. Considered by many to be a Marshall lean, the senior from north of the border is still open to all suitors and will continue to draw interest with athletic play like this.
Kaza Keane, 6-2, PG, CFCA (NC), 2012
Fresh into the senior class, Keane has been getting hella buzz among college coaches scrambling for point guards in the spring signing period. The Canadian playmaker ran the show better than any lead guard who we peeped in DC and while his team walked away winless, it certainly wasn’t because of his lack of personal success. Expect Keane to be a hot commodity for the remainder of the spring as long as he remains on the board.