Brandon Jennings Invitational, II
Live from Under Armour event in Milwaukee, featuring Aaron Brown, Austin Rivers &…
Brooklyn (NY) Lincoln 75, Menomonee Falls (WI) High 61
With the Marquette University High gym starting to reach its capacity of 1,200 people (if not more with the people crowded in corners), one attendee in particular stood out for what he has accomplished as a basketball coach—North Carolina’s Roy Williams, who sauntered in and took a front-row seat for the third game of the day in order to watch a recruit he’s already offered a scholarship to, Menomonee Falls’ junior forward JP Tokoto, in person.
Unfortunately for Ol’ Roy, and anyone who wanted to see a close game throughout, JP was benched for the first quarter (something about missing a team meeting while getting his haircut). If JP—who ultimately impressed with 22 points complied mostly on impressive mid-range jumpers and a strong effort inside for the much shorter team—had played all 32 minutes, it’s possible this game would have gone the local team’s way.
That said, the vaunted Railsplitters of Brooklyn put forth a winning effort they should be proud of regardless of how many minutes Tokoto played. The big and agile team out of Coney Island was able to play aggressive D on the perimeter, knowing it had 7-0 Jordan Dickerson (tracking a rebound along with Tokoto, at left) hanging back in the paint, while the Railsplitters offense came primarily from Shaquille Stokes (17 points) and Reuben King (14 points).
Player of the Game for this one went to Stokes, an unsigned senior who is considering a few Big East teams but might be even better suited for a mid-major where he could probably step right in and score.
Brooklyn (NY) Boys & Girls 81, Winter Park (FL) High 79, OT
If Roy Williams was the winningest fan in attendance at this event and Brandon Jennings the most accomplished NBA player in the building, for sheer celebrity the biggest deal at this event was Winter Park star Austin Rivers (making a layup at right).
When Rivers first emerged from the Winter Park locker room during the previous game, he was mobbed by a gang of kids, five deep, asking for his autograph. It is with at least a small measure of pride that I can report the thing everyone wanted signed was the program we made for this event, which included a nice feature on Austin.
As for the game, it was by far the best of the day, only being determined in the last second of the first overtime on a putback by Boys & Girls’ Jeffland Neverson.
Rivers started sort of quiet, but part of that was due to the Brookylnites’ bevy of tough, athletic wings, who were in his face for all 36 minutes. Ultimately, the Duke-bound star went for an event-high 35 points, including four three-pointers, a couple of which were step-back 24 footers that ripped through the net.
It was not enough to overcome the defending New York City PSAL champions, though, who played hard and together the whole game.
While Winter Park had just two players in double figures (Rivers and Brett Comer, a Florida Atlantic-bound wing that is very fun to watch), all five Boys & Girls starters scored in double figures. Mike Taylor and Antione Slaughter had 17 points each, Neverson had 16, Leroy Fludd had 14 and Malik Nichols had 10. Nichols was the also the one who gave Rivers his best challenge on defense.
The game ended in chaotic fashion, with Winter Park arguing vehemently that Neverson’s basket came after the buzzer (in my opinion it came in time). There were actually TV cameras from Fox Sports Net there taping the game to show on February 1, but no way for anyone on the court level to view a replay or anything.
Then, after the angry Winter Park players composed themselves enough to shake hands with the Boys & Girls players and coaches, the PA guy quickly announced something about the game being so good that each team was getting “two Players of the Game.”
I’m pretty sure the honors went to Comer and Rivers for WP and Slaughter and Taylor for B&G, but that’s almost beside the point. After three games that had featured some cool individual performances but no real close games, this finale to the Under Armour Brandon Jennings Invitational made winners of everyone who was in the building to see it (and definitely check you local listings to see when exactly FSN is showing the game; Rivers skills vs B&G’s grit is extremely compelling to watch.)