Saturday Highlights At Spotlight’s Clash For The Cup
January 27 2018
NEPTUNE, NJ — In existence for more than a decade, The Clash For The Cup Tournament has become a staple on Basketball Spotlight’s annual event circuit. The 2018 edition features nearly 100 fourth through eighth-grade teams while providing an excellent glimpse of the youth hoops talent that the Northeast region has to offer.
As #ClashForTheCup2k18 kicked off on Saturday, I was excited to see which players and teams would emerge from the field in the Classes of 2022-2024. Here’s a look from my viewpoint inside the gym during the first day of action…
WALKER MAKES CASE FOR #1 SPOT IN CLASS OF 2022
The Class of 2022 will begin their high school journey in approximately six months, but the depth chart of talent for this group is already beginning to take shape, and near the top of the list is 6-foot-5 wing Jarace Walker. There aren’t ten better players in the country right now and that’s likely a conservative statement.
The Pennsylvania product caught my eye more than a year ago but his game has continued to progress at a rapid rate. The physical advantages that he possessed last year are now even more evident and he’s playing with refreshed energy as well as an improved jumper off the catch. Walker has a scary combination of physical tools and emerging skills, and the hope is he’ll remain motivated to improve.
MEET CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY’S LEGACY PROSPECT
Milt Wagner brought national attention to the basketball scene in Camden, New Jersey during the early 1980s. His son, Dajuan, gained fame in the early 2000s for scoring 100 points in a single game and ultimately became one of the best high school basketball players ever. Enter Dajuan Wagner, Jr.
The current seventh-grader is built more similarly to his lean 6-foot-5 grandfather as opposed to his muscular 6-foot-2 father. What he has in common with both is his ability to put the ball in the basket. Already over six-feet tall, the third generation Wagner should continue to stretch out, and he flashed a scoring arsenal during opening day at #ClashForTheCup2k18 which few of his peers in the Class of 2023 are capable of matching.
PLAYAZ FUTURE BACKCOURT COMES INTO FOCUS
Anyone familiar with the grassroots basketball scene is likely familiar with the Playaz Basketball Club of New Jersey. The organization has a rich history, claiming several NBA talents, and hundreds of collegiate players. I left the gym on Saturday at #ClashForTheCup2k18 fairly convinced that Playaz program director, Jimmy Salmon, has his future backcourt solidified.
The eighth-grade tandem of Dasean Lecque and William Richardson was easily one of the more exciting backcourts to watch during the tournament’s first day. Lecque, the younger sibling of Class of 2019 five-star prospect Jalen Lecque, is wired to score and won’t wait as long as his brother to gain national attention. Ditto for Richardson, a playmaking lead guard, who told ThePrepInsiders.com that he and Lecque are planning to attend Teaneck (NJ) High School together where their chemistry should keep flowing.
INTERNATIONAL PIPELINE FLOWING FOR NEW WORLD
It seems with each passing year that more and more international players are making their way to the United States for greater opportunities through the game of basketball. As a continent, Africa certainly leads the way presently, but the list of nations sending players to North America is growing every day.
What cannot be argued is that the New World Basketball program is paving the path in terms of bringing young players from across the Atlantic and helping them find immediate success on our soil. Their newest import by way of Nigeria is 6-foot-9 Favour Arie. Listed as a Class of 2022 prospect, Arie plays with an excellent motor, and his skills have improved vastly since arriving in the United States approximately three months ago according to New World program director Taj Hawkins.
TEAM FINAL’S LIVELY-LED CREW IN CLASS OF 2022
I got my first look at 6-foot-8 forward Dereck Lively on Saturday at #ClashForTheCup2k18 and immediately added him to a shortlist of frontcourt talents to monitor in the Northeast region’s 2022 group. His mother, Kathy (Phillips) Drysdale, starred at Penn State from 1988-1992, while grandfather Charles Phillips played at Xavier nearly five decades ago.
Playing for a Team Final squad that was missing three starters due primarily to injuries, Lively stepped up and into a leading role, flashing two-way abilities that are sure to have many programs intrigued once he reaches the high school circuit. I’m excited to see Team Final’s eighth-grade group at full strength again soon as it appears their roster is one of the program’s best in recent memory.