Sunday Rewind At #LucasASWeekend2k18
March 4 2018
HOUSTON, TX — Another edition of the John Lucas All-Star Weekend Tournament wrapped up Sunday with a competitive slate of bracket games. The energy in the gym was a clear indicator that this championship meant a great deal to the teams in attendance.
Included among the prizes for the winners were trophies, rings, and a sizeable check. Following a full weekend at #LucasASWeekend2k18, here are some of the immediate takeaways from another successful weekend of youth basketball in Texas…
TEAM SWOOP CLAIMS STATEMENT TITLE
Team Swoop head coach Alen ‘Mike’ Hardy wasn’t about to choose favorites following his team’s run to the #LucasASWeekend2k18 eighth-grade championship. “That’s for you guys to decide,” said Hardy when asked by ThePrepInsiders.com about his team’s best players. “Every guy on my roster contributes in one way or another. That’s why they’re on the team.”
The truth is that the South Florida group of eighth-graders may very well be one of the best teams in the country and they are certainly one this year’s best rising high school freshmen teams without the backing of a powerful shoe sponsor. Their John Lucas All-Star Weekend Tournament title was a serious statement to Class of 2022 and is sure to boost their status in the first edition of our National Travel Team Rankings which will debut in early April. In the meantime, I’ll break down the Team Swoop roster in our positional recaps coming throughout the next week, so stay tuned.
AN EXTENDED FIRST-LOOK AT LEBRON JAMES, JR…
And here we go… If you don’t think it’s a circus already, the happenings around LeBron James, Jr. are going to be, to put it mildly, wild. Michael Jordan’s sons, Marcus and Jeffrey, were on the middle school circuit before I began my career in youth hoops but I was around for the media frenzy when the brothers hit high school. That was a pre-social media world.
This is going to be way worse. The oldest son of LeBron James bears his father’s name and is an absolute click-bait magnet. The people around him know it, as the North Coast Blue Chips program that James, Jr. plays with declined dozens of requests for individual photos but weren’t able to control the crowds and cameras that cluttered the sidelines each time ‘Bronny’ stepped onto the court at #LucasASWeekend2k18.
Accompanied by his own personal bodyguard that conspicuously roams the sidelines, LeBron James, Jr. currently seems miraculously unfazed by all the hubbub surrounding him. Nearing 6-feet tall, he’s a confident perimeter shooter, and yes, possesses advanced vision and passing ability (for a seventh-grader). Simply put, even if he didn’t have a famous name, the Class of 2023 prospect would be an intriguing player to monitor based on his game and measurables.
…AND A CHAMPIONSHIP FOR NORTH COAST BLUE CHIPS
Despite all of the additional attention surrounding LeBron James, Jr., give the North Coast Blue Chips organization credit, as the team of seventh-graders ignored all the distractions and raised the #LucasASWeekend2k18 Class of 2023 trophy at the conclusion of the weekend. This is a championship the Ohio-based group will take great pride in based on the competition that the event attracted.
Their run to the title also answered any questions as to if this team was more hype or substance. Simply put, they proved they belong. In addition to James, Jr., Rodney Gallagher and Mike Davis played big minutes in the backcourt for NCBC, while 6-foot-8 Jahzare Jackson and Luke Montgomery anchored the frontcourt.
CLASS OF 2024 COULD NOT BE IGNORED
I normally don’t turn my attention toward the sixth-grade class each year until the end of the summer for one simple reason: NCAA recruiting rules classify prospects in grades seven through twelve as recruitable athletes, and therefore, information on the sixth-grade class simply isn’t as crucial. The reality is I have four full years to figure it out before these players begin the ‘contact period’ of their recruitment following their sophomore year of high school. So yes, the player rankings will change, a lot.
The #LucasASWeekend2k18 tournament was a bit different because the large venue, MI3 Center, allowed me to watch sixth and seventh graders simultaneously. In the end, the New York Gauchos took home the Class of 2024 (sixth grade) championship, and I’ll provide a rare rundown of the top players in that division later this week. Among the most intriguing was 6-foot-5 sixth-grader, Ma’Shy Hill, who played in the seventh-grade division with Texas-based and Adidas-sponsored, Urban ASAK.
THE STARS COME OUT FOR LUCAS ALL-STAR WEEKEND
It’s no coincidence that two of the biggest names in youth basketball right now, John Lucas and Chris Paul, share professional pedigree and a serious competitive spirit. What is ironic is that both currently reside in Houston, Texas, which helped ensure that #LucasASWeekend2k18 was a fun and memorable experience for the game’s next generation of stars.
It was wonderful to see so many former professional athletes in the gym who genuinely enjoy sharing their time with the youth. In addition to John Lucas and Chris Paul, add future (football) Hall Of Famer Andre Johnson to the list, as well as names like Eric Gordon, Jermaine O’Neal, Mo Williams, and several others.