Sunday Rewind: #KnoxVegasHeat2k18
April 8 2018
KNOXVILLE, TN — The 10th Annual KnoxVegas Heat Invitational concluded on Sunday, where many of the Southeast region’s top teams finished their weekend with title runs, resulting in a number of memorable storylines that will become history as the event enters into its second decade of existence.
NC ELITE TURNS IT AROUND
North Carolina Elite made headlines on Friday night at #KnoxVegasHeat2k18 with their strong play led by guard Freddie Dillone. From there, something clicked amongst this group, because their play as a team has been dominant since. While Dillone remains their offensive leader, it’s easy to find contributions elsewhere given their backcourt depth and forward Shane Fernald‘s (pictured) versatility down low.
On Sunday, NC Elite topped an undefeated EOTO squad in the 14U championship, a result few could have predicted, considering how easily the Tennessee group had rolled through the competition. This group certainly elevated their level of play as the weekend came to a close, winning the eighth-grade title by a score of 63-40, and raising their national profile as a team.
NEW MEANING TO FREE AGENCY
The KBA Free Agents were the most composed and well-rounded team in the 15U division, so their run to the #KnoxVegasHeat2k18 title was not exactly shocking. In the ninth-grade championship game, the Free Agents matched up against a worthy opponent in RSD Red, but the depth of the hometown club was too much.
Included among the headlines for the KBA Free Agents were a couple of huge performances from 6-foot-6 forward Timothy Hall (pictured). The eighth-grader did an exceptional job leading a team of older players while showcasing his versatility on both ends of the floor.
However, he couldn’t have done it without strong point guard play from 5-foot-10 Nate Marsh, who set the floor every possession and made terrific decisions with the ball. Add in a constant flow of points from wings Jeremy Miller, Parker Rothery, and Thomas Sweat and it’s easy to see how this team fared so well over the weekend, winning the 15U division 71-68 over a tough Brandon Miller-led RSD Red squad.
NORTH CAROLINA TEAM REIGNS SUPREME
Team United made headlines for their strong 17U play yesterday at #KnoxVegasHeat2k18 but it would have been difficult to predict the organization having four teams qualify for respective grade-level Championship Games.
At the youth level, Team United 13U got the job done in effortless fashion, taking down one opponent after another behind the smooth play of Robert Dillingham with additional contributions from Kevin Jenkins and Evan Smith, a pair of tweener forwards that brought effort on the defensive end.
Meanwhile, their 15U squad featuring John Butler (pictured), Josiah Dow, and Perry Smith competed in the 16U division and advanced to meet Team United’s 16U team in the Championship contest. Much to the dismay of ThePrepInsiders.com, rather than engage in a friendly rivalry game, the two teams voted split the title and head home to the Carolinas.
This left the 17U team to claim the organization’s lone high school division trophy, as Brandon Beidleman and Taurus Ragin led Team United to a 77-64 victory against a previously unbeaten Team Heat squad.
SOUTH CAROLINA WELL-REPRESENTED
On Saturday, Palmetto-state Carolina Pressure made headlines with their strong play at #KnoxVegasHeat2k18, making it quite fitting that the South Carolina Tigers followed suit, making headlines on championship Sunday. They were certainly one of the best, most entertaining teams on display, going undefeated until the semifinal game against the Free Agents.
However, there were some promising takeaways from their runner-up contest. Their leader, Andre Goodman (pictured), is a fearless 6-foot-2 point guard who makes his teammates better with his precise reads and ability to distribute the ball. At a wiry 6-foot-4, Ju’wan Scott is an intriguing forward option with the ability to score on all three levels.
Meanwhile, 6-foot-5 Jahiem Tucker holds it down inside, swatting numerous shots while showing his ability to run the floor and score within twelve feet. If these teams continue performing at such a high level, South Carolina will be on the rise in terms of basketball talent.
HARD-NOSED SQUAD FALLS JUST SHORT
The 17U Atlanta Celtics, also known as the D. Favors Celtics as a tribute to their Class of 2009 alumni Derrick Favors, were on display at #KnoxVegasHeat2k18 and were certainly worth a viewing. Despite losing in the semifinal round to the eventual 17U champions, Team United, this Celtics team was fun to watch. No team played harder or with more intensity throughout the weekend in Tennessee.
Their trio of 6-foot-2 guards, Bruce Carpenter (pictured), Shamar Jones, and Hunter McIntosh applied constant pressure to opponents while showing a desire to prove themselves defensively. Carpenter was the most active defender of the group and finished aggressively through contact at the rim. The Celtics featured multiple ball-handlers, but Jones filled the role of “point guard”, consistently hunting for opportunities to distribute.
Meanwhile, McIntosh is a blend of the two, displaying terrific perimeter skills and a willingness to make hustle plays on the defensive end. Add in quality post contributions from Brady O’Connell and John Whitehead, and the Atlanta Celtics were one of the toughest teams in attendance at the 10th annual KnoxVegas Heat Invitational.