Fall Jam Fest Day One Overview- Septmeber 20, 2008

by Alex Schwartz

With numerous prestigious programs and dozens of talented high-major prospects in attendance, day one of The Hoop Group's Fall Jam Fest was quite eventful, with a number of great performances. Teams came from all over the Northeast, with most of the squads from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Featuring six age groups, U-13 through Open, there was talent of all ages on display. Here are a few of the big-time ballers competing:

Dalton Pepper '09, Pennsbury (PA), PA Blue Devils
Isaiah Epps '10, Plainfield (NJ), Playaz Red (NJ)
Ferguson Myrick '09, Prep Charter (PA), PYO (PA)
Tyreek Duran '10, Neumann-Goretti (PA), PYO PA)
Carson Desrosiers '10, Central Catholic (MA), Expressions Elite (MA)
Jordan Williams '09, Torrington (CT), New England Playaz
Nate Lubick '10, St. Mark's School (MA), New England Playaz
Naadir Tharpe '11, Brewster Academy (NH), New England Playaz
Myles Mack '11, Paterson Catholic (NJ), Playaz (NJ)
Markus Kennedy '10, St. Patrick's (NJ), Team New Jersey ABC
Rakeem Christmas '11, North Catholic (PA), Team Phenom (PA)
Juan'ya Green '11, Archbishop Carroll (PA), Team Phenom (PA)

Of these stars, three of them stood out as top performers on the day. Naadir Tharpe was phenomenal with the high-powered New England Playaz. Tharpe, who has re-classified and will be repeaating his sophomore year, did a great job running the point. Arguably the best sophomore in all of New England, Tharpe showed why he has such a big reputation, and did a great job backing it up. Markus Kennedy of St. Patrick's was an offensive force for Team New Jersey ABC. The 6'8 big man dropped 36 points to go along with nine boards in his team's 27-point win in the morning, and then had a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds in NJABC's second win. Rakeem Christmas of Team Phenom demonstrated why he has been one of this summer's main stock boosters. Christmas showed off amazing athleticism and a knack for blocking shots. He has great size and was a presence in the paint. Christmas usually runs with Team Kobe (PA), but the squad is together with Team Phenom this weekend.


Rakeem Christmas '11, North Catholic (PA), Team Phenom (PA): Florida, Villanova, La Salle, St. Joseph's, Temple, Memphis, and West Virginia
                                  Offers: All;
Florida, Villanova, La Salle, St. Joseph's, Temple, Memphis, and West Virginia
                                  Favorites: "I know he likes warm weather," said Sylvester Mitchell, a part of the Team Kobe organization. Mitchell is the one who provided the school list as well.
                                  Dream School: n/a

Jarrod Davis '11, Lakewood (NJ), Playaz (NJ): St. Joseph's, Louisville, Villanova, and St. John's
                         Offers: St. Joseph's
                         Favorites: "I like St. Joe's and Villanova."
                         Dream School: None

Myles Davis '11, St. Peter's Prep (NJ) Playaz (NJ): Kansas, Villanova, Syracuse, Rutgers, Seton Hall, and Marist
                        Offers: None
                        Favorites: "Kansas [and] Villanova, and I'm starting to like Rutgers a lot too."
                        Dream School: Georgetown
                        Note- Davis said the following to explain his transfer from St. Benedict's (NJ) to St. Peter's: "I wanted to start over academically, . . . and plus, [with] basketball, . . . I wanted to show everybody I can play."

Cameron Ayers '10, Germantown Academy (PA), Playaz Red (NJ):  Georgetown, Michigan, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Richmond, La Salle, St. Joseph's, and Temple
                             Offers: None
                             Favorites: "I like Georgetown [and] Michigan so far. That's really it."
                             Dream School: None
                             Note- Ayers is out of action this weekend because he "had a sports hernia-type injury," but said that he has been "doing a lot of rehab [and] . . . should be back in two to three weeks." Ayers added that he will "be ready ready for the [high school] season."

 Ryan Rhoomes '10, Rice (NY), Playaz Red (NJ): St. John's, Providence, and Penn State
                              Offers: None
                              Favorites: None
                              Dream School: "I don't know, something good."
                              Note- Rhoomes explained his transfer from Middletown South (NY) to Rice (NY) by saying this: "[It] wasn't really my decision, it was my mother's decision. She was sick of where I was at. She wanted what's best for me. That's it."

Vaughn Gray '10, Don Bosco Prep (NJ), Playaz (NJ): USC, Providence, Rhode Island, Temple, St. Joseph's, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Cincinnati, and George Washington
                          Offers: Rhode Island, Temple, and George Washington
                          Favorite: "I like Seton Hall."
                          Dream School: UCLA

Fuquan Edwin '10, Paterson Catholic (NJ), Playaz Red (NJ): Providence, UMass, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Marquette, Texas, and La Salle
                           Offers: Rutgers, Seton Hall, and La Salle
                           Favorites: Providence, UMass, and Marquette are his top three, but Edwin said, "I like all of them."
                           Dream School: UMass

Ian Chiles '09, Edison Academy (NJ), Edison Academy Blue (NJ): None
                     Offers: n/a
                     Favorites: n/a
                     Dream School: UConn
                     Note- Chiles said, "Before I came [to Edison Academy] I had a [few] schools looking at me, but I [didn't] qualify. That's why I came here. I had to get my SAT scores up." Chiles, who said that Tennessee State, Alabama State, and Western Kentucky were the schools previously interested, said he does hope to have new interest, and mentioned that higher SAT scores are all he needs to qualify.

Carson Desrosiers ’10, Central Catholic (MA), Expressions Elite (MA): Syracuse, Rutgers, Providence, Pitt, Richmond, Fordham, Oregon State, Arizona State, Purdue, New Hampshire, Marquette, Virginia, UMass, Notre Dame, and UNLV
Syracuse, Rutgers, Providence, Pitt, Richmond, Fordham, Oregon State, Arizona State, Purdue, New Hampshire, Marquette, Virginia, and UMass
                                     Favorites: None; “I still have another year to go, so I’m just going to take it easy.”
                                     Dream School: None
                                     Note- Desrosiers, who said he “took a visit to Syracuse and Providence . . . [and] liked them both,” mentioned that New Hampshire “was [the] first school over the summer” to extend a scholarship offer.

Billy Soriano ’10, Unknown, Expressions Elite (MA): LSU, Texas, Rhode Island, Providence, Syracuse, Fordham, and Fairfield
                           Offers: None; "I'm about to get offered by LSU."
                           Favorite: LSU
                           Dream School: Syracuse

Nate Lubick ’10, St. Mark’s School (MA), New England Playaz: Georgetown, Michigan, Virginia, Stanford, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech
                          Offers: All;
Georgetown, Michigan, Virginia, Stanford, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech
                          Favorites: n/a
                          Dream School: No, “not really”
                          Note- Lubick said that Georgetown, Michigan Virginia, Stanford, and Wake Forest “are just the ones that are really coming on [him] the hardest.”

Nadir Tharpe ’11, Brewster Academy (NH), New England Playaz: Xavier, Georgetown, Providence, Marquette, Boston College, and UMass
                           Offers: Xavier and Providence
Favorites: Xavier, Georgetown, and Providence
                           Dream School: “I don’t really have a dream school.”

Austin Carroll ’09, Worcester Academy (MA), New England Playaz: Michigan, Xavier, Holy Cross, Colorado, Davidson, and Rhode Island
                             Offers: Xavier, Holy Cross, Colorado, and Rhode Island
                             Favorites: “Probably” Michigan and Davidson; “I’m taking a visit to Michigan at the end of the month and Davidson [is] supposed to be coming to my school.”
                             Dream School: None
                             Note- “I’m [going to PG for] a year too, so I’ll be in the class of 2010 . . . somewhere in Class A in New England,” said Carroll, with his reasoning being that he has “been injured since March . . . [and] wants to get another year [and] it won’t hurt either.”

Unfortunately, two of the main stories on Saturday were not happy ones, and they both had to do with injured ankles of New England Playaz stars. In the squad’s first game of the day, Nate Lubick, arguably the top player in competition, was injured and missed his squad’s other two games. “I tried to save a ball and I fell back and rolled it,” said Lubick. The big man is trying to tough it out, adding, “I think I’m going to try to play tomorrow.” I would not be a shock if Lubick did play, as he was walking on the ankle well by the end of the night, despite have it wrapped up. In the group’s second matchup, Jordan Williams, who also has a legitimate argument as the best player in attendance, came down hard on his ankle. Williams had to be walked off the court and after the game had to be walked out of the gym, as he was unable to put any pressure on the ankle. According to Williams’ teammate Austin Carroll, “he sprained his ankle pretty badly.” Carroll also mentioned that Williams, regarded as one America’s best uncommitted senior big men, would not even be at the gym on Sunday.

Despite the unfortunate injuries to Lubick and Williams, the first day of the 2008 Fall Jam Fest was a good one. With most of the game being play at the RAC and the Livingston Gym on Rutgers campus, it was easy to get around and see all the talented ballers competing. Sunday should bring more of the same excitement, with it being playoff time. There are some good matchups on the slate, including Team New Jersey ABC against the New England Playaz in the U-17 Gold Bracket. Assuming Nate Lubick plays, it would be a battle of two of the premier junior big men in the country, as he would face of with Markus Kennedy. Be sure to check back later tonight for a recap of the second and final day of the Fall Jam Fest.

For more on the world of AAU and high school basketball from The Hoop Group, go to http://hoopgroup.com/hoopgroup/index.php.


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