Deonte Burton (TP-Elite, white jersey) and Kevon Looney (Rebels, dark jersey) were taken by Kelly Kline from Under Armour Sports.
by Troy Sparks
Mequon – The AAU hoops tournament at Homestead High School showcased the talents of some of the country’s next crop of future college players from July 18-22. There were five action-packed days of non-stop basketball from early morning until the late evening in which the players auditioned in front of coaches from 215 different colleges and universities at all levels.
Local and national prep ballers gave everything they had to impress the fans, parents and coaches in the Under Armour Summer Jam Championship Series that was organized by NY2LASports.com. A total of 136 teams from ages 15-17 provided the action on six courts. There were 60 teams in the 17U, 44 in the 16U and 32 in the 15U groups.
July is the month when college coaches can’t contact the players they’re interested in recruiting. Notices explaining the no-contact rules were posted for the players to read. It included a ban on coaches’ texting or speaking to potential recruits playing in the tournament.
The players couldn’t talk to the coaches in attendance seeking their services. If a player saw the coach who’s recruiting them in passing, whether it was in the hallway or in the bathroom, they could speak to each other but that’s it. It wasn’t that the coaches were ignoring them. They didn’t want to break any NCAA rules regarding the no-contact period in July. Once the players are released from their AAU obligations, then the contact period is in effect.
In the win or go home 17U platinum division elimination bracket, the intensity was turned up a notch for two Milwaukee AAU teams. That was the case in the 11:30 a.m. game last Saturday when the Milwaukee Running Rebels played the Las Vegas Prospects on Court 2. Milwaukee Hamilton star Kevon Looney did what he could to carry the team on his back. Standing behind the north baskets (the coaches’ bleacher section) was a Marquette assistant coach.
Looney, a 6-foot-8 junior, is on the radar of the Golden Eagles as the basketball program is focusing on keeping local talent at home. They also have their sights on Vincent’s Deonte Burton, a senior who plays for the Terry Porter (TP) Elite squad.
Looney didn’t disappoint. He blocked shots on defense and scored the ball on offense. The Prospects were looking good with a 45-31 first half lead, putting the Rebels on the brink of elimination. A charge by the Rebels in the second half gave them a 2-point lead at 76-74.
When Looney fouled out with 2 minutes 39 seconds left, it appeared to be over for the Rebels. Looney’s high school teammate, Damontre Jefferson, and Milwaukee Washington’s Deander Harris carried the team down the stretch as they won 87-84.
TP-Elite had their work cut out for them in the 1:50 p.m. game on Court 3 against Baltimore’s Finest in a pair of undersized teams battling for the right to play later that evening. TP-Elite were out of sync early in the game, but head coach Bryan Johnikin’s barking kept them in line as they got it together and won 60-52. TP-Elite played in the 8:50 p.m. game against WeR1 from Philadelphia.
In the evening session, the Rebels were charged up and ready to go with their battle against Team Loaded from Virginia in the 6:30 p.m. matchup. Team Loaded held a slim second half lead with plenty of time left. The Rebels went to work and got key baskets by Looney and Jefferson to give them a 7-point cushion with 2 ½ minutes left in regulation. Team Loaded tied the game at 66-66 with 13.3 seconds left. Looney missed a put back at the buzzer as the game went into overtime. Milwaukee Madison’s Jamar Hurdle was fouled with time winding down in overtime and made 1 of 2 free-throws that gave the Rebels a 71-70 lead. They forced several turnovers on Team Loaded with a couple of seconds left and held on for the win.
TP-Elite was in control of their game against WeR1 from the beginning until the end, winning 64-43. The two Milwaukee teams made it to the final eight of Sunday’s platinum bracket. The Rebels faced the Illinois Wolves from the suburban Chicago area and Peoria Manual senior A.J. Riley in the 10:20 a.m. game on Court 5. They came up short in a 59-48 defeat.
On Court 2, in the 11:30 a.m. game, Burton led his TP-Elite team against Halice Cooke and his Sports U-Team Izod from New Jersey. Marquette head coach Buzz Williams was on hand to watch Burton after watching Looney earlier. Burton had a tough game. The Sports U team surrounded him and made it tough for him all morning. The close shots and free-throws that Burton normally makes didn’t go in the basket.
Sports U had a 44-36 lead with 2 minutes left in the game after DeAndre Bembry threw down a one-handed dunk on Burton. At that point, Johnikin all but threw in the towel as he shook hands with the opposing coaches, conceding defeat. Burton made his last basket on a put back to end the game. TP-Elite lost, 45-42.
The two teams that eliminated the Rebels and TP-Elite met in the finals of the 17U platinum championship game. Sports U took control of the game from the beginning and never looked back. They beat the Wolves 64-39 to win their second straight Summer Jam title. Head coach Eddie Bright grabbed the 3-foot high gold trophy and put it in the back of the rented silver Chevy Suburban truck. His players will probably take their first place plaques and put it next to all their other trophies at home that will eventually collect dust since they’re used to winning.