The first couple days of the Next Level Invitational will certainly set the tone for the event as it kicks off Wednesday evening at Homestead H.S. (Mequon, WI). With teams coming from different parts of the country, it will be exciting for fans and coaches to have a look at some different match-ups this week. We compiled a list of some of the top contests leading up to the playoff portion of the event, as teams square off and raise the bar for the competition...
WEDNESDAY - JULY 10
6:00 PM - COURT 5 - TEXAS DI AMBASSADORS vs. TP-ELITE
This opening night matchup provides some good intrigue with solid match-ups across the board. Inside, both squads present long and athletic big men who can score in a multitude of ways between Levi Bradley and Jaylen Key for TP-Elite and Rashard Odomes and Jordan Murphy for the Ambassadors. Outside, the Ambassadors have solid guard play that work to get their posts involved and play tremendous defense versus TP’s scoring trio of Ayinde Starling, Jerrod Walton and youngster Jevon Smith.
Key Matchup: 2015 F Levi Bradley (TPE) vs. 2015 G/F Rashard Odomes (TD1A)
 
7:10 PM - COURT 2 - TEAM NLP-JF vs. KINGDOM HOOPS ELITE
NLP will be a challenge for Kingdom Hoops due to their guards who can really get points up on the scoreboard in a variety of ways. Jevon Carter and Connor Cashaw will work hard up top to get Kingdom on their heels. However, if Kingdom can slow them down and Jay Knuth and Nate Gehring can control the inside against hot prospect Evan Boudreaux and workhorses, Kurt Hall and Jerome Davis, this heated matchup could go down to the wire.
Key Matchup: 2014 F/C Nate Gehring (KHE) vs. 2015 PF Evan Boudreaux (NLP)
 
7:10 PM - COURT 3 - WI SWING-LITSCHER vs. REACH LEGENDS
WI Swing brings a lot of firepower right away with star guard Lamonte Bearden and veteran post presence Evan Wesenberg. REACH will have its hands full with them and other possible heat from big-time shooters in T.J. Schlundt and Jake Showalter. But, Justin Tillman’s athleticism is off the charts and if others can hold their own, REACH will have a chance to remain competitive throughout the contest. Swing might be too deep in the end when Brian Bearden, Turner Moen, Jon Averkamp and Parker Weber get involved also, but the game has a lot of top notch talent.
Key Matchup: 2014 F Evan Wesenberg (SWING) vs. 2014 SF Justin Tillman (REACH)
 
8:20 PM - COURT 3 - EMERALD CITY PIONEERS vs. MN FURY-DAVIS
Coming from Washington, Emerald City will be raring to show their talents in the Midwest. Their main pieces that MN Fury will have a challenge with are 2014 prospects Kaleb Warner and Matt Hubbard, who are both long, can extend their games beyond the three-point line and put points up in bunches when they get going. Wheeler Baker will look to run the show with expertise and control pace to neutralize Emerald City’s size, and his three-point shooting can really stretch the defense.
Key Matchup: 2014 PG Wheeler Baker (FURY) vs. 2014 SG Kaleb Warner
 
8:20 PM - COURT 5 - PEORIA IRISH-FINKE vs. RAY ALLEN SELECT
Look forward to this matchup as Peoria Irish will be eager to prove what they are capable of against a Ray Allen Select team who has battled deep into several tournaments this spring and summer. Marcus Bartley and Illinois commit Michael Finke lead a tough Irish team with their basketball IQ’s and both have the ability to score at any moment. However, Ray Allen Select’s guard trio is one of the best around, as one of them is capable of exploding any game and often they all get involved knocking down shots and when they do it’s tough to beat them.
Key Matchup: 2014 G Riley LaChance vs. 2014 PG Marcus Bartley
 
9:30 PM - COURT 3 - WI SHOOTERS vs. SYF PLAYERS
In the late slot opening night, WI Shooters will do battle against SYF. Big, long and ready to show off his talent, Lamous Brown of SYF is hungry which could spell problems for the Shooters inside. Add guards Taishaun Johnson and Arthur Haggard Jr. to the mix and SYF is hoping to get off to a good start. But the Shooters are tough themselves with good young guard talent with C.J. Polk and Keith Franklin and excellent wing play from Paul Miller and Jordan Perez who can both put points on the board rapidly.
Key Matchup:  2014 G Jordan Perez vs. 2014 G Jamie Rutherford

THURSDAY - JULY 11
10:20 AM - COURT 5 - KINGDOM HOOPS ELITE vs. TP-ELITE
Kingdom Hoops and TP kick off Day 2 for the 17’s in what promises to be another excellent contest. Bradley and company have their work cut out for them inside with Gehring and Knuth will be a bit of a matchup issue for TP with his ability to play inside and outside comfortably. Look for Dearionte Hudson to bring some energy to the floor for TP on both ends and see how that tips the scale of the game.
Key Matchup: 2015 F Levi Bradley (TPE) vs. 2014 F Jay Knuth (KHE)
 
11:30 AM - COURT 2 - TEAM NLP JF vs. TEXAS D1 AMBASSADORS
This is a really exciting matchup and could be one highly competitive game. Boudreaux and Hall do not stop moving forward on the attack for NLP, but the same can be said for the Ambassador’s Odomes and Murphy, all of whom also shoot the ball pretty well away from the hoop as well. While interior play should be exciting to watch war it out, the guard play may determine the outcome here as Carter and Cashaw square off against Texas’ Josh Delaney and Chase Carlton.
Key Matchup: 2014 PG Chase Carlton (TD1A) vs. 2014 PG Jevon Carter (NLP)

11:30 AM - COURT 5 - WISCONSIN SWING LITSCHER VS. PEORIA IRISH FINKE
This should be another solid affair as lead guards Lamonte Bearden of the Swing and Marcus Bartley of the Irish lead the way.  A number of highly regarded prospects like Michael Finke, Evan Wesenberg, T.J. Schlundt, etc. fill the court in this one and it will feature solid play around the basket and excellent perimeter play with Bearden and Bartley going head to head.
Key Matchup:  2014 PG Lamonte Bearden (WI Swing) vs. 2014 PG Marcus Bartley (Peoria Irish)
 
12:40 PM - COURT 2 - REACH LEGENDS vs. RAY ALLEN SELECT
Both teams will have a game under their belts at this point and shooting should be figured out, which favors RAS. Do not underestimate REACH though, with Tillman’s ability to block or adjust shots defensively and then run the floor in transition at his size. If Mory Diane can get in a swing offensively for REACH, the game could simply come down to who hits more perimeter shots. Also look for athletic big man, DeVante Jackson to be a difference maker for RAS in this one though.
Key Matchup: 2014 SF Justin Tillman (REACH) vs. 2014 PF DeVante Jackson (RAS)
 
12:40 PM - COURT 3 - NET GAIN SPORTS vs. EMERALD CITY PIONEERS
Net Gain gets their day started with Emerald City in what should be an up-tempo game. Emerald City’s bigs are athletic enough to get up on the break, but Net Gain’s guards are a handful between high-hopping and attacking Dejon Davis and sharp-shooting Andre Wallace. Should be an exciting contest midday.
Key Matchup: 2014 SG Dejon Davis (NGS) vs. 2014 SG Kaleb Warner (ECP)
 
12:40 PM - COURT 5 - SYF PLAYERS vs. WI JETS
SYF is looking to get some early wins under its belt and will come out aggressive against the Jets. The combination of Brown and Jamie Rutherford might be too large inside for the Jets, but the Wisconsin group will likely try to shoot their way into balancing out size. Joe Stark and Jason Balts are a good one-two punch for the Jets at the guard spot but they will have to defeat SYF’s speed there.
Key Matchup: 2014 SG Joe Stark (JETS) vs. 2014 PG Taishaun Johnson (SYF)
 
1:50 PM - COURT 2 - QUAD CITY ELITE vs. MN FURY-DAVIS
Ethan Happ is a bit of a do-it-all type player for Quad City as he rebounds, can handle the rock and scores whenever his team needs a big basket. Fury will have to try and contain his offensive output, and on the flip-side Wheeler Baker has to control pace and make smart decisions facilitating and scoring against smaller but ultra quick Quad city guard C.J. Carr.
Key Matchup: 2014 SF Ethan Happ (QCE) vs. 2014 PG Wheeler Baker (FURY)