The 2016 NY2LA Sports Invitational came to a close on Sunday. With championships on the line in one of the premier end of spring events, Terrence Lewis and Playground Elite walked away with some hardware and momentum that will carry them into a pivotal month of July. 

TOP PERFORMERS
(Note – Listed in Alphabetical Order – This is not an exclusive list)

Larry Canady – 2019 – G – Butler Elite
A talented young win, Canady is athletic and uses that and his instincts to put the ball in the basket in a variety of ways.  Butler Elite won the top 15U championship behind a balanced attack that featured Canady, Nobal Days, Matthew Brown Jr., and Quinn Cafferty so while Canady was solid, this particular reference could easily be the team as a whole as they played quality basketball on their way to the tournament championship.

Keshawn Justice – 2018 – SF – Wisconsin Playground Warriors
Justice continues to play at a high level this weekend. In the 16U semifinals, Justice bailed his team out with a big second half on both ends of the floor, overcoming a double-digit deficit. Justice got things started by getting after it defensively, using his length to get his hands in the passing lanes and rip the basketball away from the opposition. He also scored 10 of his team-high 13 points in the final period, hitting a couple of clutch shots late. Justice took over the second half yet again, scoring a majority of his game-high 19 points in a win over Wisconsin United in the semifinals. In the title game it was business as usual again for Justice, who poured in a game-high 20 to take his team to the promise land. 

Kobe King – 2017 – G/F – Wisconsin Playground Warriors
Still recovering from a torn ligament in his wrist, King had a nice effort in the quarterfinal loss to Playground Elite. The Wisconsin commit had a team-high 17 points, scoring a lot from mid-range and attacking the basket. King is a high level finisher at the rim and almost always converts no matter how tightly he’s guarded or how hard he’s fouled. His perimeter shooting is likely being effected by his wrist injury right now, but King still produced plenty without being a big threat from the perimeter this weekend. King also looks faster both laterally and vertically. He went coast-to-coast a few times to beat the defense down the floor and defensively, was able to stick with and pressure guards for 90 feet. 

Andrew Lewis – 2017 – SG – Wisconsin Shooters
We’ve always thought highly of Lewis and he had a chance on Sunday to play against some really good wings and not only did he hold up, he took it to them. Deserving of more Division 1 attention, Lewis is an electrifying scorer and attacks the basket with a rare kind of explosiveness. Lewis can break people down off the dribble and get to the cup, but is also a deadly perimeter shooter at times. The lefty will pull-up from mid-range as well, making him a threat from all three levels. His defensive ability also impressed. Lewis had the task of defending some of the top players in the tournament on Sunday and for the most part, made them work for everything they got and even flustered those players at times. 

Terrence Lewis – 2017 – SF – Playground Elite
Lewis made a statement to the rest of the state during Sunday’s 17U quarterfinal win over the Wisconsin Playground Warriors. Lewis led his team to a huge victory with a game-high 26 points. Lewis got pretty much whatever he wanted going to the rim. The explosive 6-foot-6 wing blew by defenders and got all the way to the rack before the defense could rotate. Lewis also did a lot of damage in transition and when he gets up to full speed, he’s nearly impossible to stop. Lewis carried that momentum all the way to the title game, scoring a team-high 20 points in the semifinals and 16 points in the finals to bring Playground Elite the championship. He didn’t shoot the ball as well as he normally does from the perimeter, which in some way is exciting, knowing how big his performances would have been if his outside looks were falling like usual. 

Connor Niego – 2017 – G/F – Chicago Lockdown
Niego had a solid effort in Sunday’s quarterfinal win over the Illinois Stars. Niego has the ability to impact the game in a variety of ways and that’s just what he did. He shot the ball well from the outside, attacked the glass, both offensively and defensively, and created looks for others with some outstanding passing and vision. A player that can handle the ball like a point guard and even play a point forward-type role, Niego remains a very intriguing prospect at 6-foot-8, 195-pounds. 

Zeke Nnaji – 2019 – F – Howard Pulley
A very intriguing and promising combo forward, Nnaji had a great effort in the 15U semifinals. Nnaji posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds in a victory over the Wisconsin Playground Warriors. A long, athletic freshman, Nnaji can score from inside and outside the paint. He’ll get more consistent as he gets older, but Nnaji can occasionally shoot long jumpers, but is better as a slasher from the high post. Nnaji uses his long wing span to control the glass and also has the potential to be a solid rim protector. 

STOCK BOOSTERS
Brennen Banks – 2017 – PG – Wisconsin Dynasty

Banks had two solid outings on Sunday for Wisconsin Dynasty, who took home the 17U Silver Championship. Banks had 15 points in the title game, including a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime against Illinois Old School. A strong, quick guard, Banks is an exceptional ball handler with a IQ. He makes good decisions with the basketball and doesn’t force. The best part about Banks’ game is he plays to his strength. He doesn’t try and do too much and is never in a hurry to make a play. The game always comes to him. Offensively, Banks uses his strength to go 1-on-1 at the top of the key where he can get to the basket and finish. He’s also a solid shooter from inside and outside the arc, particularly off the dribble. 

Wyatt Cook – 2017 – F – Wisconsin Shooters
Cook has always been a hidden gem in the state of Wisconsin and had a really nice run for the Wisconsin Shooters, helping them reach the 17U title game. Cook is very versatile and can be effective in a number of ways. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound junior has so much finesse with the basketball. He can bring the ball up against pressure and isn’t afraid to go coast-to-coast. Cook has sort of a Dirk Nowitzki type mid-range game, falling away off one foot to knock down jumpers. Cook can stretch the floor with three-point shooting, also allowing him to pull people out of the paint and go by them to the rack. 

Trevell Cunningham – 2017 – PG – Playground Elite
The unsung hero for Playground Elite in their run to the 17U title, Cunningham was a difference maker on both ends of the floor. His defensive intensity and quickness, flustered opponents through three games. Cunningham applies to much pressure to the ball handler and forces a lot of mistakes. Offensively, Cunningham makes sound, smart plays in transition. He can fly with the ball in his hands and get to the cup, but is also very effective when finding wings on the run and setting them up for easy buckets. 

Lamont Johnson – 2018 – G/F – Get Buckets
Johnson had a good weekend and capped it off with a solid performance on Sunday in his final game. He’s a little undersized for a wing, but makes up for it with length, toughness, and heart. Johnson’s efforts, whether it was slashing, rebounding, and defending were terrific on Sunday. You can tell the game means a lot to him and everything he does is at 100 percent. Johnson is a long, strong wing that loves to draw contact and relishes the chance to go through the body of defenders. This is a player whose best days are still ahead of him once he rounds out his skillset. 

Ryan Kutsor – 2018 – SG – Kessel Heat Black
Kutsor continues to show the makings of a high level shooter. He caught fire on Sunday to lift Kessel Heat Black to a huge win over Howard Pulley in overtime. Kutsor knocked down five triples in that game, en route to game-high 17 points. Kutsor has good size at 6-foot-3 and sees over the top of the defense. He didn’t appear to be fazed with a hand in his face.  

J.T. Petrie – 2018 – SF – Wisconsin Blizzard
Petrie was very solid and almost led the Blizzard to a huge upset win over the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the 16U quarterfinals. In a grind-it-out affair, Petrie did a very good job of staying patient and taking the looks he wanted. Petrie shot a high percentage from mid range and also snuck his way to the hoop occasionally against a very big front line. Petrie had a game-high 16 points in the loss. 

Jake Poetzl – 2019 – SF – Wisconsin Playground Warriors
Poetzl had a solid weekend can fan fill a number of different roles for the Playground Warriors. The 6-foot-5 wing is mostly a slasher and provides an edge of toughness around the rim. Poetzl was a little erratic with his three-point shooting, but showed he can knock down perimeter looks. Poetzl also has some exciting versatility. He can post up and bully people on the block. Poetzl brought a lot of energy both offensively and defensively throughout the weekend. 

Ben Young – 2018 – F – Illinois Celtics
Young shot the ball very well on Sunday, leading the Illinois Celtics to the 16U bronze championship. All of his team-high 15 points came from beyond the arc in Sunday afternoon’s win over Wisconsin Dynasty. Young didn’t really attempt to score any other way, but his shooting was effective and much needed on Sunday. Young also provides a strong vocal leadership for his team. He’s always talking and making sure his teammates are in the right position and he’s first to praise them when they’ve done something well.