The 2016 NY2LA Sports Next Level Invitational continued on Thursday from Mequon Homestead High School. As the NY2LA Association championship picture became clearer, P.J. Pipes and the Illinois Stars secured their spot in the semifinals. Also advancing, Simon Wright and the Minnesota Comets continue to look like a strong challenger for the inaugural title…

TOP PERFORMERS
Orlando Allen – 2018 – F – SYF Players

Allen burst onto the scene in the spring and began July with another nice effort. A long, athletic forward with a high motor, Allen scored 14 points and grabbed a ton of rebounds as the SYF Players got past the Colorado Titans. Allen’s length and athleticism is a nightmare for opposing bigs. He plays much bigger than his size and is very slippery down low. Allen uses his hands very well to get around the opposition and quickly gets into his jump for second chance opportunities. Also a standout in transition, Allen runs the floor very well and is an easy target for fast break opportunities.

Jimmy Bell – 2018 – C – Greenwood Elite
Bell worked his tail off in Thursday’s loss to Wisconsin United. A physical center with some skill around the basket, Bell displayed a nice jump hook, but was more successful turning the game into a street fight. Bell challenges defenders to match his physicality and most can’t keep up with the 6-foot-10 junior. Bell was nearly impossible to keep off the glass and also found his way to the free throw line quite a bit. He finished with a double-double, including 16 points on Wednesday.

Isaiah Poor Bear Chandler – 2017 – PF – Omaha Elite
In a tight win over the Wisconsin Shooters, Chandler came up big with a couple of strong plays late, both offensively and defensively. Chandler swatted away a handful of shots in the waning minutes, many of which kept Omaha Elite in front. Offensively, he cleaned the glass, ran the floor, and put himself into position to finish some easy buckets inside. The 6¬-foot-9, 250-pound senior moves very well for his size and showcased some skilled back-to-the-basket moves on Thursday. 

Monty Johal – 2018 – SG – Yanders Law
Johal had another breakout performance on Thursday. It seemed everything he put up was going down as Johal dropped 26 points in a win over Indy EBC. The lefty sharpshooter reigned in a handful of triples, many of which came with a hand right in his face. Johal has a quick first step off the bounce and decent athleticism when attacking the basket. A high volume shooter, Johal is getting better at picking his spots and knowing when to defer to his teammates. He also had a number of pretty assists that tore right through the defense on Thursday. 

Terrence Lewis – 2017 – G/F – Playground Elite
Lewis had a huge second half as Playground Elite routed Missouri Hustle. After not shooting the ball well in the first 15 minutes, Lewis came out extremely hungry and took care of business. The 6-foot-5 wing attacked the basket hard and the defense had no answer when he was in full gear. A high motor player, few can match Lewis’ intensity when he turns it on. Lewis played hard and fast in transition and was a big reason why Playground Elite pulled away in the final period. 

Mitch Listau – 2018 – G – Wisconsin Swing
Listau set the tone early with eight quick points for the Wisconsin Swing, who advanced with a win over Mercury Elite. Set to play in front of a handful of high major schools in July, Listau continues to prove his worth as a two-way player. A 6-foot-4 combo guard, Listau is a crafty and slippery ball handler. He doesn’t waste dribble and puts the ball on the deck with a purpose. Also a standout three-point shooter, Listau will kill teams to who don’t close out to him in time. Defensively, Listau takes pride in shutting his man down for 30 minutes. Off the ball, he also has active hands, allowing nothing easy for the offense. Listau finished with a game-high 18 points in the win. 

P.J. Pipes – 2017 – G – Illinois Stars
The Illinois Stars got past Grassroots hoops in the 17U Round of 16. As he has a tendency to do, Pipes came up big for his team. The senior guard went off for 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting, mixing it up with drives to the basket and jumpers. He was on fire from beyond the arc, hitting three of his four attempts. Pushing his team into the quarterfinals, Pipes hit big shot after big shot for the Illinois Stars. Even when the defense knew Pipes was taking the shot, it didn’t seem to matter. 

Simon Wright – 2017 – F – Minnesota Comets
Wright might not put up huge numbers, but he’s a player. The 6-foot-6 senior gets the game of basketball. Always moving and communicating, Wright provides value to his team even when he’s not in the box score. A skilled forward who can play and defend a number of different positions on the floor, Wright does a little bit of everything. He handles and passes the ball exceptionally well and can stretch the floor with his shooting. Wright can also play the role of a traditional post and is excellent in the pick n’ roll game. He seemed to be everywhere and scored a game-high 17 points on Thursday as the Minnesota Comets raced past Reach Legends.

STOCK BOOSTERS
Jalen Clanton – 2017 – PG – Illinois Celtics/Hoopers

A big scorer from the point guard position, Clanton was unconscious during Thursday’s win over the Wisconsin Blizzard. At times he can be too aggressive and take too many shots, but when they’re going down at the rate they were on Thursday, there’s really not a bad shot for Clanton. Throughout the night, Clanton was hitting tough, contested shots three-point and mid-range. He had a huge scoring effort to push the Celtics/Hoopers in the semifinals of the 17U gold championship. 

Collin Dietz – 2019 – SF – Illinois Irish
Dietz is a smooth finisher that can hang and adjust in mid-air. His jump shot needs work, but Dietz was quite impressive as a slasher. A good athlete, Dietz has some deceptive jumping ability and he used that well on the glass. However, the 6-foot-4 wing doesn’t rely solely on that. He’s a very polished rebounder that looks to block his man out as the shot is going up. Dietz made a lot of hustle and winning plays for the Irish in their win over Indy EBC. 

Anthony Fairlee – 2019 – G/F – Illinois Irish
There’s a chance Fairlee can develop into a special talent. An explosive, 6-foot-3 wing, Fairlee put home some terrific finishes at the basket and wasn’t far from a few big dunks as well. Fairlee didn’t showcase much of an ability to stretch the floor and was more interior-minded, but his physical tools offer a promising future. 

Matt Mims – 2018 – G – Martin Bros.
Mims shot the ball very well Thursday morning. A 6-foot-0 guard that can play on or off the ball, Mims’ stroke was deadly as Martin Bros. Mims showed the ability to create his own shot off the bounce and spot up from beyond the arc. He needs to increase his strength and could use some more height, but possesses the necessary ball handling skills to run the show offensively. Mims finished with a game-high 13 points in a loss to Kessel Heat Black, including four three-pointers.

Roman Penn – 2017 – G – SYF Players
Penn had a big scoring effort during Thursday’s loss to the Wisconsin Swing. He poured in a game-high 24 points, looking unstoppable at times offensively. Penn was 9-of-13 from the field, including 4-for-7 from three-point range. He also got it done on the glass, going for a game-high seven rebounds. Penn was very smooth and deliberate with what he did offensively. There was little hesitation in his game and Penn looked confident despite going against some very good perimeter defenders. 

Hunter Plamann – 2018 – PG – Wisconsin Swing
Plamann had a strong effort as the Wisconsin Swing raced past Mercury Elite. The 6-foot-1 point guard had some pretty finishes in transition and was able to switch to either hand in mid-air. Chipping in with 12 points, Plamann also had a couple of nice assists in transition, faking out the defense before dropping the ball of last minute. Plamann helped put the game away in transition. He showcased a nice blend of speed and power and finished in traffic at a high rate. 

Joey Reader – 2017 – PF – Wisconsin Blizzard
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound senior comes to work every time he steps on the floor. He might not always score a lot of points, although he’s capable, but he’ll contribute across the board. A long, athletic, and strong lefty, Reader can step out and shoot the basketball and knocked down a couple of triples in Thursday’s loss to the Illinois Celtics/Hoopers. Reader is a very good passer from the high post and down on the block. He created a lot of offense and found cutters for easy buckets. Reader is also a standout post defender and also showed the ability to stick with perimeter players as well. 

Jay Small – 2017 – G – Omaha Elite
Leading Omaha Elite with 15 points and four rebounds in Thursday’s win over the Wisconsin Shooters, Small broke through a low-scoring game with his shooting. Small drained a couple of three-pointers in the second half as Omaha Elite rallied for a come from behind win. Able to play either guard spot, Small is a tough, hard-nosed player on both ends of the floor. He’s got good quickness, both laterally, and with the ball. Small is also an underrated passer. Once he gets into the lane, Small uses a variety of head and ball fakes to misdirect the defense. 

Keontae White – 2018 – G – Wisconsin United
White came up with 17 points as Wisconsin United dropped Greenwood Elite. An exciting scorer, White was able to dribble penetrate and finish some tough baskets around the rim. The lefty is very quick off the bounce and very difficult to stay in front of when he goes 1-on-1. A high volume scorer, White is capable of some big efforts when he’s hitting from downtown.