The 2016 NY2LA Next Level Invitational carried on from Mequon Homestead High School on Friday. Day three featured the end of the inaugural NY2LA Association as championships were awarded in the 15, 16, and 17U divisions. In 17U, the Wisconsin Swing took home the hardware thanks to their rising star Alex Arians, who continues to turn heads with his play…

TOP PERFORMERS
Nana Aktenten – 2017 – G/F – Illinois Celtics/Hoopers

Akenten has had a solid week, but unfortunately that run in the 17U Gold Bracket came to an end Friday morning. The 6-foot-6 wing was in one of those zones early, scoring his team’s first 14 points and 17 for the half. Akenten was being guarded about as well as you can, but it simply didn’t matter. Akenten has deep range and a knack for hitting difficult shots with a hand in his face. A sniper with unlimited range, Akenten has the height to rise and fire over the defense and make things look too easy. He finished with a game-high 19 points in Friday’s semifinal loss to All-In Y&R.

Alex Arians – 2017 – G/F – Wisconsin Swing
Arians led the way in the 17U NY2LA Association title game. The 6-foot-4 wing has added some tools to his game, showing more burst and creativity off the bounce. Arians also did was he does best, shoot the basketball. The sharpshooter buried a number of triples en route to a game-high 16 points as the Wisconsin Swing knocked off Omaha Elite. Holding an offer from South Dakota State, Arians has commanded a lot more Division 1 attention since exploding this past spring.

Isaiah Chandler – 2017 – F/C – Omaha Elite
Chandler had another very strong day. Although Omaha Elite fell to the Wisconsin Swing in the 17U NY2LA Association title game, Chandler made his presence felt on the game. A big time shot blocker, Chandler had at least six swats and altered a number of others. The 6-foot-9, 250-pound senior is an impressive athlete and gets up and down the floor well. Chandler definitely deserves more touches on the block, but when he gets it, usually delivers. He sets up shop very well and shows an advanced understanding of how to pin and seal his man.

Nobal Days – 2019 – F/C – Butler Elite
A high-upside big man, Days is getting better quickly. His offensive game needs the most work, particularly on the block, but every now and then he’ll flash something that makes the scouts drool. Days had eight points, 10 rebounds, and a handful of assists in a Friday afternoon victory. The 6-foot-9, 200-pound sophomore is a terrific passer, especially from the high post. Days fires in passes to cutting teammates that are too quick for the defense to react. Defensively, he’s also very gifted. Days moves well laterally in the post and on the perimeter. As you’d expect, Days is also a big shot blocking presence as well. While he’s not close to his ceiling yet, it’s easy to see why high major schools are comfortable jumping in now.

Keion Epps – 2017 – G/F – Reach Legends
Epps has a really good feel for the game and makes smart basketball plays. He’s got good size at 6-foot-5 and is a terrific passer off the dribble. Epps loves to draw and kick and created a lot of scoring opportunities for his teammates. Epps could be a big scorer for Reach Legends, but you have to love his unselfishness. Also a standout rebounder, Epps isn’t afraid to battle on the glass and do the dirty work either.

Trevor Hanson – 2018 – PF – Dakota Schoolers
Hanson has a chance to be a very serviceable big man at the next level. Playing up an age group, Hanson still flashes some terrific post play. The South Dakota State commit likes to turn and face on the block and has a soft touch. Hanson runs the floor very well for 6-foot-9. Defensively, Hanson plays good help defense. He’s a nice shot blocking presence and does so without fouling. Hanson may not light up the scoreboard, but his presence on the floor is certainly welcomed and he appears to be a prospect whose best days are down the road.

Demarius Jacobs – 2017 – PG – All-In Y&R
Jacobs was a game changer for All-In Y&R, who overcame a 10-point deficit in the 17U Gold semifinals and rallied for a 16-point victory. It started in transition where Jacobs used his high-flying ability to finish some electrifying baskets on the break. One of the best shot blocking guards in the country, Jacobs changed the game with his ability to slide over from the weak side and send shots back. Jacobs, who finished with a team-high 17 points, had a huge second half on both ends of the floor to help his team advance to the finals. Jacobs also had 21 points in another victory in the open division later that night.

Ryan Krueger – 2017 – SF – Wisconsin Swing
Krueger had a couple of solid games on Friday. A deadly three-point shooter, Krueger has a sweet stroke and at 6-foot-7, he’s really hard to affect when he rises in the air. Krueger is starting to expand his offensive game and shows better ability to put the ball on the deck and attack. He can also take smaller players down on the block and take advantage of mismatches. One of the most consistent three-point shooters in the association, Krueger should be quite valuable at the next level as a sniper.

STOCK BOOSTERS
Collin Anderson – 2016 – PG – Minnesota Magic

Anderson put on a show in a win over the Illinois Celtics/Hoopers. A flashy floor general that puts the entire offense on his shoulders, Anderson delivered with a huge performance. He went for 29 points and was likely hovering around 10 assists as the Minnesota Magic advanced to the Platinum Bracket. Andersen could not be contained off the dribble. The 6-foot-1 guard had all the tricks to maneuver around the defense and wowed the crowd with brilliant passing and off-balance jumpers.

Equan Ards – 2017 – SG – Young Legends
Ards went off in Friday’s win over the Dakota Schoolers in the 17U open division first round. The 6-foot-2 senior was too much to handle and dropped 28 points in the win. An aggressive, strong guard, Ards attacks the rim with much power. He’s a two-way player that turns defense into offense. Ards is more of a slasher, but has shown the ability to get hot from outside. When he can’t get to the rim, Ards is an adept mid-range scorer that uses his body well to create space.

Brennen Banks – 2017 – PG – Wisconsin Dynasty
One of the better unknown talents in Wisconsin, Banks scorched the nets in Friday’s open division loss to Reach Legends. Banks hit five consecutive shots, including three triples en route to a game-high 18 points. Banks has a sweet stroke from downtown and mid-range and can hit with a hand in his face. A strong ball handler, Banks doesn’t waste dribbles and puts it on the deck with a purpose. Banks also clearly works hard in the weight room and has packed on some good muscle.

Tyler Ellingson – 2019 – SG – Ray Allen Select
One of the top sophomores in Wisconsin, Ellingson hit some big shots down the stretch as Ray Allen Select rallied to win the 15U NY2LA Association title. Ellingson, knocked down a three-pointer then followed his own miss and put home an attempt that proved to be the game-winner. Known for his shooting ability, Ellingson has inherited his stroke from his brother, Iowa sharpshooter Brady Ellingson.

Nick Klug – 2018 – G – Wisconsin Swing
One of the more underrated players in the association, Klug had another fine effort on Friday. He set the tone early with some steals and easy buckets as the Wisconsin Swing put their foot on the gas pedal and never let off, cruising to 16U semifinal win over the Wisconsin Shooters. Klug helped the Swing pull away with his long range shooting. He has the ability to be a sniper, running through and off screens and snapping off shots, but Klug can also score off the bounce as well. He finished with a game-high 17 points Friday morning.

Bryce Miller – 2018 – PG – Wisconsin Shooters
8 a.m. games can be tough to get up for, but Miller appeared ready to play, even though his team struggled in the 16U NY2LA Association semifinals. Miller woke the Wisconsin Shooters up offensively, knocking down some shots and creating in the paint. Miller did a nice job of drawing help and kicking to teammates for scoring opportunities. He also finished well at the basket. He scored a team-high 13 points on Friday.

Victor Nwagbaraocha – 2017 – SG – Wisconsin Rap
A player that’s not well known in the state of Wisconsin, but is starting to turn heads, Nwagbaraocha scored 17 points in an upset win of Grand Rapids Storm. Nwagbaraocha is taking on some really good talent and continuing to produce. A player with a knack for hitting tough shots, Nwagbaraocha is a creative scorer. He’s been mixing it up well with drives and jumpers over the past few weeks and keeping the defense off balance. 

Jaeden Smith – 2019 – G – Illinois Irish
Smith nearly led the Illinois Irish to the 15U NY2LA Association title. The 5-foot-9 guard often carried things offensively and shot the ball extremely well from the perimeter. Smith has some shake in his game and used that to create space to snap off his shot. Smith does a good job of changing pace when he’s on the attack and defenders struggled to adjust, allowing Smith to also get to the basket. He finished with a game-high 18 points in the loss.

Alondes Williams – 2017 – PG – Young Legends
Just clear out and move out of the way. That’s how Williams likes to play. A built, 6-foot-4 point guard, Williams is so explosive and blows by defenders with a quick first step. Williams finished extremely well against contact and showed the ability to play above the rim, but most of the time he was too quick for the defense to react in time. Putting together a strong week, Williams finished with 17 points in the Young Legends’ win over the Dakota Schoolers.