The 2017 NY2LA Sports Next Level Invitational came to a close on Sunday. With titles on the line in the 15U, 16U, and 17U open divisions, NY2LA Association teams took all three titles. Ray Allen Select made up for an early exit in the NY2LA championships, claiming the 16U championship after another impressive effort from Cole Nau…

Top Performers
John Diener – 2018 – SG – Wisconsin Blizzard

The DePaul commit was at it again, dropping 29 points in a close win over Full Package. The Blizzard needed every one of those 29, claiming a one-point victory in the Bronze Championship. Putting his team on his back, Diener scored 29 of the team’s 50 points. A deadly sharpshooter, Diener absolutely cannot be left alone on the perimeter. What he may lack in athleticism, he makes up for in strength, patience, and the ability to play angles. Diener isn’t limited to shooting 3-pointers. He can take people into the post and bang inside or knock down fade away jumpers. 

Owen King – 2018 – G – Wisconsin Playmakers
King played out of his mind Sunday morning, dropping in shot after shot. The South Dakota State could not be contained in a loss to Elite Nation, going for a game-high 28 points. King made six 3-pointers against coverage that only got tighter with the more shots he made. King has a lot of tools with the basketball and was able to shake defenders and create space for his jumper. He won’t wow anybody with athleticism, but King makes up for it with a lot of skill and a high basketball IQ. King is coming to South Dakota State as a point guard, but can also play off the ball and perhaps be a go-to scorer at the next level. 

Cole Nau – 2019 – PG – Ray Allen Select
Just love the way Nau runs the show, but hits timely shots and can take over offensively. The savvy floor general had a game-high 13 points in a blowout win over Kessel Heat in the 16U open championship. He might not look the part, but don’t be fooled, Nau has a ton of game on both ends of the floor. Nau is a lock down defender and has quieted some of the best guards in the Midwest this summer, despite sometimes giving up substantial height and weight. Offensively, he does a little bit of everything. Nau can score from all three levels, distribute the basketball, and create offense for others by drawing defenders into the paint. 

Malachi Smith – 2018 – G – Ramey-Jets United
Perhaps few saw Ramey-Jets running the table on Sunday and winning the 17U championship. Smith was a big reason for their success and consecutive upsets over the Wisconsin Swing and Team Blaze. The kid just plays hard. Smith knows his strengths and doesn’t try and do anything outside his capabilities – something that can be hard to grasp during the live period. A smooth, slashing guard, Smith doesn’t make the game harder than it has to be, taking what the defense gives him and making terrific reads with the basketball. Part of a solid backcourt that has three guys who play off each other very well, Smith was unselfish all week. He also gets the job done on the defensive end and was very solid 1-on-1. He scored 14 points in Sunday’s title game. 

Stock Boosters
Tyson Acuff – 2020 – PG – REACH Legends

Acuff bailed Reach out of a tough spot Sunday against WOTN in the 15U quarterfinals. With his team sitting on four points roughly halfway through the first half, Acuff got things going offensively. At 6-foot-3, Acuff has great size and used that to rise and fire over the top of the defense and see over the top and distribute the basketball. He didn’t always shoot well in spurts, but just the aggressiveness and relentless attacking of Acuff seemed to spark his team and at the very least generate second chance opportunities for others. Acuff finished with a game-high 15 points in the win. 

Jihrel Brock – 2019 – G – Illinois Irish
Brock made some big plays in Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Fury. A power-five recruit in football, the speed, strength, and explosiveness are also part of Brock’s game on the hardwood. The 6-foot junior isn’t afraid to be physical and is built like a brick house. Brock handles the ball well and can glide to the rim, showcasing a soft touch and the ability to finish in traffic. Brock wants to do the dirty work defensively. He doesn’t mind battling for rebounds, getting on the floor for loose balls, or being a stopper for 30 minutes if that’s what it takes for his team to be successful. 

Carter Frantz – 2018 – G – Elite Nation Basketball
Elite Nation has a ton of guys who can play and they gave people a lot of problems this week, reaching the semifinals. A nice shooter, Frantz made timely basket after timely basket in Sunday’s quarterfinal win over the Wisconsin Playmakers. Probably better suited for the shooting guard position, Frantz showed the ability to catch and shoot or curl off screens and get to the hole. Frantz did a great job of finding soft spots in the defense and exploiting the defense. He scored 16 points in Sunday’s victory. 

Nick Klug – 2018 – SG – Wisconsin Swing
Klug is getting better as a shooter. He was already pretty good off the bounce, but his catch and shoot game has hit another level. Moving very well without the ball, Klug was setting his feet, firing, and hitting nothing but net at an impressive pace during Sunday’s semifinal loss to Ramey-Jets United. Speed is a big part of Klug’s game. He’s much more athletic than he looks and can absolutely blow by people going to the rim. Defensively, Klug isn’t afraid to get up into people’s shorts and his lateral quickness will bother opponents. Catching some Division 1 looks this summer, Klug has a chance to play his way onto that level. 

17U Platinum Champions – Jets Ramey United NY2LA (IL/MO)

17U Platinum 2nd Place – Team Blaze Select NY2LA (IN)

16U Platinum Champions – Ray Allen Select NY2LA (WI)
16U Platinum 2nd Place – Kessel Heat Black NY2LA (IL)

15U Platinum Champions – 43 Hoops NY2LA (WI)
15U Platinum 2nd Place – Illinois Irish Elite NY2LA (IL)

14U Platinum Champions – Kingdom Hoops Elite (IA)
14U Platinum 2nd Place – IL Irish Elite GNBA (IL)

17U Gold Champions – Wisconsin Swish (WI)
17U Gold 2nd Place – SW Minnesota Stars (MN)

17U Silver Champions – Minnesota Fury (MN)
17U Silver 2nd Place – AUSA Black (Australia)

17U Bronze Champions – WI Blizzard Hawley (WI)
17U Bronze 2nd Place – Full Package Walker (IL)

16U Gold Champions – Grand Rapids Storm NY2LA (MI)
16U Gold 2nd Place – Made Men NY2LA (IL)

16U Silver Champions – Wisconsin RAP (WI)
16U Silver 2nd Place – WOTN Christensen (MN)

16U Bronze Champions – Illinois Stampede (IL)
16U Bronze 2nd Place – Evolution Elite (WI)

15U Gold Champions – Quad City Elite NY2LA (IA/IL)
15U Gold 2nd Place – Ray Allen Select NY2LA (WI)

15U Silver Champions – Greenwood Elite (MI)
15U Silver 2nd Place – Playground Elite Smith (WI)

15U Bronze Champions – Wisconsin Swing (WI)
15U Bronze 2nd Place – All In Chicago (IL)

15U Blue Champions – Grand Rapids Storm (MI)
15U Blue 2nd Place – Colorado Titans Black (CO)

15U Orange Champions – WI Rap Greber (WI)
15U Orange 2nd Place – WI Playmakers Walbeck (WI)