Jalen Duren (above, at Roman during the 2019-20 season) is projected to be a top pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
The Team Final Scrimmages are back.
Rob Brown’s organization, which plays on the Nike-backed Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) each summer, has hosted its annual warm-up event featuring some of the top travel organizations in the Northeast each year since 2011, though last year’s event was called off due to COVID.
This year’s set of scrimmage is going to have a bit of a different look to it — but just as much talent as years past, starting with the host program. Along with Final, three other EYBL programs will be showcasing their oldest three teams: the Albany City Rocks (N.Y.), New York Renaissance, and Team Melo (Md.). Joining them will be another shoe-sponsored, Philly-area program in K-Low Elite as well as Team Final Red, the program’s Lehigh Valley affiliate.
Team Final’s 17U squad is one of the best travel teams in the country, led by a dominant inside duo of 6-foot-10 Jalen Duren (Montverde Academy, Fla.) and 7-footer Dereck Lively II (Westtown School, Pa.). Duren, considered a top-two prospect in the Class of 2022, starred at Roman Catholic as a freshman and sophomore before heading down to play for Montverde, whom he helped to a Geico High School National Championship earlier last month. He was joined in that move by 2022 SG Justice Williams, part of a terrific Final backcourt.
Also starring for Final out on the perimeter: Corey Floyd (2022/Roselle Catholic, N.J.), a muscular 6-3 guard and UConn commit; Jameel Brown (2022/Haverford School, Pa.), a 6-4 guard who re-opened his recruitment from a Purdue pledge after Micah Shrewsberry left for Penn State; Otega Oweh (2022/Rutgers Prep, N.J.), a 6-3 guard who’s recently picked up offers from PSU and Virginia Tech; and more.
Archbishop Carroll senior Anquan Hill (35) will be playing with K-Low Elite at the event. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
K-Low Elite, which plays on the Adidas-backed 3SSB and Gauntlet series, has a roster heavy on local talent. Archbishop Ryan’s 6-5 wing Aaron Lemon-Warren and Archbishop Carroll’s 6-9 center Anquan Hill, both Division I-quality seniors who are considering a year of prep school, bring experience, length, and scoring ability to the frontcourt. The West Catholic twin duo of 6-6 guards Kaseem Watson and Kareem Watson both have offers from Bryant and NJIT, Bishop McDevitt 2022 point guard Justin Moore has Drexel and CCSU offers, while Lenape (N.J.) 2022 guard Derek Simpson picked up a recent offer from Old Dominion.
The out-of-towners pack plenty of talent in their teams as well, with a few notable names to be aware of heading into the weekend.
Team Melo’s oldest group features athletic 6-6 wing Cam Whitmore (2022/Archbishop Spalding), who won Baltimore Catholic League’s Player of the Year as a junior, with offers from UConn, Florida, Georgetown and more in his pocket; Quadir Copeland (2022/Life Center), an athletic 6-5 combo guard from central Pennsylvania, has offers from Syracuse, Maryland, Miami (Fl.) and others; Bryce Lindsay (2022/Baltimore Polytechnic), 6-3 guard with offers from Virginia Tech, Georgetown; George Mason, and Towson. Also keep an eye on 2023 guard Savon Sutton, another central Pennsylvania guard who now plays at Legacy Charter (S.Car.), plus under-the-radar 2023 guard Jayden Ross (St. James’ School, Md.).
The City Rocks, which draw talent from all over New York state and into New England, feature 2022 Jonathan ‘J.J.” Starling, who plays for powerhouse La Lumiere School (Ind.) and has offers from Big Ten, Big East, ACC schools and more. Bergen Catholic (N.J.) 2022 guard Julian Brown has offers from Columbia and NJIT, while Cushing Academy (Mass.) guard Marcus Jackson has picked up a number of mid-major offers while he was a senior at Albany Academy. And don’t miss 2023 center Papa Kante (South Kent, Conn.), who plays on their 17s and already has a TCU offer.
The Rens, based out of New York City, feature Ohio State-bound wing Roddy Gayle, an athletic 6-5 shooting guard from Lewiston Porter (N.Y.); up front, they have four-star forward Kyle Filipowski (Wilbraham & Monsoon, Mass.), who most recently added offers from Stanford, Illinois, Pitt and Ohio State with plenty of other high-majors on that list. And Team Final Red has good talent as well, including Olympus Prep (N.J.) 2022 forward Javon Adams, who just picked up an offer from East Carolina this week.
Team Final now operates out of the Grail Sports Complex in Wilmington, Del., and unlike past years at Life Center (N.J.) which saw three courts running at once on one day of action, this year’s event will be two days long, with all attention focused on the space’s main court.
Here’s the complete schedule for the event, which will feature limited attendance: each game will have 80 spectators, including each team’s friends & family list; any availability remaining will cost $5 per game to attend, with the gym cleared after each game.
Saturday, April 17
9:00 AM: Team Final Red vs. K-Low Elite (15U)
10:20 AM: Team Final Red vs. K-Low Elite (16U)
11:40 AM: Team Final Red vs. K-Low Elite (17U)
1:00 PM: Team Melo vs. K-Low Elite (15U)
2:20 PM: Team Melo vs. K-Low Elite (16U)
3:40 PM: Team Melo vs. K-Low Elite (17U)
5:00 PM: NY Renaissance vs. Albany City Rocks (15U)
6:20 PM: NY Renaissance vs. Albany City Rocks (16U)
7:40 PM: NY Renaissance vs. Albany City Rocks (17U)
Sunday, April 18
9:00 AM: Team Final vs. Albany City Rocks (15U)
10:20 AM: Team Final vs. Albany City Rocks (16U)
11:40 AM: Team Final vs. Albany City Rocks (17U)
1:00 PM: Team Final vs. Team Melo (16U)
2:20 PM: Team Final vs. Team Melo (15U)
3:40 PM: Team Final vs. Team Melo (17U)