Fahmir Ali (above) was one of the standouts from this weekend's Big Shots Philly Final tournament. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
The BucksMont Indoor Sports Center played host this weekend to the Big Shots Philly Final tournament, which featured programs like Team Final, Philly Pride, JB Hoops and more.
Fahmir Ali (2019/Salesianum/Team Final)
All weekend long, Ali’s play stood out for the Team Final 15U squad, which won the 16U division of the tournament. The stocky (5-foot-8, 175 lb.) point guard bears a resemblance to former Team Final and current St. Joe’s guard Lamarr Kimble, who like Ali might never be the most athletic guard on the court but doesn’t let that get in his way of being extremely productive. Ali has a confident handle that he utilizes to break down his defender and get into the lane, where he can score in a variety of ways as well as he can find shooters or plunging bigs. Very communicative on both ends of the court, and shows all the traits of being a high-level floor general down the road.
Justin Anderson (2018/Franklin Learning Center/Team Final)
Anderson is a sharp shooting guard who can really fill it up from behind the arc when he gets hot. He was one of the few bright spots for Team Final in their loss to Big Shots Elite with 16 points, most of which coming in the second half when he started to get into his groove. His lefty stroke is very smooth, and he shows the ability to hit his shot in both spot up and pull up situations. Anderson also showed his ability to be a dangerous slasher, especially going to his left hand, as he got to the hole a couple of times and was able to finish against the impressive rim protectors on Big Shots.
A.J. Hoggard (2020/Archbishop Carroll/Team Final)
Hoggard is one of the most talented 8th graders in the city right now. Playing up a year for the Team Final 15U squad he still proved to be one of their top performers on the weekend. With incredible handles and a strong frame, he is very tough to stop going to the basket. He also showcased his elite court vision and ability to get his teammates involved with a number of impressive passes. On the defensive side, Hoggard was constantly locked in, and looked determined to shut down his opponent, usually the opposing team’s best player. He shows real promise as a two-way player, and should be a major piece for Carroll in the coming years.
Denelle Holly (above) has been scoring the ball at a terrific clip lately. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Denelle Holly (2017/George Washington/Philly Pride)
Holly has been playing well the last few weeks in the JTBL with his Washington teammates, and carried that momentum right over onto the AAU circuit this weekend. The 6-foot guard was in attack mode all weekend long for Philly Pride’s hybrid 16U/17U squad, taking his defender off the bounce and getting layups or foul shots as a result. And when Holly was left open, he showed the ability to knock down a few perimeter shots as well. If he keeps up this mentality, he’ll be one of the top guards in the Public League as a senior.
Chase Johnson (2017/Ripley/Big Shots Elite)
It’s clear why the West Virginia Mountaineers don’t want to let this in-state forward go elsewhere. On a relatively small Big Shots Elite team, Johnson spends most of his time defensively utilizing his strong, 6-foot-7 frame to defend opposing bigs. On the other end, however, he’s got a very polished offensive game with range out to the three-point line and the ability to put the ball on the floor past bigger defenders. Johnson is a guy that doesn’t need any plays called for him in order to be effective, as he has a great nose for the ball and puts his athleticism to good use both in the open floor and on the offensive boards.
Mike McFadden (above) was on fire from deep on Sunday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Mike McFadden (2017/Holy Ghost Prep/Philly Heat)
After a solid first few games of the weekend, McFadden absolutely went off in the 17U consolation final against the NJ Soldiers, finishing with 28 points in a narrow loss. The 6-foot-2 guard, a small-college prospect with good size for the off-guard position, knocked down four 3-pointers to help him along the way, and also benefitted from some terrific passing by teammates Austin Thomas (2017/CR South) and Kar’ron Johnson (2017/Conwell-Egan) for some easy layups on the break. He should have quite a few of those outings this season as he handles the scoring burden for the Firebirds this winter.
Hafeez Melvin (2017/Maple Shade/NJ Soldiers)
The crafty Melvin is capable of making a play in a lot of ways. He’s very raw still, as both athlete and a player, but he showed flashes of what looks like a very exciting skill set for a guard. He really ran the offense well for the Soldiers in their impressive comeback win against Philly Pride. His first step is very quick and he is able to break his man down off the dribble with a variety of crossovers. What sticks out in Hafeez’s game is his passing ability. He is able to see passes that others can’t, and while he does try to force them a bit at times, he was able to pull off a few spectacular cross court dimes.
Jordan Money (2017/St. Elizabeth’s/Team Final)
Without the services of its four leading scorers from the EYBL circuit, Team Final needed someone to step up and shoulder the load offensively. Money did just that, stepping out of his bench role and into his more natural position as the go-to scorer all weekend, leading the 17U division in scoring at 21.7 points per game. The Delaware native had his three-point stroke working, including hitting three consecutive triples in the second half of the championship. Most notable, though, was his ability to function as a primary ballhandler, operating both in isos and off of ball screens to get into the lane for a variety of tough runners and floaters.
Alex Nordenholt (above) impressed with his passing and shooting ability over the course of the weekend. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Alex Nordenholt (2017/Council Rock South/NJ Soldiers)
Great weekend for this 5-10 guard, who was making things happen for the Soldiers through all three games. Nordenholt's got a quick first step and the ability to take his man off the dribble or pull-up in the midrange, and he's a pest of a defender as well. Several high-academic Division III schools are already on his case, but if he continues this play throughout the summer look for many more small-college programs to pursue his services.
Bobby Planutis (2017/Bridgton Academy/JB Hoops)
Smooth and confident, Planutis continued a very strong summer with a big weekend for JB Hoops. His most impressive outing was a 23-point showing in a narrow loss to Team Final’s 17U squad, including some clutch foul shots late in regulation to briefly give his team a two-point lead before they eventually fell short in overtime. Most notably a 3-point shooter, Planutis has also improved his ability to attack the rim off the dribble and pull up for a mid-range jumper or two. Look for more and more Division I schools to get involved as the summer goes on, and through his prep year at Bridgton.
Fatayn Wesley (2019/Imhotep Charter/Philly Pride)
The star that stirs the drink that is one of the top 15U teams on the Under Armour circuit--Wesley is both their leading scorer and assist man--Wesley continued to impress as he has all spring. He’s got the ball on a string, and uses his handle effectively both to create space for his jumper and to get in the lane and create. A top-notch finisher, Wesley doesn't always have to show off his scoring ability with players like Jamil Riggins and Donta Scott supporting him as both high school and AAU teammates.
Jarrod West (2017/Notre Dame HS/Big Shots Elite)
West certainly staked his claim as one of the best shooters around with a strong weekend from the perimeter this weekend. In two wins on Sunday, the 5-11 point guard dropped nine 3-pointers to lead Big Shots Elite to the 17U championship, but perhaps even more impressive was his work on the other end of the court. A terrific athlete -- West’s father, also Jarrod West, was a standout at WVU in the mid-1990s -- West was a defensive pest all weekend long, forcing steal after steal to lead to easy buckets for himself and his teammates in the other direction. If he plays like this in July, look for his recruitment to go from mid-major (James Madison, East Carolina and four others have offered) into high-major territory.