ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA) — With the USA men’s National Basketball team and the Nike Global Challenge all being in the District of Columbia this weekend, it’s safe to say Friday through Monday, the DMV is at the center of the basketball world.
The Nike Global Challenge featured the best high school players from around the world, including Lithuania, Puerto Rico, Brasil, Canada, and China all making the trip to Episcopal High School in Arlington Virginia.
The Americans were split into three teams; East, West, and Midwest, boasting the best thirty players from Nike’s EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League). The teams that featured the most talent were USA East and Canada, who faced off in a heavy title fight Saturday, with Canada edging out the Americans 101-96. Here are some notes on local talent that caught my eye.
Beejay Anya (DeMatha Catholic) did not have the weekend some
may have expected. My evaluation of Beejay is quite simple. Pros:
strength. Cons: weight. He is to strong on the block for most defenders
to guard him. With low post moves that leave most defenders it’s a no-brainer why John Thompson was loving the flashes of brilliance Beejay
displayed. When matched up with against Isaiah Watkins (offers from Miami,
Cincinnati, Baylor) of Canada he couldn’t keep up. Watkins, 6-foot-8,
230 lbs. was quicker and better conditioned, causing Anya to be a
defensive liability. In the final minutes of the game against Canada,
Anya’s poor defensive play and exhaustion prevented him from playing in
the most pivotal moments of the game. I realize that Anya has improved his physique since his sophomore year, but the transformation is still not complete.
Anthony Barber (Hampton H.S.) is the fastest end-to-end player in the tournament. The problem is his speed has the tendency to work against him at times, causing turnovers and careless drives to the basket. It’s an issue that can easily be adjusted once he reaches college. His jump shot, penetration, and vision all make up for it. When he slows down and composes himself, his speed works in his favor — his first step and crossover allow him to beat just about every initial defender. With no set offense or go-to plays, it was Barber’s dictation of the game that kept USA East in the contest against Canada. He posted 16 points in the game.
Troy Williams (Oak Hill Academy) is a natural. The best schools in the country are recruiting him heavily for a reason. At times he forces his shot, but generally, he lets the game of basketball come to him. His jumper is automatic but he equally excels at breaking his man down off the dribble and getting into the lane. Standing at 6-foot-6, 190 lbs., Williams has a very lengthy wingspan causing problems when opponents try and score over him. Friday he poured in 27 points against China, displaying a variety of ways in which he is able to score — finger roll’s, pull-up jumpers and three-point range. AAU legend Boo Williams is his uncle and basketball mentor which he says has played a consistent role in helping him maintain a level head on the court.
Kameron Williams (Mt. St. Joseph) in his own words, “I’ve got the ability to score anywhere, anytime, any place.” I’d say that statement is 100 percent accurate. Though China was not nearly as skilled as Canada, you could still gauge players abilities offensively. Williams scored 20 points, both inside and out. He’s a lights out jump shooter with a pull-up that consistently drew the other teams best defender. If not, 20 a game is nothing for him. The problem? If his jumper is off, his confidence in driving to the basket decreases. Players generally like their go-to weapon to be in full force for their game to open up. Against Canada, Williams’ jumper was not there and his six points showed he just never adjusted to the game.