ALL METRO SPORTS
Nike EYBL - Dallas Session
April 29, 2011By Horace Neysmith of All Metro Sports
Starting Friday, 40 of the top travel teams in the country will begin Session Two of the second annual Nike Elite Youth Basketball League in Dallas. In attendance will be 12 of the 17U Five-Star Top 25 teams, including four of the top five. Additionally, 12 Five-Star rated players will be in competition this weekend. It all adds up to a massive weekend of action in Big D.
With games being played on eight different courts at the Fieldhouse USA facility through Sunday, Dallas-area hoopheads will be treated to top-level basketball from the jump, and not just on one headlining court. Looking at the 6:00 pm opening games on Friday night alone, six of the top 25 teams will be playing on five different courts at the same time.
Possibly the best matchup from those first set of games will be No. 4 Team Takeover D.C. against No. 12 Mac Irvin Fire. For Team Takeover, it means the start of a challenging schedule for the weekend, including a Sunday showdown against the third-ranked Oakland Soldiers. For the Chicago-based Fire, it presents an opportunity to return to form. The team hit a rough patch last week, ending their 21-game win streak with a loss in the Nike Spring Showdown quarterfinals to Full Package in overtime. When asked about the outlook for his team, head coach Mike Irvin said, "We had a few players out [in the Spring Showdown]. We had Thomas Hamilton hurt, Russell Woods out and our point guard Derrick Randolph wasn't there, so we were a couple guys down. This weekend, we should be fine. We're also adding Jabari Parker, one of the top players in his class, so we should have a pretty good weekend. The goal is to go 5-0."
As is expected of the EYBL, the second session will be filled with some of the best players in the country. Division A is home to James Robinson (Team Takeover), Dajuan Coleman (Albany City Rocks), Brandon Ashley (Oakland Soldiers) and Tyree Robinson (Oakland Soldiers). In Division B, Nerlens Noel (BABC) as well as Julius Randle (Texas Titans) and Matthew Jones (Texas Titans) lead the way along with Parker of Mac Irvin. Kyle Anderson (Playaz Basketball Club), Anthony Bennett (CIA Bounce) and Justin Anderson (Boo Williams) are part of what makes Division C intriguing for this tournament. Finally, Division D boasts Duke commit Rasheed Sulaimon and L.J. Rose (Houston Hoops), along with Rodney Purvis (CP3 All-Stars).
Because this is the second part of a three-session league, look for some shake-ups in the standings. Teams that didn't fare so well in the first session of the EYBL will look to improve on their record, while teams at the top of their division will do all they can just to hold on. With an invitation to the Nike Peach Jam on the line, Dallas can look forward to some of the fiercest competition you'll find on the travel circuit.
Coinciding with the EYBL event in the Dallas area is the Next Level Spring Showcase, featuring many of the top 16U teams in the country. Among the notables in the 28-team field are Five-Star Top 25 squads Team Takeover Caron Butler (No. 4), CP3 All-Stars (No. 6), Mac Irvin Fire (No. 7), Spiece Indy Heat (No. 19) and St. Louis Eagles (No. 20).
All of the aforementioned were off last weekend for the Easter holiday, except for a Jahlil Okafor-led Mac Irvin team that rolled through the field at the Nike Spring Showdown in Merrillville, Ind.
One pool play matuchup to keep an eye out for is the bout between Spiece and a tough Memphis YOMCA squad, which will take place Saturday morning at 9:15 am.
Five-Star rated Isaiah Austin, a Texas native and Compton Magic mainstay, will be making an appearance in Dallas this weekend as well, as the 7-footer will suit up with his hometown Family First team in Next Level's 17U bracket.