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July 23, 2012

Jersey-based team making name for itself

MORE: Bentil, Thomas shine at Summer Jam

MEQUON, Wis. -- Titles were handed out Sunday on the campus of Homestead High School at the Under Armour Summer Jam. Representing New Jersey, Sports U/Team Izod took home a title in the 17 and under division while Team Loaded and We-R-1 shared it in the 16s and Chicago Lockdown took home honors in the 15s.

The final day of the event offered a good chance to get a look at some more unheralded players and guys that we'll be reading much more about down the road.

Playing with purpose

There are teams that are fun to watch because they play a YouTube/mixtape-friendly style of basketball that produces lots of highlights. Then, there are teams, such as Sports U/Team Izod, that are fun to watch because they play together, execute and win at a high level. Champions in the 17 and under division's platinum bracket at the Summer Jam, the Jersey-based program is really building a name for itself.

If there is a headliner on the squad, it has to be 2013 Rivals150 member Josh Brown. The former Temple commit is a hard-nosed, 6-foot-2 combo guard who leads by example. He defends, he drives, he makes just enough jumpers to keep defenders honest and he never lets up.

Then there's waterbug point guard Kasim Chandler. The jet-quick sub-six-footer puts heavy attention on defenses and can score big if needed, or direct his teammates. Joining Chandler and Brown as a solid backcourt piece is Hallice Cooke.

Sports U always has one of its role players step up and DeAndre Bembry is very intriguing. A combo forward with some athleticism, he does all the little things that teams need to win and his efforts didn't go unnoticed during the Sports U championship run.

Wrapping the Jam

Ranked No. 57 nationally in the class of 2014, Romelo Trimble looked the part on Sunday. The solidly built 6-foot-3 shooting guard kept making plays during a 28-point outing and triple overtime win over the Louisville Magic in a 16 and under quarterfinal. A smart player who blends crafty drives with timely jump shooting, Trimble plays a winning brand of ball. He already holds offers from Rutgers, Miami, Xavier, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech and many others.

So far, Dondre Alexander of the Iowa Barnstormers has been a bit more well-known as a football prospect, where he's a three-star wide receiver/safety. If the 6-foot-3 shooting guard wants to play basketball in college, he should have no trouble finding plenty of suitors on at least the Missouri Valley level. A strong kid with a tremendous first step, he will get to the rim, knocked down some pull-up jumpers and is an outstanding competitor. Bradley has offered, and many other MVC/Horizon types are taking looks.

An interesting player in the state of Illinois is 6-foot-6, maybe 6-foot-7 forward Alex Peters. A solidly built kid, Peters is smart, plays alert and can hit jumpers and is really good operating out of the high post. A three-star prospect, he's gotten offers from the likes of Boston College and St. Louis, while Butler is among those keeping tabs.

It's tough not to be intrigued by 2013 wing Harold Givens. The 6-foot-7 wing from Georgia has a great frame, terrific size and is a high-level athlete. He runs the floor, can get rebounds in a crowd and can also be used as a four if needed because of his size. He's become a target of several SEC schools

The incredibly balanced and very deep Illinois Wolves won a hard-fought semifinal game over the Houston Defenders before falling in the finals. A huge key to their success was the play of Jared Brownridge. A 6-foot-2 shooting guard from Aurora (Ill.) Waubonsie Valley, Brownridge can knock in a jumper and seems to come up with big plays. Another out of that mold is shooting guard Lance Whitaker. He's not as much of a scorer as Brownridge, but the 6-foot-3 wing can really defend and does all of the little things.

For the Utah Reign, the big three committed to BYU gets most of the attention. But, don't sleep on 6-foot-3 shooting guard Conner Toolson. He knocks down shots, makes alert passes and looks to be an outstanding mid-major prospect.

Pinning down a position for 6-foot-5 rising junior Allen Costley isn't always so easy. At times he looks like an undersized power forward, at others the Baltimore's Finest star looks like a wing. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter because he's a ball player. With his grinder's mentality and toughness, Costley is a guy that could play for us anytime.

It's way too early to tell, but rising freshman guard Jerry Myles sure looks like a kid with potential to make an instant and significant contribution at the high school level. A 6-foot-3 combo guard with athleticism, skill and lots of tools on the floor, the Quad City Elite guard was very impressive and will be one to watch at Davenport (Iowa) West.

Finally, in the class of 2015, Derrick Jones looks to be a wing with significant potential. At about 6-foot-6, he is a slashing athlete who puts the ball on the floor and attacks the rim looking to finish. His jumper doesn't look too bad either and his general explosiveness, size and youth add up to a guy who must be tracked by high majors over the next few years.

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