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MADE Hoops Session II: News & Notes From Sunday
by Eric Hampford, Future150 (12:13 PM CT, Mon January 15, 2018)
2022 post Jalen Duren is proving to be an elite big man.
2022 post Jalen Duren is proving to be an elite big man.
Eric Hampford
Eric Hampford:

Future150 GM / Senior National Analyst. Covering high and middle school basketball.

Springfield, MA (Future150) -- Another successful MADE Hoops League stop wrapped up action on Sunday from Springfield, Massachusetts. When the dust settled, there was a much clearer picture of which teams are making progress toward earning berths for MADE Hoops Championship Weekend in March. Which prospects and storylines caught our attention? Read on.

New York Rens 'Cruzing' In 8th Grade Division

The only undefeated team left in the #Lea8ue, the Rens are having a fantastic winter so far. Their weekend included four more wins, putting them at 7-0 overall. Most impressive of those wins was a 46-43 victory over a strong UPLAY Canada team. The catalyst for the group is top 10 national point guard prospect Zion Cruz, who continues to add dimensions to his game. Even without star teammate Dariq Whitehead, who moved on to Montverde Academy (FL), the Rens showed that their steady stable of tough guards can get the job done against other elite teams.

Team Takeover Grant Duo Impressive in Springfield

At 6-1, the traditional Nike power has been very impressive along the way as well. Offensively, their main option is Christian Watson, who continues to trend as an elite wing in the class. At 6'4" with a  smoothness to his game, he's an effective scorer and is a nice secondary ball-handler as well. However, a game changer for them in the middle has been Jerrell Roberson. A long & springy 6'7" post, he's active on both ends of the floor, has been cleaning up on the glass, finishing well around the rim & blocking shots throughout  league play. He's new to us, and his name should catch on quickly as AAU season rolls on. Their weekend included wins over New York Lightning, Playaz Club & The Gauchos. 

Several Teams Sharing Lead Of 7th Grade Division

The #7eague has four teams tied at the top, with UPLAY Canada, Team Oladipo Takeover, Team United & Team Durant all currently sitting at 6-1. For UPLAY, 6'4" wing prospect Jahsemar Olembe had a big Sunday, showing his diverse skills, including his ability to score on all three levels. The best game of the day in the division happened between the DC Blue Devils & Team Durant, with Durant winning a 69-66 double-overtime thriller. Rising star Amani Hansberry showed out for Team Durant, using his massive 6'4"+ frame to battle a long and athletic Blue Devils frontcourt. In a losing effort, Terrell Webster & Marvin Brimage Jr. showed out, having huge weeknds in general. 

Sunday Standouts From MADE Hoops League:

Jalen Duren, Team Final (PA): Last year, the 2022 big man was the BMOC in the #7eague, standing 6'5", making him much bigger than the competition, helping him to make a huge difference. One year later, and not only is he now a legitimate 6'8", but he's rapidly improving, making us feel very good about our current #3 ranking in America for the class. He's becoming much more bouncy and has excellent hands and good footwork around the rim. 

Donavan Freeman, Jersey City Boys & Girls Club (NJ): Leading his team to a 6th Grade Championship in Springfield, the 6'1" 2024 prospect is all arms and legs right now, but he's well ahead of the curve in terms of development. He checks a lot of boxes for what we look for in terms of future projections, and he was the most productive player for his team in their championship run. 

Royal Brown, City Rocks (NY): Speaking of production, there may not have been a more productive player in the 2023 division than the 5'10" Albany, New York wing. The lefty plays with an impressive confidence on the floor, knowing what's expected of him for his team to compete. He showed that in a close win over Expressions on Sunday, leading the charge by scoring 21 points. 


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