Now that the July live period is over, so too is the travel basketball season. As is our custom here at the Source Hoops Hacienda we hand out multiple awards in various categories for the rising senior (2018), junior (2019) and sophomore (2020) classes. The first category is Most Valuable Player. We define that as the player who was most instrumental in leading his team to success.
When looking over the rosters of various travel teams before the start of the season, there was a tad bit of concern about E1T1’s prospects in the EYBL for 2017. There wasn’t much size on the roster and even though the perimeter players were more than solid, the EYBL doesn’t treat “smallish” teams all that kindly. However, nobody told Emmitt Williams.
Williams, a 6’7 bundle of energy, willed E1T1 to a 13-3 record in the EYBL regular season, a berth in the Peach Jam playoffs and a victory in Nike’s “The Eight” bracket in Las Vegas the last weekend of the July “live” period. Phrases such as “one of the best rebounders in the 2018 class”, “ferocious competitor” and “has no ‘off’ button” were used by national scouts to describe Williams’ play. Over the course of sixteen EYBL games, he averaged 17.6 points and 11.6 rebounds a game, shooting 61.5% from the field. He was an all-EYBL second team selection for both the regular season and the Peach Jam.
Williams’ ability to play bigger than his size allowed E1T1 to more than match bigger teams on the glass, allowing the rest of the talented team to do what they do best. Take Williams off of E1T1 and replace him with any other eligible player and it is unlikely that the squad would have the kind of season that it did.
Nike Team Florida made its return to the EYBL this year with a team dependent on talented underclassmen. They defeated in-state EYBL rivals E1T1 and Nike South Beach on the way to an 8-8 record. NTF was relegated to a “play-in” game for the Peach Jam, which they won. While no doubt the staff and players wanted more, it was a good season for Nike Team Florida in its return to the EYBL. From the outset, 6’9 rising junior Vernon Carey was the key player for NTF.
Carey averaged just over seventeen points and nearly six rebounds a contest in his first season in the EYBL. He combined nimble footwork with a strong frame to become a mismatch for opponents. Able to score from the three point line, on the block or anywhere in-between, Carey’s array of skills and physical gifts allowed NTF to overcome any issues of youth and experience in a very competitive EYBL.
The Under Armor Association established a 15U division this season and the Miami Vipers were quick to place a team. From the outset, the team impressed with a high-scoring style of play and a willingness to challenge opponents at both ends of the court. The guy that most helped this system go was Jamal Mashburn, Jr.
From the outset, Mashburn proved he could score with the best. The 6’0 guard averaged 23 points a game the first weekend in the UAA and never looked back. In the first weekend of July, in front of college coaches, he had a pair of 36 point games and one of 29 points. Only 24% of his shots came from three point range, so Mashburn wasn’t content to just let it fly once he crossed half-court. He was also a surprisingly effective rebounder for his size, averaging nearly five a game.