With the final signing period re-launching on Wednesday, April 13, many senior standouts will soon make the most important choice of their life.
With plenty of college coaches in attendance and with many others following online, those senior standouts participated in Friday night’s Fourth Annual Unsigned Hype Senior Showcase at George Westinghouse High School in Brooklyn.
The Showcase, which was founded by Brooklyn-based basketball coach James Barrett, had both games live streamed by Backpack Broadcasting, with game one tipping off at 6 p.m.
“The coaches have become familiar with this event at this time of year,” said Westinghouse head coach Everett Kelley. “They’re looking to come out and find guys that they don’t have an opportunity to see during the year, so this event becomes very important for every kid playing. It’s a chance that they may not have gotten during the season.”
For game one, key players on the Red Team included Akeem Tate of Westinghouse, Teshaun Beckles of Eagle Academy, and Kevin Saylor of Wings Academy.
“Kevin was key for us this year,” said Wings head coach Billy Turnage of Saylor. “Leadership, intangibles, scoring, whatever we needed, we got it from him.”
On the Blue Team, noteworthy seniors included Marcus St. Furcy of the High School for Construction, D’Andre McLamb of Seward Park, and Denzil Haynes of Transit Tech.
The Blue Team ultimately emerged victorious in the talent-laden affair, led by the efforts of game MVP Ronald Jefferson of Christ The King High School in Queens. Jefferson scored a team-high 17 points in the game, 14 of which came in a big first half performance.
“A lot of coaches, a lot of competition, you’ve got to play your hardest, play smart, play defense, try to get the win,” said Jefferson, whose team won 79-73 in the first game of the night. “Hopefully from this I could pick up some interest from schools. This was a great experience, I enjoyed it.”
Although his team lost, it was Boys and Girls High School’s own Najee Scott who stole the show in game one of the Unsigned Hype Showcase with his display of three-point shooting.
“I feel like I left myself with a good chance of getting some interest, that’s what I’m here for,” Scott said after hitting six threes and scoring a game-high 20 points. “It was very important to show them I could shoot. That’s what my mindset was, don’t come in here and do anything I couldn’t do, just come in here and shoot the ball, show them that I could shoot with perfection.”
In game two, the color scheme was shifted to a White-and-Black affair, with the two teams scheduled for an 8 p.m. throw down.
White Team notables included Anthony Munson of Bedford Academy, Curtis Smith of Thomas Jefferson Campus, and Damarri Moore of Westinghouse.
Black Team standouts included Gianni Ford of Boys and Girls, Gerald Williams of Westinghouse and Yaya Evans of South Shore.
Ford in particular had been drawing interest from Iona, Stony Brook, LIU-Brooklyn and Hofstra, among other schools.
“I feel like this game gives New York kids another chance to get out there,” Ford said of the showcase. “Sometimes it’s really hard with not enough AAU teams for the New York kids, so events like this gives good kids another chance. Personally, I just want to show them what I did all year.”
In a high-intensity, fast-paced contest, the two teams each shattered the century mark in points, but not before a late three by the White Team’s Isaiah Deas was hit with 16.5 seconds left on the clock. The game entered overtime tied at 99 apiece.
After the OT period, the White Team had outlasted the Black Team 107-101, with late-game hero and Coastal Academy’s own Isaiah Deas earning game MVP honors.
“I just wanted to come out here, play hard and put on a show for the people,” Deas said after the game. “A lot of coaches were in here, I just wanted to show them what I could do.”
Deas, who previously played ball at Thomas Jefferson Campus, rattled off 23 points, earning him his first MVP award.
“It still feels surreal man. I’m going to make sure nobody touches this [MVP trophy] for a long time,” he said. “Of course it’s a little emotional. I wanted to definitely go out with a bang, now it’s the next step, on to college.”
Other key performances in game two came from Obadiah Toppin of Ossining High School for the White team, and Kevin Dennis of Truman High School for the Black Team.
Toppin tied Deas’ mark with 23 points, while Dennis scored an event-best 33 points for the opposing side. Dennis’ teammates Williams and Ford added 25 and 21 points respectively.
The entirety of both games can be seen here or on the Backpack Broadcasting YouTube channel.
Follow Bryan Fonseca on Twitter at @BryanFonsecaNY.