World Championships Preview
By Jordan Kendall, Monday, Mar 5, 2018 10:12 PM
As The Grind Session prepares for the upcoming World Championships being held in Owensboro, Kentucky on March 8-11, we'll start to take a look at the teams in the field and what to expect from them heading into the tournament.
Players from all over the world will be taking the floor to showcase their talents and compete for the title of World Champions in front of the basketball crazed fans of Kentucky. Some of the star players that will be taking the floor in Owensboro will be Hillcrest Prep's Kyree Walker, Aspire Academy's Charles Bassey, Bella Vista Prep's Terry Armstrong, and Tennessee Prep's Antavion Collum, just to name a few. Also, participating in the event will be McDonald's All-American Jordan Brown of Prolific Prep.
After competing against eachother all season, the time has arrived for one team to be crowned champion. The grueling schedule of The Grind Session has prepared players to overcome many obstacles including injury, travel, and playing on neutral floors, against the best competition in the country. Here's a look at what to expect from each team:
Trinity International (NV)
First Round Matchup: Victory Rock Prep (FL)
Grind Session Record: 1-5
Trinity International plays a very up-tempo brand of basketball, led by the guard play of sophomore Daishen Nix and senior Deon Stroud. Nix runs the point for Trinity International, while Stroud plays the two guard, as they look to score their buckets in transition by forcing turnovers on the defensive end. They also turn to senior forward Jovan Sljivancanin for scoring on the perimeter, who is a knock down shooter from behind the arc.
St. Louis Christian (MO)
First Round Matchup: Prolific Prep (CA)
Grind Session Record: 1-7
St. Louis Christian is led by senior point guard Bailey Dee, who runs a balanced offense for the team. They look to push the tempo when the opportunity presents itself in transition, but Dee will pull it out and set up a half-court offense in no scoring opportunities arise. Senior forward Ivan Mikhiev provides a scoring spark on the perimeter with his outside shooting, while junior forward Chiekh Ndiaye holds down the post for the team. Junior guard Courtland Soll is a very capable scoring option and can catch fire quickly after seeing a couple baskets in a row fall.
Athlete Institute (CAN)
First Round Matchup: West Oaks Academy (FL)
Grind Session Record: 3-2
One of two Canadian teams playing in the World Championships, Athlete Institute enters play with a 3-2 Grind Session record. This team goes as senior guard Luguentz Dort goes. The Arizona State commit is built like an NFL linebacker and plays a game similar to that of Dwayne Wade. His relentless attack to the rim and ability to hit three-point shots provides most of the scoring for Athlete Institute, and the rest of the scoring comes by committee. Sophomore guard Keshawn Barthelemy can provide a solid scoring spark and senior guard Sam Rautins is a reliable scoring option from behind the arc.
West Oaks Academy (FL)
First Round Matchup: Athlete Institute (CAN)
Grind Session Record: 2-4
West Oaks plays a very aggressive and physical brand of basketball, attacking defenses at full speed and relentlessly pressuring teams on the defensive end. Senior point guard PJ Person and junior guard Tyrell Jones both possess the ability to hit outside shots and finish at the rim, as they lead the backcourt play for West Oaks. In the frontcourt, junior forwards Rifen Miguel and Simeon Germain pressure opposing players in the low-post, making it hard for big men to score. Miguel also provides a scoring spark with his ability to score down low or step and knock down threes.
Victory Rock Prep (FL)
First Round Matchup: Trinity International (NV)
Grind Session Record: 6-4
Victory Rock is one of the heavily favored teams to make a run for the championship as they’ve played well on The Grind Session all season. Senior forward Madut Akec has been a consistent scorer for the team and is extremely long, allowing him to be a menacing defender on the other end of the court. Junior forward Kuany Kuany has caught fire down the stretch of regular season play, showing the ability to hit three-point shots and spread the floor for the Victory Rock offense. Senior big man Michael Durr, a South Florida commit, is the bruiser down low and grabs a ton of rebounds on the defensive end. Senior forward Jonathan Dos Anjos and junior point guard Kolton Mitchell have also proved to be players that can step up and be a spark for the Victory Rock offense.
Aspire Academy (KY)
First Round Matchup: The Rock (FL)
Grind Session Record: 11-8
Aspire Academy’s junior center Charles Bassey will be one of the biggest names playing at the World Championships. The five-star center should attract fans from all over Kentucky, as he is currently being recruited by every blueblood school in the country, including the University of Kentucky and Western Kentucky University. He possesses a rare skillset for his position, as the seven-foot big man can shoot and pass like a guard, while still being able to bang down low with the best. He can score from behind the arc, mid-range, and is most dominant down low. On the defensive end he’s just as good, rebounding at a high rate and blocking or altering shots throughout the game. His presence along with the scoring ability of junior forward De’Sean Allen-Eikens and junior guard Calvin Temple will have Aspire Academy primed for a run to the finals. Other notable players on Aspire are LIU-Brooklyn commit Ousmane Ndim, Toledo commit TJ Smith, freshman center Sekou Sada Kalle, and senior point guard Caleb Fields.
The Rock (FL)
First Round Matchup: Aspire Academy (KY)
Grind Session Record: 5-5
It will be a challenging first round matchup for The Rock, as they are limited in size and depth and will have to find a way to slow down a pair of seven-footers, in five-star center Charles Bassey and LIU-Brooklyn commit Ousmane Ndim, on Aspire Academy (KY). They’ll look to push the tempo and get big scoring outputs from senior guard Antrell Charlton and junior point guard Bryan Greenlee. Charlton is a guy that can score in bunches, while Greenlee looks to be the setup man, but still can catch defenses slipping with his outside shot making ability and creativity at the rim. Junior forward Jaden Campbell and junior guard Trey McCray can also provide scoring sparks, while freshman center Lynn Kidd will look to hold down the post.
Orangeville Prep (CAN)
First Round Matchup: Believe Sports Academy (TN)
Grind Session Record: 4-3
The second of two teams from Canada playing in the World Championships, Orangeville Prep is led by one of the most prolific scorers in The Grind Session in senior forward Ignas Brazdiekis. Brazdiekis is a Michigan commit and can score the ball in every way imagineable, as he’s proved with multiple 40-point performances against Grind Session competition this season. He can knock down shots from the perimeter, pull up from mid-range, attack and finish at the rim, or backdown smaller defenders in the post. He’ll carry the scoring load for Orangeville Prep, while senior Toledo commit Keshaun Saunders will also provide a bit of scoring on the offensive end. Four-star sophomore Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe will be the x-factor for Orangeville Prep, as he can provide a solid scoring output, but will need to get going early to open things up for Brazdiekis and Saunders.
Believe Sports Academy (TN)
First Round Matchup: Orangeville Prep (CAN)
Grind Session Record: 6-5
Believe Sports Academy enters play on a hot streak, recently going 3-0 at The Grind Session’s Smokey Mountain Showcase. A team full of superior athletes, they look to beat teams in transition with their high-flying ability and precise passing, hooking up on multiple alley-oops throughout games. The offense is led by four-star junior Devan Cambridge and junior point guard Malcolm Farrington. Cambridge is a high volume scorer that utilizes his athleticism to finish over defenders at the rim, but can knock down three-point jumpers with consistency. Farrington is a reliable setup man in the offense, as well as a marksman Academy and will need to be productive on the offensive end for the team to pick up the win in their first round matchup with Orangeville Prep (CAN).
Bella Vista Prep (AZ)
First Round Matchup: Tennessee Prep (TN)
Grind Session Record: 5-4
Another team that likes to run an uptempo offense, Bella Vista Prep relies heavily on the junior guard tandem of Julian Dozier Jr., Terry Armstrong, and Nicolas Elame. Dozier Jr. is an extremely quick point guard and great passer that racks up assists finding Armstrong and Elame at the rim. Armstrong is a five-star shooting guard that can knock down three-point jumpers, finish around or over defenders at the rim, and pull up from mid-range. Elame is a sneaky athletic guard that fearlessly attacks the rim and finishes through contact and is a streaky shooter from behind the arc. Any of those three can go off for twenty plus points on any given night, but junior center Jimmy Bell will have to hold down the post and be a presence on the glass for Bella Vista to advance to the second round.
Tennessee Prep (TN)
First Round Matchup: Bella Vista (AZ)
Grind Session Record: 10-12
A team loaded with talent in the sophomore and junior classes, Tennessee Prep will try to piece together a first round win over Bella Vista Prep (AZ). They’ll be led offensively by four-star juniors Antavion Collum and Brandon Nicholas. Collum provides a size mismatch for opposing guards, as the 6’8” combo guard will look to utilize his size and back down smaller defenders from the high post. His slashing style of play will be an important piece in helping the team pick up the win, but Nicholas will also be looked to as a scoring option from the perimeter. Junior point guard Damion Baugh and senior point guard Tyrese Patterson will likely split time running the offense, while sophomore guard Denver Jones and sophomore forward Anthony Thomas will need to step up for their team to pick up the win.
Hillcrest Prep (AZ)
First Round Matchup: Lincoln Academy (GA)
Grind Session Record: 6-7
Fans will file in to see one of the biggest stars in high school basketball, as Hillcrest Prep’s five-star sophomore guard Kyree Walker will be one of the biggest names to take the floor. Walker, already committed to Arizona State, is a showman on the floor and gets fans out of their seats with high-flying, creative dunks and a relentless pursuit to the rim where he uses his strength to finish through contact. Walker has improved throughout the season, especially passing the ball, and will look to find senior point guard Demarius Jacobs, a recent St. Louis University commit, and senior Nevada commit KJ Hymes for points on the offensive end as well. Junior forward Dischon Thomas, also a Nevada commit, senior forward Mohamed Jafari, and sophomore guard Jeron Artest, the son of NBA legend, Metta World Peace, are all reliable scoring options on the perimeter. They’ll look to utilize their high-octane offense to pick up the first round win against Lincoln Prep (GA).
Lincoln Academy (GA)
First Round Matchup: Hillcrest Prep (AZ)
Grind Session Record: 5-3
Lincoln Academy, a team that plays a gritty, hard-nosed brand of basketball is led by three-star senior point guard Myreon Jones and junior Georgia commit Elias King. Jones and King will look to carry the scoring load for their team in their first round matchup with Hillcrest Prep (AZ). Both players lacking the size of Hillcrest Prep guard Kyree Walker, will have to use their length to alter his shots at the rim and create transition opportunities for their team. Junior big man Moulaye Sissoko will also be looked to for scoring and a big defensive effort in the post.
Our Savior Lutheran (NY)
First Round Matchup: Wesley Christian (KY)
Grind Session Record: 3-0
Up-tempo, loud, gritty, hard-nosed, and relentless are all words you could use to describe the Our Savior Lutheran team. Led by senior wing and Seton Hall commit Jared Rhoden, as well as four-star sophomore guard Posh Alexander, they’ll look to pressure Wesley Christian (KY) and create transition opportunities. In transition the team is great at knocking down outside shots, but will look to get to the rim before kicking it out to the perimeter. Junior guard Dashawn Davis also provides a solid scoring spark and can fill it up from behind the arc.
Wesley Christian (KY)
First Round Matchup: Our Savior Lutheran (NY)
Grind Session Record: 14-4
One of the sleeper teams in the tournament, Wesley Christian goes as sophomore point guard Kevon Watt goes. He’ll be running the offense from the backcourt and is very creative when attacking the rim and guard Miki Tadic or sophomore guard Brandyn Talbot on the wings for open three-point shots. Junior big man Arol Kacuol is an extremely long and athletic presence in the post that can also step out and knock down mid-range jumpers. Kacuol will need to big a force on the defensive end, while Wesley Christian will also go to their deep bench to pick up the first round win over Our Savior Lutheran (NY).
Prolific Prep (CA)
First Round Matchup: St. Louis Christian (MO)
Grind Session Record: 14-4
Prolific Prep brings arguably the most star-studded roster to the field with three Division 1 commits in UC-Santa Barbara commits Amadou Sow and Sekou Toure, as well as Buffalo commit Jeenethan Williams. Also on the roster is McDonald’s All-American Jordan Brown and five-star sophomore Nimari Burnett. After battling injuries all season, Prolific Prep has fought to be the top ranked team in The Grind Session and are early favorites to win the World Championships. They’ll look to run the offense through their guards, Toure and Burnett, while Williams will provide a spark from the wing, and Sow and Brown will handle things down low. Burnett is a lights out shooter from behind the arc, while Toure is a great passer and can set teammates up with his vision and ball placement. Williams is an extremely athletic wing that is their go-to option in transition, as he can take flight over defenders in those opportunities. Sow is a big body down low that can rebound and score in the low post, as well as step out and hit jumpers, while Brown is a dominant player on both the offensive low post and glass, grabbing rebounds at a high rate. They also possess a deep bench where senior big man Onyiyechi Eyisi and junior forward Oton Jankovic can provide solid minutes for the team.