In only it's second year and with no real marketing to speak of, the D1 Nation's Sweet 16 Super Showcase has quickly become a MUST ATTEND fall event in the Austin/San Antonio area. This year's event was held on the beautiful new campus at Concordia University in Austin. A special thanks go out to Head Coach Stan Bonewitz, and his two Asssitants; Coach Black & Coach Hudson.
The participants, in alphabetical order were Austin Akins, Austin High, Austin St. Michael's, Austin Waldorf, Austin Westlake, Bryan, Georgetown, Killeen Ellison, Killeen Shoemaker, Marble Falls, Pflugerville, Pflugerville Connally, San Antonio Brennan, San Antonio Reagan, San Marcos & a loose collection of kids under the D1 Ambassadors name whose high schools did not compete as a team.
We all know it's early season basketball, some teams are shorthanded until their football players join them in December (hey, this is Texas), there's not a lot of organized play calling & the high school coach has not put his stamp on the team as they've yet to start the official practices. However there's no denying that it's good for kids to get a run in, fun to see different matchups than the regular season might otherwise bring & that the kids take it serious for preseason bragging rights. And of course, who doesn't like to see their name in lights, and to receive a little bit of additional publicity brought to you courtesy of the D1 Nation. In addition several college coaches were on hand as well as Concordia & St. Edward's were in attendance along with several Junior Colleges.
As far as the games were concerned there were several teams who went 2-0 on the day. Bryan, Georgetown, Pflugerville, San Antonio Brennan, Austin High, Killeen Shoemaker & Killeen Ellison earned that distinction. IMO Bryan, Ellison and Pflugerville have the personnel to make a deep run. At the high school level it's all about guard play and these schools have it.
Bryan: Coach John Reese is going to have his crew stepping off the bus running, pressing & trapping. If you can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen. Of course it doesn't hurt to have his son 2012 PG J. Mychal Reese on the floor doing his thing. Young Reese was the consensus #1 player in the Nation for several years in a row and he's right there with the best of them in the country. NOBODY stays in front of him and his trademark lefty tear drop floater in the lane is unstoppable. What more can you say about the only likely 4 time All State player in Texas 5A history when all is said and done?
Below: Bryan backcourt mates friendship goes all the way back to 6/7th grade when they played together on that great Texas D1 Ambassadors team who lost the Championship at AAU Nationals.
Add 2013 phoenom PG Travon Landry to the Bryan backcourt this season as last year's freshman starter for San Antonio Madison has moved down to Aggieland to represent the Vikings. When bryan gets the lead, and spreads the floor it's all over with these two lightning quick floor generals taking care of the rock. 2012 W 6'3" A.J. Pullian was the Vikes 3rd leading scorer on the day and shows great promise. Also look for 2013 W 6'4" Chris Johnson to have a major impact once he returns from his QB role on the Vikings football team.
Georgetown: We welcome back Coach Russell Miller to the Cen Tex area after having coached in Frisco and the DFW area over the last several years. He'll bring a new toughness to Georgetown. They'll be led by 2012 PG Michael Hardge who already has one D1 offer in his pocket (Texas State). Hardge (below left) is super quick and improved as a shooter. He'll also get help from 2011 F 6'5" Logan Webb, 2011 G Casey Heller & 2013 physical youngster, Jacob Vick (below right)
Pflugerville: Mike Muphy is a guard's coach, and boy does he have ballhandler after ballhandler to throw at you. None is better though than 2011 PG Deon Mitchell (below left) . Recruited as a high major, Mitchell committed to NCAA Sweet Sixteen program Northern Iowa when they promised to put the ball in his hands as a true freshman. In the meantime, the super smooth Mitchell will continue to put up big numbers for the Panthers who barely lost to Region rep Converse Wagner in last year's playoffs. 2011's Cameron Blue, Darrian Dempsey & transfer W 6'4" Jamal Shabazz will be running and gunning for The Ville all year but let's not forget about 2013 PG T.J. Williams (below right). He's the heir apparent to Mitchell and the best pure point guard in the City of Austin in the Class of 2013. He'll be relied upon heavily to keep all the above scorers happy by distributing the ball.
San Antonio Brennan: Thefirst year school out of San Antonio's Northside ISD will not have a senior, but they'll be competing in varsity at the 4A level. Neither of their opponents was particularly tough but they won going away each time. Credit Coach Tommy Hines as he takes on a new challenge. Hines was a key part of San Antonio Jay's State Championship under legendary Coach Romy Vela some years back and led San Antonio Lee (aka Paul Garnica & the 11 Dwarfs) to 30 plus win seasons. You can bet that Brennan will become a tough out as he puts his stamp on this program.
2013 Johnny Azzinarro of San Antonio Brennan
He'll have an outstanding floor general in 2013 Johnny Azzinarro who started last year as a frosh at San Antonio O'Connor. The New Jersey native brings an East Coast confidence to his game and has as good a midrange game as any sophomore that I've seen. He's got some growing to do, but he knows how to run a team way beyond his years. I also liked 2012 workhorse 6'3" Christian Davis who can hurt you inside and out, 2012 Malachi Cravens & promising WG 2013 George King.
Austin High The Maroons have a potent lineup this year that can contend with anyone. The senior backcourt of Eric "Quick" McClellan & Alex Reinking won't take a backseat to many teams in the Region. McClellan is closing in on 6'4". He's long & bouncy, and loves to flush in transition. Reinking is tough as nails. He hits shots, rebounds like a forward and defends hard as well. The wildcard for Austin High is 2013 F 6'5" Patrick Strake. Strake is a savvy player, who plays like a veteran despite being a sophomore. He can shoot it from the perimeter and doesn't mind mixing it up down low.
Reinking (left) and McClellan (right) make a nice one-two punch for Austin High
Killeen Shoemaker: The Grey Wolves are in a killer district but they have leadership and toughness at the PG spot in 2011 Anthony McDonald who keeps the ball on a string, SG Anthony Gonzalez who has a sweet stroke & the biggest man in the district in 2011 6'7" Malcolm McDonald. McDonald is long and has a nice perimeter shot. I'd like to see him mix it up down low a little more. He's slender but once he puts on weight will be a nice college player.
Killen Shoemaker's M&M Boys: Malcolm (left) & Anthony (right) McDonald
Killeen Ellison: With the David Manley era now in the past Coach Alberto Jones squad is chock full of seniors who can give other teams fits. PG Devonta Brown (Indiana State) brings athleticism and energy. Undersized post Shane Jones (wearing his Greg Oden goggles) competes hard, and keeps things alive on the boards. The Ellison Eagles got a big win vs a talented Austin Akins squad as they outworked the "other" Eagles on the glass turning a 10 point half time deficit into a 10 point win. 6'5"W Jaleel Williams simply has the most talent in the Area. The catch is, he has to continue to mature and go hard at all times. When his motor's revving, he brings something special to the game. He can shoot from the perimeter, plays way above the rim and alters/swats shots with his outrageous wingspan.
Seniors Devonta Brown (Indiana State) left & Jaleel Williams (right) lead Killeen Ellison
With Bryan, Shoemaker, Harker Heights, and A&M Consolidated District 5A is going to break a couple of very good team's hearts as someone has to miss the playoffs.
That's it for the 2-0 teams. I will give updates on the other participants over the next couple of days.-Max Ivany