After a long, grueling season on The Grind Session, and winning three games in three days, the World Championship Final matchup came down to Aspire Academy (KY) and Victory Rock Prep (FL). Both teams showed a great display of heart in an intense final game, as they gave fans in Owensboro, Kentucky a show.
Aspire Academy got things going from the tip as senior point guard Caleb Fields found five-star junior Charles Bassey cutting to the basket for an alley-oop to open the game. Senior wing Jonathan Dos Anjos immediately responded with a drive to the basket where he finished through contact and drew the foul. The free throw put Victory Rock up 3-2 in the early goings and the game continued to go back and forth midway through the first half. With eight minutes left in the first period of play, Aspire Academy held a 12-10 lead and maintained that lead down the stretch as they found themselves up four with 1:51 remaining. The lead would never grow past that for Aspire Academy and they took a 30-26 advantage into halftime.
A newly inspired Victory Rock Prep team came out firing on all cylinders in the second half and jumped ahead of Aspire Academy early after a three-pointer from senior wing Madut Akec put them up 32-31. After a quick spurt of offense from a committee of Victory Rock players, Mawot Mag hit a three that capped off a 10-4 run that put his team up 42-35 with 8:14 left in the game. Bassey responded with his own three-pointer from NBA range to pull Aspire Academy with four of Victory Rock with just over six minutes to lay.
The Wizards of Aspire Academy continued to chip away at Victory Rock's lead, but the Blue Devils had a response for everything Aspire threw their way. With 1:35 left in the game, Bassey hit another three-pointer that cut the lead to three. On the next trip down he attempted another three-pointer to tie the game, but a miss that went long on the rebound allowed a run out for Victory Rock and an easy basket to extend their lead to five. That would essentially be the icing on the cake for Victory Rock on their way to a 60-54 win and earned them the title of World Champions.
Akec took home MVP honors with a 16 point, 12 rebound, and 4 assist game. Dos Anjos also played a big part in the victory, as he chipped in 15 points and 7 rebounds. Bassey led Aspire Academy with 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks, while junior wing De'Sean Allen-Eikens added 11 points in the loss.
As semi-final play took place at the Sportscenter in Owensboro, Kentucky, the final four teams in The Grind Session World Championship duked it out for a chance to play in the championship game. The two semi-final games featured matchups between Victory Rock Prep (FL) and Prolific Prep (CA), as well Our Savior Lutheran (NY) and Aspire Academy (KY). Here's a recap of how those games went:
In the first semi-final game of the World Championship, Prolific Prep played Victory Rock Prep to earn a berth in the championship game.
Victory Rock was able to jump on top of Prolific Prep early in the first half, getting their scoring load by committee as they lead 7-2 in the opening minutes. Prolific Prep hung around though as senior point guard Sekou Toure hit a layup to pull his team within four with 5:30 to play in the period. Prolific Prep did well to stay in the game despite a few quick runs from Victory Rock, but they still found themselves behind 29-25 at the break.
Building on that early lead, Victory Rock turned to junior point guard Kolton Mitchell and senior wing Madut Akec for scoring as they helped their team gain a 46-33 lead midway through the second half. Again, showing the resiliency of their squad, Prolific Prep was able to cut Victory Rock's lead to five with 4:26 to play. The early deficit would ultimately be too much to overcome as Victory Rock went on to win the game 68 61.
Akec led Victory Rock with 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals, while junior forward Kuany Kuany added 12 points and 2 rebounds in the win. Prolific Prep was led by Amadou Sow with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Jeenathan Williams also added 11 points.
In our final semi-final game, Our Savior Lutheran took on Aspire Academy and looked to advance to the championship game.
Junior wing De'Sean Allen-Eikens got going from the tip for Aspire Academy as his quick start helped his team to an early lead. With it being their second game of the day, Our Savior Lutheran's high-energy defense looked a bit off, as the guys from New York could never get their legs under them. At the half, Aspire Academy led 38-33 behind 17 first half points from Allen-Eikens.
Aspire Academy looked to build on their halftime lead and executed that to perfection in the second half. With just over 11 minutes left in the game, Allen-Eikens drained his second three-pointer to put his team up by 12. By the 5:36 mark, Aspire Academy had grew their lead to 20 points after senior point guard Caleb Fields found junior center Charles Bassey up top for a huge alley-oop. Our Savior Lutheran was never able to turn it around and went on to drop the game 81-63.
Allen-Eikends led Aspire Acaademy with 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists, while Bassey added 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. Senior guard Jared Rhoden led Our Savior Lutheran with 22 points and 3 assists, while sophomore point guard Posh Alexander chipped in 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.
After two days of first round play, The Grind Session World Championships moved on to the quarter finals where eights teams competed for a chance to play in the semi-finals. The day was full of exciting basketball and close games, as emotions ran high for teams competing for the World Championship trophy. Here's a recap of how those games went:
Prolific Prep and Bella Vista were the first game of quarter final play and they gave fans their moneys worth as it took a three-pointer at the buzzer in regulation and an overtime period to decide a winner.
Opening the game with a quick 7-2 run, Prolific Prep looked to have the early advantage, but that lead was quickly diminished as Bella Vista responded with a quick run of their own. They outscored Prolific Prep 14-2 over the next 5:30 of the game and found themselves leading 21-11 with six minutes left in the half. Both teams ended the half hot from behind the arc as Bella Vista's Julian Dozier Jr. and Prolific Prep's Amadou Sow hit three three-pointers a piece at the halftime break. Despite Sow's hot shooting, Bella Vista still led at the half 34-25.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Bella Vista continued to put it on Prolific Prep and grew their lead to 11 points with 13 minutes left in the game. Showing a true display of resiliency, Prolific Prep chipped away at the lead and found themselves trailing only by three points with four minutes to play. Bella Vista continued to find success on the offensive end, but struggles from the free throw line allowed Prolific Prep to hang around. With 10.1 seconds left to play in the game, Sow hit another three-pointer to pull Prolific Prep within two, and after a one for two trip at the free throw line for Bella Vista, Sow found himself open for a three-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime.
Prolific Prep opened overtime strong as sophomore guard Nimari Burnett got going offensively. He and senior guard Jeenathan Williams attacked Bella Vista's defense well, but Dozier Jr. and senior forward Giir Ring's three-point shooting kept the game close. After Williams hit one of two free throws at the line with 5.9 seconds to play and extended Prolific Prep's lead to three, Bella Vista was afforded the opportunity for one last shot to force a second overtime. That shot would essentially not fall and Prolific Prep picked up the 75-72 victory to advance to the semi-finals.
Sow led Prolific Prep with 29 points and 15 rebounds, while Williams also chipped in 20 points. Dozier Jr. led Bella Vista's effort with 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 9 assists, while junior guard Terry Armstrong added 20 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Victory Rock Prep and West Oaks Academy faced off in a matchup that featured two SIAA teams from Florida for a chance to advance to the semi-finals of The Grind Session World Championship. Both teams fought hard in a game that went down to the wire, but Victory Rock would ultimately prevail.
Victory Rock jumped out to an early lead, playing fast paced basketball, as they were able to gain a 7-2 advantage in the opening minutes. Pace slowed down over the next few minutes as Victory Rock continued to lead 15-9 midway through the first half. West Oaks refused to fade away as junior guard Tyrell Jones knocked down a three-pointer to pull them within one just before the half. Victory Rock took a 28-26 lead into halftime.
Senior forward Rifen Miguel started the second half with a three-pointer for West Oaks that gave them a one-point advantage. Both teams traded buckets and the lead for much of the first part of the second half, but Victory Rock got out to a 10-0 run that gave them a 51-42 advantage with 6:27 left in the game. The resilient West Oaks squad continued to fight and responded with a 10-1 run to pull them within one with just over four minutes to play. Continuing to trade buckets down the stretch, junior gurad Tyrieke Blakeney hit a three with 7.9 seconds left in the game to pull West Oaks within one point of Victory Rock again, but it was too little too late. Victory Rock went on to pick up the 66-63 victory and advance to the semi-finals of the World Championship.
Senior forward Madut Akec led Victory Rock Prep with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists, while Kolton Mitchell added 12 points and 3 steals. Mitchell was instrumental in helping Victory Rock Prep pick up the win down the stretch. Blakeney recorded 14 points and 6 rebounds for West Oaks, while Miguel added 14 points and 8 rebounds in the loss.
After Aspire Academy and Hillcrest Prep picked up wins in the first round of the World Championships, both teams matched up in the second round looking to advance to the semi-finals. Aspire Academy dominated the second half on their way to a win in the quarter finals.
Behind the hot shooting of junior wing De'Sean Allen-Eikens, who scored 10 of the team's first 11 points, Aspire Academy jumped out to an early 11-5 lead. Aspire Academy continued to build on that lead down the stretch as that lead grew to ten with 5:30 left in the first half. Things continued to go Aspire Academy's way on the offensive end as they entered the break with a 38-25 lead.
The second half was much of the same story as newcomer Jawuan Newton knocked down a three-pointer that put Aspire Academy up 41-25 to start play. Hillcrest Prep leaned on junior wing Stephan Gabriel for scoring off the bench, but his effort wasn't enough as Aspire went on to win the game 74-55.
Junior center Charles Bassey led Aspire Academy with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks, while Allen-Eikens chipped in 18 points. Gabriel led Hillcrest Prep with 26 points off the bench.
In the final game of quarter final play, Our Savior Lutheran matched up with Prolific Prep in a game that featured two high level guards. Seton Hall commit Jared Rhoden of Our Savior Lutheran was the player to watch for his team, while Michigan commit Iganas Brazdiekis carried the buzz for Orangeville Prep.
Brazdiekis and Rhoden both gave fans everything they expected in the early goings of this one, trading buckets back and forth before Orangeville Prep would gain a 20-17 advantage with nine minutes left in the first half. Rhoden continued to pour it on the Orangeville Prep defense and he helped his team get out to a five-point lead with four minutes left before the break. The final four minutes of the first half went entirely Our Savior Lutheran's way as they took a 46-30 lead into the break.
Orangeville Prep regained momentum to open the second half and cut Our Savior Lutheran's lead to six behind a few quick buckets from Brazdiekis. He did all he could to keep his team in the game, but the energetic Our Savior Lutheran squad would eventually ware down Orangeville Prep's offense. With 3:30 left in the game, Our Savior Lutheran led by 18 and they went on to win the game 84-70.
Rhoden led Our Savior Lutheran with 30 points and 10 rebounds, while Brazdiekis paced Orangeville Prep's effort with 34 points and 7 rebounds.
As The Grind Session World Championships continue, first round play concluded on Friday with five games as teams competed for a chance to move on to the quarter finals. Here's a recap of how those games went:
In the first game of first round play on day two, Orangeville Prep (CAN) and Believe Sports Academy (TN) played for a chance to advance to the quarter finals. Michigan commit Ignas Brazdiekis was the player to watch for Orangeville Prep heading into the game and he delivered with a big performance to push his team to victory.
Orangeville Prep jumped out to an early lead on Believe Sports Academy, led almost entirely by Brazdiekis as he scored 14 of his team's first 16 points to help them jump out to a 16-11 lead. After a small hand injury, Brazdiekis was forced to miss some time toward the end of the first half, but the rest of the team continued to put it on Believe Sports Academy as they led 28-20 at the half. Believe was never able to gain any momentum in the second half and fell behind big with 8:53 to play, trailing 49-36. Things never turned around for Believe and Orangeville Prep went on to win the game 74-58 and advance to the second round of the World Championships.
Brazdiekis led Orangeville Prep with 35 points and 8 rebounds, while sophomore Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe added 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Junior guard Devan Cambridge led Believe Sports Academy with 22 points and 5 rebounds.
Bella Vista Prep and Tennessee Prep squared off in round one in what was a rematch of a Grind Session game from Hooping on the Hill in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Bella Vista came out on top in that game, and got the same result in their first round matchup at the World Championships.
Tennessee Prep jumped out to an early lead on Bella Vista Prep as they controlled the offensive boards and also got a quick start from sophomore guard Denver Jones. After six minutes of play Jones was up to 11 points and was a big part of Tennessee Prep holding a 19-14 lead. Despite the quick start from Tennessee Prep, Bella Vista refused to go away and were able to take a two-point lead with 5 minutes left in the first half after a three-point shot from junior guard Terry Armstrong. From there, they never looked back as Bella Vista took a 39-27 advantage into halftime.
Bella Vista continued the momentum in the second half and had grown their lead to 57-38 with 10:30 left in the game after a dunk by Armstrong. Tennessee Prep tried to cut into the lead late after a layup from Jones cut the lead to 11, but the deficit was too much to overcome. Bella Vista went on to win the game 81-67.
Armstrong finished the game with 22 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals, while junior guard Nicolas Elame added 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists for Bella Vista. Tennessee Prep was led Jones with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while 15 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 7 steals.
Lincoln Academy and Hillcrest Prep matched up in the first round of the World Championships in a game that featured a number of high level guards. Sophomore Arizona State commit Kyree Walker and senior point guard Demarius Jacobs, a St. Louis University commit, ran the backcourt for Hillcrest Prep. Senior point guard and Memphis commit Myreon Jones and junior Georgia commit Elias King ran the backcourt for Lincoln Academy.
Neither team gained a significant advantage early in this one, as both teams were tied at 15 midway through the first half. The grudge match continued through the the period as neither team pulled away, but Lincoln Academy took a 36-35 advantage into the break. King got hot in the first half dropping 16 points and grabbing 5 rebounds to pace his team's effort, while Jacobs and Walker carried the workload in the period with 9 points a piece.
Starting the second half, Hillcrest Prep got things going from opening minutes as Jacobs continue to put it on the Lincoln Academy defense with 4 quick points, which helped his team to a 44-37 advantage. Hillcrest Prep was able to maintain that lead for much of the second half, but after a couple quick buckets from Jones and a three-pointer from King, Lincoln Academy had cut the deficit to just three points. Refusing to give in, Hillcrest Prep was able to hold on to the lead and went on to win the game 80-71.
Walker led Hillcrest Prep with 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Jacobs added 15 points and 4 rebounds in the win. King paced Lincoln Academy's effort with 27 points and 6 rebounds. Jones also added 23 points and 5 rebounds in the loss.
In the fourth first round matchup of the day, Prolific Prep entered the game favored over St. Louis Christian and the final score proved that to be fair. The depth of Prolific Prep was ultimately too much for St. Louis Christian and they cruised their way to a first round win.
Four minutes into the first half, St. Louis Christian was doing what they could to match the high octane offense of Prolific Prep behind the play of senior point guard Bailey Dee and junior guard Courtland Soll, but still found themselves trailing 16-9. As the first half continued, Prolific Prep poured it on and grew their lead to 19, but would have it cut back down to 14 at the half as they led 39-25. Senior forward and UC-Santa Barbara commit Amadou Sow led that first half effort with 12 points and 3 rebounds, while senior guard Jeenathan Williams, a Buffalo commit, added 10 points of his own.
In the second half the story was the same as the young big men from St. Louis Christian had no answer for the post play of Prolific Prep. McDonald's All-American Jordan Brown was too much for St. Louis Christian to handle, leading the second half effort and finishing the game with 10 points and 9 rebounds. Prolific Prep went on to win 78-56.
Williams led Prolific Prep with 16 points and 3 assists, while Amadou Sow scored 14 points and grabbed 3 rebounds. St. Louis Christian was led by Courtland Soll with 19 points and 4 rebounds.
In a high energy, physical matchup for the final game of round one, Wesley Christian and Our Savior Lutheran squared off for a spot in the quarter finals of the World Championships. The game came down to the wire, but Our Savior Lutheran was able to pull away in the final minutes for the victory.
Both teams traded buckets to begin the game, as Wesley Christian jumped out to an early 9-8 advantage. Yet, Our Savior Lutheran's senior Seton Hall commit Jared Rhoden scored 13 of his team's first 21 points to help them obtain a 21-14 lead midway through the first half. A resilient Wesley Christian squad refused to go away, but Our Savior Lutheran to a 34-29 lead into halftime.
Our Savior Lutheran looked to continue the momentum in the second half, and were able to grow their lead 6 before Wesley Christian found the range from behind the arc. Junior guard Miki Tadic and sophomore guard Brandyn Talbot both shot the ball well from three-point range in the second half, and were an instrumental part in tying the game at 50 points a piece midway through the period. Our Savior Lutheran had a response for everything Wesley Christian threw at them and were able to hold off their comeback effort before icing the game with a 7-0 run with just under four minutes to play. They went on to win the game 69-63.
Rhoden led Our Savior Lutheran with 23 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 6 steals, while sophomore guard Posh Alexander added 21 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. Brandyn Talbot led Wesley Christian with 13 points and 3 assists, while Gabriel Wuor recorded a double-double in the loss with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
As The Grind Session's season winds down, teams traveled to Owensboro, Kentucky to play in the World Championships. It's the final stop on The Grind Session and is a single elimination tournament, featuring sixteen Grind Session teams. To bring home the World Championship trophy, teams must win four games over four days and beat some of the best competition the country has to offer.
Day one featured three first round games, while the remaining first round games will be played on Friday. Here's a recap of the first round games from day one:
West Oaks Academy and Athlete Institute squared off in game one of the World Championships in a game that took an overtime period to decide a winner. Both teams traded leads throughout the game before West Oaks was able to hold off Athlete Institute in the final seconds of overtime to win the game.
Athlete Institute got out to a quick start behind the play of senior guard and Arizona State commit Luguentz Dort. He scored or assisted on his team's first three baskets and helped them jump out to an 8-6 lead early in the game. From there, they continued to tack on to their lead and extended it to eight points with just over five minutes left in the first half. Despite trailing most of the period, West Oaks refused to go away and were able to tie the game at 40 points a piece after a Tyrieke Blakeney three-pointer just before the end of the half.
Dort continued to attack West Oaks on the offensive end as the second half started, hitting a three-pointer to open the period. He and sophomore guard Keeshawn Barthelemy led an offensive effort that helped Athlete Institute obtain a 12-point lead early in the second half. Yet, West Oaks junior point guard Tyrell Jones refused to let his team fall too far behind as he found the range from behind the arc. He scored or assisted on three consecutive baskets and led a 13-0 run that allowed West Oaks to gain a one-point advantage. Both teams traded blows for the rest of the period, but as the final horn sounded, the game was tied and forced overtime.
With only four minutes in overtime, both teams looked to get their shots falling early. After Blakeney knocked down a transition layup that gave West Oaks a one-point lead with under two minutes to play, Athlete Institute was never able to recover and went on to drop the game 81-75. West Oaks was led by Jones with 28 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals, while Blakeney also chipped in 20 points. Dort led Athlete Institute with 22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
Victory Rock Prep and Trinity International School took the floor for game two of round one at the Owensboro Sportscenter. Entering the game with only seven active players and a six-man rotation for most of the game, Trinity International had their work cut out for them, but they hung around for most of the game before falling behind late.
After Victory Rock jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, Trinity International buckled down offensively and got senior guard Deon Stroud going to keep them in the game. Stroud knocked down a mid-range jumper right at the midway point of the first half that gave Trinity International their first lead of the game. Both teams traded buckets for most of the remaining minutes of the first half, but a 15-foot jumper from senior big man Michael Durr helped Victory Rock carry a 30-22 lead heading into the break.
Still struggling to get into their usual offensive flow, Victory Rock looked to get senior forward Madut Akec going in the second half. After a three-point shot from senior forward Jovan Sljivancanin brought Trinity International within five with just under four minutes to play, Victory Rock called a timeout to regroup and close out the game. Out of the timeout, everything seemed to go Victory Rock's way and Akec got hot scoring 10 points in the final four minutes to help his team pick up the 73-60 victory and advance to the second round.
Akec led Victory Rock with 28 points and 8 rebounds, while junior point guard Kolton Mitchell recorded 11 points and 4 assists. Sophomore point guard led the way for Trinity International with 21 points, 4 assists, and 4 steals.
Following suit of the first two games, Aspire Academy and The Rock gave fans another exciting matchup and battled until the final horn to decide a winner. With a short bench for the game, Aspire Academy struggled early, but leaned on junior center Charles Bassey to pull out the victory in the closing minutes.
Entering the game, The Rock's gameplan was clearly centered around containing Bassey. They executed that gameplan well in the first half and jumped out to an early advantage behind the play of junior point guard Bryan Greenlee and senior shooting guard Antrell Charlton. Greenlee was able to knock down an early step-back jumper that got The Rock out to a 7-2 lead and they continued to build on that for the remainder of the period. As time ticked away in the first half, The Rock maintained a seven-point lead with 55 seconds left until the break and were able to grow that lead to nine points just before the half.
The struggles continued early in the second half for Aspire Academy, but Bassey and junior wing De'Sean Allen-Eikens were relentless on the offensive end and refused to be put out in the first round. Early in the second half, Aspire fell behind by ten points, but Allen-Eikens started to assert himself offensively and that made all the difference. Once Allen-Eikens began to attack the basket and use his strength to power through defenders for the finish, things opened up for Bassey inside. With 6:52 left to play, Aspire was able to gain their first lead of the game after a layup from Allen-Eikens. Yet, The Rock refused to go away and traded buckets and leads with Aspire Academy until the final horn sounded. Both teams were tied at 48 with 1:33 left in the game, but two points from Allen-Eikens with 47.2 seconds left was enough to give Aspire the lead and push them to a 53-48 victory.
Bassey led Aspire Academy with 21 points, 15 rebounds, and 6 blocks, while Allen-Eikens added 19 points and 7 rebounds. Greenlee led the way for The Rock with 21 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.
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.
Class of 2019 Believe Sports Academy (TN) shooting guard Devan Cambridge has been having a breakout season playing on The Grind Session. As the competition level elevated this season, so did Cambridge's game, who has been putting up big numbers for his team.
In three games at The Grind Session's Smokey Mountain Showcase over the weekend, Cambridge led his team to a 3-0 record and had scoring outputs of 27, 24, and 24. In other recent games Cambridge has recorded stat lines of 32 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists against Tennessee Prep and 29 points and 7 rebounds against Lincoln Academy (GA). He's proved to be a scoring machine as he uses his freakish athleticism to punish defenders at the rim and becomes extremely hard to stop when he's knocking down shots from behind the arc.
Cambridge is an elite scorer and athletic defender, playing well on both ends of the court to help Believe Sports Academy to a 20-6 record thus far on the season. As he prepares for The Grind Session's upcoming World Championships on March 8-11 in Owensboro, Kentucky, Cambridge spoke with The Grind Session's Jordan Kendall about what it's like playing against elite competition.
"Playing on The Grind Session has helped my game alot," said Cambridge, "You play the best competition every night. You've got to go out there and give your all and hope you come out on top."
As The Grind Session hosts talents such as Cambridge, among many other elite high school prospects, the games are a main attraction for college coaches looking to land the next big piece to their recruiting classes. When asked what schools were currently recruiting Cambridge he said, "Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Auburn, Austin Peay, and more to come."
Head coach Randy Casey also confirmed that Tennessee has expressed interest in Cambridge, but has yet to extend an offer. As Cambridge said, more schools are to come in the recruiting process, and many of the high-major schools may put him on their radar as he plans to continue his strong play with BMaze Elite on the Under Armour Circuit this summer. Expect Cambridge to be one of the hottest commodities for college coaches as the recruiting process heats up with summer play.
You can check out The Grind Session's full interview with Devan Cambridge at the Smokey Mountain Showcase in the video below.
The Grind Session's Kentucky Lake Showcase returned for action at Marshall County High School on Saturday. It was the final session of the event and included four games throughout Saturday afternoon, as well as a 2 PM game on Sunday afternoon.
Teams continued to battle it out, as they compete for a chance to be invited to The Grind Session's World Championships at the beginning of March. With the grueling schedule teams play on The Grind Session, it undoubtedly takes a toll on players, and many teams had to overcome injuries during competition. Here's a recap of how those games went:
Without five-star big man Charles Bassey for their third consecutive game, Aspire Academy entered the game short-handed, dressing only seven players, but picked up a big win against Tennessee Prep.
Junior wing De'Sean Allen-Eikens got things going from the tip, scoring the first basket of the game, and never cooled off from there. He scored 8 points in the first four minutes of the game and helped Aspire Academy jump out to a 28-15 lead midway through the first half. He finished the half with 15 points and junior guard Calvin Temple caught fire from behind the arc on his way to 12 points at the half. Aspire Academy put up 51 first half points and led 51-35 at the break.
The second half was much of the same story as Allen-Eikens started to find the range from three-point land and put up 25 points in the second half on his way to 40 for the game. Tennessee Prep never found an answer for the consistent shooting from Aspire Academy and went on to drop the game 99-65. Allen-Eikens finished with 40 points and 8 rebounds, while LIU-Brooklyn commit Ousmane Ndim added 10 points and 8 rebounds from the post. Calvin Temple also chipped in 16 points and 4 rebounds in the win. Brandon Nicholas was the leading scorer for Tennessee Prep with 18 points and he also grabbed 4 rebounds in the game.
A much more experienced Hillcrest Prep squad jumped out to an early lead against Wesley Christian in game two and sustained that momentum all the way to finish line as they picked up a win.
After only leading 22-17 midway through the first half, Hillcrest Prep was able to lean on the inside presence of KJ Hymes to take a 43-26 lead into the break. Wesley Christian tried to get the offense going through their guards, but struggled to hit shots, which caused them to fall behind early.
With everything seemingly going Hillcrest Prep's way, they were able to grow their lead to 50-27 early in the second half, but a late run from Wesley Christian made things interesting. Wesley Christian pulled to within 10 with about five minutes left in the game, but the early deficit was too much to overcome as Hillcrest Prep went on to win the game 82-68. Kyree Walker led the way for Hillcrest Prep with 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists while Hymes finished the game with 20 points and 3 rebounds. Wesley Christian was led by Kevon Watt with 21 points and 3 assists and Miki Tadic contributed 12 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds in the loss.
Without two starters in point guard Sekou Toure and forward Oton Jankovic, Prolific Prep struggled early against Our Savior Lutheran. They fell behind big in the first half, but made it a game late, ultimately falling short to their cross-country foe.
Nimari Burnett got out to a quick start for Prolific Prep with 8 points in the first four minutes of the game, but as he cooled off Our Savior Lutheran took advantage. They answered Burnett's start with a large scoring output from Posh Alexander in the first half, as he dropped 17 points against the Prolific Prep defense before the break. His effort was good enough to help Our Savior Lutheran take a 49-33 halftime lead.
Burnett continued to light it up for Prolific Prep, opening the second half with a three-pointer, which got his team out to a quick run to start the period. They were able to cut into the early deficit and knocked Our Savior Lutheran's lead down to six points midway through the half. From there, the game became a grudge match, but Our Savior Lutheran would hold on to win 78-73. They were led by Alexander with 21 points, 6 assists, and 4 steals, while Seton Hall commit Jared Rhoden contributed 20 points and 5 steals. Burnett finished the game with 25 points and 3 steals for Prolific Prep.
Lincoln Prep jumped on Believe Prep early in this one, but after tying the game up at the half, Believe Prep went on to pick up the come from behind victory.
With 9:30 left in the first half, Lincoln Prep held a 20-10 lead over Believe Prep, due mainly to the play of junior Georgia commit Elias King. From there, Believe Prep's Devan Cambridge started to get things going, as he hit a three three-pointers in the first half on his way to 15 points in the period. His effort was good enough to bring Believe Prep all the way back and tie the game up at 32 a piece heading into halftime.
In the second half, it was post presence of Robert Dembskis that made the difference for Believe Prep. He was a force down low for his team and finished the game with a double-double after scoring 17 points and 11 rebounds. His effort along with another big half from Devan Cambridge helped lead Believe Prep to the 74-66 victory. Cambridge finished the game with 29 points and 7 rebounds. Myreon Jones led Lincoln Prep with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while King finished the game with 20 points of his own.
In the lone game played on Sunday, Prolific Prep got out to a big early lead against Tennessee Prep, but things got interesting down the stretch before Prolific Prep pulled away to pick up the win.
Prolific Prep carried all the momentum to start the game and jumped out to a 17-point lead early in the first half after hot starts from Nimari Burnett and Jeenathan Williams. Tennessee Prep struggled to hit shots early, but once Brandon Nicholas got it going from behind the arc they found themselves back in the game with an opportunity to tie things up before the half as they only trailed by six with 2:30 left in the period. Nicholas hit a three from way behind the three-point line just before the end of the half that cut Prolific Prep's lead to 40-37, but they still had their work cut out for them in the second period.
Both teams went back and forth in the second half, neither team giving much ground, but as Tennessee Prep struggled from the free throw stripe, that would prove to be the difference. Prolific Prep hung on to win the game 75-67. Williams and Burnett were instrumental in helping Prolific Prep pick up the victory as Williams finished with 24 points and Burnett finished with 21 points. Nicholas was the leading scorer for Tennessee Prep with 24 points of his own.
In the second consecutive game to go down to the wire, Believe Prep and Wesley Christian squared off in the auxiliary gym of Marshall County High School. Both teams came out hitting shots and scored the ball well, but Wesley Christian would close out the game in the final stages to pick up the win.
Sophomore guard Kevon Watt was the story of the game for Wesley Christian, as he took over on the offensive end to help lead his team. The undersized guard came out ready to play in the first half, stuffing the stat sheet for 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists at halftime. His effort was good enough for a 29-25 lead at the break, but Believe Prep was able to hang around behind a hot start from junior guard Malcolm Farrington who had 11 points at the half.
Farrington continued to torch the Wesley Christian defense in the second half, hitting five of his seven three-pointers on the game in the period. Once he and junior guard Devan Cambridge found the range from behind the arc late in the game, it seemed Believe Prep might make a push to take the lead after trailing by 9. That effort would fall short though, as Believe Prep wasn't able to get stops on the defensive end and allowed Watt to attack the rim late in the game, helping put his team in position to pick up the 70-67 win. Watt finished the game with 21 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists, earning him MVP honors for the game. Believe Prep was led by Farrington as he finished with 25 points (7 three-pointers) and 3 rebounds.
In the final game of session one at the Kentucky Lake Showcase, Our Savior Lutheran and Hillcrest Prep squared off in another game that would go down to the wire. All the buzz surrounded Hillcrest Prep's five-star sophomore Kyree Walker, but a big effort from Seton Hall commit Jared Rhoden would lead Our Savior Lutheran to victory.
Things were tight throughout the first half, as both teams found success on the offensive end, but Hillcrest Prep would take a 37-31 lead at the break. That lead can be contributed to a six-point swing for Hillcrest Prep at the end of the half after two technical free throws, two free throws from a shooting foul, and a basket would allow a six-point swing to give Hillcrest Prep the lead with under ten seconds to play in the period. Senior point guard Demarius Jacobs was huge for Hillcrest Prep in the first half, leading his team with 14 points at the break.
After a strong first half performance from Rhoden, he turned things up another notch in the second half to help lead the comeback for Our Savior Lutheran. He scored 17 points in the second half alone, six of which came on consecutive three-pointers down the stretch that would give Our Savior Lutheran the lead with under 3 minutes to play. They hung on for the victory and beat Hillcrest Prep 80-78. Rhoden led Our Savior Lutheran with 28 points and 5 rebounds, which was good enough for him to take home MVP honors. Hillcrest Prep was led by Jacobs with 22 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists, while Walker added 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists.
The third and final session of The Grind Session's Wizard Crystal Ball Showcase at Seneca High School in Louisville, Kentucky was played on Sunday with three games to round out the competition. Four Grind Session teams and one team not apart of The Grind Session's core teams, Inspire Prep, played in front of fans from Derby City as they still fight for a chance to play in the World Championships in March. Here's a recap of those games:
In what ended up being the lowest scoring game of the Wizard Crystal Ball Showcase, Mountain Mission faced off against Inspire Prep to kick off session three. Mountain Mission leaned on the play of their two high-major commits in point guard and Penn State commit Daniil Kasatkin, as well as big man and Baylor commit Flo Thamba. At the half, Inspire Prep was hanging around behind the hot shooting of Momar Sakanoko who hit four threes in the first half to score 12 of his team's 16 points. Mountain Mission still took a four-point lead into the break with a score of 20-16 behind the low-post play of Flo Thamba who had 8 points and 6 rebounds at the half.
Mountain Mission stepped up the defensive intensity in the second half, only allowing Inspire Prep to score nine points on their way to a 45-25 victory. Thamba finished the game with 14 points. Inspire Prep's leading scorer was Sakanoko despite him not scoring any points in the second half.
Aspire Academy took on Wesley Christian in game two in a game that went down to the wire and took an overtime period to decide a winner. Five-star center Charles Bassey did not play on what was a game time decision, but Aspire Academy was still able to pull away for the victory in the extra period. For much of the first half, Aspire Academy controlled the momentum and even led by nine points late in the period after a turnaround jumper from Calvin Temple. Yet, Wesley Christian seemed to answer every run Aspire Academy went on and only trailed 31-28 at the half.
Out of the halftime break, Brandyn Talbot knocked down a three for Wesley Christian that tied things up and both teams would go back and forth the rest of the way. With 8:39 left in the game, Wesley Christian led by six points, but De'Sean Allen-Eikens stepped up big for Aspire Academy down the stretch to keep his team in the game. Aspire led by two with 45 seconds to play, but two free throws from Wesley Christian's Arol Kacuol tied the game up and would be enough to force overtime.
In the extra period of play Allen-Eikens continued to give the Wesley Christian offense trouble and he completed an and-one basket plus the free throw to give Aspire a three-point lead with just under three minutes to play. The teams would battle back and forth the rest of the way, but Aspire was able to pull out the 77-74 victory. They were led by Allen-Eikens and Temple who both finished with 21 points, as well as Sekou Sada Kalle who hit shots in big moments for his 8 points. Wesley Christian got the majority of their offensive production from Cameron Ramage and Miki Tadic, as Ramage finished with 19 points and Tadic finished with 17.
Mountain Mission played St. Louis Christian in what was their second game of the day, but showed no signs of fatigue as they picked up another win on the day. Against a young St. Louis Christian team, Baylor commit Flo Thamba was able to excel in the post and help lead his team to a 2-0 showing at The Grind Session's Wizard Crystal Ball Showcase. While Thamba only scored 4 points in the first half, teammate Daniil Kasatkin chipped in 6 points of his own to help their team obtain a 28-19 lead at the break.
St. Louis Christian's leading scorer Bailey Dee was held scoreless in the first half, but came out in the with a second wind in the second half scoring 15 points to try and keep his team in the game. His efforts would be too little too late though, as Thamba scored 10 points in the second half to help lead his team to a 54-41 victory. Thamba finished the game with 14 points, while Kasatkin added 11 points to the total. Dee was the leading scorer for St. Louis Christian with 15 points.