MSE USA Basketball 4th Grade Team Win Big

New York State of Mind

MSUSA Middle School Elite BasketballA few months ago, USA MSE Basketball formed its 2nd group of youth stars that were put together to compete in the NYC PAT Invitational; this squad would become known as “Dream Team II”, just as star studded as their 2021 predecessor they were almost as dominant defeating their opponents by an average of 30.0 points on their way to the championship.

The final roster for the second “Dream Team” who were coached by “Mousie” NYC Legend, Coach Byrd, and Coach Francis and made up of a more brash and brazen collection of youth players – these kids had personality and it showed on the court Josiah Johnson, Knasir “Dug” McDaniel, Ferrell Crowell, Evan Young, Kamal Francis, Antonio Sellers, Sammy Scott, Kameron Rodriguez, Travis Upchurch, and Andrew Ruebottom made up this group. They called their own plays from the court; decided that their press objective was not to let the other teams cross half court and became upset any time the competition made a basket against them. This level of competitiveness is something that is truly unique in players of this age. They were fun too – asking to shoot 3-pointers from the volleyball strip and agreeing that an air ball would result in a substitution and then going in and making it multiple times off the dribble!

MSE 4th Grade Trophy “Whereas this was business for the 2021 age group” lamented Coach Francis “2022 had fun in dismantling their opponents, they held each other accountable and if something wasn’t working from a defense to an offensive set they changed it themselves – it was like having multiple coaches on the floor.  The intelligence and IQ of this group was well beyond anything I could have imagined.”

Again with this group to date and it shall remain for some time; there has never been anything close from a skill and talent standpoint – no group in the world would have a chance in even coming close to defeating the 2022 USA MSE National Select group.

Even with such clear domination there was some realization from the weekend for this group too.

Knasir “Dug” McDaniel (DC) plays the game like a trained assassin. One of the nicest kids you will ever meet off the court, between the lines he wants to destroy whoever is in front of him.  This is something that cannot be coached; his motor when he is rolling has another gear that many players don’t even know exists.  From a skill perspective he does absolutely everything on the court, he can score from anywhere on the floor and do so in any way you could imagine – 3-point range, pull-up game, floater game from all angles, mid-range pull-ups, and dribble drive penetration all the way to the cup.  He does all this almost effortlessly as if the game comes easy to him. “Dug” is also wizard with the ball; he flat out embarrasses other players at times not always on purpose – it’s just not wise to challenge him with the ball.  Defensively and on the boards he is a major contributor as well and pushed for potential quadruple double numbers in 24min games.  He is an unselfish player who can and will give the ball up; basic and no look passes are the norm not the exception.  Knasir would be a top player in the 2021 class, as a 2022 member he is one of the top 2 in the nation hands down and without question.

Kameron Rodriguez (NY) is quickness personified. A determined Rodriguez would not be denied an opportunity to play for the USA MSE team in his home town of New York and suited up with a broken thumb and small cast – playing with 9 fingers all weekend.  Without looking closely you never would have known that his domination was done basically with one hand.  Kam is a terror in the open court and zig and zags in and out of traffic finding scoring lanes like a seasoned pro.  His end to end speed with the ball is amazing and the ability to stop on a dime and change direction and reach his top speed again is remarkable.  With all of this he is a true finisher and he constantly attacks the paint and even showed major consistency knocking down the perimeter shot with his cast on.  He will be a bona-fide scoring two for years to come who likely will be able to move over to the lead guard position – but he so good as a scorer you many never want to take him from his off ball position.  On the defensive end he translates his quickness and becomes a stopper; great attitude and love for the game he impressed his teammates, opponents, and of course his hometown.

Evan Young (UT) is one of the best pure shooters in the country. You can see it coming when it leaves his hand; the opponent knows, his teammates know, and by the end of the tournament the crowd even knew – the shot is going to go in more times than it doesn’t.  He shoots it off the bounce and catch, the release is quick, and he does it with deep range.  But Young is far more than just a shooter – he displays a very solid handle and is able to break his man down one on one taking him to the pull up or all the way to the basket for a finish with either hand.  He runs the lane on offense and finishes well or he spots up and knocks down transition 3’s; but again that isn’t all.  A complete player he gives maximum effort on both sides of the ball and is a difference maker in the passing lanes and on the ball defensively.  The mental approach tells us this player will be a star at every level he plays on; call us crazy for saying this now but we have seen this before Evan Young is special.

Josiah Johnson (CA) is a pure scorer.  First of all this California product plays the game like no one we have ever seen from the west coast; his game without question has east coast style.  Johnson shot the most FT’s this weekend not because he dominated the ball but because he attacks with it and also because he can handle in traffic – this is one of the definitions of a scorer vs. a shooter.  Johnson created opportunities with the ball well behind the stripe hitting from all angles, corner, top of the key, and angle – we saw no drop off anywhere on the floor.  He also shot a high percentage from the 12 to 18 foot range on pull-ups and floaters and of course he pressured the lane on drives.  Anywhere on the floor he is a threat; and he is a cerebral thinker with a good feel for the flow of the game knowing when to press and when to pull back, he has multiple speeds to his game and he knows how to use them.  Johnson is the total and complete package and clearly one of the top two players in this age group in the country.

Farrell Crowell (DC) is the definition of a combo guard. Crowell flat out gives you and your team whatever you want and need.  As a scoring guard he handles, penetrates, and knocks down shots at all levels – you can run him off screens and use him as a primary scorer within a set or in isolation.  Farrell can even back to the basket post already!  So on a given night he can give you 20 points easy; the joy of having Ferrell is that on the nights you don’t need that 20 from the scoring position he can step over to the lead guard position and he still not miss a beat while still giving you the same 20 but adding assist and ball pressure up top.  As a lead guard he sees the floor and is able to drive and dish, post feed, with the IQ to relocate and make himself a target for a shot or a post re-feed.  Often players lose something between positions but Crowell is effective in both roles and can adapt on the fly in the game to doing whatever is needed.  He loves to shake and bake and has the tools to do it all; a fun player to watch but a devil to have to guard and play against.

Kamal Francis (MD) shows something new every time out.  Francis worked the middle of the court offensively scoring from the 15ft and in range on some nice catch and shoots and finished around the rim, the stroke was consistent and looked good leaving his hand.  He banged on the board, used his length to block and alter shots and filled the lanes on the break.  He worked and was an effective contributor without demanding the ball; he took advantage of his opportunities with the ball in his hands.  On defense his length caused problems and lead to many fast breaks. Loves the game and loves winning; this weekend was a very special one to him.

Antonio Sellers (NY) plays the game like a seasoned veteran.  If you watch grown men play in the post; fight for position, slap and push, drop shoulders to gain offensive position and to finish – if you watch a post back down another big dish a blow, take one and then do it again feeling the man and making a move to finish all unrushed and on their own time you may think Patrick Ewing, you may think Shaq; we are telling you to think Sellers.  Sellers has one of the best true back to the basket post packages we have seen from a player at his age and this isn’t close to his entire game.  We know we won’t be believed but Sellers also handles and can go coast to coast with the ball in his hands as well as knock down the 3-points shot and work off the bounce in the mid-range.  He plays a wing position on the 5th grade level and will be a 6’7/6’8 with strength worst case scenario.  If bigger and a very good chance he will be, you will likely be watching this kid on TV someday playing in a major conference or more.

Sammy Scott (MD) is too much to handle. Scott is the type of player you hate to guard.  He just continues to come at you in one way or the other and everything is quick.  The dribble, the attack, the release on the jumper – we have not seen anyone who can stop him one on one with the ball in his hand.  As well he has a solid statue and his tough to push off spots, as a top player in the country he is a prolific scorer but rarely shot the jumper all weekend not because he couldn’t but because no one could stop him from shooting lay-ups.  Please note that the jumper is there and solid out to 23’, but he is smart enough to attack until they stop it and shoot the high percentage shot.  A true new age scoring PG who can give you 20 & 10 anytime out; his passing is truly next level – he does the basic, the flair, and he does the impossible.  As a national best he must be in the conversation he just does so much. Not afraid to defend or rebound we love his completeness as a player.  He controls the tempo of the game and he controls the change of pace of his attacks – he does everything you want and he does it well.

Travis UpChurch (CT) is only in 2nd Grade. One of the surprises of the weekend is that UpChruch is only a 2nd grader and playing up two years with the top 4th graders in the country and we bet no one even knew.  In an amazing performance Travis showed his shooting ability and his handle and passing ability.  His size was no indicator at and he is on a path to be one of the best in the nation.  Already just as big as the other 2022’s he has the skill set to compete at the highest level.  He finished well and really excelled in transition, the game was not too big for him he fit right in and contributed offensively and defensively.  We are so happy to have him in our system as this guarantees the USA MSE teams will continue to be represented by the top players in the country for years moving forward.

Andrew Ruebottom (MD) has a scary good big package. Andrew has super soft hands and is very quick on his second and third jumps – when you combine this with true post size and length you have a dominant rebounder and shot blocker; and this is exactly what he was and what he did this weekend.  With skills at this level that have him in the triple double range with blocks his defensive side is prolific already, his board work on the offensive side make his defensive board work look average he is that good in the aspect of offensive boards not that he is bad on the defensive end.  He has good eyes and throws a great outlet pass already.  Projections have him as a true power forward with potential to play the 5 also.  As a scorer he doesn’t need sets but he works well off the block when given the ball, but his forte is “clean up on isle 5” board work where he is a difference maker. Every team wants and needs a guy like this – when on the floor with Sellers he creates the proverbial twin towers making National Select impossible to stop on the interior.

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