Throughout live period, I will be sending out a recap of what I saw each day. On Saturday and Sunday, I was at GASO in Dallas, which ended with excellent matchups in bracket play and also featured several showcase games that pitted some of the best players in the state against one another. Below is my All-GASO First Team, which is comprised of the five players from the Houston area who I thought stood out the most at the event.
LJ Cryer (Basketball University 16U) - In a tight race, I have to give the MVP nod to Cryer, who simply never seems to have a poor performance. In five games for BU 16U, who went 4-1 in the 17U division, Cryer scored 27, 18, 26, 26, and 27 points respectively. The 18-point game was against a 16U team from the Bahamas that BU was beating badly, and the only other 16U team they played was Urban DFW in what was perhaps the most competitive 16U game I have seen this summer. Cryer has excellent handles, and while his first step has improved, he is not reaching these lofty totals by merely blowing by his defender, which makes the numbers even more impressive. He is already one of the ten best shooters in the city, and he is always looking to press the pace after receiving an outlet pass, which often creates open looks for his teammates in transition. Shaka Smart, Billy Kennedy, Scott Drew, and Kelvin Sampson were among the coaches who got a look at Cryer at GASO, as he has already established himself among the most important 2020 recruits in the state.
Riley Abercrombie (Sanni Hoops) - After his sterling 20-point first half against RM5 Thursday night sent the gym into a frenzy, Abercrombie spent the next three days proving that his game has indeed taken a big step forward as Sanni Hoops won the White Division championship (the 17U division of GASO ends up with 4 champions on Sunday). He averaged over 15 points per game for the weekend while showing the ability to create offense for himself at all three levels. By Sunday night, the native of Australia had picked up at least half a dozen new offers, and I suspect more will be rolling in over the next few days. It is safe to say that no Houston-area player helped their stock more than Abercrombie at the GASO, and it will be interesting to see if he keeps it up in Las Vegas next week.
Uche Dibiamaka (Stackz Elite) - Dibiamaka is another Aussie who made a strong statement on Thursday and kept his momentum rolling throughout the event as Stackz Elite won the Green Division championship. The team played without a big man all weekend, and Dibiamaka was forced to play on the interior based on his overall size. In reality, he is still searching for a true position on the court regardless of team makeup, and showed at GASO that he can be the glue for a winning team. Dibiamaka is especially effective in transition, and plays with terrific energy on both ends of the floor. He committed to Texas-Rio Grande Valley in early May, and the UTRGV staff had to leave Dallas thinking they got a steal who possesses a ton of upside.
Jabari Rice (Houston Defenders) - Rice also helped himself a bunch over the last two days, as Defenders played three showcase games, picking up wins over Urban ASAK and Dallas Showtyme and losing a close one to Urban DFW. He averaged a stellar 23 points per game, and in particular shot the ball lights-out from the perimeter, making a total of 10 threes. Rice is now a 2018 recruit, and will be on the prep team at Cy Fair Learning Center, a new program based in northwest Houston. At GASO, he once again showed that his length is a big asset for him, as Rice gets his hands on a lot of passes defensively and is productive on the offensive boards for a guard. On Sunday morning, LaSalle extended an offer, and Tulsa followed suit later in the day. This is a player who still has plenty of room to improve and will be highly sought after in the coming months.
Quentin Grimes (Basketball University) - Amidst a growing wave of hate from several prominent figures in the Houston basketball community, Grimes was unsurprisingly the best player in the gym during three showcase games for BU. The Friday evening matchup against Marcus Smart YGC36 morphed into the game of the week as the teams could not separate themselves until 5 OTs were completed. Grimes singlehandedly erased a 6-point deficit in the final minute of the 4th OT before BU prevailed 90-85 in 5OT. Grimes finished with 33 points despite shooting it poorly from the perimeter and the FT line, and I was impressed by how hard he fought without his A-game in this one. BU suffered two 20-point defeats on Saturday and Sunday, as Grimes scored 16 points against Pro Skills while providing the highlight dunk of the event before having a spectacular second half against Texas Impact, finishing with 26 points. The latest round of criticism on social media paints Grimes as ‘not a winner.’ For the majority of the summer, BU has started three 2019s and a 2020 alongside him, and three of them did not suit up for the team this weekend. On any level, it is very difficult to win games against top competition if you are missing three starters. Despite all of the negativity, Grimes has proven over the past two weeks that his best places him right at the top of the 2018 point guard class nationally, and I expect that he will continue to put up big numbers in Vegas to close out the July live period.
In addition, I must give a shoutout to both Sanni Hoops and Stackz Elite for winning their brackets in the 17U division. Ajare Sanni was consistent all weekend, and averaged over 19 points per game despite not having the one big scoring outburst that many have come to expect from him. Sanni Hoops also picked up key contributions from Tayvion Johnson, Zaid Harris, and Ovidio Perez in bracket play. Ja’Mere Redus made the game-winning layup in OT to lift Stackz Elite over TJ Ford Houston in the semis, and twin brother Ja’Mare Redus was clutch in the second half of the final, attacking the rim with a series of moves and converting tough finishes while showing outstanding body control. Stackz also received timely shooting from Ty Archibald and Jordan Tomkinson during their title run. I look forward to seeing both of these teams again in Las Vegas in a few days time.