The Ascenders from IMG Academy took the court lunchtime Sunday for a battle with NEPSAC power, Vermont Academy. VA was missing one of the best players in the Nation, Simisola Shittu, a Vanderbilt commit, is out with an injury. Shittu is a top-10 talent in the 2018 class.
IMG brought a stacked team led by the backcourt tandem of Eric Ayala and Anfernee Simons. Simons is playing for both the college coaches in the stands and the NBA scouts in the building. Simons is a top-20 player in the Nation and could make the leap to the Association if one of the scouts here today thinks enough of him.
IMG starts to pull away, too deep, too talented but Vermont is well drilled and fights back behind Class of 2020, Symir Torrence and new fan-favorite, Tyler Bertram. The game seesaws from a 10-point advantage to as close as 3. Vermont Academy has possession with 6 seconds and Bertram tries a miracle three off the glass that bangs out. IMG Academy survives. Bertram finishes with 31 points. For every household name like Simons, playing at a top level – there are relative unknowns such as Cooperstown’s Tyler Bertram that show-out on this enormous platform. This is just one of eight games today and thirty+ this weekend.
“Ascending is the main theme of the event”. Thousands are on hand in Springfield to ascend.
At the Hoop Hall Invitational, 600+ high school players competing in front of college coaches and media to cement their opportunity on the next level. There are a dozen or so players in this event, such as Simons, that are being watched carefully by NBA scouts.
In the stands and across the street are parents, coaches, and players competing in the BasketBull tournament. BasketBull has 4th-8th-grade basketball going on in the four-court Springfield College Fieldhouse with nearly 40 teams in each age group. The marriage of events works well for both events and attendees. The opportunity to package the ticket price ensures attendance and the youth get to see the next stars up close and in person.
There is also a 6th-7th-8th-grade tournament, Made Hoops, here in Springfield with around 60 East Coast teams, at the South End Community Center and AIC.
On the outskirts of the gym, there are young companies working hard to showcase their goods to the building stakeholders.
Noah, is a shooting tool, that fixes cameras above the rim and gives specific shot data. Media and coaches receive access to the specific shooting information from the games and the players. The Noah system is giving make or miss on each shot along with arc, depth, and degree of left/right.
European company, NBN23 partnered with Spalding and presents the Spalding Scorecard for the event. Every player’s statistics are available “live” much like you would find in an NBA game.
ISlide, a Boston based company, that customizes Slides with anything someone could want on it is displaying some of their most popular offerings from DJ Khaled to the Golden State Warriors.
It is fitting in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday weekend, that the birthplace of basketball-Springfield Mass would display the sport in all its glory. A packed gym of people made up of all shapes and colors cheering our youth, playing their hearts’ out, that was Dr. King’s dream. It’s happening today here in Springfield.
Basketball has broken down barriers and delivered Dr. King’s ideals. The sport has ascended itself into America’s favorite.