By JAMAILL HINES
PYBL Elite Week Three Standouts (6/15/17 @ O’Connell)
Game 1: Alexandria vs. Prince William (62-61- Prince William)
#12 Arnav Thornhill (Prince William)
Thornhill impressed with his combination of skill, attacking nature and competitiveness. He is one of the hardest playing players in the PYBL and doesn’t back down on either end of the floor. Thornhill attacked off the bounce in transition in half court with strong drives and finishes at the rim along with finding teammates on drive and kicks for assists. He was an impactful rebounder on both ends, especially on the offensive end (6 offensive rebounds), where Alexandria had a very difficult time boxing him out and preventing him from second chance opportunities. Thornhill had a possession where both him and the defender pulled down the rebound, but he ripped the ball out of the other player’s hands to score the layup. His competiveness got the best of him as he got into a minor shoving match with Hutchinson, who was matching Thornhill’s intensity, but I expect for him to be able to easily redirect that on the floor like he did all game outside of that moment. Thornhill finished with a double-double, leading the team in points at 16 (6-13 FGA, 0-2 3PA, 4-4 FTA) and rebounds (12) to go along with 4 assists in 29 minutes.
#22 Jack Gagen (Prince William)
Gagen used his height, length and touch to be a key cog in the Prince William win. He displayed a smooth shooting stroke to connect on 2-5 three pointers and extended those long arms to reject 2 shots, one on the ball and the other in help at the rim. Gagen finished the game with 12 points on 5-11 FGA, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal.
#0 Deshawn Harris-Smith (Alexandria)
Harris-Smith was able to slice his way to the rim throughout the game, but it was a tale of two halves in regards to his finishing ability once he got there. He struggled to finish in the rim in the first half causing him to hang his head a few times, but Harris-Smith was able to find his finishing touch in the second with several hanging and crowded finishes in both the half court and transition. Harris-Smith was all over the offensive glass as he pulled down rebounds in and out of his area on his way to 7 offensive rebounds, some of which led to easy layups for himself. He collected a double-double with a team leading 17 points (7-18 FGA, 0-3 3PA, 3-4 FTA) and 11 rebounds while adding 3 steals.
#4 Jacoi Hutchinson (Alexandria)
Hutchinson was Alexandria’s emotional and vocal leader throughout the game, looking to lead by encouraging his teammates when the team was down and lead by example too with his play on both sides of the ball. He got out in transition for easy buckets and on time passes to teammates running the floor for assists. A standout out possession for Hutchinson occurred when he was the only one to hustle back in transition to contest and force the missed layup then took the ball the length of the floor to score with a smooth floater. As mentioned with Thornhill, Hutchinson got into a minor shoving match with Thornhill that was squashed quickly. It showed the competitive fire of two guys that competed hard against one another all game, but just have to continue to channel it the right way. Hutchinson finished the game with 15 points (7-11 FGA, 1-3 3PA), 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks.
Game 2: Fredericksburg vs Fairfax (67-64-Fredericksburg)
#0 Breydon Williams (Fredericksburg)
Williams continued to utilize his combination of size, strength and direct line drive ability to get to the rim for easy scoring opportunities as he scored 13 points on 5-8 FGA, 3-4 FTA while collecting 6 rebounds in 23 minutes. He moved fluidly in transition on both sides of the ball: recorded a chase down block and hustled back on another possession for steal, and pushed the ball up the floor to deliver a bounce pass for 1 of his 3 assists in the game. Williams is a true mismatch problem as he is too big/strong for most guards and too quick for most bigs.
#8 Bryson Long (Fredericksburg)
Long was consistent and efficient throughout the game as he led the game in scoring with 17 points on 7-9 FGA, 3-4 3PA in 24 minutes. Long displayed a smooth shooting stroke from deep, including banking in a deep three to close the half that fired up his teammates. The wiry guard sliced his way to the rim in transition and in the half court for rim finishes including one through contact as well as flashed legit passing ability and vision on unconverted opportunities. Long figures to be a major factor for Fredericksburg throughout of the PYBL season.
#10 Robby Matos (Fredericksburg)
Matos once again showed that his outstanding speed, quickness, tight and creative handle can be incredibly tough for opposing teams to handle. He was able to routinely get into the lane off the bounce for tough finishes in traffic at the rim and displayed impressive vision and playmaking on his way to 14 point (6-10 FGA, 0-2 3PA) with a game tying high of 7 assists in 28 minutes. Matos’ signature play came on a behind the back bounce pass off the bounce in the half court for an assist that got the crowd buzzing. Matos struggled with turnovers (7), but has the handle and maturity to limit those going forward. Early in the season, proving to be one of the point guards and playmakers in the PYBL.
#2 Bo Kuhblank (Fairfax)
it’s obvious that Kuhblank competes on both ends of the court with everything that he has and this game was no different. His play and mentality is contagious and fuels the Fairfax attack on offense and defense. Kuhblank both filled and led the stat sheet as he flirted with a quadruple double by finishing the game with 10 points (4-4 FGA), 9 rebounds (game high), 7 assists (game tying high) and 6 steals (game high) in 28 minutes. His full court pressure defense throughout the game made his matchups in Matos and Lawson work to get the ball up the court and displayed active hands that led to steals and layups for himself. There were some issues with turnovers (7), including throwing the ball away after taking contact that could have been called a foul with 5 seconds left with a chance to win the game, but Kuhblank never complained and always focused on the next play. You just don’t see that type of mental toughness at this age too much.
#35 Taharka Siaca Bey (Fairfax)
Siaca Bey showed why he is Fairfax’s best scorer with his ability to use his length, athleticism, size and handle to get into the lane and finish at the rim consistently. He utilized his off hand to finish at the rim on a couple of occasion including in traffic and broke out a fluid spin move to lose his defender and score the layup off the glass. Siaca Bey was active on the offensive glass (4 offensive rebounds), leading to easy second chance points for himself and teammates. He led the team with 15 points (7-12 FGA, 1-4 FTA) while adding 6 rebounds and 3 assists.
#23 Benjamin Woodward (Fairfax)
Woodward got hot late in the game and nearly shot the team to a win with his 3 three pointers, all coming in the fourth quarter. He ended the game with 11 points (4-12 FGA, 3-7 3PA) 4 rebounds and 1 block in 19 minutes. Woodward displayed a quiet, cool confidence about him and a smooth shooting stroke that allows him block out misses and focus on the next shot.