By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
I got to the Mill Works in Westford, MA late for the start of the 2021 New England Jam Fest. The day started at 8 AM and I got there a little after 9 AM.
(Simon Percy/Team Spartans)
As soon I got to the property, all I saw was cars and people. Inside, there were people everywhere. I hadn’t seen this many people in awhile. This is the first “normal” event I’ve covered in over a year.
(Tayzhon James/Team Spartans)
I had to traverse to the last court, in the back gym to see The Court Basketball Club (TCBC) vs. Team Spartans (TS)
(RJ Mayfield/Team Spartans)
As I was walking, I heard, “Yo, is that FP SPORTS”? I turned around and it was Holyoke HS/TCBC Forward Mo Silva. We talked briefly and then I had to go setup because TS was playing a team from RI.
(John Bell/Team Spartans)
The first two games I watched were TS games. They split their two games on Saturday.
I heard some other players from Western Mass were playing at the NEJF but their games started later in the day.
(My screenshot from an IG post; Emmanuel Cruz from Team Spartans goes up for a dunk; a guy in LeBron 17 FPs watches)
For about an hour, hour and a half, I went to each court and watched the games. I took pictures at some spots but not all.
Last weekend was my first AAU tournament since 2002, when I was a player.
There were so many people 😂 It was shocking but it felt normal after awhile.
I got to see the NE6 UA teams - 17u, 16u and 15u. The 17u and 16u teams have players from Western Mass. The 16u team has Ray Carter from Chicopee, MA, Colby Duggan from Monson, MA and Darrin Smith from Springfield, MA. The 17u team has Eric Tynes from Springfield, MA and Ojulu “JuJu” Omot from Springfield, MA.
The 15u has a special player. He isn’t from Western Mass. Remember this name:
Saturday was the first time I saw the players from Springfield play. You can read about what I saw in articles to come later.
There were three other programs that stood out to me on Day 1: RI Elite - HGSL 17u & 16u; NJ Scholars Elite 16u [I didn’t see the 17u team play on Saturday]; Team Spartans National - HGSL 16u.
(Alvin Baez, #5 of Rhode Island Elite goes in for layup)
Nahkeem Singleton/Team Spartans
Those 4 teams have a lot of talent that will be in Division 1 before we know it.
I left at 9 PM. I put in a 12 hour shift on Day 1 😴. When I left, all 13 courts still had games going on 😳. There weren’t any teams with Western Mass players playing so I decided to go. Both my battery packs for my camera had died also.
(Team Spartans Coach Dion Byrd)
Day 1 was great. There was a lot of energy at The Mill Works. I was happy to be there.
The last story of the NEJF series will be similar to this one but the next several stories will be more narrowly focused.
Next story: The 17u Red Division Semifinals matchup between NE6 UA vs. NJ Scholars Elite