By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
Last weekend, BASKETBULL hosted another event in Springfield, MA - The Preview. The Preview is “a warm-up” showcase for the NCAA live period. The Preview wasn’t a tournament format, where there was one winner, in each division, at the end.
For this event, I wanted to see NE6, the Under Armour sponsored team that is based in Hartford, CT and has players from CT and Western Mass.
Last Friday, I got to the MassMutual Center just in time for NE6 vs. City Rocks SYR (17u). The NE6 17u team has “JuJu” Omot, Colby Duggan, Dashon Gittens, Eric Tynes and, the recently added, Chandler Wilson Jr.
They also have a player I had never seen before: 6’9” wing Lukas Gudavičius. He attends Avon Old Farms, in Avon, CT.
The game was competitive, mostly because NE6 seemed to be “coasting”. They missed easy shots and let CR-SYR hang around. NE6 was leading in 1st half but CR-SYR kept chipping away at the lead.
CR-SYR has a really good shooter on their team - Riley Spencer, from Binghamton, NY. He hit multiple 3s in the game, some from NBA range. His coach told him after the game that he was shooting from the NBA-3pt line and he said, 🤷♂️ 😂.
NE6 was ahead by 10 close to halftime 74-64. CR-SYR only had 6 players this weekend but they all played hard when they were out there. Their effort keep them in the game but NE6 was too much.
NE6 beat CR-SYR 85-72.
NE6 played another game, immediately after their victory, against DTX from Trumbull, CT.
DTX got out to an early lead 20-12. They were hitting 3s. When NE6 would miss a shot, DTX got the ball up the court quickly and got easy transition shots.
NE6 settled into the game by using their entire roster. The coaching staff used more players in the 2nd game, which is smart. Playing back to back games is difficult but its the culture of AAU showcases and tournaments.
The game remained close but NE6 edged out DTX 68-65.
I saw some of the Team Spartans vs. Team Fredette game before I left the MassMutual Center. Torran Bosworth looked good. Will Johnson Jr. started to find his rhythm in the middle of the 1st half.
I left the MassMutual Center and headed East to Springfield College.
In 15u action, BABC (EYBL) beat NE6.
NE6 16u beat CT Elite.
He was already a standout in a previous article but Kingston Walker — remember that name people 💡. Alex Barber, also. BABC actually won the game 🤷🏽♂️.
The next day wasn’t that long. I went back to the MassMutual Center just to watch who ever was playing.
I saw two of the last 3 games: The Court Basketball Club (CT) vs. City Rocks-SYR and DTX vs. Connecticut Elite.
TCBC won their game; DTX trounced CTE.
Overall, an outstanding showcase by BASKETBULL. Next year, I anticipate more teams and more fans, especially at the MassMutual Center.
NE6 (Under Armour) is a great AAU program. They have the top talent in our region: players and coaches.
[Note: Most of the NE6 players have been in a previous Standout Players section. They are still great 👍🏾]
Troy Butler (TCBC/CT)
Sean Fullerton (DTX)
Brian Belade (DTX)
Lukas Gudavičius (NE6)
Some notes on each player:
Troy Butler - He can score from anywhere on the floor. He is quick and has good dribbling skills. He plays with intensity. Definitely a player to watch in CT this upcoming HS season.
Sean Fullerton - Offensively, he mainly operates from the FT-line down. He can hit a mid-range jump-shot but he drives to the basket effectively for layups or floaters. He runs the floor well in transition. He also plays tough defense.
Brian Belade - He has more range [based on a small sample size] than his teammate Fullerton but they both attack the basket hard. He has good dribbling skills and also sets up his teammates to score.
Lukas Gudavičius - Definitely a “D1” prospect at 6’9”. He primarily plays facing the basket; I didn’t see many plays where he got the ball in the post. He has a nice jump-shot. He has good balance when driving to the basket which for taller players isn’t the easiest feat. He doesn’t force many shots. He is a good passer.