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NE6 vs. NJSE (17u Red Division Semifinal)

By Kevin McCaskill Jr.

Day 2 started for me with the 17u Red Division semifinal game between NE6 and New Jersey Scholars Elite.

(Quadir Copeland shoots FT)

Both teams were led by their Guards. NJSE was led by DJ Wagner and Quadir Copeland. In traditional basketball, which has a height range for each position, Wagner would be the PG at 6’3” and Copeland would be a wing player/post player at 6’6”, closer to 6’7”. On Sunday, Copeland was the PG for most of the game.

(DJ Wagner)

NE6’ two primetime Guards are Ojulu “JuJu” Omot and Da’Shon Gittens. JuJu is 6’6”; Gittens is about 6’1”ish, maybe taller.

(“JuJu” Omot)

(Da’Shon Gittens)

The first basket of the game was scored by Wagner. He caught the ball on the right wing, took 2 dribbles with his left hand and went up for a floater that went in. On the other end, Gittens hit a 3.

(DJ Wagner guarded by Da’Shon Gittens)

NE6 held their own against NJSE. They played arguably the best player in the country and made him work all game. NE6 players never looked overmatched.

(DJ Wagner guarded by Da’Shon Gittens)

NJSE had a lead for most of the game but NE6 kept the game close. They weren’t down double digits in this game. The biggest issue NE6 had was missing easy layups and make-able contested shots in the lane in the first half.

(DJ Wagner)

In the second half, NJSE was still scoring when they wanted to. NE6 turned up their defensive pressure and started to get stops. They were led on offense by Gittens and Nick Townsend, who is from NY. Nick Townsend competed all day against two guys that were taller than him. He has a pretty quick first step and good instincts on offense.

With JuJu running the offense and consistent scoring from Gittens and Townsend, NE6 was only down 50-49 with 1:28 left in the game.

( “JuJu“ Omot guarded by Quadir Copeland)

NE6 was down 2, 52-50 with less than 15 seconds left on the clock. JuJu got the inbound pass and brought the ball up the court. He passed to Gittens. Gittens took a deep step-back 3 that missed. The ball came off the left side of the rim and was rebounded and put back in by John Paulino of New Bedford, MA. That sent the game into OT. NE6 had a chance to upset one of the best AAU teams in the Northeast.

In OT, NE6 ran out of gas. They couldn’t connect on their shot attempts. NJSE outlasted NE6, 60-52.

(Aaron Bradshaw attempts FT)

New England showed up and accepted the challenge. Salute to NE6 and NJSE.

After the game, I spoke to NJSE HC Sean Colson.

🎤What did you think about the game you just played against NE6?

🗣“It was a good game. We made some mistakes. They are a tough team...we got it done in OT. Good win, now we are in the championship”.

🎤Can you tell us about the NJ Scholars Elite AAU program?

🗣“Yeah, you know, we are building. Last year was our first year; this is our second year. Got a good group, highlighted by DJ WAGNER, #1 Sophomore in the country. We got Mackenzie who is hurt, not playing in this tournament, he is a top 10 Sophomore - along with 7 footer Aaron Bradshaw. We got a really good group. [NJSE is] run by Pervis Ellison and Dajuan Wagner”.

(Dajuan Wagner)

🎤What is like having a legacy player like DJ WAGNER in your program?

🗣“It’s a big deal obviously. With him being so good and just a great kid, great character, real humble. Then his legacy with Milt Wagner and his dad, Dajuan Wagner...he is continuing the legacy. Its a great thing [NJSE] is doing”.

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