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Sonny Hill League Wrap-up
Thursday, 17 August 2006

By Brian Crownover
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The Sonny Hill League is the premiere summer league in the Philadelphia area.  Every year it attracts many of the top local players.  I attended several sessions and here is a collection of players that stood out.

Simply the Best

Bradley Wanamaker

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photo tedsilary.com
I had heard plenty about Bradley and his talents prior to the league.  Unfortunately, the previous two times that I saw him he wasn’t at his best.  That changed quickly the first time that I witnessed his play in the Sonny Hill League.  He was unstoppable in that game as he drove to the basket for bucket after bucket.  He is a very aggressive scorer and always looking to get to the rim.  He is very strong and loves to maneuver through traffic, often drawing fouls.  Sometimes he does do this too much though, as he’d rather go down the middle of the court and at three people than around one man.  He is very efficient and doesn’t waste dribbles around the perimeter as some players do.  Bradley is just always going forward.  He has very quick hands defensively that leads to a ton of steals and fast break opportunities at the other end.  He is a shooting guard who does need some work on his jumper.  He has a nice stroke, but can’t knock the perimeter shot down consistently at this point.  Bradley has a great toughness that you just can’t teach and it makes him among the elite players in the region.  For his efforts, Bradley was named MVP of the Wilt Chamberlain Division (11th and 12th graders).  

Not Too Far Behind

Austin Johnson
Austin is the classic example of it pays to see a player multiple times.  When I first saw him in an all star game, I said he got by mostly on raw talent.  After watching him several times this summer, I realized I couldn’t be more wrong.  Austin is a very skilled, long forward.  He can play on the wing or inside.  He was one of the top players that I saw in the entire league.  Austin would constantly beat defenders off the dribble or knock down threes over them.  He would also make them pay in the low post if they didn’t respect that aspect of his game.  Austin is not a dynamic player, but is a good all around player that creates matchup problems.  His game did stand out in part due to the lack of talent around him.  Regardless, he is one of the best young forwards in the area.   

How Did I Miss Him?

After watching so much local basketball, I thought it was impossible to find a player that I hadn’t seen or heard about.  In the Sonny Hill League, I found out that there are still plenty of talented local players that I am unaware of.

Novar Gadson
Novar Gadson was a talented player that really took me by surprise when I first saw him.  This long, athletic forward was dominating both inside and outside.  He is very skilled around the basket and thus a very capable finisher.  He is a good ball handler and can also knock down the perimeter jumper.    He is a solid rebounder as well.  Novar played much bigger than the 6-4 that he is listed at. 

Kashief Edwards
I saw Imhotep Charter play a few times before I noticed Kashief, but due to their balance I missed out on him.  Kashief is a very active big man who scores most of his points within five feet of the hoop.  He has long arms and very good hands that allow him to finish quite frequently.  He runs the floor well and loves to dunk.  Kasief is also a good leaper and therefore blocks a lot of shots.  He does need to show more offensively than just a face up game around the rim.

Tyrell Taylor
With so much talent on the Neumann team it’s no surprise that Taylor is unheralded.  That said, the young point guard is a good all around talent.  When I saw him in action, he was absolutely dominant in every phase of the game.  If he wasn’t blowing by defenders or shooting over them, he was dishing off to teammates for assists.  It seemed like he was involved in every bucket that his team scored.  He is not a dynamic athlete, so he won’t draw as much attention as some players might.

Out of State

While the Sonny Hill League is a Philadelphia, it does attract some nearby talent from the states of New Jersey and Delaware.  A few of these players stood out this summer.

Chris Martin
Chris Martin is a scoring guard who caught my attention earlier this summer.  He can score in a variety of ways and showed that as he played against several future division one guards.  He started off slow when I saw him, but by the middle of the game, he was slashing to the hoop and scoring around the basket.  He also drained some perimeter shots as well as mid range jumpers.  Chris did pass a little more in the Sonny Hill League than I saw previously, but he still does need to work on getting his teammates more involved.  At his size, he is probably suited for the point guard role in college and will have to display more passing skills.

Paris Horne
Paris is among the most talented players from the small state of Delaware.  He is a long, athletic guard who is exceptional in transition.  In the game I saw, he pushed the ball up the court and led is team from behind before falling short.  He finished with over 30 points in the contest.

Edwin Santiago
Edwin is a lanky guard from Delaware.  He is a very smooth ball handler who uses that length around the rim to score.  He can his pull up jumpers from the mid range area as well as behind the arc.  He is a solid passer, but doesn’t seem to make too many difficult passes.  Edwin needs to develop more consistency in most aspects of his game.  He is a nice all around player though.

Playoffs

Interstae Realty 75 Sam Cozen 52 (8/8/06)

Malcolm Eleby – Interstate Realty
Malcolm Eleby teamed up with Josh Martin early on as the duo got Interstate off to a flying start with several transition baskets.  The aggressive defense from the entire team helped pour it on in the blowout win.

Josh Martin – Interstate Realty
Josh got off to a great start in this contest, but overall didn’t have a great game.  Most of his points came in transition.

Bradley Wannamaker – Interstate Realty
Bradley was his usual aggressive self in this game.  He attacked the rim in both the full court and half court.  He can basically score whenever he wants to in this league.  I did notice that he loves to drive at the middle of the defense.  This allows him many three point play opportunities.  While he can get away with it at the high school level, it’ll be more difficult in college.

Brian Wannamaker – Interstate Realty
Brian is the relatively unknown of the Wannamaker twins.  He is a solid all around player though, who does the little things to help his team win.  He is good on the defensive end and very unselfish on the offensive side.  He is nearly the complete opposite of his brother, as it seems that he doesn’t want to shoot at all when the ball is in his hands.

Jermaine Washington – Interstate Realty
Washington was deadly from outside in this game as he knocked down multiple three pointers.

Medics 91 High Octane 74 (8/9/06)

Sammy Givens
Sammy was back to the form that I saw earlier this spring.  He displayed a number of sweet ball handling moves as he got to the rim and scored.  He also knocked down a couple of perimeter shots.  Sammy did play solid defense on Lewis Leonard early on, but struggled to keep up with the talented scorer as the game wore on.

Chris Edwards
Chris had a solid game, particularly early on as his length gave the opponents fits inside.  He also showed his good all around game by knocking down a few deep jumpers as well.

Larry Loughery - Medics
Larry got off to a great start on the offensive end, but quickly found himself on the bench in foul trouble.  He struggled defensively moving his feet against the quicker Sean Evans.  I like Larry’s offensive game a lot and hope he can play at a higher level than he might project at, but if he can’t play better defensively that won’t happen.

Shannon Givens - Medics
I’ve seen Shannon a number of times, but he usually surrounded with talent and doesn’t stand out much.  This small guard is a smart player like his brother Sammy.  He is a very good shooter off the dribble and can also hit from behind the arc.  He always seemed to know whether to take the pull up jumper or pass off to a teammate.

Kevin Gallagher - Medics
While he still won’t be considered a beast in the paint, Gallagher was much more aggressive around the rim than I had ever seen.  This is probably the first time I’ve seen him play like he’s 6-9.  Perhaps if he added weight, he would play that way more often.  Kevin has some very good natural skills and if he can ever put it all together he will be a very good player.

Lewis Leonard – High Octane
This soon to be JUCO player was the leader of the three-headed attack for High Octane.  This smooth shooting lefty struggled early before taking the game over.  He hit pull up jumper after pull up jumper all over the court.  He also drove by defenders and finished around the hoop.  Lewis seems to have some difficulty driving to the right, but the Interstate defense rarely forced him that direction.

Miguel Bocachica – High Octane
Miguel did what he does best in this game.  The spot up shooter knocked four threes in a short span.  He did keep his team in the game with his shooting, but also struggled turning the ball over when he attempted to drive.  Although he’s a solid shooter, he does need to be more consistent from game to game. 

Sean Evans – High Octane
Sean was very solid for High Octane.  He was able to blow by Larry Loughery on several occasions.  He finished the first half with a thunderous alley oop dunk.  He needs to finish with authority more often.  He also had a very nice play where he went at Sammy Givens.  I would like to see him go at big men in that fashion.  Too often he prefers to try to play the finesse game.  Sean was also solid in post as he used spin moves to get to the hoop.  The interior game is something I want to see out of him more as well.


Championships (8/14/06)
Bill Cosby Division (9th and 10th grade)

Camden Boys & Girls Club 97 McDonald’s 78

David Laury – Camden Boys & Girls Club
Laury was a monster in leading his team to the championship.  This skill forward finished the game with 30 points and 24 rebounds.  He is long with a solid frame.  He has good footwork and is very quick at getting to the basket from the low block.  He also has a nice soft touch on his shot.  Add in his solid ball handling ability and you have a good all around player.  David was named MVP of his league.

Gary Simmons – Camden Boys & Girls Club
Gary was a player that I was very eager to see after hearing good things about earlier in the tournament.  The big, strong point guard didn’t disappoint.  He displayed an excellent ability to shoot off the dribble from nearly anywhere on the floor.  He is even capable of hitting from behind the arc.  He is a good ball handler who can get to the rim and finish.  Gary did struggle at times though as he dribbled too much and ended up turning the ball over.  He finished the championship game with 19 points and 7 rebounds.

Wilt Chamberlain Division (11th and 12th grade)

Interstate Realty 90 Theo Ratliff 60

Bradley Wannamaker – Interstate Realty
Bradley had yet another dominating game on his way to league MVP honors.  He was aggressive as usual as he poured in 21 points.  He also hit a nice shot from behind the arc. 

Ray “Doodles” Sims – Interstate Realty
Much like most of the Interstate guards, Sims had a good game attacking the rim.  He was also very unselfish with the ball as he distributed to teammates.  He finished the game with 11 points.

Josh Martin – Interstate Realty
Josh got off to another good early start and looked like he was on his way towards a stellar effort.  He knocked down a three and showed a ball handling move that had the crowd in awe.  As the game wore on though, he struggled from the perimeter and wasn’t as aggressive going to the basket.  Even with the early threes, Josh only managed to score 11 points.

Brian Wannamaker – Interstate Realty
Brian had another solid all around game.  He finished with just 7 points, but did a lot of the little things in this contest.  He passed very well and was good on the boards.  He played his usual, steady defense too.

Mike Ringgold – Theo Ratliff
Mike was the lone bright spot for Theo Ratliff in this blowout loss.  This long, crafty forward is a very good interior scorer.  He has very quick feet, which he uses to blow by other post players.  Time and time again, he was able to beat defenders with spin moves.  Mike also ran the floor well and scored 20 points in the contest.  He does need to take his game to the perimeter a bit more when he gets to the college level. 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 August 2006 )
 
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