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Hoop Dreams: Stars shine bright at UAA Finals

The Under Armour Association (UAA) Finals concluded on Saturday at the Champions Center in LakePoint.

Top players from all over the country made their way to Emerson during June 12-15, and many top tier Division-I programs had their scouts and coaches sit in on this event as well.

Among the coaches in attendance on Friday was Kentucky head coach John Calipari.

“Just about every Division-I school has had representation here, and some schools have had multiple coaches here,” said David Kenner, the event coordinator at LakePoint. “I think the total number of coaches from Wednesday through Saturday has been just over 500. Some have even flown in from Phoenix Air into the Cartersville Airport as they’re trying to make their rounds to different events. This is good for the whole community from an economic standpoint as well.”

The tournament featured 160 teams from the 15U, 16U and 17U age levels, and every team is guaranteed a certain amount of games but only 16 can make the coveted bracket spots.

With the championship games being settled on Saturday, many coaches made their way into the arena to check out the elite talent.

For players, this is their chance to shine this weekend, and the importance to play well is always on the their mind.

Among the premier talent were such notable players as Khavon Moore, the No. 45-ranked prospect in the country by ESPN, and Devon Dotson, No. 33.

David Haggler, a center from Virginia, who was playing for the 17U DC Blue Devils, mentioned he saw coaches from Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Texas A&M and Florida State watching the action.

“We are trying to show what we got and leave everything on the floor,” Haggler said. “Everybody is the same. We don’t look at the positions, or where they’re ranked.”

Mike Preston, head coach for the 17U DC Blue Devils, saw his side eliminated in bracket play in the round of 16.

Preston observed that some players can get caught up in the moment, and the lure of showing off in front of the top coaches can weigh heavily on a player.

“I think a lot of it is having to decide whether it’s important to win the game or look good for yourself,” Preston said. “Sometimes, the kids get caught up in trying to impress the coaches instead of trying to win the game.”

The coaches are able to watch most of the players because they are all playing in one arena.

With all 12 courts being used for the matches, it provided coaches and teams a nice central hub to watch basketball.

Preston, having coached in other basketball tournaments, says having everything centralized has made it easier on him and his players.

Unsurprisingly, a tournament such as this one has put LakePoint on the national map, and for Kenner the prospects of bringing in more tournaments such as this one is bright.

“I mean we’re excited because we got the 12 courts to accommodate all these teams,” Kenner said. “I think it’s a really good thing for LakePoint. I think it’s all positive from a branding standpoint for LakePoint and Bartow County.”

 

Last modified onSaturday, 15 July 2017 23:50
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