By David Cordova
The NCAA Live Period is a very important time for both college coaches and prospective student-athletes. The message is simple: coaches need players and players need scholarships. The AAU tournaments and team camps are great places to audition for scholarships and showcase talent.
However, over the weekend, there was one event that served as a platform for players to be seen and coaches to target potential recruits. The Weekend, which was organized by the Playaz Basketball Club, the legendary AAU program from Paterson, NJ, was a top-notch showcase that took place on the campus of Montclair State University in suburban Montclair, NJ.
The Weekend, which was in its third year of existence, showcased sixteen of the finest high school programs from the tri-state area, the majority of which were from New Jersey, and four programs being from New York and one being from Pennsylvania. Not only is it a chance for the players to play in front of their prospective coaches, but also a chance for the crowd to see the talent for the upcoming high school season to follow.
“It’s pretty simple. I think kids deserve as many opportunities as possible to play in front of college coaches,” says Jimmy Salmon, the founder of the Playaz Basketball Club and the head coach at Immaculate Conception High School, which is also in Montclair. “Some guys look great playing AAU, others look great playing in high school. There’s more than enough AAU tournaments that are going around during the live period, so I figured, ‘Lets do something high school-wise that’s kind of exclusive and hopefully elite, and let’s see what happens.”
On the first day of the event, which was on Saturday, July 22nd, there were twenty-four college coaches present in the gym, from schools such as UMass, Penn State, FDU, Robert Morris, South Carolina, Dominican College, Rhode Island and Hartford. On Sunday, July 23rd, there were more top-tier schools in attendance such as St. John’s, Arizona, Kansas, UConn, Seton Hall and Villanova.
The first two years of the event happened in August, which is usually the dead period, which means that college coaches are not to be present at any events and nor are allowed to recruit. But this year Salmon chose to switch it over to mid-to-late July as a way to bring in the college coaches during the second live evaluation period.
“I think it’s worked,” said Salmon about moving the event to the live period. “I’m happy about being able to provide the opportunity to be seen.”
Some notable players that participated in The Weekend were: Bryce Wills (Iona Prep, Class of ’19), Nate Tabor (Our Savior New American, Class of ’20), Aaron Clarke (Pope John XXIII, Class of ’18), Kofi Cockburn (Christ the King, Class of ’19), Atiba Taylor (The Patrick School, Class of ’19), Jahvon Quinerly (Hudson Catholic, Class of ’18), Louis King (Class of ’18), Jalen Carey (Immaculate Conception, Class of ’18) and Nazreon Reid (Roselle Catholic, Class of ’18).
On Day 1, Our Savior New American won the title. On Day 2, Hudson Catholic won the title. The event ended up becoming a major success. As it continues to grow, this will be an event that will continue to draw more & more coaches in the future.
“I kind of like our setup right now. I’m not really thinking about expanding it,” says Salmon about the event going forward, “Because, truthfully, I don’t want it to be another team camp. I want it to be an exclusive event with elite high school teams and something that’s going to generate interest from colleges.”
Highlights from The Weekend:
Courtesy of Hoop Nation TV.
Courtesy of Hoop Nation TV.