Battle in the Apple: NYC’s Best Take On Strive For Greatness

Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.

By David Cordova

Now that the AAU season has started, excitement is growing for players as they get to play against some of the premier players in the nation in many events, including the independent events. Kids from all of the elite circuits, such as the Nike EYBL, the UA Next and Adidas 3SSB, as well as the teams from leagues such as Hoop Group and Zero Gravity are always ready to ball out.

But coming up during the middle of May, there is something major coming to the Big Apple. This weekend, the Battle event, sponsored by Philadelphia 76ers forward Danny Green and Gold Levels Sports & Entertainment.

Back in 2018, the first installment of the event took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, as an event for high school teams during the season. Since its inception, this event has expanded into various states and cities, such as Miami, Fort Worth, Lynwood, California, Colorado, South Carolina and Chicago to name a few places.

This spring, the Battle has partnered with the Strive for Greatness AAU program, which is operated by NBA All-Star and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, which also plays on the Nike EYBL circuit and also wears Nike/LeBron apparel.

Jayden Reid handles the ball on the perimeter for the PSA Cardinals on the Nike EYBL circuit on April 9th, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint)

During the first weekend in April, they made their first tour stop in California, as they played against programs such as Paul George Elite, the Compton Magic and Jalen Green Elite.

Their second stop took place in Marietta, Georgia, which is a suburb of Atlanta, at Marietta High School, during the weekend of May 6-8, as teams such as the Atlanta Xpress, the Atlanta Celtics, Team Huncho, Game Elite and Athletes of Tomorrow came to battle.

The third stop, as was previously mentioned, will be taking place this weekend in two venues in Queens, on Friday, May 20th at Monsignor McClancy High School in East Elmhurst & on May 21-22 at St. Prep in Astoria.

During the weekend in question, Strive for Greatness will be playing against teams such as the PSA Cardinals, the New York Rens & the Wiz Kids. Other teams such as New Heights, the Gauchos, Black Ops Cadets, Riverside Hawks & the New York Lightning will also be participating in the event.

Brandon Williams handles the ball on the perimeter for the PSA Cardinals on the Nike EYBL circuit on April 9th, 2022. (Photo courtesy of
Dave’s Joint)

The fourth and final stop on The Battle and Strive for Greatness tour will be taking place July 1-3 at St. ViSt. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio.

In regards to the event, many of the tri-state’s best will on the court to perform against SFG, which has some of the best on their 17’s roster, which includes Sierra Canyon’s trio of 6-foot-3 junior guard LeBron “Bronny:” James, Jr., 6-foot-1 junior guard Dylan Metoyer, 6-foot-3 guard Mike Price and 7-foot sophomore forward Majok Chuol. Other impact players include 7-foot sophomore center Steven Solano (Donda Academy), a New York native, 6-foot-7 forward Andrew Meadow (West Ranch), 6-foot-9 junior forward Isaac Hymes (BFL Prep), 6-foot-4 junior guard Justin Daniels (Taft) and 6-foot-7 junior forward Arman Madi (Brophy College Prep).

On SFG’s 16’s squad, there are some gems such as 6-foot-5 sophomore guard Vyctorius Miller (AZ Compass Prep), 6-foot-4 freshman guard Brayden Burries (Riverside Poly), 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Bryce James (Sierra Canyon) and 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Pharoah Compton (AZ Compass Prep).

Many of the NYC area teams will have plenty of talent on display.

The Rens 17’s will have 6-foot-4 junior guard Simeon Wilcher (Roselle Catholic), a North Carolina commit, 6-foot junior guard Ty-Laur Johnson (St. Benedict’s Prep), 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Naasir Cunningham, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2024, who recently signed with Overtime Elite after two seasons with Gill St. Bernard’s School in New Jersey, 6-foot-10 junior forward Papa Kante (South Kent Prep), 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Christian Bliss (George School) and 6-foot-6 junior guard Aaron Clark (Brewster Academy).

Christian Bliss looks to make a move for the New York Rens on the Nike EYBL circuit on April 9th, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint)

The Rens 16’s have a sophomore-laden crew of 6-foot-9 forward James Moore (The Patrick School), 6-foot-7 guard Dwayne Pierce (Christ the King), 6-foot-3 guard Dante Green, 6-foot-7 forward Tyler Betsey (Windsor), 6-foot guard Allyn Wright (East Catholic), 6-foot-5 guard Dylan Harper (Don Bosco Prep), 6-foot-5 guard Jaiden Toscano-Glover (St. Benedict’s Prep) and 6-foot-8 forward Richard Brisco (Roselle Catholic).

Black Ops, which recently had a great showing at the Hoop Group Pitt Jam Fest in Pittsburgh, has some great gems in 6-foot-1 freshman guard Vere Anthony (St. Francis Prep), 6-foot-2 sophomore guard Taj Bryant (Eagle Academy II), 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Abdoulaye Konate (Graphic Arts Campus), 6-foot-4 sophomore forward Jorel Monroe (St. Peter’s) and 5-foot-8 sophomore guard Mike Spisto (St. Peter’s).

The Wiz Kids, a squad that recently became a part of the Adidas 3 Stripes Select Basketball circuit, has the Cardinal Hayes trio of 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Ian Jackson, the No. 3 player in the ESPN Class of 2024, 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Elijah Moore and 6-foot-7 senior forward Tarique Foster, who plans on doing a postgraduate year at a prep school following his graduation this June.

Ty-Laur Johnson looks to drive to the basket for the New York Rens on the Nike EYBL circuit on April 9th, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint)

The PSA Cardinals 17’s, one of the most dangerous squads on the Nike EYBL circuit this spring, has a loaded squad of juniors such as 6-foot guard Jayden Reid (Long Island Lutheran), 6-foot-7 forward Mouhamed Dioubate (Putnam Science Academy), 6-foot-8 forward Brandon Williams (Christ the King), 6-foot-5 guard Diovion Middleton-Famakinde (Woodstock Academy), 6-foot-4 guard Devin Vanterpool (Christ the King), 6-foot-8 forward Spencer Mahoney (Xaverian) and 6-foot-11 forward Jaxon Koroll (Long Island Lutheran).

Their 16’s has sophomore gems such as 5-foot-11 guard Jayden Williams (Blair Academy), 6-foot-3 guard Johnuel “Boogie” Fland (Archbishop Stepinac), the No. 18 prospect in the ESPN Class of 2024, 6-foot freshman guard Danny Carbuccia (Archbishop Stepinac), the No. 25 prospect in the ESPN Class of 2025, 6-foot-10 forward Terry Copeland (Bergen Catholic), 6-foot-6 guard Nasir “Mookie” Rodriguez (Monsignor Scanlan), 6-foot-8 forward Abraham Rosario (Evangel Christian), 6-foot-9 forward Jason Schofield (Avon Old Farms) and 6-foot-11 forward Yves Missi (West Nottingham Academy).

If you’re in New York City during this weekend, make your way to Queens & pay for that ticket to see some great action. As the event implies, there will be a Battle in the Apple.


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