NATIONAL TOURNAMENT: 2017 All-Tournament Team
The 2017 National Tournament is in the books, and for the third-straight year, Ball So Hard are your champions. This article will not be devoted to breaking down their performance, as Reid and I have given them plenty of attention in the recap show and The Ultimate Hoops Podcast. This is going to be devoted to recognizing the best players in the tournament, with a first and second All-Tournament Team.
Some guidelines before I reveal the teams. This is not just a giving a nod to the top ten PPR performances over the course of the tournament. Stats were important to get onto the team, but team success was just as vital. For example, Brandon Stephens was second in PPR (29.6), but he doesn’t make either team because the AZ Ballers went 0-3 and didn’t make the round of 16. All ten players on these teams at least made it to Sunday. So, despite Stephens averaging 30.3 points per game, the highest in the tournament, he didn’t make the cut. Also, positions were not strict like they are in the NBA. I do not hold a spot for centers, and each team could have been three guards/two forwards, or vice-versa.
All-Tournament first team
Crockrell was the engine of a Ball So Hard offense that was stacked with offensive talent. As a team, they were fourth in scoring in the tournament, averaging 83 points per game, and they had the most assists per game with 19.2. They moved the ball effectively, and that meant that one player didn’t dominate the scoring. Crockrell led the team with 15.5 points per game, which ranks 28th in the tournament, but he could have scored much more than that if he wanted to. His performance earned him his second-straight tournament-MVP. He joins Paris Kyles as the only players to win that award twice.
After seeming disinterested in last year’s tournament, Dentmon turned it on this year and led SoCal Select, playing with only seven players for most of Sunday, to the semifinals. Dentmon was one of the best shooters in the tournament, as he made 50 percent of the 54 threes he attempted. His flashiness also stood out, as many of the threes he drained came off step-backs or while he was leaning off one foot. His passing was a showcase too, as he racked up 5.4 assists per game with plenty of no-look passes. His 24 points per game put him fourth in scoring for the entire tournament, and he did it while shooting 51 percent from the field. His 95 percent free-throw shooting was a plus as well, as he only missed one of the 20 free throws he shot.
Kyles has been the best player in Minnesota for a while, and as the talent-level rises in the National Tournament, Kyles continues to prove that he’s one of the best players in the country as well. His PPR of 24.5 was fifth-best in the tournament, and he boasted a complete stat line of 19.8 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game. He did a little bit of everything for the Bulls, as he led his team in points, rebounds, assists and steals He had his best performance when his team needed him most, against the uber-talented Reincarnated in the quarterfinals. He scored 41 points on 68 percent shooting, adding six rebounds, five assists and four steals. The Bulls lost the game, but Kyles did everything he could to try and get them into the semifinals.
Pichon led the tournament in PPR (29.8) and one could argue that he was the best players of the weekend. He was one of the most efficient scorers in the tournament, as he averaged 23.8 points per game while shooting 66 percent from the field. He averaged 11 rebounds per game, second-best in the tournament, and while he only averaged two assists per game, he was a great passer out of the post. His only weakness was his lack of outside shooting, as he missed the two threes he attempted, but it didn’t seem to hamper his team at all. He did all this all while playing 42.3 minutes per game, including two games where he played all 44.
When it comes to the best player in the tournament argument, it really comes down to Pichon and Childress. Childress scored with ease, averaging 23.8 points per game while shooting 56 percent from the field. He went to another gear on Sunday, showcasing his talent in games where his team vitally needed him. In Reincarnated’s quarterfinal win over the Bulls, Childress scored 36 points on 55 percent shooting, adding 13 rebounds, making 12 of the 14 free throws he attempted and playing all 44 minutes. Once the championship game rolled around, Childress was playing his fourth game of the day, but he still put up 31 points against a Ball So Hard defense that was putting a lot of attention on him.
All-Tournament second team
Despite going 2-0 in the preliminary games on Saturday, Str8 Ballin received the 12-seed and had a play-in game Saturday night against Gotta Eat, a fellow Arizona team. Str8 Ballin felt snubbed, and they took out their anger on Gotta Eat. That was especially true for Newman, who scored 46 points and drained 11 threes to advance his team to Sunday. They ended up getting all the way into the semifinals, where they fell to Ball So Hard. Newman had a great tournament, scoring 19.5 points per games on 52 percent shooting from the field, and 53 percent from deep. He also shot 95 percent from the foul line.
Haywood always steps his game up come tournament time, and this year was no exception. He had a similar stat line to Newman’s, scoring 19. 3 points on 53 percent shooting from the field and 52 percent from deep. Haywood added to his scoring with 5 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game. He was the Bulls’ most consistent threat from deep, and he added great perimeter defense throughout the tournament. Expect to see the same kind of performances from Kyles and Haywood in Manhattan come late August.
Kelly was a new addition to Ball So Hard this year, and he was vital in their championship run. He was always good for some highlight-reel plays, like dunking on players, throwing alley-oop passes off the backboard, swatting layups on chase-down blocks, but his overall game had few flaws. He was one of the best defenders in the tournament, using his size and quickness to shut down perimeter and post players. His athleticism was also a problem on the glass, as he averaged 5.8 rebounds, with 2.8 of those coming off offensive rebounds. He was crazy efficient on offense as well, scoring 12.2 points on 73 percent shooting.
SoCal Select was the highest scoring team in the tournament, averaging 87.2 points per game, and Cox was a big part of that. He scored 18.4 points per game on 65 percent shooting. He was efficient in every game, as his worst shooting performance came in SoCal Select’s only loss. He shot 8-14 from the field, 57 percent, against Reincarnated in the semifinals; not too bad for a “worst” performance. He also averaged eight rebounds a game, with 2.8 coming on the offensive end.
The Fridley Bulls were a well-rounded team, and no one player dominated like Pichon did for Battle, or Childress did for Reincarnated. Koenig was still impressive enough to land on the second team, as he led his team in points, 18.5, and rebounds per game, 6.8. He shot 58 percent from the field, and he never shot below 50 percent in any of the four games he played. He didn’t have much rest either, as he played 38.3 minutes per game.