Luke Hanlon's 2018 Vegas All-National Tournament Team
Now that the 2018 Vegas National Tournament has officially wrapped up, and I have my bearings back after four nights in Las Vegas, it’s time to reveal the All-Tournament Team.
In my three years at the tournament, this year's selection process was the toughest. There were roughly a dozen deserving players which makes this team truly the best of the best.
Let's get started.
I’ve never seen Ball So Hard lose. They’ve won the championship in my three years at the National Tournament and each title game they've won by more than 10 points. I’ve also never seen anyone but Crockrell win the tournament MVP, as he secured his third in a row after another dominant run to the title.
Coming into Sunday, it looked like someone else might get the honor this year, as Curtis Millage and Alex Scales put together impressive performances in pool play. Once Sunday rolled around, and Ball So Hard got into championship mode. Crockrell stepped up and proved that he was the best player in the tournament once again. After tweaking an ankle on Saturday there were whispers in the locker room he would not be at full-strength on Sunday.
Crockrell silenced the gossip by averaging 21.7 points while shooting 62 percent from the field and 58 percent from behind the arc in the three playoff games. Crockrell is getting to Michael Jordan-type of dominance. Will we need to vote someone else MVP out of Crockrell fatigue next year?
It’s going to be ball so hard to do if he keeps dominating at this level.
Coming into this year, Eackles was already a familiar name to anyone who follows the national tournaments. He averaged 22.9 points per game in six tournament games across Las Vegas and New York last year. While the individual stats were impressive, Eackles went 0-6 in those games.
For the 2018 Vegas tourney, Eackles upgraded in talent by agreeing to play for the loaded Vegas Ballers. It provided Eackles the most team success he's had in a tournament, and his individual performance was just as impressive. Averaging 16 points per game with shooting percentage splits of 69%/58%/90%, Eackles was the best guard on a team that had former NBA player Jordan Farmar, David Bell, Hollis Hale and UH Hall of Fame nominee Chase Skinkis.
When looking through the rosters before the tournament, Private Lessons had one of the most talented rosters in the tournament. They were filled with players who are near the top of the National PPR list each season and who have impressed in past tournaments.
Hedrick boasts a 43.8 PPR in Gilbert currently, good for fifth in the country. Hedrick was more than able to step up against the increased talent in the tournament, and perform against the increased competition. He tied X-Over's Tevin Kelly for the tournament scoring title, averaging 25 points per game, and did it while having shooting percentage splits of 54%/42%/80%.
Hedrick also led his team with 2.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game all while racking up 39.5 minutes per game due to poor roster depth.
The former NBA fan-favorite Williams had a PPR of 25.1 in this tournament, good for third out of the 193 players who played this past weekend. His numbers, while impressive, were not the main reason he made my the All-Tournament Team.
Williams leadership and tenacity were infectious and immensely drove the Ballers to the championship game. True to his NBA playing style, Williams was always willing to put his body on the line for his team. I was surprised to see him still walking after the semifinal game against San Antonio Nation, where he ended up on the floor numerous times after effort plays and hard fouls.
Effort also led to the play of the game against San Antonio, as he tipped the ball out of Chris Johnson’s hands, and then proceeded to dive for the ball, forcing it to go out of bounds off San Antonio Nation, giving Vegas Ballers the ball with 14.5 second left in a tie game.
Williams' size and physicality in the paint dominated many opponents on the run to the championship game, as he averaged 16.5 points on 67 percent shooting. He also added 9.3 rebounds per game, with 27 of his total 56 rebounds in the tournament coming on the offensive end.
All that work on the glass led to a lot of the fouls he drew, getting him to the free-throw line 37 times, more than anyone else this tournament.
San Antonio had the most impressive debut we’ve seen from a region that didn’t come from an inaugural tournament. San Antonio Nation roared to the semifinals with four of their five games against teams that made it to Sunday.
It was hard to pick one specific player form their well-balanced team, but Johnson was this team’s best player throughout the tournament. He enjoyed his best game against the Rudedogs, lead San Antonio Nation to the semifinals with 19 points and 14 rebounds (six of them on the offensive end). He converted all eight of his free throws. But if you want to know how important Johnson was to his team, just look at their stats page. Johnson led the team in points (78), rebounds (46), assists (16), steals (7) and blocks (2).
Teams are officially on notice. The sky is the limit for Johnson and San Antonio Nation in 2019.