Breakup Season: It's Not You, It's Us
WESTWOOD DRAFT: Preseason Power Rankings
By: David Jordan | Westwood Media Associate
Ultimate Hoops basketball is back in Westwood. Let’s just put it on the table. Westwood came up short in the Fall State Tournament, and today marks the beginning of Westwood’s redemption season. For the first time in a while, Westwood had a major shakeup in its captain placements, and overall rosters. Changes were needed. “It’s not you, it’s us.” With that being said, one of the major storylines going into this season has to the breakup of the artist formerly known as Ballaz Club. Chris, Tambo, and Tim West won’t be playing alongside each other for the first time in a long time. As the power up top is shaken up, we’re eager to find out who will emerge from Westwood to challenge Metrowest for the Regional Championship. Although the state tournament isn’t until the spring, MetroWest knows changes have to start now. For them, The battle is just as important as the war.
1. EA$Y MONEY
Steph Eusebe has reclaimed the role of captain of Ea$y Money, and he managed to put together a tough squad on draft night. Defensively, Ea$y Money should be second to none. Steph’s first three picks resulted in Nick Kineip, Curtis Williams, and Jimmy Melton. It shouldn’t take too much time to jell, as they have some history of running together.
Top to bottom, they will compete. Keep an eye out for the point guard position, as the long time duo of Steph Eusebe and Jason LaPlanche was shockingly split up on draft night due to Rodney Lemite’s pick (more on that later). For the first time in a long time, Ea$y Money lacks a true point guard. How will this affect them? One thing is for sure, with Steph and Jimmy on the same team, you better not get caught slipping, or you’re gonna hear about it all game long.
2. BEAST MODE
While doing these write ups, I have to try my hardest to be fair and take an unbiased approach. But if I could pick a personal favorite to win it all this season, It would have to be Beast Mode. Tim West returns to being a team captain, and managed to come out of draft night with a team that should be able to hang with anyone. Tim alongside Yemi Ajao will prove to be problematic for the league. But once you add in Stephen Prescod to open up scoring options, Khris Padilla as a floor general, who’s shown he can play with a high basketball IQ, and all three Ajjouri brothers (Wissam, Daniel, and William) , you can’t help but think this team will be dangerous.
Robert Alves’ game improved over the course of his first season, and he rounds out what is already a very talented roster. There is only one ball, so they’ll need to figure out how to make it work. The belief is that they will struggle at the point guard position, but I doubt it. Beast Mode will be a true contender when it’s all said and done.
3. BALLAZ CLUB
Different names, same game. Ballaz Club comes into the winter season looking drastically different than it has in the past few seasons. The Chris/“TNT” experiment came to an end after multiple seasons and one championship (Westwood Spring 2018). After breaking up the band, Chris McLaughlin has drafted himself a new squad with the same goal in mind. Incoming rookie Chris Flores may be in the running for rookie of the year, as everyone is expecting a breakout season from him.
Ballaz Club is very balanced from top to bottom. Shooter Julio Balbuena is back after a season off from UH, and Mario Payne should be a great complement to a pick your poison type of roster. We can’t leave out big man Shawn Wise, who should benefit hugely from playing with a dynamic roster. They aren’t the biggest team, or the quickest, but they have a very high overall basketball IQ, and they will win some games.
Former President Bush once stated “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, can’t get fooled again.” Welp, I refuse to be fooled again by AllStyle. Rennie Cato returns as the team Captain, and is once again paired with Isaiah Duke to try and win the championship. Having Jude Valmeus will most certainly help, but things have to go well for the pairing of Duke and Rennie to have a successful season.
This team’s biggest problem in the past has been showing up. But it’s a new season, so I’ll try not to hold it against them too much. However, this Rennie/Duke experiment will be over after this season if the team can’t find a way to make it work. You have to start somewhere, and Rennie having a great draft is definitely a plus. But again, will it translate to the court?
Legacy is another team who should complement each other from top to bottom. They will have size. They will have scoring. They just need to show up and show out from week to week. One of the strong points for Legacy this season will be be the continuity between the team. The majority of this team has grown up together and played together for a long time. They know each other’s strengths, and they know each other's weaknesses.
The consensus around the league is this team is all hype, and they won’t be very good. I, however, think they’ll be better than most teams in the league. Chris Milton is back in the league. Pair him with Ty McCray, Shaquan Jones, and Fred Giles. I’ll take this squad any day of the week. Also, look for a strong season from Pat Drogan, who may benefit the most of everyone, and end up being the standout player on a VERY talented team.
6. RUFF RYDERS
What was Rodney thinking?! No shade to the league commissioner, but he could have taken him later. I believe this is the first time Rodney Lemite has been chosen as team captain and has had draft responsibilities, and the end result showed. We’re not quite sure what was the draft strategy, but it just doesn’t seem like this team will complement each other. League coordinator, Jason LaPlanche, is a great pickup, but not at the number-five overall spot in the league. Could the rivalry between he and Steph be the motive for the pic? Only time will tell, but for now, a questionable decision has led to a questionable roster in terms of how they fit together.
Mak Thompson is no stranger to playing with many of the people on the roster, so they might have a fighting chance if they can find a way to use that to their advantage. The key to their season will be how they use big man Adam Quinlan. If he can be effective, they will be effective.
Mike James takes over as team captain for Spartans. On paper, it may seem all good, but this team may struggle early due to a lack of continuity. Let’s just be honest here, after the last few seasons, we don’t know what Mike James we’re going to get. We know Carlos Bermudez-Glean will continue to be a problem for anyone he faces. Tyree Gross and David Leder will be essential in getting the Spartans over the hump and into the playoffs.
There is only so much you can do, and there are way too many variables to believe that the Spartans are true contenders at this time. Blame Mike James might be an actual thing, and with no Chris to keep him engaged this season, things could go south very quickly for this team
8. BRED HONCHOS
Bred Honchos (formerly Posterized) is looking to make a name for themselves, and early. It’s way too early to tell, but I think Bred Honchos is going to be in for a tough season. This team is led by captain Tambo Barrow, Ace Gouch and Max Ukegbu. Individually, I am a fan of their games, but this collective unit…I just don’t think they will be able to get it done.
This team will struggle against squads with healthy and active big men, and the scoring won’t be consistent enough to carry them from week to week. I hope I’m wrong, but odds are slim. It will be an uphill battle for the Bred Honchos, as Tambo will have to gain his team's confidence early, and maintain it through the season.
There’s no doubt that this season will be one of the best yet in UH Boston, as Westwood is fighting to get back to the top. Games start at 7 p.m. tonight.
7 p.m. - Spartans vs Ruff Ryders | Ruff Ryders by 5
7 p.m. - Beast Mode vs Ballaz Club | Beast Mode by 8
8 p.m. - All Style vs Easy Money | Easy Money by 10
8p.m. - Bred Honchos vs Legacy | Legacy by 12