NYC National Tournament Team Preview: The Villains overhaul their Vegas roster with more talent
As the New York National Tournament inches closer, it’s time to dive deep into each team and evaluate their roster. After starting with the Las Vegas National Tournament champs, X Over, we’ll stay out west to preview the Villains.
L.C. Comine (co-captain)
Chase Skinkis (co-captain)
This roster is similar yet different than the one we saw them play with in Vegas. They are losing Jordan Cannon, Andre McFarland, Lamont Morgan, London Schneider and Jon-Ross Campeau. That is a lot of roster overhaul, but the replacements they got more than make up for it.
To combat the loss of Cannon, an athletic score-first guard, they are adding Tony Eackles Jr., an athletic score-first guard. They are replacing McFarland, an offensively talented big that can stretch the floor with Reggie Jackson, an offensively talented big that can stretch the floor. The backcourt duo of Morgan and Schneider gets replaced by Hollis Hale and Rob Sandoval, which is an overall upgrade in my opinion. The only addition that doesn’t match its replacement is J.J. Todd for Campeau, but that’s also a positive addition as it adds needed frontcourt depth to a guard-heavy team.
Player to Watch
Tony Eackles Jr.
I’m biased because Eackles is one of my favorite players to watch in all of UH, but it’s for good reason. Eackles is most known for pulling off the “Hoodie Melo” look in the inaugural tournament in New York in 2017, where he led the tournament with a PPR 30.1 due to his averages of 26/6.7/7. He may have been paying homage to Carmelo on his own court in Manhattan, but his game more accurately resembles Russell Westbrook.
He possesses elite athleticism that allows him to get by perimeter defenders with his quickness and agility. It also allows him to finish past big men in the post due to his vertical, balance and body control in mid-air, which is the best I’ve seen from anyone in UH. All of this athleticism and offensive skill have led him to average 22.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists on 57% shooting from the field and 32% from deep.
He’s a proven commodity at the national level, where in 18 games he’s averaged 19.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists on 61% shooting from the field and 32% from deep. Eackles has put up big stats on the national stage on teams where he was the only go-to scorer, and on teams like this Villains’ squad, where there are numerous scoring options to choose from.
It’ll be interesting to see what Eackles will do in this tournament . Will he have lower number than usual due to the amount of talent on this team, or will he have his best tournament yet because teams won’t be able to hone in on him with the other options around him? My money would be on the latter.
I thought about putting Hale here because he has the ability to go off for 100 points, but Sandoval could be a polarizing player for the Villains in this tournament. Sandoval has played with Skinkis and company in the 2016 and 2017 Las Vegas National Tournaments, both with unsatisfactory results. In 2016, the Villains went 0-3 and didn’t advance out of pool play. In 2017, Flight Villains went undefeated in pool play but lost in the quarterfinals 63-62 to SoCal Select.
Sandoval is back with the squad now, and like Eackles, he’s a player that has always performed at the national level. His career splits are 19.7/6.9/5.9 in 265 career UH games, compared to 16.8/5/4.1 in 17 national tournament games. More of these games have come for his Flight Vegas teams, where he is one of the main options. Sandoval will come off the bench for this team, so his numbers will likely dip, but he’ll provide a great spark off the bench and someone who can provide instant offense.
This was the year we saw Ball So Hard lose, which felt like an impossibility, so maybe this is also the year we’ll see a Vegas team win a national title for the first time? It would be ironic if that happened 2,500 miles away from the location where UH has hosted eight national tournaments, but I don’t think the Villains would mind.
Vegas teams have come close to winning a couple times, with The Mob losing in championship game in 2014 and the Vegas Ballers losing in the championship game in 2018. Those games were decided by 19 and 16 points respectively, so even when a Vegas team has been close, they haven’t been able to keep it that close.
All nine teams will be chasing X Over in this tournament, and I’m still undecided as to who I would have as the second-best team. It’s a toss-up between the Villains and the defending champs, DMV Ballers. I give the edge to the DMV Ballers due to the fact that I’ve seen them get over the hump before, but the Villains certainly have the talent to make me regret those words.