The St. James Coastal Crew Rebels are leaving Monday for Orlando to participate in back-to-back AAU basketball tournaments.
The 16U Rebels will compete this week in the AAU Super Showcase for the first time and then join the 17U Rebels the following week to compete in the AAU national tournament.
It will be the Rebels’ eighth appearance at nationals.
Coastal Crew Rebels founder and coach Ernie Walthour said participating in the Super Showcase is beneficial to the players because the event is attended by college coaches and gives his players an extra week to be scouted.
“It’s almost like the nationals, because you have all of the top teams from across the country coming in, but it is more open for the coaches to come and watch the top up-and-coming players,” he said. “It provides more exposure for the kids. This is where you measure who you are as a team. The competition is stiff. The most important thing to me is to have a good showing and give our kids the opportunity to be seen by these college coaches.”
The 16U Rebels received some top-level exposure when they traveled to New York and competed in the King of the Rock Tournament in May.
The team went 4-1 in the tourney.
“We got to go to a lot of the attractions out there, but most of all we took care of business,” Walthour said. “We didn’t win the tournament, but we won four games and got some real good play from Travon Scott and Kevin Womack and our guards Miguel Pineda and Domonique Kirkley. Herbert Roberts played well, and overall, the team performed well. The folks in New York took notice and told us we had a good team. They were impressed with what we brought.”
New York also proved to be a good lesson for the players.
“We received a lot of exposure when we went to New York,” Scott said. “And it allowed me to see basketball outside of a small community; there is more to it.”
“New York was very intense and I learned I have to play harder in each game,” Rebels player Jammoris Hill said.
On Thursday, Walthour received notification that his 16U team is ranked No. 21 in the nation in the AAU 2012 11th-grade Division II power rankings.
Walthour credits the New York trip and other high-level tournaments his 16U team has shined in during the past few years.
Walthour thinks his team has the mindset to maintain a high level of play for the upcoming tournaments.
“We are looking for big things out of Travon Scott, Domonique Kirkley, Herbert Roberts, Jammoris Hill and we have several kids that are looking to shine out there,” he said. “Pineda has played well the whole AAU season and this is their time knowing the college coaches will be there watching them. They have it in their mind that they will go down there and play well, and if you have that mindset, you should have a good tournament. We feel pretty good about it.”
“I’m just hoping to catch the eye of any good school out there especially doing what I like to do best — playing basketball,” Roberts said. “I just plan to go out there and play hard and do whatever I can do to help the team.”
Scott said his top pick would be Duke University but added he will do his best on the court to receive several offers.
“I plan to box out, rebound, play well, play as a team and pass the ball when needed,” he said.
Kirkley said he plans to leave it all out on the floor.
“I expect to show them just how good our team really is and how well we play together. I will do anything it takes to help my team win. We should win all our games; I don’t expect to lose,” he said.
Hill said he wants to show the coaches he is an all-around player.
Walthour expresses his appreciation to his sponsors M&M Motors, Osteen and Osteen Law Firm, Sheriff Steve Sikes and Liberty County Bonding.