We were able to watch Team Loaded 17U team at great length during the early July “live period” and came away impressed with the potential of Coach Blackwell’s team.
During the Big Shots II tournament, we wrote the following:
“Team Loaded 17U coached by Mike Blackwell used a ten man rotation throughout the tournament and won the Big Shots II Championship easily over Seattle Rotary by the score of 70-42. Along the way, Team Loaded cruised past two EYBL teams in the Georgia Stars and All Ohio Red. Coach Blackwell has ten D1 players on his roster. 6’0 PG Jay Daniels is committed to Howard University, 6’3 PG/SG Troy Caupain is committed to the University of Cincinnati and 6’3 SG Patrick Rooks is committed to Clemson of the ACC. 6’6 WF RJ Curington and 6’0 Frank Mason are receiving high major interest while 6’6 WF/PF Brian White has offers from Big South and Southern Conference schools. 6’0 PG/SG Andrew Rowsey has offers from VMI, UNC-Greensboro and Mount St. Mary while 6’6 Jackson Kent has the majority of Big South and Southern Conference schools on his offer list as does 6’8 Jerome Simmons and 6’11 Chuck Ogbogo. One of the toughest things for a coach is juggling playing time with ten legit D1 players and keeping them all happy. That being said, Coach Blackwell deserves special credit for his rotations and keeping guys fresh throughout the tournament. While many teams were wearing down due to lack of depth, Team Loaded got stronger deeper into the tournament. On championship Sunday, Team Loaded breezed through the competition and saved their best for last in the championship game. Team Loaded crushed and I mean crushed a very good Seattle Rotary team by the score of 70-42 and it was the total overall depth and balance that was the key”!
During the month of the July, Team Loaded went an impressive 19-3 record and the ten player rotation of Division One players were the key in their success. As we eluded to in the Big Shots II tournament, Coach Mike Blackwell deserved special credit for carefully manipulating a lineup of talented young players. One of the more difficult jobs as a coach at any level is to balance the egos of players and parents during the most important evaluation period of the summer. That being said, we have had advocated a philosophy of “Team work makes the dream work” and if a team is successful, then the players will be successful and this statement couldn’t be more truthful of Team Loaded 17U team. Just recently, 6’0 PG Frank Mason picked up an offer by Kansas. Again, we were ahead of the bell curve with our recent article where we commented that Mason would be recruited by HM schools.
At the Fab 48 tournament in Las Vegas, it was the depth and overall talent that proved to be the keys in the impressive run by Team Loaded. On opening night, Team Loaded was playing without Frank Mason and the team dropped a hard fought OT game to Play Hard Play Smart. In speaking with Coach Blackwell, he stated “the top performers were 5’11 shooting PG Andrew Rowsey (be sure to check out our article from February 13th, 2012) with 22 points, 6’6 Brian White 18 points, 6’3 Clemson verbal Patrick “Microwave” Rooks 15 points, while 6’11 Chuck Ogobado and 6’5 RJ Curington both with 9 points each.”
Game two at the Fab 48was a little easier for Team Loaded as they cruised to an 64-47 win over the Kansas City 76ers. It was another well balanced attack as four players were in double figures. Leading the way was RJ Curington with 16 points, Brian White 13 points, Andrew Roswey and Cincinnati verbal Troy Caupain with 10 points each. However, game three proved to be another tough test for the well balanced Team Loaded as they squeaked by an excellent Wisconsin Swing team by the score of 87-85. Again, four players were in double figures but it was the outstanding play of PG Frank Mason with 28 points that received game high honors. RJ Curington 13 points, Andrew Rowsey 12 points, and Patrick Rooks 11 points balanced out the scoring attack.
After winning a tough Super Pool at Fab48, the competition in the championship bracket was equally tough and demanding. Team Loaded opened up against Magic Red (CA) and pulled out another exciting win by the score of 76-74. Frank Mason led the way with 17 points while Patrick Rooks and Brian White chipped in 16 and 14 points respectively. Next up, Team Loaded played a very talented Team Breakdown (FL) and came out victorious by the score of 66-59. It was the trio of Frank Mason 18 points, Patrick Rooks 16 points, and Brian White 12 points that led the way. Just like the formula used at Big Shots II tournament in Myrtle Beach, SC, Coach Mike Blackwell talented group of ten division one players were getting stronger as the tournament forged deeper into championship play. Next up was New Rens (NY) and after a nip and tuck battle, Team Loaded pulled away in the final minute for a 65-58 victory. Brian White was the game’s leading scorer with 19 points while Frank Mason chipped in 18 points and Andrew Rowsey with 10 points. Team Loaded then advanced to the Final Four to play against another excellent UA team in Net Gain Sports of Minnesota. Team Loaded won on a tip in at the buzzer for the thrilling 65-64 win. More importantly, Team Loaded trailed by 11 points with over 2 minutes in the game to pull out the come from behind win. Brian White again was the game’s leading scorer with 18 points while Andrew Rowsey and Frank Mason chipped in 12 points each. In the championship game, Team Loaded depth again proved to be the winning formula as they won by the score of 62-52 over the Arkansas Hawks. Andrew Rowsey and Troy Caupain with 13 points.
The success of Team Loaded during the July “live period” helped pave the way for more offers for all ten players on the roster. While Patrick Rooks (Clemson), Troy Caupain (Cincinnati), and Jay Daniels (Howard University) are already committed, it is no secret that the seven uncommitted players enhanced their stock/status with division one schools. That being said, the guys that took their game to another level were Frank Mason (Kansas offer) and Brian White, Andrew Rowsey and RJ Curington. Look for White, Rowsey and Curington recruitment pick up immensely in the upcoming months and the beauty of it all is “Team work makes the dream work.”