Above The Rim: Mustang Madness

Whistle 2 Whistle stopped at The Grind Session’s Mustang Madness for all five sessions of their event this weekend. It featured a ton of top talent including names such as Kyree Walker, Charles Bassey, Terry Armstrong, and Ignas Brazdeikis, just to name a few. It featured ten teams from The Grind Session’s 32-team core, and fans piled in at McCracken County High School in Paducah, Kentucky to catch a glimpse at some of the future stars of college and pro basketball.

As those players get the majority of the attention from media and fans, our Above The Rim series focuses on players who played above expectations at the events we attend. Here’s the guys who played “Above The Rim” at Mustang Madness:

Julian Dozier Jr. – Bella Vista Prep (AZ) – Class of 2019 – Point Guard

At only 5’9″, Julian Dozier Jr. may look like an easy matchup for bigger opponents, but once the ball tips they quickly become aware that his height does not affect his game. One of the first things I noticed about Dozier Jr. is how crafty he is at scoring the ball amongst the big men in the post. He utilizes a beautiful floater that he rarely misses and at times will go straight at the big man and score with an up and under layup. He also showed the ability to step out and knock down three-point shots, but was most impressive with his passing ability, as he and teammate Terry Armstrong connected on multiple alley-oops at the rim. He notched scores of 17, 16, and 13 points in three games at Mustang Madness and racked up multiple assists in each of those games as well.

Brandon Nicholas – Tennessee Prep (TN) – Class of 2019 – Shooting Guard

Brandon Nicholas was the best shooter at Mustang Madness and kicked the event off with a 32-point performance behind the strength of nine three-pointers. He hit threes from deep, with defenders in his face, and off the dribble. Nicholas showed great confidence in his shot and is never scared to pull the trigger, which played out well in helping Tennessee Prep to two wins at Mustang Madness. Nicholas followed up his nine three-pointer performance in game one with five more threes in game two on his way to 31 points. He also dished out 6 assists in that game.

Deon Stroud – Trinity International (TX) – Class of 2019 – Shooting Guard

Trinity International’s junior shooting guard Deon Stroud awed the crowd at Mustang Madness when he went off for 41 points in their game against Tennessee Prep. Despite losing to Tennessee Prep, Stroud led a strong comeback by his team as he attacked the basket and scored at the rim or drew fouls as he shot well from the free throw line. Stroud also hit two three-pointers in that game, but saw most of his success scoring the ball when attacking off the dribble. He’s extremely athletic and showed that off with a couple big dunks in the game, but he has the body control to finish through contact at the rim. He also had a 13-point performance against Aspire Academy.

Madut Akec – Victory Rock Prep (FL) – Class of 2018 – Small Forward

Madut Akec has been the best scoring option for Victory Rock Prep all season, but doesn’t get the credit he deserves. At 6’7″, he’s extremely long and active on the defensive end as he uses his length to step in passing lanes and alter shots. Akec has a nice mid-range jumper that he likes to step into off the dribble, but is a very capable three-point shooter as well. If he can get stronger, his skills will allow him to be a dominant scorer that could put up big numbers on the offensive end, but nonetheless still finds a way to create offense for his team. He scored 14-points in game one at Mustang Madness, while also grabbing 6 rebounds, and followed that up with a 15-point performance in game two.

Onyinyechi Eyisi – Prolific Prep (CA) – Class of 2018 – Center

With two starting post players injured for Prolific Prep, Onyinyechi Eyisi was afforded the opportunity to showcase his skills offensively at Mustang Madness. Eyisi is a great defender and proved that in other games I’ve watched him play in this season, but broke out as an offensive threat as he scored 20 points in his team’s game against Orangeville Prep. Eyisi was a glass eater as well, grabbing 10 rebounds in the game, and was able to score a lot of his points on second-chance opportunities he created with offensive rebounds. He also had a game with 10 points and 8 rebounds against Victory Rock Prep.

Nygal Russell – Aspire Academy (KY) – Class of 2018 – Combo Guard

Nygal Russell has shown flashes of being a great scorer in other games I’ve watched him play in this season, but was able to sustain success scoring the ball for an entire game against Hillcrest Prep. He knocked down six three-pointers in the game on his way to 22 points and also proved to be a nice passer as he racked up four assists in the game. Russell has a quick trigger from behind the arc when he’s hot, but when it continues to fall there’s no reason not to shoot. He’s extremely athletic and has sneaky bounce, showcasing that part of his game as he caught a putback dunk over a sleeping defender. Russell also played well against Trinity International, contributing in all areas with 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.

Bryan Greenlee – The Rock (FL) – Class of 2019 – Point Guard

The Rock has one of the best game managers in The Grind Session with 2019 point guard Bryan Greenlee. He’s a tough competitor that you can tell doesn’t like to lose and does everything he can to keep his team in the game. When he’s not scoring the ball for his team, he’s setting up other guys to score and the majority of their offense is ran through him. He’s strong and fearlessly attacks the rim, but is most impressive with his basketball IQ as he rarely turns the ball over and always makes the smart play. Greenlee turned in a 19-point performance against Bella Vista Prep in which he led a valiant comeback effort that ran out of gas late in a loss. He also notched 9 points and 7 assists against Columbus.

Keshaun Saunders – Orangeville Prep (CAN) – Class of 2018 – Shooting Guard

With all eyes on senior Michigan commit Ignas Brazdeikis, Orangeville Prep turned to senior shooting guard Keshaun Saunders to compliment the scoring load. Against Hillcrest Prep, Saunders shot the ball extremely well, knocking down eight three-pointers on his way to 32 points. His hot shooting hand helped lead Orangeville Prep to victory. Saunders was comfortable shooting the ball in catch-and-shoot situations or off the dribble for the pull-up jumper. In his second game, he only notched one three-pointer, but still contributed 12 points for his team against Prolific Prep.

Braxton Bartlett – Oldsmar Christian (FL) – Class of 2019 – Shooting Guard

Oldsmar Christian junior shooting guard Braxton Bartlett is another guy who proved himself as a serious threat from behind the arc at Mustang Madness. Against Bella Vista Prep, Bartlett knocked down two three-pointers on his way to a 12-point performance and also notched two assists and two rebounds in that game. He was most impressive in his first game against Tennessee Prep, as he went 5 for 8 from behind the arc and scored 23 points while also grabbing 6 rebounds.

Honorable Mention:

Fredelin De La Cruz – Trinity International (NV) – Class of 2018 – Small Forward

Mohammed Jafari – Hillcrest Prep (AZ) – Class of 2018 – Small Forward

Jonathan Dos Anjos – Victory Rock Prep (FL) – Class of 2018 – Power Forward

Denijay Harris – Columbus (MS) – Class of 2018 – Small Forward

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