The youngsters of the GNBA Western Conference Session 2 really had a strong impact on the tone of the entire event, playing together and competing against one another with some exciting games and excellent play from the future basketball stars. Prospects like Kendall Brown (Top Flight), Mark Mitchell (KC Powergroup), Dontay Goodwin Jr (SW Illinois Jets), Bryce Hopkins (IL Rise) and more played outstanding throughout the weekend Des Moines. Here’s a look at those names and others who shined in the 5th grade division this past weekend…
11U TOP PERFORMERS
BRADLEY BENNETT - 2021 - G/F - NEBRASKA HOOPS
Bennett and Hepburn combined for a strong one-two punch in the Nebraska Hoops lineup in Iowa. Bennett was highly efficient, sending home 65% of his field goal attempts, slashed to the hoop well for some baskets and showed he can bury some shots from beyond the arc (4-of-9) as well. Bennett averaged 10 points per game, but also worked hard getting to rebounds, pulling down 3.5 boards a contest.
ETHYN BROWN - 2021 - PG - SW ILLINOIS JETS
Brown provided another strong presence on the court both defensively and finishing plays offensively to keep the Jets competitive throughout the weekend. The young guard knocked down some shots from the outside, shelled out some nice passes and even got in the mix rebounding by using his quickness to the ball. His greatest threat might have been his ability to read the opponent offensively, stepping in for several steals throughout the four games and getting his team on the break. Brown averaged 10 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 1.8 assists each contest.
KENDALL BROWN - 2021 - G - TOP FLIGHT
The tough young guard led his Top Flight team to a 4-0 record in Des Moines and was outstanding in nearly every facet of the game. Brown attacked the rim, shot the ball with confidence and locked in defensively to help shut down opponents. He scored 15 points per game, pulled down 5 rebounds per and used his athleticism and determination to force 3.8 steals per game while also finding the time to dole out some assists to teammates (2 apg). He had 15 steals on the weekend, and shot the ball efficiently, hitting 58% of his shot attempts.
ANDRE GILLISPIE - 2021 - PF - GATEWAY BASKETBALL
Gillispie had himself a strong tournament for Gateway, building some steam leading into the next session. The emerging post found ways to get to the basket, hit some short-range shots and even buried a couple three’s on the weekend. Defensively, Gillispie used his speed and effort to average 3.2 steals and also to work for over 4 rebounds per game. Gillispie scored 9.5 points per contest.
DONTAY GOODWIN JR. - 2021 - G- SW ILLINOIS JETS
Goodwin had one of the best individual tournaments of any player in Session 2 in any grade, affecting the game from multiple points, absolutely dominating the stat board. Goodwin scored in the half court with strong takes to the basket, showed he can score off the dribble, and was a monster on the ball defensively getting several steals and converting them into lay-ups and tough transition buckets by sweeping past and slithering through defenders en route to the hoop. He also controlled the glass and made sure to pass the ball to open teammates when he could. Goodwin averaged an impressive 18.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 1.5 assists per game.
GABRIEL HEPBURN - 2021 - G/F - NEBRASKA HOOPS
Hepburn was solid for Nebraska Hoops all weekend long, helping them to an impressive 3-1 mark and being effective all over the floor. Hepburn scored the ball with good consistency, got in the mix on the boards with effort and positioning and shared the ball with teammates very well. He also made some special plays defensively, hunting blocks and showing good anticipation to get steals as well. His stat line reads 11.8 points, 4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 blocks and 2.2 steals per contest, while also knocking down 13 free throws and a pair of treys.
BRYCE HOPKINS - 2021 - G/F - IL RISE
Hopkins was showcased his ability to dominate games throughout the weekend, leading IL Rise to a 3-1 record while having an impact in various points of the game. A good portion of that domination came inside, attacking the hoop and finishing shots. He also afforded himself some extra opportunities by getting on the glass, but also did it defensively as well, averaging 8.5 total rebounds per game and stealing the ball 13 times (3.2 spg) in the four games. While Hopkins did a lot of his offensive work going to the basket, he also showed he can hit some shots from the perimeter, scoring 17.5 ppg, and will look to carry this momentum into the next session.
MARK MITCHELL - 2021 - G - KC POWERGROUP
Mitchell had a terrific tournament for KC PowerGroup and helped lead the team to a perfect 4-0 mark on the weekend. He did so with his scoring, his teamwork and his efforts defensively flying around the court and making things happen. Mitchell made shots early and often in games and then got the ball rolling for teammates as well, scoring 14.8 points and 1.5 assists per game. Defensively, Mitchell got after it and had several steals, forced the opponent into tough spots and then also rebounded the ball hard, averaging nearly 7 rebounds a game.
RYAN RIGGS - 2021 - C - KINGDOM HOOPS
Riggs was exceptional on his home floor throughout the weekend to start their GNBA campaign. Leading Kingdom Hoops to a 2-2 record, Riggs was a force inside, playing strong in the middle and taking contact to get to the free throw line often. He sank 18 free throws in the four games and made some nice plays finishing around the basket to the tune of 14 ppg. He also averaged nearly 9 rebounds per contest and was disruptive with his anticipation and execution defensively, putting together 1.2 steals and sniffing out 1 block per game.
SAM VER STEEG - 2021 - PG - KINGDOM HOOPS
The emerging young lead guard also had a strong weekend for Kingdom Hoops, especially with his shooting prowess. Ver Steeg was deadly from the perimeter, sizzling the nets to the tune of 13 threes over the four-game span and knocking them down with outstanding efficiency (62%). Ver Steeg is still developing other pieces to his game, but his 13.5 points per game is a good start and made him a threat anytime he was on the court.