The big story at the Hoop Group Providence Jam Fest, which was held over the weekend in Providence, RI, was expected to be all of the good young big men who grace the high school and prep school ranks in New England.
However, it was a plethora of great 3-point shooters that stole the show. And right at the top of the list was 6-foot-6 sophomore Ricardo Ledo from Barrington (St. Andrews) RI, who hit five 3-pointers in the second round of the playoffs against Delaware Team Takeover, five seven 3-pointers in the semi-finals against the Connecticut Basketball Club, and four 3-pointers in the championship game against the Westchester Hawks. Ledo also had 25 points in the title game and was the most consistent player that we saw all weekend.
But, in the end, he was unable to get his team over the hump in the final minutes, as the Westchester Hawks pulled off a major upset, 67-59, in the championship game. Ledo also has big-time athleticism and great moves to the basket, which made him our choice as the best player in the tournament based on performance. The only drawback is that he's a reclassified sophomore, which means he will be ineligible to play in the McDonald's All-American Game when he is a high school senior. But he really is that good!
There also was the 32 points and eight 3-pointers that 6-6 junior Tyler Harris from Dix Hills (Half Hollow Hills West) NY made against the Connecticut Knights in the semi-final. And how about the impressive performance by 6-1 junior Chris Martin from Washington (St. John's) DC, who had 23 points and five 3-pointers in the championship game? Martin, who is rumored to be moving back to New York City, where he will play his senior season at Mt. Vernon (H.S.) NY, also more than picked up the slack for Harris, who finished with only three points in the title game, and, as a result, gets our vote over Harris for tournament MVP honors in the 17-Under Division.
The most prolific scorer at the entire event was 6-3 Mike Anderson from Tampa (TAGG Academy) FL, who had a 40-point game early in the playoffs and had 22 points and three 3-pointers when his team was eliminated in the semi-finals by the Westchester Hawks. We also can't say enough about 6-2 junior Sean Grennan from Tom's River (Monsignor Donovan) NJ, who is a tough hardnosed competitor and does a great job of scoring from mid-to-long range and creating his shot and scoring with a hand in his face.
The biggest upset of the tournament was orchestrated by the Granite State Jayhawks, which knocked off the New England Playaz, 69-61, in pool play. And the big secret to this New Hampshire team's success was the outside shooting of 6'3 junior Conner Green from Nashau (Bishop Guertin) NH and 6'4 junior Sean McClung from Nashau (Bishop Guertin) NH, who knocked down eight treys and combined for 34 points against a group that featured 6'8 Markus Kennedy from Winchendon (School) MA, 6'8 junior Alex Murphy from Southborough (St. Mark's) MA, 6-foot junior Naadir Tharpe from Wolfeboro (Brewster Academy) NH, and 6-1 junior Aaron Cosby from Northfield (Mt. Hermon) MA.
We also have to mention the four 3-pointers 6'3 sophomore Jules Tavares from Wilbraham (Wilbraham & Monson) MA had in the semi-finals, as he provided the perfect complement to 6-6 sophomore Ricardo Ledo from Barrington (St. Andrews) RI, 6-5 junior Mike Carter-Williams from Barrington (St. Andrews) RI, 6-9 sophomore Khem Birch from Winchendon (School) MA, and 6-6 Ryan Romich from Groton (Groton-Dunstable) MA on Expressions Elite, which in our opinion was the most talented team in the tournament.