While many of Arizona's club programs did not fair too well during the final evaluation period of the summer, Arizona's top 17U club team of the summer was definitely the Arizona Magic Elite 17U team - led by the superb play of their backcourt, 6-foot-3 rising senior guard Sammy Barnes-Thompkins and 6-foot-3 prep guard Lyrik Shreiner. After posting a strong performance in the Pangos Sweet 16 and a final-four finish in the Great American Shootout (GASO) in Dallas, Texas, this group would cap off an Elite 8 finish in this year's Invite-Only Division of the Las Vegas Fab 48 this weekend.
Without the services of top-rated 6-foot-9 prep post Andre Adams, who would miss the Fab 48 after injuring his ankle in the GASO, the Magic Elite would play strong basketball in Vegas with a limited lineup due to injuries. Led by Thompkins and Shreiner throughout the event, and also a strong supporting cast of prospects, the Magic Elite would do what most teams around the country have not been able to do - defeat the nation's top Nike program, New Jersey Playaz (NJ).
On Saturday morning in this year's Fab 48 and with a large number of division-I coaches in attendance, The Magic Elite would hold on to a lead late in the game, until the Playaz would strike back late and take back the lead. But Lyrik Shreiner would knock down several big shots, while Sammy Thompkins would flat out take over the game down the stretch. Thompkins would convert (3) straight three-pointers late in the game - including a three-pointer for the game winner over the outstretched hands of two defenders.
The win by the Magic Elite over the Playaz sent the East Coast in an uproar as residents of New Jersey and New York blew up the cell phones wanting to know who beat the top club team in the country. The Playaz had won the Nike Peach Jam in Augusta, Georgia just a week earlier on ESPN.
In the win, the Magic also received strong performances from Empire High School's 6-7 rising senior forward Deion James, Willow Canyon HS 6-foot-7 rising senior post Nick Allen, Westview HS 6-foot-5 prep forward Isaiah Bellamy, Catalina Foothills HS 6-foot-3 rising senior guard Dakota Kordsiemon and Independence HS 6-foot-4 rising senior guard Kaveon Moore.
These Arizona prospects made the state of Arizona extremely proud this summer, as they brought a strong reminder home to the Arizona basketball community that Arizona's very best prospects can compete with anyone in the country when playing together. Well done.