Augusta, GA — The inaugural Jr. Finale made its debut from the Augusta Convention Center on Sunday evening with nearly 50 teams from around the country in attendance to experience July basketball at one of the pinnacles in grassroots basketball.…
Augusta, GA — The inaugural Jr. Finale made its debut from the Augusta Convention Center on Sunday evening with nearly 50 teams from around the country in attendance to experience July basketball at one of the pinnacles in grassroots basketball. Hosted by MADE Hoops, with Nike’s Peach Jam (EYBL Championship) tipping off just a few minutes away across the Savannah River at Riverview Park Activities Center, the buzz for the Jr. Finale among fifth, sixth, and seventh-grade teams was palpable. Based on the number of teams and players in attendance, I’ll focus on two players from the Classes of 2028 and 2029 each day as well as selecting one player from the Class of 2030 division. Here are the handful of top performers that caught my eye on Day 1 of the Jr. Finale…
Baganley Dongo exhibited exceptional physicality, relentless energy on both ends of the court, and remarkable defensive prowess which has helped him emerge as a true force to begin the Jr. Finale on Sunday. When he steps onto the court, his mere presence demands attention. Dongo’s physicality allows him to dominate in the paint, making it difficult for opposing players to penetrate or score near the basket. His defensive presence brings a sense of security to his team, making him a reliable anchor in the paint, while deterring opponents from challenging him head-on. The 6-foot-5 frontcourt prospect’s play on Day 1 has the Pro Skills/Felton Elite team on a shortlist of championship contenders in the event’s seventh-grade division.
Mohamed Dongo is the twin brother of Baganley Dongo and proudly proclaims to the older brother by one minute. Along with his brother, the “elder” Dongo made an immediate impression with his athleticism, energy, and versatility during opening night at the Jr. Finale. One of the standout aspects of the 6-foot-4 forward’s playing style is his ability to compete both inside and out. He flashed ball-handling skill and the ability to attack the rim and play downhill from the perimter. His ability to defend multiple positions gives his coach (NBA veteran Raymond Felton) the flexibility to use the twins together on the court.
Team CP3 assembled an impression sixth grade roster in a short amount of time in order to compete at the Jr. Finale. A back-and-forth game on Day 1 saw the group narrowly escape for an opening pool play victory behind the offensive efforts of Class of 2029 perimeter prospect, Babar Johnson. The sixth-grade, South Carolina native delivered a clutch performance, including the game-winning basket and showed his ability to score from multiple areas on the floor. Currently standing 5-foot-9, Johnson has ideal height at this stage for a perimeter player, and the exception is obviously that he’ll continue to sprout and polish his game moving forward.
The Pacific Northwest is perhaps one of the more underrated regions in the country when it comes to producing high-level hoops talent at a consistent rate. In Oregon, the Rose City Rebels program has been credited with supplying a lot of the youth talent from the area during the past several years and it looks like the pipeline will remain steady for at least a few more years. On Sunday evening at the Jr. Finale, Daeshaun Washington helped lift the club to a 61-52 victory over Team USC (SC) to take early command on Pool B in the event’s fifth grade division. Already nearly six-feet tall, Washington’s interior presence proved critical, as the young forward displayed excellent footwork and agility, while rebounding and finishing in the paint at an advanced level.
It didn’t take long to spot Wolker competing in the 6th grade division at the Jr. Finale with Toronto-based, “The Performance Group”. The 6-foot-6 big man easily stands out physically among his peers and displayed some promising skills and fluidity on Day 1 of the event. The young Canadian’s age allows him to compete in both the Classes of 2028 and 2029, and his development will determine his ultimate graduating year, but the expectation is for him to end up competiting in the USA at the high school level. An underrated passer, Wolker found open teammates when he faced with double-teams, and was able to maeuver past opponents and convert his offensive opportunities at the rim.
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