The second annual GLOBLJam Tournament in Toronto saw Kentucky winning in dominant fashion as the team went 4-0 in primarily blowout wins while representing Team USA. This article will look at standout performers from the tournament, specifically from Kentucky and Team Canada.
Antonio Reeves ((Team USA (Kentucky))
The recipient of the Most Valuable Player honors, Antonio Reeves, definitely showed why he was deserving of such an award through his consistent performance and ability to control the game with his scoring. His smooth off ball movement immediately stood out when watching him play, specifically his ability to leverage this into creating driving angles which led to floaters he made at a high level. While his ball handling is not very impressive, he used each dribble efficiently to get to his spots, mainly pull up jump shots. His playmaking was not very apparent throughout the tournament as he was mainly looking to score when he got the ball, given he was playing primarily as an off ball guard this may be due to role rather than an inability to playmake.
Tre Mitchell ((Team USA (Kentucky))
The athletic West Virginia transfer did a great job of showcasing his shooting, leadership, and overall versatility during Kentucky’s dominant 4 game run in this tournament. Mitchell’s ability to stretch the floor made him an interesting threat whenever he set a screen for a guard, as whenever defenders showed too much help on ball he consistently made them pay by hitting his three pointers as a big man. On the contrary, if defenders stayed on the level Mitchell routinely used his strength to finish strong inside. Another interesting aspect of his game was his ability to playmake for teammates as a big man through the post or at the top of the key as he averaged 4.3 assists per game. Concerns with Mitchell lie in the fact that he is an undersized big man who is not particularly quick or athletic enough to scale his game up against higher level competition.
DJ Wagner ((Team USA (Kentucky))
Incoming freshman DJ Wagner showcased why he is a potential lottery pick candidate in the 2024 NBA draft as a premier point guard. Wagner has a great ability to handle the ball and maintain pace of the game through his playmaking. His ability to leverage his playmaking into interesting two-man actions such as handoffs and cutting immediately after passing out to a teammate displayed his good feel for the game. Wagner’s shooting from deep also showed promise, given his comfortability shooting from deep and ability to create space. An important area of his game he needs to improve on is how he drives, as he displayed a tendency to drive away from contact leading to him taking awkward floaters as opposed to driving directly into/around contact. He also had a lot more turnovers than you would like to see from a lead guard because he was rushed at times or due to miscommunication with teammates.
Justin Edwards ((Team USA (Kentucky))
Despite having a bad start to his tournament Justin Edwards was able to showcase his versatile scoring capabilities in the championship game where he scored 23 points. His athleticism and length is very apparent as he used his long strides to drive into the paint and finish over defenders. Edwards also has displayed potential in having touch through counters in the paint by using his floaters and overall confidence in his shot from deep, whether or not it goes in. A key area in Edwards' game is the defensive end where he displayed a lot of potential to be someone who gets a lot of stocks (steals + blocks) naturally through effort and physicality. Ultimately, if Edwards can be more consistent on the offensive end and improve on his feel for the game he will potentially be Kentucky’s best player in their upcoming NCAA season.
Elijah Mahi (Team Canada)
Mahi was seen as a low profile name coming off the bench for Team Canada entering the tournament and left as someone who made a big impact by using his energy, playmaking, and positional size. His instant energy off the bench helped Team Canada immensely and was a large reason as to why the team was able to make it to the championship game. Whenever he got space through screens he was able to burst by defenders leading to a paint touch where he was very efficient. Despite not averaging a lot of assists, his feel for the game was there both through his off ball movement, hockey assists, and overall positive impact for his team when he was on the court. The biggest area of concern which held him back in this tournament was his poor shooting as a guard, this led to him not being able to make defenses play him honestly and sometimes having that make his biggest strength of getting to the rim be taken away.
Contribution by: Yonatan Ghebremedhin