Day 1 of the Syracuse region had no shortage of quality basketball, as Blue Collar U, The Nerd Team, Boeheim’s Army, and The Commonwealth advanced in The Basketball Tournament.
8. Robert Colon
Virginia Dream started cold, but Robert Colon was the hottest player in the game. He led the way with 27 points, going 9-for-10 at the charity stripe, burning The Commonwealth for fouling him.
Colon’s 2 assists also tied for his team’s lead, and he grabbed 5 rebounds to add to an impressive night. If it weren’t for Colon’s 11-point 3rd quarter, Virginia Dream might not be playing in The Basketball Tournament any more.
7. Grant Riller
Riller played his college ball at the College of Charleston, but now he’s part of the Syracuse family. His debut with Boeheim’s Army was one for the books, as he finished with 20 points on 8-of-13 from the field, 5 rebounds, and 1 assist. Riller started and commanded control of the pace of the game. He only played 21 minutes, which is a testament to how deep Boeheim’s Army is.
6. Wes Clark
Ramon Galloway nearly stole the show and ended Blue Collar U’s dreams of repeating as The Basketball Tournament champs, but Wes Clark kept his team close in the first half.
Clark only missed one shot in the opening 18 minutes, pouring in 17 points. He finished with 24 points, second to CJ Massinburg on Blue Collar U, and also grabbed 6 boards. Clark was key in his team’s title win in 2022 and showed up again in Blue Collar U’s first game in 2023.
5. Ja’Quayr James
James is listed at 5-foot-9 and that might be generous, but the small guy can ball in a HUGE way. Boeheim’s Army couldn’t keep up with his quick dribble moves and funky shots, as James led Team Gibson with 28 points off the bench.
23 of his points came in the second half, with 15 of them in the final quarter. It makes you wonder if James had been playing more minutes from the start, whether or not Team Gibson would have put up a stronger fight.
4. Ramon Galloway Sr.
Galloway scored 27 points in Big 5’s loss to Blue Collar U and was nearly unstoppable in the third quarter. In one stretch, he knocked down a trio of threes in less than a minute and a half and usually had something to say after a made bucket.
Ramon Galloway has 9 points in the last 1:24 to put Big 5 up 55-42 on Blue Collar U.
Time to panic for the defending TBT champs??
— Mat Mlodzinski (@MatMlodzinski) July 24, 2023
Even though Galloway’s team won’t be moving on in The Basketball Tournament, his big game nearly sent home the defending champs.
3. Andrew White III
When you’re the crowd favorite and also have a lights out performance, it’s something special. Such was the case with Andrew White III. The former Orange player scored 20 points on 9 shots, missing just once from the field. He was 4-for-5 from behind the arc and did this all in just 15 minutes off the bench.
It’s one thing to have a 20 point game in TBT. It’s another to do it in relief in such few minutes. With more time, White easily could have gone off for 25, or 30 points. Teams might have to start gameplanning around his ability to get hot in a moment’s notice.
2. CJ Massinburg
Massinburg was smooth in the first half, scoring 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting. With the game on the line, Massinburg showed up even more. In the 4th quarter and Elam Ending period, Massinburg poured in 12 points, not missing a shot from the field.
The special thing about Blue Collar U is a team made up of many Buffalo Bulls alumni that played together in college as well.
“When you know a guy better, what he’s like and capable to do, his emotions when he feeling down, I know when CJ misses a shot he puts his head down, (I say) pick your head up bro, let’s play,” said Nick Perkins, who hit the game-winner to beat Big 5.
Massinburg finished with 26 points to lead Blue Collar U. He also grabbed 6 rebounds, which tied the team high.
1. Sam Sessoms
Call him Mr. Clutch! Sessoms was an elite scorer in college and certainly hasn’t lost a step. He might not stand 6 feet tall, but Sessoms was BIG, despite the loss for Happy Valley Hoopers. He had a game-high 28 points on 11-18 from the field.
Down the stretch, Sessoms was lethal, with 16 of his 28 coming in the 4th quarter/Elam Ending. He won’t be playing another game in TBT 2023, but we can only wait to see what’s in store if Sessoms plays in 2024.