Taiwo ‘Baaad Man’ Badmus continued his rise to the top with another dominant performance in the MM College Finals, at the Olympic Park on Sunday. Badmus has been the standout player in the division all summer and undoubtedly the ‘find’ of the summer, in the 19-23 year old age group. Though known locally by coaches and players across London pre-MM, Badmus has taken the national and international spotlight at Midnight Madness 2014, and focused it directly on his dazzling game. A 6’5″ athletic scorer, Badmus can fill it up from all angles and certainly doesn’t shy away from the big stage. He was so dominant on the night, he doubled the BWB score of the second highest scoring player, leading all players on the glass with 10 boards, scoring 13 points, shooting an eye-popping 71.4% from the floor, while being perfect from the charity stripe in leading Team White to the 70-59 win .
In addition to filling up the stat sheet, Badmus has been the most exciting player to watch over the summer and the one guy you don’t take your eyes off of, through fear of missing a nasty dunk or clutch jumper. Most refreshing thing we saw in his game over the past month has been his hunger. Watching him play you can tell he’s a dedicated gym rat (nobody is born with those skills…it takes countless hours of hard work to get to his level), he’s hungry for success and not afraid to work for it. He’ll do whatever it takes and no matter the obstacle, he won’t be denied.
We like that.
For his dominant performance in the finals, and a consistent showing all summer, Taiwo Badmus was awarded the overall MM MVP: Mr Midnight Madness 2014. He played so well, there wasn’t a player or coach in the whole arena who disputed the award. Nice.
Elsewhere, there was drama amongst the top 3 wings as Disraeli Lufadeju (6’1″), Chuck ‘Charlie Buckets’ Duru (6’4″) and Raheem May-Thompson (6’6″) were caught in a 3-way tie for the position of ‘top wing player’, who automatically wins a place on the MM Select Travel Team. With Badmus not in the running as the overall MVP, it was left to a dramatic free throw shoot out between the 3 to decide who would make the cut and claim their seat to St. Kitts & Nevis for the Island Classic Basketball Tournament in September. After some nervous shooting in the first round, it was Lufadeju who ultimately kept his nerve and took his place in the winners circle and secured his spot on the team.
Top guard on the day was the enigmatic and ultra-explosive Joel Henry, who was out to prove there is so much more to his game than just his high-flying dunks. Henry is a 6’1″ gunner who can cash it in from distance. The leading 3 point shooter on the night, Henry hit 3 deep 3’s in the game while also dishing out a respectable 4 assists and showing he is only beginning to realise how high his ceiling is as a talented ball player. People may be drawn to his game for his dunking prowess (he’s currently the top British dunker on deck), but coaches and scouts should stay for the relentless scoring ability he has developed over the summer. Wherever he ends up, if given an opportunity, Henry will not disappoint.
The other ‘find’ of the summer was 6’8″ big man Maxwell Morrison. At just 19 years of age, Morrison has a huge ceiling as he is still learning the game but already displays enough athleticism, length, energy and agility to make any development coach drool. Morrison yanked in 8 rebounds on the night, shot 66% from the floor and threw down a contested dunk just for good measure. Following on from strong showings at the All-Nighter and the Loughborough qualifier, Morrison has caught the attention of a number of scouts over the summer – and deservedly so. This young man should be on the recruitment list for coaches both at home and abroad. If he is put in the right situation, the sky is the limit for him, as he doesn’t realise just how good he could be. We’ll get a better look at him down in St. Kitts & Nevis as he narrowly beat out powerhouse Leome Francis (6’5) for the lone ‘big’ spot from the College division on the travel team.
Other notable performances on the night included: Tyrell Isaacs (5’11), the explosive combo guard continued to prove he is undoubtedly one of the best scorers in his age group, anywhere in the country, shooting an impressive 75% from the floor while racking up 14 points. Kevin Moyo (5’7) plays with no fear and knows how to run a team from the point (4 assists on the day) while Elvisi Dusha (6’2″) cemented his growing reputation as the next great point guard to emerge out of London. Dusha can shoot, handle, distribute and plays to win and was only 1 point away from potentially securing a well-deserved place on the travel team. Without doubt, one of the best point guards for his age group anywhere in Britain.
The MM College division was competitive, talented and showed great promise for the future. Coaches, pay attention, these guys all need to be on your radar:
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