Hoop hype: Nation’s top recruits descend on Brooklyn for Elite 24 game

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The best high-school basketball players in the country descended on Brooklyn, showcasing their skills as Team Drive earned a 140–134 overtime victory over Team Clutch in the 2016 Under Armour Elite 24 game at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Aug. 20.

The matchup drew players from across the country, but the spotlight focused on some of New York City’s brightest stars, including St. Raymond’s guard Isaiah Washington, who scored a game-high 36 points and was named one of the game’s most valuable players.

“We have a lot of talent,” Washington said. “It just gets slept on and there are a lot of rumors about New York City basketball, but we’re going to wake everybody up. There’s good players here.”

Washington — a late addition to the Elite 24 roster — finished just two points shy of tying Lance Stephenson’s single-game scoring record and lit up social media with his highlight-reel performance.

“Nobody’s ever going to count me out again,” he said. “There was a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I just wanted to prove everybody that they were wrong for not putting me in the game in the first place.”

In addition to Washington, Trevon Duval — regarded as the No. 1 point guard in the class of 2017 — made his presence known down the stretch. And the two regularly faced off one-on-one — much to the delight of the jam-packed crowd on Pier 2.

Washington had the hometown edge, however, garnering cheers every time he touched the ball.

“He’s a good player and a good friend of mine also,” Washington said. “But on the court, there aren’t any friends, so we just had to go at it.”

Of course, Washington wasn’t the only city star making plays throughout the game — which brought in dozens of Division I and professional scouts.

Former St. Raymond’s star Sidney Wilson, Archbishop Molloy center Moses Brown, Queens native Hamidou Diallo, and Brooklyn resident Nick Richards all stepped up their game as soon as the ball was tipped.

Richards — who has interest from Kentucky, Arizona, Indiana, Syracuse, and Connecticut — didn’t dominate on the scoreboard, but the big man brought the pressure on defense, racking up rebounds and blocking a handful of shots.

“[I want] a lot of rebounding, running the floor, blocking shots,” Richards said before the game. “If I can get a bucket every now and then, I’ll try.”

The 24 players in this year’s matchup weren’t too concerned with the final score by the time refs blew the last whistle — it wasn’t so much about winning the game as it was about proving their own talent, and this year’s stars did that and then some.

Now, as they go their separate ways, members of this latest crop of Elite 24 stars are determined to get even better, looking to take their game to the next level and, most importantly, a top-tier college program.

“After all that hard work all of us have put in, we’re getting recognized,” Washington said. “We’re just grateful for that kind of opportunity.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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