Team Thad out of the Memphis area was a late addition to the Hensley Run N' Slam AAU event at the Spiece Fieldhouse in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but once they arrived, they took charge and made a run all the way to the event final in the 17U Gold division.
Here are a few players who were key in getting them to the final game:
SF - Riley Norris
From a small town in northern Alabama, Norris has big time game for a small town guy. In the range of 6'5" or 6'6", Norris was effective playing in the high post, on the perimeter, and driving in the lane. He had the ability to hit three point shots, take his man off the dribble, and finish through contact. He's a scrappy guy with a lot of toughness.
Just as important, he's a smart player who understands his role as well as the workings of Team Thad's offense. Norris moved well without the ball, and that helped him be in the right places on the floor to make things happen when he was called upon to step up for his team, especially in a couple games where they were down another star player.
PG - Chris Chiozza
Chiozza was the catalyst and the most consistent player for Team Thad all weekend. The Memphis point guard showed exceptional control and command of his game in pretty much every game he played at Spiece. Chiozza rarely turned the ball over and was effective as both a scorer and as a floor general.
Chiozza has had to carry Team Thad more than usual throughout the spring with Black out, especially on the offensive end, but he performed well, especially under pressure. Chiozza hit a mix of outside shots, pull-up jumpers, and contested driving layups all weekend, showing that he's a well-rounded player. He might be a little shorter (around 5'10"), but he proved that his height really didn't matter.
PF - Leron Black
This was Black's first tournament back from an ankle injury that's kept him out all spring, and he even admitted that he was only playing at about 80%. But still, Black showed why he's so highly-regarded as a power forward this weekend and so high-priority Illinois.
Black had his mid-range game really working and was money from about 15 feet. A few times he faced up and took advantage of mismatches out of the high post by driving to the hoop. He rebounded well, but not as well as he would have if healthy. His leaping ability was also slightly hampered by the injury, but even playing through the injury showed Black's toughness.
Offensively he also did well at passing both out of the high post and under the basket to cutting teammates. He could probably shoot less perimeter shots and stick to the mid-range game, but his ball handling and offensive game is very skilled for a big man, and once healthy, he should resume his dominating play style.