The 2018 NIKE Elite Youth Basketball League season kicks off tomorrow evening, and much like recent years, the first stop includes a host of awesome matchups.
We navigated through the 80-game schedule and picked out the most intriguing matchups on paper, highlighted below. There are numerous rivalry matchups, including the Battle for the DFW, Battle for Georgia and the Battle for Texas.
Also featured is a Friday night matchup between Team CP3 and the AOT Running Rebels, a rematch of last year's 16E Championship game. AOT also has a huge challenge on Saturday against their rival, the Georgia Stars.
The weekend is highlighted by a Sunday morning matchup between Team Takeover and Bluff City Legends.
Think we missed a game? Send us a tweet with the matchup(s) you're most excited to watch.
PSA Cardinals vs. Brad Beal Elite
Friday- 6:30 PM CST
The 2018 NIKE EYBL season kicks off with a heck of a matchup between two league powerhouses. Three-year EYBL veteran and now rising senior Cole Anthony has his eyes on a Peach Jam Championship, and his PSA Cardinals will be looking to start off on the right foot with a win over a loaded Brad Beal Elite (BBE) squad. Juniors Mario McKinney, EJ Liddell and Francis Okoro lead a BBE squad that won 13-straight games a year ago. BBE is more than capable of taking out Anthony and company, and will need elite play from their guards if they’re going to be victorious. 14 players ranked by 247 Sports will be playing in this matchup, one that will be heavily-attended by college coaches.
Team Takeover vs. The City Rocks
Friday - 8:00 PM CST
Team Takeover and the City Rocks are both coming off of very strong 2018 season, and will be opening their season with a bevy of veterans leading the way. Takeover veterans Jeremy Roach and Anthony Harris will look to shut down Rocks’ super-scorer Joe Girard, while Hunter Dickinson (TTO) and Isaiah Stewart (Rocks) will compete in an intriguing frontcourt battle. Both of these teams are really, really good, and the result will likely be dependent on which team plays better defense. No matter who wins this game, both squads will be season-long Peach Jam contenders.
AOT Running Rebels vs. Team CP3
Friday - 9:30 PM CST
Friday’s nightcap provides EYBL fans with a rematch from last year’s 16E Championship game. AOT will be making their 17U EYBL debut as a program, and will be looking to earn some revenge in the process. Do-it-all junior Wendell Moore did a bit of everything for CP3 last season, and will once again by a huge factor in CP3’s potential success. AOT’s super-lineup of swingmen Isaac Okoro, Brandon Boston and Charles Smith IV will be on display, and are going to be a nightmare for all EYBL opposition. If point guard Sharife Cooper can win his battle over Team CP3’s backcourt, then AOT has a great chance of starting their EYBL run with a win.
Drive Nation vs. Pro Skills
Saturday - 8:00 AM CST
It’s a shame this game is happening so early, because if it was a nightcap, there wouldn’t be an open spot on the sidelines. Drive Nation (TX) will be making their 17U EYBL debut in their own facility - the brand new Drive Nation Sports Facility - and will be doing so with one of the most talented rotations in the EYBL. Junior Tyrese Maxey is a bonafide candidate to lead the league in scoring, and the rest of their lineup is chock full of ranked recruits. Pro Skills (TX) will counter with veteran leader Justin Webster, surrounding him with a group of talented albeit underrated prospects. The Battle for the DFW will be a must-see for fans on Saturday morning, and some major bragging rights will be on the line.
PSA Cardinals vs. Bluff City Legends
Saturday - 8:00 AM CST
PSA starts off their season with a four-game schedule from hell. Their second matchup comes against the absolutely loaded Bluff City Legends, who are widely-regarded as the top team on the circuit. Freshman point guard Zion Harmon now has the keys to Bluff’s backcourt, and he will have some major weapons to work with in James Wiseman, Chandler Lawson and DJ Jeffries. Harmon will be looking to hold his own against PSA point guard Cole Anthony, and if he’s successful, Bluff City will be extremely hard to take out, but if one team can do it, it’s the Cardinals, who have surrounded Anthony with a terrific supporting cast.
Georgia Stars vs. AOT Running Rebels
Saturday - 9:30 AM CST
The Battle for Georgia goes down on Saturday morning, and both squads are absolutely loaded. AOT and the Stars are both evenly talented, indicating that the outcome of this game will decide who has the more efficient rotation to start the season. The players on these two programs are extremely familiar with each other, which should make for a high-level, extremely competitive game that will be attended by the coaching and scouting masses. The battle between juniors Isaac Okoro and Trendon Watford will be worth the price of admission.
Team CP3 vs. Nike Team Florida
Saturday - 11:00 AM CST
Nike Team Florida has sky-high aspirations for they 2018 campaign, led by veteran big man Vernon Carey Jr. NTF will battle Team CP3 in a matchup between two of the southeast’s best grassroots programs, and will serve as a solid barometer for both squads as they start their season. CP3 is going to need to find an answer for Carey on the interior, as their roster doesn’t have an ideal defensive matchup for NTF’s star. This is a matchup between two potential top-ten teams, and will be a huge resume builder for whoever comes out on top.
Team WhyNot vs. MeanStreets
Saturday - 11:00 AM CST
The 11:00 AM time slot has some awesome matchups, including Russell Westbrook’s ‘Team WhyNot’, who will be making their EYBL debut against Nike MeanStreets. Speaking of debuts, MeanStreets do-it-all junior Romeo Seems will be making his first appearance on the circuit, instantly operating as one of the most dangerous swingmen in the country. Weems will go head-to-head with WhyNot junior star Cassius Stanley, a one-on-one matchup that figures to be highly-entertaining.
Seattle Rotary Style vs. LV Prospects
Saturday - 12:30 PM CST
Seattle Rotary battles the Las Vegas Prospects in a west coast battle on Saturday, and the winner could emerge as a dark-horse contender in Division D. The Prospects feature super-sophomore Julian Strawther, star junior Jalen Hill and talented freshman Jaden Hardy, while Rotary will counter with big man Jaden McDaniels. The 6-foot-10 Rotary big man will be a matchup nightmare for the Prospects, and their chances of winning will likely be stapled to slowing down McDaniels. Both of these teams have intriguing rosters, and it’s safe to assume that one of them will start their first session off with a bang.
Indy Heat vs. Howard Pulley
Saturday - 12:30 PM EST
The Indy Heat enter 2018 with high expectations centered around returning forward Keion Brooks Jr. Brooks will be joined by a talented supporting cast, mainly consisting of returners from their 2017 16E Peach Jam qualifying group. The Heat will be facing off against a Howard Pulley squad that will be looking to regroup after the exit of star guard Tre Jones. Three-year veterans David Roddy and Courtney Brown Jr will need to be playing their best if they intend on knocking off a relatively stacked Heat squad. This should be a competitive battle between two midwest rivals.
MOKAN Elite vs. PSA Cardinals
Saturday - 3:30 PM CST
PSA’s brutal first weekend schedule continues with a matchup against perennial midwest powerhouse MOKAN Elite. Equipped with one of the more balanced rosters on the circuit, MOKAN will provide a handful of issues to PSA, who will be coming off matchups against Brad Beal Elite and Bluff City. PSA point guard Cole Anthony is an absolutely gamer who hates to lose, credentials that will be matchup by MOKAN’s lead guard Grant Sherfield. This game is a toss up, and may ultimately ride on PSA’s ability to contain MOKAN big man N’Faly Dante. The 6-foot-11 big man is a game changer on both ends of the floor, and has the capacity to take over a game completely.
MeanStreets vs. Team CP3
Saturday - 5:00 PM CST
Simply put, this is just a high-level matchup between two EYBL staples. The excitement of this game comes down to the matchup between CP3’s Wendell Moore and MeanStreets’ Romeo Weems. This matchup is a scout’s dream, as both juniors are highly-ranked and will be looking to gain some separation in the individual class rankings. This game is going to be incredibly fast-paced, and will likely be one of the highest-scoring games of the session. If you’re looking for guaranteed entertainment, this is the matchup for you.
Pro Skills vs. Houston Hoops
Saturday - 6:30 PM CST
One half of the Battle for Texas goes down on Saturday evening, as the mostly DFW-bred Houston Hoops will take on Pro Skills. This should be a highly-competitive, low-scoring battle, as both of these teams are equipped with high-level defenders. De’Vion Harmon and Chris Harris will go toe-to-toe with Justin Webster and the Pro Skills backcourt, and the winner will be halfway to securing early-season EYB supremacy in Texas.
Indy Heat vs. Nike Team Florida
Saturday - 8:00 PM CST
Just like CP3 and MeanStreets, this is a matchup between two of the league’s most promising teams that was too hard to ignore. Keion Brooks and Trayce Jackson-Davis will provide a formidable challenge for Vernon Carey Jr and Scott Barnes. NTF’s Kyle Sturdivant will hold an experience edge over the Heat backcourt, which would be a deciding factor in the outcome of this one. The winner of this game should find themselves in a tremendous spot to be ranked on Monday.
Team Takeover vs. Bluff City Legends
Sunday - 8:00 AM CST
Without a doubt, this is the best game of the weekend. The unfortunate part? It’s taking place at 8:00 AM after both teams have already played a grueling three-game schedule. Arguably the top two teams on paper in all of grassroots basketball, Takeover and Bluff City should be an instant-classic. The matchup to watch in this tilt is Takeover sophomore Hunter Dickinson (247 No. 14) vs. Bluff City junior James Wiseman (247 No. 1). Both 7-footers are highly-skilled, and if one dominates the other, their team is likely to win. This is a can’t-miss game.
Houston Hoops vs. Drive Nation
Sunday - 8:00 AM CST
The third game of the Battle for Texas goes down on Sunday morning, featuring former teammates seeking bragging rights. Houston Hoops basically rosters the 2017 RM5 Elite squad, minus highly-ranked junior Tyrese Maxey. The 6-foot-3 super-scorer decided to run with a loaded Drive Nation squad instead of joining his former teammates with the Hoops, which makes this game extra intriguing. Sparks will fly, and there won’t be an open seat on the sideline.
Boo Williams vs. Mac Irvin Fire
Sunday - 9:30 AM CST
Both the Mac Irvin Fire and Boo Williams enter the season as unknown commodities, but both have the chance to turn into something special. Fire junior star Kahlil Whitney is a dark-horse to land on the all-session team, and he’ll guide his Mac Irvin bunch against a super-balanced Boo Williams group. These two programs are EYBL staples, and the league is better off when both are competitive. This game will be a great barometer for both programs, and the winner will have something to feel great about after session one.
Brad Beal Elite vs. Playaz Club
Sunday - 11:00 AM CST
Just like the Fire and Boo, the Playaz are a longtime NIKE affiliate, and Peach Jam winner in 2014. While they don’t have the ‘star power’ of past Playaz teams, this team features enough talent to compete with the league’s best. This matchup should tell us just how good the Playaz are. Brad Beal was a monster in last year’s regular-season, and they have a better lineup on paper this season. Both teams will be looking to finish their session with a win, and head into Indianapolis with some momentum.
Team CP3 vs. Oakland Soldiers
Sunday - 12:30 PM CST
The 12:30 PM set of games is featured by a matchup of 2017 Peach Jam champions. The 17U-champion Oakland Soldiers roll over an almost entirely new roster, while Team CP3 returns most of their rotation from last year’s 16E Peach Jam championship run. Both backcourts are highly-underrated, but like to play different styles. The Soldiers want to slow you down and grind you out, while CP3 will want to run. Whoever wins the style-of-play battle will likely walk away with a win. The matchup between the Soldiers’ KJ Martin and CP3’s Wendell Moore should also be a treat to watch.
City Rocks vs. The Renaissance
Sunday - 2:00 PM CST
New York bragging rights will be on the line Sunday afternoon. Both the Rocks and Renaissance have a chance to be ranked after the first session, simply due to the ridiculous amount of talent they have on paper. The Rocks’ Isaiah Stewart and RENS’ Kofi Cockburn are both veteran big men, and both will be trying to use the other to propel their individual stock. The winner of that matchup will have their team in a tremendous spot to pick up a late-session victory.
Tag(s): Circuit Board 17U NIKE EYBL Session 1: Dallas Divisions PSA Cardinals (NYC) Brad Beal Elite (MO) Team Takeover (DC) Boo Williams (VA) All Ohio Red (OH) Houston Hoops (TX) Howard Pulley (MN) AOT Running Rebels (GA) Team CP3 (NC) Pro Skills (TX) Team Melo (MD) Nike Team Florida (FL) Indy Heat (IN) The Family Detroit (MI) Playaz Club (NJ) E1T1 United (FL) New York Lightning Georgia Stars Oakland Soldiers (CA) Las Vegas Prospects (NV) Drive Nation (TX) BABC (MA) Renaissance (NY) City Rocks (NY) Bluff City Legends (TN) Seattle Rotary (WA) MOKAN Elite (KS) Mac Irvin Fire (IL) The Truth (CA) MeanStreets (IL) Team Final (PA) CIA Bounce (CAN) Expressions Elite (MA) Woodz Elite (AR) Team United (NC) MEBO Team Hood (MS) UPLAY Canada Team WhyNot (CA) Nike Phamily (CA) Rose City Rebels (OR) Division A Division B Division C Division D