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August 1, 2011It's been said that the grassroots scene in Texas is grossly underrated. After this summer, the expectations for the Lone Star State will be a little different.
In four of the biggest AAU tournaments of the summer, Texas walked away with six national championships and multiple runner-up and semifinalist performances. Five teams won titles at the three Las Vegas tournaments -- the adidas Super 64, the Las Vegas Live and the Las Vegas Fab 48. Texas also claimed the 11th-grade title at the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando.
Here are the six teams, in alphabetical order, that recently won a national championship.
DALLAS MUSTANGS BLUE
Coaches: Gerald Booker, Cedric Holmes, Brandon Lewis
Tournament: adidas Super 64 (17U Gold)
Key contributors: Soma Edo, Marcus Foster, Shirmane Thomas, Nathan Hawkins
X-factors: Ben Emelogu, A'Shawn Robinson
Championship bracket results: d. Minnesota Heat Elite, d. Total Package 2012, d. Capistrano Valley, d. Moore Management (Calif.)/OC Pride Blue, d. Clutch Players-Silver
Championship game Dallas Mustangs Blue 69, Oakland Rebels Black 68 (OT)
Why they won: The Mustangs had last year on their minds throughout the entire tournament. They lost the Super 64 15U championship game and were determined not to let history repeat itself. There was a definite will to win the title, as they won their last three games in overtime. What made the run so impressive is that the Mustangs did it without two of its standouts in Leyton Hammonds and Kendal Harris.
DERON WILLIAMS ELITE
Coaches: Randy Feemster, P.J. Hatcher
Tournament: Fab 48 (17U Platinum)
Key contributors: Thomas Brandsma, Nash Nelson, Kendall Jones, Trey Mohair
X-factors: Antoine Burrell, Sam Johnson
Championship bracket results: d. Team Magic 17, d. Florida Assault, d. Eastern Washington Elite, d. Bay Area Ballers
Championship game Deron Williams Elite 78, Monarchs 70
Why they won: Deron Williams Elite did exactly what every AAU team wants to do. They showed steady improvement week after week and put everything together in time to win a major title. The team doesn't have the household names, but it showed it doesn't need them. Deron Williams Elite wins with team offense, quality defense and an ability to shine on the big stage.
HOUSTON DEFENDERS SELECT
Coaches: Aaron Harrison Sr., James Johnson, Eugene Harris, Chris Crawford
Tournament: AAU Super Showcase (11th grade Gold)
Key contributors: Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Derrick Griffin, Shaquille Cleare
X-factors: Christian Sanders, Clyde Santee
Championship bracket results: d. Arkansas Wings, d. Each 1 Teach 1, d. Team Takeover
Championship game Houston Defenders 55, BABC 45
Why they won: Some teams get hot at the right time. Other teams play with a chip on their shoulder. Teams like the Defenders simply rely on talent. They have the size, the athleticism and the confidence inside and outside to get the job done. What's scary is that the majority of the players are in the Class of 2013, which means they'll be back next year with even more talent and experience.
Coaches: Vonzell Thomas, Rick Roberts, Phil Forte
Tournament: adidas Super 64 (17U)
Key contributors: Marcus Smart, Phil Forte, Clarke Overlander, Nick Banyard
X-factors: Holt Harmon, Taylor Luster
Championship bracket results: d. Las Vegas Pride, d. Double Pump Elite, d. Urban DFW Elite, d. Nor Cal Pharaohs, d. Utah Pump N Run Red
Championship game Texas Assault 93, Dream Vision 78
Why they won: The Assault felt disrespected from the first day, and they used that as motivation. It's hard to fathom why the defending 16U Super 64 champs couldn't get an invitation to the 17U super pool. The Assault ran through pool-play competitors and then took their frustration out on bracket-play opponents. The team showed that last year wasn't a fluke, as they were crowned back-to-back Super 64 champs.
TEXAS D-1 AMBASSADORS 2013-BOSTIC
Coaches: Reginald Bostic, Rodney Brown
Tournament: Las Vegas Live (17U Silver)
Key contributors: Justin Moss, Napoleon Onyeje, Rasmus Bach, Dylan Larson
X-factors: Darian Bostic, Pierce Grisebaum, Wesley Brown, Sled Allen
Championship bracket results: d. Oklahoma Shock-Lloyd, d. Team Missouri, d. San Antonio Hurricanes
Championship game D-1 Ambassadors-Bostic d. Oklahoma Attack
Why they won: Winning the Silver bracket may have meant a lot more to this all-2013 Ambassadors than it would have for the program's older teams, but a title is a title. If there was ever a time to win a title, consider winning in Las Vegas perfect timing. The team is guard-centered, and its style of play can equate to big victories in the future if they build off this title and stay together as a unit.
TEXAS D-1 AMBASSADORS-SAN ANTONIO
Coach: Paul Josephs
Tournament: Las Vegas Live (17U Platinum)
Key contributors: Connor Lammert, Uche Ofoegbu, Matt Gramling, Adam Perez
X-factors: Jeff Rodewald, Aaron Ramirez
Championship bracket results: d. Greenline Basketball, d. Marcus Banks Hard 2 Guard, d. FOH Seattle, d. Louisiana Future
Championship game D-1 Ambassadors-San Antonio 65, Houston Hoops 53
Why they won: The Ambassadors, for whatever reason, have flown under the radar when discussing the elite teams of this year's grassroots circuit in Texas. Of all the team's 50-plus wins, the victory against the Hoops may have officially put it on the map. The Ambassadors are every bit as good as the other elite teams in Texas, and they have shown on multiple occasions that they are a force to be reckoned with.