By Mike Bandieri
The All-Star Game across sports is an event fans as well as players get excited about. Premier talent from around the league meshing together to provide high-flying, acrobatic dunks will almost certainly be an entertaining night.
In the first-ever Legacy Leagues Rhode Island All-Star Game, players will be trying to put on a show. Two captains were chosen: Brian Heston of the Werewolves, and the Skyhookers Brendan O’Donnell. Heston was also named the Defensive Player of the Year, while O’Donnell took home Offensive Player of the Year honors.
The captains drafted their teams from a pool of All-Stars that were voted upon by the Legacy League analysts. O’Donnell and Heston have both been a model of consistency in this league, and although their teams are no longer in the playoffs, they have both provided a blueprint for what it takes to be a successful player in this league.
The Legacy Leagues provided a live viewing of the draft that took place on Wednesday December 6, which can be found on our Facebook page. The two captains decided who would choose the first player in the draft the way all great decisions are made: a coin flip.
Heston was awarded first pick, and selected the Fall 17 Most Valuable Player, The Alliance’s Max Matroni. Unfortunately, Matroni will not be participating in the All-Star Game to ensure he is ready to play in the Finals later that night.
After naming some All-Star replacements for players who declined to play or are playing in the Finals, Team Heston and Team O’Donnell are as follows:
-Team Heston: Matt Camara (Boom-Shakalaka), Cody Crawford (The Alliance), Gino Forte (Werewolves), Jared Hanson (Halfway Crooks), Kevin Redmond (Skyhookers) and Ryan Rawnsley (Boom-Shakalaka).
-Team O’Donnell: Brett Cody (Big Baller Brand), Marc Belleville (Boom-Shakalaka), Conor Harrington (Werewolves), Dylan Lincoln (Halfway Crooks) and Lucas Martin (Boom-Shakalaka).
Team Heston has an abundance of shooters, and will definitely be looking to stretch the floor, leaving their big bodies in Redmond and Rawnsley to handle the boards. Forte and Hanson will be an effective duo in the backcourt, bringing the ball up and playing on-ball defense.
Camara will also be ready to pull it from anywhere inside the half court line. He put on a shooting display all year, and I fully expect that to continue. Crawford is another really good addition to this team. He brings a certain ball vision that not many players have. Crawford will also look to get everyone involved, as he averaged over ten assists per game.
Team Heston also has two players on their roster who have hit game-clinching shots, so if it comes down to the wire this team has the experience. Those two players are Gino Forte, who buried a pull up shot in overtime to advance his team to the Semifinals, and Kevin Redmond, who hit a go-ahead three in the first few weeks of the season to win the game against the Werewolves.
Team O’Donnell drafted a very balanced team who has shooters, defenders and rebounders. Almost everyone is an above-average ball handler, and should be able to move the ball around with ease. Harrington, Lincoln and Brett Cody will most likely handle most of the rebounding responsibilities.
Harrington is extremely long and can jump with anyone in the league, while Cody has an amazing ability to time his blocks better than anyone I have seen this year. Dylan Lincoln is always one to put on a show, and I can’t wait to see what is in store from him.
Marc Belleville and Lucas Martin cannot be slept on either. Both are extremely efficient players, who rarely make bad decisions and always seem to make a big play when needed the most.
Overall, both captains seemed to draft teams based off of their own strengths and weaknesses. Heston will be a defensive anchor for his team, while the rest of the guys stretch the floor. O’Donnell will serve as the initiator of the offense, while players such as Lincoln and Harrington rebound and defend.
I can attempt to analyze what will happen in this game, but honestly it’s hard to know what to expect. One thing I do know for sure is that this game is set to be an entertaining showcase of the league’s talent. My bold prediction is Team O’Donnell is going to come away with a close win, 156-144.