Bulldogs leading Evolve at AAU Nationals

Published 8:54 pm Tuesday, July 26, 2011

King’s Fork’s Akanni White, here during a summer league game at King’s Fork earlier this summer, is one of 10 Suffolk kids and nine Bulldogs on Team Evolve’s 10th grade team playing in the AAU Division I National Championship this week in Orlando.

Team Evolve’s 10th grade boys basketball team is shooting for the AAU Division I National Championship this week at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando.

Evolve, made up mostly of King’s Fork Bulldogs, has proven one thing through season of AAU tournaments no matter how they fare in Orlando; there’s no such thing as too much basketball.

The best example is Evolve winning a tournament in North Carolina and a tournament in Virginia, on the same weekend.

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Evolve opened a tournament at the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton with a win Friday night.

The squad traveled to Ahoskie, N.C. Saturday for a one-day tournament and played up an age group in the 17-and-under group. Team Evolve went 5-0 in Ahoskie to claim the title.

After having to forfeit a game in the Boo Williams event on Saturday, Evolve returned to Hampton on Sunday and went 3-0, making for nine wins and two trophies in 48 hours.

“There’s no such thing as getting tired for these guys,” said head coach Lorenza Coltrane. “These guys play with all heart.”

Nine Bulldogs are on Coltrane’s 13-man team; Seveante Williams, Trevon Williams, Akanni White, Bryton Taylor, Jacorey Smith, Donte Ralph, Rod Parrett, Justin Nichols and Daniel Herdon.

Lakeland’s Antonio Jefferson and Great Bridge’s Andre Banks are on the squad. Team Evolve spans as far as Stephen Vassor from Roanoke Rapids, N.C. and Braeden Sutto from Williamsburg.

“Most of these guys have been together, they’re 16 now, so about seven years now,” Coltrane said. Coltrane is a Suffolk native and played basketball, football and baseball at Portsmouth’s Cradock High School.

CBC 2013 from Connecticut edged Team Evolve 64-60 in the first pool play game of the National Championship Monday night.

“It was a barnburner. We had a three to tie but missed,” Coltrane said.

Prior to Monday’s opener in nationals, the only losses Team Evolve suffered this season came in semifinals or finals of tournaments.

Evolve got to Orlando with a top-three finish in Super Regionals. As the route to national tournaments, AAU Super Regional tourneys bring huge fields. Coming during the offseason for college hoops, they bring plenty of coaches and scouts out as well.

Even though finishing third in their first Super Regional means Team Evolve advanced to nationals, Evolve played, primarily for the tough competition, and finished runner-up in another Super Regional.

Playing where scouts will be on hand is increasingly important as Coltrane’s squad grows up through the AAU age groups. This season’s been a success in that category, with getting into the Div. I nationals as a major step. Adding showcase events along with the regional and national schedule is already on Team Evolve’s radar for next year.

“Having these guys get scholarships is what makes everything worth it,” Coltrane said.

“I’ve got one more year with these guys then I’ll go back and start with a younger group of guys,” he said.

For the rest of this week, going after the national title is the goal. The loss in game one makes it tough but certainly not over. Team Evolve had two more pool games Tuesday, against a Cleveland squad in the afternoon then against a Florida team last night.