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Boys Basketball: MVP Swann powers Boulevard Boyz to national title

Some words of wisdom adorning the home page of the American Youth Basketball Association website say a lot: “It’s not the size of the player in the game; it’s the size of the game in the player.”

No question about it, the Boulevard Boyz have game, especially Julian Swann. At 6 feet, 4 inches tall, Swann has size to boot.

It was because they wanted to include Swann, 16, in their numbers that the Boulevard Boyz entered a team in the 16-and-under division and not a younger age group in the AYBA National Championships. The arrangement worked out well for both parties. The Boulevard Boyz won a national championship and Swann was named the MVP of the five-day tournament that concluded Friday in Ocean City, Maryland.

The Boulevard Boyz swept through the tournament, winning all six of their games thanks in part to Swann, who averaged over 20 points and close to 20 rebounds per game. He was selected to the all-tournament team along with his younger brother, Jaxan Swann.

Among those on the team’s 12-player roster were Xavier Allen, Sylas Shelby, Nick Grathwohl, Brandon Clark and Jaxan Swann, all of whom played for the Boulevard Boyz 14-and-under team that won an Amateur Athletic Union national championship last summer.

Julian Swann didn’t get to experience that. This tournament was his chance to shine, and he didn’t disappoint.

“I could see the fire in his eyes,” coach Rodney Shelby said, adding, “Julian, he definitely was the best big man there throughout the tournament.”

Unlike the undersized team that brought the Boulevard Boyz their first national title last year in Hampton, Virginia, size wasn’t an issue for this group. In addition to Julian Swann, the team could also count on the 6-3 Tyrus Smiley, 6-2 Steven Russell and 6-6 Lucas Micheels for inside presence.

“When you can control the boards and limit teams to one shot, the odds are in your favor,” said Rodney Shelby.

With the team’s speed, fast-breaking offense and in-your-face defense, Rodney Shelby said he had felt good about its chances of winning it all.

Joshua Santacroce, Joseph Wysocki and David Carroll were also on the team.

Rodney Shelby, who also coached last year’s 14-and-under team, was asked what it takes to win a national championship.

“What does it take?” he answered. “It takes players buying into the coaches, players making sacrifices, parents making sacrifices for the players.”

“You could tell it meant a lot to the boys,” he continued. “From the first tip-off to the last second of the game, the boys gave me everything that they had. It felt good.”

Younger Boyz take third. The Boulevard Boyz 14-and-under team, led by all-tournament selection Dayrien Franklin, went 4-2 and took third place. Joshua Santacroce and Sylas Shelby played on that team as well. The other members of the squad, coached by Ryan Creighton, were Everett Corwin, Luke Woods, Joel Treadwell, Bryce Hansen, Declan Martin and Rashad Lawson.

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Photo caption: The Boulevard Boyz won all six of their games to grab the 16-and-under title at the American Youth Basketball Association National Championships in Ocean City, Maryland. (Credit: courtesy photo)