Brandon Eckles was more than grateful to be selected as one of the 48 best players in the state and compete in the Rhode Island Coaches Association All-Star games last Wednesday at Rhode Island College.
At the same time though the whole thing felt just a little bit off and it’s easy to see why.
Eckles was selected to play in the first game last Wednesday, which pits the best players in Division III and Division II – with the exception of Prout’s Eric Rameika and Westerly’s Austin Cilley – against each other.
So who was on the six-foot, six-inch forward from East Greenwich’s team?
None other than North Smithfield’s Cody L’Heureux, the same player who dropped 31 points on the Avengers in the Division III Championship and was primarily responsible for the end of EG’s season.
Not only was L’Heureux on Eckles’ team – the Federico All-Stars – but it was also coached by, you guessed it, North Smithfield head coach T.J. Ciolfi.
“I thought it was going to be a little bit different,” Eckles says, “playing with their coach and Cody playing with us but it was fun. Everyone was pretty fun to play with.”
That aside, Eckles admits the whole experience was a positive one for his playing career.
“I thought it was just kind of fun,” Eckles says. “I play against these guys all year and I’m friends with Dan [Doyle of Narragansett] through AAU and Jesse [Browne of Barrington] and all those kids. It was kind of pick up style.
“…It’s appropriate to play in an All-Star game because we’ve all worked so hard all year to play well for respective teams so it’s a good experience.”
The Avenger finished with eight points in the game on limited touches, as Eckles is all
too aware All-Star Games are extremely guard oriented.
“It’s a guard game, the big men get no love,” Eckles says. “What are you going to do?”
In the end Eckles’ Federico All Stars were outgunned by a pair of Aquidneck Islanders as Rogers’ Quaran Bostic and Middletown’s Justin Bailey combined for 39 points to lead the Farley All Stars to a 108-102 victory.
Juanita Sanchez’s Jeremy Suero led the Federico All-Stars with 20 points, while Scituate’s Evan Cabral finished with 19 points.
The season may be now officially over for Eckles but his career is not.
The Avenger has one more year left to play and next season EG should have a chance to be very good once again next winter.
East will certainly miss the contributions it got from its two seniors – Ryan Gavin and David Hopkins – but with nearly the entire squad coming back from a team that made it to the D-III finals it should be an exciting one for the Avengers.
“We want to win the championship next year,” Eckles says. “It’s always a common goal. We really want to come out even better than we were this year.”
And with an All-Star like Eckles on the team, the Avengers should be in the hunt.