LAS VEGAS -- The games Wednesday morning at Spring Valley High School on the city's west side were not as highly anticipated as Tuesday's games at the Summer Championship, but had star power throughout. A few of them even turned out to be barn-burners:
Memphis Magic 64, Houston Lynx Blue 42
The star of this early morning matchup was lightening quick guard Joe Jackson of the Memphis Magic. The 5-foot-11 guard showed why he's one of the very best floor generals in the Class of 2010. He was getting by his defender with ease and showed the ability to finish in the lane with contact. He was his team's leading scorer at halftime with eight points while 6-foot-8 Nick Shepherd, a 2010 prospect, had 10 points for the Lynx Blue.
It was a seven point game (32-25) at the intermission but the Magic eventually made it a double-digit game (50-40) in the last five minutes before pulling away down the stretch. Jackson was the game's leading scorer with 19 points, although he missed all three of his shots from 3-point range. Another 2010 high-major prospect who played well for the victors was Tarik Black. The 6-foot-8 Ridgeway (Memphis) product canned six of 10 shots, good for 12 points, and blocked two shots.
Shepherd didn't score in the second half, but 6-foot-2 guard Jared Maree picked up the slack in a losing effort. The Chavez of Houston product displayed solid penetration skills and finished with 18 points.
FOH Seattle 79, California Supreme 17U 77 (3OT)
In the best game we've seen so far in Sin City, upstart FOH gave the California Supreme all it could handle and then some. FOH took a double digit lead in the first half and led at the intermission, 39-28.
The California Supreme finally caught them at 57-57 with 4:30 remaining in the ball game on a breakaway lay-up by guard Justin Cobbs. Point guard Gary Franklin hit a triple that gave the Supreme the lead at 65-64 with one minute to go, but FOH rallied to take a 67-64 lead. Franklin then nailed another three-pointer to tie the game with 19.2 seconds.
FOH's Aaron Dotson tried to seal matters at the end of regulation, but his tip-in at the buzzer was disallowed. The first overtime ended with the two clubs locked at 71-71, but in the second overtime it looked like FOH would take control after Aaron Bright nailed a three-pointer. Supreme's Jamaal Franklin, however, answered with a three-pointer on the next possession and the game went into a third extra period.
In the second and third overtime, the teams played with no timeouts and only one minute on the clock and after both teams had some empty possessions, FOH finally had the ball underneath the hoop on an out of bounds play trailing 77-76. The California Supreme didn't get the alignment they wanted defensively and after the shot went up, 6-foot-10 post Jeremy Tyler wasn't able to secure the rebound. The ball was batted to the top of the key and Bright proceeded to knock in the game-winning three-pointer.
Bright was the game's leading scorer with 22 points, including four three-pointers, and Dotson also had a big game for the victors with 18 points. Tyler, one of the nation's top five prospects in the ESPN 2010 Super 60, had a solid game with 13 points and seven rebounds. He didn't, however, impact the action on both ends of the floor on every possession as a player with his talent and size should.
Franklin led the California Supreme in the scoring department with 21 points while Cobbs checked in with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Houston Hoops 80, Miami Tropics 69
The boys from Texas won a game against a Tropics team that lacked the star power of some their previous teams. The final margin was not an indication of how dominant Houston Hoops was in this game. The victors led by 15 points (44-29) at halftime and the lead grew from there but the Tropics scored some late buckets to somewhat close the gap.
Garlon Green, the younger brother of prep-to-pro standout Gerald Green, looked good offensively for Houston Hoops as he netted 21 points. He displayed good bounce around the rim and also nailed five three-pointers. Center Keith "Tiny" Gallon also had a solid game for Houston Hoops with 22 points on eight of 12 shooting and 2012 prospect J-Mychal Reese also stood out. The 6-foot guard made all three of his field goal attempts and both of his free throws for eight points. Lynden Rose is another 2012 prospect that makes an impact for the loaded Houston Hoops team.
The Tropics' leading scorer was 6-foot-7 Justin Edwards with 17 points. Standout guard Tommy Mason-Griffin didn't score for Houston Hoops, but in this game the team didn't really need his normal output.
Spiece Indy Heat 17U 73, City Rocks New York 62
The 2008 EA SPORTS National Sophomore of the Year, DeShaun Thomas, was on display in an afternoon game at the Main Event. His reviews were mixed, but most importantly for the Ohio State commit was the win his team recorded.
"I was trying to win this game and we're trying to win this tournament," remarked the 6-foot-8 Thomas.
He was his team's leading scorer with 16 points, but he made only seven of 21 field goals. He can finish strong around the basket and has solid touch, but didn't have the lift that you would expect an elite forward to have. He's quite an unselfish player and got his teammates involved, but needs to continue developing his deep jumper.
The Spiece's R.J. Mahurin nailed a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to cut City Rocks' lead to 28-27. The Spiece slowly started to wear City Rocks down in the second half and took their first double digit lead with 10:54 left in the game. City Rocks most impressive player, 6-foot-7 James Sutherland, hit a triple to momentarily cut the deficit back to single digits with just under a minute remaining, but they were unable to make any real threat down the stretch.
Sutherland finished with 17 points and a game-high 11 rebounds while displaying solid athleticism to go along with his long frame. Mike Goodman out of Syracuse also had a solid game with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Thomas was complimented by Mahurin with 12 points and Justin Jordan, a 5-foot-11 guard who netted 13 points and dished off seven assists.
Atlanta Celtics upset at Super 64
The Atlanta Celtics have been a staple of the adidas Super 64 in the five years since its inception as a major tournament during the July evaluation period. With the No. 1 player in the ESPN 100, 6-foot-9 Derrick Favors, on its roster and a plethora of other talented Division I prospects, the Celtics were the odds-on favorites to win the top division on paper.
During the first day of competition the Celtics played sluggishly, by all accounts, but they picked up their level of play on Wednesday. The problem was the Celtics' opponent, Pump N Run Elite, also brought its A game and came away with a 72-68 victory.
The story of Pump N Run's victory was the play of 6-foot-11 center Vander Joaquin. He held his own in the pivot versus the South Atlanta star and when he wasn't in the game, Pump N Run was at a clear disadvantage. He finished with 13 points, including a three-pointer from the corner that was in rhythm. The victors shot well from the outside, especially 2010 UCLA commit Kendall Williams.
Williams stepped up his game down the stretch when the outcome was in limbo and finished with a team-high 20 points, including two big three-pointers in the second half. He nailed a triple to give Pump n Run Elite a 67-60 lead with just under four minutes remaining, but the Atlanta Celtics eventually tied the game at 67 on a lay-up by Favors.
Pump N Run took control on a three-pointer by Chase Tapley (12 points) that gave them a 68-64 lead. Favors, however, gave his team a chance when he blocked a shot and saved it from going out of bounds with 1:10 remaining that could have been the difference in his team going down by six points. Favors didn't play his best game, but unlike some of the other talented big men on display in Vegas, he still made an impact on both sides of the ball on nearly every possession.
He finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and eight blocked shots to lead his team in a losing effort. 2010 guard Trae Golden chipped in with 19 points, but he didn't look for open teammates nearly enough and his turnover in the closing seconds with the Celtics down two possessions sealed the upset win for Pump N Run.
Squad to Create N Finish Cup Title
D-One Sports and D.C. Triple Threat squared off in the title game of the eight-team Create N Finish Cup with Triple Threat gunning for its second consecutive title.
John Wall, the most impressive overall player so far to compete in the Reebok Summer Championships, seemed like he was going to put his stamp on the mini-tournament with an emphatic follow-up dunk after his turnover and a teammate's missed shot. Wall, however, was called for a technical foul for slapping the blackboard. After the technical, Triple Threat went on a 13-3 run to get back in the game down the stretch and put them down by only one point (73-72) with just over one minute remaining.
"It was a good defensive play to get the ball back after the turnover, but I shouldn't have (slapped the backboard) to get the tech," Wall remarked. "One the next level that's where I feel my game has to mature and I should have brought the ball back out and we could have won it in regulation."
D-One led 78-76 when a turnover in the backcourt led to a pair of free throws that tied the game and sent it into overtime. D-One couldn't covert at the end of regulation, but Wall made amends for his mistakes when he canned two free throws with the game tied at 81-81 with 26.2 seconds remaining in the two minute overtime. He then went coast to coast after receiving the ball from Ryan Kelly under his own basket. During that play he changed direction twice to shake defenders and finished it with a pretty no look pass to Tyson Goldwire for a bucket that gave his team a two possession (85-81) lead with under ten seconds remaining.
The final score in overtime was 86-81 as Wall finished with a game-high 26 points while making six of seven field goals and 14 of 18 free throws. He nearly had a conventional triple-double with nine rebounds and 11 assists, although he did have 10 turnovers. Some of his passes were dropped or he passed to where he thought teammates should be.
"Sometimes they (my teammates) don't understand exactly what I'm trying to do," Wall stated. "That's why I like to play with Ryan because he can finish. You have to know your personnel."
Kelly continued his solid play at the Summer Championships as he finished the title game with 18 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots. D-One also got a solid performance from James Terrell, who netted 20 points.
Maurice Creek had another solid game for Triple Threat in a losing effort as he made 10 of 15 shots good for 25 points. Erick Green Jr. also played well for Triple Threat with 21 points and three assists, but Wall was the player that clearly had the greatest impact during the mini-tournament.
"Your last tournament in Vegas, it's important to win and try to help your teammates win scholarships just like they help you get individual recognition," remarked Wall, who scored 23 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished off eight assists in a 78-71 semifinal win over Team Breakdown. "Just like Brandon Jennings did last year, you have to win a team title to leave your mark."
So far, so good.
Others who caught our eye
While most of the eyes at the Reebok Summer Championships were glued to the games at Foothill's main gym, there were some other players that caught our eye in the auxiliary gyms on Tuesday and Wednesday:
Calvin Leslie of Worldwide Black played an unselfish game against the Southeast Elite. A teammate of John Wall at Word of God Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina, the 6-foot-8 Leslie made some big-time moves around the rim, but it was Marquez Cothron of Southeast Elite that converted on two follow-ups down the stretch to help pace his team to a 68-65 victory.
Cothron finished with 29 points while Leslie finished with eight points. Southeast Elite also had a 2012 prospect worth watching in the future, Reggie Ragland Jr. The 6-foot-4 combo guard finished with six points.
Another young prospect who showed well in the auxiliary gym was LeBryan Nash of the Dallas Mustangs. The 6-foot-7 Lincoln of Dallas product has quite a strong body for a 2011 prospect. He also knows how to use his body to post up defenders and positive things happened whenever he touched the ball. He finished with seven points, in limited minutes, in a 57-45 loss at the hands of the Illinois Wolves 17U.
His team's leading scorer was Memphis recruit Nolan Dennis with 20 points while Diamond Taylor also netted 20 for the victors.