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April 17, 2007

Record numbers gear up for Kingwood Classic

Apparently everything is bigger in Texas.

The 2007 Kingwood Classic tips off this weekend in Houston and 753 teams will play on more than 70 courts across the northern section of city. In the 17-and-under field alone, 300 teams are all aiming for the seven championship trophies that will be handed out on Sunday.

The event is the largest in the country and has long been considered the must-see event in the spring evaluation period. This year is no different.

Nearly half of the top 50 players in the class of 2008 top 150 rankings by Rivals.com will be in Houston for the tournament and a number of nationally ranked grassroots teams take to the court.

College coaches line the sidelines and baselines of all of the gyms within the seven courts all within walking distance to the main site at Westfield High School.

"The Kingwood Classic has set the standard for years on the travel circuit," said Rivals.com national basketball analyst Jerry Meyer. "The most teams, the most talent and the most organized event out there. It is one of the must see events of the circuit."

Talent mixed with depth is the key to success, says Meyer, and this year's field boasts plenty of teams that should fit the bill.

"It's not easy to win any travel team tournament, and that is especially true with the Kingwood Classic. You must have talent, a deep rotation and a whole lot of heart," Meyer said.

Last year's winners, the Southern California All-Stars, played eight games over the weekend and played four games on championship Sunday. SCA is back for more this season. However, the lone returning player from last year's SCA team is Brandon Jennings, the nation's top point guard. He put his club on his back and helped win the Vision Sports Las Vegas Easter Classic two weeks ago.

Jennings, who recently opened his recruitment up, and his SCA teammates are in the top pool of the 20 power pools. Also in the pool are the Atlanta Celtics, who advanced to the semi-finals of the Real Deal on the Hill, and Mean Streets, runner's up of the Boo Williams Invitational.

Greg Monroe, the No. 1 player in the country according to Rivals.com, and Al-Farouq Aminu, the No. 3 player in the country according to Rivals.com, will face off against each other on Saturday at 4:10 at Westfield High School's main gym.

Jrue Holiday, the No. 2 overall player, and his Pump 'N Run Elite team is also in the same pool as Monroe's Louisiana Select and Aminu's Georgia Stars teams. All three teams will play each other before advancing to the Platinum Division tournament bracket.

Other notable players in the field include Delvon Roe (King of the Court), Scotty Hopson (Mid State Ballerz), Willie Warren (Team Texas), J'Covan Brown (T-Mac All Stars), Drew Gordon (Oakland Soldiers), Jamychal Green (Alabama Challenge), Howard Thompkins (Atlanta Celtics) and others from the class of 2008.

Because of the Texas roots, it doesn't come as a big surprise that a majority of talent is homegrown. One third of the teams in the 17 and under division are from Texas. A little more than half of the teams in the 17U field (153 of 300) hail from the Lone Star State or California.

With so many teams in the field this year, there will certainly be a player or two that emerges on the high-major recruiting radar.

"You are always guaranteed to find unknown talent going into the summer," Meyer said. "Guys like DeAndre Jordan, Korvotney Barber, Hasheem Thebeet, Courtney Fells and others first got their name out on the national scene at the Kingwood."

Who will the breakout guy be this year? Who will win the loaded 17 and under division? Find out this weekend only on Rivals.com.


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