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July 24, 2008

Las Vegas: Day Two

LAS VEGAS -- The talent at the adidas Super 64 was stacked higher than chips at the Rio poker tables on Wednesday at Rancho High School. Rivals.com was in the building all day for the action and saw a number of big time players and some big time games.

PUMP POWER

In a rematch of last year's championship game at the adidas Super 64, Pump 'N Run Elite and the Atlanta Celtics met once again in a pool play game on Wednesday afternoon.

This year's outcome and bragging rights title swung back to the West Coast after the Pump prospects knocked out the Celtics 72-68. The win was hard earned and it didn't come easily.

Thanks to a huge open three by Chase Tapley with less than a minute to play on a great pass from Kawhi Leonard.

"That was probably the most important shot of the game," a humble Tapley said shortly after nailing a go ahead three-pointer. "That was a big play. Kawhi dribble into the lane and sucked everybody in. They went for it and I was able to knock down the shot. You have to hit those kinds of shots when you are wide open."

Tapley did and that shot was the reason why the Pumps came away with the victory. Tapley finished with a dozen points. Leonard put in nine points.

Basketball mavens on the West Coast have raved about Tyler Honeycutt this year and seeing him give a little here and give a little there, it is easy to see why so many like his upside and future productivity.

"Man, that was a big shot," said Honeycutt on Tapley's score. "If he didn't hit it, I was right there to get the rebound. That is how you have to be in these types of big games. You have to be ready. We were ready."

UCLA bound guard Kendall Williams led the Pump attack with 20 points. He's a scrappy player with a high-level of confidence. He's not shy to take a big shot when a big shot is needed.

Vander Joaquim, a former San Diego commit and current Nebraska pledge, had some fine moments on the offensive end of the floor. The 6-foot-9 forward has the tools to be a major focal point for the Huskers down the road.

The Celtics were paced by rive-star stud Derrick Favors, who scored a team high 21 points. The South Atlanta product showed off an array of post moves and scored in constant double teams.

However, it was his defense that was the most impressive. Favors protected the rim like a guard inside a cash room at a casino on Las Vegas Boulevard. He was tallied with eight blocks but probably had a dozen in the contest.

Rising junior Trae Golden went back to his roots and scored at the basket. His confidence was high and that resulted in 19 points. Alabama add-on Christian Watford scored 14 points in the defeat, too.

SEATTLE STARS

The class of 2010 is in search of some separation at the top of the national rankings and Seattle Rotary big man Josh Smith did a fine job of making his case for the top spot.

The 6-foot-10, 270-pound center mixes fine hands, great footwork, a toughness in the paint and relentlessness in trying to establish position.

Smith, who wears socks with "Big Dawg" sewn in (appropriate for him), powered his way around the cup and scored with a soft touch at will against an equally big post player in the SoCal All-Star's Steven Adams. Smith finished with 18 points and roughly a dozen rebounds in a short time of work.

Teammates Anthony Wroten Jr. and Peyton Siva didn't disappoint either.

After seeing a handful of talented class of 2011 prospects on Tuesday, the trend of game-changing rookies continued on day two in Vegas with Wroten's effort. The rising sophomore punched his ticket and recorded 18 points and roughly a half dozen assists and rebounds.

Siva, a 2009 Louisville pledge, added 17 points and shot the ball well in the easy victory. He's as steady as they come on the West and will be a welcomed addition for Rick Pitino next winter.

WEDNESDAY'S NOTABLES

With less than two minutes to play, Team Philly guard Maalik Wayns decided it was time to close up shop he scored 12 of his 27 points in the final three minutes and for all intents and purposes end the game with his play against the Raising Champions.

Wayns, a Villanova commitment, is like a running back that sees the faintest glimmer of light and explodes to the hole to get the extra yard. There are few guys in the nation that know how to get to the iron with the power dribble like Wayns does. He's a master at that skill and scores well with both hands when he gets there.

Recent Marquette commitment Junior Cadougan has been playing at an extremely high level and on Wednesday, he stayed on top of his personal basketball plateau. The sturdy point guard pumped in 24 points in a big blowout win for his Grassroots Canada team.

Demetrius Walker was a high-volume shooter in the morning match-up, scored 20 points in a tough loss. He mixed the good with the bad against Seattle Rotary. The good: a posterizing dunk on Siva. The bad: too many off-balance perimeter shots.

Walker said his recruitment is "pretty much down to three." Southern Cal, Cal and Arizona is the trio "as of right now. I'm sure my coach will get more calls after this week and I'll look at everything at the end of the month."

Maybe it's a matter of playing in the bring lights on the big stage that brings out the best in enigmatic New Yorker Lance Stephenson. The five-star guard was on his best behavior and playing like a leader. Even though his team lost, Stephenson played well. He scored 19 points and passed the ball very well.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

The SoCal All-Stars' Anthony Brown's body and game is somewhat similar to 2008 Memphis signee Wesley Witherspoon. Brown is a better shooter at this stage of development but both are long wings that can handle the ball and play multiple positions in the backcourt.

Brown's perimeter game was on full display for SCA as he hit for 15 points in a tough loss. The 6-foot-6 rising junior is quickly becoming one of the most sought after players on the West Coast. Brown said "the entire Pac-10" is recruiting him while Texas, Indiana, UNLV, Oklahoma and Florida are also in the picture. Arizona State, San Diego and TCU have offered. He said he'll be making an Arizona swing in August to see the Wildcats and Sun Devils.

A game later in the day against Houston Select, Brown was outstanding and looked every bit of one of elite level players in the class of 2010.

Kentucky commitment Dominique Ferguson played very strong against a very big French Hoops team. The class of 2010 five-star prospect certainly played the part very well of a top level player.

Ferguson scored from deep, drove to the lane, challenged the shot-blockers and finished with a hard earned 17 points. He worked the boards and looked awfully familiar on the offensive end when challenged by a number of big, physical and tall defenders.

Already ranked at No. 13 overall in the class of 2010, Ferguson's upside mixed with production was enough to get the wheels in motion when thinking about just how high of a prospect he can be in the rising junior class.

Ferguson's Indiana Elite LNO teammate Terone Johnson was also impressive in victory. The 6-foot-2 shooting guard from the class of 2010 scored a modest 16 points in the game. His recruitment is clearly booming at the moment as he gave a long and impressive list that consisted of Kentucky, Louisville, Indiana, Purdue, Marquette, Ohio State, Tennessee, Miami-FL, Butler (offer) and Cincinnati (offer).

Tristan Thompson, the nation's second ranked player in the class of 2010, made it look all too easy against Gateway. The future Texas Longhorn uses every inch of his long frame to his advantage as an attacker from the high post and in. He does his best scoring when going towards the basket time and time again and played well as the team's top rebounder.

Grassroots Canada combo guard Myck Kabongo, a class of 2011 prospect, has been a hot name on the recruiting trail this month. The St. Benedict's (N.J.) product said he has heard from Texas and Florida, the two hottest pursuers at the moment he said, as well as Wake Forest, Memphis, UConn and the rest of the Big East.

HI, MY NAME IS…

Here is a name for big men fanatics to chew on this week. Jordan Williams of the New England Playaz came off the bench and provided a major shot in the arm at the four and five position in his team's hard fought win.

The 6-foot-8 big man has incredibly soft hands, catching every fastball thrown at him and grabbed tough rebounds on both sides of the floor. In fact, he was the best rebounder on his team.

"I was terrible in the spring. Just terrible," Williams said. "But when I started getting used to the competition and the type of players that you play at this level, I started playing better. I adjusted to it and things have been going pretty good."

Oh yes they have. Williams has been one of the hottest players this month for coaches. He said Georgetown, Maryland, Xavier, Providence, Rhode Island and UMass have offered. John Thompson III, Gary Williams, Sean Miller and Keno Davis were all on hand to see the young 17-year-old score 14 points (12 in the second half).

The New England Playaz versus K.C. Pump 'N Run game was a three-point shooting contest. In the first half, there were 12 triples made by both teams. The K.C. kids had eight of them. Austin Carroll of the Playaz had the other four.

Carroll hit one more to close out the game in the second half and finished with 18 points. He was good when it mattered and didn't get into a shoot-off. Every triple he made was a money ball in this one.

Carroll, a class of 2009 prospect at the moment, said he is finally healthy and playing his best basketball of the year. Prior to the July period, Carroll said he has been offered by Holy Cross, Rhode Island, Fairfield, Xavier and Colorado. Since then, Carroll said Michigan, Penn State, Davidson and Providence have inquired.

Houston Select forward Arsaland Kazami was a beat up man after his 19-point effort against the SoCal All-Stars. The 6-foot-8 had a busted up elbow, a punch to the gut, a bruised up leg and countless little injuries. That's what happens when you play hard and play above the rim.

The Iranian has been a hot name this month because of his hustle and his athleticism. It's easy to see why Syracuse, Seton Hall, Memphis, Oklahoma State, Missouri and West Virginia are in the mix for him at the moment.

The entire roster of the French Hoops club is stacked with intriguing prospects. Each of the players are gifted athletes with college ready frames. There were four players that caught our eye.

Six-foot-8 combo forward Bandja Sy was the most impressive of the bunch. He's a great shooter for his size and bouncy to boot. Amath Mbayne, a 6-foot-7 combo forward, was active and produced.

Blessed with a knack for scoring the basketball, Mohamed Koita led his team in scoring and did fine job of challenging defenders with constant power moves to the basket. Seven-foot-2 center Youssoupha Mbao was the team's best high post passer.

Head coach Babacar Cy said most of his players will likely be in the United States for high school next year. If that is the case, Sy, Mbayne and Mbao are all sure fire high-major prospects while Koita is a good-looking mid-level guy.

Derek Johnson was a nice surprise for the Houston Select team. The 6-foot-7 step out four man scored 16 points and hit three three-pointers in a row.

Johnson said he has heard from Colorado, Liberty, Middle Tennessee State, Stephen F. Austin, Mercer, Arkansas State and Wagner.

NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD

  • Honeycutt said Southern Cal, UCLA, Arizona State, Washington, San Diego, San Diego State and Santa Clara have offered while Texas and Arizona are also very interested, he said.

  • Tapley, Pump 'N Run's star of the game against the Celtics said Stanford, Baylor and San Diego State are the current leaders while San Diego, Sacramento State, UC Davis and Wyoming have offered him to date.

  • Tapley's teammate Leonard said San Diego State, San Diego and Southern Cal have offered while the majority of the Pac-10 is looking along with Indiana, Michigan and others are also interested, he said.

  • Evan Gordon knows what it means to play well in Las Vegas. After all, he watched his older brother Eric set up shop in Sin City before moving on to Indiana.

    The younger Gordon put in some big time work on Wednesday, scoring 26 points for his Indiana Elite LNO squad. The 6-foot-1 guard put on a scoring show (just like big bro) by driving to the hole and scoring at the rim.

    Gordon, a class of 2009 prospect, said he'll likely visit Penn State in August. He also has offers from Kent State and Butler. Indiana and Miami-FL are also showing interest, he said.

  • Since re-opening his recruitment from Florida Atlantic earlier in the summer Freddie Riley said he's picked up offers from UMass, South Florida, Virginia Tech and Virginia Commonwealth while Kansas State, Baylor, Florida, Central Florida, Clemson and Auburn.

    Florida Rams teammate Ramon Galloway has also seen a spike in his recruitment. Galloway, a point guard that scored 24 points in a great come-from-behind win, said he has offers from Virginia, South Carolina, South Florida and Central Florida while UMass is in the mix.

  • Future UCLA Brendan Lane 17 points and double digit rebounds in a tough loss.

  • California power forward Andy Brown said he's down to five schools. Arizona (offer), San Diego (offer), Utah (offer), Stanford and Cal will be the schools under final consideration. He said he will unofficially visit Arizona, Stanford and perhaps Cal next month. Brown said he has already been to San Diego and Utah.

  • Put Steve Adams on the watch list in the West for the class of 2010. The Rivals100 post from Pasadena (Calif.) High School is a work in progress and still getting into better shape. However, the finished product could be very good down the road.

  • A fantasy match-up of Stephenson and Xavier Henry would be fun to watch. Both guards are physically gifted guys that can score points with the best of them. In a town where heavyweights have clashed horns, that match-up would be worth a good pay-per-view.

  • Team Phily guard and LaSalle commitment Nurideen Lindsay scored 22 points against Raising Champions. He's one of the best scorers in Philly and brought his prowess to the desert. His play was instrumental in the win.

  • Canadian center Kadeem Coleby said Louisiana Tech, Pittsburgh and Minnesota are currently the favorites in his recruitment.

  • There is a value for guys like Dwight Powell of Grassroots Canada. He's a grinder inside and showed some love for defending the post against Gateway Basketball. The class of 2010 forward doesn't mind playing physical and did a fine job of keeping Illinois commitment Tyler Griffey in single digits for scoring.


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