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April 26, 2009

A King James classic

AKRON - One of the longest days of the AAU circuit is Saturday at King James. The huge tournament runs all day long, and this year it definitely didn't disappoint. Once pool play ended the intensity really picked up. That was never more evident than in the final game of the day where a big time point guard made a big time play to end the session in style.

Closing the day in style

Maybe the best game of the entire spring to date closed out Saturday's action. The game between All-Ohio Red and the Ohio Basketball Club was a classic rivalry that renewed in a big way.

All-Ohio came into the game as the favorites, but a revamped OBC roster gave them the talent to compete with All-Ohio. OBC came out of the gates strong. Mychal Parker and Ryan Harrow were on fire for OBC. Harrow, who is committed to NC State, used his athleticism and quickness to provide issues for All-Ohio. Parker, at 6-foot-6, was simply unguardable. He was too big for the All-Ohio guards and too quick for their forwards.

Those two combined with strong performances from Noah Cottrill and Ge-Lawn Guyn got OBC out to a strong 14 point lead in the first half.

At that point the backcourt duo of Aaron Craft and Juwan Staten got going for All-Ohio. Craft took over the game with his lockdown defensive ability while Staten was in complete attack mode getting into the lane whenever he wanted. Those two helped All-Ohio cut the deficit to five at halftime, but the game was still full of drama.

The vaunted All-Ohio frontline of Jared Sullinger and Adreian Payne was largely held in check because of the strong defensive performances of Parker and Dakotah Euton. Euton was physical with Sullinger and prevented him from getting rebounds, while Parker used his length and athleticism to make things difficult on Payne.

Without their frontline doing their normal damage, OBC was able to extend their lead back out to double digits with less eight minutes to play. At that point it was again Staten and Craft that willed All-Ohio back.

Staten did it on offense, Craft on defense. Craft didn't allow Cottrill to get open looks or get to the rim, while Staten created off the dribble and either found open teammates for buckets or hit driving layups.

In the end with the game tied it was Staten who made the final play. He drove the lane and got fouled with four seconds left, and hit two pressure free throws. Cottrill's last second three wasn't close, and All-Ohio snuck away with the win.

OBC was led by Parker's 18 and Harrow's 14 while All-Ohio got 14 from Staten to advance.

Royalty from the South

The favorites to come away with the title in the 16 and under division are the Southern Kings out of Georgia. On Saturday they proved it, and Dai-Jon Parker was a huge reason why. In a matchup with fellow big time 2011 guard, Brandan Kearney, Parker was nearly unstoppable. He scored 26 points, and simply took the game over as the Southern Kings routed Team Detroit.

While Parker was the man, he had a lot of help. Shannon Scott showed why he is one of the best point guards in the 2011 class. He was able to make his own shots both going to the rim and from deep, but most impressive he set things up for Parker and the other members of the squad. Basically Scott was simply able to get anywhere he wanted on the court, and when he got there he always made the right decision.

Also there was the strong play from Julian Royal. He still needs to get more assertive and physical down low, but Royal showed off the complete game on Saturday. He scored with a lefty hook in the lane, hit big threes, converted off the dribble, and even scored off of offensive rebounds. Against Team Detroit he had 13 points, but in the Southern Kings next game against Friends for Life he was even better taking over at times.

Other notable performances

Ohio State commitment Lenzelle Smith Jr. looked excellent for the Rising Stars Gold. The burly 6-foot-3 guard played the point at times, and also showed off a much improved stroke from deep. While his shooting and defense have greatly improved from last summer, it is his passing that really sets him apart. On numerous occasions Smith showed off great court vision setting up teammates for wide open looks or layups.

Along with Smith, Alex Rossi looked solid for the Rising Stars. Known mostly as a shooter, Rossi showed some ability to go off the bounce to the rim. Also as usual he was money from deep.

One name to remember is Fabricio de Melo. The little seen center has a chance to be special. At 7-feet tall and 270 pounds, Melo runs the court well, has good hands, and can score down low. On top of that he is a good defender. As he gets into better shape the sky is simply the limit. This is a player that everyone is going to be paying very close attention to for the rest of the summer.

Along with Melo, the Florida Rams had solid production from Louisville commitment Josh Langford and also Kyle Marshall. Langford is an attacking wing who also shot the ball well from the mid-range and deeper. Marshall is athletic and likes to finish at the rim with authority. Both Langford and Marshall had excellent performances on Saturday.

I-5 Elite made the long trip from Portland to Akron, but Terrence Jones showed no signs of jet lag. The 6-foot-8 and 220 forward was excellent on Saturday. He shot the lights out from the outside, and also finished at the rim with dunks. He still needs to develop a mid-range game, but with his strength and ability to finish he was an impressive performer.

The dunk of the day came from New York Gauchos wing Jason Morris. Always known for his high wire leaping ability, Morris brought it to a whole new level in an evening matchup. Running on a fast break, Morris caught a pass several steps outside of the lane and took off. When he went air born it looked like there was no way he could dunk the ball, but Morris simply glided through the air and threw down an emphatic one handed jam over a defender.

It was more than just one highlight dunk though for the Gauchos. Doron Lamb showed why he is one of the most highly thought of guards in the 2010 class. Lamb isn't the best athlete on the circuit, but he simply gets buckets. A dead eye shooter from deep, Lamb has a quick release and knows how to shoot even without getting a clean look. Beyond that he scored several times off the dribble using either a floater or a quick pull up jumper. Lamb is a big reason why the Gauchos are still alive.

Continuing his scoring barrage for the All-Ohio 16 and under squad is Trey Burke. After averaging over 30 points per game at Boo Williams two weeks ago, Burke is back at it again. In a sweet 16 game against the Milwaukee Spartans, the smooth 5-foot-11 guard, poured in a cool 29 points to help All-Ohio advance.

Alex Gauna of the Michigan Mustangs showed glimpses of what makes him such an intriguing prospect. The 6-foot-9 power forward has a silky smooth jump shot from three point land, and also can turn and face up in the mid-range. Beyond that he scored on the block a couple of times using his length and solid athleticism. The next area of improvement for Gauna is to be a tenacious rebounder.

Team Takeover is loaded with big time athletes. Victor Oladipo, 2011 forward Mikal Hopkins, Jerian Grant, and Michael Gbinije all have the ability to finish above the rim. Beyond that they apply great pressure on the ball in a full court setting. Behind the strong play of those four, Takeover managed to hold off a run from P.J. Hairston, Reggie Bullock, and the rest of the CP3 All-Stars to advance to the quarterfinals.

One player to look out for from the state of Ohio is 2011 wing forward Anton Grady. Grady stayed largely away from the circuit following his freshman year, but now the 6-foot-7 skilled forward is making an impact. While his Friends for Life squad might not have had the talent of the Southern Kings, Grady was impressive at times. He can hit shots out to the three point line, finishes above the rim with his long wing span, and also has a solid feel for the game. As he gets on the circuit more look for his performances to improve.

School Lists

Alex Rossi reports offers from California, Northwestern, and Iowa. Also he has interest from Stanford, Virginia, Alabama, Florida State, and Notre Dame

Kyle Marshall says he has 16 offers, some of them are Auburn, Kansas State, Butler, Houston, UNC-Wilmington, and South Carolina

Mikal Hopkins has an offer from Syracuse to go along with interest from Georgetown, Florida, and Texas

Michael Gbinije has interest from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Texas, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Georgetown, Duke, and Connecticut.

Terrence Jones notes interest from Marquette, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, Oregon State, Cal, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State, Georgetown, Florida State, and Tennessee.

Mychal Parker has offers from Miami, Maryland, Florida, Clemson, Arkansas, NC State, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Along with those, he is getting serious looks from Kentucky (new staff), Wake Forest, and USC.


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