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April 10, 2004Las Vegas just has a buzz about it. The energy never ends and it's spread out all over the desert in Southern Nevada. Some of the excitement was rooted at the UNLV McDermott Center and Durango HS as the nation's best prep players took to the hardwood of the Las Vegas Easter Classic. RivalsHoops bounced from gym to gym on Friday and came away impressed by several of the teams in attendance.
They are good, folks. In fact, they will be one of the best teams on the AAU circuit this year. Led by the No. 22 junior in the nation, Rashad Woods, the boys from the Lone Star State are loaded. Woods is beast of a player with a ton of energy and a even bigger amount of confidence. He isn't afraid to come right down the lane and dunk it on young children, women and the elderly. In fact, he did have the dunk of the day, driving right down the middle of the lane and skied above the three defenders inside for the nasty throw down.
David Devezin, the No. 90 player in the country, really shined. He's a quick player that plays within himself and doesn't try to force the issue on the offensive end of the ball. The Houston Clement HS product was consistent all Friday long and proved he knows how to run a college like team.
As coaches begin to stroll into Las Vegas on Saturday for evaluations, they will soon begin to hurt inside knowing that they missed out on Fendi Onobun, the No. 49 player in the class of 2005. Fresh off a verbal pledge to the University of Arizona, Onobun made sure people knew who he was by owning the interior with some nice drop step dunks and physical rebounds. He's got all of the tools to become a stud in the PAC-10.
2006 Wildcat commit Nic Wise will love getting the ball to Onobun when they rule the running offense in Tucson. But on Friday, Wise showed off his great shooting touch and level headed, never rattled play. He's a big and strong bodied guard that can get to a spot on the floor at a blink of an eye.
The Hoops have a tough road ahead of the them as they try to defend their Las Vegas Easter Classic title that they won next year. A potential match up against the Southern Nevada All-Stars is on the schedule for Saturday.
BELMONT SHORE (Calif.)
Jamal Boykin, our No. 54 player in the class of 2005, is riding high after an in-home visit from Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. So it's no surprise that he is listing Louisville as one of his top schools right now. Georgia Tech is another very high on his list. Boykin is just a player. When he hits the floor, he's ready to ball at any position. On Friday, he was having success as an interior defender and rebounder, capturing double digit boards in the times we saw him. We will have a full feature on the Fairfax HS product in the coming days.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ALL-STARS
Just watching their warm up dunk fest is exciting enough but the real treat comes when the ball tips and the guys from SoCal get running. Brian Harvey, a 6-foot-5 wing guard out of the famed Dominguez HS in Compton, was on fire, scoring 31 points when we saw him in action. He's a nice mix of three point shooting, great penetration skills and very capable perimeter scoring. The No. 53 player in the class of 2005 wasn't alone, he had plenty of help from his friends.
After getting over the initial shock from some of the things we saw Marcus Johnson do before the game (putting in some dunks that would make Candace Parker and J.R. Smith to shame), we were able to see the great potential in Westchester product. Obviously he loves to play above the rim, but he can really shoot the ball, too. Johnson has high-major written all over him. We will be watching him closely this summer. Expect a full length feature on him in the coming days as well.
We touched upon some of the great young talent here in Vegas in our Youth Prevails at Las Vegas Classic, but we have to keep talking about the play of freshmen like Jay Dee Luster and Taylor King. Luster is a 5-foot-7 point guard and he knows it. His ability to run the point at such a young age and little high level experience is astounding. When he finally shot the ball, he was money from deep. Defensively, he is so quick, opponents have to think three steps ahead of themselves. The future is bright for this San Diego native.
Everyone knows King is a shooter, and a mighty fine one at that. But it was his superb passing skills that stood out on Friday. Sure, he had four or five threes a game, but he was able to find Harvey, Johnson and Luster with the extra pass. Most of those plays ended up as two points or kept a play alive. King's rebounding shined through, too. He's becoming more than just a shooter. Believe that.
We will have more on this team over the weekend. We like their chances of making a late trip back to California this weekend. They are loaded.
BLESSED IJN (Ind.)
Poor Chad Millard. The New Hampshire native had been awake for nearly 24 hours when he got onto the hardwood at Durango but it didn't stop him for going off for 18 points. The No. 40 player in the class of 2005 gave a valiant effort against a pesky New Jersey Wildcats/Trailblazers team. Millard has a nice stroke for a 6-foot-8 player. Like many other players here, we will have an update coming on him soon.
Some players just have that look - the look of a high major player. Marquis Johnson has it. The No. 28 ranked player in the class of 2006 is a big point at 6-foot-5 and plays like a four year starter. He has a nice body with room to grow and is calm, steady and smart with the ball. We didn't see him shoot it too much but he runs the floor extremely well and knows how to finish.
Seattle wing Terrence Williams made sure everyone in Durango HS knew he was in attendance with his high-flying act. The No. 64 player in the 2005 class looked a little like LeBron James in terms of style, cocking the ball out to the side and then threw it down with power and force, almost watching it eye level at the rim. He showed off his NBA three point range and tried to hook up his teammates on every occasion.
The one player that we had never heard about, but shined the most was Danny Williams. The 6-foot-3 guard out of Freemont, Calif. looked really good. He's a tough guard that can excel at both backcourt spots. Williams knows how to run an offense and did it to perfection in H-Squad's blowout win late Friday night. We will have more on him this weekend.
Other notes: Coaches will be rolling into Sin City today and we expect a ton of schools to dot the sidelines at the 19 gyms across the desert John Lucas, the former NBA head coach, is here watching his talented freshman son, Jai Speaking of famous sons, Michael Jordan's son Jeffery will be a top talent. Just ask the secret service like security team that follows the youngster around the tournament. With dark glasses and ear pieces, you would of thought George Dub-ya was in the gym We haven't lost any money so far. The ATM card is safely secured in the wallet and the cash is still waiting for more friends.
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