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April 15, 2006

Real Deal Saturday action

FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. - Win or go home is the mindset now that two days are done at the Real Deal on the Hill. Five-star prospect Michael Beasley went to work in tournament play while J.J. Hickson and Josh Southern are bringing out the college coaches.

Star Power

With O.J. Mayo not in town and Bill Walker out of action due to injury, the best player in the Real Deal is an easy pick. Michael Beasley took that distinction with little problem on Saturday. The five-star forward scored 26 points in a 20-point win over the Midwest Storm and left little doubts about who the top dog is in the field here in Fayetteville.

As good as a fight as the Storm gave Beasley and his D.C. Assault mates, the southpaw is just too difficult to defend for teams. He blew through the Storm inside early in the game, getting anything he wanted at the rim. Then in the second half he stepped his game out to the perimeter and knocked down a three and a 17-foot jump shot.

In the nightcap, Beasley did his thing again against Southeast Elite. If he wasn't causing problems inside, he was banging three-pointers and elbow jump shots. The boys from 'Bama didn't have an answer for Beasley. In fact, no one has all weekend.

With Beasley commanding so much attention, it is easy to forget about Austin Freeman. Make no mistake about it, he's improved his game and is one tough customer on both ends of the floor. He's a bull guard that powers and pulls out the finesse on the wing. Georgetown has a good one in the D.C. native.

Just a freshman, Terrence Boyd made a splash on the national scene last year on his own at the adidas camps and with the Assault. This year, he is already establishing himself as one of the most intriguing guys in his class to the high-major kids. At 6-foot-4, he has a body that most rising seniors covet. He's strong to the hole, tough in the pain in the paint and getting better on the defensive end.

Future Duke guard Nolan Smith has been efficient all weekend as the Assault assaults it's way through the tournament field. The 6-foot-3 guard will tease you with his athleticism here and there but has been playing relatively calm and patient all weekend long. A potential match-up with future Michigan State guard Chris Allen could happen tomorrow. That would be a one of the best head to head battles of the Real Deal.

All eyes on…

College coaches were everywhere in Fayetteville on Saturday and a couple of big men were the target of a lot of attention.

Coming as no big surprise, a host of programs came out to see J.J. Hickson in the 8 a.m. game. Bruce Pearl of Tennessee and Bruce Weber of Illinois were the only head coaches to see the game. A slew of assistants made it a point to see the early morning game. The list of watchers included Clemson, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia State, Miami and South Florida.

Pearl was also eying Trey Lang and other Worldwide players while Weber took a peak at B.J. Frazier, a 6-foot-5 slasher from Stephenson (Ga.) High School, with roots in Illinois.

Frazier came out strong in the first half, scoring all eight of his points. He is a good athlete that thrives on going hard to the basket and floating on the baseline. Other than Illinois, Frazier said Miami, Florida State and Florida said they will all watch him this weekend. All three were on hand for the morning game.

Michigan State assistant Mark Montgomery was on hand to see future Spartan guard Chris Allen, who was quiet on the scoring end with just five points.

As big of a must-get big man as Hickson is, Joshua Southern is close behind judging by the amount of faces he had in the crowd for an afternoon game.

Marquette's Tom Crean, Kentucky's Tubby Smith, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Notre Dame's Mike Brey all watched the big fella closely. Assistants from Ohio State, Pitt, St. John's, Missouri, Boston College, Michigan, Wisconsin, Miami, DePaul, Syracuse, Florida, Penn State, Xavier and Washington State.

Southern said he is high on Kentucky, Michigan State, Wake Forest, Pitt, Tennessee, UCLA, Michigan and Wisconsin. The big man added that all of the schools have offered him a scholarship.

New Missouri head coach Mike Anderson and assistant Melvin Watkins, a carry-over from the previous Mizzou staff were on hand to see George Goode get it done in a disappointing buzzer beater loss to the Midstate Ballerz Elite.

Despite the loss, Goode was able to show off his high-major skills. The 6-foot-8 small forward knocked down a couple of long balls and buried a couple of elbow jumpers. Goode posted up on the smaller Midstate team and scored on a couple of face up jumpers in the post.

Other notables

Coming into the tournament, Utah Pump 'N Run probably wasn't high on the list of favorites to be playing in the final eight of the championship bracket to the novice high school hoops fan. Two days into the tournament, the kids from the Wasatch Valley are making some noise.

Utah beat Philly MJC in a heated battle and rode the play of Morgan Grim to the quarter-final match-up against the Atlanta Celtics. Grim, a 6-foot-7 forward, is a fundamental big man that works well in a structured offense but also gets out on the floor and runs well, plays above the rim and rebounds well. He's a good looking prospect as is his well-oiled machine squad.

Four-star prospect Rakim Sanders was up and down at the Real Deal. He came out strong on Saturday morning, putting in 22 points in a good win. But then he struggled the rest of the day as his New England Playaz were ousted in the first round of the playoffs.

In the morning game, he was knocking down the perimeter shot and used his big body to post up on smaller guards and go to work on the blocks. Sanders will be eyed by a number of high-major schools this spring. UConn assistant Tom Moore took a peek while Sanders said Syracuse, Boston College and Florida round out his list.

Team Memphis won the Real Deal on the Hill last year and while this year's roster isn't nearly as strong as it's predecessors, there is still to be found on the team. Leading the way is Randy Culpepper. The 5-foot-9 combo guard will always hear the knocks about his game - he's too small, he isn't a true point, he isn't this, he isn't that. What he is, though, is a scorer. And a darn good one at that.

Culpepper poured in 19 points in a morning victory. He hit for five threes in the second half and opened the game up. He's a blur with the ball and knives his way into the lane and kicks it out to the open man.

The 2007 prospect said Tennessee and Colorado (offer) are the two schools recruiting him at the moment. Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl caught a glimpse of Culpepper. Pearl's son Steve was playing against Team Memphis for the Wisconsin Playground Warriors. Pearl led his team with 17 points.

Kavon Lacey, a sturdy 6-foot guard with the Midwest Storm, had a break out game against the D.C. Assault in the first round of bracket play. The two-sport star has a list of mid-majors (Illinois State, Indiana State, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Western Illinois, Northern Illinois, UMass, Northern Iowa and Oakland) prior to the Real Deal. But after his performance against the loaded D.C. squad, don't be surprised to see the Big Ten programs flirt with him this month.

When you are sophomore that stands 6-foot-10 and buries seven three-pointers in a game, word spreads fast. That happened with CAPS All-Star forward Angel Garcia. The 2008 prospect was the dead-eye shooter against SE Elite in the afternoon game and created quite a buzz amongst the high-major coaches that were watching.

His follow-up performance was anything from spectacular though against Philly MJC. Garcia was contained to four points but you can see why a lot of people are excited about this youngster from Puerto Rico. He has good form on his shot and passes well but with the MJC defensive pressure and physical style of play, Garcia struggled. As he grows in the game and adjusts to a more physical style, he will be a no-brainer for the high-majors.

School lists

Lavoy Allen of Philly MJC listed St. Joe's (offer), Pitt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Maryland. The 6-foot-8 forward said he's pretty happy with that list but is open to others getting involved.

Two-sport star Cameron Heyward for the Worldwide Renegades doesn't have an off switch. And if you are lined up with the 6-foot-6 kamikaze from Peachtree Ridge High School, you are hoping you find the switch early in the game. Good luck. That motor is one reason why Florida State, Georgia, Auburn, Pittsburgh, Nebraska and South Carolina are all interested.

Atlanta Celtic wing forward Terrell Bell has put together a good weekend. The 6-foot-7 2007 prospect is shooting the ball well, putting it on the floor and causing problems for defenders. His offers are from Alabama and Georgia State while Tennessee, Memphis and "pretty much the whole SEC" are watching him.

2009 prospect Derrick Favors still has a lot of time ahead of him but Georgia, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Florida and Florida State have got in the race early.

Quincy Owens, a 6-foot-8 forward from Milwaukee, is no longer a Seton Hall commitment. The 2007 big man said he opened things back up when Louis Orr was fired from the Big East school.


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