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April 23, 2006

SoCal All-Stars claim Kingwood

HOUSTON - The madness has ended at the Kingwood Classic and the Southern California All-Stars outran the field in the country's biggest AAU tournament. Kevin Love, Taylor King and Brandon Jennings help lead the way in a big win over the Indiana-based SYF Players to claim the 2006 event.

SoCal All-Stars crowned kings of the Kingwood

The Westfield High School gym was packed from start to finish at this year's Kingwood and for those that stuck around for the championship game were treated to a vintage performance by Kevin Love, Taylor King, Brandon Jennings and the rest of the SoCal All-Stars in a 66-58 win over the SYF Players (Ind.).

Love finished with a team high 21 points. With a long weekend of games under his legs already, the Lake Oswego, Ore., native was extra nimble and quick off the floor for dunks in traffic as he cut down the baseline. Love can do some damage with the ball on his hands as he attacked the lane and had little trouble finishing around the cup.

Love's passing skills were at an all-time high, finding guys in traffic for easy scores at the basket. The five-star big man would thread a needle to a cutting King or Jennings and got the ball only in the spot where his teammates could catch it and score in one quick motion.

"He is un-be-lievable," King said. "Just unbelievable."

King was oftentimes the beneficiary of Love's passes, scoring 17 points in the win. It was King's rebounding that helped push SCA over the edge at the end of the day. The Duke bound forward is a tremendous rebounder and used his long wing span to snatch everything off the glass. Love calls his teammate the most underrated rebounder in the country. He may be right.

SCA played SYF on Friday in the opening round of pool play, winning 76-63. King said the match-up with the fundamentally sound team was not going to be a cakewalk, unlike so many of SCA's other victories at the Kingwood.

"When we first played SYF, we just stepped off the plane and had to play a tough game to beat them. Today was just as tough," King said. "They are a good team but I think we were just a lot deeper."

Depth is the key to winning the Kingwood Classic. In order to win the marathon tournament, teams have to play four games by 4 o'clock in the afternoon. SCA has the luxury of depth but the team's star power isn't too shabby either.

"When you have guys like Kevin Love, Brandon Jennings, Daniel Hackett, Malik Story, Butter (Darrington Hobson), you know your job is going to be a lot easier," King said.

Jennings is a jet with the ball and he was wowing the crowd with his quick cross-over dribble to free himself from his defender and getting to the lane and dishing off to the numerous high-major prospects around him. Jennings said he is just feeding off the energy of Love.

"Playing with Kevin is a whole lot of fun," Jennings said. "He just makes it fun. Do you see the things he is doing out there? Oh my god, he's good."

So is SYF forward Scott Martin. The 6-foot-8 junior from Valparaiso (Ind.) High School poured in a team high 23 points in the defeat. Martin is one of the few high-major surprises this month on the AAU circuit and cemented his high-major status with his championship game performance.

He's putting all of the pieces together at the right time and quickly becoming a major target for the Big Ten schools.

Other top performers from Sunday


Josh Owens, New Heights - The class of 2007 forward is an attractive prospect for a number of schools. For starter's he's clutch. The 6-foot-7 muscular four man hit the game winner in overtime against the Cen-Tex Shooters in a morning game for New Heights. The big man is a strong-bodied force around the basket and works his magic from the high post. Mix his overall skill set and physique with his big academic reputation at Exeter Academy in N.H. and you have an intriguing player. Boston College, Notre Dame and Stanford all took a peek at him on Sunday. He said Georgetown is also interested.

Kyle Singler, Portland Legends - The five-star forward from South Medford (Ore.) High School looks bigger than he did last go round on the AAU circuit both in height and muscle mass. He's using his size well around the basket, playing tougher in the post and getting good position on the blocks. Singler is rounding out his game and is one of the most versatile players in the class a la Thaddeus Young of the 2006 class. Coach K, Ben Howland and Lute Olsen all kept a close eye on him on Sunday morning.

E'Twaun Moore, SYF Players - His jumper is improved and that could be the separating factor between the middle of the pack four-star players and the elite level guards in the 2007 class. His delivery in his jumper has been corrected over time and looks much better than before. Moore is an athletic guard that can fly in transition or be patient in the half court.

O.J. Mayo, Miami Tropics - The number one player in the class of 2007 put on a first half show against the Georgia Stars, scoring 20 of his team's 32 points. He makes the shots that everyone else misses.

Gary Clark, Florida Rams - It was a good weekend for the future Florida Gator. The 6-foot-3 guard is starting to do a lot more than just rely on his perimeter game. Clark still buries the three and that is a good thing. He's opening himself up more now because he is taking it more to the rack and finishing.

Luis Colon, Miami Tropics - His high school coach Shakey Rodriguez said Kansas State, UMass, UConn, Pitt and Purdue are contenders for the 6-foot-10, 260-pound center's signature late in the game.

Evan Turner, Illinois Wolves - Smooth. That's the best way to describe the 6-foot-6 wing forward. He is a prototypical small forward and it is easy to understand why so many Big Ten schools are interested in him. Turner said he is wide open in his recruitment.

Demitri McCamey, Illinois Wolves - Big, strong and tough, the 6-foot-4 guard is a load to defend in the backcourt. With his size, he's tough to stop on the glass, too. He said UConn, Kentucky, Illinois, Wake Forest, Pitt, Clemson, Virginia and DePaul are all interested.


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