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July 26, 2006

Reebok Big Time: Tuesday's action

LAS VEGAS, NEV. - What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Hopefully that isn't the case with Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon. People will be talking about what the Mean Streets backcourt did in Sin City for a long time.

The duo had another vintage performance to advance to the Elite Eight of the Reebok Big Time tournament. Mean Streets had 22 points from Rose and 28 points from Gordon and Positive Image simply had no answers. No one has really all month long since the two formed the best backcourt in the nation.

Rose is the best blend of athleticism and pure point guard skills AAU basketball has seen since…find a name to put here. The knock against Rose was he was too unselfish, if you can call that a knock, but since the playoffs at the Peach Jam, he's scoring at will.

Gordon is the best blend of strength, athleticism and perimeter scoring. It's scary to think what he can become once he develops his midrange game. Is there a better pure scorer out there like him?


SoCal All-Stars survive a scare


With several of the top dogs bowing out early in the Big Time tournament, onlookers were hoping to see the tourney favorite stick around for a little longer. The SoCal All-Stars fought off a valiant effort from the Spiece Central Stars in a 71-66 victory to move onto the Elite Eight of the tournament.

SCA enjoyed the big plays from Brandon Jennings (18 points) and Renardo Sidney (15 points) down the stretch to hold onto the lead. Jennings converted on all of his free throws under a minute and controlled the pace of the game. Sidney was a match-up problem for Spiece because of his size, ability to attack from the top of the key and knack for drawing the foul. Taylor King was the answer in the first half, finishing with 15 in the victory.

Los Angeles had Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush as the city's sports celebrities. They are gone now. Don't worry SoCal, the Kevin Love show is just a year away. And he brings a crowd with him.

Just hours after officially announcing his decision to attend UCLA, Love had a strong Bruin following, most his family decked out in blue and gold gear. Love had trouble against Matt Howard in the post, scoring 11 points in the victory.

Zach Hahn, the Butler bound guard, was fearless and played like a guy that could care less about any kind of national recognition or an undefeated AAU season that this SCA crew was working with.

Hahn's three-pointer in the corner with 35 seconds to play was called off because of a timeout called by the Spiece bench just a millisecond before Hahn launched the shot that would tie the game. Instead the score was waved off and SCA converted on a pair of free throws to catapult them into the next round.

JaJuan Johnson added an impressive 16 points in the loss.


Other top performers from Tuesday


Edwin Rios, 2007 - The future Miami point guard is making the transition from a score first guard to a set up guy. That was the answer for his Breakdown team in a must-win game against the Worldwide Renegades. Rios did a fantastic job of distributing the rock and finding all of the right guys at the right time. He ended with 11 assists and 11 points all the while collecting five rebounds.

Alvin Mitchell, 2007 - Everyone is looking for a new name on the high-major radar and this time of year it's nearly impossible to find them. Mitchell bucks that trend. The muscular 6-foot-5 wing from Cardinal Gibbons High School was one of the four big-timers in Team Breakdown's 87-72 stomping of the Worldwide Renegades. Mitchell scored 19 points and collected six boards in the win. Perhaps the most impressive thing he did was efficiently bury three-pointers. Mitchell has always been a high-flying athlete and his basketball skills are ever-improving.

Jonathan Hall, 2007 - If the game is going up and down, the 6-foot-4 prep schooler is going to shine. Hall scored the majority of his 18 points in transition and attacking the rim.

J.J. Hickson, 2007 - There wasn't an answer in the post for the five-star big man from Team Breakdown. Hickson was a load in the paint, scoring 22 points and did the best job of any post player we've seen in Vegas in terms of getting to the foul line. Hickson made it to the charity stripe 17 times but struggled to get it done when he had the chance, connecting on just 10. When Hickson made his buckets, they were pretty. Hickson mastered the art of the pivot for scores.

Chris Allen, 2007 - When it is time to get buckets, Allen is going to get them. The Michigan State bound guard came alive in the second half and was the only offensive force in the backcourt for the Worldwide Renegades. Allen finished with 21 points, four rebounds and five assists. Unfortunately his offensive output came 15-points too late in the game and Team Breakdown kept answering Allen's scores.

Darrington Hobson, 2007 - Mr. Versatility had it rolling to the tune of 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists. They call him "Butter" because of his smoothness and his game was in true form. He did it all and helped his H-Squad team advance to Wednesday's play. Don't sell him short on confidence either. The three-star wing demanded that he be the new No. 1 player in the country twice in the middle of the game, beckoning media row to take notice loudly.

Bradley Wannamaker, 2007 - Here is a guy with a great future ahead of him somewhere in the Atlantic 10. The Philly guard can dial it up from deep and he has a body that can take the banging when driving into the paint for buckets. Against the Mean Streets crew, Wannamaker made sure he wasn't left out of the compliment party for the guards. He finished with a hard earned 22.

Steven Gray, 2007 - His Total Package team was worked by the Illinois Wolves but the Gonzaga bound guard was the only consistent force in the tournament ousting loss. He's a pure jump shooter with a great understanding of the game. Put him with Gonzaga's stellar class and the West Coast Conference school continues to roll like an elite program. Gray scored 14 of his team's 32 points.

Ed Rolax, 2007 - A mid-major program is going to get a good 6-foot-6 forward in this St. Petersburg Catholic prospect. Rolax is relaxed and efficient each time out on the floor. He only scored 10 points for the Lee Buls but they were big buckets and his eight rebounds were just what the doctor ordered.

Gaby Ngoundjo, 2007 - Big guys come at a premium this time of year and this 6-foot-7 power forward could quietly become a high-major guy. The Little Rock Christian post owns the biggest set of hands around and uses them to vice grip rebounds and block shots. If the ball is coming off the rim, he's usually right there to meet it. Ngoundjo collected 12 redounds and scored 21 points in his Arkansas Hawks loss to the Jacksonville Lee Bulls.

Jon Rice, 2007 - When whatever mid-major he is playing in the NCAA tournament in three years, Rice will certainly have the ball in his hands and asked to let it fly. Mike Mullins has done that with him here at the Big Time and Rice has provided buckets. The lights out shooter connected on five of eight from down town to 15 points in a slow win against Total Package.

Dante Anderson, 2008 - This 6-foot-3 Gainesville native might be the top dog in Florida's 2008 class. He's a do-it-all guard that gets the most of out his game. In a big come from behind victory against the Arkansas Hawks in the morning game, Anderson scored 16 points and pulled down a tough eight rebounds. Since the ABCD camp, the rising junior is catching on like wild fire with the high-majors.

Troy Gillenwater, 2008 - He simply gets it done. The solid bodied big man punched his ticket to the tune of 27 points and eight rebounds against Urban DFW Select. There is an old school flair to his game and a no-nonsense attitude to his play.

Kenny Boynton, 2009 - When talking about the rising sophomore class, this guy's name has to be one of the first ones mentioned. Here is a guy that is on a tear since, well, his eighth grade year. At the ABCD camp, Boynton was captain efficiency. Here at the Big Time, he's been just as impressive. Last year he torched a team for 45. This year, he hasn't reached that level yet but he's doing other things. Against Worldwide, Boynton scored 22 points and grabbed six rebounds. As a defender, Boynton was the thorn in the side of the Worldwide backcourt. He gave everyone fits.

Karon Johnson, 2009 - Wowza. The 6-foot-6 forward for the Richmond Squires is big time. Don't let anyone tell you he is going to be big time. He already is. Johnson is a super athlete with a good midrange game. He had it all going to the tune of 24 points and eight rebounds against the Rising Stars of America. Johnson was one of the top dogs of the day without a doubt.


SCHOOL LISTS


Alvin Mitchell is starting to catch on with the high-majors. The Florida native said he picked up offers from Miami, Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia Tech, St. John's and Pitt since the start of the month. He'll probably pick up even more by the month's end.

Duke and North Carolina both earned the "dream school" tag by stud 2009 guard Kenny Boynton. He said he hasn't even looked at recruiting yet. Understandably so. He has three more years to worry about it.

Jon Leuer would probably like to have his game against AFE Wizards back. The fast-rising big man went 0-10 in an ugly win. Recruiting keeps rolling though for him. He said he is holding offers from Louisville, Iowa, Iowa State, Indiana and West Virginia.

Blake Hoffarber said he has around 20 offers from mid-major schools and picked up free rides from Cincinnati, Rutgers and Washington State since the ABCD camp while Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State and Pitt have also shown interest since then.


On tap


Elite Eight

9 a.m. - Spiece Indy Heat vs. H Squad
10:20 a.m. - Long Island Lightning vs. Mean Streets Express
11:40 a.m. - Minnesota Magic Elite vs. SoCal All-Stars
1:00 p.m. - Richmond Squires vs. Houston Jr. Hardballers


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