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April 30, 2007

King James: Final notebook

AKRON, Ohio -- We wrap our coverage from the King James Shooting Stars Classic over the weekend and take a deeper look to two last second games that came down to a referee decision. Staying away from the drama, William Buford quietly did his job and capped off an impressive April showing.

Prior to winning the 17 and under division at the King James Classic, the Georgia Stars relied on a last second dunk to move on to the title game.

Travis Leslie, who was as good as anyone on Sunday, caught a failed shot attempt by David Forrest and dunked home the game-winning shot a la NC State in the 1983 National Championship game. After a quick mid court meeting with the officials to discuss whether or not the shot went through before the buzzer sounded, the men in stripes counted the bucket and won the game 58-57.

On paper, the game between the Stars and King of the Court was one of the best individual match-ups in the event, pairing top ten talents Al-Farouq Aminu and Delvon Roe as well as two of the nation's top centers in Tony Woods and Kenny Frease.

Aminu finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. The five-star forward was the only player on the Stars that could hit a free throw as he hit seven of eight from the charity stripe. However, Roe's presence frustrated Aminu as the Georgia native only converted on four of 14 shooting from the floor.

Roe started the game very well, as he hit his first five shots. He finished with 20 points on seven of 13 shooting from the floor. His herky-jerky motion and constant spinning to the basket in order to use his primary left hand was hard to defend for the Stars, a team that has good size inside.

The Woods-Frease match-up fizzled before it ever really lit up. Woods was good on the glass and used his slippery body to grab eight rebounds. He didn't score from the floor and couldn't match-up with Frease's size. Frease, a Xavier pledge, scored a quiet eight points and only shot two of four from the floor.

Leslie was big in the second half, as he scored tough baskets after snagging big offensive boards. He's one of the best athletes in the class of 2008, something we've been touting about him since beginning of the high school season. He earned a high-major offer or two on Sunday.

Forrest was a major sparkplug for the Stars as he shined on defense, made buckets, ran the point well and made it to the foul line. Coming into the event, his recruitment was quiet but did boast interest from Western Kentucky. Good move on the Hilltoppers. He also earned offers over the weekend with his spunky play.

The game was eerily similar for King of the Court, who moved onto the semi-finals on a similar situation against Triple Threat.

Paired against the kids from the D.C. area, King of Court were forced into overtime because of a huge shots from Jason Clark and a big time game from Chris Braswell.

After Roe sank a pair of free throws, Triple Threat sprinted down the court and Clark sunk what was thought to be a three-pointer. However, the shot was waved off and was ruled late. Chaos followed and King of the Court moved on. Roe was outstanding, finishing with 28 points.

Robert Wilson, perhaps the biggest surprise in the tournament, scored 20 for the host team. He'll officially announce for Wisconsin on Wednesday at a press conference at his Garfield Heights school. The 6-foot-5 wing is a scorer and had some strong moments in the event.

Other news & notes

April has been a good month for William Buford. The Ohio State bound guard quietly did damage in Pittsburgh last weekend. In Akron , he picked apart defenses as good as any guard in the country. He put his D1 Greyhounds on his shoulders and put the team into the finals of two deep tournaments on consecutive weekends.

Buford torched the Florida Rams for 27 points and scored any way he wanted. Buford doesn't force shots and rarely took a bad attempt. He connected from deep, in the midrange, at the rim, from the line and kept the Rams on their heels because his versatility on offense.

Nearly every team he played said he was the toughest player to defend in the tournament. That is a true statement.

Darius Miller was equally as lethal against the Rams. He scored nearly all of his 14 points in the second half and pushed the Greyhounds over the edge and broke the lead to double digits at some points.

The 6-foot-6 wing from Kentucky was one of the most watched players in the event. Bob Huggins shadowed him from start to finish. So did Billy Donovan, Mick Cronin, Frank Haith and others. Assistants from Louisville , Kentucky , Illinois , Clemson and others did as well.

The Rams had 15 points from Ray Shipman, who was one of the top scorers from the event. He gets to the basket any chance he wants thanks in large part to his muscular frame. Few kids want to get in the way of him when he comes barreling down the lane. The 6-foot-6 wing from Florida had a good weekend in terms of putting the ball through the cylinder.

Dago Pena did a fine job of really emerging as a prospect at the King James event. Coaches from all levels took notice. His motor doesn't turn off and he makes shots. In a class where the field is very even, guys are starting to sense a need to separate themselves for offers. Pena played like a guy wanting to earn a free ride or two.

Big man Kenny Kadji capped off a good weekend and he's certainly cemented himself as one of the elite level centers in the class of 2008. He has the length at 6-foot-10 but he's one of the few players that has the trunk that resembles a next level post player.

Wisconsin's finest square off

It was an all- Wisconsin final in the 16 and under. The Wisconsin Playground Warriors knocked out the Madison Spartans for the title.

The game paired two of the top dogs in Wisconsin 's 2009 class. Jamil Wilson and Jeronne Maymon, a pair of athletic forwards, both showed their strengths on Saturday.

While we missed the finals, both players put in the work in the semis. Wilson , a bouncy 6-foot-7 forward did damage against Indiana Elite-One, one of the best teams on the 16 and under. The Racine Horlick High School product can play on the wing but has the bounce and toughness to be a very tough interior presence. He has elite level tools and the momentum to having a bigger summer. Keep an eye on him.

Maymon, one of the top five prospects at last summer's adidas Phenom150 camp, looks as good as he did in San Diego. He's a tough guy rebounder that flies to the rim and grabs every loose ball he can chase down. Maymon plays well when he is in motion. If he isn't moving around, he's simply hurting his own effectiveness. What position does he play seems to be the question when looking at his long term future. Overall, he'll likely find a home at the high-major level.

Dominic Cheek was outstanding at the Boo Williams Invitational and he was just as good in Akron . The skinny wing for the Playaz 16 and under team showed flashes of a young Kerry Kittles, as one Big East coach put it. Nice call. Cheek buried three-pointer after three-pointer and never hit the rim with his buckets.

The 6-foot-5 guard from St. Anthony's High School in New Jersey is an offensive stud in the class of 2009 and has the tools to be a potential five-star prospect in his class. He plays at one of the best high school programs in the country and is learning from one of the game's best teachers in Bob Hurley. Add to the fact he'll play alongside a number of Division I signees/commitments next year, Cheek has all of the makings of good things to come in the future.


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