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December 22, 2007

Amare semis: City of Angels prevails

HAINES CITY, Fla. - Jordan Hamilton was the man of the night and fellow Southern Californian Renardo Sidney was awful good as well. Due largely to their efforts the championship game of the Amare Stoudemire Invitational Classic will be the battle of Los Angeles.

In a hard fought game through three quarters, Hamilton sank a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter putting Los Angeles Dominguez up by one point over Kathleen (Fla.) High School. From that point on neither team had more than a one point lead before Hamilton drained another three pointer with three seconds left to give Dominguez a 55-53 win.

Kathleen's best defender did all he could do to keep Hamilton from getting the basketball, but Hamilton shook him to catch the ball 35-feet out, ripped the ball to his left for a couple dribbles and pulled up from deep behind the arc for the winner. On the game Hamilton scored 25 points on 9 of 20 shooting, 4 of 10 from three and 3 of 4 from the line to go along with eight rebounds, two blocks, one steal and zero turnovers. It was an inspired and physical effort by Hamilton in an intense well played and well coached game.

Visibly ecstatic about the win and his game winning shot, Hamilton down played his heroics after the game.

"I did this a couple times this summer," Hamilton told Rivals.com. "It's a shot I practice everyday, so I'm comfortable taking it."

A 2009 five-star prospect, Hamilton is down to Texas, Connecticut, Syracuse, California and USC. He had these comments about his favorite school Texas.

"I took an unofficial visit there and really liked the campus. They have great coaches, and I love the way Coach Barnes runs his offense."

Standing out once again for Kathleen was George Mason signee Kevin Foster. The electric athlete finished with 24 points o 10 of 16 shooting, 1of 3 from the arc and 3 of 3 from the line, eight rebounds, two blocks, one steal and four turnovers. A 6-foot-6 finisher, Foster is just the type of player who has helped George Mason be successful in recent years. Viewed by high majors as just too undersized and not a good enough ball handler, Foster will only make it tougher for George Mason to find any high majors willing to be on its schedule. He is a fierce competitor who is quick of the ground, physical in a crowd and capable of making high level buckets.

Foster's teammate Miguel Paul chipped in 13 points on 5 of 11 shooting, 2 of 4 from the arc and 1 of 2 from the line, one assist, one steal and four turnovers.

Los Angeles Fairfax 73, Philadelphia Neumann-Goretti 62

Renardo Sidney avoided the proverbial hangover after his dominating performance the night before against San Diego High School and pumped in 29 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in Fairfax's victory. He shot 13 of 22 from the field, 0 of 3 from the arc and 3 of 4 from the line while also tallying four assists, one block, one steal and only one turnover. A big time talent, Sidney has the body control, skill level and feel for the game to dominate on the offensive end.

Neumann-Goretti has an impressive stable of sophomores on its roster. Point guard Tony Chennault is the most recognizable name of the group, and he scored 14 points in the loss. The most impressive sophomore guard for Neumann-Goretti the past two days, however, has been Tyreek Durent. Quick to the bucket either direction and with a nice outside jumper, Durent scored 15 points in the loss. Ultra-athletic 6-foot-5 forward Daniel Stewart does need some skill refinement but is oozing with potential. He competed on both ends against Fairfax and ended up with nine points, all coming in the second half. Unfortunately for Neumann-Goretti, sophomore post player Andre Gillette was unable to make the trip.

In a loss to Urspring Basketball Academy of Germany, Jeremy Tyler struggled from the field shooting 3 of 12 and making 5 of 9 from the free throw line. Tyler also tallied seven rebounds, a block and four turnovers. It has been clear the past two games that Tyler, a great natural talent, still has a lot of work to do solidifying his game and honing his mental focus. Easily distracted, Tyler seeks out the difficult play way more often than making the simple play. Whether it is going for the shot fake or fading away to avoid contact, Tyler takes himself out of too many plays to be as productive as his talent should dictate.

Two of Atlanta's finest

The finals will be a Los Angeles match up but the consolation bracket had a showdown between two of Atlanta's best teams outside of Wheeler High School when Norcross and Westlake squared off.

Westlake took control of the game early behind the all around play of Oklahoma signee Ray Willis. The wiry guard scored, rebounded and ran the point for his team in impressive fashion. Wake Forest signee and five-star prospect Al-farouq Aminu kept Norcross in the game early with 12 points and ten rebounds in the first half.

Although Aminu could only manage two free throws and a blocked shot in the second half, Norcross controlled the second half of the game to win 62-57. Pivotal for Norcross in the second half was the shooting of junior Denzail Jones and the defense of point guard Taariq Muhammad, who switched onto Willis.

Willis still had a good second half, but the defense of Muhammad made him spend too much energy and kept him from dominating the action. For the game Willis finished with a game high 25 points on 8 of 14 shooting, 1 of 4 from the arc and 8 of 8 from the line, eight rebounds, two steals, one assist and five turnovers.

Aminu finished with 14 points on 4 of 16 shooting, 1 of 3 from three and 5 of 8 from the line, ten rebounds, two assists, one block, one steal and three turnovers. Seemingly on the verge of making a number of spectacular plays, Aminu often struggles to finish off the play. Perhaps adding more physical strength to his versatile skill package is the key for him to take his game to that next level. Or it might be more of a matter of improving mental focus and tightening up his play. Nonetheless, Wake Forest will need his tantalizing potentially spectacular play to transform into productive big time playmaking for the Deamon Deacons to rise back up into the nation's elite.

Prospects of note

Jamychal Green continued to carry Montgomery (Ala.) St. Jude with his rebounding and scoring in the paint. Despite limited touches, Green worked his way to 17 points on 5 of 9 shooting from the field and 7 of 11 shooting from the line and 11 rebounds in a lopsided loss to a young and talented Orlando Christian Prep team. Most of Green's damage occurred in the third quarter when Orlando Christian's star big man Kenneth Clayton was on the bench in foul trouble.

Despite limited minutes, Clayton still finished with 15 points on 6 of 8 shooting, five rebounds and three assists. In comparison to Green, Clayton has the same effectiveness as a scorer inside but does not have the same athleticism as an offensive rebounder. Clayton is, however, a more skilled player on the perimeter who can create off the dribble and pass the ball on the move. In the last two days, Clayton has solidified himself as a four-star prospect in the 2009 class.

Also performing well for Orlando Christian Prep were junior Tyshawn Patterson and sophomore Caleb Clyburn. An undersized shooting guard with terrific athleticism, Patterson scored from everywhere on the court for a game high 29 points. Barring a late growth spurt, Patterson projects as a mid-major prospect.

An undersized left handed point guard, Clyburn has a terrific handle and feel for the game. He can also score the ball when needed and ended up with 14 in this game. At this point in his career Clyburn possesses a high major game in a mid-major body. How he develops physically will determine the level of his recruitment.

Texas A&M signee David Loubeau stuffed the scoring and rebounding columns on the stat sheet for Westlake (Fla.) Prep in a 65-63 win over an undersized Bartow (Fla.) team. Loubeau finished with 30 points on 13 of 25 shooting and hauled down 17 rebounds. Quick off the floor and with a nose for the ball, Loubeau is a force inside despite his slender frame. He also handles the ball well in the open court off the rebound and can attack the basket in the half court off a dribble or two. Improving his shooting range will do a lot to ensure his success in the Big 12.

Richie Edwards is an athletic 2009 6-foot-6 small forward who specializes in scoring the basketball. Not only can he come off screens and make shots, but he also has handles well enough to create shots off the dribble. More of a straight ahead athlete, his lateral quickness and strength need improving, but there is no doubt that he can make tough shots. In his match up against Jared Swopshire, Edwards didn't have his best shooting day, scoring 17 points on 6 of 15 shooting. He also grabbed five rebounds, had three steals and two blocks. Swopshire went for 15 points on 7 of 14 shooting to go along with six rebound although he only played a little over half of the game.

Miami, Iowa State, Illinois, Florida State, Ole Miss and Valparaiso have watched Edwards practice or play this year prior to this event. Kansas State is also showing interest and St. Mary's has offered a scholarship.

Coaches in the crowd

Assistants from Miami, USC, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and SMU were spotted in the crowd.

This report concludes Rivals.com's coverage of the inaugural Amare Stoudemire Invitational Classic.


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