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July 29, 2008

AAU Nationals: 16U action rules the day

ORLANDO -- The AAU Nationals are in full swing in the city where Mickey Mouse rules the realm. The majority of our day was spent watching the 16 and under division.

WE MEET AGAIN

All Ohio and the City Rocks met each other in the championship game of the AAU Super Showcase a few days and the kids from Ohio brought home the title. The two teams had a chance to lock horns and go at it once again on Monday night.

The rematch produced similar results. All Ohio won 74-61.

At the end of the day, there isn't a team in the country that can match All-Ohio's depth, star power and size. Guards Jordan Sibert and Juwan Staten combined for 44 points on 16 of 26 shooting from the floor.

Sibert was the best player in the 16 and under division on Monday. He's an efficient scorer with a quiet killer game. The 6-foot-4 guard can score from the wing, power to the hole, convert from the foul line (8-8 FT) and come off screens or score off the bounce. His complete offensive game is becoming quite advanced.

It doesn't come as a big surprise that a number of top level head coaches followed him around and traveled both east and west on Interstate 4 to see him play. In the morning game, Xavier's Sean Miller, Cincinnati's Mick Cronin, West Virginia's Bob Huggins, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Miami's Frank Haith and assistants from Ohio State and Maryland were posted up to see him (and his teammates) play at Celebration High School. Nearly all of them returned to the Champions Sports Complex in the evening to see Sibert, too.

Tennessee, Ohio State, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Xavier, Miami and Maryland have offered Sibert, according to his brother Logan, while Louisville, Michigan, Notre Dame and Wisconsin are also in the mix. A pair of unofficial visits are in the works to West Virginia and Tennessee in August as well as a trip to Ohio State, too.

Staten, a Dayton commit, was great in the nightcap, too. He scored 22 points (10-15 FG) and handed out four assists in the victory. The jitterbug guard power dribbled his way to the hole time and time again for buckets and was simply too quick for the City Rocks to contend with. The top 70 prospect a steal for the Flyers.

Despite getting limited touches in the team's offense on Monday, Ohio State bound center Jared Sullinger makes it work when he gets the opportunity.

When Sullinger gets his backside anchored on a defender and when position is established, forget about it. The big man is going to score and he's winning the post battle. The five-star big man finished with 14 points (5-8 FG, 4-6 FT) and 13 rebounds in the match-up.

With Sibert, Staten and Sullinger doing most of the dirty work, the team's most intriguing player and possible best overall prospect is probably Adreian Payne. The 6-foot-9 forward runs like a deer, jumps like a wide receiver and runs like a track star (which apparently he is).

Payne may not scored much (8 points) or dominate the glass (7 rebounds) but his four made buckets were certainly eyebrow raisers and his rebounds sent a message that he isn't messing around. Payne is about as pure as a prospect as you'll find in 2010 and when it all comes together, watch out. Think Darrell Arthur.

The City Rocks were led by forwards Tobias Harris (13 points on 5-9 shooting from the floor) and Will Regan (12 points on 6-9 shooting).

Harris's best attribute is much like Sullinger's. When the big man gets position in the post, he does a tremendous job of sealing his man off and scoring with a quick strike. Regan was very active and the beneficiary from good passes from his point guards.

Combo guard Taran Buie scored 10 points and just had too hard of a time of keeping Staten in front of him.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

The spunk, energy and toughness that Noah Cottrill plays with is hard not to like. He commands the attention when he's on the floor and his scoring, passing and leadership.

The four-star guard scored 22 points in a 68-61 Kentucky Patriots win over the Charlotte Royals. He made sure his team was coming home with the victory as well as another day for games.

He plays with the bravado of a boxer and that will serve him well when it is time to run the show for the Mountaineers. The homegrown West Virginia product will certainly be a fan favorite in Morgrantown. He's already one in Orlando.

SYF big man Jake Kitchell made some big plays down the stretch, scoring in the lane and grabbing a handful of offensive rebounds. His block at the end of the game on an attempted three-pointer to tie sealed the victory. He scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds in a come from behind win for the SYF Players over the North Carolina Gaters.

The 6-foot-8 big man said he's heard from Butler, Xavier, Purdue, Iowa, Iowa State and others, he said. While no offers are currently on the table, he's been playing at a level that would certainly warrant one after the summer tour.

Class of 2011 guard P.J. Hairston led the North Carolina Gaters with 22 points in a tough tournament ousting loss to the SYF Players. He did his best work at the start of the game, pumping in 14 points in the first half. When Hairston is open from three, he's automatic from there.

Hairston is one of the top scorers in his class and he's been an impressive player all year long. The Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley prospect will be a hot target in ACC country. North Carolina had an assistant watching along with Clemson and Maryland. Hairston will be a major priority in his class.

There wasn't a bigger class of 2011 surprise on Monday than Gaters big man Jacob Lawson. The 6-foot-6 big man scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots.

He's a high-energy and intimidating athlete inside the paint. The state of North Carolina is just loaded with prospects and Lawson is just another guy to announce himself nationally. If he grows some more and refines his offensive post skills, you have yourself a high-level prospect.

Future Florida Gator point guard Austin Rivers was one of the top guards of the day. The future five-star prospect has the swagger and confidence that the good ones have.

He was scoring with the three ball, putting defenders on pause with his hesitation dribble and running his team with efficiency. Rivers paced his Team STAT crew to a defensive-heavy victory over the Westchester Hawks. He scored 16 in the win.

Team STAT forward Justin Jackson will always have admirers because of his high-energy, strong frame, no non-sense approach and overall production in the paint. The long armed 6-foot-6 power forward from the class of 2010 is also shaping up to be a hot name in the southeast.

Jackson said he has offers from Clemson, Auburn, South Carolina and Ole Miss while Georgetown, Kentucky, Florida, South Florida and Central Florida are also in the mix.

James Bell said he isn't committed to Villanova, despite constant chatter that he is or will be in the very short future. The Montverde (Fla.) Academy bound wing said the Wildcats are tops on his list though.

QUICK STOP AT 17U

Dennis Felton of Georgia and Paul Hewitt of Georgia Tech continued the month long stalking of Georgia Ballers center Daniel Miller. The sleeper big man struggled in his match-up against Cousins, scoring just four points in the loss.

It was good to see DeMarcus Cousins lock horns with another big man (Daniel Miller) and go to work against a fellow center. Cousins scored 18 points and made a number of plays when it counted to lock up the victory.

Georgia Ballers guard Jamie Vaughn went for 25 points in a tough loss to the Birmingham Storm. However, the 6-foot guard from Eagles Landing High School did enough to have a number of coaches asking, "Who is that kid?"

Vaughn is a 2008 prospect with grades. He said UNC Spartanburg, Eastern Kentucky, Central Florida and Texas A&M-Corpus Christie are looking at him for a late addition.

Vaughn is a big time scorer/shooter. He's been the Ballers most productive and consistent player all season long. Vaughn could help a low-major program in the fall.

NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD

  • Arkansas landed 2011 forward Aaron Ross very early in the process and it makes sense why the Razorbacks wanted to lock up the in-state prospect. He's a versatile and high-energy combo forward. Against the powerful All Ohio team, Ross scored 13 points. It wasn't his best game but his effort was in a blowout win.

  • The SYF Players guard Xavier Jones was a tough customer for his team and was the emotional leader in his team's win. The 6-foot-3 guard from Gary Westside is a good-looking mid-level prospect.

  • Keep an eye on 2011 forward Markus Crider with SYF. The Dayton, Ohio native made some athletic plays around the cup and looked every bit of 6-foot-6. He's growing, his confidence is improving and his upside is something to keep tabs on.

  • Class of 2010 wing Jay Canty is a versatile wing that finds ways to contribute. He scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds, had four steals and dished out three assists. The 6-foot-5 athlete finds ways to contribute for his North Carolina Gaters team.

  • The 16 and under Charlotte Royals have an impressive roster of prospects. The best on the roster, at least on Monday, was Brian Richardson. The 6-foot-4 skinny guard scored a modest 12 points for his club against the Kentucky Patriots. The class of 2010 guard has the frame (albeit thin) of a college player. He knows how to thrive at his position and he'll be one to chart over time.


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