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LAS VEGAS AAU DAY 4 NOTEBOOK: WILD, WILD WEST IN VEGAS
By Raphielle Johnson
By the end of the last college basketball season it was best to simply expect the unexpected. The same could be said for this weekend in Las Vegas, which has produced an unexpected champion in the Kansas City 76ers. The 76ers won the Las Vegas Fab 48 by beating Team Breakdown (Florida) in Monday night’s title game.
While the stands weren’t filled to brim as they were last summer (Oakland Soldiers tend to bring out the crowds), there were a few college programs represented in the coaches area with 2013 wing Ishmail Wainright the primary focus.
Ben Howland (UCLA) and Steve Lavin (St. John’s) were both there to watch Wainwright, who considers Earl Watson (who has connections to both as he played at UCLA under Lavin) to be an older brother and mentor. Other programs represented include Western Illinois, George Mason, Kansas, Missouri, UC Irvine, South Florida, Cal Poly, Nebraska, UM-KC and Creighton.
Wainright was unselfish, not forcing the issue offensively and looking to share the wealth when possible. He’s a very athletic wing with a long wingspan, which allows him to defend a number of positions on the floor, and he also displayed the ability to finish with contact. After the game he provided the following list: Kentucky, Missouri, Syracuse, Texas, Oklahoma State, St. John’s and UCLA.
But he wasn’t the only standout for the 76ers, who received solid performances from both guard Martez Harrison (2012) and wing Broderick Newbill (2012). Harrison is a tough guard who can get to the basket off the bounce while also possessing the ability to set up teammates for good looks. Newbill is very good at attacking the rim and finishing, and he can score in a variety of ways. He also stated after the game that Missouri State, Wichita State, Colorado and Memphis have shown some interest of late, although his lone offer is from Arkansas-Fort Smith.
For Team Breakdown left-handed guard A.J. Astroth (2012) shot the ball well from the perimeter, and he also was able to make a few plays in the lane. And 2013 big man Tonye Jekiri is an active big (6’11”) who hit the glass hard on both ends of the floor. His post moves need some work but when you have a continuous motor coaches can work with that.
Two different games at Fab 48 were followed by fights, an unfortunate occurrence for an event that saw teams such as the Soldiers, Belmont Shore and Team Loaded lose earlier than expected. The higher level of play was found at the Adidas Super 64, which is down to its semifinalists in the championship bracket.
One of those teams is Indiana Elite, who has bounced back from a surprising 0-3 record in pool play. Indiana commitments Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell (2012) and Hanner Perea (2012) have been major factors in the run, and the addition of D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (2012) hasn’t hurt their chances either. They knocked off the Connecticut Basketball Club in the quarters, ending a solid run for CBC.
CBC won two games in impressive fashion before the loss, blowing out SCA All-Stars then surviving the red-hot Buddy Hield (2012) to knock off Kansas Play and Pray in the round of 16. Two of the key players in the win over Play and Pray were forwards Ethan O’Day (2102) and Timahj Parker-Rivera (2012).
O’Day showed off the ability to knock down mid-range shots while also working well around the basket, which goes in line with his working on perimeter skills this summer. O’Day said that he hopes to eventually be a hybrid four or three at the collegiate level, and a number of schools are interested in his services.
Schools mentioned by O’Day include American, Hofstra, Vermont, Holy Cross and St. Joseph’s. Davidson has also been around while Charlotte and Virginia both had him at their respective elite camps. He also stated that he hopes to visit some schools in the Philadelphia area next month, including St. Joe’s and Penn along with possible trips to Princeton and Siena.
Parker-Rivera did his work on the defensive end of the floor, where it was he who drew the assignment of guarding Perry Ellis (2012). Ellis finished with 15 points but was quiet for large stretches of the game, which is where Hield came into play. Hield scored 24 of his game-high 33 points in the second half, knocking down six three-pointers in addition to making drives to the basket.
Hield, who is working on improving his handle along with on-ball defense, has heard from the likes of Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, Memphis, Texas A&M, Boston College, Mississippi State, Marquette, DePaul, Wichita State, Utah and Oregon State.
The two players on the floor with the most acclaim both showed off some of the reasons why many think so highly of them. Andre Drummond (2012) displayed impressive finishing ability inside while also showing off his passing ability when needed. And Ellis was able to do some things offensively despite the defense of Parker-Rivera, knocking down a few jumpers along with scoring inside. Ellis outplayed Landen Lucas earlier in the day as Play and Pray knocked off Team Bradley Northwest Panthers Black.
But one of the best team performances of the day may have come from Utah Pump-n-Run, who put on a show similar to what Wisconsin Swing did in the Fab 48 on Sunday. Two major cogs in the attack that knocked off Compton Magic Elite were Jordan Loveridge (2012) and Jordan Pryor (2012), with Loveridge doing just about whatever he wanted in scoring 39 points.
Loveridge, a 6-foot-6 power forward out of West Jordan (UT), went inside and out for his points while also playing solid defense and making the extra pass when needed as well. Once in the lane Loveridge was able to finish with either hand, and defensively he fights through screens instead of accepting what’s coming. Thus far he’s received offers from BYU, Utah, Utah State, Weber State and Hawaii.
Pryor knocked down a few daggers from the corner as the Magic were attempting to make a late charge behind Arizona commit Gabe York (2012), and he was another player who defended well. He’s only received offers from Division II schools with some interest of late from Weber State.
- Tyquan Goodlett and Chris Obekpa both played well in their win in the morning, and that continued in a hard-fought loss to the stacked Dream Vision squad in the afternoon. New Heights limited Shabazz Muhammad to just seven points on 2-for-12 shooting from the field, and Obekpa more than held his own with the likes of Robert Upshaw.
- Obekpa, who attends Our Savior New American on Long Island, said that he’s been offered by both Texas and Florida State and has received interest from Rutgers, St. John’s, Providence and Washington along with other schools.
- Schools in attendance for the game between Indiana Elite and DTA Devin Harris Super Stars include Indiana, New Mexico, Wisconsin, UCLA, Oregon, Cincinnati, DePaul and Xavier. The head coaches of the first five schools were all watching.
- In speaking with Phillip Nolan (2012) he stated that he’s working on getting stronger, shooting at a more consistent clip and improving his ball-handling. Schools he’s heard from include Oklahoma, Arizona, Memphis, Missouri, Maryland, Tennessee, Oregon, Texas, Baylor, Marquette and Clemson.
- Shamari Triggs (2012) of DTA has received interest from Minnesota, Liberty, Arkansas and Southern Illinois although none have offered. Bakari Triggs (2012), Shamari’s twin, has received more interest from football programs as a defensive back, hearing from Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, Minnesota, Akron and South Dakota. The twins attend Milwaukee (WI) Riverside High School.
- Schools represented at Florida Rams Blue’s loss to Northwest Ohio included Massachusetts, Monmouth, Ohio State, Eastern Michigan, SMU, Akron, Miami, Bradley, South Florida, Missouri, St. Bonaventure and Cincinnati.
- Guard Shawn Smith (2012) really likes Cincinnati and hopes to make a visit to the school sometime next month. “I love them. They came to a lot of my games last year,” remarked Smith about the Bearcats. His one-time high school teammate at the Providence School in Jacksonville (FL) Justin Jackson is now playing at Cincinnati. Other offers have come from Georgia Tech, Miami, Florida, Florida State, Kansas State, Missouri, South Carolina along with others he couldn’t recall at the time.
- Schools represented at the Kansas Play and Pray/CBC game include Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado, Hofstra, Dayton, Nevada, Siena, Towson, Manhattan, Boston College, Providence, Northeastern and Harvard. Bill Self and Frank Martin were both in attendance, watching Perry Ellis.
- The matchup between Urban DFW Elite and Texas Assault was an entertaining (and heated) affair, with the Assault winning a close one behind the play of Marcus Smart (2012) and Nick Banyard (2012). BenQuan Petty (2013) was a tough guard who played well for Urban DFW.
- Schools represented at this game include Kansas, Kansas State, New Mexico, West Virginia, Georgetown, Providence, Marquette, North Carolina, Texas, Boise State, Western Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Baylor and Gonzaga along with many other schools.
- Kris Dunn and Khalil Dukes also played well for CBC in their win over Kansas Play and Pray. Dukes scored eight second-half points to help in the victory while Dunn showed off the handle that makes him one of the toughest point guards to slow down.
- This closes NBE’s coverage from Vegas. Hope everyone enjoyed it. We are off to the Desert Duel Memorial Tournament, one of our favorite events on the AAU circuit every year!