by Alex Schwartz
PHILADELPHIA – The Reebok Breakout Classic rolled along all day Thursday and NBE Sports had the opportunity to see 10 of the 12 teams in action on the day.
As was the case on Wednesday night, some lesser known players made noise and some top recruits also showed what they can do.
Future Louisville Cardinal Shaqquan Aaron showed why he is one of the best wings in the nation in the class of 2014. A 6-foot-8 small forward out of Rainier Beach (WA), Aaron is a high-level scorer who poured in 29 points in the morning game and kept playing well after that. Although thin, Aaron is very long, has a smooth game and is a quality athlete. He does a nice job in transition and is a tough player to keep out of the paint. Aaron even showed the ability to play some point guard.
Not many players in the class of 2015 are smoother on the court than Dwayne Bacon. A 6-foot-6 prospect who can play anywhere from the one to the three, Bacon has a really good frame and does a nice job of finishing at the rim, even in traffic. Bacon, who is headed to IMG Academy (FL), is a good athlete with quality body control who can knock down the midrange pull-up.
Jacobi Boykins of Lakewood (FL) is an impressive all-around offensive player. The 6-foot-5 class of 2014 shooting guard is a bit thin and needs to add some bulk, but he is a solid athlete with good bounce. Boykins is a quality shooter with a nice looking stroke who can also score at the rim some.
Many kids that share the same last name or the same name as their famous successful NBA veteran dad have a good shot of getting a scholarship to D-1 school, whether the scholarship is deserved or not. Avery Johnson Jr. though has the skills to get the scholarship without his father’s name and he impressed at the NBA Top 100 Camp on Friday.
“It’s tough because everybody expects you already to be good like he was in college and expects you to go to the NBA, but I just try and stay humble and be me,” the younger Johnson told NBE on Friday. “He passed a lot. I can score, I’m a little bit better shooter. It’s just hard because everyone knows the name and they expect you to be good. Some people hate you because they think I’m only on the Texas Titans because of my dad and I’m only going to certain schools because of my dad.”
Creighton and McDermott Get Tested by Drake
Doug McDermott hit two big three pointers in the middle of the second half and it looked like the Valley’s Player of the Year and his teammates were ready to pull away from Drake. The young Bulldogs had other plans though, cutting a 13-point lead with a little over 4 minutes remaining to 3 –63-60 – on a Rayvonte Rice bucket with 1:24 left on the clock. Creighton was able to salt things away by hitting 5-6 from the stripe in the final minute and winning 68-61.
McDermott was brilliant in the second half and finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds for the game. Greg Echenique contested multiple shots in the last 3 minutes, blocking one by Drake’s Ben Simons that was huge down inside a minute left. Drake looks to have a bright future heading into next season while Creighton rolls into this afternoon’s semifinals in St. Louis where they will play Evansville. The Missouri Valley Tournament is a great event and anyone with a sports package on their TV can find it up in the Fox Sports Missouri/Midwest channels. Today’s games are usually the best. Tomorrow’s final will be on CBS I’m sure where it’s expected Creighton and Wichita State will slug it out (the greatest thing about this event is the expected rarely happens).
Evansville beat Missouri State 72-64 in the late game as Kenny Harris had 20 and Colt Ryan 19 to lead Marty Simmons’ crew. Evansville now plays #25 Creighton in what, judging by their two earlier games, should be a battle. The Purple Aces beat the Bluejays in Evansville and lost the game in Omaha in overtime.
The other semifinal features Wichita State going against Illinois State. The Shockers pounded a tired Indiana State club 72-48 in the Quarters while the Redbirds outlasted Northern Iowa. #14 Wichita State is 27-4 and led by a bevy of veteran players. The Shocks have had three different winning streaks of 8 or more this year and have an NCAA best record of 19-3 on the road since last season. The defending NIT champs are looking to make a deep run here in a few weeks (and with players like 7-footer Garret Stutz, Toure Murry and Joe Ragland, that’s a distinct probability).
Southern Illinois did the inevitable when, facing multiple consecutive losing seasons (including this year’s school record 23 loss campaign) they fired head coach and former Saluki player Chris Lowery. Lowery was the hottest name in the coaching business just four short years ago. He turned down more than one big six league job as SIU stepped up and rewarded him with a fat contract. That contract still had 2 years left on it – the buyout is $1.5 million – and in all likelihood was the only thing that kept SIU from pulling the trigger on Lowery last year. Lowery enjoyed great success, but is the latest example of how quickly things can turn on a coach when they lose players to transfer and miss on recruits. Hindsight is 20/20, but I’m guessing that Michigan job Lowery once turned down is looking pretty good right now.
A-10 Action at Noon
Rick – “I’m not a big Gay guy” – Majerus and his Billikens are coming to town to play Duquesne at noon. St. Louis is having a great year at 23-6 (11-4 in the league). I look forward to watching them play the always game at home Dukes at noon today.
by DOUG FERGUSON
Hanner Parea: F (Indiana Elite)/6-8/200
Committed to Indiana
There is nobody in the Class of 2012 who has the athletic gifts that Parrea does. He has fans holding their breath at what he will do next. It doesn’t show in his numbers at times however due to his lack of fundamentals. His is frequently outrebounded by more fundamentally sound opponents due to lack of boxing out.
Dejuan Marrero: F (Spiece Indy Heat)/6-5/220
School List: Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Marquette, Michigan, Minnesota
On the exact opposite end of the spectrum is Marrero who was possibly the best technically sound rebounder in the gym. He could stand to have a tad more touch around the basket which is where he should stay offensively.
Marcus Paige: G (All-Iowa Attack)/6-0/160
Committed to North Carolina
Can’t help but draw comparisons to current Tar Heel point man Kendall Marshall. Paige is a little more athletically gifted than Marshall while he is not quite as crafty with the ball.