The mighty Atlanta Celtics stormed into the finals against Pump ‘n Run as favorite to win it all on the strength of their front line. However, in the end it was a pair of guards that ruled the action. MVP Jordan Farmar had 20 points and 4 assists in the 94-86 win. Bryce Taylor had 16 of his own and 2003 forward Jared Dudley did plenty of damage as well.
Dwight Howard had 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocks for the Celtics who were bidding to win their fourth T.O.C. title. The Celtics walloped Tulsa 74-51 and Juice 76-51 to gain a finals berth.
Pump ‘n Run smoked a fine Houston Westside team 71-48 and squeaked one out against the New York Ravens 74-72.
The Long Island Lightning defeated the New Orleans Jazz 60-51 in the finals to capture the championship among second-place pool finishers. However, the Lightning were defeated in the semis by the Southern Cal All-Stars but gained a berth in the finals when So Cal had to leave to catch a flight.
Meanwhile, Tasmin Mitchell scored 27 in a big time semifinal performance against the Playaz. The Jazz won 90-75 in that one.
16 Year Old Division
Another Georgia squad entered a title game as the favorite and came out a runner-up. In overtime, the Illinois Wolves defeated the Georgia Stars 66-64 as guard Bobby Frasur sank two free throws with 5 seconds to play.
Frasur was named all-tournament but the MVP went to point guard Brian Mullins whose savvy floor game paced the Wolves. Meanwhile, Louis Williams of the Georgia Stars had 21 points including a 9-for-10 effort from the line. Prior to the title game, Williams' strong play was one of the story lines in the bracket.
15 Year Old Division
The "Big Ticket" was big time for Boo Williams which defeated the Tim Thomas Playaz 61-46 to win the championship. Vernon "Big Ticket" Macklin was the easy choice for MVP of the division. Boo Williams has not lost a game this spring yes (that means in any tournament) and captured the Southern Invitational title two weeks ago.
Josh Wright, PG, L.I. Panthers: We couldn't be more impressed with his play. Wright has developed into a Top 10-caliber player at his position and really has shown a propensity to score the ball. He takes big shots and really turned in a fine weekend. He had 25 in a game this morning against the Alabama Challenge.
Jordan Farmar, PG, Pump ‘n Run: Against the Celtics in the title game he did what a player of his caliber should do and led his team with patience and poise. He was awarded the MVP for his efforts. He had 20 in the title game and set up Taylor well.
Bryce Taylor, SG, Pump ‘n Run: A strong case could have been made for him being the MVP of the event. Taylor's hot hand from behind the arc from Saturday on was a major reason for PNR's rise to the championship. Give him credit, he catches and shoots with some of the best shooters in the class and he was hot in Chapel Hill.
Celtics Frontline: Dwight Howard and Josh Smith shared 30 points and Randolph Morris played well in the championship game but once again, it was another guard who took home MVP honors and the trophy. Still, most everyone who saw this massive conglomerate of talent on the Celtics roster agreed that there have ever been few frontlines as talented as this group. Good things lie ahead for this group of Celtics.
Ronnie Steele, PG, Alabama Challenge: He's strong and has a nice body for a point guard. Against the Panthers, he scored 23 points and really shot the ball well in each half.
Shane Foster, SF, New Orleans Jazz: Foster is an athletic specimen. The guy gets a lot accomplished near the basket and in the paint. He put up some nice scoring numbers during the whole event.
J.R. Smith, SG, Playaz: His team had to stage a furious rally to be the Magnolia Stars in the quarters and Smith led the charge with 20. This Cadillac-caliber athlete does things athletically that you can't account for. His step-back-jumper and elevation is a killer. He could be in store for another big summer.
Tasmin Mitchell, F, New Orleans Jazz: Against the Playaz this guy was terrific. He had 27 every which way possible. From tip dunks to 3s to medium-jumpers, he was scoring it from all over the place. He's had a big rep for the past few seasons and he's living up to the billing.
Louis Williams, SG-PG, Georgia Stars: It wasn't vintage Williams in the title game loss but the talent is evident. He's a young man who can get himself in and out of tight spots with offensive creativity. He's a scoring guard who is comfortable shooting it from deep and medium-range but he can get to the cup. He's a big timer.
Off The Dribble
Long Island Panthers forward Rashon Clark is a superb athlete who finds ways to contribute. … DeMare Carroll of The Challenge is a long, good looking athlete. He's still refining his offense and can really pump up his scoring totals by rebounding. … He wouldn't tell you but Playaz point man Sean Singletary wasn't 100% this weekend. A bum shoulder is still giving him some problems. …
Speaking of point guards, there's a star emerging in Louisiana. Jazz freshman sensation Darryl Augustine is going to be a big time player. He started and was a driving force in his team's overall success. … In the Playaz win over the Magnolia Stars early in the playoffs, Charles Thomas had 28 points and the ultra-talented Monta Ellis had 27. …
News & Notes
Jordan Farmar knows what school he's going to pick. But, he'll wait until the middle part of the week to announce. UCLA and Florida are getting much burn here. … DeMare Carroll is hearing from Kentucky, Virginia Tech, UAB and Alabama. … Rashon Clark likes Iowa State, UMass, Richmond, Dayton, Rhode Island, Seton Hall and Providence. …
Panthers star guard Josh Wright likes Syracuse, Boston College, UConn, Kentucky and Louisville. Don't sleep on the Eagles or the Huskies. … Challenge shooter Bobby Norton likes South Alabama, Southern Illinois, Central Florida and Florida International. …
Raleigh's Finest point guard Troy Mathis is interested in Xavier, Minnesota and Clemson among a host of others. He's just getting this recruiting process started. ... Josh Smith of the Celtics will attend Oak Hill Academy next season. … Greg Paulus is making an unofficial visit to North Carolina on Sunday. … J.R. Smith is making an official visit to Louisville next weekend. ….
Tournament of Champions, Day Two
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The T.O.C. is an unforgiving event. Slip up once and you're staring at a second place finish in your pool at best. Have an off night as a player and there's someone else there to grab a headline.
Mike Williams, PF, Southeast Pump ‘n Run: What a way to celebrate his commitment to Texas! Williams went off for 26 points and 12 rebounds. He did his work in the paint and he did it well. Seriously, just an hour after picking the Longhorns he did his best work of the spring period. It was vintage Mike Williams.
Dwight Howard, C, Atlanta Celtics: OK, so Atlanta smoked the Illinois Fire in a mismatch. So what? Howard was awesome. He had 22 and 11 and looked like a franchise big man. Toss in a 10-13 effort from the line and you see why he's universally loved as a prospect. In truth, he left some balls on the rim or it would have been a signature effort against the Fire.
JamesOn Curry, SG, NC Gaters: There was an audience waiting for a virtuoso performance against Telfair and he delivered. Curry struggled in the morning but stepped up his game in the evening. He did what he does best – smoke jumpers – and finished with 24 points in a losing cause. Equally as important as the points were the three assists and zero turnovers. We've got to hand it to him, he rose to the challenge.
Sebastian Telfair, PG, Juice All-Stars: We had him down for 19 points and 6 assists against the Gaters. He went 4-for-10 from downtown but it wasn't about his scoring in this one. "Bassy" dropped a few big time assists and stepped it up in the leadership department to rally his squad.
Corey Brewer, SF, Tennessee Travelers: In one of the best statistics we've seen this spring, Brewer recorded 7 first half steals and 8 for the game against the Gaters. He was meeting guys at half court and taking their candy. He finished with a smooth 18 points on 5-11 from the field and 6-for-8 from the line.
Bryce Taylor, SG, Pump ‘n Run: The Michigan Hurricanes looked like they had some life in them in the early stages of the second half of their playoff game against PNR. However, four straight Taylor 3's later and it was over. He finished with 21 points and did what he does best: catch it and let it rip. The kid makes 3's at a high-major rate.
Cedric Simmons, PF, NC Gaters: We aren't kidding when we tell you that he improves every time out. In two games on Saturday, Simmons more than proved a capable mid-range shooter and even his footwork looked more developed than two weeks ago. Needless to say, North Carolina State fans were pleased with his efforts.
DeMarcus Nelson, SG, Belmont Shore: In a morning game, the Minnesota Magic could have placed armed guards at the rim and Nelson would have gotten passed them. He hit up the Minnesotans for 28 points and each was pretty easy to recall.
Rudy Gay, SF-PF, Cecil Kirk: This was our first time seeing him this spring and he's a legit 6-8. He likes to dunk and he can sure fill a stat sheet. Try 17 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists against Team Richmond.
Tyree Evans, SG, Team Richmond: The two-sport standout began the day with a barrage of 3-pointers that he unleashed against Cecil Kirk. Evans rung up a cool 26 and when the smoke finally cleared, he had 7 treys. You better make this guy put it on the floor or he'll bury you.
Jamar Butler, PG, Cleveland Basketball Club: People forget about Butler because he committed to Cincinnati so long ago, but that's a mistake. He had 23 versus Arkansas and he showed off his long-range capabilities. The guy has pace to his game and when he's clicking from deep like he was today, well, he looks like a stabilizing future force in the Cincy backcourt.
Randolph Morris, C, Atlanta Celtics: They say Morris has been turning it on lately and if Saturday was any indication of how he's been playing, well, count us among the impressed. Morris looked to be more comfortable than we've ever seen him. He was assertive and efficient on offense, using a variety of skill and power moves to score. Big thumbs up for this effort against the Illinois Fire.
Jermaine Bell, PF, Juice All-Stars: Say what you want about his lack of weight – he doesn't weigh 200 lbs. yet. But, Bell gets things done. He's got a sweet mid-range touch and he challenges everything in the paint.
Southeast Pump ‘n Run Sophs: Joey Cameron has been on the injured list a good bit this spring. Not on Saturday. If he wasn't blocking shots, he was finishing strong. He looked like the guy we loved last summer in Vegas. His 2005 partner, Tyler Smith, is simply a big time player. He's so explosive in transition that it's scary.
Off The Dribble
Who ever thought it was a good idea to give Tyree Evans of Team Richmond a clean look from downtown? Get in his grill or start running to the other end. … Rudy Gay does something that reminds you of Eddie Griffin. He loves to extend and finish plays. That translates into a lot of dunks and an aggressive style near the rim. …
Kenny Hunt of the Gaters is having a terrific spring. Few guys on the circuit are burning jumpers the way he has been in the month of May. … The word around the gyms this weekend is that Shaun Livingston, now healthy, has been super. We've caught him doing amazing things out of the corner of our eye. Could he be playing for a potential Duke offer? On Saturday he didn't deny that might be a factor. …
Upset of the Day? Try First Class in relatively easy fashion over Southern Cal All-Stars. … Charlie Jones does a great job with his Houston Westside team. They knocked off the players to get into the main draw playoffs and then won a game in the playoffs. The kids love playing with each other and he's got four Division I 2004 commitments on the roster. …
Best athlete in the Class of 2004? Tough call but at 6-9, Josh Smith is in the conversation. He launched himself at rims in multiple gyms today. … Dunk of the Day: anyone in the gym who saw JamesOn Curry hit Cedric Simmons in transition for a mean one-handed dunk knows what I'm talking about. …
The Jason Horton-Jordan Farmar match up never really materialized. The foul-marred playoff game was ugly and Bryce Taylor ended any suspense of the outcome shortly after halftime. Farmar did an excellent job of driving and setting up Taylor. …
News & Notes
Shane Dansby, a SG with the Tennessee Travelers, now has an offer from Appalachian State and interest from Rutgers and Boston College. … Tyree Evans lists North Carolina State, Miami, Cincy and James Madison and has offers from two latter schools. … Cecil Kirk center James Johnson likes UConn, Providence, Richmond, Northeastern, Kent State, Penn State and Charlotte. …
Travelers PG Justin Hare has an offer from Chattanooga and interest from Clemson, Davidson, East Tennessee State and the Volunteers. … Devon Hardin, the recent California commitment, sat out today per doctors orders. Tendonitis was the reason. … Greg Paulus visited Duke unofficially on Thursday and plans to visit North Carolina on Monday after the event. The Duke visit reportedly went very well. …
Belmont Shore scorer Lorenzo Wade didn't make the trip because of an ankle injury. … Chamberlain Oguchi recently visited New Mexico. He wanted us to know that in addition to the Lobos, he likes Kansas State, Mississippi, Indiana, Georgia Tech and Cincinnati. … Southeast Pump ‘n Run soph Joey Cameron likes Duke, Alabama, Oklahoma, North Carolina State and Florida. …
After just 1 hour and 45 minutes on Syracuse's campus for his official visit, Darryl Watkins committed. The center didn't even stay for his entire trip. He committed and went home. … The next call from Mike Krzyzewski to top-ranked point guard Shaun Livingston will be the first. Livingston says he has never talked to Coach K but is interested in speaking with the leader of the Blue Devils. …
Randolph Morris has an updated school list of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Kentucky, Notre Dame and Tennessee. … Cleveland Basketball shooter Danny Morrissey has offers from Clemson and Florida State. He also likes Xavier, Ohio State, Indiana, Arkansas and Georgia Tech. …
Did you know that Gaters guard JamesOn Curry is 255 points shy of becoming the all-time scoring leader in the state of North Carolina? He's just 495 points shy of 3,000 for his career. … Oregon is sitting pretty with Bryce Taylor. He liked the visit and the Ducks are in great shape. He's also being recruited by Southern Cal, Indiana and California. …
Tournament of Champions, Day One
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – We're just getting started at the annual Tournament of Champions. The weekend long event tipped on Friday night on Tobacco Road.
Roy Bright, SF, Michigan Hurricanes: The top player on the Hurricanes is from nearby Durham and not Michigan, but that mattered little as Bright rolled to 24 points in a sound whipping of the Minnesota Magic. He went 10-for-13 from the field to go with his 6 rebounds. From medium jumpers, to post hits to dunks, he's a pretty talented offensive player.
Jason Horton, PG, Michigan Hurricanes: This is not a misprint; Horton is traveling with the ‘Canes this weekend. After a slow first half in which he was clearly adjusting to his new friends, Horton rolled up 16 points and 7 assists for the game. The patient point man goes about his business no matter what the jersey is on his back.
Sam Perry, SF, North Greenville: He's a mid-major priority recruit for a number of schools and we know why. Perry is ultra-athletic. He gets in the paint, on the glass and makes plays. He loves contact and his 24 points against the Michigan Mustangs were hard-earned.
Al Horford, PF, Michigan Mustangs: The son of Tito Horford seems to be just scratching the surface. He blocked a handful of shots and had 15 points before fouling out against N. Greenville. He looks like a guy who has a chance to be a Top 100 performer with a little consistency and more assertion on offense. He's got the tools.
James Hardy, SG, Blessed IJN: The young man nailed 5 3-pointers in the first half against an outmanned Garner Roads team. 24 points later, Hardy was through. He had 7 boards and shot 9-for-16 from the field (5-10 3s). He's got a good touch from downtown and more importantly, he's not lacking in confidence.
Sylvester Mays, SG, Blessed IJN: He led the charge with a game-high 25 points. Mays is actually a 2003 senior but he'll need prep school or junior college. He's a strong, athletic 6-1 guard with a deft touch and great body. You'll be hearing from him in the future.
Glen Davis, C, Sports Academy: We didn't catch the game but the story goes something like this. "Big Baby" racked up 23 points at the half and finished with 28. After the adidas Texas Classic MVP performance, we figured him to be a Top 10 player and he's proving it daily. Lest we forget he's a big time football prospect moonlighting on the hardwood. Or is it the other way around?
Off The Dribble
Goran Sutton of the Michigan Hurricanes can play. In a matchup with Ryan Amoroso of Minnesota Select, Sutton came out on top tonight. Amoroso wasn't happy with himself and he's a good looking prospect in his own right. Sutton can block some shots and has enough post offense to be very dangerous. … Minnesota Select's Miles Webb couldn't but a hoop in the first half of his game but rebounded nicely to finish with at least 16 points. The Gopher commitment has a nice looking stroke. …
Carl Swanagan of Blessed IJN is a big boy. Though he wasn't finishing inside tonight, he did bang a pair of 3s. Yes, 6-8 and over 300 lbs. the big fella was knocking them in. … Blessed IJN had 39 halftime points vs. Garner Road but just 4 buckets were 2-pointers. …
Drew Neitzel of the Michigan Mustangs, a Michigan State signee, converted the game-winning layup in double-overtime (thanks, Drew) against North Greenville. Neitzel, a lefty, loves to shoot little runners and is pretty adept at getting them off. …
News & Notes
Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders was our celebrity of the day. Flip's son Ryan is a guard with the Minnesota Magic. … Speaking of the Magic, big man Spencer Tollackson was MIA and for good reason. He's pitching in the state playoffs this weekend. … Speaking of MIA, the Hurricanes were without Marquise Gray, Tunji Soroye and Churchill Odia. Soroye and Odia's ride never picked them up in D.C. …
Wondering about a school list for Roy Bright? The Mount Zion SF likes Connecticut, Clemson, Tennessee, Charlotte, North Carolina State, Wisconsin and Alabama. … Another Hurricane, Goran Sutton, said he's got offers from Central Michigan and Oakland. Xavier, Ohio State, Michigan and Louisville are sniffing around too. He's got a chance to play higher than his present offers. …
Jason Horton is likely to decide within the month. He'll unofficially visit Florida (June 7), Missouri (12th) and Kansas (16th). He also likes Arizona State, Florida State and Arkansas. Horton acknowledged that Missouri is his leader right now. … Blessed's James Hardy has a list that reads Indiana, Miami, Florida State, Kentucky, DePaul and Connecticut. … Apparently, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has told Carl Swanagan that there's room for him in the Cardinals program. …
Sylvester Mays is going to have to decide if he's going to prep school or the juco route. If he goes juco, he's thinking Redlands in Oklahoma. … USC-Spartanburg head coach Eddie Payne has a son Luke on the North Greenville team. … Michigan Mustangs center Dan Waterstadt said he's got offers from Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green. Rutgers is on him and so are Oakland and Butler. In fact, Butler could be the school to beat if they offer. Former AAU teammate Jamie Smalligan signed there this year and Waterstadt likes the Bulldogs. …
Sam Perry of North Greenville is going to be a fine mid-major recruit in the southern part of the U.S. He's already mulling over offers from the College of Charleston, Winthrop and Furman. UT-Chattanooga is also looking hard at him. The guy is athletic and he's got a big time motor. …
Heard But Not Seen
Apparently one reliable observer who watched Dwight Howard Friday night figured that with the recent mass exodus of high schoolers to the NBA, Howard was as good a candidate to do it next year as any. … Apparently, North Carolina recruit JamesOn Curry was pretty much held in check in his first game of the event. … Greg Paulus, a popular recruit on Tobacco Road, held an impromptu press conference, which at its height, and had about 12 media members in its ranks. … We understand Long Island Panther Josh Wright poured in about 25 against Sports Academy. …
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