Big Time, day 3

LAS VEGAS - Teams are beginning to gel and the competition is heating up as we begin the stretch run to the championship games.(p)

There was one place where you could find a who's who of college coaches on Thursday morning. Roy Williams, Mike Davis, even Mike Krzyzewski was present to check out Indiana Red's seven-foot sophomore Greg Oden. I guess when you can watch someone like Oden, it is the place to be.(p) I was really impressed with Oden's play. Considering his age, Oden had great control of his body and didn't look like he was playing with two left feet on stilts. He was clearly dominant inside and on numerous occasions had to battle four or five opponents when he had the ball. He had to be very determined, because it wasn't as though the players from the Fox Valley Skillz White team were small themselves. The Skillz had a couple of players listed at 6'8" in Mark Slotman and Craig Coenen who really made it a point to play some physical ball. Oden also has a nice touch on his shot and showed some versatility by dribbling up court. Without a doubt this kid will be something special as he gets older – even greater than he is now – and while I think a year of college is good for anyone, Oden could be one of those players who makes the jump to the NBA.(p) As for the other players on the court – a few of Oden's teammates grabbed my attention.

Tim Dearlove shot the ball very well. I really like his game. He was consistent from the outside, showed some athletic moves and did a good job driving to the hole.

I certainly wouldn't consider Dearlove one of the top guards I saw at this camp, but he is only a junior and if he continues to improve, could be high D1 talent this time next year. I also liked Brandon McPherson – a six-foot junior out of Lawrence North High in Indianapolis. This guy is a slasher and did a good job of finding open teammates.(p) The Red were too much for Fox Valley Skillz and came away with the victory by a final of 69 – 50.(p) Indiana had a much closer affair on Thursday night against the Arizona Cagers II squad when two seven-footers, Oden and 7'1" Marcos Issac, a senior from Peoria went at it. It's something you rarely see any more, two large centers having a chance to face off against each other. Indiana Red pulled out the victory by a score of 47 – 45 and will take on Spiece Blue Demons at 9 AM today.(p) In other action yesterday, Billy Shepherd Sports won both of its games – against the Las Vegas Rebels Red and then the Beach Ball Select squad. Shepherd really caught my eye the first day when they played the Middlesex Magic. They are filled with fundamentally sound players – probably some of the best in the tournament.(p) I was most impressed with their 6'6" wing/forward, J.R. Angle. This guy shot lights out. He had some good post moves inside, but could also knock it down from beyond the arc. Angle's fundamentals, like the rest of his teammates', were terrific. He was able to dribble through traffic on the break and finished nicely. He could also rebound and play defense. It almost sounds like as if Angle is the complete package.

Well, almost. Unfortunately his size is an issue, along with quickness. He's too small to be a forward, and doesn't have the quickness to play at a top Division I program. There were times when it looked like he had problems setting himself up in the post and couldn't create opportunities for his own shot. A lot of picks were used to get him open looks. That being said, this guy is going to be a real find for some team. He's the type of player we might not hear about all year long, but during championship week or even the NCAA Tournament could make some noise by hitting a couple of big shots. He'll thrive somewhere.(p) Shepherd point guard Jordan Carter also exhibited some great skills over the past three days. I really liked his ability to create opportunities for his teammates. He was very unselfish and had a lot of ability handling the rock. It seems like Carter could put up some big offensive numbers, but in the type of system Shepherd runs he doesn't get that opportunity. I think his game is more well rounded because of it, and will only help him in the long run. Once again, a player with a great deal of ability who will do well at the next level.(p) Surprisingly, Inland I – who looked great in their morning game on Wednesday – got crushed for the second time in a row. They lost to The Playaz Gold Wednesday night by a score of 71 – 58 and now they've been eliminated by Friends of Hoop I 78 – 61. This is a team that looked awesome early in the tournament.

Inland I loved to run and shot the ball well. On defense, they were very pesky and created a lot of problems for the opposition. This didn't seem to be the case over the past two games though.(p) Ft Sooy – No Limit, Shaun Livingston's ball club has had a fairly easy time in their first two games of the elimination bracket. They defeated the Madison Spartans Trek 74 – 52 in early action yesterday, and doubled up Texas Fort Worth 99 – 47 in the night cap. The team has certainly rebounded coming off of a tough loss on Wednesday. They take on Houston Hoops this morning at 10:20. This will be a game Wildcat fans and the UA coaching staff will be watching with great interest. Livingston is seriously considering attending Arizona and Houston Hoops features Jawaan McClellan and Nic Wise, both of whom have made verbal commitments to the U of A.(p)

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