Big Time Finale

LAS VEGAS – In a city where everyone has hope, luck and a chance to strike it big, the Celtics played the Big Time with a stacked deck. They saddled up a trio of all-americans inside and rode them all the way to the championship.

Big Time, Day Five

Final: Atlanta Celtics 85, Michigan Mustangs 65.

Semifinals: Atlanta Celtics 87, Rotary Select 73; Michigan Mustangs 66, Houston Westside 60.

Big Time Scoreboard (Quarterfinals)

Atlanta Celtics 93, Connecticut Select 68

Rotary Select 88, Ft. Sooy 73

Houston Westside 80, Pump ‘n Run 72

Michigan Mustangs 75, Playaz Gold 57

Celtics Are Big Time!

The Michigan Mustangs were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Celtics machine was destined to rip through Vegas and it did just that. Despite a stellar run by Drew Neitzel and Al Horford, the ‘Stangs had no one to guard Josh Smith. The 6-8 small forward rolled up 18 at the half as the Celts led 46-30. He finished with 26.

At the break, the Celtics had saddled the Mustangs' primary inside force with four fouls. Horford battled as best he could but it was three against one in the paint and the greatest frontline in AAU history (featuring 3 McDonald's All-Americans) never compromised their position. The final score was 85-65 with Drew Neitzel leading the way for Michigan with 16.

For their efforts, Smith and Dwight Howard were named the co-MVP's of the event.

2004 Checklist

Marvin Williams, F, Rotary Select: His big time act in Vegas continued in the quarters as his 21 points led Rotary past Ft. Sooy.

Basically, Marvin has been a wrecking crew all by himself. The guy is scoring, rebounding and playing defense. He's all smiles out here and the hits keep on coming. SEMIS Rotary wasn't able to stop the Celtics machine despite 34 from Marvin. He went 13-for-17 from the line and he showed just how complete a prospect he is. One of the performances of the summer.

Dwight Howard, PF, Atlanta Celtics: Speaking of performances of the summer, Howard's 14-for-20 from the floor and 14 rebound effort in the semis was damn impressive. He actually missed two dunks – both hit off the back of the rim – or the stat line would have been even more impressive.

Al Horford, PF, Michigan Mustangs:

Against the Playaz in the quarters he stood his ground inside, got all of the rebounds he was supposed to corral and his share of the others outside his area. He blocked shots and protected the hoop. In the semis, his size was way too much for Houston Westside and he rammed home 19 points and 9 boards.

Josh Smith, SF, Atlanta Celtics: The 3s were falling at a pretty good rate for Smith in this one and he went off for 24 points of his own in the semis. In fact, the official tally for Smith was 6-for-7 from downtown and 9-for-11 from the field. Not too shabby.

J.R. Smith, SG, Playaz Gold: He certainly did all he could to prevent the upset loss in the quarters. He was banging them from way past the arc and even completed a few of his trademark circus layins around the hoop. He hustled and got after it but in the end, it wasn't to be.

Drew Neitzel, PG, Michigan Mustangs: Billy Beane would love this guy. Forget the size – or lack of it – or the average quicks, he makes shots. He'll get floaters off in traffic and he's fearless. He's got tremendous value to a college basketball program and he's been much better in a team setting than we've seen him at various camps.

Dion Dowell, SF, Houston Westside: He played like a Top 50 player all the way through the playoffs. Dowell is a versatile prospect and from his perimeter game to ability to go above the rim and rebound, he's going to be a player at Texas. He had 19 in the semifinal setback.

Dwayne Day, SG, Atlanta Celtics: His quarterfinal effort against Connecticut Select was the best game we've seen him play since the high school season. He was credited with 13 points and four steals in the route.

Charlie Jones, PG, Westside: He did a nice job against a good group of guards against the Pump ‘n Run squad. The Colorado State commitment distributed the ball and his speed always seems to play a factor. His seven assists were key in the win.

Enrico Tucker, SG, Pump ‘n Run: Though it wasn't enough in the end, he did make some plays that really pushed his team into striking distance. From a nice crossover to some important assists, he nearly played the hero role for his team.

Scout's Seat

Connecticut Select had reached the quarters as a team that relied primarily on driving the ball to the rim. Obviously, against the Celtics frontline, that was not a good idea. … One of the best jumpshots made this summer was a Shaun Livingston contested hit with 6-8 Marvin Williams draped all over him. … Josh Heytvelt scored 24 points in the quarterfinal win but the stats were a little deceiving. 18 of his points came in the second half when Rotary was up big and well on its way to victory. …

Shaun Livingston and Justin Cerasoli combined for 37 points in the loss. They'd been hot all week long and Livingston was 8-for-16 but Cerasoli finished with a 6-for-20 outing. … Rotary had a big time size advantage over Ft. Sooy and used it. Williams and Co. took just nine threes the entire game and made only one but still rolled by 15. … Jordan Farmar never really got it going from the outside and finished 0-for-5 from downtown against Houston. He would foul out in the end. …

David Burgess spent time overseas last week and it took him a long time to travel here. In the quarters you could definitely tell that he must have been dragging. … Rodney Stuckey of Rotary hit for 25 in the semis against Atlanta and he was getting them going to the basket at a pretty good clip. … The Celtics frontline (Howard, Morris, Smith) outscored Rotary's frontline (Williams, Giles, Heytvelt) by a 68-44 margin and remember, Williams accounted for 34 of Seattle's on his own. …

News & Notes

Georgia Tech's Willie Reese was the first coach in the gym to watch Dwight Howard and Randolph Morris this morning. … Mike Davis was on hand for Josh Smith. … Duke, North Carolina, Illinois and Arizona had assistants in the building for Livingston. Duke also had Coach K in the building. …

Chester Giles' father played two years of juco ball at Independence where he won a national title, then transferred to Kansas where he reportedly spent two oft-injured seasons with the Jayhawks. … We think Seton Hall, North Carolina State and DePaul were in the gym for Justin Cerasoli. …

It's tough to tell who is the crowd for Al Horford since there are a number of programs wanting to jump in but from what we saw, Xavier head coach Thad Matta was here as was UCLA's Ben Howland and Michigan State, Kansas and Georgia Tech each had an assistant. Horford say he needs time to evaluate his list and will do that in August. Obviously, it's changed since first of the month. …

Stanford, Richmond and Villanova had assistants for Taj Finger. … Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton was in the gym today, not ready to concede Dwight Howard to another college without a fight. All the schools involved with Howard might be battling a higher power in the end. … Each Big Time finalist already had a title under their belt. The Michigan Mustangs won in 1998 with Jason Richardson and the Celtics captured the championship with Jonathan Hargett in 2000. …

Colorado State assistant Buzz Williams was in the gym watching two future guards in Sean Morris and Charlie Jones. … Rutgers received a commitment from Dan Waterstradt, a big man with the Michigan Mustangs. Waterstradt was injured during the Big Time and unable to participate. …

From Orlando The Gauchos defeated The Family for the Super Showcase title. Apparently, Malik Hairston and Russell Robinson were trading paint down there. Joe Crawford's injured wrist limited his playing time in the championship game. The Gauchos have to be the team of the summer as they've won the Kingwood, Peach Jam and Super Showcase titles. …

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