The match-up of the day was a battle between Lance Thomas and Chase Budinger. The two players probably top the Wildcats' wish list and they guarded each other for much of the game. Thomas and his New York Panther team edged Budinger's SoCal All-Stars82-79 when Budinger's 35-foot desperation three just missed.
The two seniors led each of their respective teams in scoring. They were the two best players on the floor and that is saying a lot as guys like Edgar Sosa, Derrick Caracter, Brandon Jennins, Kevin Love and Taylor King were featured in the game.
For Budinger it was his first game back after breaking his wrist and you would never know he was hurt. He was babying his wrist all through warm-ups, but after the tip it was not a factor.
All told he was 10-22 for 28 points and 10 rebounds. He was very active on both sides of the court and added three assists, two blocks and two steals. He was shaky from the outside, making just one three-pointer, but was effective as a slasher, scoring seven of his 10 field goals within seven feet of the hoop.
His tendency to float when he did not have the ball was not an issue today. He moved a lot away from the ball and was active on defense and on the glass.
Although rumors have stated that he has narrowed his choices to Arizona and USC, Budinger was adamant that UCLA was still in the picture. His dad is a USC grad, but both father and son claim it won't be a factor in the decision.
Thomas proved to be Budinger's equal. The 6-9 combo forward hit nine of his first 11 shots and finished the contest with 27 points and 13 boards. Thomas did not attempt a shot from outside of 12 feet and seems very comfortable with the strengths of his game.
He will not list a leader, but did confide that Arizona will survive when he cuts his list down in the next few weeks. He did not spell out all the teams on his list but was willing to discuss Duke, Rutgers and Ohio State.
Several other Wildcat recruits were in the game. Despite having a terrible shooting night from beyond the arc, Taylor King scored 13. Kevin Love, in his first game with the All-Stars, started really slowly, but scored 13 of his 15 in the second half and ripped down 15 rebounds.
2008 point guard Brandon Jennings had 11 points and three assists. Daniel Hackett scored just one field goal before fouling out. Malik Story was a respectable 2-4 from behind the arc, but those were his lone points.
Love reiterated that Arizona and North Carolina had the lead for his services, while Taylor King had high praise for Lute Olson and Josh Pastner, while also saying he liked the fact that former Mater Dei standouts Miles Simon and Reggie Geary were in the program.
The day went from early in the morning, until late at night, so we'll have a lot more in the next few days. Here are the rest of the highlights from Friday.
*Jerryd Bayless continues to shine. He too likes the additions of Simon and Geary. He also mentioned that he would not mind playing with Jennings. Both are seriously considering the Cats. Right now Arizona, Texas and North Carolina lead for his services. Olson was front and center, possibly leading to Bayless stating that Arizona and then Texas were on him the hardest.
*James Harden is active and built well, but needs to be a more consistent scorer.
*Speice Indy Heat and the D-1 Greyhounds was billed as the battle between Greg Oden and O.J. Mayo and both lived up to the billing. With nearly 5,000 people crammed into the stands, the Heat prevailed in a good one. Mayo tried to shoot the Greyhounds back into the game bit could not overcome the deep Speice team. D-1's Alex Tyus is considering the Cats, while Speice's Eric Gordon admitted that Arizona needed to do some work to get to the top of his list but that they were still in it.
*I find it very hard to believe that Renardo Sydney is only a freshman to be. Kid looks 20 and can play. Remember that name.
*Closed out the night with a battle between Darnell Gant and Jordan Hill. Gant was hot early and got the better of Hill. Gant had 17, but struggled after a fast start. Hill was not fed the ball by his guards and scored nine points, but only attempted five shots. Both boarded well with Hill grabbing eight and Gant ripping down 11.
*Gant looks like an elite prospect waiting to happen. He's listing Arizona, North Carolina, Washington and UCLA. Carolina has not contacted him yet and he suggested that he would like to get away from Los Angeles.