Gary Johnson, PF, Houston Hoops – You expect double-doubles and big numbers from Johnson but this one was above and beyond the call. Forget the fact that Johnson banked in a free throw line jumper to send the game into overtime, he was actually perfect from the field. The Houstonian shot 9-for-9 from the field (our stats) for 23 points and 11 rebounds. He simply refuses to be outworked and instead of worrying about being only 6-foot-7, he finds his opponents weakness and goes to work until the tank is empty.
Jai Lucas, PG, Houston Hoops – In tandem with Johnson, he delivered the goods. Lucas hit for 33 points and made a number of big time shots in the second half right on through overtime. OK, he's 5-9 and that's not exactly prime size for his position. However, the young man makes shots, he's got a presence at his position, scores, wins and leads. To his credit, he's always in his comfort zone and continues to get things done all the while putting pressure on defenses and checking the guys in front of him at the other end.
Blake Griffin, PF, Athletes First – His body is undergoing a transformation and his game is heading down the power forward route. How's he responding? Well, he's played like a beast out here. Powerful dunk finishes and strong, intimidating box outs are becoming his calling card and he's clearly one of the toughest kids we've seen this year.
E'Twaun Moore (pictured), SG, SYF – Having settled in at the shooting guard role, Moore looks very comfortable. All things considered, he might have the best day of any player we saw; at the very least he was the most consistent. In the 2 games we witnessed, his 3-point shot was falling on command and he's always had a long frame to slash with.
Dorenzo Hudson, SG/SF, Charlotte Royals – His opening night 49 points (18-24 FG) had the tournament buzzing and of course no one was going to let him get off for that number again. In the game we caught Saturday afternoon, he couldn't get a whistle but still mustered up 17 points (6-for-17 FG). He's firmly cemented himself as a Top 100 player with plenty of momentum for the college guys to eyeball in the coming weeks.
Scott Martin, SF, SYF – Here's a new name to get familiar with. The lefty has a crisp stroke that extends past the 3-point line. He's got a strong floor game and we'll call him a bit of a late bloomer, he's certainly a newcomer to the party. Again, another big wing at 6-foot-7 that is efficient with his chances and is about to hit his stride at the right time. In one game we charted he had 17 points on 11 shots.
Donte Green, SF/PF, Team Melo – It's tough trying to figure out what position he'll play in college because he's very versatile. At 6-8, he can handle, drive you but also post up and get the boards above the rim. He scored 16 in the game we caught and was tending to his knee before and after the contest. Now he's starting to do everything strong, especially dunking on his finishes and he's got a great set of hands.
Nick Calathes, PG, Team Florida – He's got his club into the semifinals and his Saturday was a carbon copy of his Friday. He rocks you to sleep then uses a somewhat unorthodox scoring style to get it done. As a collegian he's got just about everything you can ask for in a combo guard.
Brandon McGee, PF/SF, Illinois Warriors – He's right there on the cusp of turning himself into an attractive high-major recruit. His package includes some perimeter game, a feel for his position and the desire to rebound. He's going to put in the work it'll take to be successful and we wouldn't be surprised to see the big conference teams feel him out and strongly evaluate him through the spring.
Corey Stokes, SG, Metro Hawks – We had him down for 23 points in the nightcap as he made his share of jumpers and kept his big man happy with strong post feeds. Some of his counterparts at his position are playing more athletically so he'd be wise to continue evolving his game off the bounce.
Antoine Wiggins, SF, Tenn. Travelers – The native North Carolinian is on the must see list. He's 6-6, long, spidery and has one of those frames that oozes upside. In the game we caught he stuck 3s and played at both ends. He's worth a strong look in the coming weeks and should be at worst an excellent mid-major prospect.
Sean Mosley, SG, Team Melo – This guy knows his way around the court as a scorer. He's almost got one of those old school throwback games in the sense that he can pick a spot and go to work. Balanced with the shot and the drive, he's physically more advanced than many of his peers. Expect him to consistently produce and be a factor on offense.
Clarence Trent, PF, Portland Elite – Without Kyle Singler and Michael Harthun, there's plenty of shots to go around and he's made his mark on the event. Though we saw him in the nightcap when he didn't appear to have his legs, clearly Trent is a talent. He'll block shots, face you up and uses his strength to get to where he needs to go.
Xavier Henry, SF, Athletes First – With a father who played at Kansas and a brother who is a major league baseball prospect, you expect him to be athletic and he is. He's also a strong shooter who is playing with guys two years his superior and playing well. He hit for 23 in an afternoon playoff contest.
Manuel Cass, who says he's still committed to DePaul, will head to Winchendon for another year of prep school next fall. He continues to improve his perimeter skills. … Illinois recruit Bill Cole was on vacation and did not play with the Warriors. …
Gary Johnson's recruitment is on a national level. His list reads Texas, Duke, Kentucky, Connecticut, Arizona and North Carolina. The head coach from each school but UNC has eyeballed him during his junior season. … Metro Hawks wing Corey Stokes remains at two: UConn and Villanova. "It's going to be a really hard decision to make," Stokes said.
Prior to the weekend, Dorenzo Hudson (shown) had Clemson, N.C. State, Wake Forest, East Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia Tech on his list. … E'Twaun Moore lists Illinois, Tennessee, Iowa and Purdue. You can bet the ranch the new Indiana staff will be all over him and a few of his teammates as well…
Warriors forward Brandon McGee is hearing from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana State and Northern Illinois. … Demond Watt has Wichita State, Northwestern and Illinois keeping tabs on his progress. … Northwestern, Purdue and Valparaiso were ahead of the curve with Scott Martin. Now, Michigan, Ball State, DePaul and Bowling Green are giving chase. …
Blake Griffin said that Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Illinois and Baylor were on him the hardest. Mix in Connecticut, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Kansas State and Nebraska and you've got a nice list. …
Major props to Gary McGhee. He took the fight to Gary Johnson and played stronger and more assertive offensively than we've ever seen. His pick and pop mid-range jumper appeared to be the game-winner until Johnson sent it into OT with a buzzer-beater. …
Terrence Oglesby has one of the best strokes of anyone at the tournament. Mid-majors are going to be all over him if he doesn't find a niche elsewhere. …
Demond Watt, a 6-foot-6 forward, should become a target at the highest level of mid-major basketball. … Be on the lookout for Eugene Wade of the Kentucky Hoop Stars. The power forward is an athletic, thin shot blocker. … Chandler Parsons was able to find the range on his jumper this afternoon courtesy of a little "buddy ball" with Calathes who set him up for a few good looks. …
"Guys, do me a favor. See if you can find someone in a different color uniform that you might want to guard!"
Teams Watched – Illinois Warriors, Kentucky Hoop Stars, Metro Hawks, Portland Elite, Kansas City Keys, Albany City Rocks, Houston Hoops, D.C. Blue Devils, Tennessee Travelers, Team Florida, Athletes First, Charlotte Royals, Alabama Lasers, Team Melo, SYF Players.