Vegas Baby, Vegas!

LAS VEGAS-There are more than 330 AAU teams on hand this week for the massive Las Vegas Big Time Tournament sponsored by Adidas. It's almost overkill, especially when one considers the fact that some of the lower tiered pools are namded with labels like ZZZZI. To put it into relative terms, the NIKE Camp in Indianapolis was broken down into three conferences. Very simple. However, the confusion and overcrowdedness is worth it once one watches some of the talent on hand here by The Strip.

Watching Ndudi Ebi has a way of spoiling a person.

But after watching Ekene Ibekwe today in Las Vegas, a player that Ebi is often compared to, I realized that there is absolutely nothing to complain about when it comes to Ebi's game. Ever. Ibekwe made me appreciate Ebi because Ekene was number one with a bullet on the All-Disappointment team on Day One in Vegas.

Ibekwe missed his first six shots, five of which were airballs, including a free throw and a layup (not kidding), before connecting on a 15-footer from the elbow on shot number seven. He struggled mightily against an outstanding frontcourt trio of Jackie Butler (6-10 C senior), Mike Williams (6-8 PF junior) and Tyler Smith (6-6 SF Soph.) from the Southeastern Pump ‘n Run AAU squad.

For the game, the wing forward out of Carson finished with four points on 2-14 shooting with zero rebounds and zero blocked shots. Brad watched Ibekwe later in the night and said he did pretty well, but that was against a much less competitive Salt Lake Metro team.

The 6-9, top 50 prospect nationally has the required high-major athleticism and tenaciousness with the ball in his hands, but tends to float out on the perimeter a bit too much.

Joining Ibekwe on the Day One Disappointment team was his teammate Curtis Allen, a highly overrated lefthanded point guard from the LA area. He almost never uses his right hand even when the situation necessitates it and he isn't very quick either.

Top Three Stars of the Day:

*Trevor Ariza, 6-8 Sr. F, Pump ‘n Run: Had a bad first half in his only game of the day, going 3-11 for 11 points before halftime. In the second 16-minute half, Ariza exploded and showcased all of his skills. He scored 17 points on 7-8 shooting on an array of athletic moves through the lane and to the hoop for layups or dunks. This guy is simply good. UCLA, Florida and others lead for his services.

*Sebastian Telfair, 6-0 Jr. PG, Juice All-Stars: I hoped this New York City point guard was overrated going into his game this afternoon. Too bad. For once the hype was actually understated. This kid is spectacular. There isn't nor has there been a playmaker or a passer like Telfair in the basketball world (we're talking from YMCA to the NBA here, folks). He made some passes to 6-10 center Chris Taft that most normal humans couldn't even think of. And as opposed to your Jason Williams (Memphis Grizzlies edition) brand of point guard, Telfair's no-look passes almost always find their target in the exact right place. I'm a writer and I get paid to paint pictures about these kids' games for those of you who can't be here to see them for yourselves, but I can't do it with Telfair. You'll just have to see for yourself. This guy is the true "Ooh, Ahh!" Man because that was all that could be heard in the gym when he had the ball in his hands.

*Rajon Rondo, 6-1 Sr. PG, Derek Smith (KY.) All-Stars: Outplayed Duke recruit DeMarcus Nelson in the final game of the night on Day One. If it helps explain how impressive Rondo was, just know that Nelson scored 26 points and was clearly the best player on his EBO/EA Sports team. Rondo was even better. He is Mike Bibby-calm under pressure and a deadly shooter from the outside. Throw in the fact that he can decide to get to the hoop at any time he chooses and pass like a guy addicted to assists and that's what you get in Rondo. I will watch a lot more of Rondo soon because he is surely a high major prospect. Kentucky's head coach Tubby Smith was on hand to watch the point guard out of Louisville.

Tons more later. It's 2:51 in the morning as I type this, my self-imposed deadline has come. Oh, and Brad is talking in his sleep about something that sounds like, "Velvet Luchidora". I fear for my safety.

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