Cactus Classic, Day 1

Friday night at the Cactus Classic was a short, but eventful one. There was a lot of talent on display, a major upset and a bit of news on the recruiting front.

The biggest news is the PG recruit Brandon Jennings has a slightly altered school list. USC is definitely out, but Kentucky has joined the Wildcats and UConn. Jennings will stay in Tucson an extra day to ensure that he can make an unofficial visit with the Wildcat staff. Had he not extended his stay, there was no gurantee he could have made the unofficial. A player can only meet with the staff the day after his team is eliminated from the event.

It may be a good thing that he extended his stay because his Belmont Shore team looks like they can be tough to beat. Jennings only joined Belmont Shore when his original team, the Oakland Soldiers, dropped out at the last minute.

Belmont Shore downed the loaded Pump ‘N Run 98-91 in what had to be the night's biggest upset. (See accompanying story).

The first game of the night saw a great guard battle between Arizona-bound Drew Lavender and Arizona recruit Peyton Silva.

Ironically enough both players played out of position. Lavender had to play point guard for the Arizona Magic, while Silva, who is normally a point guard, played mostly at off-guard.

Lavender struggled in his post-commitment McKale debut. He tried too hard to get his teammates involved, and did not attack enough. He hardly shot the ball, scoring just two points.

While he did not play great, Lavender has the tools to be a good one. He's got great length and a solid build. He got good quickness and a nice looking shot. He needs to look to get his own shot and be a bit more selfish.

Silva scored 21. The first thing you notice is just how quick he is. Unlike Lavender, Silva was aggressive. He was pretty smart about mixing three pointers with drives to the hoop. It will be nice to see him play more at the point, but you can see why folks like him.

The next round of games did not feature any Wildcat prospects, but I did get to see Tucson-based Sporting Chance. The team had a great showing a few weeks ago in Las Vegas and followed that up by giving Inland Reebok all they could handle.

Utilizing a deep bench and good frontline size, Sporting Chance forced overtime, but fell 71-68.

UCLA-bound Malcolm Lee scored 16 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists.

The last crop of games featured four recruits on four courts, in two gyms.

Because of this I only got a little bit of time with each game.

James Rahon looks to be a fast riser in the class. He has a great outside shot, but only took it a few times. Although he's known as a shooter, he makes an effort to get to the hoop and will need to keep showcasing a versatile game to garner more offers.

Jordan Theodore is a solidly built point guard from New York. I did not get a good enough look to make a full opinion, but he looks like an intriguing prospect.

I closed out the evening by hoofing it over the Bear Down gym to watch the end of the Terrence Jennings/Luke Babbitt battle.

Babbitt got the best of it in the stat column, but it was Jennings and his Play Hard Play Smart team that won the game.

With the game well in hand, Jennings sat for the final 7:00 of the second half. I got there with about 14:00 to play in the second and Jennings only got two shots in that time, but it was due more to the fact that his teammates were on fire from behind the arc.

Jennings scored 15 and was credited for just four rebounds, although it appeared that he was shorted a few rebounds. Play Hard Play Smart was paced by hot shooting Jamelle Barrett who scored 25, while also dishing out eight assists.

Jennings did nothing to hurt his stock in my eyes. He's big, physical and athletic. He has all the tools to be a big time post player.

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