Day Three: Top Performers

Las Vegas – The field is getting smaller. Teams are beginning to exit the tournament at the Big Time. On Friday, Pump and Run would have advanced if a Marcus Williams three ball hadn't gone down and Tim Thomas Playaz big man Mario Boggan turned in a career performance.

2002 Top Performers

Mario Boggan, C, Tim Thomas Playaz By our count, Boggan scored 26 points in one game on 13-14 shooting. His only misses were a free throw and a medium-range jumper. Other than that, he was perfect. Like we've said all along, put him next to another stud big man and he's going to destroy people. Against Dallas Slam and Jam he was a wrecking ball.

Brad Buckman, PF, Pump and Run Let the campaign begin. This kid is a McDonald's All-American. He's not a candidate; he should be a front-runner for one of the spots. 20 points, 12 boards and a handful of blocks in an upset loss weren't bad. He was 2-2 from downtown in that one as well. Earlier in the day, he had 16 and 9. He's skilled, smart, athletic and tough.

CJ Watson, PG, Pump and Run He's making his presence felt in Vegas. In an upset loss to H-Squad, Watson scored 26 points on 7-13 shooting, including 3-5 from deep. He's proved himself to be a scorer from the point guard slot, worthy of a place among the best 100 players in the country. He is one of the very best ball handlers in the nation. He's got to take care of it a little better down the stretch, but he's a talent.

Paul Davis, C, Michigan Mustangs If he hadn't committed to Michigan State as a junior, Davis would be packing gymnasiums like nobody's business in Vegas. The fact of the matter is that he's among the elite players in his class because he's such a complete player. He has a chance to be special at Michigan State. In helping his team advance, he scored inside and outside equally well and was a presence in the paint.

Elijah Ingram, PG, Tim Thomas Playaz There aren't many point guards as good as Ingram when he has his game working. Today, he had it going. He's at his best when he's creating for himself and especially others off the dribble. Once he gets into the rhythm, his streaky jumper goes down easier. He's fast with the ball and fun to watch when he's moving and shaking.

2003 Standouts

Marcus Williams, PG, H-Squad It was his 3-pointer that gave his team the 84-81 lead against Pump and Run late in the game. Williams was the big scorer for H-Squad in the upset and he's certainly one of the top players in the Class of 2003 on the west coast.

Darryl Watkins, C, Tim Thomas Playaz He's improving quickly and like many big men his age, defense is the strongest part of his game right now. However, he's developing some offensive prowess and sooner than later he'll be a monster at both ends.

Keith Blanks, SF, DC Assault He's an incredible athlete. There was some question as to his class status, but he says he's a legit junior. Today, though his team was knocked out, he impacted the game. He makes some ridiculous plays because of his athleticism and his shot is coming around.

Gone Early

LeBron James and his NE Ohio team exited in the first round of the playoffs. Someday, someone is going to have to sit down and explain to me how that happened. … Also exiting in the first round was the much-heralded Stewart Twins and Friends of Hoop Seattle. Strange, very strange but then again this is AAU basketball. …

Game of the Day

Pump and Run seemed to be among a handful of favorites to win the title. However, H-Squad and the Ibekwe Brothers had other ideas. They sprung the upset as super junior guard Marcus Williams drilled a 3-pointer late in the game. H-Squad began the game by taking a 10-point lead but then relinquished the margin before finally staging a late-game rally to seal the win. Great ballgame and by the time it ended, it was close to 1 a.m. PT.

Surprises

Nouha Diakite, C, Brooklyn Beasts Don't let the name fool you. Diakite is French and he's good. Very good. While this 6-10 monster athlete has plenty of moves we won't be seeing them in high school next year. He's bound for an American junior college and he's in need of one that can administer the GED to him in French. Trust me, he's worth going the extra mile for.

Lee Melchioni, SF, Tim Thomas Playaz Once everyone realizes that Melchioni is a complimentary guy maybe they'll start appreciating his strengths. On a good team, with kids who understand the game, Melchioni can be a great asset. He's a gifted passer and his jumper was working today.

Dan Grunfeld, SG/SF, Friends of Hoop All week long he's been scoring. In a win against the Diaper Dans, he came up big again down the stretch. He's probably a mid-major recruit who will contribute at a high-major program because he's savvy and tough. He finds a way to make plays and he's been terrific in Las Vegas.

Dedric Spooner, PF, Sam Rines II He's prepping this year at Milford Academy and is a native of Milwaukee. A little undersized, he's a tough customer with enough offense to be dangerous and enough heart to win a war. He'll get some high-major looks/offers and the mids will be knocking all period long.

Brandon Rohe, SF, Pump and Run When he's open, book it. Make him move a little and he's less accurate. On Friday, he was pretty much on target in the two games we watched and he has value for a mid-major program in need of a money shooter.

Kyle Wilson, PF/SF, Team Texas Select Here's a combo forward who can make some perimeter shots. If he's open, he's extremely effective. He did some things both inside and outside today and that made him standout.


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