Jason Fraser, C, Long Island Panthers They say defense wins championships and that declaration held true in Vegas. Aside from Fraser's dominance on the glass and his presence as a shot blocker, the big fella from Amityville showed us a little offense as well. He's a warrior and his contributions in the leadership department don't go unnoticed. He has some work to do on his offensive game, but there are plenty of schools willing to wait and watch him develop.
Elijah Ingram, PG, Tim Thomas Playaz After Ingram got off 27 shots in a semifinal game and connected on only 8, observers were dogging him . We take the opposite stance. Like Allen Iverson, a lot of his misses could be construed as assists. With Mario Boggan and company around the cup, his misses usually get cleaned up. Look, Ingram is one of two reasons, Boggan being the other, why the Playaz made it this far. He's a confident and quick kid who makes plays and that's a good thing.
Taquan Dean, CG, Long Island Panthers He played with poise and purpose. Though this wasn't his regular team, he looked comfortable and confident. He was the MVP in the title game in a writer's poll and was key down the stretch. In the semifinal, he helped slow down Allen Ray.
Carmelo Anthony, SF, Baltimore Select His rise up the charts will place him among the top three or four players in his class. He rebounded well and Sunday and when he does that lookout because it takes his game up a notch. He did nothing but cement his place among the elite in the class and certainly one of the gifted athletes/scorers of the last few years.
Curtis Withers, PF, New Orleans Jazz The late addition to the Jazz roster played well all week long. His intensity was there and he flashed a more diverse offensive game than we've previously seen.
John Winchester, SG, Tim Thomas Playaz "The Rifleman" has guts. He isn't afraid to let it fly. He's a little small for a two-guard and certainly on the light side but he has that scoring demeanor and could find himself at a high-major school.
Hunting Park Warriors Credit this bunch that made the quarters without a legit post man to dump it down to. They played with swingmen and guards and didn't bow out without putting up a fight.
Darryl Watkins, C, Tim Thomas Playaz Another guy whose contribution can't be measured in the stat sheet. He's improving offensively and that's fine but it's his defense we love. Few guys can change the pace and style of play in a game. Watkins can do it. Though he's still not as confident as he should be, Watkins disrupts offenses and intimidates drivers. Against the Hunting Park Warriors, Watkins shut down the lane when he was in the game. When he wasn't, the Warriors were firing darts at the basket like they were aiming a bulls-eye. Insert Watkins, and no one could get to the rim. Simple plan, great results.
Drew Nietzel, PG, Michigan Mustangs Not the biggest kid, but man he knows how to play and can make shots. He's the kind of kid you probably underestimate and he winds up making a serious contribution throughout the course of the game. He can pass, handle and shoot and for a 5-10 sophomore point guard he has a nice future.
Kevin Nelson, SG, Michigan Mustangs He actually plays with a handicap. He's about a six on the golf course and was ranked the No. 12 high school golfer in Michigan. However, he's a baller and wants to play in college. With a deep stroke like his, that won't be a problem.
Boubacar Coly, PF, Atlanta Celtics The Oak Hill prospect is coming into his own and high-major schools are beginning to note his abilities. He's a super rebounder, plays with energy and has long arms and an athletic body.
Chet Stachitas, SG/SF, Atlanta Celtics He's off to Stanford for an unofficial visit this week. However, before he left, he managed to stick a few more jumpers, most of the mid-range variety off the bounce. He's heating up and so will his recruitment.
Brain Brown, PG, New Orleans Jazz He had one of the big time dunks of the whole summer and he's only 5-9. We hear he's a big-time football player but the way he ran the show with a basketball in his hands, maybe he can be convinced to be a two-sport guy?
News and Notes …
Todd Galloway is close to deciding. He says that Wake Forest has offered and conceded that the Deacons are going to be tough to beat. Expect him to announce for Wake Forest over West Virginia and Xavier within the next few days. … Kevin Nelson, golfer and shooter, says he wants to attend a college in the south. Florida State assistant Coleman Crawford was watching him today and he lists South Florida, NC A&T, Davidson, Michigan State, NC State, Georgia, Central Michigan, Seton Hall and Stanford as schools that have shown interest so far. …
We didn't get to see them, but reportedly Rick Pitino liked 7-3 Ronnie Norman and 6-1 Rajon Rondo, a pair of underclassmen who play for the Derek Smith All-Stars. … Yesterday, we said Mario Boggan had the best set of hands at the event and on Sunday he proved it. In overtime against Hunting Park, he came up with a strip that sealed the game.
Paul Bowden of Baltimore Select is always calling the office seeking publicity for his guys and you have to love his spunk. This weekend, his team earned everything they got and we'd like to salute him and his team for a great weekend. …
Play of the Summer
Sani Ibrahim caught the ball on the blocks, turned and went up strong. A big time dunk was on his mind. Enter Darryl Watkins. The junior center met Ibrahim at the rim and won the battle. He jumped straight up and blocked Ibrahim's shot with force. It was a great defensive play.
Explaining Ray's Semifinal Outing
Taquan Dean knew something was different with Allen Ray. Sure, he felt he played solid defense on the Villanova-bound shooting guard but there was something missing from Ray's repertoire. We later learned that Ray was taken to the hospital. Reports are that he's fine and his illness sure helps explain the 5-point mishap in the semis.