Mike Conley Jr., a sophomore guard out of Lawrence North in Indianapolis, is the floor general for what is sure to be one of the country's most-watched teams this spring and summer, the Spiece Indy Heat. Conley will be charged with directing traffic for a host of big time names in the paint and a plethora of talented young wings.
"The thing about little Mike is that we don't win without him," his father said. "Greg [Oden] makes us a dominant team. You take Greg off the team and we aren't dominant. If you take Mike off the team and we lose. The biggest point about him is that he's only lost one game in AAU nationals since the 10-and-unders. He's a winner."
By far, the best prospect on this team is Conley's high school teammate and overall No. 1 player in the Class of 2006, center Greg Oden. The big fella announced his presence last year on the circuit but is simply scratching the surface on what is destined to be an outstanding prep career. As good as he is, Oden has room to grow and that's scary.
"The way it'll be with Greg is that it'll be up and down depending on what day you catch him," Conley Sr. said. "You'll put him against the best in the country and he'll make it look easy. Then you'll see him against someone not as good and he'll be OK. He's still more about the team than him. A year from now, this time next year he won't be able to help himself."
Need more star power? Junior power forward Josh McRoberts is headed to Duke. He's an elite prospect in his class. Sophomore winger Daequan Cook out of Ohio is a high-major for sure. Toss in talented freshmen Eric Gordon who is already being hailed as the next big timer out of Indy and you've pretty got a lineup loaded with talent.
The best thing about this team is that core players – Conley, Oden, etc. – have been together for a long time and have been successful. Conley doesn't foresee any problems with newcomers either.
"Other than [Eric] Gordon and Josh [McRoberts] the rest of them have played together so long. They all know each other very well. Both Josh and Eric have temperaments that fit into their team. Josh's main reason for playing with us is to win against the best in the country. If he wanted to score a lot of points he could play on another team and score them all."
Don't be surprised if you see this team playing in a lot of semifinal and championship games beginning next month.
"This group, they really truly believe that they should win every game they go into. They just believe they should win. "
Spiece Indy Heat (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Head Coach Mike Conley, Sr.
Assistant Coaches Eric Cheatham, Al Powell, Bryant Hobbs
Top Prospect Greg Oden
Starters C Greg Oden (6-11, 230, SOPH), PG Mike Conley (6-0, 155, SOPH), PF Josh McRoberts (6-10, 210, JR), SF Daequan Cook (6-5, 190, SOPH), SG Eric Gordon (6-2, 185, FR).
Opening Tourney Kingwood Classic
Famous Alum None yet, but Oden hasn't graduated!