Vegas Day Four: West Coast Perspective

Jon Brockman, Larry Gurganious and Joey Shaw help their teams to wins on Day Four in Las Vegas...

Friends of Hoop handily won the championship of the Main Event Sunday night, led by Jon Brockman, the 6-7 power forward from Snohomish (Wash.) High.

FOH beat an over-matched team from Baltimore, Cecil Kirk, in the final, 87-59.

Brockman had 22 points and 14 rebounds.

Astoundingly, the way the Main Event was structured dictated that if you made it into the final on Sunday, you'd play in a total of five games on the final day.

So, it was more of an endurance test as anything else. Can you imagine how badly the uniforms of these kids smell?

Brockman now has an entourage of college coaches following him from Duke, Washington, UCLA, Arizona, Gonzaga and North Carolina.

The entire Friends of Hoop team played well. Martell Webster, the 6-6 small forward from Seattle (Wash.) Prep, had a good five game stretch. Ryan Staudacher, the 6-3 senior shooting guard from Kirkland (Wash.) Lake Washington, had a great run, seemingly unable to miss from deep.

Probably the second-best performance by a west coast AAU team Sunday came from Utah Pump N Run. They will play in the quarter finals of the Adidas Super 64 today, after making a terrific run Sunday. The beat Syracuse/Rochester Rap, a team that featured Duke-bound point guard Greg Paulus and apparently NBA-bound Andre Blatche. The Utah team, led by 6-7 junior Daniel Deane, 6-5 senior Matt Mortensen and 6-8 senior Darin Mahoney, showed great toughness, especially when there were some rugged play and words being exchanged between the two teams. Deane got elbowed in the nose, which precipitated a stream of blood. He then plugged it full of tissues and went back in the game ten minutes later. Wing Logan Magnusson got in the head of Syracuse, and Blatche got thrown out after being slapped with two technicals for hanging on the rim and basically talking trash all game. In fact, Blatche went up to the ref after the game and asked him, with what you would call a lack of respect, "What kind of f------- bull--- was that, ref?"

Looks like he is indeed ready for the NBA.

Utah then went on to play in what was the best game of the week that I saw, when they beat a tough, heady Colorado Select Blue in two overtimes. Mortensen hit two free throws with 3 seconds left to win it. Colorado Select Blue was led by 6-7 senior Ryan Dermody, 6-7 senior Jarryd Gearhart, 5-10 senior point guard Andrew Brown and 6-5 junior Matt Bouldin.

EBO has to be the best young west coast team. They are in the quarter finals of the Adidas Super64, led by Robin Lopez and Brook Lopez, the 6-11 junior twins, and 6-4 shooting guard Derrick Jasper and 6-2 junior shooting guard Tre'Von Willis.

Also in the quarter finals are Pump N Run, featuring 6-11 senior center Jordan Wilkes and 6-8 junior Alex Stepheson.

In the Reebok Big Time, Oakland Slam N Jam is in the quarter finals, led by Larry Gurganious. An exceptional athlete, the 6-5 senior small forward was extremely active, slashing off the wing and grabbing offensive rebounds among bigger players for second chance opportunities. His jumpshot is dramatically improved from where it was a year ago. After Martell Webster and Micah Downs, there might not be a better prospect among the wings in the west.

In the other quarter final is Arizona Magic Blue. Joey Shaw, a 6-6 senior shooting guard led them last night with a stupendous display of shooting. Shaw has deep range and he repeatedly dropped back several feet from the stripe and buried long range bombs with a seemingly effortless flick of the wrist. Shaw will need to add bulk and strength at the next level, but there aren't many guys in the 2005 class who can put up points as fast as Shaw can.

Ian O'Leary, 6-7 SR SF Woodland (Calif.) Woodland Christian, was a one-man gang yesterday for the Bay Area Hoosiers Elite, but it wasn't enough as the Hoosiers fell to the L.A. Stars. With the loss, the Hoosiers were eliminated from the Big Time tournament. O'Leary is quickly becoming one of our favorite players in the class. He's extremely versatile, with the ability to make three-pointers, put the ball on the floor and find open teammates. His position at the next level will probably be forward, with the possibility of playing the three or the four. He's a good rebounder for his size, and physical enough to defend a four, but he's a three-man in terms of his offensive game.

Amir Johnson, 6-8 SR C Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester, was impressive for the Stars in the win over the Hoosiers. Johnson has the highest upside of any post player in the west and when he comes to play he can dominate at this level. He's a great shot blocker and his offensive game is coming along. Despite a somewhat slender body, he's not afraid of contact inside and he's a good rebounder. Once he learns some footwork in the post, Johnson will be very difficult to stop at the offensive end.

Steffan Johnson, 6-1 SR PG Kent (Wash.) Kent-Meridian, saw his Emerald City team be eliminated by a strong New York Panthers team yesterday, but we continue to be impressed with Johnson. His best days are definitely ahead of him. Good frame, nice length, good shooter and solid playmaker. We think Johnson will continue to see high majors come in on his recruitment, as the point guard class in 2005 is not very strong.

Johnson's Emerald City teammate, Ernest Williams, 6-2 JR SG Tacoma (Wash.) Henry Foss, had some nice moments in his last game at the Big Time. Williams has a good body and a decent lefty stroke. He looks like a player to watch in the class of 2006.

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