After battling all weekend long, Memphis Pump ‘n Run saved its best for last and took down the No. 1 AAU team in America 76-762 to capture the trophy in Fayetteville.
Unofficially, Thaddeus Young had 22 points and Willie Kemp 24 as Memphis simply wore down a strong Spiece Indy Heat bunch. Young and Kemp were outstanding all tournament long but down the stretch, the duo proved to be even better than advertised.
Kemp was named the game MVP and for good reason. This young man really stepped up his level of play the final two days of the event and he's a huge reason for the championship.
""We knew Indy was a great team but we knew we could beat them," Kemp said/ "I just came out and played ball. I have great players on my team."
And trust us, Kemp is one of them. His steady hand, sound decision making and scoring touch (except for the semifinal game) were noticeable. Absent from Scout.com's pre-spring Top 100, expect Kemp to rocket up the charts and past a host of point guards on the way.
Speaking of great play, Young made his presence felt in the championship tilt. Unofficially, we had him with 20 points in a game where he shot 8-for-11 from the field, grabbed 9 rebounds and exerted himself during a key second half run that gave Memphis a cushion.
And while we're on the subject of key plays, with just a few minutes remaining in the contest, Memphis guard Brandon Powell swooped in the from the weak side and, get this, swatted away a shot by gentle giant Greg Oden. While the swat was dangerously close to being a goal tend, the momentum of the play was enough to carry Memphis down the home stretch.
Ramar Smith, SG, The Family: You better believe that there is a correlation between Smith scoring big and The Family winning the consolation championship. When this big time scoring guard gets it going, and he's capable of the big number, it tends to ignite his squad and that's what happened in his two Sunday games.
Mike Conley, PG, Spiece: His 18-point semifinal outburst demonstrated the type of command he has on the point guard position. Tory Jackson, a formidable opponent, was lined up across from him and he scored 17 (5-for-18 FG) but it was Conley who turned in arguably his best effort of the weekend. His drives and clutch buckets provided Spiece with the energy they needed to get past a tough club from Michigan.
Greg Oden, C, Spiece: The most dominant player in the event showed off a million dollar touch with a smooth jumphook in the semifinal win. However, he and Spiece appeared to grow tired, especially as the final game wore on, and it wasn't to be for the favorites from Indy.
Daequan Cook, SG, Spiece: As the day wore on, Cook became the most reliable scorer for his team and he really had it going from the perimeter in both semifinal games. Of course you know by now the skill in which he shoots it from the perimeter and the mid-range jumper (his trademark) was clicking when he needed it.
Alex Legion vs. Eric Gordon: The first game of the day matched Michigan Hurricanes wing Alex Legion against Spiece's Eric Gordon. Legion had 17 in the game and Gordon 12 as two of the very elite of the elite shooting guards in the sophomore class were on display. Both of these guys have a great feel and pace to their games and deserve the lofty rankings. Gordon came into the event ranked slightly higher than Legion but based off his athletic play and the numbers he put up in Fayetteville, Legion gets the nod at this point. Remember, both of these guys are big time talents and each can flat out shoot the basketball but Legion is an explosive player in the open court.
Michael Beasley, F, DC Assault: Some observers felt that Beasley wasn't playing particularly well at the event. Then, in the semis of the consolation bracket, he erupted. With Nolan Smith out for the game with a cracked rib, Beasley took it upon himself to score the basketball. He took a charge, had a few blocks, made some 3s, dunked a rebound, well, suffice it to say that he scored it about 10 different ways. Right now he's good at No. 2 in the Class of 2007.
Julian Vaughn C, D.C. Assault: Look out for this guy. The 6-foot-8 big man who tips the scales in the area of 240 is a player. He's not there yet but there's plenty to work with and his skill package gets him the high-major nod early. You're going to hear from him in the future.
NEWS & NOTES
Julian Vaughn is hearing from a host of schools. Maryland might be close to offering while N.C. State, Georgetown, St. Joe's and Georgia Tech are in the mix. … Nolan Smith's AAU coach Curtis Malone said that Louisville is in excellent position with his guard but didn't think there was a rush to make a commitment. Could it happen? Sure but give it a few weeks. … Leon Freeman of The Family missed a lot of playoff action with an ankle injury. …
16 AND UNDER TOUR
It's tough to watch both the 17s and the 16s at the same event, but we popped over to the playoff round of the 16s and caught a glimpse of a few of the prime time guys still left at the event. Much to everyone's surprise. Korey Lucious' DTA team and Derrick Rose's Nike Express squad didn't advance deep into the playoffs.